The preview for issue #1 of X-Force is quick to point out this isn’t just about killing:
X-Force is the CIA of the mutant world-one half intelligence branch, one half special ops.
Historically, the covert ops mutants, typically with Wolverine as the leader, would bust skulls and cut open guts to save the mutant (and sometimes human) race. Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara (with Dean White on colors and Joe Caramagna on letters) aim to show a more complex and varied group in the Dawn of X. As first issues go, it’s easy to argue this book’s extra-sized format pays off with setup, key character moments, action, and a huge hook that’ll rock the entire line of books.
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As the solicit showed, there is a large group of humans who want to kill all mutants. At the very least, they want them under their boot heels. Domino is in danger and Percy effectively sets up a plot that’ll make you want every human gutted by the end. The general flow of this issue is quite strong, opening with intense action and then cutting to a brief conversation between Beast and Wolverine that makes a good point about predators and the fact that Krakoa is filled with curiosities even though the mutants tapped into it seem to think they have it under control. Percy and Cassara make a strong point in this scene about predators and prey, which can easily relate to the covert ops nature of X-Force — or, at the very least, how we’ve imagined the team over the years. As the plot shifts to other characters, their position on the island, and their place amongst Xavier’s plans, the creative team gives the reader enough to chew on between character and plot to grow ever more fascinated as the story unfolds.
This book is very good at building tension. Much of the second half cuts between scenes building towards a shocking conclusion, yet you may not see it coming thanks to the way the story keeps you guessing and keeps the action intense. Cassara and White do a fabulous job giving the action intensity and purpose thanks to key close-ups with characters sure of themselves. Mutants may be the next stage of evolution, but they can still be surprised and hurt in more ways than one.
Wolverine looks fantastic in this issue and if the way he’s written is any indication, he is in very good hands when Percy reboots the series in a few months. Beast is also a big highlight and should have fans interested in how he’s approaching the island.
The data pages are hugely important in this issue. They add layers to Krakoa and reveal the approach the mutants are taking with the world watching on. Frankly, between the data pages and the role of Black Tom, I was surprised at how much we learn about Krakoa and how our interpretation of what it is will shift and change over time.
X-Force works on every level; it’s a smartly crafted action thriller that peels back to reveal richly written characters and nuanced world building.