It’s hard to shake the impression that at some point last year, Brian Bendis broke a mirror. One instance of parallel plotting by writers who seed their stories far in advance might be dismissed as unfortunate, but with the arrival of Necrosha, there definitely seems to be a curse at work here. After both Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers were catapulted back through time by their apparent deaths, the similarities between Blackest Night and Chris Yost & Craig Kyle’s X-Force epic means that we now have two major event comics satirising the comics staple of restoring dead characters to life. Thankfully, the storytelling here is strong enough to justify the duplication, even if this opening chapter is a slightly murkier brew than expected.
Artistic delays on the regular X-Force ongoing means that this one-shot opening chapter follows on directly from this week’s conclusion of ‘Not Forgotten’, with the undead making their long-trailed assault on Utopia. Meanwhile, Archangel and Warpath go in search of their book’s forgotten plot thread and Selene indulges in a considerable amount of exposition. Returning X-Force artist Clayton Crain brings his usual combination of strengths and weaknesses to the book, with an overly dark atmosphere more than compensated for by his truly spectacular splash pages- the cliffhanger scene is a particular highlight. This opening chapter’s greatest success is in the portrayal of the main villain, and the creative team make a very good fist of building up a half-forgotten X-enemy into a significant threat. The writers obviously have a considerable amount of ground to cover here, having to cater for new readers at the same time as keeping the attention of those who have followed the story’s build-up. It’s possibly this challenge that leads to the slightly fragmented feel the book possesses, with many strands being juggled. In contrast to the unremittingly focussed X-Force #20, Necrosha feels a little scattershot at times, with almost too much happening to take in. Hopefully the story will streamline itself as the threads spun out to New Mutants and Legacy go their separate ways.
Speaking of which, the book is bulked-up by two short stories from Zeb Wells and Mike Carey, designed to act as preludes to their tie-ins. You can understand Kyle & Yost’s desire to keep hold of all the threads in the first of their two parting shots to X-Force, given the line-wide nature of the Second Coming crossover. The move, however, undeniably weakens these spin-off tales, leaving them entirely dependant on the reader’s affection for the figures featured. As someone who has read little of the original New Mutants series, I found the vinaigrette featuring the Joss Whedon-created Blindfold more compelling than Doug Ramsey’s return from the dead.