"Uncanny X-Force" reached a high in its last issue. It was deftly smart and sublimely enjoyable. This issue feels like it attempts something similar but the recipe won't rise because every ingredient was substituted with 'No Label' brand items. In a moment where Magneto shows his knowledge of this kill squad, there should have been more cause to explore what that means. Instead, he delivers a thin mission that gives us maybe one interesting note to play by the end.
There are a few meandering sequences where the panels silently show you the character working through a situation. It feels like the internal struggle of the understanding of death is meant to be pondered and studied closely in these panels, but instead all we get are padded pages where not much happens. Far more really could have been done with far less.
The core of this issue presents the understanding that, by being a kill squad, the members here really aren't any different from the villains they say they oppose. Magneto using them is a direct reference to this. Wolverine's delivered deathblow, something he does not enjoy, is representative of a cycle that is hard to break. If everyone wants vengeance then what does it take for someone to stop it all flowing on forever? The concept is sound but it's presented as bland as a cardboard garnish.
Billy Tan's work feels different in this issue from the last. There's something less intriguing about what he presents and more matter of fact. The four panel structure certainly adds to the level of banality. Then there's Magneto's helmet which Tan is either the first to draw as looking like an awkward sex toy or I'm only just realizing it now.
There might be a story in this issue, maybe even some characterization, but none of it feels like art. This is a comic; It should be a marriage of words and images into something else, but instead it comes across like barely a short tale. Rick Remender is clearly trying to establish the moral standings of each of his characters in this group. This issue delivers the understanding that death in Wolverine's world is stark and a non-event, but it didn't need to show us that through a book that is both as well.