Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Breaking an Endless Cycle in Uncanny X-Force

So last week I wrote about the end of Uncanny X-Force’s Dark Angel Saga. While it definitely stuck the landing, the conclusion did have one strange note.


Following the epic battle, Psylocke stabs Archangel with the life seed, seemingly killing the character and ending his threat to us. A few pages later we see a naked, resurrected Angel (with newly designed wings no less) emerging from the rubble with no memory of who he was and who his friends were. While there is set up to explain this (he was stabbed with a celestial LIFE seed after all), it felt a bit strange. He was corrupted by Apocalypse, but in the course of this story Archangel killed hundreds of people. It made his reasonableness as a villain all the more unnerving, but from a storytelling perspective it certainly required a price to be paid. Seeing the character die was a conclusion that not only made sense, but felt earned.

So now we have an Angel who is completely tabula rasa, with no memory of his life or his friends. Now Remender is certainly a skilled enough writer to take advantage of this consequence and make it feel like it matters. However, as Jim noted, it does feel like a bit of a cop out.

Or at least, that’s what I thought until I read an interview with Remender over at CBR about this issue. He said: “We knew we wanted this storyline to end with a character death, but let's face it, character deaths are just becoming flat. No matter how well they're written or what kind of emotional punch they have, we've just seen too many characters die. I wanted Warren to die, and Jody LeHeup, my old editor and a huge part of this year's success, also wanted Warren to die, but we didn't want it to be just another death. It was workshopped with the X-teams and everyone fell in love with this version of Warren's death.”

It is certainly true that character’s deaths have become a surefire ticket for selling a book in recent years. Every other month a character dies and it feels like a sales tactic. So it’s sad that this isn’t an option that feels available to Remender, but it is interesting the way he takes advantage of the situation. By spinning it into this new status quo, Remender not only gives us something different, but controls the future of this story and spares us the tedious “Return of Angel” mini series in 2 or 3 years.

In an ideal world, Remender could build up to a conclusion like this, kill Angel and have it last. But if this were an ideal world, Dan Didio wouldn’t be running DC and I would own a solid gold toilet. We all have to deal with things as they are and not as we wish they were and Remender’s solution to the endless series of death and resurrection is ingenious. This ending not only keeps him in charge of the story of this character, but spares the readers a long and drawn out process of bringing him back. And who knows, maybe we’ll get something new out of this status quo.

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