There’s a cynical part of me which says the sole reason why “X-Force” is now “Uncanny X-Force” was to grab a new #1. But in reading “Uncanny X-Force” it’s becoming increasingly clear that there’s another, more important reason: this is a rather different series than the previous one.
Like before, “Uncanny X-Force” has its share of violence. Rick Remender’s script isn’t as nasty and brutal as what came before (somehow I suspect Wolfsbane’s cannibal days aren’t going to be brought up any time soon), but this X-Force team is still heavy on the whole force aspect of their name. There’s a lot of fighting going on here, even as the rest of the plot continues to spin quietly in the background.
More importantly, though, Remender’s script is also packed full of humor. Not in-your-face, fall over jokes, but sly one-liners and a bit of a tongue in cheek nature to the comic. It works, too; it provides a balance to the punching and disease and overall mayhem. Having Deadpool on the team is certainly a source for some of that humor, but it’s more than just that. Even in the most harrowing parts of the issue, these characters act like they’re still enjoying themselves. Being a member of “X-Force” was akin to getting a delayed death sentence, but “Uncanny X-Force” members all-in-all are there because they want to be. It’s an important difference and it makes the book much more interesting right from the start.
As for the plot itself, parts are predictable, but there’s enough other stuff going on to keep your interest. The new Horsemen of Apocalypse are developing personalities this issue, and some of them end up rather interesting by the end of the issue. And that’s not including all the stuff involving the potential return of Apocalypse himself. It’s a little in the background this issue, but the scenes we do get make me feel like the return of the character here is well worth it.
Jerome Opena’s art is gorgeous, meshing well with Brad White’s colors. The four flashback pages are near-perfect, with Opena’s crisp art popping off the page with White’s restricted palette. As we shift into the present day and a full spectrum of colors emerge, it’s no less beautiful; the dying Wolverine crawling towards Death is dramatic and eye-catching, and the hulking War dominates every page he’s on. Opena’s an artist who continues to change and refine his art style with each new project, and “Uncanny X-Force” is his best work to date.
“Uncanny X-Force” is a great example of how to take a basic concept (the X-Men’s secret strike team) and make it your own without throwing away the concept itself. This isn’t just a better book in general, it’s also a more welcoming title. This is a force worth checking out.