Sunday, July 15, 2012

Uncanny X-Force Review

Recently someone on a forum I visit asked what sort of books a reader interested in Deadpool should read. I started writing a response, and although I only intended to write a paragraph or two, I somehow churned out the Uncanny X-Force review found below. I decided to post it here since 1) I did not get to discuss it in the podcast very much due to having not finished it yet and 2) I would hate to write such material and not use it in a more public venue. I post it unedited, so please excuse the more casual tone. 

I am woefully and inadequately prepared to answer your question, for I likewise am new to Deadpool. Indeed, I am new to Marvel in general. Lately I've been putting effort into remedying the situation, however. I started subscribing to a few monthly Marvel books, and I've been reading many of the trades collecting landmark Marvel events and arcs from the past, much as I did with DC so many years ago. Slowly I am starting to gain a knowledge and appreciation of the massive universe--rather, the universes, the multiverse--created and owned by Marvel.

Unfortunately, I have not read any exclusively Deadpool stories. I've seen him as a minor character a time or two, but I've never read a book in which he is the star. However, I can recommend one series in which he plays a prominent role: The Uncanny X-Force. This is a team book, and Deadpool is a member of that team. He is center stage for much of the series. He often shares that stage with others, but make no mistake, you will get a lot of exposure to Deadpool here.

The premise of The Uncanny X-Force is that the team, the X-Force, does the work that good guys like the X-Men and the Avengers do not want to handle. They get their hands dirty--indeed, they taint their very souls, all in the name of the greater good.

The team consists of Wolverine, Deadpool, Fantomex, Psylock, and Angel. Do not feel obligated to know these characters beforehand. They are all given proper introductions. When I read the series, I was only familiar with Wolverine. The villain of the series varies over time, but the evil Clan Akkaba--a cult dedicated to the resurrection of Apocalypse, a Darkseid-esque Big Bad in the Marvel universe--is involved for much of the story.

The tone of the book is pretty dark. The heroes all have tainted histories, and the villains are of the darkest evil. Further, the plot is not a simple black and white morality tale. The X-Force deals with situations "real" heroes don't want to handle because there isn't a solution apart from vile actions. This book makes you think, "What should they do?" and later, "Did they do the right thing?" It's a refreshing break from the clearly defined morality generally found in super hero stories.

The mood of the story is nicely balanced. It's grim and dark overall, but Deadpool manages to add a generous helping of humor when appropriate. I laughed out loud at several points. At the same time, the plot can be incredibly sad. Few comic books have made me cry. The Uncanny X-Force has the unique stance of making me cry twice.

The Uncanny X-Force is one of the best comic books available. The story, the writing, and the art are near perfect. It is a must read for fans of Marvel, Wolverine, Deadpool, the X-Men, and awesome things in general. I highly recommend it.

The arcs I mentioned above are collected in four trades:
Uncanny X-Force, Vol. 1: The Apocalypse Solution
Uncanny X-Force, Vol. 2: Deathlok Nation
Uncanny X-Force, Vol. 3: The Dark Angel Saga Book 1
Uncanny X-Force, Vol. 4: The Dark Angel Saga Book 2

The Dark Angel Saga is nothing short of amazing, and The Apocalypse Solution is fantastic. Deathlok Nation is good, too, and it's necessary to carry you into the Dark Angel Saga. There's a couple of books afterward, too, but I haven't read them yet.

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