Possibly one of the most incredible things in Rick Remender's "Uncanny X-Force," a book overflowing with incredible things, is Remender's focus on his characters. Most team books these days barely last two or three issues before new characters show up. Team members basically just fill slots to get a writer from wall at Point A to exploded wall at Point B. Deadpool, Psylocke, Angel, Wolverine, and Fantomex, however, all have moments in every issue that move them forward as characters. For Deadpool especially, this is an astonishing feat.
"Deathlok Nation" puts the focus on one of my personal favorites, Fantomex. One of Grant Morrison's zanier creations in his "New X-Men" run, I don't know any other writer who has done as good a job with him as Remender. (To be fair, few have tried.) Along with Fantomex, Remender also does a lot of great things with another of Morrison's long lost creations from that time: The Weapon Plus Program. For a New X-Nerd like myself, this sort of stuff is catnip. (Maybe, um, you know, we can get Beak on the team? Maybe?) The close of the story not only ties this storyline rather shockingly to the comic's initial one, but also sheds a serious amount of light on Fantomex's actions at the close of it.
Esad Ribic's interiors, with John Lucas on inks, doesn't quite reach the heights of Jerome Opena, or even the stark painted art of his covers, but it's not without its own Steranko-ey charms. He does a fantastic job of depicting both dynamic action and the topsy turvy environs of the Weapon Plus world.
The thing I loved most about Grant Morrison's run on "New X-Men" was that he had written a single cohesive novel with its own themes and arcs, focusing on and growing its main characters. Rick Remender's "Uncanny X-Force" is doing the same things, with the same deft narrative touch and relentless imagination. It's only been 7.1 issues but it already feels like a classic.