Spoilers below, so if you haven't yet read the issue, please note that you have been warned.
The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants has banded together once again -- or at least that's what it looks like based on the events of UNCANNY X-FORCE #30. I think the good thing about this issue is the way that the creative team lays out just what the Brotherhood's plans of Evan really are.
The events that happen here make sense. In order to re-condition Evan to be able to kill and to murder innocent people, they have to expose him to all of that. They have to force him to attack and to kill. They have to convince him that "Uncle Cluster" was really the bad guy because he was the one that shot him. They have to give him a choice: will he kill in order to save innocent people? There's a great parallel between what's happening here and the moment when Fantomex shot the young Apocalypse during UNCANNY X-FORCE: THE APOCALYPSE SOLUTION.
It makes you think about the events that happened then, and the repercussions of the decisions made by Fantomex and the rest of X-Force. They had to shoot a child who was being groomed to be the most powerful and evil mutant ever to exist -- they took that life away, but gave him a new life. One where he can be groomed and given some happiness. I think there's some real good in that. The only downside is that in every scenario, Evan is manipulated by external forces and characters. There is no scenario where he is able to just "be." Where he isn't groomed by someone else's desires and ambitions. However, by exposing him to the school for a short time, and by giving him a chance to "be" and live as normal a life as he possibly could, there's still some chance for independent thought. It will be interesting to see the way he acts out in the upcoming issue. Will he succumb to the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, or will he overcome and see that in his death at the hands of Fantomex, he was given new life and an opportunity?
As a reader, I found myself really rooting for Evan now more than ever -- hoping that he'll wake up and realize that the events that led him to where he is now were done more for his benefit than his demise. He had no family, but he was given one by Fantomex -- even if it had been an illusion. Sure, there's a lot of manipulation involved in all of that, but at least he was given some kind of a chance -- something that the real Apocalypse never would have had.
The cover by Jerome Opena is brilliant. I absolutely love the image of Evan standing in a wheat field, with the house he "grew up in" in the background. Overlooking it all is this image of Farouk in the clouds, with this evil cheshire cat grin. It's a perfect image for this book because it really encompasses the events that are taking place in this issue. It also signifies a choice -- which path will Evan choose?
While I get the motivation behind forcing Evan (Genesis) to kill or to let innocent people be killed, I think the order that this happened is a bit strange. While it makes sense to condition Evan to kill and to force him to succumb to the idea that he can murder people, was it necessary? All that the Brotherhood really had to do was tell Evan he was being manipulated, that his parents were an illusion. Was it necessary to kill them? I feel like by taking those things away from him so violently will make him less likely to align himself with them. We'll have to wait and see.
What was surprising to me was the fact that we see Kitty and Beast talking about what is happening and wondering where Wolverine is, rather than actually doing something about it. It felt a little bit strange. It was also distressing the way Kitty referred to Evan more as a burden than as a victim -- which I rightfully think him to be.
As much as I loved the cover, I can't say I was a huge fan of Dave Williams' pencils in this issue. Although the panel structure and layout was well organized, I wasn't a fan of the execution in some moments.
This issue was hard to read; probably because I've felt like I have been so invested in these characters from the very start of this series. But being hard to read, doesn't make the issue "bad." I think, if anything, this issue will make you think. It will make you look back at the beginning of Rick Remender's run on the series and feel as though -- as a reader -- you've come full circle with this character. Ultimately, the next moment is what the series has been all about. So what's next? If a comic can make you think in those terms; make you wonder what's next for this story and for these characters, then I think it's done its job. It's an interesting issue that leads you to look at the story as a whole rather than just a single issue.