Review: Uncanny X-Force #16

Uncanny X-Force #16
Writer:  Rick Remender
Artist:  Jerome Opeña 

Quick recap:  The Dark Angel Saga is in full swing.  Wolverine and Warren Worthington III (AKA Angel) have been operating a covert strike team called X-Force, also consisting of Psylocke, Deadpool and Fantomex.  Ever since the previous X-Force title, Angel has been fighting to suppress his murderous alter-ego, Archangel — a product of genetic tampering by the mutant Apocalypse, who made Worthington his Horseman of Death.

During the first Uncanny X-Force storyline, which wrapped earlier this year, the reincarnated Apocalypse was assassinated by X-Force, leaving Archangel an opening to overtake Worthington for good.  It was revealed last issue that the Horseman of Death always ascends to the roll of Apocalypse in the event of the current Apocalypse’s death.  X-Force, wanting to stop Worthington’s ascension, were tricked into retrieving a ‘life seed’ from the Age of Apocalypse — an alternate timeline where Charles Xavier was killed and Apocalypse took over the world — by Dark Beast.  They returned to find that Archangel had already ascended to become Apocalypse.

To make this short, Archangel and his followers stole the Life Seed from X-Force, left Wolverine incapacitated by overloading his healing factor, and kidnapped Psylocke — with whom Worthington is romantically involved — in order for Archangel to convert her into his new Horseman of Death.  Meanwhile, Archangel also had Genocide, the offspring of the former Apocalypse, destroy an entire town in Montana so he could use the Life Seed to create “Tabula Rasa” — a new world with entirely new organisms that he and his followers believe will worship them as gods.

WHEW!  That’s a lot to swallow.

Uncanny X-Force #16 continues Rick Remender’s amazing run on the series.  To put out 16 issues of a book in a year while maintaining an undeniable understanding of each of its characters and giving them all equal real estate is no small feat.  This is especially impressive for someone who has also been holding down a run on Venom for the past six months.

The amount of humor that Remender manages to work into a book with such dark themes is astounding, and he uses Deadpool to full effect to accomplish this.  This issue in particular features several laugh-out-loud moments involving ‘Pool’s psychotic rambling and Fantomex being caught in a rather…erm…compromising situation with Age of Apocalypse Blob.

Often maligned by fans as being overused in the Marvel Universe, Wolverine actually takes a backseat to the other characters in this book, with Remender preferring to let the other characters shine by bringing out the strong-but-silent leader in Logan.

As for the art, Jerome Opeña and Dean White’s panels strike a nice balance between traditional comic art and modern realism.  At times, there are almost similarities to the work of Dave Gibbons and John Higgins on Watchmen.  There are even similarities between the color palettes.

With an ample supply of action, suspense and dark humor, Uncanny X-Force is arguably the X-book to read right now.  Despite being on part six, The Dark Angel Saga hasn’t felt nearly as long as story lines half its size in other books.

Story:  9/10
Art:  9.5/10 

Roger Riddell
Roger Riddell
Essentially Peter Parker with all the charm of Wolverine, he's a DC-based B2B journalist who occasionally writes about music and pop culture in his free time. His love for comics, metal, and videogames has also landed him gigs writing for the A.V. Club, Comic Book Resources, and Louisville Magazine. Keep him away from the whiskey, and don't ask him how much he hates the Spider-Man movies unless you're ready to hear about his overarching plot for a six-film series that would put the Dark Knight trilogy to shame.