Domino is healed but why is she behaving so directly in contrast to her last wishes as members of X-force are dispatched to investigate strange goings-on in the jungles of Terra Verde. What has Beast's meddling wrought...
On the face of it, X-Force #9 is pretty straight forward. Three members of the team (Wolverine, Domino, Quenten Quire) get sent by Beast back to the country of Terra Verde to investigate why Beast isn’t getting any information feed from there anymore and bad things happen… except that to describe it thus is really a disservice as there is actually so much more going on.
But let’s examine things from the beginning… the opening of this issue is something truly special. Normally two tight panels on Wolverine drinking communicate a mood of melancholy, you know the hard man doing hard-drinking but Cassara very cleverly pulls back further and further like a long cinematic pullback that ends in an absolutely wonderful “Where’s Wally” double splash that’s going to have fans talking, laughing and speculating for a while to come..welcome to the Green Lagoon. I’m not going to go into detail it needs to be seen to be believed but its a really fun moment. The game of spin the bottle being played by Wolverine and Daken with Gabby egging them on is very much a reminder, even as Jean asks Wolverine why he isn’t doing something “nice” with his kids and Wolverine shoots back that he is, that everything about this society is meant to be different to human society…even this game, violent as it is, is mutants doing things we would never do because they are mutants and can.
But amongst the roses, there must always be thorns…
Domino is back and healed completely or is she? In the previous arc Domino died but before she died her dying request to Colossus was that she wanted her scars and to remember the trauma she had lived through. Yet here she is fully restored physically without the trauma and scars she asked to keep, she doesn’t seems to not know, writing it off as what she wanted when asked about it by Sage (who by the way never get into a bar fight with! Ask Gorgeous George) who herself remarks at how different this is from before. This is really a large alarm bell and it’s punctuated even further in the issue when Wolverine asks her the same thing. Percy’s writing frames many questions in one’s mind about why has she come back like this when she asked not to? Who made that call and what gave them/it the right to do that? I have no substantial answers but it really is in my mind a very deliberate crack shown in the new status quo.
Black Tom is also put under the microscope here and its made even more clear that his personality is taking massive strain being linked to Krakoa as part of its nervous system and its very clear he isn’t dealing with it as well which is another crack considering he’s the islands defense mechanism. Percy’s adeptness at character voice continues this issue particularly his Quire who is as big a pain in the ass as he is meant to be which is really enjoyable. There are some other things like the exchange between Jean and Logan with Cyclops looming in the background of the panel…Jean said she feels like her compass is off since joining X-Force that all help add to the sense of tension that permeates this issue.
We then switch gears as Percy has Beast send only half the team on an assignment which on the balance of what is revealed in the issue a bad idea…Jean and Sage are deliberately left out and the more aggressive component of the team is sent to do Beast’s dirty work. This is very much the chickens of Beast’s meddling previously with the teleflorenic rebels coming back to roost as Percy ties us back to what happened previously. There’s a glaringly incisive line on the data pages that only serves to underline just how blind Beast is to his mistakes. It does not end well for the team in the field at all as Beast enlists the help of Black Tom before a cliffhanger last page ending worthy of a horror movie. It’s worth noting the Krakoan at the end of the issue reads MALIGNANT GROWTH…
oh and incidentally Hanks Coffee cup reads MORNING SUNSHINE based on what one can translate.
The data pages offer no comfort and really two things stand out…one is the parallels between whats happening in Terra Verde and that of Krakoa itself…specifically in regard to ritual sacrifice… it’s in plain text that Krakoa has to consume 2 mutants each year in order to thrive…again you got to ask who decides that? Do the mutants have to alive or dead? and then dear reader you may like myself realize in bemused horror after reading that line, that if you go back to that wonderful fun double splash so superbly drawn Joshua Cassara and colored by Dean White and look in the bottom right hand corner on the right of the page there a skull and well I think we may know who one of Krakoa’s meals was… Rhymes with Boron… there’ another skull at the bar too… any guesses as to who’s it is?
Joshua Cassara is back on art duties with his partner in crime Dean White and I have already waxed lyrical about his wonderful opening pages and that splash. Let’s talk about other elements here. That gritty body horror/plant horror element is there again as Cassara draws the gory consequences of dark and terrible teleflorenic violence in Terra Verde which is accentuated superbly by
Dean White’s use of colors. Cassasra’s facial expressions are superb in this issue and there some really great paneling choices particularly toward the end of the book as well as some breaks too that make this comic a really sterling effort from the art team. I really can’t compliment the art team enough here, this issue is superbly crafted and art wise and is my favorite so far. The level of detail in everything is astonishing from Cassara and White’s coloring never hides any of it while letterer Joe Caramagna sees to it that the dialogue doesn’t subtract one whit from the art and the story reads smoothly.
Benjamin Percy and company continue to make X-Force a nuanced and subtle affair with stories that examine the cracks in this new mutant status quo through strong character writing while also delivering gut-wrenching x style gritty action... the sense of unease that runs through this book is palpable and intoxicating all at once! Do not miss it!
X-FORCE #9: Consequences in Terra Verde
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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