The contest continues. Can Krakoa's champions catch up with their Arakko counterparts as Saturnyne continues to put both sides through challenge after challenge or are the cards simply too stacked against them?!!
The misdirection continues as Gerry Duggan and Benjamin Percy fill this issue with all manner of challenges for the chosen champions of Krakoa and Arakko respectively. There are several very entertaining moments (featuring everything from dance off’s to fashion shows to torture chambers) throughout the issue broken up into single panel to multi-panel windows including the opener between Magik and the large crocodilian behemoth that is Pogg Ur- Pogg (boy people are going to be so mad at that reveal I think but hats off as once again the writers actually let us know in the last Marauders what the key was! ) and from there the next significant moment comes between Brian Braddock and Saturnyne in a race through the Crooked Market as she once again pursues her agenda to have Braddock retake the mantle of Captain Britain and then it’s back to the various challenges which run the gambit of being boring to hilarious to quite sad (how often have you seen Wolverine cry?) until we, at last, arrive at the piece de resistance of the issue: The fight between Storm and Death.
It’s a wonderful moment for the character as Storm who,despite carrying the consequences of her drinking competition with Logan, once again demonstrates all the characteristics that make her a favorite amongst legions of X-fans, and quite honestly when you think about it, it couldn’t really have ended any other way which I’m pretty grateful for because the score really isn’t looking good for Krakoa at this point!
If I’m being honest this issue lacks some of the gravitas of the previous issues and tends more to the plain fun side of things which isn’t a bad thing if that’s what you want. Along the way, we get more info on the Crooked Market and a look at the vampire realm of Sevalith. Duggan and Percy make the Arakkoans or Arakkii if you like more three-dimensional than just straight villains which is something I deeply appreciate about this whole storyline. An example is Redroot saying she has never won anything before is both hilarious and at the same time quite poignant if you reflect on the world she comes from. The data pages and particularly the “reports” page sent to a certain large corpuscular yellow menace actually had me chuckling and I wonder if that’s some foreshadowing.
As for the art, Cassara and Guru-eFX are strong again in an issue that is far more traditionally paneled than the pairs the last outing in Wolverine #7 which I would imagine has to do a great deal with the sheer amount of information the script for this issue wanted to convey. The issue at some points feels a little cluttered panel wise because of this before stretching itself for a beautifully drawn and colored fight between Storm and Death at the end which is all glorious reds and purples and blues perfectly suited to a realm of the undead. I also need to remark on the use of the tarot score counter which continuously reminds you just how things are going and begs the question…where will we be when this all ends?
Once again Dustin Weaver’s cover is brilliant if a complete and utter red herring as Wolverine does not lift a sword this issue. I am puzzled by Solem’s quote at the end and why does it say X-Force Alpha at the bottom of that page…
Krakoan at the end reads: A Fools Gamble
X-Force #14 focuses very much on the challenges the competitors face with less interpersonal moments between characters than in previous issues making for slightly lighter reading but is no less entertaining with brilliant art to keep you engaged page after page.
X-FORCE #14 (XOS Chapter 17): The Contest Continues
Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 9.5/109.5/10
Color - 9.5/109.5/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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