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160: Jeph Loeb Retrospective

What’s in the Run?

Cable # 21 - 44, X-Force # 44 - 66

Breaking Down the Arcs

X-Force # 44 - 48: Setting the New Status Quo

Loeb comes on board and shakes up the roster.

  • Cannonball is "promoted" to the X-Men, which also happens to set my opinion of his characterization back significantly, however that part is not Loeb's fault.

  • Caliban is brought onto the team and turns into Loeb's version of Drax, transforming Caliban's simpleness from past personifications and into being dumb, innocent, and not good for much more than comic relief.

  • Rictor is sent packing, which I'm guessing is because Loeb didn't want to deal with his "unique" relationship with Shatterstar.

  • Warpath gets a new look.

  • Sunspot comes back

In addition to the roster changing, Loeb brings X-Force back into the X Mansion. I'll talk about this more later, but he deviates from the formula that Leifeld started and Nicieza continued of the team being a paramilitary group working outside of the rules and as semi antagonists of the X-Men. It's no secret that Loeb desired to write the X-Men characters, so he used his time to bring the two team's closer, bridge the gap between Cable and Scott (plus Jean), promote Cannonball, and more.

There was a whole arc with Theresa undercover at an insane asylum called the Weisman Institute. While this was a semi interesting arc, the biggest noteworthy comment here is that this arc, combined with the Deadpool Limited Series, established a strong connection between Deadpool and Siryn, which I'm happy to see that it continues to be picked up.

The ongoing X-office "Sabretooth lives at the mansion" had a throughline here, with particular focus on Tabby (still called Boomer or Boom Boom at this point) believing he is worthy of love and has changed.

Cable # 21 - 22: Staying Close to X-Force

With Loeb writing both Cable and X-Force, he more closely ties the two teams together. Cable # 21 starts by showing X-Force helping to re-build the X-Mansion and from this point forward he will always be accounted for (either with the team or mentioned that he's on a solo mission).

Loeb leaned hard into the Askani stuff during his tenure, with Blaquesmith, Cable's fellow time traveler and sometimes mentor, introduced as another recurring character of this series. Alongside his lifetime partner Domino, of course.

Speaking of Domino, much like Wolverine had Jubilee by his side throughout much of Larry Hama's run, Domino is more of a star of the Cable series than she is of X-Force. The two of them are clearly in a relationship together at this point, being very open with each other both in regards to their individual motivations and sexuality.

Loeb also begins a weird fascination with Genosha, continuing to try (and fail) to have us care about Renee Majcomb, a Genoshan scientist.

X-Force # 49 - 51: Ties to Nate Grey

#49 - 50 is a run of the mill story with X-Force battling Holocaust and Sebastian Shaw. # 51 has less action, but is far more eventful as Boomer completes an entire arc with consequences, transforming into Meltdown. More on this later.

Cable 29 - 31: Ties to Nate Grey

Jeph Loeb was carving out his little corner of the X Universe as the writer on X-Force and Cable, however he was also the plotter on X-Man # 5 - 9. Cable # 39 - 31 looked to capitalize on this by having Cable and his alternate self, Nate Grey come to battle, but eventually leave as allies.

X-Force # 52 - 56: Ending more of Leifeld's Identity

There's a filler story with the Blob and SHIELD, but a pretty good little arc about the X-Ternals. # 53 - 54 shows us with Selene murdering all of the X-Ternals we had met to date, with the exception of Candra and Apocalypse. # 56 gives us more Siryn and Deadpool fun, while Warpath finds his own boo, Risque!

X-Force # 57 - 58 and Cable # 32 - 35: Servicing Onslaught

A big chunk of time is spent servicing the Onslaught Event. I'll just defer you to those individual blogs for more coverage:

X-Force # 59 - 61: Shatterstar's Blunder

I just got done bitching about this in 157: X-Force V1 #59-66 (Shatterstar Revealed) and I'll be bitching about it some more in the general section below. So I'll just say...Loeb went out on a really disaster with this Shatterstar "origin."

Cable # 36 - 39: Micronauts

Loeb ends his Cable run with a...Micronaut's story. It's ok.

Closing Thoughts on Loeb


As someone who has consistently said that X-Force is their favorite comic and Cable has remained at the top of my lists (1996 Tier List, Faves as of 1995), I'll give Jeph Loeb credit for not messing that up too much. He was a competent writer who had some impressive arcs and mostly stayed true to the characters. He took his little corner of the X Universe (X-Force, Cable, X-Man) and made it his own.

Methodically Undoing the Prior Regime

Let me start by quoting myself to set up this section:

"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."

One of the biggest themes that Loeb changed was moving X-Force back into the mansion. Leifeld really wanted to write X-Men comics, so by moving X-Force back into the mansion and tempering the badass paramilitary feel, Loeb was able to have the members of X-Force constantly bumping into the X-Men. And by "promoting" Cannonball to the X-Men, he effectively downgraded them to a Triple A team. However, this mentality did open up the opportunity lean heavier into X-Force as being New Mutants 2.0.

Another symbol of Loeb undoing the groundwork laid by Leifeld was the systematic killing off of the X-Ternals the retcon that Cannonball was no longer one of them. I see a lot of scuttlebutt on the internet that people hated the X-Ternals idea, but I dig it.

Never Forgive

There are a few blunders the Loeb commits that I will never be able to forgive him for. First is his treatment of the whole Reignfire thing. Nicieza had literally turned evil and he did some very bad stuff, but Loeb just hand waved it away and gave it a few random toss away lines. This is probably similar to why I became so livid about the Last Jedi. I don't care that a new writer wants to take things in a new direction, but you don't disrespect and ruin things that the last writer spent effort getting me invested in. Ugh!

Another blunder was basically just X-Man as a whole. I know he didn't invent X-Man, and he was only there for a short period of time, but that X-Man comic (and the character himself) is just terrible so it's another black eye on his record.

And finally, there is the Shatterstar story. I literally just got done writing a bunch about this in 157: X-Force V1 #59-66 (Shatterstar Revealed), but I'll just say that it was the most confusing and convoluted character story I've ever read, and that's saying something in the Marvel Universe.



Loeb really leaned into the Askani stuff, introducing Blaquesmith as a supporting character, having him go back to the future more than once, and making constant comments about him being the Chosen one.

There was a deliberate step made to tie the Cable solo series more closely to X-Force, as well as to the X-Men as a whole.


Since I love Domino, I hate to talk about her solely in the context of Cable, but I'm going to anyway. Loeb starts by showing that these two are officially lovers by casually hanging out half naked. However, as the arc went on it seems as though they grew apart which opened the door for Cable and Storm. That never officially happened, so it will be interesting to see if John Francis Moore continues this teasing or not.

I'll say this for Loeb. He successfully made Domino a compelling character. She wouldn't win an Academy Award for Leading actress, but she would come close as the top supporting actress in the X Universe.


  • Promoted to the X-Men

  • Breaks up with Boomer

  • retconned into not being an X-Ternal.


  • Spends time in an insane asylum (Weisman Institute)

  • Clearly puts Warpath in the friendzone

  • Develops a relationship with Deadpool

  • Firmly established as second in command...after Cable and Domino.


I didn't realize it until writing this retrospective, but Tabby actually gets a complete arc during this run. First Tabby puts her faith and heart with Sabretooth, confounding everyone around here. He eventually betrays her. She meets with her trash dad who reminds her of the terrible place she came from. She struggles with Sam and is then clearly set aside. All of this culminates into her transformation as she cuts her hair, changes her name to Meltdown, and charges forward with a more confident attitude and stronger power set.


  • There's a weird Askani thing where he starts speaking Askani after Cable went in his mind to remove the Reignfire persona (still never explained). This Askani stuff was removed from his brain, and then mysteriously popped back in (guessing they forgot it was removed.) Regardless, this went no where. No where at all.

  • I've already spoken about how the Reignfire story was completely dropped. Lame!

  • Sunspot is depicted consistently in his black solar form, never in his human form.


  • Caliban is a completely new X-Force character that Loeb brought in. He had been around since the Claremont days and spent a brief part of the team on X-Factor, but Loeb re-branded him as a comic relief idiot (exactly like Drax).


  • Worse continuity mistake I have ever seen.

  • Other than that, I forget if anything else ever happened to him.


  • Written out of the comic.


  • Warpath gets a new look, and increased power set, and a new girl (Risque).


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