I found the first issue of the 2019 X-Force relaunch to be rather subpar. There’s a lot of stuff going on, but there isn’t even an X-Force team standing at the ready by the end of the issue as most of it seems to exist to mostly show why the new nation of Krakoa needs a covert strike force.
That isn’t a terrible idea, and it might read better in trade form, but it didn’t work as well in a single issue. Well, maybe the second issue will be an improvement.
Issue: X-Force #2, November 2019
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Joshua Cassara
The Plot: While Jean Grey and Hank McCoy attempt to resurrect Professor Xavier, Wolverine and Quentin Quire look into where the assassins came from.
Commentary: OK, that is a whole lot better on multiple levels.
True, there still isn’t an X-Force team, but the members of that group are beginning to come together. All it took was the death of Professor X.
Normally, under the House of X rules, the death of a mutant isn’t the end of the line because the mutant can always be resurrected. Small problem this time: Xavier, with Cerebro, is essential to the resurrection process, and not only was Xavier killed but the bullet that did it wrecked Cerebro. Most of the assassins were in turn eliminated by various mutants, most notably Wolverine, and this is basically where the issue starts to get cool. The top suspects as set up in the first issue could be the nation of Sokovia. Xavier had just finished a diplomatic mission there, the likes of which seemed to act as a set-up for his killers. However, that isn’t quite the case as the lone surviving assassin’s mind does give Jean Grey some clues, and it looks like it might actually be something like the Reavers.
Oh, and the assassins are a patchwork of deadly things. Their teeth all come packed with explosives, and their ears are removable but are attached to a garrote wire, perfect for strangulation. Whatever these people are, they seem to be composed entirely of parts that are all set to make them the perfect killers aside from an odd patch of skin found on each of their shoulders.
Fortunately, it looks like Xavier planned for the contingency of his own death. Between Jean, Hank McCoy, and Sage, there is a plan coming up to bring Xavier back as well. Given Professor X is still appearing in various X-books these days, I am fairly certain it will be successful. However, the story there largely worked for me, particularly as a contrast to what Wolverine was doing. Logan had gone off island to look into the killers, and he had a tag-along in the form of Quentin “Kid Omega” Quire.
I can’t claim to be a Kid Omega fan. Grant Morrison created him as an antagonistic and arrogant student during his own run, and Quentin has, for the most part, not gotten any better since then. If anything, Quentin’s reasons for joining Wolverine on the hunt make the character stand out: Quentin sees himself as superior to others, Xavier is a lot like Quentin in terms of power, so an attack on Xavier is an attack on Quentin. Sure, Quentin will then go along, read Wolverine’s mind on a routine basis just to annoy the older mutant, even ruining Logan’s credit score simply because he can, but those sorts of actions make the character one that a reader like myself can enjoy somewhat even if it is in a “love to hate” sort of way.
Oh, and then the pair find the factory where the killers were grown part-by-part, and Quentin’s powers are shut off in there. If watching a kid as arrogant as Quentin can be amusing, watching that self-same kid suddenly flounder when the powers he relies on too much are gone can be even more fun.
So, having the characters split into two teams, going on completely different missions to meet the same overall goal, and making both plotlines fun to read…yeah, that’s a big improvement for me.