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It’s hard to fault X-Force, as it delivers to the audience exactly what it initially promised: violent and bloody exploitation of established X-Men characters. I’m not trying to say that all criticisms of this title should be moot because of this fact, and is additionally not the whole reason why I enjoy reading this. What I feel separates this title from other books that deliver a similar premise (like Jeph Loeb’s Hulk or Ultimatum) is that X-Force doesn’t sacrifice the story for the violent action, but instead tried to have the two exist together. I feel that the latest issue, X-Force #20, is a good example of this co-existance.
X-Force #20 is the conclusion to the arc that continues the saga of X-23 and her former handlers. As I enjoyed this overall story when it was told in X-23′s mini-series and in New X-Men, I was happy to see that the story was being continued, as I highly enjoy this character. I find she’s a tragic figure, since not only does she always feel terrible about her killer instincts, but it’s next to impossible for her to shed them with all the crap that’s going on in her life. Not only do The Facility and their raging she-bitch Kimura keep pestering her and pushing her to the edge, but Cyclops sees fit to constantly use her for her assassin abilities, which puts her in a bad state of confusion about her identity. It’s really good drama, so naturally, I love reading it. The conclusion to this arc, however, is pretty open ended and lacks the closure of previous X-23 arcs, so I was a little dissappointed when it was all over. Besides X-23 escaping, not much is really accomplished in the script plot-wise. We do, though, get some great character moments from X-23, plus some great and gory action scenes depicted by the always amazing Mike Choi, so luckily there were some redeeming qualities about this issue.
So X-23 marches on through her tragic yet exciting life in the X-Men world. Everytime that she is the focus of a story, I immediatly take notice since her inclusion is ment for some great drama. So despite an open ended conclusion to this arc, X-Force #20 provideds some great X-23 moments, and I hope we get back to her story sooner than later.
Art: 4 - Very Good