Friday, June 6, 2008

X-FORCE #41 – December 1994

The Fun House
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Tony Daniel (penciler), Kevin Conrad (inker), Chris Eliopoulos & Bill Oakley (letterers), Marie Javins (colorist)

Thornn, Detective Jose Hidalgo, Cannonball, and Shatterstar search for Feral inside the abandoned tenement building. Feral emerges from the shadows and kidnaps Jose Hidalgo. Hidalgo tries to talk Feral into confessing to the murders of her family, but he isn’t able to reach her. Outside, Cable and Domino are monitoring the building, waiting for Feral to emerge. Domino is ready to take the shot, but Cable is adamant that Feral will not be killed. Thornn, Cannonball, and Shatterstar catch up to Feral. Feral blames Thornn for not protecting her from their alcoholic mother’s boyfriend, and brags that she knew how to deal with the problem. Feral drags Hidalgo to the roof where she kept her pigeon coop as a child.
Feral pushes Thornn into telling the truth about their family. Thornn remembers leaving Feral in charge of their younger sister while she went outside to play with Hidalgo. When Thornn came back, their sister was dead after falling down the stairs. Feral was smiling. Thorrn remembers that their mother always said that the birth of their sister drove their father away. She wonders if Feral believed it. No one knows if Feral pushed her sister or not, but she denies it. Feral then explains that their brother died while chasing her pigeons off of the roof. She blames him for not being able to hold on to the ledge.
Thorrn explains what happened to Harry Bellinger, their mother’s boyfriend. After repeatedly attempting to molest the sisters, he followed Thornn outside one night, dragged her into an alley and tried to rape her. Feral came from out of the shadows and killed him. The sisters stuffed his body between the walls of a nearby building, where it was only recently discovered. Cannonball asks about their mother. Feral reveals that her mother killed the pigeons in her coop to get back at her for killing her boyfriend. Feral brags that she killed her in retaliation. She then leaps at Cannonball, but he easily stops her. Detective Hidalgo places Feral and Thornn under arrest, although it’s unlikely that Thornn will be prosecuted for covering up Harry Bellinger’s murder. The MLF are blamed for breaking Thornn out of her prison transport earlier. Cable reveals to Cannonball that it was Dani Moonstar who suggested framing the MLF, and fed Feral the information that lead her to the tenement building.

This is one of Nicieza’s best issues of X-Force, and probably the darkest story to be told in the X-books during this era. Using a gritty, urban crime story as an origin for Feral works surprisingly well, actually making her interesting for the first time. Feral was originally just violent and hateful because that’s what the cool characters were supposed to be, but now we learn that she’s been shaped by drug addicted parents, poverty, child molestation, rape, and murder (I hate to think about the Google hits I’ll get off of this). This could’ve been a cliché villain origin, but Nicieza makes it feel real. His ability to take the blank slates given to him at the start of this series and actually do something with them should be admired. The pacing of the story, which offers vague hints about the past while building to the climax, is nicely done. There’s a lot of backstory in this issue, but the story doesn’t feel cramped or rushed. Avoiding any superpowered showdowns between Feral and the team helps, since that’s not what this story is about (plus, Feral isn’t a legitimate threat for the entire team anyway). Daniel’s cartoony art isn’t really suited for a story with such grim themes, but it’s not distracting enough to drastically dampen the impact. This isn’t the type of material I’d like to see on a monthly basis in a superhero comic, but I think there is room for the occasional dark story that serves a purpose outside of nihilism.

1 comment:

Brett said...

This is definitely one of my favorite comics ever and always an issue I cite when defending X-Force to pretty much everyone. Nicieza did do some great things to the Liefeld creations.

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