We get yet another X-Men franchise title spinning out of Jonathan Hickman’s House of X/Powers of X. Next up is X-Force #1. I am not familiar at all with the creative team of Benjamin Percy and Joshua Caesura. However, the characters that are presented on the cover of X-Force #1 is definitely a cool roster. The X-Men #1 was a hit here at the Revolution. However, Marauders #1 and Excalibur #1 were both misses here at the Revolution. Hopefully, X-Force #1 can turn the tide and deliver a strong debut issue. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Benjamin Percy
Art: Joshua Cassara
Colors: Dean White
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin in an unknown location with a meeting of a bunch of humans wearing masks. The leader of the meeting has everyone make a cut on their finger and place some blood on a scanning dial in front of them. The dial will determine if anyone there has the X-gene in their blood. The leader says that it is important that no mutants infiltrate their meeting. A giant dude who looks like Erick Rowan with a big red beard and a mask walks around the room and collects the dials.
We see one masked woman being hesitant over cutting her finger. The big dude puts his hand on the woman’s shoulder. The woman then says that it took a lot of luck getting in here. The woman stabs the big dude with a knife. The woman starts fighting the other people in the meeting. Suddenly, the big dude with the red beard grabs the woman and slams her to the ground. The big dude pulls off the woman’s mask and we see that the woman is Domino. The big dude steps on Domino’s neck and keeps her pinned to the ground.
We cut to Krakoa. Beast is out collecting samples of plants near a river. Suddenly, a large creature attacks him. Wolverine appears on the scene and attacks the creature. The creature then runs off. Beast tells Logan to let the creature go.
Beast says that the creature cannot be a product of Krakoa. If it were a product of Krakoa then it would not have attacked Beast. Wolverine says that every meadow as a wolf or snake lingering nearby. Wolverine says that there is always a predator.
Wolverine says that Beast did not see the creature coming because Beast felt sheltered here on Krakoa. That Krakoa makes everyone feel safe. And when people are safe they are soft. (Excellent foreshadowing!)
We get a one-page informational insert documenting the security features of Krakoa. They include the green-bonded alarm system. That Krakoa’s plant intelligence sends information to the neural intelligence with the host of Krakoa who is Black Tom Cassidy. That Black Tom can transmit or translate the neural intelligence to plant intelligence and control the external nervous system of Krakoa and activate the island as a responsive environment.
That Krakoa also has aquatic detectors and atmospheric detectors. Also, all air and maritime vessels have been diverted 200 miles away from Krakoa pursuant to an international mandate.
We cut to Black Tom being informed by Krakoa’s aquatic detectors that there is an incoming vessel. Sage then contacts Black Tom and tells him that there is a psychic disturbance on the northeast shore of the island.
We shift to Black Tom and a group of mutants arriving on the northeast shore. They then notice that it is the Marauders. The Marauders have a vessel full of refugees who are injured from being shot and being exposed to chemical weapons.
Jean Grey boards the vessel and sees that Colossus is among the injured refugees.
We get another one-page informational insert. It is a memo from Charles Xavier. It outlines the official response to non-treaty nations. This includes treating those countries as future allies. To continue firm but friendly diplomatic relations. This will include diplomatic visits. It will also include educational propaganda via radio, television, and the internet. Punitive measures will include increased tariffs from the United States and China.
That any openly hostile behavior from a non-treaty nation will be met with an immediate tactical response.
The unofficial response to non-treaty nations will be the Black King of the Hellfire Trading Company securing back-channel conduits for Krakoan medicine. Failure to work with the Black King will result in intimidation followed by covert punitive measures. All at the discretion of the Black King.
Mutant operative cells will work to undermine the current administrations. Currently, their primary focus will be on the extraction of all mutant refugees. In Russia, this effort includes Colossus.
We zip to the Seoul Incheon airport. We see a big dude making eye contact with another big dude (hmmm…I guess that might be a man-like woman or something) before boarding an airplane.
We hop back to Krakoa. Professor X is standing in front of a Krakoan gateway. Sage contacts Professor X and tells him that Cerebro lost contact with Domino a week ago. Sage says that Cerebro still cannot find Domino. Professor X then walks through the Krakoan gateway.
We see Professor X arrive in Sokovia. Professor X is greeted by the President of Sokovia. Professor X says that he is glad that Sokovia has agreed to sign a treaty with Krakoa.
We zip over to the Healing Gardens of Krakoa. The Healer tells Jean Grey that he cannot ask any of his new patients where it hurts. Jean reaches out into Colossus’ mind. She sees an image of Colossus protecting a young mutant child from being shot by Russian soldiers. Jean says that she cannot tell the Healer where they are hurt because they are hurt everywhere.
We shift back to the airplane. We see that the plane begins to experience serious turbulence. We see that one of the pilots is dead. (Well, I think the pilot is dead. The pilot is looking blankly ahead.) The other pilot says that everything is going good.
We see four jacked-up dudes putting on battle armor and parachutes. They then jump out of the plane. We see the four soldiers falling through the air and headed straight for Krakoa. We then see the four soldiers begin to get surrounded by flames like a space ship re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. (Would they really catch fire like this? And if so wouldn’t they all be dead by the time they got to the ground?)
We cut to Sage monitoring Cerebro and seeing Domino suddenly coming back online. We see Professor X arriving back from Sokovia. Black Tom approaches Professor X and says that he does not like all the coming and going from Krakoa without him knowing about it. Black Tom says that Krakoa and he both have a bad feeling. Black Tom is upset about all of the refugees. Black Tom says that they have to make sure they can trust all of them.
Professor X says that the Quiet Council argued against Black Tom serving as Krakoa’s ward. But, Professor X assured the Quiet Council that Black Tom could be trusted. Professor X says that Black Tom needs to understand that all mutants can be trusted. That they are in this together. That Krakoa is not a prison.
We see the four soldiers deploying their parachutes. We see Wolverine smelling the scent of the four soldiers. Wolverine then spies the soldiers gliding down on their parachutes.
We cut to Professor X and Black Tom surrounded by a bunch of mutants. Suddenly, laser gun sights appear on a mutant woman’s forehead. Shots ring out and the mutant woman gets shot in the head. Suddenly, more gunshots ring out and mutants start getting mowed down.
Black Tom says that Professor X needs to listen to him and run like hell. Wolverine springs to action. Black Tom also springs to action and takes out a soldier. We see Beast taking down a soldier who was shooting at Wolverine. Beast says that Wolverine was right. That there are always predators.
We see a solider shooting Black Tom. We then see a soldier track down Professor X and shoot him. Wolverine then attacks the soldiers. Beast stops Wolverine from killing a soldier so that they can find out who the soldier is working for.
We then cut to all the mutants standing around where Xavier was shot:l. We see Xavier’s helmet with a bullet hole through it and blood on it. End of issue.
The Good: X-Force #1 was a great read! Benjamin Percy impressed me with his writing skills. Percy turns in an exciting read with excellent mood and imagery while also showing off impressive technical writing skills concerning the construction of this issue. All in all, X-Force #1 delivers a strong story with quality character work and tons of badass action. There really is not much more you can ask for in a superhero comic book.
X-Force #1 definitely does not hide what kind of story that the reader can expect from this title. Percy is going to be delivering a raw and brutal comic that focuses on action. X-Force is the X-Men franchise’s title that is going to focus more on the gritty, ugly, and realistic side of the existence of Krakoa and Professor X’s plans for the mutant nation. Hickman presented the reader the high concept and moral case for Krakoa over in House of X and Powers of X. Hickman showed the reader the hopeful utopian side of Krakoa and Professor X’s plans for the mutant nation. X-Men follows this same theme. Marauders also follows a more positive theme of rescuing mutant refugees. Excalibur…well, who knows the point of Excalibur at this moment.
What we do know is that Percy is going to be going in a totally different direction with X-Force. This is not going to be a title that focuses on the positive and hopeful aspects of Krakoa and Professor X’s plans for mutants. Percy is going to be using X-Force to show the ugly realistic aspect of Professor X’s plans. That Krakoa is giving mutants a false sense of security and is making them soft. And that mutants will never be free from violent attacks even in their utopian country of Krakoa.
I found Percy taking all the hope of Krakoa as a utopia that Hickman gave us in House of X and Powers of X and completely turning it on its head to be a brilliant move. It makes perfect sense that mutants living on Krakoa would naturally become soft and weak. That the mutants would lose that natural survival instinct that is required in all animals in nature.
Percy makes a compelling case why mutants need to retain their fighting survival instincts and not make themselves easy prey. X-Force appears to be the team that will serve as Krakoa’s military strike force. X-Force should be the team that protects Krakoa and also goes out on missions to attack their enemies before their enemies bring the fight to Krakoa’s shores.
Now, I am guessing some of this since Percy never explicitly gives us the mission statement of this new incarnation of X-Force. However, this certainly seems to be the direction that Percy is going to take with this new X-Force. And I like it. It differs enough from the X-Men who are going to be the traditional super-hero team dealing with large cosmic threats and mankind threats on a massive scale. It also differs from the Marauders who are a group designed to liberate refugees. It also differs from Excalibur which is….well, nobody knows the point of that team, yet.
Percy crams plenty of badass action into X-Force #1. This is a tense issue that fills the reader full of nervous energy and a sense of dread. Percy creates an excellent mood. There is a forbidding sense of dread and impending doom from the very beginning of this issue that culminates in the climactic final scene with the attack on Krakoa. X-Force #1 is a lively read that has no dull or slow moments at all.
X-Force #1 is excellently plotted and paced. Percy constructs a technically sound issue. Each scene organically transitions into the next one. Percy has a clear direction in mind and deftly guides the story forward with a purpose. I love how Percy handles the pacing of this issue. X-Force #1 begins quietly until it suddenly explodes with energy. Percy then slows down the story and moves it at a measured pace before the wild final eleven pages of the issue.
Percy begins X-Force #1 with a strong five-page opening scene. Percy immediately introduces the villains of the story and conveys to the reader the threat that they present to our mutants on Krakoa. Percy treats us to some fun action to make this is a lively start to the issue. Plus, Percy installs two plot-lines. The first being this cadre of masked humans. The second being Domino’s capture. This opening scene was a great way to immediately grab the reader’s interest and pull them into the story.
Percy then gives us a three-page scene of Wolverine saving Beast from a wild animal. This scene presents to the reader some excellent foreshadowing. I love that Percy put forth so much time and effort to demonstrate how soft the mutants have become. This is excellent story construction as Percy is able to use this scene to help make the final scene where the soldiers attack the mutants have more impact on the reader. Percy does an excellent job of pointing out the realistic potential problems posed by a utopia like Krakoa and then turning those potential problems into very real problems.
This scene also features excellent character work with both Beast and Wolverine. Percy has a great feel for both characters. Percy is also able to generate some quality chemistry between these two long-time friends. The choice of Wolverine to be the character to warn about how there is always a predator out there and that the mutants are getting soft made perfect sense.
Next is the one-page informational page on the security features of Krakoa. Percy does a fantastic job of taking Hickman’s literary tool from House of X/Powers of X and employing in fine fashion. This page provides the reader with plenty of backstory and technical information without breaking the flow of the story or requiring a character to engage in a massive exposition dump.
Percy then delivers a three-page scene of the Marauders returning with refugees. This scene loops Colossus into the mix. Judging by the cover of X-Force #1, Colossus should be a member of this new version of X-Force. This scene also succeeds in firmly placing Percy’s story into the fabric of the larger X-Men narrative by including characters and storylines from other X-Men franchise titles. This is a great idea. All of these X-Men titles should be written in a manner that firmly places them in the same narrative fabric of the other X-Men titles. This just makes the X-Men universe even more immersive and fleshed out.
Next is a one-page informational insert of Charles Xavier’s memo concerning the official and unofficial responses to non-treaty nations. Again, this is a brilliant use of Hickman’s literary tool. Percy gives the reader some interesting insight into Xavier’s plans without disrupting his main story. However, all of the information on this page is valuable and helps to educate the reader about what they can expect in future issues of X-Force. Again, this is just incredible world-building by Percy. It shows a true attention to detail.
Percy then delivers a two-page scene of soldiers getting on the plane. This scene was probably one page too long. There was no need for Percy to stretch this scene out over two pages. There was really very little content.
Next is a two-page scene of Professor X and Sage talking about Domino and then Professor X arriving in Sokovia. This was a good scene that furthered the plot-line involving Domino. This scene also served as a nice demonstration for how Professor Xavier deals with foreign counties as was outlined in his memo that we read earlier in the issue.
Percy then delivers a one-page scene at the Healing Gardens. This scene was a bit of a dud. But, it did help to emphasis the trauma that Colossus experienced while trying to rescue the refugees. This scene also emphasizes the horror that the refugee mutants are experiencing across the globe.
We then get a three-page scene of the soldiers weaponing up and then jumping off the plane. Again, much like the earlier two-page scene of the soldiers at the airport and boarding the plane, this scene is one page too long. There was just no need to drag this rather simple and basic scene out for three pages. Two would have been more than enough.
Percy then finishes X-Force #1 in a dramatic fashion with a stunning eleven-page final scene of the soldiers attacking Krakoa. I loved every panel of this scene. This scene was absolutely horrific. Percy already cast a forbidding sense of dread throughout this issue up to this final scene. But, with this scene, Percy unleashes hell as the reader is horrified watching the soldiers gun down innocent mutants who thought they were completely safe in their utopian society.
This is the scene where Percy takes Xavier’s dream that is made into reality during House of X/Powers of X and completely shatters it with the cruel reality. The action is heart pumping and frightening. Professor X’s reaction was fantastic. Percy nails it with how he portrays Professor X’s stunned disbelief at the soldiers’ attack. This scene also has a nice callback to the earlier scene where Wolverine saves Beast from the animal. With this moment, Percy brings the story full circle and presents to the reader the harsh reality that the mutants are still not safe even with the creation of Krakoa.
Percy ends X-Force #1 with a solid hook ending. Out mutant heroes are in stunned disarray after the attack. Professor X has been shot in the head and killed. Of course, we all know that thanks to the Resurrection Program, as outlined in House of X #5, that Professor X will be immediately resurrected and better than ever. Still, seeing an enemy soldier pierce the seemingly impregnable defenses of Krakoa and then kill Professor X is a cool visual and a powerful moment.
Percy is lucky that Marvel’s editorial has given him a great cast of characters for this title. I honestly love all the characters on this roster. It is absolutely fantastic. I am excited to see how Percy handles these characters and is able to create some chemistry and drama between them.
Percy crafts plenty of fantastic character work and dialogue. All of the characters are well developed and fleshed out. They all have clearly defined personalities. Percy truly impresses with the dialogue. Each character has their own unique external voice.
The Bad: My only real criticism of X-Force #1 is that Percy is taking the slow approach to assembling the roster for this new version of X-Force. It is clear that it might not be another issue or two before we officially see the roster of X-Force assembled and operating as an official team. I always think that it is smarter for the writer to quickly assemble the team and show new readers the characters that will comprise the roster and the role on the team that each character will play.
I would have preferred that Percy fully assemble the roster and then clearly convey to the reader the mission statement of this title and how X-Force is going to operate as a team. This is vitally important to do in a debut issue for a team title.
Joshua Cassara’s style of art is too rough and sketchy for my taste. There were panels that seemed too sloppy. However, the art was still above average and never got in the way of the story.
Overall: X-Force #1 was a strong debut and a pleasant rebound from the unimpressive reads in Marauders #1 and Excalibur #1. Percy delivers the best writing of all the writers in the X-titles not named Jonathan Hickman. X-Force looks to be a title that will combine intelligent writing with quality character work and plenty of badass action. I would definitely recommend giving X-Force #1 a try. Percy is a talented writer and I think X-Force may end up being a special read.
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