The conclusion to the Dark Angel Saga, this issue has been building for much longer than the saga itself. Starting with the first issue of Uncanny X-Force, Rick Remender has been laying the groundwork for this story and created one of the best events from Marvel this year. He did it without huge promotion and dozens of crossovers and created a story that will take a reader back to the x-men's prime when Claremont carefully built a world and layered stories together to bring us a mutant event.
Spoilers after the break...
From the first issue, X-Force has been dealing with the threat of Apocalypse in one form or another. Any reader that wants the full experience of this saga would do themselves a service by picking up the entire series from the start and not just the Dark Angel Saga itself. Destroying the threat of Apocalypse was the purpose of this secret team, but when they finally reached him and discovered a child it created a moral dilemma among most of the team. Fantomex took the decision out of their hands as they talked about possibly raising him normally and hoping he would turn out differently when he killed the young Apocalypse in front of them all.
The next story arc deals with Fantomex and The World, the breeding facility for Weapon Plus that he has kept hidden away. Deathlok is introduced and becomes an honorary team member throughout the rest of the saga really. We find out that Fantomex has been using the facility to grow his own Apocalypse with the hope of using him to stop a future rise of an evil Apocalypse. It adds an interesting layer to what at first appeared to be a cold blooded reaction from Fantomex when he killed the young Apocalypse boy.
Remender has shown the internal struggle of Archangel throughout the series as well. Psylocke has used her psychic powers to help keep his inner darkness in check; but it's been an everyday war. A war that you can slowly watch him slowly lose throughout their first few missions and finally completely with the help of the Shadow King in the final arc before the Dark Angel Saga begins.
So up to this point we have seen the initial threat of Apocalypse and his new horsemen, Archangel's internal struggle against the darkness that Apocalypse buried deep inside him when he was created to be a horseman long ago and that Fantomex is up to something with The World that he has kept secret from everyone else. In the final issues before the saga begins, Angel has nearly lost all control and the group decided to break Dark Beast out of prison to help them find a way to stop his change into a new form of Apocalypse. The Saga itself begins as they travel into the Age of Apocalypse timeline to recover a lifeseed from Dark Beasts laboratory. The first half of the saga follows their adventures in that alternate timeline and when they finally return to save their own world they discover it may be too late.
Archangel has risen to take the mantle of the new Apocalypse and has plans to use the liquid time of The World combined with the lifeseed X-Force brought back to terraform the Earth into a new world destroying humanity and starting over fresh. X-Force with a little help from a few of the heroes out of the Age of Apocalypse give everything to stop him.
The latest issue is the culmination of it all, not just the saga itself, but all of the emotion that Remender has built up between the team members as well. He has done an outstanding job of building these characters. X-Force has hardly become the Wolverine show, which fans that dislike the overuse of some characters might appreciate. The relationship between Deadpool and Fantomex is often times more hilarious than tense. And of course the slow unraveling of Archangel and his personal relationship with Psylocke.
Megaspoilers... The battle itself has played out over the last couple of issues and here Psylocke and Fantomex are left to face Dark Angel, though they cannot overpower him, Fantomex finally activates his commands to release his child Apocalypse he has been growing in the world with hopes of it ending Dark Angel's grasp on that power. It is Psylocke however that finally ends the battle, using the lifeseed to on Dark Angel. Remender here creates one of the best death scenes I've read in a comic for a long while and throughout it I could not help but feel as though it would one day be wasted by bringing Angel back. So it was nice to see that before the story was completely through, Angel shows up, walking out of the battlefield restored to his old self, though without memory of who anyone is. If a character is not going to truly die, then it's nice to see the story take that somewhere and not leave the reader with that belief, not after all the death moments in the comicbook world over the years. ... end of megaspoilers.
Although this issue served as the conclusion to the Dark Angel Saga, much like the rest of the run of Uncanny X-Force the story is hardly concluded. Dark Beast scampered off with some of the horsemen and perhaps a future seed of Apocalypse. The repercussions on Angel and the saga itself still have to be dealt with. It even looks like Nightcrawler from Age of Apocalypse might be hanging around with the team as he appears on next issues preview cover. Good plot work aside though, the true gem of this series is the character work. Remender has made this reader care about Wolverine again, care about Deadpool for the first time and made Fantomex deeper than just kinda cool. This series is definitely the top recommendation for an x-series right now and one of the top overall for marvel. If you are waiting for the trade of this saga, just make sure to pick up the previous trades as well and read the whole series. There is plenty more here than just one good event story.