I have to admit, when the book was announced, I was skeptical that there was a need for another incarnation of X-Force, but at this point it has to be said: if you’re an X-Men fan and you’re not reading this title, you’re missing out on something special.
After the comic book equivalent of a stunned silence which comprised the previous issue’s ending, this one follows up on the decision the team made, examining the effect it had on them all, before pulling the focus in tight on Fantomex. When Deadpool is the guy acting as the team’s moral compass, you know things are grim, and yet Remender manages to straddle the line between bleak and hopeful far better than the book’s previous incarnation did. The team is doing awful things, but always with a noble cause in mind.
On this title, Remender’s writing has undoubtedly moved up a notch. He’s never been poor, but this is near masterful. It’s tight, it’s punchy, and it’s utterly packed with strong character work and distilled ideas. It quite openly follows the tone of Morrison and Ellis’ X-Men, and as someone who loves the work of those creators, I’m happy to see its spiritual successors whenever they appear.
The point where Morrison’s influence shows most prominently is in the opening sequence, where Fantomex explains The World, the super-sentinel breeding ground that Fantomex originally escaped from. Although Remender does his best to channel Morrison’s brand of poetic futurism, the descriptions don’t quite hit the mark. And when that’s what you’re trying, “slightly off” might as well be a million miles away. It’s too obviously Imitation Morrison, when it should be more transparent.
That’s the only real criticism though. As it happens, the story spins as much out of Aaron’s work as Morrison’s, bringing back Deathlok, a character most recently seen in “Tomorrow Dies Today” over in “Wolverine: Weapon X”. If the intention is to improve Deathlok’s prospects as a character by using him in these stories, it has to be said, it’s working. All the marketing buzz in the world can’t substitute for telling good stories that involve the character (well, maybe all of the marketing buzz could, but this way’s much cheaper and longer-lasting.)
Esad Ribic also returns to the X-verse following his turn in “Dark Reign: The List: Wolverine,” the story that this issue chiefly builds on. As before, his work is fantastic, clean, almost ethereal, but completely adept at rendering the crazier ideas of The World alongside appearances by Spider-Man and Captain America (or, at least, Deathlok-ed versions thereof.) The X-line is remarkably strong right now, but issues like this mean that “Uncanny X-Force” is quite simply must-read stuff. Ignore it at your own detriment