Ed Brisson and Dylan Burnett brought readers a new take on X-Force with their “Sins of the Past” storyline, and it’s now collected in trade paperback. The five-issue story arc puts kid-Cable on his first mission, integrates a few staples of X-Force on the team, and has them attempt to reverse a genocide of mutants in a dictatorship country. The stakes are high, but is it good?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
After decades of combat, the man called Cable has fallen in battle! Now, Cable’s original X-Force team of Domino, Cannonball, Shatterstar, Boom-Boom and Warpath reunite to hunt down his murderer and avenge his death! The ’90s mutant militia is back, teeth gritted and hot for blood…but when their target is a time-traveling younger version of Cable himself, is there a line that X-Force absolutely cannot cross? And what does Deathlok have to do with all of this time-traveling insanity? A reckoning will come…and if X-Force is lucky, they just might survive! It’s an all-new, high-octane mutant adventure as only the original X-Force can deliver it!
Why does this matter?
One of the most badass mutant teams is back with Domino in charge (or so she thinks) and quite a violent crew working towards saving lives. Brisson has weaved in some clever reveals and twists for readers adding an extra oomph to the proceedings.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This story arc builds towards quite an interesting sequel story arc, laying the groundwork for a battle between alternate timelines. It makes sense given kid-Cable killed the older Cable we know and love in a previous series. Starting fresh, this series gives kid-Cable a purpose as the story delves into his timeline, why he came to ours, and ultimately how messing with the timeline is a big no-no. That also includes the original X-Men going into the future, so in some respect, this story arc pays off on the retconning of those characters.
While all that is happening, a genocide is taking place via a psycho general and the political elements are shockingly easy to relate to. Brisson writes strong dialogue for the dictator Constantin who basically screams at a deep-cut mutant villain that anyone who tells you mutants are born that way are lying. It’s a scary moment since it’s so easily relatable to real people today being subjecated by ignorant bigots. Brisson and Burnett do a good job establishing the stakes in play as far as the mutants being rounded up and why they’re so easily improsoned makes sense with good placement of details as the story progresses.
I like Burnett’s work here, although I will admit I’m not sure it suits this series. There’s a darker tone with the Cable flashbacks that suits his style late in the story arc. When folks start to bend and twist from some unknown force it can look gnarly and quite cool.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
As I mentioned above the art is a bit too cartoony and almost feels comical in its approach. It’s great in its own right, but too expressive and not dark enough for a series about killer mutants. Speaking of killers, whether or not these mutants kill is a strange line the story tiptoes. In a single moment one character might be screaming they don’t kill to another, yet two panels later Shatterstar and Deathlok are cutting through an enemy like butter.
Another issue with the book is the latter chapters focusing on kid-Cable via flashbacks. They feel like heavy lifting to explain what his deal is which is widely off focus given what came before. It reads like a retcon on top of a retcon (since he himself retconned the Cable we know) and it’s too little too late to give the character purpose. It sets up the next arc well, but comes out of left field. Brisson is asking us to care about a character we only just met, which is a hard pill to swallow.
Is it good?
I wanted to like this series, but it comes off as clunky and missing the mark. Between the art and shoehorned-in flashback with Cable, it’s a hard pill to swallow. That said, it does build up towards the next story arc well and has piqued my interest.