“Uncanny X-Force” #23 is a two-headed beast because it’s a fine representation of how muddled and discombobulating this arc has been while also exemplifying the artistic narrative core of the story. This issue has some average parts but ends on an incredibly high note. If nothing else, the final four pages of this issue perfectly summate the Uncanny X-Force cause and inherent problem at its core.
The instant you open this book, you remember what a difference it makes having Greg Tocchini on art. His style is not what you expect within the covers of an X-book and this is equally refreshing and frustrating. This arc is one major battle in Otherworld and Tocchini’s transparent style doesn’t always add weight to the proceedings. Panels feel full of things but they are not always discernible and so the effect can be lost. However, when Tocchini chooses to focus on something, he knows how to deliver in ways you haven’t seen before. Fantomex’s major moment is horrific and even little touches like Captain Britain’s helmet work especially well.
The strangeness of the arc continues with the goat monk making trouble and the rest of our heroic team battling all forms of bony and mediaeval creatures. Amid such unknown progression, things simply grind to a halt. Psylocke delivers two convenient victories over two disparate villains. One has Psylocke even narrate how the realization simply comes to her, while the other is a little more crafty and offers up the true meat to this issue, if not the entire arc.
Rick Remender stakes a large portion of this plot — and most importantly its resolution — on a time travel conceit that does not truly work when considered with any forceful interrogation. If a character is battling a future version of himself — one made through a poor decision he could avoid with the current knowledge of current events — then that paradox doesn’t work because the character would make completely different decisions and as such, the villain would never exist. Time paradoxes are hard to write and some poetic license must be allowed, but this one takes only a few seconds to parse and find unacceptable.
The final sequence of “Uncanny X-Force” #23, dodgy time travel aside, is quite splendid. This is Psylocke’s story and she owns it. She is presented as a tough figure that steps up to make a very rough decision. The entire premise of the team is put to the test in a crucible of a situation where every moment of hesitation costs lives. Whereas X-Force’s first test was theoretical, this moment brings exponential death in real time. Psylocke steps up and finally sees how the team must work and why she believes in it. It’s a great moment and one that makes the entire arc worth it in the end.
“Uncanny X-Force” #23 is a good comic with a great conclusion. This entire arc has been a shift from the end of “The Dark Angel Saga” and that still feels like the right thing to do — you don’t try to top a modern classic, you just keep on entertaining. The battle for Otherworld has been fun with a fitting end.