Editor's Note: X-Force #5 arrives in stores tomorrow, July 16.
Plot: Under the control of the Purifiers, a feral Wolfsbane has ripped the feathered wings off Warren Worthington's back. With his most prized possession gone, Angel once again becomes the fourth horseman of Apocalypse: Archangel. Meanwhile, Reverend Risman uses Warren's wings to acquire Apocalypse's alien technology and build an army of metal-winged combatants to take back leadership of the Purifiers from Bastion.
Commentary: When did this comic get so good? I read issues #1 and #2 but dropped it as the series was too dark (coloring, not narrative tone), and the story overly derivative. I could barely make out what I was seeing and when I did, I didn't get the reference. Who is Magus? Who is Reverend Craig? How can you attach a Bastion's human head to Nimrod's ridiculously wide neck?
Given these nit-picks and that fact I grew up on the comparatively different style of the original X-Force, I found this series to be neither engaging nor nostalgic.
Interestingly enough, it is that same nostalgia of the '90s that brought me around again: the return of Archangel. This incarnation of the character instilled not only a more combative and deadly quality to a super-hero who basically could just fly and see far distances, but added a layer of emotional trauma that colored a man who served as the love triangle between Scott and Jean before Wolverine ever showed up. He was the angel of death, able to fly at speeds never known before and launch projectile blades upon his enemies. Yet this thrill was guilty as he unconsciously rejoiced in bloodbaths and wondered if he was even the same man anymore.
So considering the implications of his incarnation's come back, I was suspicious and ready to torch the book in effigy. Instead I decided to strike a match and light a cigarette as one after copulation. Was it good for you? Oh yeah!
Kyle and Yost's plot is becoming less indistinct and more engrossing, calling back to their previous work New X-Men. The Purifiers, following the "divine" prophecies of Nimrod, the sentinel from the future, were told to find an unknown winged mutant who had alien technology that would help them build an army of winged soldiers: The Choir. When the Purifiers attacked the Xavier School in the pages of New X-Men, they killed Jay Guthrie and inexplicably removed his wings. Risman reveals in this issue of X-Force that they thought Guthrie was the one and mutilated him in the hopes of finding the technology. To Kyle and Yost's credit, the Purifier's callous disregard for human life and the duplicitous use of religion for their own ends makes them possibly the most disgusting and venomous villains the X-books have ever seen.
And Crain's art captures their bloody, gory, and depraved deeds with clarity and energy. While the battle scene is monumentally shocking, it's the smaller scenes that really caught my attention. Crain skilled digital brush paints a reanimated William Stryker preaching to his Purifiers with tangible vitriol and intensity. It's a small panel, but one that successfully impresses the precise emotion of the dialogue.
I'm excited by the direction of the series and willing to accept Archangel as both the writers and artist have skillfully constructed a violent and disturbing tale worthy of his return.
Final Word: Bloodbath. Angels. Severed Heads. Oh yeah. That's the spot.
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