Uncanny X-Force #5

Uncanny X-Force #5

A-

After I finished reading the initial arc of Rick Remender’s newly launched Uncanny X-Force I was beyond elated at how this series had started out. The writing and characterization were both fantastic, and the art—from Jerome Opena—was some of the best, most original and consistent I’d seen in some time. But then that nagging question crept up in the back of my mind, “will this series be able to stay this good?” Well, I’m glad to say that Uncanny X-Force #5 has gone a long way towards putting those fears to bed. Esad Ribic may not be on quite the same level as Opena, but his style is similar in spirit and he does a fine job in this issue balancing the action with the lower-key character moments.

With the threat of Apocalypse dealt with last issue we pick up here as Fantomex investigates recent developments in the World, the Weapon Plus facility introduced by Grant Morrison in his run on New X-Men—a plot thread way too complex for me to adequately sum up here. As Fantomex returns from his visit we catch up with the rest of the team—Wolverine, Angel and Psylocke—whom Deadpool has called together to try and come to terms with the questionable resolution of their Apocalypse mission, mainly that they ended that threat by shooting an unarmed 8-year-old boy in the head. And from there we catch up with Fantomex at his French Alps lair as he gets attacked by a group of Deathloks who have come seeking to claim the World for their masters. Oh, and did I mention that the Deathloks in this case appear to be alternate or future reality versions of superheroes such as Captain America, Hawkeye and Spider-Man?

As I mentioned before, the World as, introduced by Grant Morrison, is a pretty complex sci-fi idea and I found Rick Remender’s handling of it to work very well, keeping in spirit with the original Morrison ideas as well as adding a nice twist to it and its relationship to Fantomex. It does seem odd to me, however, to have the antagonists of this new story arc be Deathloks, especially so soon after a recent arc in Wolverine: Weapon X that featured the time-traveling cyborg killers as well, and even more so when you consider the large role that Wolverine plays in X-Force.

As much fun as the action scenes were with Fantomex investigating the science-fiction horrors of the World and later facing off against cyborg superheroes I found the most exciting, and also the most surprising, scene to be a low-key conversation between teammates concerning morality and their chosen mission. I’ve praised Rick Remender and his handling of Deadpool in this series in the past, but that didn’t prepare me for the scene he shows us here. You know you’ve taken a hard line stance with questionable tactics when Wade Wilson feels he needs to make himself the voice of reason. But Remender makes it very clear that this team believes in their cause—doing absolutely everything necessary to ensure the survival of the mutant race—even if they certainly will have trouble coping with that emotional aftermath that comes with carrying it out.

I read one review earlier today which complained that this scene amounted to ‘whining’ and ‘wasted time’. But let’s face it, this is a series whose underlying current is built to address whether the ends justify the means. And having Deadpool be the one to raise that question here isn’t an out-of-character portrayal, but rather a rather deftly handled three-dimensional character study. From the half-assed joke Deadpool cracks as he works up the nerve to raise the question to the later reveal about the mercenary contract Angel has with him I found this scene to be the highlight of the issue, if not the series thus far.

Rick Remender clearly has a fantastic grasp of these characters and the morally ambiguous situation they’ve put themselves into. This, combined with the top-notch art, serve to make this truly a must-read series from Marvel. Where once I would’ve pointed to Astonishing X-Men as the go-to book for the X-Men corner of the Marvel Universe, now I’ll glady be pointing people to Uncanny X-Force.

tags: rick remender, x-force

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