There’s been a war brewing in the background of X-Force ever since the series started. In X-Force #11 that comes to a head, in probably the grossest way possible.
This arc promises the return of a classic X-Man to help fight a brutal war on Krakoan soil. However, his hands are not clean, and that’s just the beginning of the complex story being told here. It all comes to us from Benjamin Percy, Bazaldua, Guru-eFx, Joe Caramagna, and Tom Muller.
In the wake of Wolverine’s war on the Flower Cartel, X-Force begins dissecting the bodies of the post-human soldiers used against them. However, when a biological weapon activates, sending tiny humanoid drones all over the island, they are overwhelmed. Can Colossus help turn the tide or will his involvement just make things worse?
Percy is not often what many people would call a funny writer, but this issue is hilarious, just in a very different way than you might expect. The nesting doll drones are just plain gross, and they pose a serious threat to Krakoa. However Percy knows that they’re silly and dumb and leans into that. He also wisely makes it clear that Colossus is a much more morally grey figure than he’s been in the recent past, which lines up more with the classic Chris Claremont approach to him.
However, there’s a pretty big flaw in the story, and that’s the villain. Russia as a supervillain is a tired trope already, but when you combine it with the fact that actual Russia is a much more insidious and present threat than what we see here, it falls flat. If the creative team had shifted the antagonist just a little bit, it would have landed much better.
Bazaldua has a very solid grasp on the storytelling here. He emphasizes the comedy behind the nesting dolls concept, and plays with that all through the issue. They’re absolutely nasty, silly and over-the-top, and you can practically hear gleeful little giggles as they run across the page.
However, the issue still has the same problems that Bazaldua’s art usually has – he cannot draw women. Their bodies are usually strangely proportioned, and their hands are always impossibly small, with no variation in body type, height or face. It’s a flaw in his work that often becomes distracting. In this case, it’s a minor distraction, thanks to all the wonderful chaos all over the page, but it’s still obvious.
Even with the flaws though, I still deeply enjoy this series. It’s the Dawn of X book that captures the feel of classic X-Men best while still driving forward into the future and feeling fresh.
X-Force #11 is available now from Marvel Comics.