After an unwelcome three months in the year 3000, the world’s least subtle covert team are back in their element. Stopping just short of breaking the forth wall has become a trademark of Chris Yost and Craig Kyle’s X-team, and here the writers use the travel scenario of Messiah War to literally insert the team back into action one second after they were dragged away for the crossover. Despite the loss of the magnificently silly X-Force logo, this is a more than welcome-return to the book’s usual high standards.
With Warpath and Domino sleeping on the job, and X-23 busy changing history, it’s up the Wolverine, Elixir and Archangel to save the day at the United Nations building, but the latter isn’t in the best frame of mind for the job. The political overtones for the action are instantly brought back with Bastion’s proxies addressing the UN, and it’s good to see what’s technically a subsiduary book driving its franchise forward. In truth, much more of the X-title’s drive has originated from the techno-organic cabal seen in this book than the events in Fraction’s Uncanny, and its good so see the confident drive forward continuing. While placing Surge and Nate Gre- sorry, Hellion, in danger might be mistaken for Chuck Austin’s casual decimating of the Generation X kids, the writers have a history with these New X-Men characters, and the youngsters’ connections to their X-Force former teammates add personal drama to an otherwise action-packed issue.
Mike Choi delivers his usual superb pencils, but it’s Sonia Oback’s colours which steal the show artistically, with her computer-aided approach being perfectly suited to the overloaded energy-projection powers of the issue’s guest stars. Despite Choi’s talk of a new approach to the book for this arc, the increase in violence is subtle, with Archangel’s shredding of his opponents being distinctly lacking in blood. The only slight irritant in the issue is the extremely-slow moving Rahne/ Hrimhari plotline. Obviously originally intended to serve as a means of drawing X-Force into the much delayed ‘Siege of Asgard’ storyline, Kyle and Yost have obviously got fed up of waiting for Marvel editorial to get its act together, and begun to take matters into their own hands. The three page interlude, however, is a short intermission in the strong material that surrounds it.
So; tight, unpatronising, plotting. Some beautiful art. And a truly magnificent cliff-hanger. X-Force, we’ve missed you.