Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force was… well, a tour-de-x-force. An epic saga about the dubious morality and unintentional consequences of lethal force in the name of justice, it was consistently bleak and heavy, but it actually concluded with what could be considered a happy ending. The guilt-ravaged Betsy Braddock, aka Psylocke, was finally able to find some peace with her resurrected paramour Fantomex.
Six months later, though, the happy didn't last.
Sam Humphries and Ron Garney are relaunching the book Marvel NOW style, and the new Uncanny X-Force #1 has a very different tone than the Remender genius that preceded it. Psylocke is brusque and angry and will not say why, and she's on a mission to hunt down her old enemy Spiral, and the freshly mohawked Storm is along for the ride – angry herself over the sudden end of her marriage and apparently cutting her hair and banging Wolverine over it. Their mission doesn't go well, even with kickass Alpha Flighter Puck lending a hand, too. Then, when the issue ends, we find out part of why Betsy's so pissed. Here's a hint – it has to do with the fact that there are now three Fantomexes – one male, one female, and one evil (and, okay, also male).
Humphries is clearly going for a more straight-forward action tone, dropping bits of omniscient narration to cut through X-continuity enough to give us the gists. So far, he seems to be respecting where Remender left everybody without trying to emulate it. What I'm not entirely sure about is whether or not this will be anywhere near as interesting as its predecessor. The brief appearance of Fantomexes at the end may be too little to judge, but given that Remender took a weirdo character and made him one of my favorites, I'm keeping a keen eye on whether or not Humphries can bring that same charm to the guy. In this issue, it's not entirely there, although he does surely get back to his weirdo roots. Garney's art is very straightforward and solid, and it fits Humphries' style pretty well, too.
So it's a decent start for Uncanny X-Force #1, and it does warrant a few more issues to find its new footing. Humphries does get kudos for bringing Puck onto a non-Canadian team. That's nothing to sneeze at.