X-Force has been one of the more subtly strong series in the Krakoa era thanks to well-layered subplots. It has built up villains and threats in the background while Hellfire Gala, X of Swords, and more take place. There’s also the continued emergence of Beast as a stone-cold jerk. In the latest issue, a few of the threats begin to rear their heads while Beast continues to creep us out.
X-Force offers up a few key figures, two of which are villains: Mikhail Rasputin and the Man with the Peacock Tattoo. They both want the end of Krakoa and are willing to sacrifice their own men to get there quicker. Case in point, the opening of this issue is in Siberia where the Peacock Tattoo man shows up to deliver a few weapons and a random bear shows up to tear them up. Soon though, we see the abilities of these meta-humans are incredible and rival that of major superheroes. We’re talking stretching ability — with extra bloody visuals — multiple creations, and blade growth in the arms.
These two villains permeate the entire book, including scenes with Beast. Even though he’s in Krakoa, writer Ben Percy has got Beast tinkering with the Peacock Tattoo soldiers. This scene, along with the opening and closing, gives this issue a grotesque vibe with plenty of body horror and weird science monstrosities.
X-Force was first dubbed as the Krakoan CIA and you get that from the data pages. The main book is more tilted towards gore and monstrous weapons, but it’s here we get some file data and a report from the Kremlin. That said, the plotting feels a bit off here as it’s not clear what the point is of Beast’s unhealthy adventure or what Rasputin is up to. It comes together well enough by the end, but it also can feel a bit floaty with its purpose.
Art in this issue is by Martin Coccolo with colors by GURU-eFX. The opening train and winter scene are well done capturing the isolated location well, while the size difference between Rasputin and Peacock Tattoo man helps show there’s a major imbalance there. The seriousness of that scene is juxtaposed well with the comical series of mistakes Beast makes to stop a tiny soldier from getting away.
Later in a scene with Black Tom, Coccolo gets to use the Shadow Room which takes a Magic School Bus turn that’s well rendered too. It’s not easy to stick characters in a giant veiny world with blood cells floating about.
Percy also continues to flesh out Beast’s thoughts on things, like what he’d do if he was in charge, or how unfeeling he can be with life. He seems to think his point of view is the end all be all as far as what is worth saving, living, or dying.
X-Force #23 is a gory, exciting, and funny issue. It has the energy of a kooky ’80s comedy, but the violence of The Thing. It’s so dang weird for an X-Men book it’s a delightful surprise for your new comic book day pile.
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