X-Force V1 # 49 - 51, X-Force and Cable Annual '95, X-Man # 5 - 14, Cable # 29 - 31
X-Force # 49 - 50: Cable vs. X-Force + Shaw and Holocaust
Writer - Jeph Loeb
Pencils - Terry Dodson (49), Adam Pollina (50)
Issue # 49 shows that Sebastian Shaw, who is apparently still alive because...comics forms a tenuous alliance with Holocaust. The rest of the issue shows these two picking off the various members of the team one by one.
Sunspot and Caliban are in the sewers where we learn that Sunspot can no longer go back to his human form, probably because he looks to cool to bother drawing him in human form.
Jimmy and Siryn are out shopping while Siryn continues to put him in the friendzone. They are taken out by Shaw.
Boomer goes back home to see her dad, but then Holocaust blows up her childhood house (trailer park home) and captures her.
Shatterstar misses Rictor because they are clearly gay, and that's cool. He's taken out.
# 50 is a big battle where Shaw is mind controlling X-Force (courtesy of Tessa) and sends them out to kill Cable (and Domino, of course). There's some big action scenes. Shatterstar actually stabs Domino, which is pretty cool seeing these two badass fighters come face to face. Cable references that he mentally freed Sunspot from Reignfire's possession and therefore has an "in" to free him mentally. With Sunspot fighting with Cable and Domino, the tides begin to turn and then of course it is resolved with anyone being hurt. Oh, and Boomer accidentally blows up her dad.
X-Force # 51: Taking Stock
Writer - Jeph Loeb
Pencils - Luciano Lima
This one is a slow moving, character focused issue, which I guess focuses primarily on Boomer (actually let's call her Tabitha for this one). Since Jeph Loeb is also writing Cable, which focuses on Cable and Domino, I think the status quo for X-Force from now on will be focusing on other characters.
Beast (is it Dark Beast?) is interrogating Shatterstar about his past and memories. This is clearly setting up some sort of revelation about him. To be honest, his past is a bit confusing. I believe it's canon that he's the son of Dazzler and Longshot, but I guess I'm not sure. And then I think he's actually from the future or something? I don't know if this is just setting up Dazzler and Longshot making an appearance or if there is something else equally whacky coming.
Remember when I thought Nicieza was on the verge of writing Warpath out? Well, that's off the table now. Loeb is fully focused on not only giving him a new look, but a brand new power set. He spends time in this issue testing out his new powers which seem to include super speed, great sight, and...mind control? I can buy the first two, but I have a hard time believing that he's never picked up on the whole mind control thing.
Siryn (who is all the sudden drawn with gigantic boobs), is dreaming about Deadpool. I'm surprised Deadpool isn't in every issue of X-Force, so if they want to foster this relationship between them to draw him in more, I'm ok with that.
The main story here is with Tabitha. At the beginning of the story, Bishop is arguing with Cable, accusing Tabitha of helping Sabretooth escape. (I'll actually be covering the Sabretooth saga in my next blog). She spends the entire issue locked in her room, distraught over Sabretooth and what happened to her dad. At one point Sam comes checking up on her and she throws a bomb through the keyhole, lol. I don't know if they are done now...but this all leads to her coming out of the room with a much shorter haircut and proclaiming that she is now "Meltdown!"
X-Force and Cable Annual '95: Impossible Man
Plot- Jeph Loeb
Script - Matt Ryan
Pencils - Rurik Tyler
This is an Impossible Man story. For those of you who follow my blog, you know that I don't waste my time on Impossible Man stories. This one is just as inconsequential as the rest. He shows up, this time he introduces his 3 slacker kids, they help, and so on.
There is, however, a second story focusing on Domino where she is struggling with her feelings over killing Grizzly. This I appreciated because I complained in a previous blog that there should be more attention on this point as I'm sure it would be very tough for her to come to grips with.
X-Man # 5 - 13: Dumb
Plot- Jeph Loeb (5 - 9), John Ostrander (10 - 14)
Script - Jeph Loeb (5 - 7), John Rosum (8), John Ostrander (9 - 14)
Pencils - Steve Skroce (5 - 12), Luke Ross (13 - 14)
So, full disclosure here. I didn't actually read any issues of X-Man after Age of Apocalypse (stopped reading with # 5), however I did read # 14 as it was part of a crossover with Cable. I simply read online summaries to give me a small amount of context leading up to the crossover, and that's what I'll off here, in bullet point form:
Nate Grey (X-Man) emerges in the prime reality in the Swiss Alps and meets fricken Madelyn Pryor of all people!
The Sugarman (who also disturbingly crossed over) sent his sycophant Rex to capture Nate (and Madelyn).
Selene kills Rex and then lures Madelyn her side in exchange for power.
Blaquesmith becomes aware of Nate and notices that he has all of Cables power without any of his limitations (using his power to hold the techno organic virus in check).
Dark Beast meets up with Nate, gives him all the answers he needed, tries to recruit him, fails, tries to fight him, and fails.
Blaquesmith and Xavier try to find Nate and Nate battles the astral form of Xavier.
There is a dumb little story where X-Cutioner fights both Nate and Rogue.
Nate ends up on Muir Island and lets Moira help and scan him, learns he is dying.
Nate learns of his fate and doesn't like that Moira was reporting on him to Xavier, which leaves the lab blown up (not for the first time).
Sinister sends Threnody to Nate to control him, however she wanted to escape Sinister and ends up becoming his sidekick for a few issues.
Cable # 29 - 31, X-Man # 14: Cable vs. X-Man
Writer - Jeph Loeb
Pencils - Ian Churchill
This arc begins with Blaquesmith, Cable, Jean, Scott, Prof x, and Storm having a conversation about what to do with Nate Grey (X-Man). It's actually pretty funny because 4 of the 6 characters are telepaths and are having separate mind coversations while the larger spoken conversation is going on. Professor X seems to be getting a bit darker because he is surprisingly open to "stopping Nate at any cost." Cable decides to go off on his own and confront Nate on his own.
The main "threat" of this arc is actually Exodus. We get a little backstory for him where we see that he was alive hundreds of years in the past alongside Dane Whitman (Kit Harrington aka the Blank Knight, but not Batman). Cable meets Nate and tries to talk sense into him, but Nate is a pretty mouthy and immature so storms away, eventually getting into a big brawl with Exodus. The fight ends with Exodus being thrown into a crevasse in the earth and we're led to assume he's dead, but I don't believe that for a second.
Nate is also still traveling with Threnody and we get one more cut scene with Madelyn Pryor where she cuts herself but doesn't bleed. I'm a bit curious what is up with her and might keep up with X-Man until I find out. We'll see.
Blaquesmith feels stongly that Nate needs to be killed, but Cable wants to give him a chance. They do go to blows, and for a second Cable doubts himself because Nate has the ability to destroy the Astral Plane, but he ultimately gets through to him and they go their separate ways.
Quick editor's note, I'm going to add my connections, creators, and character points here since this blog covered so many total comics over 3 separate series.
First, you can see that the Loebverse is in fully effect. You can see that he has carved out his own corner of the X-Men universe and having fun playing in it. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. It's certainly smart to align the Cable and X-Force series, but I don't like how little of Cable and Domino we get in X-Force. Especially considering Sam has been removed and there really aren't any other characters I'm strongly invested in with the remaining team.
I'm not really down with this whole mid 90's Manga art, but I do really like Steve Skroce. The more of him we get, the better.
Cable references psychically freeing Sunspot from Reignfire’s possession. They aren't completely off the hook, but since I bitched about this in other blogs, I want to acknowledge that they ARE starting to pay this some lip service. I feel like an entire issue flashback would be super important to flesh out what the hell happened. I get that they axed Nicieza and are going in a new direction, but this story was too big to just sweep under the rug.