Despite solicits making ‘Not Forgotten’ sound like another volume of Craig Kyle & Chris Yost’s X-23 miniseries, the arc is proving to be a much more rounded affair, with equal amounts of face time for most of the cast. The writers pull off a very difficult feat here, managing to simultaneously tie up the themes from the last arc and set up the book’s next crossover, without sacrificing the integrity of the main plotline being followed.
A lot of the credit here belongs to Mike Choi for managing to give a coherent look to the multiple plotlines being simultaneously pursued, in the style of a TV drama. Last week, Valentine DeLandro responded to a similar situation in the pages of X-Factor by toning down the level of detail, but Choi continues to put out some of his strongest work to date here. The joy lies in the almost unnoticed details in the background; the Kyle Yost gravestone in the corner of a cemetery, the unremarked-upon X-Statix jumper. Choi and Sonia Oback go well beyond the call of duty in their work, and their sense of fun successfully makes what should in theory be an unremittingly grim book just a little more accessible. Speaking of unremittingly grim, the one slight question mark over the issue concerns the final scene, with X-23’s dismemberment venturing a little too close to torture porn. The logic of the writers’ construction of this incident is admittedly understandable. X-Force enjoys a considerably higher profile than any of their previous work, and there’s clearly a need to introduce the character of Kimura to the audience, without taking up too many pages. That said, this is a noticeable jump in sheer nastiness from anything else seen in the book, and makes for a distinctly uncomfortable read. There’s a lot riding of the quality of the payback that will clearly follow, and the extent to which this moment is followed up in future issues.
There’s a refreshing contrast in the themes of this arc to much of the book, and it raises some interesting questions about the way the long-running Bastion story will be resolved. So far, the book has served as a satire of the X-Franchise’s reliance on legacy elements, with dead character repeatedly dragged from their coffins even in the very first arc. Here, however, a different tack is being taken. It look as if The Facility’s failure to grow as a concept or a set of characters will work against it- Logan instantly suspects what’s happened to his sister, and hatches a plan to take the fight to the enemy. With the stage set for a bloodbath when X-Force arrives on site, it almost looks as if Kyle & Yost are going to punish their own creation for failing to acquire depth.