This comic registers pretty high on the badass scale. The story and art pull no punches and give a peek into a likely more realistic world than we see in most superhero stories. However, Rick Remender’s tale does suffer a bit in taking itself too seriously. As a result, some of the dialogue and action seems a bit melodramatic and overly earnest.
If you’ve missed the first five issues of “Uncanny X-Force” but have heard the good word of mouth and are intrigued, #5.1 is a good place to get on. It’s a done-in-one tale that doesn’t bite off more than it can chew and will serve as a good introduction to the team and the concept. The team? Wolverine, Deadpool, Psylocke, Archangel, and Fantomex, which, let’s face it, is a pretty badass lineup. The concept? Let’s call it, “X-Men With Big Sharp Pointy Teeth That Actually Get Used.”
In this issue, our heroes (though perhaps “anti-heroes” is more apt considering the heroing being done) have discovered that the Reavers (a cyborg gang) are back in Australia and planning to use Gateway to teleport them to Utopia so that they can destroy it. X-Force sets out to stop it from happening, but with more than a little bit of revenge in mind as well. Psylocke is particularly interested in the revenge bits, since it’s thanks in part to the Reavers that she ended up a ninja assassin for the Hand (not to mention in an entirely different body and trapped in a thong for the rest of her life). For Lady Deathstrike’s part, she’s realized she can never kill Wolverine and that she should instead just focus on making him miserable, which is not a bad plan. The ensuing battle is pretty fantastic and Archangel, Wolverine, and Psylocke especially get some cool fight time, but some of the pre-battle talk is eye-roll inducing.
Unfortunately, though Remender has a great grasp on most of these characters, and fun chemistry between the team as a whole, the two female leads in this issue seem to be eluding him. Both Psylocke and Lady Deathstrike are the two characters that feel the most over the top and overly earnest. Lady Deathstrike is maybe not that far off, as the broad has been pretty crazy for a long time now, but Psylocke gets a raw deal with her frustratingly angsty “I don’t want revenge because I’m afraid of how elated I am by it” nonsense. It’s a shame, because otherwise things move fluidly and everyone seems deliciously in character.
Rafael Albuquerque’s untamed passionate art is a departure from the controlled slickness of Jerome Opena’s art, but it works well for the tale, which is all blood and guts (er…cybernetics) and passion. Albuquerque’s art is high energy and rough around the edges, but in a good way that feels visceral and immediate. There are some frustrating inconsistencies, especially in the rendering of Psylocke, whose face we never quite get a feel for here, but for the most part the art is a good tonal match for Remender’s brutal tale.