Friday, December 13, 2013

X-FORCE #100 - March 2000


Dark Cathedral
Credits:  John Francis Moore (writer), Jim Cheung & Chris Renaud (pencilers), Mark Morales, John Czop, Scott Koblish, & Rich Perrotta (inkers), Marie Javins & Wilson Ramos (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters)

Summary:  X-Force is stunned to discover four iterations of Moonstar.  Meanwhile, Arcadia transforms into the Queen of the Star Swords.  The real Moonstar, bereft of powers, emerges from the crowd along with Proudstar and Risque.  The Queen takes the four Moonstars with her and creates a cathedral in the city.  Ulysses Dragonblood arrives that night and helps X-Force enter the cathedral, which they soon discover is a doorway into alternate realities.  Cannonball discerns that the four Moonstars emerged from four different Earths.  Eventually, Cable, Jennifer Kale, and Man-Thing arrive and help Moonstar defeat the Queen.  She then uses the power she absorbed to destroy the cathedral.

Continuity Notes:  
  • The Sunspot and Siryn subplots continue, even though this is John Francis Moore’s final issue.  Sunspot spies on, and accidentally runs into, the girl whose body Julianna Sandoval now inhabits.  Siryn is possessed by her mystic necklace and flies out of her aunt’s house.
  • After seeing a vision of an alternate reality X-Force that died under his leadership, Cable lets go of the team and encourages them to find their own identity.
  • Moonstar emerges from the story without her cosmic powers, claiming that she’s back to mental projections and psychic arrows.
  • Sunspot refers to the events of the New Mutants graphic novel (1982) as happening “five years ago.”

Review:  The final John Francis Moore/Jim Cheung issue, and I really wish I could say there was a  payoff to all of that Deviants/Eternals/Gatherers/Damocles Foundation stuff.  There isn’t.  The storyline ends with Arcadia going evil, revealing she’s from an alternate reality, and then retreating to that alternate reality off-panel after Moonstar kicks her butt with Cable’s psimitar.  Moore spent years setting up this storyline, occasionally to the point of tediousness, and I can’t imagine this is how he actually wanted to end it.  Regardless, it’s over, and while it doesn’t feel like much of a conclusion, there are still some nice anniversary issue moments.  The alternate reality scenes are a clever way to pay homage to the past of the book, going all the way back to the original New Mutants issues and extrapolating some strange worlds that could plausibly exist.  And not all of them are there just to play the dystopia card, as Moore treats one as a parody Ellis dimension in preparation for “Counter-X.”  It’s genuinely funny, and I’m glad Marvel allowed the scene to go through.  There’s also a cute exchange between Meltdown and Cable, mocking what a flop his “final” battle with Apocalypse turned out to be.

Trying to view this as a coherent story, though, it has numerous problems.  One major problem is Arcadia’s sudden turn into outright villainy; there’s some justification that plays off of previous stories about her fantasy life as a kid, but she remains a poorly defined villain.  And I’m still not sure what exactly Arcadia planned to do with the four alternate reality Moonstars, or why she chose those specific versions of Moonstar.  In addition, the issue already begins with too many characters to keep track of, but then keeps adding more as the story goes along.  Did Moonstar really need Ulysses Dragonblood, Cable, Jennifer Kale, and Man-Thing to defeat Arcadia?  What point do they truly serve?  Also, why was Risque brought back for this story?  She has a few lines of dialogue at the beginning and then drops out halfway through the issue.  And, bizarrely, Moore is continuing subplots he’ll never be able to finish.  Cutting away to Sunspot and Siryn during the already cramped main story serves no purpose, especially if these plots are never going to be resolved.  It’s also kind of annoying that Moore has to work in a quickie rationalization for Cable to once again distance himself from the team, just to set up that misguided “Counter-X” run.  


Matt said...

I didn't read X-Force, but it's nice to know its momentum was killed just as thoroughly as was Generation X's for "Counter X".

I remember at the time hearing nothing but praise for Moore's X-Force (and I recall firsthand that I found Fearber's Gen X to be the best the title had been in years). What a shame.

Anonymous said...

At least Counter-X saved X-Man.
I think X-Force was the one that got the biggest hit from Counter-X, as it wasn't good after Moore. With Generation X, there were the Brian Wood issues, which were superb. Faerber's run was quite good, but at least Gen X eventually recovered.

wwk5d said...

Gen X was actually good under Counter-X, once you got past that first story. X-force went to sh*t. As for X-man...I didn't care for it, and never saw what the internet thought was so great about it during Counter-X ("He's a shaman now!" Whatever).

As for this's too bad it ends on such a fizzle. JFM did a good job on the title, and Road Trip issues are some of the best this title produced. If he focused less on the Deviant story and had a more conclusive, less rushed ending, this would have been a classic run. As it is, the pluses outweigh the minuses, so on that note, it was a successful run.

Teebore said...

Dropped subplots aside, I recall finding the Faeber to Wood transition in Gen X rather smooth, while I was one of those people who loved the new direction for X-Man. I haven't read it since, so I have no idea if it holds up, but I remember really enjoying it.

Part of it was probably just that the series had floundered for so long that any coherent direction was an improvement, but I also liked the art, and I recall it doing some clever things with the concept of alternate realities.

As for Counter-X X-Force, yeah, that pretty much sucked. And that's coming from someone who, at the time, kinda liked Pete Wisdom, Mary Sue-isms and all...

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