Okay, Uncanny X-Force, I can start talking about you again.
The last few issues of this series, after the lengthy and fascinating Dark Angel Saga, had gone deep into confusing Captain Britain canon and some unpleasant art. Now, however, Mike McKone is handling the art for Rick Remender's exploration of the ugly underbelly of mutant life, and it's much more palatable.
To catch up, here's what we've got going on in Uncanny X-Force #25:
A teenaged version of Apocalypse is attending the Jean Grey School For Gifted Youngsters, as a part of a grand plan by Fantomex to test nature vs.nurture. Essentially, he artificially raised this clone of Pocky in a controlled environment with what was essentially the good-hearted small town upbringing of Clark Kent. What will win out? We don't know, but when you integrate the former mutant-superiority overlord with a bunch of smart-mouthed kids like Quentin Quire, one wonders how it can end well. But we're rooting for the kid.
Speaking of Fantomex, he finally got to bang Psylocke at the end of last issue… only to learn now that Betsy has no desire to make anything more of it – "a one night stand to satisfy my curiosity." Now that that's done, much to Jean-Philippe's dismay, she quits the team. Apparently, losing the man she loves to the blank slate currently inhabiting his body, having to kill her own brother and sacrificing her capacity to feel sorrow was too much for her. Certainly sounds like too much for anybody. As she leaves, she tells Wolverine that this entire exercise is just that he's "given in to the worst part of" himself. And Fantomex rabbits shortly after, claiming it's about the lack of money now that Warren Worthington is no longer Warren Worthington and thus can't pay him… but it's fairly obvious that he's got some rejection issues to work through.
That makes Wolverine nervous because that only leaves him with Deadpool and an alternate-reality Nightcrawler. That makes readers nervous because Fantomex was easily the most interesting character in the book. Is this a big cast turnover, or just a temporary hiatus for them? Fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, Wade Wilson isn't ugly anymore. And I'd be completely confused by that if I hadn't flipped through the latest issue of Deadpool at the store and learned he's lost his death wish and his scarring and, apparently, his healing factor. Oh, Wade. Once upon a time, in the 'constant threat of cancellation' days, I was your staunchest champion. Now, I can't be bothered to care what Daniel Way is doing with you. Just keep the mask on and tell your jokes and maybe I can forget about the love lost.
Wade is infiltrating some funky 'people-weaponizing' plant, which is a kind of personal grudge of Wolverine's, and much of the ensuing fight with these people coincides with an internal monologue about the Ol' Canucklehead's conflicting natures. Something we have to address since he's running a school for children and moonlighting as a secret murderer. It's a dichotomy that has to eventually result in some kind of complete implosion on Logan's part – and we see that set up in the pair of reprinted Remender back-up stories in this 25th issue, featuring some Jerome Opeña art that's markedly different from the painted style he brought to his more recent X-Force issues.
One of them is called "Purity," basically relating a Logan story where he insists he's not honorable, as much as he tries to be at times, and the other is called "Appetite for Destruction," which is a Deadpool story where he gets all fat again, as has been done at least twice before – once when he had a secret past as a sumo wrestler and once when he got launched into outer space. The Wolverine one is interesting, the Deadpool one is eye-glazing… although if spectral farting is added to Wade's power set, I think I'd approve.
Anyway, the new threat is something called The Omega Clan, which are a batch of people made from dead parts of Omega Red, and that's a mixed bag. On one hand, I've never liked Omega Red and I'm glad he's dead, and thus if Remender can do something interesting with his corpse, I'm for it – one more reason not to bring him back. On the other hand, it might just become an extention of what was lame about Omega Red… but come to think of it, that was mainly the cheerleader top-knot hairdo. I have an irrational hate for characters who look awful. Gambit is a case in point.
Overall, Uncanny X-Force #25 seems to be celebrating the landmark issue by stripping things back down to basics, and shedding some cast members ostensibly to make room for new blood. Remender's corner of the Marvel Universe is still quality stuff, and hopefully he can build back up to something just as epic as The Dark Angel Saga.