The current series of “Uncanny X-Force” has been an odd one right from the start, with a “team” that has spent more time apart than together, and storylines that stop and start again with no warning. With “Uncanny X-Force” #13, the initial storyline has come roaring back with a vengeance, and while it’s by no means perfect, I do appreciate that Sam Humphries, Phil Briones and Angel Unzueta’s comic is at least trying to be a little out of the ordinary.
This strange little not-a-team comic has had some bizarre detours here and there, so finally dealing with the identity of the Owl Queen, the importance of Ginny, and even just having all the characters back together at this point is a bit of a relief. Humphries is certainly not light on strange, bizarre moments peppered throughout the comic. With a bleeding moon, a psychic prison around Los Angeles, and a spectral bear that breathes fire, “Uncanny X-Force” #13 is trying to keep from being normal.
Still, some parts do work better than others. Spiral’s talk of needing to save Ginny still is without any sort of actual drive; we’re told that Spiral and Ginny are friends, but it never feels like it’s anything that we’ve actually seen. The Demon Bear is also a strange sort of plot device enigma; it’s a great visual but has the storytelling interest akin to a random pistol. And aside from a one-page glimpse into his mind a couple of issues ago, Puck has yet to have any real sort of characterization in 13 issues of “Uncanny X-Force.” All in all, it’s just not quite there on the writing front.
Briones and Unzueta’s art is interesting. There are some pages that are great, like the opening to the issue with the art nouveau recap disguised as a telepathic broadcast for help. It’s visually dazzling and it grabs your attention right off the bat. Other pages, though, like the fight in the theatre, are just a big jumble of figures and limbs. There’s no strong depth perception in this comic, so that foreground and background are all merged into a hard-to-distinguish mess. Strong visuals could go a long way towards buoying this comic up a bit, but in many ways they’re a perfect match for the script; flashes of great mixed in with other chunks that underwhelm.
“Uncanny X-Force” is a title that I want to do well, but it just keeps fumbling away momentum. Some parts click together perfectly, others just never quite get there. It’s the former that keeps me reading, but I’d love to see a bit more consistency in this title. It’s got the potential, hopefully we’ll finally be able to finally see it fully realized.