Wednesday, December 12, 2012

direct message 006: cable & x-force #1

From the vaults of Marvel NOW! comes another X-Men comic book.

provided by shawn starr
Because fuck you.

Chad Nevett: I don’t know when I gained my affinity for Cable, but it seems like a lifelong habit at this point. Every new series starring the character, I drop in and see what’s what. This time, I’m forcing young Alec Berry to join me. Young Alec is so young that I believe Cable already existed when he was born. Is that right? For you, Cable is almost like any other mainstream superhero character: He’s always been there for as long as you can remember. That’s both a statement about your age and his endurance. Who would have thought that slapping some giant shoulder pads, a metal arm and guns the size of battleship on a senior citizen would work so well?


Cable & X-Force #1 is certainly a comic book. It’s not terribly good. I’m not even sure what the premise is. I know Cable and his group do something wrong, because Captain America and Havok disapprove. I’m not entirely sure what, because the writer decided that, instead of sticking with the interesting bits at the beginning, he would instead spend most of the comic boring me with backstory that didn’t tell me anything. Add to that the art team of Larroca and D’Armata and, well, here we are.


Alec Berry: Alright. I know reviews and criticism like to rely on hyperbole, but as I write this I’m being 100% honest.

Cable & X-force #1 is the worst comic book I’ve read in at least the past 6 months, maybe more. And that’s up against the Fraction/Bagley Fantastic Four, Liefeld’s Hawk & Dove (although, that was fun) and a random issue of Johns/Lee Justice League. And those books provided some sort of fan-ish incentive for my reading pleasure. With this, there’s not even a creator or character I hold some sort of superficial regard for. No, instead, Cable & X-force gives me Dennis Hopeless, a writer capable of more yet simultaneously I hold no connection to, the artist who more than likely broke Matt Fraction’s spirit and Frank D’Armata, who …  do I have to write it?

And, yes, Cable: A character who might as well have been created in 1963, for all I care. You love him, and that’s cool - I love Moon Knight - but there’s nothing there for me. He’s Liefeld, and I respect that, but that’s as far as my respect goes.

The script certainly offers little, but the visuals say it all. These are some incredibly boring layouts. Almost every page utilizes the same horizontally driven machine - panels stacked on panels stacked on panels. There’s a certain interest in cinematic widescreen scope with this approach, but really all it achieves are slow moving pages. The reader literally just moves down the chain. The uniformity of the whole thing neutralizes any potential energy. There’s not an ounce of reason for this choice of design. It benefits the story in no way, and it lacks any heart or reason to be. Larocca literally just picked a grid and filled in the blanks. Cash job, I get it, but for fuck sake, at least show some effort. Fail beautifully, if anything. You make comic books because you enjoy it, correct?  Then show me. Show me you want to be here. There are so many artists who would love a gig like this, but instead you turn in half-assed squares and act like that’s good enough. D’Armata can’t even be blamed for this.

I’m not asking for Building Stories, but for a comic book about a cyborg and a black-ops mutant team, it might be a good idea to spice up the visual direction and actually make this story appear exciting in some regard. At least draw some vertical panels. Liefeld, despite his own faults, sold the energy of both Cable and X-force. That’s all I want, quite honestly. If he’s so bad as everyone says, it shouldn’t take any effort to out-do what he did.

As the artist, you’re a member of the writing team - more so than Hopeless. Write. Direct. Take charge and fucking boil a reader’s brain with something hard and awesome. Don’t just paste figures over bland backgrounds and hope you get by on the comic’s “realistic” appearance. Cartoon, motherfucker. Give me spunk, mistakes, flash and heart. Direct those characters. Consider why they’re there. Think about how the page should and has to move. This bullshit you submitted looks like it went through an assembly line.  Stiff, stale, stagnant … that’s all this is. You’re an artist. Be, you know, creative and loosen up.

Corporate comics deserve the critical thrashing when this is the type of shit representing. It’s hollow and cynical. As you pointed out, Chad, I have no idea what the premise of this series is. Cable wants to be with his daughter, but she wants to be a regular person, yet she’s pissed when her dad isn’t around? Cable’s leading X-force and has upset Captain America? Domino breaks into a facility for easy money, serving as a cheap plot mechanic so that Hope and Cable can be drawn in the same panel? A giant boat attacks a beach on the final page?


As blogger Matt Derman said, the book “hardly cares if anyone comes back for the next installment.” So, as a reader, why should you?

A story isn’t dying to be told. Instead, this is all service for the few fans (sorry, Chad) who must know where Cable ended up after the latest crossover event. That’s what this is. It’s a series of bullet points detailing the whereabouts of a fictional character. Money, paper, time and countless other resources were spent just so people on the Internet know Cable lives in a field somewhere, now.

I don’t even want to write about it anymore, so, Chad, I am finished. I’m sure as a reviewer I failed to be fair, balanced and considerate or even make a point, and I’m sure the number of examples I cited are limited, but it’s clear to anyone who read the comic that Cable & X-Force #1 was garbage. That’s the only necessary evidence. My perspective matters not.   

CN: Fuck fair and balanced. You paid your money, so those that took it can shut the fuck up. Which, by the way, is the trump card in all situations like this. Unless said person is giving it away for free, then there is no right of response. They got paid -- fuck ‘em. Once you’ve given that money over, any response is legitimate (well, within reason; no violence or anything like that, obviously).

It wasn’t the worst comic I’ve read in the past six months, but I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said otherwise. And I’m one of those people who check in on Cable for whatever fucked up reason. From that perspective, this isn’t fan service. I was not served by this comic in any way. Yeah, it features Cable -- just as it features other characters that other people have irrational interests in. I don’t think any of us could say that we were served by them being in this comic. Unless you’re pleased simply by your favourite character being in a comic no matter how terrible or worthless an experience it actually is. If so, well, glad you got your money’s worth. I sure as shit didn’t. Alec certainly did not.

I hope this comic gets cancelled. Soon. I cannot fathom who thought that this was a good first issue. We are both too reasonably intelligent people -- educated, well read, thoughtful when we aren’t jumping to absurd conclusions in an attempt to be hip/funny/cool -- and we both walked away wondering why this comic exists. Okay, not really. We know the reason why Marvel published it in that all comics are published for the same reason. But, looking beyond money/IP concerns, why was this specific comic published? Why this script, this art, etc.? No fucking clue.

All I know is that that’s three bucks I’m never seeing again and I have wasted both of our time. I don’t think I’m allowed to suggest topics anymore, am I?

Not Cable comics, at least.

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