by Rick Remender (writer), Esad Ribic (pencils), John Lucas (inks), Matt Wilson (colors), and Cory Petit (letters)

The Story: Fantomex fights to keep the World safe from superpowered Deathloks, but will X-Force bother to save him?

Review:  In some ways, this latest installment of Uncanny X-Force is a disappointment.  A big part of what made Rick Remender’s title, for me, so special was the team dynamic and the relationships among this small band of five.  Yet, this month, instead of an X-Force book, we get, for the most part, a Fantomex/Deathlok team-up with action scenes all over the place.  That’s well and good, Fantomex is as fun as always and the action scenes are drawn in exciting and intense fashion by Esad Ribic, but it’s not the book at its best.

That being said, amidst this Deathlok story, there are some really cool ideas.  For instance, what would a world look like without superheroes?  According to Remender, pretty damned awesome.  The future these Deathloks come from is one without superpowers and, as such, it’s a utopia.  It’s a really neat move by Remender, as seriously, how many times have we seen a burning, future dystopia due to a lack of heroes?  It’s one of the most well-worn plot points in superhero comics and for Remender to reverse this entirely is not only brilliant, but it also puts X-Force into yet another moral conundrum.  After all, in fighting the Deathloks, they are preventing a lot of deaths, but they’re also possibly stopping utopia from being reached.  And when Remender reveals just who hope is pinned on and who the rebel is in the future, well yeah, that just makes that conundrum all the wonkier.

Interestingly though, the opening scene of the book is probably the strongest, even though it has nothing to do with Fantomex, Deathloks, or the World.  It’s a conversation between Psylocke and Captain Britain that is really well-written and a great piece of introspection for the character, showing Betsy’s increasingly tragic situation regarding her role in X-Force.  The twist at the end of this scene is wonderfully sad, even pathetic, and the whole scene shows Remender’s strengths as a writer.

I think this fantastic opening may also play a role regarding my comparative disappointment with the Fantomex/Deathlok stuff.  All the bluster and action just felt a little shallow compared to this awesomeness.  That being said, Fantomex is pretty darned funny and is as charming as ever, so the comic never drags.

That said, one can’t fault Esad Ribic.  His action scenes are superb, fast, and fluid and his Deathloks all look great.  I do think his illustration of characters going wide-eyed is a little goofy, particularly for a darker comic like this, but overall, there’s little to fault this comic visually.

Conclusion: Still a great book, but needs more actual X-Force.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans