When originally released as comics, The Apocalypse Solution took people by surprise, prompting Marvel’s rapid repackaging of the first three issues in a thicker comic for people who’d missed them. The immediate selling point is Jerome Opeña’s phenomenal art. He’d already impressed on Vengeance of the Moon-Knight, but raises his game again. There’s a constant sense of scale, impressive page designs with detailed backgrounds, attention to the characters, and his people convince as real.

It’s Leonardo Manco’s also notable art we see first, over a scene-setting preface to Uncanny X-Force, explaining the introductions of Fantomex and Deadpool from the previous incarnation. It’s well handled, with parts for Angel, Psylocke and Wolverine, explaining who each of the team members are, and why they’re part of the team. Most will remain featured until the end.

As the main event begins, X-Force are already established as the X-Men’s black-ops team, their purpose unknown to most X-Men other than Cyclops, who’s beginning to have doubts about a team of X-Men who kill if necessary. The starting mission is prompted by learning Apocalypse, possibly the greatest danger to mutants, has been reborn. However, Rick Remender doesn’t just provide a re-run with the invincible mutant of a type that’s been seen numerous times. This Apocalypse is different, and despite the wishes of his followers he may not yet be beyond redemption.

Remender ties this in with uncertainties among X-Force members, who’re almost all primarily loners. Deadpool is mad, Fantomex always has his own agenda, and a portion of Archangel is beyond Warren Worthington’s control, and may endanger everyone. Psylocke is powerful enough to close his mind down, but she’s also his girlfriend. The assorted limitations and emotional conflicts Remender sets up over the first chapters sustain the entire series. More personal to this volume are the Four Horsemen that Apocalypse always creates, taking various forms. Remender’s approach to them is novel, his creations on one level very ordinary, which makes them quite extraordinary. The entire story is set up to deliver what at face value is an appalling ethical decision, and the consequences of it rumble through the next six volumes.

A couple of times, especially with a scene concerning the revival of Archangel, Remender tips too far into adult horror territory for a standard superhero title, but otherwise The Apocalypse Solution is a beautifully drawn thriller all the way through. This and the following Deathlok Nation are both also found in Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender: The Complete Collection and The Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender Omnibus.