Pick of the Week
What did the
- Pick of the Week - 05.15.2013 - Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher #1
- Pick of the Week - 05.08.2013 - Thor: God of Thunder #8
- Pick of the Week - 05.01.2013 - Animal Man #20
- Pick of the Week - 04.24.2013 - Uncanny Avengers #7
- Pick of the Week - 04.17.2013 - Captain Marvel #12
Art by Jerome Opena
Colors by Dean White
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Esad Ribic
Size: 0 pages
I feel like I’ve been a broken record this year, saying this same statement over and over again, but I’ll say it again just so we’re clear: Uncanny X-Force is the best ongoing title at Marvel Comics right now.
I’ve said that so much over the past 12 months since Uncanny X-Force launched in October 2010 that I was shocked to go back in time through the Picks of the Week over the past year and see that Uncanny X-Force has only been Pick of the Week once before. ONCE! And that was with issue #1! Inconcievable!
Ever since Rick Remender and Jerome Opena teamed up to launch Uncanny X-Force last year, this book has been one of the most ambitious books on the shelves. From it’s inception, taking the flawed concept of the mutant hit squad and adding in (excuse the pun) the x-factor of characters like Deadpool and Fantomex, Uncanny X-Force has defied the odds issue after issue. And when I say issue after issue, I mean it. All 17 issues in 1 year. Do the math there. In just about 12 months, Rick Remender and a rotating cast of artists have delivered the goods 17 times. That’s 5 more issues than a book usually ships in a year. That feat alone deserves recognition, but it helps that here we are, 17 issues in and the book just keeps getting better and more ambitious.
So it should come as no surprise that here, during the penultimate chapter in the most ambitious story arc to date, that Remender and Opena just knocked me on my ass with some of the best comic bookery I’ve read all year.
One of the things that’s impressed me time and time again with Uncanny X-Force has been Remender’s ability to combine the legacy of the X-Men and their rich history with new and inventive takes on the elements that make the X-Men such an interesting group of characters. For example, here in Uncanny X-Force #17, part 7 of the Dark Angel Saga where X-Force is frantically working to stop Archangel from re-making the world in Apocalypse’s vision. A seemingly tired concept where one of the heroes goes bad and the other heroes fight to stop him. And yet, Remender has been able to make it insanely engaging and rich with both historical context and dramatic action. In this issue, we’re treated to glimpses of Archangel/Warren Worthington’s past. We better understand the howsand why he could be doing these unspeakable acts, simply through 3 panels of a memory from his early days as an X-Man with Professor Xavier. Additionally, we see the changeover of Psylocke as she falls under Archangels’ control, utilizing a long forgotten costume/armor design from the early 1990s along with memories of interactions never before seen by fans. It’s little touches like that that make Uncanny X-Force so much fun for the X-Men fan, and yet completely enjoyable as well to the uninitiated.
Additionally, Remender’s bridge to and use of the Age of Apocalypse characters is absolutely inspired. Not since the event of Age of Apocalypse have I been so excited to see these characters in the mix again. Further, by using these alternate dimension analogues of the characters we already know, Remender is able to explore and influence the characters not even in this book, such as Iceman, who through the Age of Apocalypse version, we get a fully formed glimpse as to the total power potential that Iceman could unlock, a concept that’s been explored and hinted at by others, but within this issue we get to see it fully realized. Remender is delicately balancing the use of these character with perfection. They’re not overused in any way, so when there’s a dramatic, calvary-like entrance entrance, it carries all the weight and excitement that’s needed for this high action storytelling to be effective.
Raving about Jerome Opena is nothing new as he is one of the best artists on the scene today. The only criticism of Uncanny X-Force over the past year has been related to the artists on the book, simply because they’re not Jerome Opena. No one can hold a candle to the magic that Opena is bringing to the pages in this book. His ability to balance between these intense character moments through flashbacks and conversation pieces while on the next page delivering some of the best action sequences in any comic on the stand is a feat of greatness. Every time I see another issue with art by Opena, I say, “now THIS is his best work to date” and he just keeps one upping himself over and over again. The insane creativity and uniqueness of the landscapes dreamed up by Remender are brought to life by Opena in an awe inspiring way. Hell, even the last page, a simple splash page featuring Psylocke and Fantomex is a thing of beauty that could be (and should be) turned into a poster.
I’ll say it again, in case my gushing hasn’t convinced you yet, Uncanny X-Force is the best ongoing title at Marvel Comics right now. Remender and Opena are creating some of most intense, action packed stories that are filled with subtle nuance and dense character development. Uncanny X-Force #17 kept me on the edge of my seat with some fantastic twists and turns as we hurtle towards the finish line of the Dark Angel Saga, all the while further cementing the richness of the characters involved. I’ve been reading X-Men related comics for over 20 years now and I don’t think I’ve ever felt this close to them in terms of understanding motivation and character depth, as in what Remender is doing with Warren Worthington.
As an X-Men fan, this is like crack. But for any comic book fan, and here’s where the magic comes into play, you don’t need to have 20 years of story knowledge like I do. Remender and Opena are telling their story in such a way that you cannot help but marvel at how they’re doing it, and all the while be able to follow along and understand at the basis of the story, what is going on. I can only wonder what kind of wicked deal with the devil Remender made in order to pull this off, but whatever it is, there’s definitely magic involved that’s made just for us comic book fans.
They can double ship forever, as long as they’re this good