Friday, August 30, 2013

X-FORCE #99 - February 2000

Bad Company
Credits:  John Francis Moore (writer), Jim Cheung (penciler), Mark Morales (inker), Marie Javins (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters)

Summary:  The Demon Bear attacks San Francisco, and X-Force soon learns that Arcadia is its target.  She explains that the Bear has been stalking her since her last encounter with Moonstar.  Soon, the Bear swallows both Arcadia and Moonstar.  Inside the Bear, they see images of Moonstar’s horse Brightwind and Arcadia’s doll Mary Weather.  The doll explains that the Demon Bear was created when Arcadia absorbed Moonstar’s memories.  They must combine their reality-warping powers to unmake it.  After following the doll’s instructions, the Demon Bear disappears.  In the smoke, four versions of Moonstar emerge.

Continuity Notes
  • Siryn is visiting her “aunt” (actually her mother’s cousin, according to the narrative captions) Victoria Donnely in Looking Glass, California.  In an antique shop, an elderly woman puts a necklace around Siryn’s neck and it begins to glow.  
  • Sunspot, meanwhile, is adjusting to life in the Hellfire Club.  The story hints that his first love Juliana, recently resurrected by Selene, might actually have memories of him.
  • While fighting the Demon Bear, two mystery figures in business suits (Mr. Wu, Miss Lloyd) spy on Meltdown.  Wu cryptically says that they “need a third.”
  • Risque makes a sudden appearance during the Demon Bear fight to aid Proudstar.  Later, armed SHIELD agents arrive and target the Bear.  It reads as if both of these appearances are creations of Moonstar/Arcadia’s reality warping powers, but the next issue confirms that they're really there.

Review:  It’s John Francis Moore’s penultimate issue, and true to form, it’s crammed with subplots, narrative captions, and New Mutants references.  Evoking the Claremont/Sienkiewicz “Demon Bear Saga” is a dangerous move given its canonization over the years, but after months of teasing, Moore makes it clear that he’s not honestly trying to write a sequel to the original story.  Instead, it was just a tease, setting up the final stage of the Moonstar/Arcadia story.  Arcadia is of course tied in with the prolonged Deviants storyline that’s become something of a drag on the book, but Moore does a decent job this issue of making Arcadia interesting in her own right.  The flashbacks to her childhood (memories Moonstar now shares) are pretty effective in fleshing her out, and Cheung gets some mileage out of Arcadia’s living Raggedy Anne doll that conveniently tells the heroes what they need to do.  However, I have to say that the subplots seem more intriguing than the main story.  And with only one issue left, it’s hard to imagine that they’re going to be properly addressed before Moore’s departure.


cyke68 said...

It never ceases to amaze me how effectively John Francis Moore was able to weave so many subplots, past references, and otherwise unconnected characters into one another without cramming it down your throat or wrecking the pace of his individual issues. A very delicate balancing act when you have 22 pages of story to work with, but he rarely misstepped. Before the announcement of Claremont's return and the Counter X revamps, I was really hoping he'd get a shot at one of the main titles since it was clear that the Davis run was winding down. How in the world did his talent go unrecognized? I guess he got lumped in with all those '90s "house writers" like Terry Kavanaugh, Howard Mackie, Joe Harris, Joe Pruett, and Joe Whatever that were shown the door at the dawn of the Quesada regime. Shame, as he really was a cut above all of them.

(Joe Harris at least has resurfaced, which is nice since he had his moments too... none of which I can recall, but I'm sure he did.)

wwk5d said...

JFM had a mixed run on X-Factor. His AOA issues were really strong, but his stuff before and after was really brief but incredibly mixed. Post AOA, his first 2 issues were mixed, and his 3rd and final issue was really good, and seemed to be setting things up in a nice direction, then he was gone, and we got the Mackie run, which was beyond horrible. I wonder how different the title would have been had JFM stayed. Was there any story behind his quick departure?

As for his X-force run...the Road Trip issues were the best, and some of the best stuff the X-office produced in the 90s. The post road trip stuff was good, but some of the Deviant stuff just dragged on and on and on and wasn't always interesting. One the one hand, it's nice to see the X-characters dealing with and interacting with the rest of the Marvel universe. On the other hand, it sometimes felt more like a FF story JFM wanted to tell but was stuck writing X-force. Still, overall, JFM had a good run overall.

yrzhe said...

I got into JFM through his work on X-Men 2099 and Doom 2099, and he is an underrated writer of the period, pretty consistently putting out solid Claremont-esque, subplot-heavy serials.

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