Review by Ian Keogh
A core aspect of the X-Men’s new relationship with the world has been providing floral based medicines to countries permitting mutant transportation gates to be located in their territories, but it’s not only on Krakoa that advances have been occurring. Vol. 4 skips on from the Hellfire Club shindig ending Vol. 3 to a group perverting floronic technology to make the Krakoan mutant community look bad, in addition to a vast nuclear spill causing rapid evolutionary changes to marine life in the area.
Over the past couple of volumes Benjamin Percy has made the Beast X-Force’s most interesting personality. He seems to be drifting away from any allegiance to the mutants or humans, becoming increasingly compromised in fascination with pure research. He toys with whatever falls onto his plate, and a deliberate connection is drawn between his attitudes and those of Xeno, which may prioritise hatred of mutants, but uses that hatred to spur scientific progress. The results of their experiments are equally inhumane. Intriguingly, though, Percy comes up with an appropriately tricky price for Beast’s curiosity.
Joshua Cassara has been the nearest this X-Force series has to a regular artist, his art appearing in every volume to date, but the opening chapter appears to be his swansong. It’s typically polished, after which Robert Gill contributes two chapters showcasing his adaptability. While the idea of Wolverine as a surfer seems misguidedly imposed, Gill certainly supplies the grandeur and serenity of the sport, and he’s equally good on floronic madness. He’ll be the artist of choice from Vol. 5, and the series is in safe hands. Martin Coccoro also illustrates two chapters. His layouts are fine, but the images lack depth and the people are too often posed.
Percy’s technique is to keep plenty of threats in the spotlight and hop back and forth between them, but there’s very little pay-off, and that’s starting to hurt. While all the plots are creative and intriguing there needs to be some closure. It’s matched with a feeling that some characters are behaving ways that make them interesting, rather than in a way that deals with the threat efficiently. Would Wolverine sooner take a test than complete the mission? Would he go surfing? Most fans would think not. Likewise, Quentin in love is a plot that’s provided some fine visuals, but here just fizzles out.
The ideas keep X-Force floating above average, but the time to vacate the pot is nearing.