Uncanny X-Force #1
Writer - Rick Remender
Artist - Jerome Opena
Publisher - Marvel Comics. $3.99 USD
So this is the relaunch of a book about the black ops X-Men starring mostly also-rans plus two overexposed characters, written by the guy who gave readers the goofy FrankenCastle version of The Punisher, with art by the guy late of another failed Moon Knight series. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but guess what? It’s pretty good.
Now, sure, I think we get enough Wolverine team action in the current X-Men and Avengers, and there’s certainly enough Deadpool for almost anyone already. I never cared much about Psylocke or Archangel, either, and though I like Fantomex, I have my doubts about his potential if his creator Grant Morrison isn’t writing him. Yes, it’s been that long since I’ve read any X-Men comics where anyone used Fantomex as anything but a background character. Add to that that I’m not all that interested in Apocalypse or his Four Horsemen, and this book shouldn’t work at all for me. But, at least in this first glimpse, it does.
Part of the credit goes to Remender, who probably correctly focuses on the Archangel/Psylocke relationship, a nice take on superhero codependence that could bear some fruit in the future, once Remender navigates what he’s telegraphing as a pretty obvious Wolverine-style loss of control for Archangel once he meets Apocalypse again. Fantomex hitting on Psylocke for fun is also fine, but hopefully we get a little more from him than that. Deadpool and Wolverine are the characters he can’t do much with, storywise, but at least they’re written consistently, and Remender’s got a dark enough sense of humor to give Deadpool some good lines. He’s likely also at least as good a choice for writing a team teetering on the line between right and wrong as the more conservative Jeff Parker on Thunderbolts.
But the big star here is Opena, who along with colorist Dean White bring a real ’70s fantasy magazine feel of faux-splattered paint and straining sinews to the proceedings. Of course, it helps that much of the action is set in a temple guarded by an axe-wielding creature that wouldn’t be out of place in Savage Sword of Conan. That was really what sold me on the issue, and if Opena leaves I fear the book could get ordinary real quick. In fact, while Esad Ribic delivers a nice main cover, and it’s understandable that the first issue would bring in some “names” for variants like J. Scott Campbell and Rob Liefeld, I think having Opena and White handle the covers going forward could really make this book stand out as something a little different than the other X-books.