Writer: Ben Percy
Art: Garry Brown, GURU-eFX, VC’s Joe Caramagna, Tom Muller, Dean White, and Joshua Cassara
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: April 21st, 2021
WOLVERINE is hunting vampires. Beast is dead. Black Tom is M.I.A. Jean’s no longer on X-FORCE. And now, a psychic is on the loose that resembles Kid Omega who appears to be striking down X-FORCE members. Let’s dive into X-FORCE #19 by Ben Percy to see if Phoebe and Quentin can find a way to stop this threat on their own. Or, will they get some help from an old colleague?
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Can Kid Omega be a star? Can he take center stage as the lead? I wish I could say yes… but I can’t. At first, this mini-arc seemed promising. It felt like it would guide fans to answers while giving us some insight into Quentin’s powers and characteristics. Sadly, readers will leave this issue finding out nothing new about Xeno and no answers about Beast or the other members for that matter. Percy used this canvas to take a risk showcasing Kid Omega over X-FORCE and I genuinely admire that risk. Nevertheless, this issue of X-FORCE just felt like it was missing depth and substance, which is usually a strong aspect of Percy’s writing.
Readers, as the last issue of X-FORCE closed, Percy led us to believe that “another” Kid Omega was out there behind this devastation. Therefore, no shock, no big unveiling, and no climatic surprise reveals itself this issue. Furthermore, the dialogue between Jean and Quentin was extremely out character for each of them as well as Percy’s writing (as mentioned above). To this point, Percy has nailed his take on the main characters of this X-FORCE team. However, the arc has felt like he’s tried something different and it just doesn’t jive.
For example, there is a page where Jean is upset that Quentin didn’t say “Thank you.” for Jean saving his life. Or, Jean later refers to Quentin as “bossy” and “rude” to make a joke about his new pajamas. Really? Jean is not one to spit out quips or come off petty and trivial searching for affirmation. She’s strong, confident, and commands a room. She’s not told to be “supportive” by Phoebe. Jean is the one telling other people to be supportive.
Heck, even the mini dreamscape lesson Jean guides to prepare Kid Omega to take down the big-bad seemed out of character and coerced. And on a side note, I can’t help but wonder how Sage can “one-kick” a possessed Black Tom to stop him. All of these examples are merely stated to provide evidence as to how different and uncharacteristic this X-FORCE issue was for our X-heroes as well as Percy.
Now, as upset as I was with the character portrayals, they were still miles above the art team this week. Look no further than the opening page of X-FORCE to see Garry Brown’s take on Jean Grey’s face. It looks nothing like Jean and changes shape as she wakes up. Brown appears to do his best work when tasked with the grotesque shapes in Kid Omega’s mind. However, realism is not his strong suit.
Additionally, the smaller panels were extremely difficult to decipher any character detail or definition. Plus, later on in her Marvel Girl costume, Jean’s drawn with more of a square jaw while both Quentin and Jean appear to be sharing a moment of snarky conversation on page 12 that doesn’t fit the conversation. Ultimately, the art was dull, muted, unfriendly, rough, and unwelcoming. Brown certainly has a style all his own. However, I don’t know if it fits X-FORCE or any current X-MEN title at all.
As a fan of Percy’s X-FORCE, this one hit hard. The entire creative team appeared to miss the mark this week. Overall, the plot seemed to have some holes, the main protagonists were out of character, and the result was too easily overcome even though it was spun to be difficult for three issues prior. Furthermore, Brown’s art was at times, inaccurate to the story and didn’t resemble the characters. His illustrations were flat and lacked the normal dynamic power the X-FORCE title had with Joshua Cassara and Oscar Bazaldua leading the interiors. Ultimately, I’m excited to move past this story and get back to the entire X-FORCE team. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!