REVIEW: Uncanny X-Force #1

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Uncanny X-Force has been rebooted once again, with a mostly new team and all new threats. Psylocke, Storm, Spiral, Puck, and some incarnation of Fantomex are all present – but how does the return of Bishop figure into all this? The Uncanny X-Force #1 review begins… now!

UncannyXForce1CoverUNCANNY X-FORCE #1
Writer: Sam Humphries
Penciler: Ron Garney
Inker: Danny Miki
Colorist: Marte Gracia with Israel Gonzalez
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artists: Olivier Coipel & Laura Martin
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

Previously, in Uncanny X-Force: X-Force has disbanded, leaving lasting effects on its members. Psylocke’s personality has been altered (again), making her as rough around the edges as ever. Fantomex has been resurrected, only his three brains now have three separate bodies and identities. And Wolverine, Deathlok, Angel and Deadpool are all in other books.

ANGER ISSUES

Rick Remender’s historic run on Uncanny X-Force has ended and two books have sprung up to take its place – Cable & X-Force and this new volume of Uncanny X-Force. As of yet, nothing links these two teams other than their name and the usual outside-the-law X-Force remit. This issue focuses on Psylocke and Storm weathering the fallout from their recent relationship dissolutions, as they track down a new threat in the form of a mind-controlling Ecstasy-like club drug distributed by Spiral.

Sam Humphries sets up a good beginning. The relationship material between Storm and Psylocke is strong, and Psylocke’s anger feels palpable. There are a few balance issues though – the ending seems a bit tacked on, with awkward tags featuring the Fantomex buddies and Bishop returning from the future. How Humphries weaves these storylines into future issues will largely affect the quality of this book. Still, Humphries does enough to keep me interested. It helps that I love this cast of characters, too.

One side issue, though: Psylocke’s swearing. Profanity does not bother me in teh slightest. But this being an all ages book, here it gets a black censor bar in the speech bubble. In a few other Marvel NOW! books, I’ve seen wingdings used for the same effect. It comes off as juvenile and tacky, and I hate it. I’d rather Psylocke plain call Spiral a witch instead of her speech getting black barred. The readers will know what it means. Not to mention the casual cursing seems out-of-character for Psylocke. She’s been under a lot of stress lately, but when isn’t she?

BUSINESS AS USUAL

Ron Garney’s art fits very nicely within the conventional Marvel superhero-style wheelhouse. It’s studied, detailed, and comprehensible – like what Greg Land could be without the lightbox laziness. I prefer art that takes a few more risks, but Garney does bring enough creativity to his panel layouts and action that it still pleased me. The coloring is somewhat heavy-handed – I like that the flashbacks are mostly monochromatic, but too many of the scenes are washed out in the same colors. It flattens the action in the artwork. There’s a bit where Psylocke is cruising around in a hot-rod, single seat flying craft that, while I have no idea what it’s doing in this setting, looks really quite amazing and makes me want to see more of Garney’s art on a techno-punk type book.

BOTTOM LINE: ISSUES OF ECONOMICS

Something that bothers me about this book, which is not the fault of the creative team, is the pricing. I like what Marvel is doing creatively these days, but their price scheme is nigh on incoherent. There are now two X-Force titles dabbling in double-shipping at $3.99 price points. Neither are “flagship” X-titles, and both feature relatively new creative teams. Books like FF and Young Avengers are priced at $2.99 with more high-profile creators – I don’t understand it. I know this moaning is unlikely to be heard, but the point must be made: you can only squeeze so much money out of your readers. It puts an unreasonable burden on a book like Uncanny X-Force – for an extra dollar, my expectations are raised accordingly. And so while this is a decently told superhero story, it’s going to have to be more than decent to get my regular business. Uncanny X-Force #1 gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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