X-Force had a strong debut as Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara established this new series as one of the pillars for the entire X-Men franchise. Out of all the new X-Men comics X-Force #1 also had the most important moment in this new Dawn of X direction for the franchise. That ending was the death of Charles Xavier. With how Professor Xavier was set up to be the focal point of the entire X-Men franchise during House of X and Powers of X that was an ending that was very much unexpected. It has shaken the entire line of X-Men comics, with each series in the franchise touching on the impact of Professor Xavier’s death to everyone. Now how will the members of the X-Force team deal with the fallout of their patriarchs death? Let’s find out with X-Force #2.
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colorist: Dean White
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Magneto speaks to Charles Xavier’s dead body that they are following his vision and will do so as long as he returns to them as all the X-Men stand in silence.
Magneto then takes Xavier’s damaged Cerebro helmet and transforms it into a sword. Jean Grey says that she believes she can bring Professor Xavier back. Magneto tells her that it is not a matter of if she can bring Xavier back but that she must bring him back to life. Jean assures that she can do it. Magneto takes the Cerebro sword and tells Jean that she must understand what is at stake if she does not succeed in bringing Xavier back. Jean says she perfectly understands what is at stake.
Sometime later Jean, with Beast by her side, opens a secret entrance to an area called Cradle One. Jean reveals that Professor Xavier knew that he made himself vulnerable by making his announcement to the world. She goes on to say that he made sure that only one version of Cerebro existed at one time. While Professor Xavier did that he did create a back-up for all the intelligence housed within Cerebro that is housed throughout Krakoa.
Jean then shows Beast the back-up system housed within Cradle One and asks him if he can create a new Cerebro. Beast thinks he can. Jean says that right now she needs Beast to have blind faith he can create a new Cerebro.
Over in the Healing Gardens, Dr. Cecilia Reyes, Sage and Healer analyze the bodies of the dead Reavers and find that they have been enhanced to be Olympian-level human assassins. Black Tom Cassidy blames himself, thinking he should’ve been the one shot not Professor Xavier.
Wolverine enters the Healing Gardens and asks if any of the Reavers are alive. Dr. Reyes says there is one that is barely alive. Wolverine tells them to not make the surviving Reaver comfortable.
Sage stops Wolverine from talking more and reveals that they discovered part of Domino’s skin grafted on to each Reaver, which allowed them from breaking Krakoa’s defenses. Wolverine tells Sage to call for Jean to read the surviving Reavers mind and find where Domino is being kept. He goes on to say if Jean finds out that Domino is dead than they will make sure reviving Domino is a priority once the new Cerebro is up and running.
Sage wonders why Wolverine won’t go tell that to Jean himself. Wolverine says because he is going hunting.
Sometime later Wolverine breaks into the security room of Seoul Incheon International Airport in South Korea. As he is looking through the data a security guard enters the room. Wolverine goes to kill the guard but notices the guy has already been frozen by Kid Omega. Wolverine wonders if Sage sent Kid Omega for him. Kid Omega says he is there because Professor Xavier realized what he has preached all along about mutants being superior.
Kid Omega then goes to work on helping Wolverine since he is concerned that the Reavers could get him as easily as they killed Professor Xavier. Wolverine is surprised Kid Omega has his access code. Kid Omega says it was easy and is quick to find the assassins false ids and surveillance footage of where they went after landing in the airport.
At Cradle One, using a mind-link, Jean stress to Beast that they are in a race to create a new Cerebro with the Reavers hunting them. Jean goes on to say they aren’t just trying to bring back Professor Xavier to fight the Reavers but to keep mutants united rather than fall apart. Beast understands everything Jean tells him.
Outside Seoul, South Korea, Kid Omega uses his powers to knock out several guards outside a secured facility. Kid Omega and Wolverine proceed to break into the facility.
While looking inside they find a bunch of body parts and organs inside containers all around the facility. They realize the facility is an assassin creation factory.
Back in the Healing Gardens, Sage compares the Reavers bodies to Russian dolls, having several layers uncovered the more she analyzes the bodies. Sage goes on to say that she is guessing the Revears are trying to create super-men by cheating the evolution cycle.
Jean expresses her concern that Wolverine did not consult the Quiet Council before heading out on his hunt but knows they wouldn’t be able to stop him.
Jean then proceeds to read the barely alive Reavers’ mind. Sage asks Jean what she sees. Jean is hit with a large amount of memories that make it hard to decipher what she is actually seeing in the Reavers’ mind.
Back at the Reavers assassin making facility in Seoul, Kid Omega and Wolverine find an assassin body that is almost complete, only missing human skin. Kid Omega calls the facility pathetic and just a chapel for humans insecurity. Wolverine says he understands that he is pissed off about Professor Xavier’s death but that he should not listen to Magneto about mutants being Gods and humans being the devil.
Suddenly the assassin being made comes to life and attacks Kid Omega. Wolverine is quick to act and kills the assassin to save Kid Omega.
As more Reavers assassins appear Kid Omega starts freaking out when he realizes his powers aren’t working. Wolverine tells Kid Omega to use his fist to defend himself.
Wolverine then goes on to fight off all the genetically engineered assassins in the facility that are attacking him. While he does that Wolverine tells Kid Omega to go find Domino.
It does not take Kid Omega long to find Domino. When he does Kid Omega discovers Domino in a containment tube with a third of her skin torn off. End of issue.
The Good: After all the crazy events in the first issue X-Force #2 slows things down so both the X-Men and readers can understand what needs to happen next. In taking that approach Benjamin Percy is able to provide a much more character focused story throughout X-Force #2. Going with this approach allowed us to understand more of the roles of the members of X-Force have on the team and Krakoa in general.
Much like the first issue, where Percy excels the most is capturing the voices of every X-Men that he uses on the X-Force roster. At no point does one character outshine the other. Even when Wolverine and Jean Grey are on screen X-Force members are given time to make their presence felt throughout the issue. That speaks to how well balanced this series has quickly become that each member of the X-Force team are able to have their roles and voices as something you remember after reading.
That is best shown with how Sage has quickly established her importance in Krakoa as the leader in the Healing Gardens. Percy gets across how much of an authority Sage is in understanding the human and mutant body. He does that without making it seem like Sage is showing off her knowledge or skill. Instead it all comes across as a natural part of the character that she is able to discover what the Reavers are doing to create their own versions of super soldiers. Discovering that, along with her interactions with Wolverine and Jean Grey, establishes her as one of the key mutants living on Krakoa.
On the other end of the spectrum in terms of physical presence in X-Force #2 was Magneto. While he was only in the opening pages of X-Force #2, Magneto’s presence was felt throughout the issue. That is thanks to how Magneto wasted no time in making it known that they must begin work on the new Cerebro and resurrecting Charles Xavier immediately. Percy made sure to present Magneto as someone whose authority is not to be questioned. With that sense of authority Magneto wants to make sure others are confident in the direction they must take to bring Professor Xavier back. We see that with how Magneto makes sure Jean Grey has no hesitation in her voice since she is the one that is taking the lead in Professor Xavier’s resurrection.
From that point on we see how Magneto’s words affect different characters. With Jean Grey she showed how she got right to getting on setting Beast up on creating a new Cerebro and analyzing the Reavers mind. Both actions showed a shift to Jean understanding how she needs to step up even more to be one of the main leaders of the X-Men right now. She is right now the most powerful psychic they have and, outside of Magneto, the most working knowledge of how Professor Xavier worked.
Jean’s interaction with Beast in particular stood out most. With their history Jean knew that Beast would not promise anything in developing a new Cerebro. Jean made sure that Beast could have the most confidence he could in doing the job he has been given. Even then, we do see how Beast maintains his beliefs rooted in science and technology. How that ideology ends up affecting how he approaches creating a new Cerebro will be interesting to see in relation to Magneto and Jean’s sense of urgency.
On a similar note, Kid Omega’s addition to Wolverine’s mission showed the one end of the extreme now that Magneto is in charge while Professor Xavier is dead. Kid Omega is very much in Magneto’s camp of believing in mutant superiority. To Percy’s credit he does not make Kid Omega to be an unlikable asshole. You understand why there would be certain characters like Kid Omega who would believe in Magneto’s God complex when comparing mutants and regular humans.
What helps in getting over Kid Omega’s character is that Percy smartly pairs him up with Wolverine. Wolverine is someone that won’t take any shit from others. That includes kids like Kid Omega who are blinded by their own overconfidence. Having Wolverine there to balance him out helped out Kid Omega’s character portrayal immensely. It also allowed Percy to explore Wolverine in the best type of pairing for his character as Logan always works best when he can mentor younger mutants like Kid Omega, Shadowcat and Jubilee.
X-Force #2 was also a great example of how Percy fully understand how to best portray Wolverine as an utter badass. Wolverine made sure no one was wasting time in making sure they make the Reavers pay, that includes himself. Everything Wolverine says to Sage, Dr. Reyes and Kid Omega had a purpose. That purpose made Wolverine come out looking stronger when he told Sage he was going hunting after he told her to call Jean to read the surviving Reavers mind.
What stood out from what everything that Wolverine said in X-Force #2 is that he never came across as out of control. Wolverine was in complete control of his rage. He knew exactly what he needed to do to channel his rage over the Reavers killing Professor Xavier. As an aside, this portrayal of Wolverine helps build hype for his solo series that Percy is also going to be the writer of.
The revelation that the Reavers were quick to put Domino, who they captured at the beginning of X-Force #1, to use for their own goals. Just hearing that Domino’s skin was being used by the Reavers to infiltrate Krako is enough to piss you off and build more heat for the Reavers. But having the visual of Domino with a third of her skin torn off to end X-Force #2 just made the Reavers a group you hate. The damage they caused Domino makes you want to see Reavers get what is coming to them. This also helps build a character arc for Domino that Percy can develop and make her a stronger character in the eyes of fans who aren’t too familiar with her.
Percy also does a good job continuing to add to the concepts that Jonathan Hickman established in House of X and Powers of X. What was particularly cool to learn was what Professor Xavier did to make sure that while only one Cerebro would exist at one time to use that there was a back-up created. It spoke how Professor Xavier understood the target that was on his back with the new vision he created for the mutant race. It does create further questions as to what other plans Professor Xavier has in place in situations like this were the X-Men don’t have him around.
When it comes to the artwork for X-Force #2 Joshua Cassara was at his best when drawing Wolverine. He did a good job having Wolverine look badass when ever he was on screen. Whether it was him simply saying he was going hunting or fighting still in development Reaver assassins, Wolverine looked great visually.
The Bad: As strong as most of the X-Force roster looked the one character that did not get any time to shine was Black Tom Cassidy. After being developed as a big part of this series in the first issue, Black Tom Cassidy was pushed to the background of X-Force #2. While it is understandable with a series that has as large of a main cast as X-Force has it was too early to push Black Tom Cassidy to the background. Hopefully he is integrated in what the rest of the X-Force team is doing than he did in this issue.
While Cassara’s artwork was consistent throughout X-Force #2 his style is just not what I look for visually for one of the main X-Men series. Things look dark at all times with how heavily inked Cassara’s artwork is. This does not help the different locations that the various X-Force members are in standout. Every location feels like an extension of each other. With so many different locations and characters, balancing how the coloring and inking are altered can help get over the tone that the story should hit on.
Overall: X-Force #2 was a strong follow up to the major event that concluded the first issue of this series. Benjamin Percy shows a strong understanding of how to juggle a team filled with fan favorites and have them all add to the development of the story he is crafting. The different things that Magneto, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Sage, Beast and Kid Omega bring to the table are on full display. To balance that out Percy creates strong heat on the Reavers because of the actions they have taken. All that strong development helps make X-Force feel like a key title X-Men fans should have on their pull list.
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