After over three months since its last issue, X-Force is back and reloaded for X-Force #27, promising more action, more violence, and more explorations of how those in power will do monstrous things to the people they’ve sworn to protect under the deluded justification that it will ultimately be for the good of everyone. Hell yeah, bro!
X-Force is one of the few Krakoa-era X-titles that didn’t end so that it could evolve into a new book with a shiny #1 on the cover, and that puts it in a bit of an interesting place. This issue is all about consequences, but it’s not only about the consequences of events that have occurred way back in Benjamin Percy’s previous issues of X-Force, but also his Wolverine run and the recent X Lives of Wolverine event. Recalling the intricacies of the slow-burn plot about Russia and Omega Red spanning back to 2020 and covering multiple titles feels a little overwhelming at first, but Percy does well enough at catching you up so that you’re not completely lost.
Truth be told, I’m glad that writers at Marvel are once again allowed to tell long-running stories like Claremont did during his classic run on Uncanny X-Men, but I can’t help feeling these issues, including X-Force #27, go down smoother when you’re binge-reading them one after the other, as opposed to reading them while they come out.
That said, this all sets up an interesting predicament where X-Force must determine the fate of Omega Red. Beast predictably continues his transition from “the Avenger most likely to share a joint with you” to “fascist war criminal” as he takes a firm stance on Omega Red being permanently banned from resurrection. However, what’s interesting is what side each of his peers takes, particularly the analytical Sage serving as the voice of empathy. While some characters are steadily growing one way or the other, the rest are going through intense changes, and I’m eager to see where this takes them. Percy is definitely planting seeds to shake up the group dynamic and keep things fresh as X-Force approaches thirty issues.
Speaking of the future, X-Force #27 introduces a new threat in the form of some kind of corrupted form of Cerebro. Penciler/inker Robert Gill injects so much horror into its introduction, as the inanimate helmet is slowly approached from a twisting perspective panel-by-panel, its visor glowing redder and redder until it shines blindingly in a way reminiscent of Drew Struzan’s iconic poster for The Thing. Even before this thing is entangling its victims in tendrils and ripping brains out of skulls, it haunts you.
Gill and other artists on this run are always going to be in the unfortunate position of being compared to Joshua Cassara, but personally, I believe Gill more than delivers. I particularly like the way he draws Quentin Quire’s psychic constructs, which the telepath uses to visually emphasize everything that he says. It’s a cute little visual gag that compliments Percy’s lines well.
All in all, X-Force #27 serves as a solid transitionary point from one era of the book to the next.