If there's one thing people think of when they think of X-Force, it's Cable, and if there's another thing they think of, it's explosions. Luckily for die hard X-Force fans, the latest series has both of those things by the bushel. Written by Simon Spurrier with art by Rock-He Kim, the latest X-Force series is a total callback to the types of stories the series is known for, warts and all.
For the new series, Spurrier has assembled a smaller team that consists only of Cable, Psylocke, Marrow, and Fantomex. This line-up might seem intimidating to non-readers, but Spurrier provides sufficient details within the story to catch you up on who these characters have been and why they are here now. The purpose of this new X-Force team is simple. Countries have their own black ops teams, why don't mutants have their own? It's an interesting idea that plays to the sensibilities of X-Force and will likely offer some interesting stories going forward. Spurrier handles the team dynamic really well. His choice to have Marrow be the narrative focus for the issue might annoy some readers that wish Cable was the focal point but it works in regard to the story he's telling here, plus Cable gets plenty of his own good moments. If you're expecting something with a lot of subtext about mutants or secret warfare you'll be disappointed since this comic is essentially “Call of Duty: X-Men.”
The trouble with the issue is in Rock-He Kim's art, which can be quite frustrating during key moments of the story. Kim does stellar work with the opening sequence and the final pages, especially his coloring which sets the mood and tone for the series perfectly, but in between it's a mess. Cookie cutter positions and faces that look rushed and sloppy, though, once again, his coloring abilities do mask some of the poorer aspects. One could argue that the dark and grimy nature of the X-Force lends themselves to non-perfect artwork, which could be true, but when it becomes distracting from the story itself it's hard to imagine it was intentional.
The new X-Force is the kind of series that die hard fans can likely get behind, but unfortunately it doesn't strive for more. Its smaller team offers readers a chance to really get to know the characters, whom Spurrier knows how to write well. Its action sequences are cool, but the more dramatic and exposition heavy moments do drag and only make you notice the less-than-perfect art all the more. There's room for improvement here, and I think they can make it work.
Head over to page 3 for our review of Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #1