Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colorist: Dean White
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Dustin Weaver
Editor: Jordan D. White
Publisher: Marvel Comics
In recent months, we’ve seen the X-Men create a new mutant nation, become pirates, and dabble in Arthurian myth. In this week’s relaunch of X-Force, they’re experimenting with a new angle as the CIA of mutantkind.
Not unlike how X-Force itself began as a major retooling of New Mutants (which also relaunches this week, timely enough), this new iteration of the team undergoes a similar shift. X-Force has always been seen as the grittier, darker version of the X-Men, but this time they’re re-imagined as more of a CIA-esque organization. Half of its personnel is dedicated to intelligence, while the other performs covert ops (Dustin Weaver’s cover literally delineates the distinction, so an unexpected addition of Jean Grey works in the former, while longtime X-Forcer Domino serves on the latter). It’s an interesting mix of characters that’s sure to experience some friction moving forward.
Much like last week’s Excalibur, this new run of X-Force distinguishes itself from the other Dawn of X titles that have already launched. Whereas the others trend more in the vein of light-heartedness to varying degrees, X-Force is clearly going to be the brooding X-Men book with a darker tone and grittier art. A lot of that can be attributed to writer Benjamin Percy, who’s made a name for himself in the genres of thriller, horror, and suspense in comics and beyond (he was recently tapped to write the new Wolverine ongoing series, following his work on the scripted Wolverine podcasts The Long Night and The Lost Trail). He’s a pretty solid match for the material here, and it’s perhaps the first title of the new X-Men line I’ve read that doesn’t feel totally beholden to Jonathan Hickman’s guiding hand, which is a testament to Percy’s scripting and voice.
The art of X-Force, drawn by Joshua Cassara and colored by Dean White, is another reason this book feels different than the other Dawn of X titles, coming across as more lush (and even grittier at times) than, say, the clean and colorful aesthetic on Marauders as done by Matteo Lolli and Federico Blee. Cassara’s inks are also much heavier than we’ve seen yet in the Dawn of X line, which lends a sense of foreboding that Percy clearly wants you to detect (no spoilers, but this issue ends on a major cliffhanger that’s arguably as massive as the Moira MacTaggert retcon in House of X #2).