X-Force # 0, 67- 69, Cable #45 - 47, X-Force and Cable Annual # 6 (1997)
Cable is technically away from the rest of the team, but he's not really separate so he's the leader here.
You'll notice that I don't have a lot of art here from this arc. That's because the art was terrible so I just stuck with whatever I used last time or from other comics.
Warpath is technically apart from the team, so I moved him into the "Allies" slot.
Bastion and the Prime Sentinels are the Villains here.
X-Force # 0: Warpath and Thunderbird
Writer - John Francis Moore
Pencils - Adam Pollina
This was a cute little issue showing John (Thunderbird) and James (Warpath) when they were young. I'm not sure if it serves any narrative purpose other than a fun callback, however Sledge is currently helping James find information about the death of his tribe, so perhaps some of the characters here will pop up again.
X-Force and Cable Annual 6/1997: Dani's Back, Bitches
Writer - John Francis Moore
Pencils - Robert Haynes
Ok, we're not getting into OZT yet, but with Dani being a big part of these stories, this seems like a good place to cover this annual.
Dani gets visited by a Valkyrie, Brunhilda, who says that the whole Valkyrie contingent is in trouble and they need her help. Dani asks her old teammate Bobby to help, but he brings along the entire X-Force, including Cable. Dani gets a little bitter about Cable and Tabby puts her in her place by saying:
"You may resent cable for breaking up the new mutants but he stood by us which is more than I can say for you."
Oooh, burn! Ok, so this is pretty cool. First, we have Dani back. You all know how much I like Dani. Nicieza was just starting to bring her back, but then Loeb obviously didn't care for her. Obviously JFM does like her, so here she comes. Ok, there is other significance besides me nerding out over her. It's pointed out that it clearly means something that Dani is part of the MLF, but she goes to X-Force when she needs help.
So the story is basically that Malekith is ruling Asgard while the Gods are away, has essentially enslaved the Valkyrie, and then X-Force fights him and his horde to free everyone. Hooray! Also, Malekith is the bad guy from the worse MCU movie, Thor: Dark World. When he popped up I looked around to no one, pointing, and being like:
Cable # 45: Cable's tipped off
Writer - John Francis Moore
Pencils - Adam Pollina
Most of this issue really takes place in a conversation between GW Bridge and Cable. Apparently they are frenemies now because Bridge tips off Cable about the OZT ambush of both the MLF (Dani) and the X-Men.
Cable begins his one man insurgency as he enters the mansion trying to locate the Xavier Protocols and Mutant underground files before Bastion can reach them. There is a nice moment where Cable realizes that Caliban is still in the mansion (since he's dealing with seizures) and Cable chooses to save him, knowing it could cost him the files.
X-Force # 67 - 69: MLF, Dani, and OZT
Writer - John Francis Moore
Pencils - Adam Pollina (67, 69), Pop Mahn (68)
The Mutant Liberation Front is raiding an oncology center, which they believe is truly a front for OZT. They are right and OZT shows up to corner them.
In case you're curious, this manifestation of the MLF is led by Wildside and includes Dani, Forearm, Tempo, Dragoness, and Locus. (I'll talk more about the leadership, MLF, and Tempo more below).
This is where we learn that Dani has been working secretly for SHIELD this whole time. So don't worry, we can now easily forgive everything she's done and immediately let her back into our lives.
Locus suggests that they teleport out (and then she does so on her own) but Wildside bitch slaps her and tells her no. He's still a jerk. Dani decides to let 3 reporters in, who happen to be Bobby, Domino, and Siryn. Shatty, Meltdown, and Rictor are in a van down by the river. The MLF gets pissed at Dani and assume she betrayed them. This is interesting because I thought she could have easily just been like "No, it's cool, I just thought we need help" but instead she's just like "Yea, I did. I'm a good guy now."
It turns out that 3 of the doctors are actually sleeper agent Prime Sentinels, so they reveal themselves and begin attacking.
Dom decides to trust her luck powers and blow up the the sentinels while Siryn and Sunspot save Dani and Forearm (upon Dani's urging).
We have seen that Forearm isn't a terrible guy has grown close to Dani, but once they land he runs off into the woods saying that he doesn't trust her.
The other MLFers (Tempo, Wildside, Dragoness) are captured by OZT, alongside Shatty, Meltown, and Rictor. This is where we break into 3 separate stories for the rest of this arc.
First, we see that Domino was captured by a human/Prime sentinel named Ekatarina Gryaznova. If we're supposed to know her from something in the past, I'm not getting the reference. If they are introducing her as a new major character, then I think it fell flat.
Regardless, we learn that she is holding Domino behind Bastion's back. Apparently these two have some sort of past together, and even though Ektarina lays out Domino's life to date...I'm still uncertain of their connection. Eventually Domino escapes and we find her lost, disoriented, and seemingly without luck as she's picked up by a trucker.
Meanwhile...Bobby, Dani, and Siryn ask GW for help (I'm getting the impression that JFM is going to use him more) to rescue the captured three. We see that Ekatarina had gone behind Bastion's back again, this time allowing 3 mysterious doctors to examine the captured XF team members. This is when the recovery operation goes into effect. Bobby takes on Ekatarina 1 on 1 until Dani knocks her unconscious.
The third story involves a check in with Warpath. He is working openly with Sledge. Apparently Sledge has promised to help him find Michael Whitecloud (a member of his tribe, thought dead) in exchange for going into an alternate dimension to find the Vanisher, which he does.
Now that I think about it, I wonder if this Michael Whitecloud was in X-Force # 0? Hmmm. I'm too lazy to double check. Lol, ok I got less lazy and checked. He WAS in X-Force # 0, so maybe that was the point of this story. Also, Sledge admits that Risque fell for James, so maybe their relationships still has a chance???
Cable # 46 - 47: Cable vs. Bastion
Writer - James Robinson
Pencils - Randy Green (46), Rob Haynes (47)
We open with Cable and Caliban (a fun pairing) fighting Bastion's men at the mansion. Eventually Cable gets Caliban to safety before going in again by himself. There's some really cool scenes here where Cable starts taking the men out one at a time, kind of like a horror film. Lol, at one point he literally rips through the ground.
Cable sends a "telenote" to Nate Grey, asking him to check in on Jean's family. Since I don't read X-Man, I'll never know if he does.
This arc ends with a lot of monologuing by Bastion (which I'm fine with). Bastion seems to know a lot about Cable, specifically him being from the future and being the son of Scott and fake Jean. Cable calls out Bastion, for the first time, about not being a human.
Alright, let's start with some MLF Nostalgia. The Mutant Liberation Front probably isn't that great, BUT I was very into X-Force when I was 8 and the MLF just personifies that era of early nineties, Rob Leifeld excess. For this reason, I always get excited when they show up. Add in a little Dani, and I'm through the moon.
The MLF is currently being led by Wildside. Ok...I mean, I guess none of the others are really leadership material, except Dani but she can't lead since she's undercover. But this mofo is known for being off his rocker. I guess we see that when he bitch slaps Locus.
I got SOOO excited when I saw that Tempo is on the team. Last we saw Tempo, she left the MLF on the same mission that saw Feral join them. It was one of my favorite issues of all time (#9 to be exact). I recall being so disappointed that she didn't stick around and join the team. But now she's back and...NOTHING FUCKING HAPPENS. Dude, I couldn't even find a good image of her to use because I couldn't find the one panel where they mention her name. I am completely ok with them bringing her back and ignoring that arc since I want more of this character, but to do that and then not even use her!? Big strike against JFM (John Francis Moore) in my opinion.
Also, where's Feral? She was literally a member of X-Force, so it seems like a missed opportunity to bring MLF back and not have her as part of the team.
Other than the Tempo blunder, I think JFM is off to a pretty good start. Adam Pollina does an ok job, however he is turning into a Madueria clone and you all know that I'm not loving this Manga crap.
But OMG, what is going on with this Pop Mahn penciler in Issue #68? The art is terrible. I thought I was reading a Garfield comic in the Sunday paper.
Look at this close up of Siryn's face. What am I looking at!? This is why Siryn didn't even get a new picture for my team graphic. This was the best shot I got of her. Is she possessed by a demon. Is that Samara? Does she have a scar on her face now. Is she about to eat a pineapple?
There is a nice moment where Cable realizes that Caliban is still in the mansion (since he's dealing with seizures) and Cable chooses to save him, knowing it could cost him the files. This is a great moment of growth for Cable. Cable from 1991 would definitely save the files first and come back for Caliban second.
Dani and Siryn
Dani is giving orders and Siryn starts getting pissed:
“If that blow to my head wasn’t causing me enough headache, I’m getting fed up with Miss Moonstar acting like we’re the bloody New Mutants. I am deputy leader, I should be giving orders.”
At one point, when Caliban is feeling unsure, he looks down at a picture of Kitty. I loved this. Well done, JFM, well done.
Warpath is getting his own little side story, but I still don't feel like I'm getting to know him any better.
I really enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Domino's backstory, but somehow I feel like we got all this info about her (which is scarce) without it being much of a big deal.
You could tell me that Shatterstar, Rictor, and Meltdown weren't in this comic at all and I would believe you.
Siryn and Bobby only barely register above the other three. I'm not going to hold this against JFM though because he had to service the larger event and gave a lot of focus on Dani, Domino, and the MLF (kind of).
Caliban still struggling with medical problems and I have no idea where this is going. Will he leave the team? Will JFM keep him dumb?