Now THIS is how you debut a new series.
Recently I wrote that Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers #1 was a perfect example of how not to debut a new series. Uncanny X-Force #1 is the polar opposite. It does everything right to keep the reader interested in the issue they’re reading, and excited for the where the series is going.
When Psylocke is politely asked to resign at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, she needs a mission. So Wolverine gives her one. Betsy is an unlikely candidate for leader of any new group, but she is the emotional center for this story so far. She teams up with Storm to investigate a cryptic e-mail that they discover was sent from Puck. As in the Canadian superhero dwarf from Alpha Flight. Puck is an unusual choice for any supergroup, but he seems like an oddly appropriate choice for a group which has always been made up of the unwanted, untrusted and other various misfit toys.
It’s fun to see a violent, foul-mouthed Psylocke trying to pull herself together after a series of traumatic events she experienced as a member of the previous incarnation of X-Force, now defunct. She is still a little off the rails and we can imagine why she wasn’t fitting in Wolverine’s school.
The team of three find Spiral at the heart of some sort of drug ring and things get pretty ugly. Spiral’s inclusion in a book focusing on Psylocke is interesting. Her greater role with the team as ultimately a nemesis or group member(!) is somewhat unknown, but the idea that Betsy would have to work side-by-side with the woman who cut out her eyeballs is pretty delicious.
Bishop makes a brief appearance and will be the first main villain for the new Uncanny X-Force which creates an interesting dynamic: With his longtime standing as an X-Man and dark, troubled past, he could be a prime candidate for recruitment to the team if he wasn’t trying to kill them.
The final member(s) of the team to be teased are Fantomex(es). Now separated into cloned bodies, the brains of Fantomex are their own team of sorts. Whether It will be FantomeXX or FantomeXY (or both) that joins the team remains to be seen, but the two of them seem to be becoming very close… ew.
Sam Humphries writes Psylocke with wit and darkness and it suits the book perfectly. The writing is great across the board and captures the unique voices of this extremely diverse group, which is no small task. Puck trying to pick up Betsy(at peril of death) is a classic comics moment. The art by Ron Garney is likewise excellent. He has a knack for picking out moments of intense action and transferring them to the page like a series of violent dioramas.
Uncanny X-Force #1 tells its own story, but sets up a new direction for the team at the same time. Its fun, its exciting and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next issue. It teases and satisfies in equal measure and is one of the best series debuts I’ve read in a long time.