I’m not sure I’ve mentioned in any of my previous reviews just how funny this title is. There’s a lot of great, dry humor contained in all the high-octane action and surprisingly in-depth characters, and I think it hasn’t gotten enough credit for that. This issue showcases that especially well, particularly with Domino and Colossus, but also managing to make Boom Boom less insufferable than she has been in the past by leaning into her post-Nextwave characterization. Dennis Hopeless has shown his capacity for inserting humor into more serious books, and that shines through here as we wrap up several of the storylines with some incredibly high-paced action. The book is actually split across three groups, but none of them feel like they’re given short-shrift, even Colossus and Domino, who get only three pages actually feel like they get the best part in the entire issue. The interactions between Dr. Nemesis and Forge are absolutely priceless, as are Boom Boom’s attempts to help them and Cable and Hope fighting the Reavers is unexpectedly intense as the future of some of these characters is incredibly unclear.
When Salvador Larroca left this title, I had some concerns about the direction of the art. Larroca had absolutely owned it from issue 1, bringing a shockingly detailed and even realistic look that emphasized the slapdash nature of the team perfectly, but ever since Gerardo Sandoval has taken over, he’s done just as well but in an entirely different direction. His linework is highly stylized, exaggerating the over-the-top nature of the characters and settings, giving beautiful fluidity to the action and making the action seem wildly uncontrolled, but never sloppy. Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors are surprisingly subtle for a book of this kind, with subdued character colors and backgrounds. They definitely go wild when they need to, but for such a wild, kinetic book, they’re surprisingly low-key for a great deal of it.
As much as I loved the art for most of the issue, near the end it begins to falter slightly, especially in the character’s faces. Extremely exaggerated expressions are replaced with flat, difficult to read to faces and the backgrounds tend to be a very bare bones, if not absent entirely. It feels like, this being an issue where a lot of the stories wind down, that it may have been rushed to make a deadline. The three plotlines are, generally, well handled, but the resolution of the Hope/Cable one feels rushed and just a little pointless. I get that taking out a Reaver cell was important, but the other two feel not only much more critical, but more wild and unpredictable, and a lot more interesting.
It’s awfully gutsy for a book to take the name of X-Force and be as engaging and character-focused as this one is (though between the Kyle/Yost X-Force and Uncanny X-Forces, the name is definitely coming to mean something more). It’s absolutely a book about superhero action, but it’s a very bizarre, strange trip in a way that seems completely distinct from the OTHER bizarre, trippy, character-focused X-Force book. And for my money, I hope the relationship between Domino and Colossus continues to develop, because it’s one of the most fascinating at Marvel.