This week in X-Force, Beast stirs up trouble, Mikhail plots, and acts of politicizing a longtime hero are on full display. This series has been an action-heavy book but also reveals the counter-intelligence angle very well. The latter is on full display here as the plot thickens on both sides of the conflict.
This is a good example of how well a book can read when it begins to show its cards. Bad guys gain power and understanding, the internal struggle is evident in Krakoa but remains unchecked, and xenophobia is something to be feared. Writer Benjamin Percy is taking that xenophobic tact which is an interesting angle on an X-Men series like X-Force, which typically focuses on racial minority groups. It’s particularly interesting given the state of world politics today as Russia meddles in world politics without so much of a single slap on the wrist. Taking that one step further, Percy is showing us how fear of a people can lead to the unjustifiable treatment of those we call family and friends.
This is all lead by Beast, who has shown quite a few times up to this point he’s willing to skirt moral rights and wrongs to do as he feels is best for Krakoa and mutant-kind. As we know from the character’s past, this usually leads to downright evil turns for the character, and it’s an interesting element to continue to track. In a key data-page expertly written by Percy, we get the full point of view of the character, which helps immensely to understand his desires to control any Russian actors in Karkoa itself. How do you forgive the sins of supervillains like Omega Red, and is that blindly optimistic? It’s a concept well worth thinking about and chewing on.
In many ways, this issue shows how infighting within a nation is as bad as your worst enemies gaining strength. That makes this issue doubly bad for mutant-kind while also revealing how complex a situation they are in. Conflicts amongst mutants are also interesting in the issue and feel almost irreversible. A change is coming for some of the key mutants and it’s exciting to see how we move on from here.
The art by Bazaldua with colors by GURU-eFX is good, although it can be a little simplistic. The use of heavy shadow via inks can make a page look a little simpler than it needs to be. The casting of shadow helps create a sense of doubt in the characters, but many backgrounds are blank on top of the usage of shadows, further making the book look quickly done. In general, though, the book looks good — Omega Red and Colossus scenes stand out, and props must go to how Beast is cast as a player who cannot be trusted. The use of glasses to cover his face, for instance, seems to suggest he’s hiding something. Details like that, and reactions from characters like Wolverine, help create the subtext in the story.
X-Force #12 is tense and involving as it unfurls new dangers and surprising wrinkles in an ever-interesting story about xenophobia and trusting one another. X-Force maximizes its espionage themes with mature ambiguity in a package that’s thrilling.