The X-Force has seen better days, and its weaknesses may live and die by its leadership. That is if you call Beast the leader, who has done immoral things, secret awful things, and generally made decisions on his own. He’s not a team player. If you ever needed proof Beast is as evil as they come, read X-Force #34.
This issue balances two story arcs. One is about Sage and her excessive drinking, which has made her bad at her job, and an embarrassment to those who notice her. She has a severe problem, and writer Benjamin Percy treats it thusly. She’s a mess, and artist Chris Allen captures that well. It’s not fun seeing her drink, and she’s not having fun drinking or what comes after. It’s a mature way of showing alcoholism isn’t a joke.
The second story involves a heist of Arakko petals. A few familiar faces pop up that we’ve seen in Percy’s Wolverine. That includes Maverick, who is the main character in this subplot. It’s cool to see him working with others–likely a commentary on X-Force’s failures–and he gets to show off his skills against a heavy hitter Arakko mutant. Once again, Allen depicts Maverick’s speed and abilities well.
Beast also plays a part in this issue via two data pages and a short moment. These pages include Beast’s logbook and a financial log. Both detail Beast’s nefarious shenanigans and how far he’s taking his job. Early on, Percy made it clear X-Force was like Krakoa’s CIA, and given some of the messed up stuff Beast is doing, like a black site prison, he’s taking things way too far.
Character motivation is one element that is lacking in this narrative. It’s easy to understand Deadpool is on the team because he’s always wanted it, but what keeps Sage going, or Beast for that matter? The missions seem endless and incredibly violent, but for what purpose? I suppose we’re to assume the team is keeping Krakoa safe, but we don’t check in with the characters much to be reminded of that.
You might wonder if the X-Force appears in this issue, but fear not, as the creative team sticks in a montage early on. We get to see Deadpool, Domino, and Omega Red on various missions showcasing they’ve been busy serving their function while Sage loses herself in drinking more and more. Allen does well with these montages, putting in little details that make you linger just long enough to add a lot of value to the scenes.
Colors by GURU-eFX continue to work well in the series, particularly glow effects. One scene where the colors do a lot of work is in a prison where four characters stand in the foreground cast in a purple light. The colors do a lot to add distance to the large room and draw your focus.
X-Force #34 mixes things up with action montages, a brand new focus on some familiar characters, and the ongoing fall of Sage and Beast. This series continues to excel in continuing character narratives while dropping us into tense action sequences.
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