REVIEW: Angel X-travaganza

ar1p01.jpg

X-FORCE #4
Writer: Christopher Yost, Craig Kyle
Artist: Clayton Crain

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS #12
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Roger Cruz

ANGEL: REVELATIONS #1
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artist: Adam Pollina

xmen_fc_12_frankblack_dcp_001.jpgx-force__004_000.jpg

According to X-Force, not in the slightest. It’s a book of unrelenting darkness: self-harming, force-fed heroin, back-stabbing and death. Your basic, run-of-the-mill darkness. I have to confess, everything about the concept of this book grates with me: I didn’t read Messiah Complex so I don’t get why Cyclops would send out a Special Ops team bent on killing. The idea of taking the X-men and ramping up the ‘edginess’ factor (meaning of course, yet more angst and gritty ‘darkness’ and killing). Oh, and the team has yet another Wolverine inclusion.

Yet, I grudgingly admit, it’s rather interesting. That ‘edginess’ does manage to drive along a plot I don’t really understand or have any particular reason to care about, and making me care. There’s at least one stunning image in here, playing on the animalistic characteristics of certain X-Men, and the X-23 narration (played as a pure-strain, unrepentant Wolverine) is pretty good. And the art is very pretty, looking to be painted, though it occasionally gets a little muddled in its determination to fit the ‘dark’ theme they’ve got running, and Wolverine has ridiculous hair.

And, oh, the baddies are silly (yet another religious zealot group from the shadows, by the looks of things) and how they reach the twist is a little contrived (it involves artificial mutant cells, is all I’m saying) and I’m pretty sure this is a re-do of at least one old storyline (but at least they acknowledge it). And I’m still not sold on the concept. But I had fun.

x-force__004_005.jpg

Batting for the other side is the nostalgia-fest of First Class. I’m new to this one too, and with its cartoony art and teenaged cast, the first touchstone is the Ultimate line. Here, everyone does take themselves lightly; the star being the Tintin-haired Iceman, who I can’t decide whether to find annoying or endearing.

Angel searches for his lost adventurer aunt amongst what appears to be the set of the new Indiana Jones film. The aunt, incidentally, resembles a certain female tomb raider, a trope I think is now universal in comics, and is “HAWT”, Iceman tells us (see what I mean? I think the boy might be over-compensating.)

With the cute little accompanying ‘Warren Worthington, The Poor Little Rich Mutant‘ strip, it could not be further from X-Force, and it’s a relief reading them back-to-back to have a break from all that darkness, but they’re roughly of the same quality. So, choose light or dark, they’re both fun.

xmen_fc_12_frankblack_dcp_012.jpg

Then there’s the self-titled Angel: Revelations itself, a re-origin-ing for Warren, which falls somewhere between the other two, tonally, with some virtues of both. The art is hyper-stylised: deformed posture, panel layouts that bleed into the experimental and some very nice use of shadow and silhouette … I’m reminded of, and this is a bit obscure, the World Record short from the Animatrix.

And this very pretty art is contrasted with a story darker than X-Force, at its core. The baddies are the corrupt forces of Organised Religion, again (to be fair, I guess with a character called ‘Angel’, it’s difficult not to pitch him against Churchy-types) but I get a much more genuinely sinister chill down my spine from Angel’s tall thin priest of Reckoning than X-Force’s Super-Evil-Corporation-With-A-Sprinkling-Of-God types. The ‘Relevations’ framing of the series seems a little melodramatic but the series has time to reveal something more major, and I’m willing to give it that type. Still, if you read this (and I rather recommend it) read it for the style, not the content.

X-Force 6/10
First Class 6/10
Angel 8/10

Tags: , , ,