So the long awaited Uncanny X-Force #1 has arrived and it is pretty kick-ass as far as first episodes go. The most recent and widely lauded incarnation of X-Force set fire to an X-franchise needing a new direction. With Marvel’s Dark Age in full effect, it was only natural that a no-holds-barred, clandestine group of X-Men surfaced. Charged with the elimination of all immediate threats to the rapidly endangered mutant population, X-Force, led by Wolverine and supported by X23, Warpath, Wolfsbane, Elixir, Domino, Archangel, and the Vanisher, were disbanded by Cyclops after the conclusion of Second Coming.
Unbeknownst to Cyclops, Wolverine has formed a covert strike team to continue proactive, protective agenda of X-Force. This incarnation includes Archangel, Psylocke, Fantomex, and the controversial Deadpool. Deadpool’s inclusion on the team is ironic given that he was one of X-Force’s original nemeses, under the creative control of Rob Liefeld in the early 1990’s. Archangel and Psylocke are not surprising given their budding romance and general popularity. More surprising is the mysterious thief, Fantomex, who in previous guest roles has helped when needed but appeared content to follow his own agenda. Deadpool has recently become more X-ish and less mercenary in his associations and it doesn’t hurt that his solo title is selling well.
Rick Remender (Punisher: Frankencastle) has held the hot hand recently for Marvel so bumping him up to an X-title was a no-brainer. The first chapter to this title, The Apocalypse Solution, brings us the return of one of the X-Men’s greatest foes, Apocalypse, though not in the form you might think. Joined by Jerome Opeña and Dean White, Remender is laying down a solid foundation injecting the right balance of humor and unease one should expect from a group that has such a grim agenda. Uncanny X-Force doesn’t have the visual confection that the recent run of X-Force had. Crain, Choi, and Oback were very skilled in the use of computer-enhanced graphics and blood-stained pages. However, Opeña and White offer clean lines, realistic renderings, and just the right level of darkness this title needs.
Aside from the opening storyline and a potential love-triangle (Archangel, Psylocke, Fantomex), it is not clear what lies ahead for the group. An overarching thread should undoubtedly appear in the next few issues but to what end. Can the Uncanny X-Force team survive as a long-standing unit where so many others have come and gone? Though this title has some promise, it is difficult to imagine a situation in which the team remains a secret for long, which will lead to a reinvention and of course a #1 launching of some “New X-Force” or “Uncannily Newer X-Force” or some clever play on former X-nomenclature. So enjoy Uncanny X-Force while you can and mark your calendars for December 2013 when its last issue will be released.