Sunday, 26 April 2015

Uncanny X-Force, Volume 1: The Apocalypse Solution Review (Rick Remender, Jerome Opena)

You’ve read this story a thousand times before: assassins break into impenetrable place, overcome obstacles, kill target. Uncanny X-Force joins the ranks of Secret Avengers, Thunderbolts, Suicide Squad, and probably even more groups that I’m forgetting, of Superheroes What Done Kills Stuff In A Morally Questionable Team. 

Archangel, Wolverine, Psylocke, Fantomex and Deadpool are Uncanny X-Force, the team of killers who do the dirty missions that the good ’n’ proper X-Men don’t touch. This time around they’ve got to kill Apocalypse - except here he’s a kid. Do they kill a child even though they know he grows up to become a terrible villain? Let the hand-wringing commence! 

I’m baffled as to why this series is regarded so highly when it’s so extremely ordinary at best. Apparently the dialogue is great but it isn’t - unless people really loved Deadpool’s bad jokes: “Why did the nickel jump off the building but the dime didn’t? Dime had more cents” and “How do you kill a circus? Go for the juggler”. Boom boom. Maybe it was the pun of having the team fight the Final Horsemen: War, Famine, Pestilence and Death - geddit, the four horsemen of Apocalypse (even though they don’t have horses)?

As if often the case with anything X-related there’s a few questions over what’s going on with the characters unless you read every X-book published. Angel is now Archangel and has this Jekyll/Hyde duality to him for some reason. Oh, the angst, the angst of it all (ie. typical X-Men “drama”)! He’s also going out with Psylocke because you can’t have an X-Men comic without some soap-opera relationship stuff. Also not sure why Apocalypse is a kid all of a sudden but that character changes almost every time he appears because he’s always been so poorly defined so it’s no biggie. 

The story couldn’t be more by-the-numbers generic: heroes fight monsters, heroes win. No tension whatsoever because it’s been done before again and again. I’m also coming at this book having read Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s Wolverine and the X-Men titles beforehand so the whole “kill Kid Apocalypse” thing is moot as he’s alive and a major character in those later comics. 

The art team however is outstanding. Jerome Opena’s art is accomplished, detailed without losing movement and gorgeous as ever while Dean White’s colours are terrific. I liked the decision to have them dress in grey to highlight their moral ambiguity - they’re heroes (white) doing villainous things like killing kids (black) so you get a look somewhere in between (grey). Esad Ribic’s covers are fine too. 

Rick Remender’s Marvel work is always very weak and Uncanny X-Force is unfortunately no exception. Far from being exciting, The Apocalypse Solution is a non-stop snorefest of tedious unoriginality.

Uncanny X-Force, Volume 1: The Apocalypse Solution

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