Saturday, January 7, 2012

GN Review -- X-Force: Sex + Violence / Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost and Gabriele Dell'Otto

If there's a guilty pleasure I have in comics, it's gotta be this story.  It really doesn't offer up much more than its title states, but hey, at least it's honest.  And it's one hell of a fun ride.

I haven't really read X-Force since the days when its membership roster included Cable, Shatterstar and Boom-Boom (among others), and even back then I couldn't escape the vaguely nagging thought that this was a team that was superfluous.  Individually, some of them were cool, but collectively, they didn't even really feel like a team.  So when an X-Force title was announced after years of apparent slumber, I wasn't so enthused.  But if this is a representative sample of what the team is about today, then I can definitely see why this darker, grittier incarnation of the them is getting such rave reviews.

Sex + Violence starts with Wolverine finding out why Domino is suddenly in need of some serious healing from teammate Elixir, which leads to her explaining a job she worked with the Assassins Guild that ended up getting the ninjas of the Hand on their bad side.  Throw in some previously unmentioned slave girls and a stash of hundreds of millions in cash, Domino decided to double-cross her employers, who of course are now trying to kill her.  Wolverine takes her to square things away with the Guild, where they bicker, shed assassin blood, and rip each other's clothes off while they try to stay alive and remove the death sentence hanging over Domino's pretty little head.

One of the things that really grabs me about this story is the sheer amount of blood spilled from the get-go.  I'm not used to seeing this much carnage in a Marvel title, but when it's done this well, I don't mind in the slightest.  Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost may not have picked a particularly imaginative plot, but they executed it extremely well, bringing the two stars into the middle of a conflict involving two of Marvel's deadliest and, likely, bloodiest villain groups, and making full use of the setup.  Using Wolverine's claws and Domino's guns to maximum effect, they make sure they give every bit as good as they get, and it's extremely satisfying to watch.

I also am intrigued by how Domino has changed over the years.  She was on the original X-Force team, and as I recall seemed something of a mother figure.  That's clearly gone out the window by this point, and now that she's free of Cable and the kids, she really shines as a greedy, manipulative, but way too cute and cocky femme fatale.  It really works for her character, as does her "I'm on board with killing our enemies" attitude that, I assume, places her on this team.

I'm very much in love with the art in this story.  Gabriele Dell'Otto's painted work makes every page look like a poster book with words.  They bring all the blood, violence, and lust that permeates the narrative directly to the forefront in an immediate and urgent way that both shocks and titillates.  It kept me reading, and I won't deny I re-read this story a few times to just admire some of the illustrations.

Very suggestive in its premise, and delivering as much as possible on it without tipping into adults-only territory, Sex + Violence is a fun romp through the X-verse, pairing two very entertaining characters who work well together, despite all the bickering.  If you don't mind a bit of lust and blood in your comics diet, I strongly suggest you check it out.  Highly recommended.

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