I dropped Sam Humphries’ Uncanny X-Force somewhere around issue 9 or so. That wasn’t because I wasn’t enjoying it, but I had decided early on I’d only follow one X-Force book and I just enjoyed Cable and X-Force more. It’s fitting that both X-Force titles end with a crossover, especially with the sometimes intense history members from opposing teams have with each other. And no history is more intense than the one between Cable, Hope and Bishop.
In Cable and X-Force 18, Hope finds out that Bishop is back and tries to kill him. They ended up being captured by Stryfe, and Cable ended up confronting Psylocke’s team at the crime scene. This issue picks up immediately after, and for the most part it’s solid enough. While too many crossovers begin with the two superhero teams fighting each other, this fight actually makes sense. Both teams have multiple good reasons to distrust each other, and the Hope vs. Bishop fight was the trigger. The fight itself is entertaining, with a lot of collateral damage, some great banter and smart tactics from both teams.
The problem is that the fight goes on a bit too long. They fight throughout the entire issue, taking up 13 pages. The real focus should have been the argument between the captured Bishop and Hope, because that’s where the real dramatic tension is. We know that X-Force was going to fight, and we know they’ll eventually team up. It’s not very often you can see a confrontation between a 17-year-old and the man who tried to kill her for the first 16 years of her life. What we do get is well written though. Stryfe’s lines on the other hand scream of exposition a bit too much.
The comic’s overall mood is a playful one, and the art fits that perfectly. It’s a generally clean, smooth look, but there is the occasional object with impressive detail. The wrinkles and scars on both Cable and Bishop show how much they’ve been through. It also works well in motion, always making the fight scene easy to follow.
This was a fun issue, but with a slightly different focus it would have been dramatically stronger. It’s still an easy recommendation for anyone following both X-Force titles or anyone who enjoyed Cable’s series where he raised Hope in the future. It manages to capture a bit of the mood from all three titles while remaining coherent.