X-Force V1 # 59 - 66, Domino # 1 - 3, New Mutants: Truth or Death # 1 - 3, X-Force and Cable '96
X-Force V1 # 59 - 61: Shatterstar and Mojoverse
Writer - Jeph Loeb
Pencils - Anthony Castrillo (59 - 60), Kevin Lau (61)
This is it! The answer we've all been waiting for. The answer to the question no one was asking. Who is Shatterstar!? You know, I thought it was pretty cool that he is the future son of Longshot and Dazzler. Why isn't that enough? This is the most convoluted backstory I have come across to date and the Marvel editing staff agree, but I digress.
I feel like this is the tenth time I've written this, but this 3 part story takes place in the Post Onslaught era. There is a ridiculous start to this as Cable has Shatterstar chained up and is saying that since he couldn't trust Xavier due to not knowing who he truly was, then he can't trust Shatterstar since they aren't sure if he's Benjamin Russel or the warrior from the Mojoverse. That's pretty dumb, and I guess Loeb knew that because the rest of the team calls him out pretty quick on this being dumb and push him to release him and instead help him. Duh.
Rictor comes back to take care of his "friend" Shatterstar in his time of need. With this being Jeph Loeb's swan song, I wonder if Loeb didn't like Rictor but the editorial is asking to bring him back in for the future creatives to play with him.
Siryn is questioning Jimmy, but he's fuming about not being able to go after Risque. Siryn politely explains that we are currently in Shatterstar's arc and he has to wait a few issues until him and Risque can be put back into the A plot. We'll later check in with Risque and see that Mimic and Blob attack her, apparently trying to bring her back to their mysterious boss.
Cable asks Charlotte Jones for the police report on Benjamin Russell.
Gog and Magog show up and kidnap Shatterstar. Cable follows them into their portal back to the Mojoverse. Longshot shows up to help the rest of the team.
Longshot, plus the remaining X-Force team members go to Dr. Strange for help getting back to the Mojoverse.
Since this is the Mojoverse, all of the greatest hits need to show up. We see a random scene with Dazzler leading a militia, reminding us that she's there. I'm going to pause for a second. Dazzler has no impact on this story, even though she may be Shatterstar's mother. It really is like someone stopped and thought "who do we need to include in the Mojoverse? Oh yea, Dazzler!" This is very similar to whenever there is a story in Japan and Sunfire, Yukio, and the Silver Samurai all need to show up as if the country is super small and can't survive without them. Spiral also shows up for a single fight scene with Cable and then will disappear shortly after.
The story starts picking up as Spiral, Rictor, Siryn, and Longshot are digitized and sent into a TV battle by Mojo.
Crazy TV battles take place and Shatty is back in his original armor.
This is when Shatterstar is murdered by Mojo and things started becoming very confusing.
Apparently there is a comatose mutant by the name of Benjamin Russell at the Weiman Institute. Somehow, the spirit of Shatterstar was put into Russell reincarnating him. So I guess this means that Shatterstar was both Russell and Shatterstar all along. I guess this also means it's one of those closed loop time travel things because Shatterstar is from the future, but he's been in the body of Russel all along...
I was reading the editor's notes in the "X-Clamations" section at the end of the comics and it's hilarious how the editorial staff is clearly just as baffled and annoyed as we are. For a few issues you can tell they are trying to be nice about it, but they must have gotten a lot of questions from fans and ultimately decided to just throw Loeb under the bus:
“We have to admit that the final explanation for Shatterstar’s origin ended up being a wee bit complicated and pretty confusing, even for us. Although we may tell you more somewhere down the road, we will make sure that whatever we add will only clarify what has become somewhat of a temporarily challenged origin story.”
Lol @ "temporarily challenged." You can just tell that the editors are like "WTF Loeb, you drop this dumb ass origin story on us and then just leave the comic!? What the hell does this even mean!? Why was this necessary?"
X-Force V1 # 62: Shinobi Shaw
Writer - John Dokes
Pencils - Adam Pollina
Shinobi Shaw hires two one hit wonder mutants (Clearcut and Mindmeld) to capture Karma's (Xian Coy Mahn) siblings (Nga and Leong) with the intention of trying to remove their X-gene.
Domino, Caliban, Shatterstar, and Meltdown are on a rescue mission when Mindmeld does the good old 80's body swap to Dom/Cal and Shatt/Tab. Spiral shows up randomly and takes the twins. When all hope looks lost, Clearcut is revealed to both not be a mutant and to be traitor, working for Cable. X-Force breaks out and destroys the machine Shinobi was using.
X-Force V1 # 63-64: Doom Castle
Writer - John Francis Moore
Pencils - Anthony Castrillo
This two part series starts with Tabby waking up in an abandoned town with a Latverian noble. It turns out that she was captured while breaking into Castle Doom alongside Cable, Siryn, Shatty, and Rictor. With Doom gone (out of the Marvel Universe for Heroes Reborn), Cable is determined to destroy every existing time machine. Of course, things go crazy and they are sent to 1942 where they have a run in with Victor Von Strucker. Eventually the heroes win out, return to the proper time, and all is well.
X-Force V1 # 65-66: Risque
Writer - John Francis Moore
Pencils - Adam Pollina
Risque shows back up by sneaking up on Jimmy while swimming in the water. She and James go clubbing and he starts to catch on to her having a mysterious past with mysterious motives. Blob and Mimic show up at the club looking for James and we learn that Risque was sent to bring him in for a job, but she developed feelings for him and didn't follow through. We learn that the big baddie behind all of this is some guy named Sledge, and if that is supposed to have some significance to me, it is completely lost on me.
Risque runs away from both X-Force and Blob/Mimic in a Disney Land knock off theme park. In the end, Warpath decides to help Sledge without coercion as he spurns Risque.
X-Force and Cable Annual 1996: Shi'ar Cyborg
Writer - John Francis Moore
Pencils - Luke Ross
In this issue, a Kree Cyborg (Pulse) running from the Shi'ar lands on Earth and intermixes with the Danger Room. He takes on the forms of Ultron, Deathlok, and eventually Warlock as he battles with the team in the danger room. The Shi'ar show up asking for X-Force to hand over Pulse, however by this point they realized he wasn't a thread and Siryn and Warpath decide to help Pulse get away instead of turning him over. The Shi'ar are angry and I get the feeling this is setting something up in the future...
Domino # 1 - 3
Writer - Ben Raab
Pencils - David Perrin
Oh, Domino. How I love thee. I don't even know if this is a good comic, I just really love this character so I had a blast.
Dom is hanging out in Caravel looking fine in a bikini when she is attacked by the cybernetic midget named Pico. She defeats him, but learns that her ex (Milo Thurman) has been kidnapped. Some random's show up. Puck shows up to say hello. Lady Deathstrike shows up for a fight.
We learn that good old Milo can basically do psycho history, which means that through a combination of studying the past and using math...he can project the future. We learn that Donald Pierce was behind the kidnapping as he plans to use this power to conquer the world or something. In addition to Lady Deathstrike, Skullbuster from the Reavers is on hand as well to be pushed into a vat of solid acid.
About this part. I'm rarely worried about the fate of characters. You know that most will survive. But in this scene, with Domino waking up and being truly frightened as she's lowered into a vat of acid, I actually felt some emotion. I'm happy to feel that emotion.
New Mutants: Truth or Death # 1 - 3
Writer - Ben Raab
Pencils - Bernard Chang
This is a really fun issue as Magik takes the original New Mutants (Sam, Rahne, Doug, Warlock, Bobby, Dani, Xian) into the future where they run into their present day counterparts (Sam, Rahne, Xian, Douglock, Bobby, Dani). Some fun antics ensue:
They make a big deal about how young Sam is impressed that he eventually graduates to the X-Men. This is actually a really cool scene, which is helpful because I have hated how they took an awesome character and Lobdell turned him into a buffoon.
Magik learns that she is dead and is trying to prevent it.
Rahne sees that her older self is more confident and even wears perfume.
Dani sees that her older self is pretty reliant on psychic arrows.
Doug finds out he's dead.
We eventually learn that Magik was tricked into coming to the future by her brother Mikhail. That bastard tricks his sister into letting him transfer the Legacy Virus to her, in a twisted belief that she will be able to cure it. She does not...
I'm having a lot of fun with the editor's notes in the X-Clamations sections this time around. Someone had asked a question about Cable claiming that Cannonball isn't an external anymore and this is what they had to say:
“Cannonball in the 24th Century? Well, one thing’s for certain, you don’t have to be immortal to make it there.”
Oh man, they are totally walking this back right now. Pretty clever point too. I am one of two fans out there who liked the Externals plot line so this is a little disappointing to me, but whatever.
Next, I just need to gush for a minute about how much I love Domino AND her miniseries! If you've been following me since the beginning, you know that I fell in love with Kitty Pryde and am clearly drawn to strong female characters. Kitty was strong in the young and proud way and Domino is strong in the sexy, veteran, and completely badass way. I heard she dates Wolverine at some point and I can't wait to read that. This miniseries might not even be good, but I loved seeing her spread her wings.
Oh, oh! The X-Clamations also proclaimed that Dani Moonstar returning is in ‘97! Hell yea. Another strong female character who I love. Pumped to see her come back and hang with the old team.
You probably know by now that I rarely comment on the art. I'm here more for stories. However, I do comment when the art takes me out of the experience. Kevin Lau comes on art with #61 and I see this rendition of Domino and I'm like WTF!
I mean, I play a lot of Japanese RPG games and I'm down with anime style, but not on my fucking Domino. That's not Domino. I loved seeing many fans write in and complain like this guy:
“Whereas the male characters looked solid and consistent with their renditions from previous issues, the children and female characters went completely manga. For hard-edged characters like Domini, this break in style ruined the mood of the story.”
I couldn't agree more. And here is how the editorial staff responded:
“As for the new look for the girls - well, that was the result of the manga stylings of our guest penciller, Kevin Lau. We love Kevin’s stuff, but we realize the dramatic stylistic change may have been too jarring for many of the fans, and to go so far manga so quickly was just too much for everyone.”
I really appreciate them being honest about this. I want to read these editor notes more often. I like how they own up to their mistakes.
#61 is the last issue with Jeph Loeb. I guess he really wanted to lay out this amazing Shatterstar reveal before he left. I said a few things in my last Cable blog and Loeb, so I'll let you go there if you want to see what else I had to say.
This is the start of John Francis Moore's X-Force run, hot off a semi successful X-Men 2099 run. It's really crazy how little I know of the X Universe after the early 90's. I saw some scuttle about how JFM's run is long and pretty good, so I'm hoping that's the case.
Siryn and Warpath
While Warpath and Risque get a lot of attention, I'm actually going to focus on Siryn and Warpath. Nicieza clearly had Siryn put Warpath in the friendzone and Loeb hadn't done anything to correct that. However, is John Francis Moore (JFM) going to bring back this relationship!? Here's a quote from the X-Clamations to see what the editors are hinting at:
“Siryn and Warpath’s relationship? Well, it was just beginning to blossom when it got really complicated by Risque.”
When did their relationship start to blossom? She had essentially blown him off. Later, Siryn walks in on them making out and thinks to herself:
“ Stupid Theresa, stupid, you’re the one who told James you just wanted to be friends so you’ve got no right to be jealous even if you are.”
We'll keep our eye on this.
MeltDown and Cannonball
Here's another fun update from the X-Clamations:
“Sam appears to be out of Tabitha’s life for the foreseeable future. Although they may both deal with this issue on their own, they’re not likely to rekindle their relationship together”
This seemed pretty obvious, but I appreciate having it made official that not only are these two not together, but they clearly have no plans to bring them back together (unlike Siryn and Warpath).
Rictor and Shatterstar
Rictor re-joins the team and it looks like Loeb isn't even attempting to hide that they are gay. They are immediately interlocking fingers and where before there was deniability, this seems downright overt.
Cable and Shatterstar
There's some fun little internal dialogue where Cable is commenting on how similar his past is to Shatty's. They are both from the future and have parents (I think) from our present. Both of them are "kind of" from the future. Both are warriors. That's a cool little nod.
Domino is still my honey bun. Getting her solo book, starting to get an identity outside of being Cable's girlfriend. In fact this makes me realize that I'm bummed about them not being together, but if it gives her more agency...I'm down with that.
Sunspot is still a secondary character. He is speaking in Askani again and I could have swore that this was removed from his head a while back.
Caliban is still a secondary character there for comic relief. He's Drax lite.