“Things are about to get busy” is how X-Force #14 opens, and this aptly describes how the issue plays out. Last week, X-Men readers found out that the X of Swords saga goes far beyond sword-fighting—competitions have so far included a wedding, an arm-wrestling match, and a drinking contest. This installment proves no different. If you are a reader who has been enjoying the fast-paced execution of recent X-comics, then you will likely enjoy this issue of X-Force. However, if you are still holding out for pages full of drawn-out sword battles, then maybe don’t get your hopes up.
There are a lot of different competitions shown in X-Force #14, many of which are creative and interesting. The problem is that there are so many battles displayed in a limited number of panels, that everything feels a bit hurried. The idea that the war between Arakko and Krakoa is not a simple clash of swords but a multi-activity tournament is engaging, in theory. However, so far, most of the competition has been rushed, and this has ultimately detracted from the potential of the event.
This is very apparent in X-Force #14. I couldn’t help but want more from this issue. Percy’s and Dugan’s writing is both humorous and dramatic — the tone of the plot is well-executed and most of the character-beats work. Yet there is just so much concentrated in one issue, that I, as a reader, did not have much time to appreciate what was happening.
There are two key events in this issue that ultimately should have been drawn out longer at the expense of some of the background contests. The first, which is between Brian Braddock and Redroot, does not lose out too much and is generally redeemed by some terrific dialogue. However, the second battle — anticipated by fans for weeks — ends up being pretty disappointing. Once again, it is well written but suffers from its brevity.
Kudos has to be given to artist Joshua Cassara and colorer Guru eFX. The artwork in X-Force #14 is dynamic and expressive enough to keep up with the speed of its plot. The data pages in this issue are also very entertaining. Many X-Fans will love a guest appearance featured in one case.
X-Force #14 is a well written, well illustrated issue that unfortunately suffers from overcrowding. Indeed, more attention should have been paid to certain plot elements. Be that as it may, it is still entertaining and well worth a read.
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