by Rick Remender (script), Billy Tan & Rich Elson (art), Paul Mounts (colors), and Clayton Cowles (letters)

The Story: Archangel races to cover things up as a reporter gets footage of his killing a guard, but his actions lead X-Force to believe that Warren is no longer in control.

The Review: When you first open this issue, you’re in for a nasty surprise.  Dean White didn’t color this issue.  Now, that’s not to say that Tan or Elson’s art is bad, or that Paul Mounts’ colors are weak.  I generally enjoy Mounts’ work and the art here is solid, leaving very little to complain about in either that scenes or the action sequences.  It’s a solid looking book with a high-budget feel.  The problem, though, is that Dean White was doing the best work of his career on this book and his unique palette for Uncanny X-Force had become a signature, or staple of the book, never mind the fact that it made the art really, really awesome.  Not having White is a bit of a let-down, as the art becomes instantly less distinctive and closer to being just another Marvel comic, albeit a decent looking one.

Plot-wise, this is a definite improvement over last month.  While Deadpool gets all of one line this month, this issue generally shows the benefit of having a small team and Remender’s ability to highlight the emotions and relationships between them.  I liked, in particular, Logan’s complete lack of hesitation and instant resolve when it comes to heading out to kill Warren, only to freeze up at the last second.  It’s an intelligent move the shows the complexity of the situation and how Logan’s friendship with Warren impairs his natural instincts.  Fantomex’s not-so-secret crush on Psylocke is also awkward, but appropriately so.

Then there’s Warren himself, who comes across like a monster this month.  Even when out of Archangel form, he’s a scary, creepy dude.  That said, Remender also writes the “character fighting for control of his mind” in a way that doesn’t feel utterly tired, an accomplishment in itself.  I swear, no one says “just fight it!”

But really, the best thing about this issue is just how much ground Remender covers.  It’s never a laborious or exposition-heavy read, and flies by quite quickly, but despite that, so much happens, all of it interesting.  We have a brief journalistic thriller, a focusing on Warren’s relationship with his team, a new character is brought (temporarily?) onto the team, and there’s a prelude to the Dark Angel Saga.  In the latter’s case, I am absolutely giddy.   The concept put forward regarding Warren’s current state is guaranteed to make you go “ooooh.”

While the art suffers for lack of Dean White, a division of labors, and a Tan that seems a little more rushed than last month, there’s not all that much to complain about.  I suppose the Fantomex misdirection scene at the end of the book was a little bit of a head-scratcher, however.

Conclusion: Another solid entry in what is one of the best team books on the market.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans