Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 11.09.2011 – Uncanny X-Force #17

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

811
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.7
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 33.7%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Rick Remender
Art by Jerome Opena
Colors by Dean White
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Esad Ribic

Size: 0 pages
Price: 3.99

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.

Ron Richards
They can double ship forever, as long as they’re this good
ron@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. It’s a great review Ron, it seems like you are enjoying a lot of X-books lately….Not much of a surprise, but still happy to hear.

    Although I can think of a good half dozen other Marvel books better then this. But that’s not the point.

    My POTW was Batman and Robin #3 because it was amazing.

  2. Yes! I loved this! It’s almost always my pick when it comes out. Could not agree more, this is hands down the best book Marvel has at the moment.

  3. Who knew iFanboy’s PotW tastes ran so “assey?” Seriously, best book on my stack this week too. Good call.

  4. Wow. That’s quite a review. Better than Whedon would you say?

  5. Saint_Gut_Free1 (@Saint_Gut_Free1) says:

    Rob picked another x-men title for pick of the week. No surprise.

  6. I haven’t even read my copy yet and I know this is a great choice, I would argue ult spiderman has a case for best but I am always save those two books to read last. Like dessert.

  7. This was the only X book I was reading before the X relaunch and will be the only X book I continue reading. Ult. Spider-man ended up being my pick but this was close.

  8. Avenging spiderman 1 joe mads art awsome

  9. DC may be winning the market share, but Marvel has got to be KILLING in overall profit per unit. Zero pages for $3.99!!

    That’s gotta stick in some craws in Internetland. Talk about bold, Marvel.

    As much as I love the X-Men, Remender, and Opena, this book just has not resonated with me. Every time Ron an Conor rave about this tittle I think that I should check the next issue to see what I am missing, but when I do, it’s just not my thing. This should be fine, but it is causing an existential crisis (in the tiny comic sector of my existence)!

    • @Andrew Zero pages for $3.99.Bwaah-haha-hah-ah that is good!! I agree with all of your comments and the last time I question a POW or POM I was told it is an overall rating thing; I just have tried and tried and I am sorry it does not seem like that is all the way accurate. I am sure this is a great book and all however it is Thursday morning and we already have a POW? Has everyone except for me read all of their comics? No offense Ron; you guys make the rules and I do like the site just do not agree with the POW and POM ever really. Other side I have heard from several people that this really is the only really good comic from Marvel right now so I will pick it up this weekend. (You see I have an open mind)

      Just sayin’,

      K

    • i hardly think anyone can say that this is the ‘only’ good book at marvel. It is however consistently one of the best. Honorable mentions would be Journey into Mystery, Captain America and Bucky, and Daredevil.

    • Its a great book.. but its certainly not new reader friendly. You have to read from the beginning and not miss many or any issues to understand whats going on with the characters Andrew. Its basically 17 issues so far without a real break in the arc. There are no stand alone issues that even make much sense by themselves apart from issue 1.
      I think its one of the best marvel books.. up there with Ultimate Spidey , DD and Fantastic Four. Maybe wolverine and the xmen can give it a run for its money.

    • Oh and i forgot Cap.. ya Cap is always great.

    • I think there are more than one good book from Marvel myself so I guess it did phrase what I heard wrong. What I heard was this is the best book from Marvel right now. I myself read a few from Marvel:
      Daredevil-(because of everyone here on IFanboy’s reviews and comments I went out and bought all five issues last week and read them-Very cool)
      Wolverine-(It’s been up and down)
      The Avengers-(It seems like I have not seen an issue in awhile?)
      Hulk-(Issue #1 was very good and has promise!)
      Deadpool-(Always a great book)
      Wolverine and the X-Men(To early too tell)
      Uncanny X-Men-(To early too tell)
      Amazing Spiderman-(Has been a fun read with the whole Spider Island run, now lets see where it goes?)
      I will pick this up and give it a read like everything else for myself! I just do not see how we get a POW picked by Thursday? Should it wait till everyone reads their books and maybe pick on Friday evening or something??

      Just sayin’,

      K

    • iroberts007 – It cooooould be that one should read all the issues to fully enjoy the stories, but I’m skeptical that it would be mandatory. Based on the issues I have read, I don’t really like Remender’s voice for most of the characters. As I said, I WANT to like it, but it just hasn’t resonated. I think there are lots of superb books out from Marvel, so we don’t need to debate labels like “best” that get tossed around too much. To be fair, though, Ron did write a great article to support his claim for “best.”

    • I’ve been really enjoying this book, but I know what you mean with “wanting” to like a book and just not enjoying it. It’s the strangest feeling. That’s happened to me with tons of books.

    • Seriously andrew… Remender could do with a little more of the “expository” writing that 1 ifanboy poster (who will remain nameless) continually criticizes Mark Millar for. Not to say i dont love Remender and this book.. but did you see the 1 full page of refresher notes at the beginning of issue 17. He needs a full typed page of recap to have any chance of new readers figuring out whats going on. Regardless… i say again i love uncanny xmen.. one of my favorite books of the last few years. (and i dont want him to change anything)
      Of course it could just not be your thing… and thats fine… Im just saying though that this is an unusual case… I dont think this about many books. Maybe its Remender .. i picked up an issue of Fear Agent in the middle of the series.. and i was thoroughly confused.

    • TYPO….meant to say i love uncanny xforce.. ha
      I was mildly entertained by uncanny xmen 1.. although it couldnt touch UXF with a ten foot poll.

  10. Remender getting back to back pick of the weeks!! He is in the running for most POTW!!!

  11. This i’s a title up there with JIM, daredevil and cap an Bucky. Definitely consistently awesome

  12. Great review of a great book. Enjoyed this immensely.

    I do know how it happens, but Fantomex’s “feint” power tricks me every time!

  13. “No one can hold a candle to the magic that Opena is bringing to the pages in this book.”
    That about sums up my feelings on this book. Great review — it helped me understand the concepts and background that Remender is going for. Honestly, I was confused as hell, but knew the review would clear up the plot. The art was off the friggin’ hook.

  14. I totally agree with your review Ron. This is easily the best ongoing being put out right now. I love this run and I can’t wait to see how it is resolved.

  15. Rick especially deserves credit for somehow making Fantomex into one of the single most surprising badasses in modern comics.

  16. Can’t quite put this into USM, JIM, Daredevil and Cap and Bucky level of awesome, but Opena’s art is almost definitely on par with ANY title on the stands and well above 95% of it.

  17. X-books traditionally don’t do it for me (though that’s the opinion of 10 years ago me) – but the reviews people are giving this are AMAZING… how far can one catch up in trades???

    • Just type in Uncanny X-Force at Amazon. They’ve got the current books and the ones coming out soon.

    • Thanks vandamowens – I’d actually checked that but honestly wasn’t sure what issues were covered in what book…

      My bad I should have realized.. I’d done that before but descriptions sometimes were missing issue numbers so I got a little lost – got it sorted out now!!

      I think I”ll make this a trade collection to catch up – and possibly how I collect it if I dig it.

    • There’s only one series called Uncanny X-Force. So just click on the links/book titles and find the issue numbering. That should get you set.

  18. I don’t read any of the X-books, but Ron’s review is pumped with so much energy and enjoyment of the material, that it makes me want to try it. Great review!

  19. X-book HMMM

    Matthew

  20. “a simple splash page featuring Psylocke and Fantomex is a thing of beauty that could be (and should be) turned into a poster.”

    Glad I’m not the only one who thought this.

  21. Aww shit Remender-Verse coming in strong! We still got Secret Avengers with Gabe Hardman coming too!

    Everyone else is saying it too, but this is honestly my favorite comic coming out right now.

    The intensity that has been built up is really something to marvel at. I’ve never been this afraid for characters (or the WORLD!) when reading comics. Someone is going to die and it isn’t going to be a cheap throwaway death at all.

  22. Loving this my favourite series at the moment and I’m A DC guy.
    it’s got everything I want from superhero comics, great action , smart sci-fi and fantastic art that complements the feel of the book. All the characters feel like individuals and have their own subtle and emotionality real moments even deadpool.

  23. Remender and hardman on Secret Avengers i’s going to be a beast of a book too. It’s set to be the most exciting thing to happen in the avengers line of books in years. The bendis avengers monopoly has produced many great issues but the avengers needs a new writer and remender has proven himself to be an incredible writer for a team book with this awesome run.
    And Gabriel hardman i’s up there with Opena, in my opinion.

  24. Just one little nit to pick with the review, there’s actually been 18invited issues of UXF this year thanks to #5.1. This was my POTW as well, the Dark Angel Saga has been totally epic. Can’t wait to see how it all wraps up.

  25. This book just straight breathed hellfire from every page. Remender and Opena and Dean White is just an explosive combination. Every time I think I’m done reading dumb superhero team books, along comes something like this that just makes me its bitch all over again. Wow.

  26. Anyone else think Remender could easily spin-off another book from this? I really want to see more of the Apocalypse dudes, especially Nightcrawler.

  27. Ron you are a true fan and everyone knows it and they blast you for picking and X-book as your Pick, I even I have done it ONCE. I have seen the errors of my ways and understand the truth of the POTW and I shall give you no more grumph for your picks.

  28. That cover oozes Frazetta.

  29. I hope to see this prominently featured in one of your end of year wrap up shows (detailing your favourite creators, what to buy etc). Just finished the first trade of uncanny x-force and really liked it. The art is incredible

  30. I love this series. It is hands-down the best comic Marvel puts out. It’s been the best for a year now. It’s easily the best X-title since the Whedon/Cassaday Astonishing days.

  31. I want to read it, just a quick question is it a bit accesible, I mean I’ll go trade hunting and try to catch up, but if i started reading at the first trade how much do you need to know about mutants and the X-men universe? The X corner is the one corner in comics I know sadly little about.

    • Not much. I’ve been loving it from the beginning. Everything you NEED to know to enjoy the story is given to you on the page. You might not get EVERY reference or implication but you don’t NEED to to enjoy the story.

    • I have read hundreds of X-Men books over the years but missed the entire 90’s. It doesn’t matter. Remender extracts the awesome bits for you and doesn’t waste time trying to cram in all the other crap that doesn’t fit or isn’t cool anymore. Just jump in and go with it.

    • It’s like asking – Do I need to have read all the Charlton books to read Watchmen? Well, Watchmen is certainly built on that foundation and almost every page has some reference to those books…but ultimately it doesn’t matter. This is HIS story, not Chris Claremont’s or Scott Lobdell’s.

  32. Great review and a very deserving POW. I usually try to avoid awful internet buzzwords….but this was fucking epic

  33. People making snarky comments about Ron picking an X-book while the issue currently sits as the #1 community pick of the week at 30%. Ha. Some of you guys are funny.

  34. ~Love this run and am content w Deadpool here and only here, if not for the occasional cameo elsewhere.

  35. AWW YEAH! DC kids title in the podcast. This title and the cartoon has gotten my 6 year old cousin interested in the greater DCU. Mainly in the JLI.

  36. I love when Ron picks an X book because he’s right 🙂

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