Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Mike Allred
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens up by introducing us to El Guapo, the newest mutant who is being considered for membership in X-Statix. As we see that El Guapo's recent rescue of Guy is playing a major role in this kid with a flying skateboard getting such an active consideration, we see the final test comes in the aftermath of a big party, where after getting the kid half drunk, they decide to take him along on a mission. With the ability to remain on his feet, and keep his lunch down taking considerable effort, we see El Guapo's debut is a less than impressive showing, but he did manage to survive this trial by fire, and as such he's accepted into the group. However, once in the fold, El Guapo finds himself being tempted by the various rewards that come with being a famous celebrity/hero, and when he cheats on his longtime girlfriend, we see Doop is on hand to record this unflattering behavior. To this end when El Guapo's longtime girlfriend is made aware of his cheating ways when photos of it are published in the paper, we see this seemingly happy relationship is brought a crashing demise. We the see El Guapo's sentient skateboard was rather fond of El Guapo's former girlfriend, and it lets him know it's displeased by beating upon the young mutant without mercy, thus revealing that El Guapo's relationship with his skateboard is a highly abusive one.
This issue acts as pretty much our introduction to the team's latest member, and considering the team's extremely high mortality rate, one would have expected more issues like this. In the end one's enjoyment of this issue is largely dependent on how much one enjoys the new cast member this issue shines the spotlight upon, and speaking for myself I found the character to be equal parts intriguing & somewhat cheesy concept wise. I mean the idea that this character possesses a sentient skateboard strikes me as an incredibly silly power, and his almost slapstick style moment during the battle does bring up the question of how much use could this ability possibly be to the group. Then again I've learned right from the earliest issues of this book that a character's ability to appeal to an audience is more important to one's membership in this group, than one's ability to carry their own weight in the middle of a heated battle. Plus the fact that he has half tanked in the middle of his first battle probably didn't allow him to put in his best showing. However, what really caught my interest in this issue, and has me willing to look past the inherent goofiness of his mutant power was the revelation that the skateboard is the dominant personality in this pairing, and if he does something that it dislikes, it lets him know via a physical beating.
Our new character is also the first character to really take notice of the idea that Doop is more than simply a harmless background element, as Doop's unflinching coverage of the new character's sexual antics manages to find their way into the pages of a tabloid, and this in turn results in his relationship with his longtime girlfriend being brought to an end. Now thanks to the final scene I do believe I'm going to have to bear down and learn how to decipher Doop's language, as it seems to play a fairly key role in this story's climax, and frankly I'm rather curious as to what Doop said to justify his coverage of El Guapo's cheating ways. There's also the idea that while El Guapo is guilty for having betrayed the trust of his girl, and given into temptation, the fact that Doop was on scene to film it, and these photos found their way to the press does seem to suggest that there is an active policy in place to discourage the team members from being in relationships outside of the ones that look to exist within the group. This in turn further advances the idea that Doop is more than simply an observer, and the idea that he is actually controlling the team to behave in ways that lend themselves to more attention grabbing dramatics would seem to be supported by this seeming lack of outside contacts, that could possibly reassert the character's normal reactions.
Mike Allred has slowly altered the look of his art so that if one was to take the early issues of new X-Force and compare that work to his current work, one would almost suspect that there had been a change in artists. The work looks more detailed, with the more cartoonish elements having slowly faded out, so that while there's still a bouncy sense of fun to the book, there's also a sense of realism that acts to underscore the more jaded feeling that this book has embraced. I mean one has to love how the art details the material visually, as El Guapo's awkward attempts at being the big hero in his first battle are given a wonderfully amusing final moment as he discovers flying skateboards & low hanging branches make for a rather poor combination. The art also does come solid work showing the rest of the team in action, as how can one not love the contrast of some of the most violent imagery in comics being rendered in such a lighthearted manner. I mean there's a panel where Deadgirl has ripped a man in two by diving straight through the poor guy's stomach, and it wasn't until I was going over the art for this review that I was struck by how utterly sensationalistic the violence in this panel was. Great looking cover on this issue as well, as it really sells the idea that this new character is making his big debut in this issue.
First off I have to say that I loved the misdirection that is delivered with the opening line of this series, as it not only sets us up to believe that El Guapo is a real player, and that his girlfriend is perfectly fine with the idea of his fooling around, but it also cleverly hints at the idea that his skateboard is alive, without spoiling the surprise. Now this issue is all about how membership in the X-Statix would seem to actively discourage a healthy lifestyle, as there's nothing that kills the illusion of a handsome bad boy than the idea that he's in a loving relationship with a steady girlfriend, and as such we see steps were taken to destroy this image tarnishing bit of normalcy. The book also plays up the idea that there is far more to Doop than meets the eye, as much like the backup story where he killed a mutant deemed unfit for membership in X-Statix, this issue shows us that Doop plays a very active role in keeping the members of this group under lock & key, so to speak, with his efforts to actively discourage behavior that doesn't suit the image being projected to the audience.
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