The Hellfire Gala is over, but the repercussions continue to permeate in X-Force #21. Not only has Beast royally screwed up by messing around with the genes of an entire species, but the environment is also turning animals into horrid creatures and the X-Force have set out to figure out why. They’re on a mission here, and the only thing standing between them and answers is a not-so-jolly-green giant.
This issue continues to progress the bioweapons plot that writer Benjamin Percy has been unfurling for some time. Beast is of course a factor, but there are machinations in place that seem to suggest a new threat is rising in power. By the end, there’s a satisfying enough answer to satiate fans and to get there we get plenty of Wolverine action.
In fact, in a lot of ways, this feels like a Wolverine book (go figure — Ben Percy also writes Wolverine). Wolverine fits prominently in the team sent to clean up the Washington coast. By his side are Domino, Forge, and Kid Omega. They all work as a team, but the meatier scenes involve Wolverine connecting with the enemy in a heartfelt way. For a loner like Wolverine, he can relate to the behavior of a mysterious figure who keeps saving locals from the monstrous wildlife. It’s an interesting story choice, as it lets Percy show off how this team can get things done with words.
There is action to be had, though, and Josh Cassara and Rob Gill bring it. Wolverine steals the show with some epic slicing, dicing, and even a new kind of fastball special. Beast continues to look haunting and is always the unnerving type, be it how he’s dangling or how he’s looking at things with a lack of empathy. There are also a few creative animal-monster hybrids that are worth a look. They are backed up by color artist Guru-eFX and letterer Joe Caramagna, who use a lot of green in the issue between the bad guy and the environments. Kid Omega’s pink powers take the cake, though, and it’s fun to see Forge scrap some goo off Wolverine’s face.
It’s hard to be certain, but it appears Gill takes over after eight or so pages. The change takes place after the credits, so isn’t too jarring. A key montage looks great with good detailing in expressions and setting. The art takes a slight dip in dynamic range a little later, though, in a fight scene with Wolverine.
The general pace of the book takes a dip at times, too. While it sets up a larger attack it also takes a while for the X-Force team to confront its threat. There’s a bit of cat-and-mouse, but it’s more clunky tracking since there’s a stretch where a trap must be set. The larger threat of plants is solidified in a key montage, but also the data pages.
X-Force #21 sets up a new threat that may have close ties to a specific mutant’s past. This issue has the X-Force on the hunt and what they find may lead them to realize all of mutantdom and humanity are the ones to be hunted.
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