136: X-Force # 44 - 48 (Cannonball's Promotion)

What’s Covered?

X-Force V1 # 44 - 48 (July - December '95), Cable # 21 - 22



Roster Watch


Synopsis

Cable # 21: Jeph Loeb moves X-Force in new direction

Writer - Jeph Loeb

Pencils - Arnie Jorgenson

With Jeph Loeb now writing both Cable and X-Force, it appears as though these need to be read in tandem. Kind of reminds me of the Uncanny/New Mutants days. This follows directly after Age of Apocalypse, or more accurately, after the events just prior to AoA plus the events of X-Men Prime.


Domino is pretty much a regular cast member in the Cable series, kind of like how Jubilee was a regular in the Wolverine series for a while. It's pretty cute seeing these two act awkward around each other after they admitted their feelings for each other, assuming the world would end. Technically, it did, but then it started back up again. There is some really great banter between the two of them as Domino is the only one for him to bounce ideas off of.

I changed my plan for this blog as I read this issue because I realized it has too direct a connection to X-Force. Fabian Nicieza had set up an abandoned Murderworld as the new base for the team, but Loeb clearly didn't like that and blew it up in X-Men Prime. I can't say I'm disappointed as I thought that was pretty dumb. This issue has the team picking through the remains as they get ready to find a new home.

We set the tone for Cable in this new era by showing that Cable has three things one his mind: 1) Domino, 2) X-Force, and 3) Tyler. This issue has a little bit of plot as Cable helps Blaquesmith, who was attacked. This is where I start to get a little hazy here on the details. I almost strictly read comics in chronological order, and everything is new to me, but I did read the Cable saga all in a row. So Blaquesmith is a very familiar character to me, but I think this might actually be his first introduction.



X-Force # 44: Sam's Promotion

Writer - Jeph Loeb

Pencils - Adam Pollina

This is the official kickoff for the new team. We see the team slowly picking up all their belongings and getting read to move from the blown up Murderworld back to the mansion "temporarily."


I had been talking about Nicieza looking like he was going to write off Warpath, but here he is with a new costume and haircut, so he made the cut. However, he still seems to be obsessing over Theresa as she is no where to be found and he's calling up her dad (Banshee) trying to find her. We'll see at the end that she's stuck at an insane asylum.

Sunspot is just back to normal, walking around with the team. I'll bitch more about that in the Characters section below.


The big reveal here is that Cannonball will be leaving the team as he is being promoted to the X-Men. Funny how the X-Force team certainly didn't consider themselves a Triple A team connected to the X-Men under Nicieza, but we know Loeb was dying to write X-Men comics so here is forcing his way in. I wonder if this was Loeb's idea, or maybe if Loeb just didn't like Cannonball, or if this was a mandate from editorial (which is the assumption I'm going with). Detective Charlotte Jones gives us some exposition about Cannonball which is one of my pet peeves of showing rather than telling:

"Even though he’s the newest X-Man, Cannonball doesn’t look like he would back down against anything. Just hope that’s a positive in the long run."

Cable # 22: Genoshan Shenanigans

Writer - Jeph Loeb

Pencils - Ian Churchill


The X-Force story definitely continues here. So Siryn is missing at the insane asylum, possible off the team. Sunspot is back even though he was evil like 5 minutes ago. Cannonball was promoted so he's off the team. Warpath, Boomer, and Shatterstar are sticking around. But Loeb gets to work shaping the team according to his vision.


This issue is entirely focused on Rictor being written out, with most of the issue actually taking place at the airport. Shatterstar is hoping Rictor misses his flight because he will miss his "friend." By this point in time, it's pretty clear when X-Men writers are trying to imply something without breaking the comics code. Cable actually shows up to wish Rictor a safe flight, much to his surprise (and mine, to be honest). This is a new version of Cable who is much less macho and more focused on connecting to those around him. I'm ok with that. It's also pretty clear that Domino and Cable are officially shacking up now, as they are shown casually in bed together, possibly living together, half naked.

The main "action" of this story comes in the form of a few Genoshan agents trying to capture Renee Malcomb, a member of Professor Xavier's mutant underground.

The X-Force team intervenes, there is a battle, and Shatterstar is shot. He'll be fine, and stay with the team, but he'll be resting for the rest of this arc.


X-Force # 45 - 46: Mimic

Writer - Jeph Loeb

Pencils - Adam Pollina

Loeb isn't done yet with shaking up the lineup. Caliban officially joins the team this arc as well, and we see him fighting Sabretooth even though Sabretooth doesn't really fight back (still in a childlike state.)

Sunspot is flying for 3 hours straight and getting stronger, so we see focus on his powers getting strong but no fucking focus on the fact that he was evil 5 minutes ago. Boomer is in a new arc where she gets obsessed with Sabretooth and continues bringing him milk like a sick cat.

The main story here involves Cable, Caliban, Sunspot, and Warpath going on a mission. Siryn is still in the asylum and Boomer and Shatterstar stay behind. Star is licking his wounds and Boomer is both sad about Sam leaving and pissed off at the world. She even talks about being tired of authority figures telling her what to do, including Wolverine warning her not to trust Sabretooth (which seems really random, btw).


The away team runs into good old Mimic from the Silver Age era. In case you didn't read it (which I'm sure didn't,) Mimic is a mutant (or maybe not) who can take the powers of those around him. However, here he still seems to have the powers of the original 5 X-Men, which doesn't really jive with how his power set was explained previously.

The team prevails, of course, and Sunspot flies the broken Pacrat (the name of their vessel) home. He spends a lot of time thinking about how he's lucky that Cable trust him after the whole Reignfire thing. Ok...so they are finally talking about it, that's good. But am I supposed to understand what that whole thing was even about? If he just snapped out of it, what was going on? I'll give Loeb the benefit of the doubt that we'll learn eventually, but if we don't I'll stay pissed.

X-Force # 47: Deadpool and Siryn

Writer - Jeph Loeb

Pencils - Adam Pollina

X-Force # 47 is basically a continuation of the second Deadpool Limited Series with Siryn and him teaming up. Siryn is stuck in the asylum and hoping Cable will save her, but the person who saves her is Deadpool. This is kind of cool as they had chemistry and I wondered back in Blog 118 if this thread would ever be pulled on further, so I'm kind of glad that it is here. Deadpool and Siryn kick a little ass and get free.

We learn that it wasn't the doctor's keeping her there, but another patient. A young boy named Jeremy Stevens is using some sort of mind powers to control the doctors. The little boy turns out to be the Gamesmaster, taking on a new identity after Husk convinced him to disband the Upstarts and find a new challenge (also covered in 118: X-Force V1 #32 - 37 (The Younghunt)). He captures Deadpool. I don't recall if we learned that in the issue or if I read that somewhere else. Sorry if that's a spoiler.


Siryn returns home, blows of Warpath, gets reinstated as Deputy Leader, and we get a hint that she might be brainwashed (I still don't know through my current reading).


X-Force # 48: Boomer's Intervention

Writer - Jeph Loeb

Pencils - Adam Pollina

This is gonna be a quick one. The first big event is an intervention for Boomer as the team thinks she is being wreckless with Sabretooth. Second, Holocaust shows back up and absorbs and entire island. Sebastian Shaw also shows up, apparently not dead. I don't know where any of those last two points are going.


My Connections and Creators

I recall listening to a podcast recently (which I can't find or I would quote) where Fabian Nicieza spoke defensively about how his version of X-Force was a direct continuation of Rob's (Rob Leifeld). I remember thinking that I disagreed. Cable softened up! Feral went bad. Warpath was underused. He leaned more into the Summers connection. But now? Now, I get it.


Nicieza's X-Force was still a group of rebel loners with a shoot first mentality. The same characters introduced by Rob were used. The team moved around a little, but they were always separate from the main X-Men team. Now that I see this new direction that Loeb is taking the team, I totally get it. While the team evolved as any team would under Nicieza, it certainly was a natural path that Rob might have taken the team.This is a very different direction than Rob had in mind.


Cannonball being promoted to the X-Men? Let me tell you a few reasons why Rob and Fabian wouldn't have done that. First of all, both Rob and Fabian were setting up Sam as a leader in his own right who rebelled a bit from both Professor X and Cable. Also, neither of them would have supported X-Force as the Triple A team for the X-Men. They considered the team separate and didn't answer to them. So these arguments are just purely pointing out how Loeb is doing things differently than Rob's past, but if you want to hear me bitch about Sam's direction, go straight to the character section now.


Now I'm not necessarily saying that I hate what Loeb is doing. I would consider this being a rocky start, but it's not bad, just different.


The only other creator comment I have is that Adam Pollina is garbage. His art reminds me of Larry Stroman (the artist on the X-Factor re-launch). You all probably remember that I struggled a bit with Bill Sienkiewicz at first, but I at least recognized that he was creating high art. This Pollina/Stroman art is just pure crap. It looks like something my 7 year old daughter would draw. I hate it. I mean, just look at this terrible Wolverine art. What is this, Meltdown?

Wait, one more thing. I just went to create my Roster Watch graphic and it dawned on me that this might be the end of Dani! Oh no! It looked like she was about to re-join the team, but maybe that's put on ice now. Time for a Hayden Christiansen Darth Vader NOOOOOOOOOOO.


Character Beats


Cannonball

I'm super excited about Sam getting promoted to the X-Men. That's great. I feel like I've been alongside this character for so long and that's fantastic...but what the hell is the creative team doing to him? I picked Sam as my favorite character as of 1995 because of the amazing transformation he's had going from young kid to strong leader. Now, all of a sudden, he's a young, naive, brat again. The second he got promoted, he lost all of his confidence and the rest of the team is treating him like some dumb kid. His accent has gotten a lot thicker again...all in all I just don't agree with the direction he is going.


Sunspot

Oh, am I complaining again? What...the fuck...is Jeph Loeb thinking? I totally understand that you take on a story and have a different creative decision, not completely agreeing with what you inherited. I get it. You want to give Warpath a haircut? Cool. You want to break up Sam and Tabby, cool. (FYI, I have no idea if they are going to break up). But Roberto DaCosta has spent the last 6 months as the villainous leader of the Mutant Liberation Front. He spent 6 months killing people as the head of a terrorist organization. He was hell bent on killing X-Force. We waited 4 months (all of AoA) to find out what the story is with him and the second we get back, it's all hand waved away and he's back on the team! No, no, no. You just don't do that. At first, they barely mentioned it in the first few issues back. They've been mentioning it as a character plot device in the most recent few issues, but that's no where near enough.


Warpath

I had been writing in recent blogs about how it seemed like Fabian Nicieza didn't care about Warpath and was likely writing him out. It looks like Leob decided to keep him and give him a makeover. He's now sporting a close cropped haircut and earings in two ears. They also seem to be teasing a greater power set. I almost got the impression they were trying to make him gay, but he still seems to be hung up on Siryn. As I've mentioned for years (in publishing), I know X-Men media personalities (real humans in fandom) who claim Warpath as their favorite character, so I always pay a bit more attention to him, waiting for him to become relevant. It certainly hasn't happened yet, but will it happen here? I'll be keeping a close eye.


Boomer


Boomer (Tabby) is going through an arc where she feels neglected by the men in her life (Sam due to his time on the X-Men, Cable for easily leaving her behind on missions, and even her dad for being a general D-Bag) so she's drawn to Sabretooth, taking care of him. I feel like this isn't leading anywhere good. I have a sneaking suspicion her and Sam will break up, Sabretooth will attack her, and she might even be written out of the series. We'll see!


Siryn

In the second Deadpool series, I talked about a growing relationship between Theresa (Siryn) and Deadpool. In this series, she calls him up for help and while that wasn't deeply explored here, I wonder if some sort of romantic connection with start. Loeb has also made clear that he is going to continue with her blowing off Jimmy (Warpath). Finally, while multiple comments were made about her being a leader (which never really seemed to be grounded in anything from the comics), she is officially "deputy leader" under Cable.


Caliban

Caliban joins the team. He's always been a bit slower and had a limited vocabulary, but now he is essentially a Drax the Destroyer clone. He's not just a simpleton, he's a dumb comic relief character. But you know what...I'm digging it so I guess that's ok. Plus, he calls Domino "Patch Eye." She hates it. And I love it. I guess that reminds me of how Drax used to call Moonstar (his daughter) "bald lady."


Quick Hitters

  • Domino is given lip service as being part of the team, but doesn't actually show up in any of these issues. I haven't heard the next chunk of Cable comics yet, but I'm guessing maybe she's getting all her screentime there so she gets less here?

  • Rictor officially leaves the team. I guess Loeb doesn't like him?

  • Shatterstar spends this while arc in the medilab sustaining an injury from the Cable series that I haven't read yet. (I should probably read that).



My Rating - 6/10


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