In the Dawn of X age, the latest volume of X-Force has a little bit of everything to satisfy X-fans. Bejamin Percy and Joshua Cassara turn their amps up to 11 in the best issue of the series yet this week. With the most ferocious, action-ready roster of any book in the line, telefloronic biology going haywire and amped-up sex appeal, X-Force is essentially the “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll” section of the mutant corner of the Marvel Universe and I am absolutely here for it.
Alongside the high school tales of Peter Parker and then Miles Morales, the X-Men have brought the major soap opera, drama-filled vibes to Marvel’s publications. Jonathan Hickman stunned X-fandom just last year in X-Men #1 with some not-so-subtle hints that Jean Grey, Cyclops and Wolverine are in a polyamorous relationship given the floor plans of “Summer House” on the moon. A definitive answer to the comic world’s most renowned love triangle appeared on the horizons for fans, spawning an amazing fan-made t-shirt in the process.
With every successive millennial dramedy released on Netflix or Hulu, viewers prove that they’re as hungry as every for steamy content. Percy deftly walks the tightrope between fan service and tastelessness here, delivering a romantic entanglement X-fans have been dying to see in the spotlight since the seed Hickman originally planted. The manner in which Cassara brings Logan and Jean closer and closer in each successive panel on the final page of the issue only heightens that sitcom-style “will they or won’t they” buildup before readers are treated to a steamy glimpse at the Krakoan sky.
While the bombastic, blockbuster-esque qualities are the immediate draw of this volume of X-Force and have been the cornerstones of this squad throughout its history, Percy is able to rise above a comparison to a dumb action flick. There’s more to X-Force #10 than merely Domino fighting off a Terra Verdean garden monster and Wolverine-Marvel Girl erotic fan fiction.
The issue is self-aware in the way Percy has Black Tom Cassidy crack a joke about Sage’s positively Liefeld-esque patch-covered outfit and how the writer highlights flaws already apparent in the Krakoan hierarchy. The latter point is a story element that hits harder than any other in the X-line right now because of the clear parallels to American imperialism, colonial conquests and overall foreign affairs. In the greatest period of civil unrest in the 21st century and the concept of American exceptionalism seeming more foolish than ever, the public is grappling with the fact that this nation may never have been as great as was once thought.
Professor Xavier continues to build a nation he believes to be a utopia, but looks increasingly faulty with every successive week of comic releases. Beast, far from the bookish pacifist X-Men: The Animated Series paints Hank McCoy and that characterization that lingers in fans’ minds, is nothing less than a dangerous secret intelligence agent here, one whose actions align with that of a war criminal utilizing biological attacks. It feels quintessentially American to stray further from the ideals you held so close the more power you wield at your fingertips. On a team ready to do “the dirty work,” Hank might as well go by the superhero name Pig-Pen.
There are variety of plot threads that could feel disparate in the hands of a lesser writer, but Percy pulls them together well, acting as the driving force behind the best X-book on shelves currently. With a perfect partner in Cassara on board and plenty of intrigue still afoot between Hank’s NSA-like scheming and the sexploits the Summer House, X-Force continues to be a must-read.
P.S. At least one member of X-Force should be wearing an all-pouch outfit at all times. Percy needs to make this canon.