There are, ostensibly, so many reasons why “Uncanny X-Force” shouldn’t work. The conceit of the team is, basically, a grim/gritty offshoot of a team (or set of teams?) that is plenty grim/gritty already. Also, Deadpool is in it. And yet, as he usually does, Rick Remender finds a way to pull amazing comics out of concepts that, on paper, are almost destined to spin quickly into ridiculousness and thus foster mostly disinterest. (See: Franken-Castle and the upcoming "Venom.") I’m not sure specifically how he does it, but he’s very good at it.
In fact, this issue of “Uncanny X-Force” has already quickly risen to the top of my Best Comics I’ve Read This Year pile.
Story wise, it’s the conclusion of the “Apocalypse Solution” storyline, in which the team is tasked to murder Apocalypse as a young child, before he can grow up to become such a terrible person/thing/awesome-Walt-Simonson-drawing. Over the course of the storyline, they’ve landed on the moon and fought a cadre of thugs and the four most interesting Horsemen I think anyone’s ever come up with. There’s not much new brought to the table here (until the very end), but it does perfect what’s come before. The interactions among the teammates are sharper, the action is more engaging, and the drama is ratcheted up to a fever pitch.
Possibly the person most responsible for the issue’s success, though, is Jerome Opena. His work on this issue is without a doubt some of the finest I’ve ever seen in the medium. No joke. There’s a spread here of Fantomex and Wolverine fighting a bunch of anonymous toughs that is not only a textbook example of quality storytelling and page design, but also brings so much new and unprecedented to the table. Opena’s angles are constantly unique and when paired with his attention to detail, his pages are in the top tier of work being done today. With this issue he has joined the pantheon of artists like Frank Quitely or Gabriel Ba or Tony Moore, people blazing their own trail and turning in the work of their (or anyone else’s) career.
The issue ends with a pretty startling moment, one that crystallizes why this book is so enjoyable. Its art and its plotting are constantly unpredictable and exciting, and Remender has taken characters that were either sadly forgotten (Fantomex and EVA) or should have been long ago (Deadpool) and turned them into gripping protagonists. “Uncanny X-Force” is a strange, exciting, and truly vital comic. There’s nothing else like it on the stands today, and that’s probably for the best. I’m not sure any of us could handle more than one book this catastrophically great.