By now, all of you know that Uncanny X-Force is one of the best mutant books currently published and maybe one the better ongoing titles in comics. Rick Remender's bloody version of the now cliché strike-forced special ops team premise. Its success derives from the use of the rich X-Men and Marvel source material and packaging it in new and meaningful ways. "The Dark Angel Saga" has rattled on for eight parts and has spun into a frenzied attempt by Fantomex and Psylocke to assassinate Apocalypse reborn — their teammate Archangel.
After struggling to get the poly bag open for about 20 seconds, I settled myself into for a much anticipated final brawl. Remender and Opeña have really cranked up the violence and gloom in the second part of the long arc, and it comes to a crest as the villainous Warren Worthington III attempts to scorch the Earth into order to plant the Life Seed and begin the evolution process anew.
The strengthening of the relationship between Celestials and X-Men stands as one the best elements of Reminder's vision for the title. Apocalypse is a great villain, but as with many old-school bad guys his direction and threat has waned. Uncanny X-Force has changed En Sabah Nur from a villain to a brand, spiraling and integrating his legacy into larger forces of the Marvel Universe. Elements rooted in the premiere storyline, where Fantomex kills a young Apocalypse, play directly into the events here. Nearly every step Remender has plotted has led us here.
Energy and detail fill the panels, and you wonder how Opeña is able to complete an issue within a month, let alone a year. The faint touch, and the remarkable eye for texture and subtlety are nearly unrivaled. He keeps his layouts simple and symmetric, and while it adds little it doesn't harm anything actually within the borders. The script itself does not allow for sprawling spreads, so Opeña works magnificently in small spaces making the environment of The World a place where any backdrop can exist. Esad Ribic steps in for a poignant scene toward the end, and Dean White pulls those scenes together with his typically strong arsenal of ashy, dark colors. Uncanny X-Force has been blessed with a series of spectacular artist whom are capable of perfectly complimenting Remender's ominous world.
The conclusion of this chapter served up all the elements fan's expected, from deaths to big reveals and a nod toward the future. However, the hype might have reached a decibel too radical. Without spoilers, I have to wonder why this book sat in a polybag? Nothing earth-shattering takes place and the cover is not revealing in the least. The 22-page story is layered with a bunch of micro-surprises, and the inclusion of a new member with an old face is something nobody could have guessed, but I think my expectations were inflated to ridiculous levels. I'm not disappointed, just not as impressed as I expected to be. Plus, Deadpool has been a puddle of goop for two straight issues and I'm missing my yellow word balloons.
Bag or not, #18 is a great issue with a wonderful balance of reveals, shockers and nods to the future. The hype is legit — Uncanny X-Force is the X-Men comic childhood-nostalgic adults have always hoped for. Sex, murder, betrayal and a giant minotaur all in one convenient package.
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.