Wednesday, March 14, 2012

X-FORCE #89 - April 1999

Armageddon Now Part Three - Hellions Triumphant!
Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Terry Shoemaker (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Marie Javins (colors), Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (letters)

Summary: Under Paradigm’s influence, X-Force retrieves the Armageddon Man and takes him to Bedlam’s base inside an abandoned nuclear plant. Feral and Switch kidnap Senator Owen Danville and take him to Bedlam, who orders Danville to contact the government and convey his demand of a billion dollars in exchange for keeping Armageddon Man inert. While they wait for the government’s response, Bedlam catches Jesse trying to escape, but convinces him to stay. Tarot, however, turns on Bedlam after foreseeing the destruction that Armageddon Man will create. With her help, Moonstar frees X-Force of Paradigm’s influence. Jesse tries to protect Tarot from an enraged Bedlam, and is decked by his brother. Suddenly, the coolant tower collapses and Armageddon Man emerges.

Continuity Notes:
· Moonstar connects to Paradigm’s psyche while under his control and learns his origin. Paradigm was a young telekinetic in Hong Kong who was injected with a sample of “a techno-organic alien” by a mysterious group of scientists.
· Senator Danville once served as an Army officer on the Alamogordo project. This would be the early mutant research project led by Xavier and Juggernaut’s fathers, as revealed by Fabian Nicieza in X-Men #12. (Which was an embellishment on Stan Lee’s original idea that Xavier and Marko were scientists doing atomic research together.) According to Bedlam, after the deaths of Kurt Marko and Brian Xavier, Armageddon Man’s inert body was “secreted in a Utah missile silo -- until I learned of his location from a ex-CIA operative.”
· Tarot claims that her death at the hand of the Sentinels was “transient” and that she owes Bedlam for nursing her back to health.

Review: Since most of this issue is dedicated to getting the plot device of Armageddon Man in his proper place, it’s a bit of a drag on the storyline. The erratic characterization of Bedlam also hurts the story, as Moore has him shift from mutant extremist to greedy extortionist to left-wing activist all in the course of a few pages. As Bedlam points out, none of these stances necessarily contradicts one another, but rather than making the character appear complex, he comes across as an unfocused concept.

Moore does take the time to give Paradigm an origin, and explore Jesse and Tarot’s motivations for joining Bedlam, but that’s really the extent of the character work. And even then, we’re left with the bizarre explanation that Tarot, who confirmed that she was truly dead last issue, was in a “transient” death that Bedlam somehow managed to prevent. It’s hard to tell if this is just another vague clue, or the real explanation for Tarot’s revival. John Francis Moore tends to steer away from this kind of gratuitous, half-formed mystery while writing X-Force, so I’m hoping that this isn’t the last word on her revival. Not that it would be any cheaper than revealing that Emma Frost was in a coma after her definitive death scene, mind you, but Moore tends to be better than this.


Adam Farrar said...

I think it's odd that X-Force and Gambit are both bringing up Alamogordo and Hazard at the same time. I don't think anyone was too interested in them when they were introduction in the early issues of X-Men, but now two different books are following up on them. That's X-Men (or "ongoing superhero") comics in a nutshell I guess.

ray swift said...

I, for once, really really enjoyed the character work in this issue. Even the "heartless thugs" got a page to work out with the senator and flesh out their colors, which, if not deep, are at least somehow colorful and amusing. It's nice to see someone explore the "warehouse conversation with the lackeys". The Jesse-Tarot character arcs were especialy fascinating, as nothing obvious happened. The commmon comic books would make Jesse regret his actions and save the heroes, but Moore doesn't step into that trap and stays loyal to Jesse's character, making him very human and beliveble character. In the same time, the same decision makes Tarot more interesting, as it defines her as more then the submissive character we saw in this story till now. Both turns in the plot are unexpected. It makes you stay on the edge as you read the comics, so the issue didn't feel like a filler to me, but as a very exciting in-between character arc.
Heck, even Paradigm got some character development.

ray swift said...

This story does raise an interesting issue: It seems only logical that the decision of handling Genosha to Magneto as a reaction to his terrorism will spread like a virus all other the country in a form of terrorist mutant organizations, like mushrooms after the rain.
Now more mutant terrorist will be inspired to try and blackmail the state through aggresion and violence.

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