In the wake of the epic Second Coming saga, Cyclops opted to disband his secret kill crew, mostly because his conscience got to him, but also partly because the rest of the X-Men found out about X-Force’s existence and are directing dagger glares at him. Except that Wolverine isn’t so quick to let go of this dark dream. He believes there’s still a need for the squirmy things that only a black ops team can accomplish. Wolverine, pragmatic cuss, thinks that if not now, then soon, some extinction-level threat will surface that will require tending to, maybe in wetworks fashion. So X-Force is still active, still clandestine. Only now, Cyclops isn’t in the loop.
There’s been a roster shuffling. X-23 is off the team, as are Domino and Warpath. Wolverine and Archangel are the de facto team leaders, with newcomers Psylocke, Fantomex, and Deadpool bolstering the ranks. This is an awesome assembly of psychotic or tortured killers and berserkers, and I pretty much freaked out when I learned about who’s on this new team. The possibilities… the potential for sheer mayhem and wanton stabby stabby… and Cavern-X.
I don’t keep exact track of what’s on my top ten list of favorite comic books. I wouldn’t doubt it that I have at least twenty titles in my top ten. But there’s something about UNCANNY X-FORCE. Rick Remender takes over the writing chores, and he’s bloody fantastic. He injects vitality and stark doses of brutal action, but never at the cost of solid character work. There was potential for this title to become Liefeldized, to be this parade of mindless, numbing violence. But there’s pathos and emotional conflict and moral complexities and simply bravura storytelling. Remender is able to take obscure characters like Fantomex and EVA and breathe new life into them. He finds a niche for Deadpool, and while the demented mercenary serves mainly as the comic foil, he topsy-turvies the group dynamics. How do you get the nerve to plant two wise-cracking killers on the same crew? How could you resist it? I’m loving the verbal exchanges between Wade Wilson and Fantomex, sparse as they are. Each is given his own distinctive voice. Maybe the moment in which Remender convinced me that I was in good hands was when the X-Force’s least engaged member unexpectedly steps up big time. But, to demonstrate Remender’s twisted sensibilities, it’s a disturbing hero moment.
This new team doesn’t bother with bottom feeding villains. X-Force goes after the big guns. Their foe, right off the bat, is none other than the reborn Apocalypse. Except that this incarnation of Apocalypse is still in his childhood. X-Force is unyielding in its mission to end Apocalypse’s threat once and for all, never mind that the threat doesn’t have on his big boy pants yet. But even should this hardened crew of killers get thru what is perhaps the most dangerous (and interesting) Horsemen of Apocalypse yet, can they follow thru on ending a child?
UNCANNY X-FORCE: THE APOCALYPSE SOLUTION collects the first four wild issues of this new ongoing, as well as the 7-paged UNCANNY X-FORCE preview from WOLVERINE: THE ROAD TO HELL. This dynamite first arc establishes Remender as a writer to be reckoned with. The Apocalypse Solution satisfies on all levels, from its gritty and explosive and nuanced storytelling to the striking visuals. Jerome Opeña lays down artwork that is dynamic and creatively staged and wonderfully detailed. I love this art. I love the mood it evokes. Our “heroes” end up making some some very hard choices. The art on that final page on issue #4 is spectacular in how, with no dialogue, it relays the naked, somber emotions stamped on the face of each X-Force member. No merry mutants, they. Not even Deadpool.
This trade’s bonus features include several variant covers, several pages which break down the evolution of a comic book page (from script to pencils to graytones to colors), and a 6-paged article chronicling X-Force’s history as a black bag team and its involvement in recent X-Men arcs, beginning with Cerebra’s detection of the birth of Hope.