‘X-Force #1’ Darkly Funny in True X-Force Form

Reading Time: 5 minutes

X-Force #1 

Background:

X-Force #1 burst out of the Extermination series with a new, old X-Force. The new X-Force is a lot like the old X-Force with some noticeable differences. Domino heads up a team consisting of Cannonball, Shatterstar, Boom Boom, and Warpath. As Domino is quick to tell anyone with questions, this team doesn’t operate like the Avengers or the X-Men. This is a team made up of the mutants that terrify sane people. This is the team that will hurt you if you get in their way.

When X-Force #1 opens the team is on a mission. If you haven’t read the Extermination series, you might want to pick that up and read it before diving into X-Force #1. It will explain a lot of the why behind the opening scenes.

The X-Force members aren’t in a playful mood, they want answers or blood – possibly both. They are searching for the young version of Cable. He owes them. He owes them answers and a whole lot more. They will do whatever it takes to collect. If that includes hurting a few anti-mutant terrorists in the process, then so be it.

Creative Team: 

Publisher: Marvel     Series Rating: 3.5/5

Writer: Ed Brisson     Penciler: Dylan Burnett     Cover Artist: Pepe Larraz

From MAJK’s Coffee Corner:

X-Force #1, like its team, makes no concessions. New readers who haven’t read Extermination, might be lost. Not so much on what is happening because that is pretty straight forward but more so on what events have gotten the team here. The learning curve for newbies gets a bit steeper as the story ramps up. By the end of the issue, Kid Cable is a more compelling character if you have context for his actions.

Because this team and this story have a foundation in Extermination, new readers are given very little frame of reference for the re-formation of X-Force, Kid Cable’s actions and motives, or the events in Transia. This means that if you are a die-hard X-fan (like me) you’re probably loving X-Force#1 but this harms the level of accessibility that the first issue for a new series should have.

First issues, should be a “jumping in” point for new fans, allowing them to ease into the world and introducing them to new (to them) characters. Marvel is the Master of this, as evidenced by the plethora of recent reboots that are welcoming a whole new generation of fans. So, it was a bit disappointing to see them miss the mark on X-Force#1.

I can comfortably recommend this series for X fans that have been following the Marvel Comic X-verse but if you are a new reader, I’ll repeat my recommendation that you read the Extermination series prior to picking this one up.

Spoiler Warning: If you have not read the Marvel series Extermination or X-Force#1 There WILL Be Spoilers Below

On A Mission

The story opens in a remote village in Transia where a young mutant is hiding with his family. Someone has reported him, and the terrified kid makes a run for it only to be shot and killed by those who feel the best mutants are dead mutants. My inner Magneto was pointing at these jerks stating coldly “This attack cannot be ignored.”

The next second we are in Queens, New York. In a warehouse that as Boom Boom puts it “Screams ‘Something nefarious is going on in here'” where more than a few anti-mutant mercenary types are having their proverbial posteriors handed to them by the X-Force. At this point. we learn X-Force is trying to find Kid Cable because…well, he killed Cable. We also discover that Boom-Boom was late. As our team extracts the information on Kid Cable’s location they head to Transia. Naturally, we get there before they do.

Safe Haven to Death Trap 

We learn that the President of Transia has declared it a safe haven for mutants in exchange for high-end tech and weapons. However, As often happens with politicians, his views run counter to what the vile, mutant-hating Commandant Constantin feels is best for his country. Through a bizarre series of events, Constantin manages to murder the President, frame mutants for it, and assume control of the country. It’s pretty easy to frame a guy who breaks into a Transian research lab, kills multiple people on the way in, steals a disassembled and murderously insane, Deathlok kills more people on the way out and causes mass amounts of property damage before getting cornered. I mean who wouldn’t believe that he was innocent. It obviously helps his case when the X-Force shows up, saves his rear-end and then escapes with him in tow.

Constantin couldn’t have manufactured better evidence to support his claims of mutant violence. Now the place when so many mutants have come for refuge just became a death trap. Constantin declares martial law until all mutants in Transa have been exterminated.

Art & Writing

I have to admit that it took me a bunch of pages to get used to Dylan Burnett’s art style. It’s hard for me to really love his art style. I really don’t like his Domino. Anyone who knows me knows, I love Domino. The elongated bodies and faces are very Umbrella Academy and even on everyone else in the book, I’m not super “in love” with this look. On Domino, it kills me.

This is one of those very subjective judgments. His art is not awful, and in facts, there are a ton of people that love that style. This is more a personal taste thing and for me, it’s frustrating because since X-Force#1 hangs so heavily on the Extermination series, it feels like that art should have been much closer to the style we saw used on the X-Force members in that series. Not identical but closer, because it would have given a more cohesive feel to the X-Force world as a whole.

Now, let me give credit where credit is due. Burnett’s work on the X-Force #1 action scenes are incredibly fluid, and explosive, which makes them really great and fun. In fact, fun is definitely a big part of what I love about X-Force #1 and while it’s on my pull list. Deathlok is a real scene-stealer between the great job Burnett does with his rapidly changing expressions to the ingenious technique that Brisson uses to introduce new readers to this insane character without slowing down that action or making us slog through a lot of exposition/flashback panels.

There are a ton of fun moments in X-Force #1, despite the decidedly dark tone. There are some very Domino moments, from her response to Cannonball’s concern about her killing to her assessment of Kid Cable’s Arsenal, to her referring to Deathlok as a “Ted-Bundy-Bot.” Then there’s the fantastic work that Burnett did with Deathlok strapped to Kid Cable’s back. The image of these two, strapped together while gunning down Transian soldiers — it reminded me of Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back... if C3P0 had been a bi-polar, homicidal maniac with a gun.

I think the intentionally off-color energy woven throughout X-Force #1 serves as an indication of the new tonal direction for this series. It’s a darkly funny, yet serious and somewhat sardonic feel. That’s actually a very X-Force direction. We even get a brief secondary story to check on Boom-Boom who overslept and missed all the fun. Naturally, though, she makes her own.

MAJK’s Age Recommendation:

Marvel’s age recommendation is 12 + for X-Force #1 and so far, I’m not seeing anything that might make me recommend otherwise. The opening scene where the young mutant is murdered might be a bit much for the more sensitive among us but let’s face it that isn’t really about age as much as it is overall sensitivity. The murder of the President is a bit gory but it’s not a prolonged scene. As of now, I can back Marvel’s age recommendation for this series.

Best Lines:

Domino: “He’s got more guns than the entire state of Texas.”

Domino: “While you are fixing Ted Bundy-Bot over there, why don’t you tell us what the hell is going on?”

Next Issue: January 30, 2019

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