Story: Benjamin Percy
Art: Joshua Cassara
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
X-Force #6 introduced the nation of Terra Verde and the bio-organisms of telefloronics. The issue ended with the organisms escaping into the wild and in issue #9 readers discovered it had spread throughout the country due to Beast’s decisions in the previous storyline. The X-Force strike team is sent back to eliminate the threat of telefloronics before it can spread to the larger world. While the setup reads as a convoluted X-men plot, writer Benjamin Percy distills it down to a quintessential X-Force story.
X-Force is traditionally the wetworks team of mutants, willing to do the dirty work for the greater good. During Percy’s current run on the series he’s dealt with assassination, human/mutant negation, and the emotional price of violence. Here, the Terra Verde setting is the context to the larger confrontation between Jean and Hank over Beast’s secrecy and misguided self-confidence. The most powerful moments of the issue are in the four pages between Jean and Beast, two of which are all text. The format of new X titles contains a page or two of a journal, log, or content laden page that provides background and context to the ongoing narrative of the title. Here Percy uses Beast’s log to provide that context, but then as the confrontation escalates he inserts a page of text that continues their interaction. Rather than visually depicting the verbal and physical confrontation, Percy writes it out. This sudden change in structure creates weight due to the unique use and placement. The written interaction also provides readers with a greater context to both character’s actions and their emotional state.
The use of written narrative does not reduce the power of Joshua Cassara and Guru-eFX’s art during the confrontation and throughout the issue. Jean’s anger with Beast’s decisions is evident in her posture and the threat of Jean’s power is displayed through the reflection in Hanks’ glasses. Cassara’s and Guru’s art also grows in scope and beauty as the team descends into the telefloronics temple as they depict the power of the organisms to take over humans and mutants and decompose their bodies.
While the team eventually defeats the telefloronics through, the creative team leaves open the question of who survived. The creative team also leaves the question of leadership and Beast’s status on the team open for further exploration. X-Force #10 ends with a quiet and introspective moment between Jean and Logan about the nature of X-Force and the state of their relationship. This quiet interpersonal moment is a fitting denouement to the narrative and emotional roller coaster of an issue.
Percy and the artistic team continue to make X-Force an essential title in the larger X-men paradigm, and X-Force #10 is a powerful example. X-Force may get the job done by any means necessary, but there is a cost, a cost that even mutant resurrection cannot wipe entirely clean.