This comic might not appeal to every reader, but to those who hear and understand its siren song it is a glorious delight the likes of which we never hoped to see. This is a weird hybrid beast of the current ADHD sensibility of media mixed with the emotional turmoil of Claremont’s X-tenure, all layered over the amalgam style creations of the 90s. It is such a pastiche that it eventually stops aping and starts being a meta-commentary on the state of decades of X-continuity.
Comic books often play with alternate realities, and there are certain tropes you expect to see. From “Old Man Logan” to the current “Flashpoint,” creators relish the opportunity to write a landscape familiar enough that shorthand can be used, but free enough that tweaks and fun changes can be made. Rick Remender manages to play the cross pollination of characters to both interesting effect and true character interaction. Some of these elements are introduced for fun, but others are played for the impact they will have on the cast. While the Black Legion is the sort of cool amalgam villain team (featuring the likes of the Iron Ghost, Orange Hulk, and Grimm Chamber) fanboys must love, the scene with Logan and the ‘Age of Apocalypse’ Jean is sweetly heartbreaking.
Remender is a creative talent not always acknowledged because he doesn’t dwell on his ideas and shove them in front of his story. Any and all crazy ideas serve the narrative, not replace it. The concept of the life seed from the Celestial gardener is added to the tapestry of the background of this tale whereas other Marvel cosmic books devote half an issue to such a concept. Remender wants to use such ideas to bounce off his leads. While the plot tokens only serve to carry the narrative along in this issue, the rest of the book is free to develop character and make us care. A M.O.D.O.K. with an Xavier clone doesn’t need his own one-shot when he’s just as intriguing in one sequence.
That there are two different kissing scenes in this issue is a testament to the sort of thing Remender is doing with this book. It’s a soap opera set against the warped background of all the zany things X-books can do. Psylocke’s actions and motivation feel a little underwhelming, almost cliché for what we don’t want with ladies in comics, but Logan’s scene is spot on. Then there’s also some fighting and a cliffhanger that takes advantage of the healing factor plot twist (I assume).
Oh, and the restraint used on Deadpool, who only interjects a handful of times, is a skill more people need to learn whenever writing any quipping character. Small doses, people, small doses is how it’s done.
Mark Brooks has a lot to keep up with drawing samurai sentinels, a wide cast of characters from different planes of existence, and a pensive Logan. He manages to fit everything he needs into every panel and there’s rarely any confusion. The emotion resonates from most of the characters, and this is just pages away from a spread featuring the Black Legion (seriously, a great visual).
“Uncanny X-Force” is currently a book that feels like it’s servicing a fanboy audience, but is actually more open than you think. It’s like Remender is the kid who can take any toys in your wardrobe and craft a stellar afternoon of tales out of them. He’s mashing things up and the result is fun mixed with character and more fun. If the opening arc was a Marvel book done as a gritty violent romp, then this arc is shaping up to be a gritty violent romp done as a glorious Marvel book.