While we have no idea where Rob Williams' Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force miniseries fits in with Rick Remender's main UXF title, he does have a pretty good concept to run with here, and it may become one of the few Fear Itself tie-ins that actually deals with the notion that a lot of people are drowning in The Serpent's aura of fear.
While Black Panther: Man Without Fear is tackling xenophobia from the immigration angle, Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #2 is hitting it from the super-powered side, taking the perennial mutant-haters known as the Purifiers and amping up their fears to include any and all super-heroes. Their leader, Jonathan Standish, believes that they have brought about the apocalypse by bringing these hammer-wielding demons to bear on us all, and they're trying to save the souls of humanity by encouraging mass ritual suicide. Given the climate of terror in the world, it actually works for thousands of people around the globe. But it's not enough for Standish.
As for the covert wetworks squad X-Force, made up of Wolverine, Archangel, Psylocke, Fantomex and Deadpool, it quickly becomes painfully obvious that this is a team without an actual strategist, as their plan to nail Standish is to sit around in space and wait until he attacks a city, while debating the morality of their own existence. That plan backfires when they realize that the jerk is sending cybernetically-enhanced Purifiers to murder small towns instead of big cities, forcing the team to spread out and try to take one alive – not easy doin's when they're nutjob suicide bombers to boot.
Williams pulls out some cool things, like having Warren Worthington's angelic form be instrumental and pulling information out of a zealot, an internal debate as to whether or not their team is actually the good guys – Deadpool being the main and unignorable voice of opposition, and really bringing home the disturbing paranoia of Standish with the lengths he's going to for the sake of humankind. That kind of mania is also really stoking the 'we want to murder you' aspects of the various team members, too – including Psylocke, who's traditionally been the voice of restraint in this team. Simone Bianchi's art, accentuated by Simone Peruzzi's coloring, is also pretty fantastic in its detail, its darkness and in capturing the general moody bleakness of this team, their motives and their mission.
On the surface, this whole X-Force concept seems like it should fall into the 'dark for the sake of dark' trap, but in both Remender's series and Williams' efforts here, it manages to avoid that sensibility, while certainly maintaining that unrelenting bleakness. It's a strange thing, to still want to read books that bring up really murky feelings of ugliness, but in this day and age, Uncanny X-Force is managing just that.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 8/10