Review by Ian Keogh
Both previous Uncanny X-Force outings under Rick Remender have amounted to four chapters, resulting in books so thin you’d almost mistake them for individual comics. It’s pleasing, then, to see the first of two books forming The Dark Angel Saga clocking in at six chapters.
The first two outings might have resulted in slim volumes, but Remender effectively laid out the internal team conflicts and the secrets some members keep. One of them is that Fantomex, supposedly killer of the child Apocalypse was revealed in Deathlok Nation to be cultivating an alternate child Apocalypse within the genetic confines of his shrunken World. Apocalypse also connects with Angel, having long ago created a more savage alter-ego that Warren Worthington is having increasing difficulty in suppressing, despite the help of his psychic girlfriend Psylocke. Deadpool’s always a mess and Wolverine’s hardly the poster boy for a happy life, so it leaves newest team member Deathlok the most well-adjusted. And he’s a cyborg from the future bringing dire warnings. A chilling opening chapter exploits the fears and expands the divisions.
It’s halfway before the saga suggested by the title manifests, before which three good stories each exploit the darkness within X-Force, although rather sideline Deadpool. Collectively they accelerate Angel’s surrender to his dark side. There is a way to deal with the situation, but it requires a trip to an alternate universe completely controlled by Apocalypse. Yet can the person providing this information be trusted? Their malevolent presence is a good fit with the cast, but Remender tends to assume his audience are as knowledgeable about the X-Men’s history as he is, and there’s frequently little explanation.
As has already been the case, Uncanny X-Force is an extremely violent series. The perpetrators have a conscience about what they do, but we frequently see it graphically, and that it can be later revealed to be a psychically generated illusion is no mitigation. Mark Brooks’ sample art is a less bloody example. Visually, though, Billy Tan on the standalone stories and Brooks on the title saga are revelations, both moving away from previous styles to expansive layouts and more naturalistic people. Neither quite has the sheer beauty of Jerome Opeña or the grandeur of Esad Ribić as seen on the previous volumes, but this is no great step down, and astounding art if compared with most superhero comics.
Once in the world previously ruled by Apocalypse, complications occur. Remender rejoices in supplying alternate versions of known characters, and twisting the emotional knife as he does so. Many writers might be satisfied with that, but Remender introduces a greater purpose for what’s happening on this world, He brings everything to a desperate crescendo, then pulls the plug. The Dark Angel Saga concludes in Book Two.
This, though, has been one hell of a ride. It’s also available in the first volume of Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender: The Complete Collection and The Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender Omnibus.