Uncanny X-Force #34

by Wombatapult on November 24, 2012


There are very few books I read and audibly say “Wow,” when I finish, but Rick Remender's works during his time on Uncanny X-Force comprise a solid percentage of that number. Issue #34, second to last of Remender's now-legendary stint on the title he pioneered, is the best culmination I could have imagined for the plots left unexplained and unfinished from this last and possibly greatest arc of the three-year run.



This final arc, entitled Final Execution, digs deep into the reasons why the team exists—and whether it truly must. Each character has been brought low by Daken's new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, each facing in their enemies their respective sins and regrets. Here, in an attempt to defend Evan (the Apocalypse child) and turn him toward the path of peace, they are exposed for the liars, murderers and hypocrites they are. Cue the spiritual agony that mirrors the physical throes of defeat.


In the torturous conflicts that follow, each member of X-Force is forced—once again—to compromise in order to walk out alive, showing Evan the moral ambiguity of his own origins. These are the people who have led him and taught him, but he sees them all for the ugly pragmatic monsters they are. At the end, having been cornered for the thousandth time into horrible actions, and surrounded by carnage and destruction, Wolverine's regret is tangible in his desperate speech to Evan warning against the evils of a life of vengeance.

“Look around you, son. This is revenge. This is what it gets. It's all a mess. Ain't a thing... ain't a damned thing solved... You see that, Evan? For the love of God... tell me you can see that?”


It's heart-wrenching. It's brutal. It's a masterpiece.


Anyone who'sread UXF knows Remender can write excellently when he cares about his characters, and this issue does nothing except to hammer home his point. Each character finds their final battle to be against someone who, by way of extreme irony or otherwise, is their ideological opposite. AOA Nightcrawler's betrayal leaves us with as bitter a taste as his counterpart's death in Second Coming. Psylocke continues down her increasingly violent path. Deadpool stands on his convictions... after thirty issues of self-loathing and guilt. Wolverine ultimately faces both his brother and his son, each in their own way his doppelganger and antagonist. Except for the upcoming denouement in issue #35, the threads have been woven together and the story told.


The artwork is nothing short of magnificent, as Phil Noto continues his stellar work on the gritty, blood-soaked world of the Marvel Universe's most morally ambiguous mutants. The violence is tangible, and the anxiety and fear exudes from the pages. Thanks to Frank Martin Jr, a deep, rich, organic coloring job only serves to make the story more visceral and poignant. The colorist drenches everything in a suffocating atmosphere of red, orange and pink before sparking it with bold shadows and brilliant highlights. One of the most undeservedly ignored heroes of the comic industry, a colorist can make or break a book. Luckily, Martin did not disappoint.



An arc this impressive happens only once in every hundred titles or so. This title has permanently changed the way I look at each character to have passed through its pages in the last three years, and it has opened my eyes to a world of emotions I didn't know I could feel about fictional characters. These are anti-heroes without the tired baggage of late 2000's anti-hero stereotypes. These are men and women who think they're good.



And they are. Just not in the way they think.

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stephengervais's picture

I can't believe Remender's run is almost over. I'm going to miss this title when it's gone. It's been so good. Great review Wombat.

Vannary Sok's picture

I feel the same way guys. Remender's done such a good job with these characters! Hard to say goodbye.