The Review Group ignores all the DC hype and instead goes for a small-press indie book called Uncanny X-Force. It's so alternative.
The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's Newstand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.
This week is Uncanny X-Force #14, which has Wolverine, Deadpool, Fantomex, Archangel and Dark Beast. It's HARDCORE.
As always Rick Remender brings it when it comes to Uncanny X-Force. Personally I feel it is not only the best X-men book currently at Marvel but the best book Marvel publishes. Uncanny X-Force has been building up to this since issue 1, and it is great to see some pay off. The issue seemed longer to me than it was maybe that has to do with the AMAZING art by Jerome Opena and Dean White colors.
I love how Remender has so much going on but still focuses on character. Every character he plays with has a arc. I could continue to praise but I'll just leave with a:
yup, this is still marvels best comic. Great art and a great story that rides fun balls out comic violence, witty dialogue and a story where things actually matter. There really is no telling how this story is going to end and if Archangel is going to make it all the way through or if betty is going to kill him. And Wolverine actually being taken out of commission is awesome too. I can't give this a 10 because it is not as good a comic as Detective comics 881 but it's close.
Artwork looked like neon mud, characters were bland as sin, plot was a hot wet mess. This comic doesn't even manage to be forgettably bland like a lot of the dross Marvel and DC put out. I still get Vietnam style flashbacks to the tortuous first trade and this issue made me thankful to a god that doesn't exist that I didn't check out any of the intervening issues. Fantomex was a great idea that really didn't need to be dredged up now that his Weapon X connective tissue is gone. In the confines of a straight up action story like this (and indeed the one he debuted in) he comes across as an unnecessary and thrown together collection of weird ideas with nothing to sustain them, like spagetti on a tissue paper clothes horse. Deadpool isn't an irritating jackass here which I suppose should be a good thing but since that means he's being written horribly out of character I suppose it's just another reason not to waste any more
Ace with a capital A. Rick Remender does a solid job of differentiating between how Archangel and Apocalypse like to roll. The villains are cool and really make them seem like a menace. After some inconsistent art for the past two issues, Jerome Opena and Dean White show up to play with some appropriate visuals. As a team, X-Force is fighting an uphill battle; as a comic, X-Force is still a winner.
8.1* out of 10*
Story - Look, it was a surprise to me too. I never expected to like Uncanny X-Force. I mean, it was X-Force, it's a lame concept. The X-Men, but we kill! EXTREME HARDCORE ROCK! It looks dumb. It even has Deadpool in it, who sucks.
But then it turned out to actually be good, and to actually be trying to do something new with several hoary old X-Concepts. And it was surprising! And Deadpool wasn't even annoying! He was actually funny and had a personality! Against the wishes of seemingly the entire comics-reading world, Uncanny X-Force is actually one of the best comics Marvel is putting out. It may not get mentioned out of embarrassment, but trust me, it's damn good.
And this chapter, #14 is no exception. Of course I'm only saying this because I've read all 13 (and the point.one story) previous issues, and know what's going on. I imagine any readers who are new to the book will be mightily confused. But the short story is this, after killing Apocalypse in the first arc, X-Force now have to deal with the fact that 'Poccy has been sort of reborn in the body of Archangel. In order to save him they needed a Celestial Seed. After a brief but bloody journey into the Age Of Apocalypse continuity, the team returned to the 'real world' but came face to face with Apocalypse-Archangel and his Horsemen. It all sounds insanely complicated, but it's good fun.
This issue is divided into 3 segments, the first brings us up to speed with what Archangel has been doing whilst X-Force were in the AoA Universe. He travels with Dark Beast to a secret underground city and unleashes the 616 version of Holocaust, who is now called Genocide, because calling a character Holocaust is in bad-taste but Genocide is OK. What fascinates me about these scenes is how reasonable Archangel seems, being possessed by Apocalypse has not made him a snarling villain, he is kind to his subordinates and has a strange, sad smile on his face. He is even fairly reasonable to X-Force when he fights them. It's fucking creepy, and much more effective than it would be to have him monologuing and mwahahahahaing.
The second segment is a fight between X-Force and Archangel's gang. It's pretty damn bad-ass, and thankfully Remender subverts Fantomex's illusion powers. I've mentioned before how it seemed like Remender has over-used this trick, but perhaps this over-use was all building to this point, where it's up against a foe it has no chance of beating. You also have Wolverine immediately being taken out in a shocking way by Genocide, he has half his fucking body burned off. It's basically all down to Psylocke to take down the bad-guys, but she fails and is kidnapped.
The third segment is the aftermath of this fight, and it is goddamn bleak stuff for X-Force. Wolverine is out of action, and in a fantastic scene, Deadpool explains how they can't go to anyone else for help. Probably the best thing about this book is how Remender writes Deadpool, under RR's pen he's an actual character, and his humour doesn't override every single scene. The fact that he actually thinks in this issue is refreshing, and makes me almost like Wade Wilson for the first time ever. And when something comes from Deadpool's mouth with a straight face, you know the straits are dire indeed. I have no idea how X-Force are going to defeat Archangel, and that's a refreshing thing indeed in comics.
I also have no idea how Warren Worthington is going to come back from this as a hero, because at the end of this issue, he orders Genocide to blow up a whole town. It was just a disturbing scene, the way he talks to the little boy who is about to be reduced to mere atoms, the way the boy says 'it's OK, they're superheroes', ugh, shudder. It was an amazing ending to a great issue, and one that means I can't wait for #15 to come out.
This was quite simply another strong instalment of a great series. As I said, new readers may be a bit lost, but I'm not a new reader so I don't want to speak for them. If they are lost, they should try and catch up, because this book is worth their while. This book may come with a cache of lame 90s expectations, but it's actually a fantastic example of all that's good with modern superhero comics, it's edgy, it's funny, and it's approaching old ideas in new ways. Plus it has Fantomex in it, and that guy is awesome.
Art - Jerome Opena is back! He drew the excellent first arc of the series, but then left. He's a great fit for X-Force I think, his style is pretty unique, it's angular and kinetic, and the characters have unique facial expressions you've never seen from other artists. It separates the book from normal superhero fare, and grounds it somewhat, despite the incredibly ridiculous stuff that's going on. He is ably assisted by the colours of Dean White, who is probably, after Remender the most important member of the X-Force team, his colours unite all the different artists who have worked on the book and make it a unified whole. Great work.
Best Line - 'I haven't used any incendiary language. Why escalate things?' 'It's what I do best'
I haven't been following this series, but, after reading this issue, I wish that I'd started from the start. And this admission comes from somebody who hasn't enjoyed the X-Men since the early '90s, when Jim Lee illustrated that new X-Men series. This book has solid dialogue, a great battle, and mind-blowing art. Seriously, the art in this book is amazing. The art alone makes this a worthwhile purchase -- it's that beautiful.
Uncanny X-Force #14: First and foremost I must say that there is no other comic that Marvel puts out that is better than this. I've been on the mutant roller-coaster for 35 y
ears and this is one of those times where nearly every book is more hit than miss. THIS book, though, is firing on all thrusters. Love it. Love the art. It was my number one book in my review column: Starlord: Top to Bottom this week. This is not the best issue of the series but this is also the weakest I've read and it's still awesome.
My Score: 9.5
This continues to be my favorite book and Marvel's best. Remender has been great as the writer on this since the first issue. His dialogue is great and really nails each characters personality. I loved that despite becoming Apocalypse, Archangel has maintained a calm and not become the typical villain. It's great that Wolverine has been taken out of the fight. I would love if he was inactive the rest of this story just to see how the team makes it out of this mess without his help. It was nice to see someone foil Fantomex's illusions as I felt the gimmick was being overused. What I really like about Remender's writing is how he handles Deadpool. Despite what Punchy says, Deadpool does not suck. He's just been written poorly for several years now. That is not the case here. To see how else Deadpool can be written well, check out Joe Kelly's run on the original ongoing. Can't wait for the next issue of this book.
The art in this issue is amazing. I love Opena's work and was happy to see him return to the art here. I loved his work on Vengeance of the Moon Knight and was happy to see he was the artist on Uncanny X-Force. All his characters look great as does the action sequences. I only hope he's still around post-Schism. As Punchy said, Dean White deserves praise for his coloring on the book. He's helped the art maintain consistency despite different pencilers but I feel he excels when paired with Opena.
Story - 9
Art - 10
Overall - 9.5
I've heard great things about Uncanny X-Force since it debuted, but I have always been cautious about the praise because I didn't want to be disappointed when I finally read it. I'm happy to say the praise was well earned.
Uncanny X-Force #14 was a solid comic, both in writing and artwork. I was unsure of its choice for this week's review because we're reading Chapter 4 of The Dark Angel Saga. Will a reader like me that's not familiar with this saga be confused, or in the dark? Luckily, no.
The opening recap page quickly caught me up to speed and Rick Remender's writing kept things simple yet good. I really enjoyed his take on the characters. They all seemed to be spot on, and each one's dialogue seemed different and to character.
Jerome Opena is becoming a better and better artist each time I see his work. His detail was amazing, and I loved the mood he delivers in his images. Opena makes Archangel seem cold and soft at the same time. Plus the action sequences were smooth and well layed-out. A cover by one of my favorites, Esad Ribic, didn't hurt either.
I can't wait to read the earlier issues of Uncanny X-Force, and I'm looking forward to future issues as well.
GRADE: 8.5 of 10
I don't have the time this second to write a full review, but I have enjoyed this arc so far. This isn't the strongest installment, but there are a lot of interesting things in play. Is Warren still in control in there somewhere, playing everyone? Will Fantomex's ace in the hole come into play at the end? Why is the technology in "The World" and the Celestial tech exactly the same?
That's all folks! And was that remarkably positive or what? Apart from one reviewer which gave the book a big fat zero, but then that's his username, what did you expect? His score didn't mess up the average too much, as it got 8.11 out of 10! As always, click here to read the full thread.
Join us next week when we'll be reading Static Shock #1, it's our first foray into the DC Relaunch! I fear the worst.
Written or Contributed by: Niam Suggitt