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Uncanny X-Force #1 – Review

UNCANNY X-FORCE #1

By: Sam Humphries (Writer), Ron Garney (Artist), Marte Gracia, Israel Gonzalez (Colorists)

The Story: Psylocke, alongside Storm and Puck, gets on a case of hive-minding drugs thanks to a tip given by Wolverine.

The Review: This book has an incredible challenge ahead of itself. Not only it is a first issue which needs to captivate readers with some unknown characters and setting, but it is the direct follow-up to a beloved tenure on the title by Rick Remender. Writer Sam Humphries has some huge shoes to fill on this title.

Thankfully, there seems to be some potential for this new volume of the series, as there are a lot of elements that are taken and followed from the previous run, while there are some new ideas and characters added to the mix to make this worthwhile. There’s the definitive touch of Remender inside this issue, but Humphries does not shy away from new directions.

One of the newer and more obvious elements would be the cast, which is almost entirely new, with the exception of Psylocke and Fantomex, the latter of which shows up at the end of the book. Some of these choices are actually quite interesting, with characters in search of purpose or with very recent problems eating at their mind, be it with Storm and her break-up with Black Panther or Puck whojust escaped literally from Hell. Humphries mostly manage to get the voice of those characters right, with Storm being all business, yet never cold and Puck being an adventurous dwarf in many ways. The only character I found was a little bit off was Psylocke, who seems much more violent and cold than before.  There are reasons for this, yet there are times when it is a little bit too much, especially with the fact that she is a character seen swearing quite a lot during the issue. I do not remember ever reading a Psylocke so rude in any series, which made it a little bit hard to like her during certain scenes.

What’s much easier to like, though, would be the action scenes and the direction. Taking out a drug on the street named TAO that turn people’s minds into a hive-mind, being controlled by something or someone not yet seen. This kind of problem seems like something a team like X-Force should tackle, which is nice, setting us up for more potential threats down the line. It is something small, but this could lead us to many kind of things for the team, respecting the tradition that small matters can soon become big with this team and this series.

However, there are some problems in this issue that are big that I sincerely hope shall become small as the series goes on, notably some of the setup. There is one particular page that seems a little bit out of place, one that does not contribute much to the issue. The page in question would be the one where Bishop comes back, as he is seen being happy that he finally made it to this present time period. It has been said that he would play a huge role in this series as an antagonist, yet this page does not reveal much about why and how he got here. It is foreshadowing, but there are close to no hints or tease that prompts the readers that it is a good or bad thing. As an introduction in a storyline, it is a little bit weak.

What’s much stronger in this issue, though, is the art. Ron Garney is very good here, especially in the action scenes. The fight between Spiral and Psylocke is sometine acrobatic, sometime brutal, yet we do not miss a single detail. Considering the fact that Spiral has six arms, that is a considerable feat. Something that also truly enhances the quality of the art department would be the duo of colorists on this issue. Marte Gracia and Israel Gonzalez manages to make several scenes incredibly effective, be it the night club scene or the one in Wolverine’s office, putting some outlandish colors and replacing what we would expect with original choices which create quite some contrasts. It is a gamble, yet one that has actually paid off, making those scenes much more memorable visually.

The Conclusion: Sam Humphries manages to continue this title in his own manner while respecting what came before, doing so with some good dialogue, a new direction and some good action. While not as strong as Remender, it does a good job of getting the interest of readers thanks to its strong script and the lovely art from Ron Garney and the duo of colorists working their wonders.

Grade: B

Hugo Robberts Larivière

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6 Responses

  1. Hi Hugo.
    I missed the train on Remender’s run on X-Force, hopefully will buy the trades someday soon.
    Do you feel I need to know some stuff from his run to enjoy this new series? Any spoilers for the unawares? I know this is the point of NOW! but you never know with this comic business.

    Thanks in advance.

    • From what I could see from the first issue, it would help to have read the previous volume, as there are several character development, notably Fantomex and Psylocke, that reads much better when in the proper context of the previous volume. It does not seem utterly necessary, but it helps.

      However, I strongly urge you to read Rick Remender’s run on Uncanny X-Force. It was a really strong art with terrific action, plot and some astonishing art from people such as Jerome Opena, Esad Ribic and Phil Noto.

  2. Anything with Garney on art is must buy for me. Let’s hope this’ll turn into an ongoing engagement for him, I miss him when he’s not around.

    After sitting uncomfortably through a few interminable issues of Humphries’ ‘Ultimates’ though… his presence makes it a bit of a harder sell.

    But whatever….it’s Garney time! *swoon*

    • Yeah, I left ‘Ultimates’ when Humphries became the sole writer on the title. I had not been impressed in how the story turned out when he became a co-writer, but I can see that he does have potential when I read this.

      But yes, Ron Garney is a pretty good artist.

    • His work on Mark Waid’s Captain America and Jason Aaron’s Wolverine: Weapon X have placed Garney in my good books forever.

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