X-Force #3 Review

by Charles Martin on February 27, 2019

X-Force #3 Review
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Dylan Burnett
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I picked a strange time to drop into X-Force; issue #3 sees the team's initial arc bending toward a climax. Lots of plotlines cross and weave in front of a team that's still questioning its purpose and members.

Another way of looking at it is that I dropped in at an excellent time to take the pulse of this title. The story is fully engaged and moving forward at max speed, there's no shortage of action, and the double-crosses fly hot and heavy. This is an ideal sampling of what "X-Force by Ed Brisson and Dylan Burnett" is all about.

So what is the title about? Mostly action, but not brainless or character-free action. #3 moves forward with a tremendous pace, but it's surprisingly dense in a wholly positive way. This issue delivers a lot of story, and that pushes it a long way toward satisfying all by itself.

Besides the main team fighting mechs, we have Deathlok and questionable ally Andrei pulling an infiltration job. President Constantin gets a little focus on the antagonist side, and Ahab spools up into active opposition by the end of the issue.

Plus, Boom-Boom rejoins the team in a flawless action-movie-style day-saving scene. I do love me some Boom-Boom.

The script isn't afraid to tackle jobs besides breakneck action, though. The joint between the second and third act is articulated by Cannonball yoinking Kid Cable aside for a character-driven reckoning. It powerfully demonstrates that these creators aren't just using cardboard cutouts for characters; they have real nuance to their thoughts, feelings, and relationships.

This issue is equipped with art that treats the story and characters the same way the script does. The cartoony "broad strokes" style is excellent for conveying action and keeping the flow of the story clear, but it does not disappoint when it's time for the characters to emote.

I suspect that this title probably won't offer up anybody's all-time favourite visual rendition of any of its characters. But that's not entirely a bad thing; the simple treatment emphasizes that these mutants and the baddies opposing them are all just players in a larger ensemble.

The colours are another area where things are kept mostly strong and simple. The "so stylish it's become a cliché" combination of complementary blue and orange features very heavily. It's present in most of the X-Force uniforms, and even the settings around the mutants lean hard on those two shades. But the palette is capable of considerable subtlety when conditions require it; the lighting effects used when Deathlok pops some laser claws, for instance, are impressively nuanced.

I really like the storytelling balance the creators achieve here. This issue is almost all-fighting, all-quipping, non-stop plot development. But that Cannonball/Cable scene is a perfect demonstration of the capacity to balance out the action and keep the characters three-dimensional. X-Force is rolling along as a fast, loud story, but it's also quite a smart one.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Don't misread the art and think this is a gore-free story. The final act features some nasty kills in the finest X-Force tradition.