REVIEW: Uncanny X-Force #35 (of 35)

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Or – “These Days, Three Years Is A Pretty Impressive Run…”

On a recent Major Spoilers Podcast, we attempted to address the clusterschmozz that is the history of X-Men villain Apocalypse.  It would seem that writer Rick Remender had a similar idea a couple of years ago, dealing with the return of ol’ Pocky to the mainstream 616 universe and with it the formation of an underground team that Wolverine hand-picked to be capable of the kind of lethal solution that Apocalypse would warrant.  Now, Uncanny X-Force has run its course, but there are still a few loose ends left to tie up.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

UncannyXForce35CoverUNCANNY X-FORCE #35
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Phil Noto
Colorist: Frank Martin, Jr.
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Uncanny X-Force:  Initially assembled to deal with the threat of En Sabah Nur, the Uncanny X-Force has been through hell and back together.  They’ve traveled, crossed universal barriers, even changed the nature of the universe itself.  They’ve also lost members here and there, and in their last mission, team-leader Wolverine was finally forced to take the life of his own son, Daken (aka Dark Wolverine.)  Having disbanded X-Force, the surviving members are ready to close the door on their dark history, but there are still a few things left to do…

RICK REMENDER ALMOST MADE ME LIKE DAKEN, THE BASTARD…

We open with the man that I still call Logan standing before a gravestone, thinking about could-have-beens and wish-I-hads as he pays his final respects to the son he never knew he had.  For me, Wolverine is a character that is best in small doses, and almost never in a clearly central role, but Remender keeps it straight-forward here, and delivers one of the best Logan monologues since Claremont himself.  No overblown macho theatrics, no pseudo-psychological claptrap, just a regretful man realizing the damage his absence did for his son.  It’s good stuff, and the issue continues with that good stuff as Psylocke makes up with her estranged brother Captain Britain (who never approved of her relationship with the deceased Fantomex). Deadpool has a moment of real humanity with Kid Apocalypse, and the surviving members set off for White Sky to take care of the final preparations for the final dispensation of deceased member Fantomex.  It’s impressive that Remender and Noto are able to wring such drama out of Deadpool and Psylocke, whose histories are mazes of contradictory information, much less the labyrinthian characterization of Wolverine, and I have to admit to enjoying these characters here more than I have in years…

IS THAT A HAPPY ENDING I SPY?

Of course, nothing is simple in X-Force (just ask Cannonball, he died a couple of times, but that was under Liefeld, and may not count) as the second half of the issue answers the question of Fantomex’s final resting place in a completely unexpected way.  Once again, I find myself unwilling to share what actually came across as a decent surprise in the story, because you should (if you so desire) be able to pick up the issue and enjoy the moment for yourself.  Suffice to say that Morrison’s setup for the character comes back around, and the issue ends on a rare hopeful note and a fade to white.  Visually, it’s a wonderful book, with Noto never hitting a sour note (though I’m not sure who the pointy-headed robot girl is or what her deal might be, even her ridiculous design looks good under Phil’s pen.)  Remender infuses the issue with a genuine and clearly palpable love for what he was able to put on the page, making me wish that I hadn’t checked out of this title when Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler joined up.  (Most times, any overt AoA reference has me on the next bus to Cleveland.)

THE BOTTOM LINE:  MORE COMICS NEED ENDINGS LIKE THIS.

I’ve said over and over on the M.S.P. and in real life that comics need to be allowed to end, and that once they do, that ending should be allowed to stand on its own merits as a story.  Too many loose ends can spoil even something wonderful (as much of Marvel’s output during the mid-1970s will easily attest) , So I enjoy the fact that Remender got to tell the story that closed the book on his underground team of mutant murderers.  (The upcoming relaunch under another writer may or may not change my thinking on this, but that’s a problem for another day.)  Uncanny X-Force #35 takes a group of characters that I generally can take or leave, puts them in a situation that  is truly bizarre, and makes me care about them, wrapping things up in satisfactory fashion and earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s nice to see that no character is beyond having a good story told with them, no matter how over-played, overexposed or ill-advised, something that readers and creators alike should take note of…

Rating: ★★★★☆

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