Fresh back from their trip to the jolly Age of Apocalypse the team receives a royal beat down from Archangel and his gang of merry followers and find themselves bruised, splintered and deflated. Just another day as a covert group of killer mutants, I guess.
Uncanny X-Force has sneakily risen to my absolute must-buy list. I initially picked up the first issue based on a mild recommendation and interest in the line-up. I had no expectations for Remender or the art team, even though I loved the ashy black and white costumes. Somehow, even though it isn’t the ending chapter to “The Dark Angel Saga,” I feel like this issue brings me full circle. The events connect tightly to those that happened in the first arc, and even the digressive storylines since then have helped push the characters to this moment. Another homecoming of sorts is the return of Jerome Opeña who worked on that first arc, and he delivers another strong effort in the fourth chapter of this one.
Plainly, Rick Remender does more with less than most do with more. His X-Force roster is carrying arguably one A-lister and operates in a mostly isolated arm of the X-Men universe. The reason for that is built into the premise but it also allows Remender to weave a tight and meaningful plot that has potential ramifications on the history of any Marvel book that starts with an X. Tying the longtime villain En Sabah Nur and his general modus operandi to bigger concepts like Celestials and worldwide evolution is Remender’s masterstroke. Much of the X-verse feels like it operates in another company completely, you don’t have to look past the separate summer events to see that, so it’s riveting to read a book featuring Deadpool, Fantomex and Psylocke that might possibly inform future “survival of the fittest” stories in the Marvel Universe.
The story moves forward, but the knock is that this issue merely strengthens the reveals of the last one and puts things in place for the conclusion of this Archangel chapter. Speaking of, Warren is the surprising star after a brief hiatus. He makes for a chilling antagonist, much like his counterpart, the hybrid Apocalypse-Wolverine from the last issue. For a character that has always lacked a certain punch I would not mind if he stayed blue and amoral for awhile longer. A fascinating reveal is the inclusion of Genocide, who looks exactly like Holocaust, son of Apocalypse, from the AoA universe. According to a discussion between Archangel and Autumn Rolfson, the original Famine, Genocide is indeed the 616 version of Holocaust, but was hidden by Rolfson out of fear of ol Poccy-Lips. Although visually stunning (and Opeña takes advantage of that fully), he has never been a very dynamic character. In a demonstration of the writer’s ability to make this book infinitely more readable than most Remender gives the robot with a skull floating in it the personality of a dutiful young adult. No surprise, he has elevated or revitalized most of the characters he has put his mitts on so far.
Uncanny X-Force is money in the bank as far as I’m concerned. It offers eventful, violent and thoughtful plots backed by the dark, sleek work of talented artists. One of the best X-Men runs of the decade, so don’t be the guy or gal who missed it.
Jamil Scalese is just like you — an avid comics fan and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, lover of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation.