The problem with doing superheroics as well as Rick Remender has with Uncanny X-Force is that when you offer up an issue that’s merely “good” it feels like a huge step backwards. Such is the case with Uncanny X-Force #11, which has its moments but ultimately feels very “been there/done that.”
After a stellar group of standalone issues that expanded on the emotions of the X-Force roster, Remender is ready to move forward on the evolving Apocalypse storyline that has made up the bulk of Uncanny X-Force’s first season. Warren Worthington’s struggle controlling Archangel has necessitated an uneasy alliance between X-Force and the Dark Beast, forcing the awkward pair to travel to DB’s home reality of the Age of Apocalypse.
The Age of Apocalypse, for whatever reason, has been an altered reality that the X-titles just can’t help themselves from bringing back every so often. But for some reason, this time around Mark Brooks has drawn the AoA like a mid-period Mortal Kombat level, with a hideous rusty purple palette courtesy of the usually spot-on Dean White, twisty holes in the sky and floating rock cities a’plenty. It’s uninspired and drab, the polar opposite of what’s come to be expected from this remarkable series.
As if that wasn’t enough, Remender uses this introductory issue to the Dark Angel Saga to offer up one of those out-of-fashion hero battles, where two confused teams duke it out for no real reason because, hey, everyone knows wearing super tight spandex causes you to lose your ability to speak to one another like grown-ass adults. So yes, if you really wanted to see Wolverine battle Sabretooth again, that is provided free of charge.
What keeps the issue from being completely disappointing is the possibility that it’s a ruse. The biggest point brought up in the issue is never directly addressed by Remender. You see, that whole thing with Apocalypse’s death being the reason why Archangel has gone out of control thanks to his status as Apocalypse’s heir? Well, that doesn’t really make sense if you think about it…because Apocalypse isn’t so dead. Fantomex still has him held hostage in his little secret World, which means Fantomex is either planning on a big ol’ betrayal soon or something even weirder is going on with Warren.
Given how issue 11 ends, there’s good reason to suspect that Remender has some major things planned and is simply utilizing a little of Fantomex’s trademark misdirection to distract us from those nefarious plans of his. Which is great; comic writers should utilize the format in this way more often, setting expectations up as traps and mocking us for assuming we know how shit’s gonna go down. Still, not to go on parental here or anything, but we just expect so much more from you, Uncanny X-Force — why be a B student when you can be riding that A Plus Plus?