The rise of "Uncanny X-Force" courtesy Rick Remender and his band of artistic collaborators over the past couple of years has been nothing short of extraordinary. Taking what appeared to be an odd concept from the previous "X-Force" series, Remender and company have turned the idea of a secret killing squad within the X-Men into a compelling drama. With "Uncanny X-Force" #32, the series is winding down with just three more issues left, but if anything it's made the book even more exciting.
Picking up the seeds of an earlier storyline that introduced Evan (aka Genesis), the heir to Apocalypse, the creative team gives a look at just to what lengths X-Force will go to either save or destroy the teenager. Strange as it sounds, the centerpiece of that story for me comes down to the scenes with Deadpool and Genesis. It's a strange paring, and one with a character that's been wildly overused (and for the most part getting less interesting with each passing year), but "Uncanny X-Force" #32 is a reminder that Deadpool is a character that depends on good writing. Under Remender's hands, Deadpool shines without being contrary to the character's makeup. The rest of the issue could have been blank and I suspect I still would have been pleased.
It's not blank though, of course, and we've got some other good clashes here as well. We finally get to see Mystique and the Age of Apocalypse version of Nightcrawler talk, and their discussion is pitch-perfect. Psylocke leaps back into action and goes up against an old foe. Even Wolverine gets some strong action sequences here. Every character has a role to play, and Remender doesn't leave any of them behind, even Evan. Just as from the first part of this story on, the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants all come across as genuine threats, something that most modern incarnations of the terrorist organization have failed to achieve.
It certainly doesn't hurt that Phil Noto is on board to finish out this arc. His art looks great as always; graceful character designs, a smooth thin line and some great fight scene choreography. It's some of the little character moments that helped this issue especially shine, though. When Mystique turns away from Nightcrawler with a pained look on her face, it sells the dialogue so that you can hear the hurt in her voice. The grin on Wolverine's face as he attacks Sabretooth is what makes the image worth a splash page, not the slashing itself. Even something as simple as a close-up on Psylocke's eyes works here, letting us see her recognition of the danger she's been plunged into.
"Uncanny X-Force" will be replaced with two new "X-Force" series and at this point they could go anywhere. Let's hope, though, that the writers of those new series keep "Uncanny X-Force" in mind as a potential model. This is more than just the little book that could; it's a model for how mutant team books should work. Juggling this many characters and storylines isn't easy, but Remender makes it look like a breeze, and fun to boot.