What if everything we know was backwards? What if William Stryker teamed up with the mutants to save the human race? This idea will be explored in the upcoming Age of Apocalypse series and it begins here.
The concept is really great; take everything we know about mutant and human relations, turn it all on its head and see what happens. What if William Stryker was simply trying to save the human race, like Cyclops has done in the current X-Men series? It's a really neat idea which is introduced in the point one issue of Uncanny X-Force. But is it well executed? Yes and no.
There are definitely things aside from the overarching premise that I enjoyed about this issue. First off, Billy Tan is the penciler and it's great to see him working with Rick Remender. Tan definitely captures the grimness of this universe through the landscapes in this issue. It has a post-apocalyptic feel that is reinforced through the washed out and darkness of the colors. The art is really well done. Stryker's movements are fluid and he feels completely different than we have ever seen him before.
The group of characters that were hand-picked to be a part of the upcoming Age of Apocalypse series is definitely interesting. However, it is rather unfortunate that the team we see at the start of the issue isn't the one we end with.
Remender packs a powerful punch and the fact that this doesn't feel like a regular "point one" issue is both a good and a bad thing. Good because he takes a lot of liberties, there's a lot of plot development and he does hook the reader and leave them wondering not only how the world got to this point, but also where the characters will go next.
So, a lot happened in this issue. Having a lot of things happen in an issue isn't necessarily a bad thing, although it does make it hard to follow if you are only first being introduced to this universe. Generally, a series launch doesn't start in the middle of all the action; the reader is usually brought in gradually. Slowly. This doesn't happen here. New readers may experience a shock when they first pick this up because Remender simply throws you into the story, he definitely does not hold your hand throughout.
There's great art in this issue as well as some seriously powerful moments, but I was not blown away. Remender is pretty good at bringing the reader along and building up a lot of action. If there is going to be a devastating loss, it isn't something that happens instantaneously in the first issue. It's gradual. It's a process. At least that's what I was used to throughout his X-Force series. However, instead of building up, he hits you hard with a lot of casualties. Character deaths aren't always a bad thing, so long as they are justified, so I will be holding out to see if the deaths we see in UNCANNU X-FORCE 19.1 are indeed justified in future issues of AGE OF APOCALYPSE. Good issue, and an interesting way of introducing a new story, albeit not what we might be used to. I'm not sure if I am sold on the AOA ongoing yet, however.