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173: X-Force # 70 - 86 (John Francis Moore and the Road Trip)

What’s Covered?

X-Force Vol 1 # 70 - 84

Roster Watch


John Francis Moore takes over and starts a long run, taking us through the "Road Trip" era. This is when the comic primarily features Dani, Siryn, Warpath, Sunspot, and Meltdown as they step away from the team and go on a road trip by themselves. Rictor and Shatterstar go together to Mexico and stay with Rictor's family. Cable goes off on his own and since I haven't read this era of his solo series, I'm not sure what he's up to. Domino will go between getting her own running B plot, disappearing altogether, and joining up with the 5 kiddos. We even have a sustained period of Sam re-joining the team.

I don't hate this run, but I certainly don't love it. I hear people speak fondly about the Road trip arc, but I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone. I miss Cable. Domino doesn't seem herself, even though I know that's kind of the point. I do love Dani and the Tabby/Roberto stuff is interesting. Siryn and Warpath continue to have a frustratingly close relationship.

The art is terrible. I used to like Adam Pollina's X-Force art but the only thing I can think is that he got lazy. The characters just look like he whipped them up in each panel in a hurry and then tried to pass it off as an intended style. Then other artists pop in and mimic him, which makes it even worse.


X-Force # 70: Breaking Up is Hard to do

Writer - John Francis Moore

Pencils - Adam Pollina

This is a true transition issue as JFM decides who he likes and who he doesn't. We figure out pretty quickly that JFM not interested in Caliban. Ozymandias shows up randomly to take Caliban back to Apocalypse, wipes Cable's memory of the event, and poof! Caliban is out of the comic. (I just looked this up on the Marvel database and yea...he'll never be back in this volume of X-Force). Also, lol, why is Caliban one of 5 mutants in the cover picture?

Dani has a pretty interesting quote as she helps to free those captured by Ekatarina Gryaznova:

“You know Teresa, sometimes when I see my friends treated like this, like animals, I think the mutant liberation front might not have been wrong. humans and mutants are never going to work things out.”

This makes you think that we might have a recurring theme of Dani questioning who the good guys are, or having a jaded outlook, or maybe even reflecting heavily on her time as a member of the MLF. But you would be wrong, because after this comment we don't see anything else like this from her.

Domino joins back up and is complaining about feeling different since she held by Ekatarina. Tabby is contemplating killing her too, but Siryn stops her. Domino will still be part of the comic as she split with Cable (not in his solo), but isn't quite with the main team for a majority of the upcoming Road Trip run.

For now, Warpath is still in that funky dimension that Sledge sent him on when he discovered Vanisher. Well, Vanisher left but now this army of cat things are attacking him until Vanisher gives him one last tip that they will all calm down if you tell them a story. Warpath will soon meet back up with the team and will be with the core group throughout the Road Trip run.

The team decides that they are burned out and don't want to go underground with Cable, and Cable surprisingly grants them their independence. I haven't caught up on the next Cable arc but I'm guessing he'll be doing some solo stuff where he couldn't make appearances in X-Force and won't be bringing Domino along for the ride.

Shatterstar decides to join Rictor back in Mexico (because they are totally just friends) and now those two are out of the comic. Looks like Shatty will only be in 2 more issues in this volume and Rictor only gets one more appearance. We're closer to the end of this volume than I realized.

X-Force # 72-73: Gansters & Whitecloud

Writer - John Francis Moore

Pencils - Adam Pollina (72), Andy Smith (73)

We find out in a quick flash that Jimmy broke out of the other dimension and is now back with the rest of the team. This leaves us with the core team on the road made up of Siryn and Jimmy (who will continue to go off on their own mini adventures), Roberto, Tabby, and Dani.

In another fun little comment, Siryn complains that Bobby ignores her but listens to Dani, but similar to Dani's quote from #70, we don't get much over of this (to my utter disappointment). I never felt like Siryn's leadership was earned, she just showed up one day and Cable was like "you're a veteran, I trust you." But in reality she was still just a teenager and other than being Banshee's estranged daughter and being featured in the Fallen Angels mini series (which Bobby was also a part of), we certainly haven't seen her getting any additional experience.

While on the road, their car breaks down and they (Dani, Bobby, Dani) get stuck in a small town (While Jimmy and Siryn go elsewhere, which I'll cover in a bit). While there, they come to the rescue of a rich kid. It turns out that this rich kid has gotten in with some gangsters and they agree to be his muscle. There are some silly hijinx that take place with the gangsters and this young boy, but it's not terribly compelling to me. Oh, and we see Tabby writing to Sam, inviting him out, and sharing that she misses him.

Meanwhile, Domino learns that she has a device in her brain that is making her slow and dim witted, which is interfering with her mutant luck power. At one point we see Domino, who was trying to lay low, get caught in the middle of a bank robbery. She's slow, but she's still able to make quick work of the goons, however it gets her caught on video. Dom decides that she needs money and to tighten up her skills, so she calls up Deadpool looking for a merc job.

Siryn and Jimmy had split off from the other three to go on a different adventure. If you recall, Jimmy had agreed to go into the other dimension and help Sledge as part of a deal if Sledge helped Jimmy find the last remaining member of his squad, Michael TwoYoungmen.

Hold up. I often try not to get too distracted by comic book logic, but I'm going to point something out here. So Sledge asked Jimmy to go into the other dimension since he was the only who could handle it due to his super powers (advanced strength, speed, etc.) But when Jimmy went in, all he had to do was tell some stories. Anyone could have done that. Sigh.

Anyway, so Siryn and Jimmy find Michael and he is a drunk. He has evidence of the true cause of Jimmy's families killing, but as he starts to talk about it...his fucking head explodes. And next I leave you with a direct quote from my notes: "They find Whitecloud’s locker but some dude from XF# 0 turns into a werewolf thing and beats their asses." I obviously didn't understand what was happening and still don't care enough to read it a second time to find out. What, I hope you didn't come to this blog looking for detailed summaries. Well anyway, the werewolf guy (Martinec) had a Zero unit and later admits that he worked for Stryfe, who is behind the massacre. Fucking Stryfe is the worst, amiright? They break free, but Jimmy is stabbed with something that gives him a heart attack. Siryn gets pissed and does a nuclear scream, breaking bones and destroying ears as Jimmy dies in her arms.

X-Force # 74: Stryfe

Writer - John Francis Moore

Pencils - Adam Pollina

So...Warpath is dead and in the afterlife. He ends up finding demons and...Stryfe. Apparently this is where he went when we got lost in the time stream after X-Cutioner's Song. Either that or he died. Not sure. Not sure if I care. I'm really not doing a great job in today's blog. Anywho, Bruunhilde of the Valkyrie tells Dani that Jimmy's soul was diverted to a demonic realm. Dani, Tabby, and Bobby somehow get to the dimension and help Jimmy break out. He's saved!

Two other odd things. First, Tabby and Bobby are kind of hitting on each other. Also, those gangsters the trio was dealing with our burned alive by someone identified as Bobby, but he says he's not Bobby. Hmm, I wonder what that's about...

Comic # 75-77: Burning Man and Filler

Writer - John Francis Moore

Pencils - Adam Pollina (75, 77), Mike S Miller (76)

Alrighty, so let's start with the double sized Issue #75 where the Road trip team heads to Exploding Colossal man, AKA Burning man. While there, they run into Shan who has died her hair pink and shaved her head.

Shan is actually X'ian Coy Mahn, one of the original members of the new Mutants, known as Karma. She has the psychic ability to take over other people and control them. She flamed out quickly in the New Mutants and while she made a few appearances over the years (Wolverine, Spider-Man, New Mutants, X-Force), she really has been seen too much since going off to find her two siblings that went missing around the same time Sara Grey went missing (and was left unresolved for years).

Tabby and Roberto are continuing to be VERY close. Dani is asked by Shan if she's member of X-Force now and she says that she's not sure, but to me she is because I love Dani and she's here! JFM continues to show how great of a leader Siryn is by basically making her a stick in the mud and scolding the team constantly. Bobby and Tabby eventually make out. It's time for me to sing the song that my group of friends would sing when two of our group would start making out at a bar: "Making out, making out! making out...making out." It sounds a lot cooler when you can hear me. Actually, it probably sounded cooler when I was dumb and in college. Where was I? Oh yea, so they are totally macking on each other when none other than Sam Guthrie shows off, recently pissed off at Storm and shows up responding to Tabby's letter. Oh, and he's in overalls because no one can resist making him lose all credibility the past few years. He doesn't see them making out (in this issue), but they are acting totally weird towards him and feel terribly guilty.

The main "story" here, and to be honest, they really didn't need a story with a villain, but Selene shows up and attacks. She's using a rune stone to capture the strength of the concert goers, but Dani stops her and accidentally animated the burning man.

Oh, and then we see Cable in the crowd. Apparently he's been following them around to make sure they are ok, but after seeing them here he decides he can leave them on their own. I don't think they realized he turned on their "Find My Iphone" option when they were in the bathroom.

Here's some quick bullets on # 76

  • Kids bowling with Sam

    • Bobby and Tabby wondering if they should tell Sam

    • Sam catches them making out and flies off angry

      • He was thinking about re-joining the XF team, too.

  • Domino in mortal Kombat

    • Took on a mission from Deadpool

    • Needs to fight Shatterstar

    • Arcade has Rictor hostage

    • D wins

    • Arcade working for Mojo

And now for #77:

  • Filler one shot about a town with mutant kids who keep dying

  • A young female telepath is helped by Tabby.

X-Force # 78-80: Reignfire

Writer - John Francis Moore

Pencils - Adam Pollina

  • Reignfire is trying to take over Dacosta enterprises

  • Tabby has a dream of a talk show and tearing two friends apart

    • Breaks up with Bobby later

  • Team staying with Skids (Sally)

    • She’s trying to avoid being a mutant. In college.

  • Tabby and Bobby banging?

    • Sleeping on the floor next to each other

    • Bobby walks in on Tabby in the shower (it was Siryn).

  • Locus and Reignfire kidnap team plus Skids minus Jimmy

    • He was behind frozen assets

  • Dani spending time with her parents

  • Reignfire reveals all

    • He was connected to Bobby thru a telepathic link.

    • He controlled his every move.

    • When Cable freed him, he only severed the link.

    • RF was a deformed human, but one of Gideon's scientists injected Bobbys DNA into him to save him.

  • Skids and Locus get teleported to a tundra

    • Or just Locus?

  • Reignfire merges back with Bobby’s body

  • Reignfire Vs XF

  • They exercise RF with the gun again.

  • Heroes for hire are called and then sent home.

  • Bobby buys a warehouse in San Fran, but they are heading to Hawaii

X-Force # 81: Hawaii and Tiki Gods

Writer - John Francis Moore

Pencils - Adam Pollina

A god pretends to be Risqué and gets them to stop Tiki Gods from destroying the planet

X-Force # 82 - 86: Cannonball and Jesse Aronson

Writer - John Francis Moore

Pencils - Jim Cheung

82 Jesse Aronson helps Domino

  • Tabby starting to get bothered by Bobby flaunting his money

  • Jesse Aronson (from AoA) is waiting for them in the complex

    • He got Domino captured while they looked for Ektarina Gryaznova (Griffon) and Jesse’s brother.

    • Jesse wants XF to help him save Domino

  • Griffon (Ektarina Gryaznova) was deformed by Bastion after he learned she was a double agent

  • XF plus Jesse rescue Domino

  • Jesse short circuits Domino’s implant

  • Team plus D plus Jesse agree to investigate…

83 Cannonball

  • Sam back in KY

    • Mom is sick

    • He’s not sure he belongs with the XM

    • Romantic with Marrow?!?

    • Finds two mutants in a mine

  • Jesse was rescued by MUSE

    • Mutant underground support engine

  • Sword is after Arcadia

  • Arcadia teleports the 5 of XF to KY

  • Sword kicks XF’s ass

  • Turns out to be a deviant war.

  • 85

    • JFM/Aangel Unzueta

    • Skids wakes up in Latveria

      • Skids and Locus imprisoned by immortal Pandemonia

      • Pandemonia kidnaps and brainwashes XF (Tabby, James, Theresa, Robert)

    • Sam and Dani

      • “if he was that hot for Tabitha he would never have left in the first place”

      • ‘I don’t know, Kentucky. Seems to me you’ve got your priorities mixed up. If my mother were sick like yours…I’d be helping her instead of playing iron man on the beach’ Jesse replies. Sam shoves Aaronson up against the car, ‘Are you intentionally trying to tick me off?’ Sam asks. ‘Listen, pal. You barely know me, so don’t tell me how to deal with my family’ Sam warns Jesse, who claims that he didn’t mean anything by it. ‘It’s not worth it. Thanks for ruining my day’ Sam mutters as he walks away from Jesse.

      • Sam, Dani, and Jesse teleported to Pandemonia

      • Dani can’t be controlled cuz of being a former Valkyrie

    • Pandemonia is the succubus daughter of a lesser Chaos Lord who terrorized central Europe in the middle ages, and that she feasted on the life forces of her servants and transformed villages into her own version of Hell. Jennifer reveals that Pandemonia’s reign of terror finally ended when a gypsy sorcerer imprisoned her on Mount Sorcista in Latveria. ‘That sounds like her, but how’d she get off the mountain?’ Jesse asks, to which Dani explains that Locus’s portals must have provided the means for her to leave her mountain prison.

    • Sorceress ally Jennifer Kale breaks the spell, freeing everyone. Dani banishes her somehow.

  • 86

    • JFM/ Jim Cheung

      • All eight members of X-Force (Domino, Bobby, Jimmy, Siryn, Tabby, Dani, Jesse, Sam) have arrived in Almost Reno, and find it deserted. They are suddenly attacked by a young man in flames, accusing them of doing this to him.

      • Jimmy fights flaming dude and accidentally kills him.

      • After Domino assures Jimmy that it is not his fault, she explains to X-Force more of what she has learned about the mysterious Aguilar Institute.

      • They split into two teams

        • Cannonball, Sunspot, Domino and Jesse find a man hiding in a store freezer, suggesting that the missing townspeople did not leave voluntarily,

        • Siryn, Jimmy, Moonstar and Meltdown eventually find Mary, the girl they met last time, in a diner, with one other mutant.

          • After Siryn makes initial contact, Meltdown and Mary are reunited, and Mary reveals that the SHIELD agents returned and took everyone away, but her mother told them to hide until she returned, and that she was not to use her powers, as that is how the bad guys would find her.

      • Cannonball and the others soon come across a high-tech console hidden away, and realize that the children were being watched.

      • The SHIELD agents return, demanding Mary be returned to them, but Dani challenges them, as she suspects they are not SHIELD agents at all. Whoever they are, they open fire, but are soon taken down. Mary uses her powers on one of them and discovers the name “Damocles Foundation” at the top of his thoughts. The name is familiar to some of X-Force. As if on cue, Odysseus Indigo arrives. He reveals that he is the brother of Ulysses Dragonblood. He explains that after the nuclear testing in this town, the Damocles Foundation used their advanced technology to undo the reproductive damage, which resulted in the children being a hybrid of mutant and Deviant, but that the genetic alteration is unstable, which is why the entire population has been quarantined. X-Force inform Odysseus that they are taking Mary into protective care, but he warns them that he will be back for her.

My Connections

I'm doing some deep thinking about my X-Force coverage. You all know I've abandoned Wolverine and X-Factor recently. Excalibur finished it's run so that takes care of any decision I would need to make there, however I would probably keep going. I just made the decision to give up Generation X because I'm just not loving it and it's not on Marvel Unlimited anymore (Which means I would have to find and buy individual issues). With all of these series, I do plan on going back one day to finish my coverage, but since this "era" is universally derided and I'm mostly just racing to 2001 with New X-Men, I'm mostly interested in moving fast.

BUT. X-Force. If you've been following my blog, then you know that I fricken love X-Force. Or, Loved X-Force. I really didn't like this run. As you can tell, I put much less energy into this blog because I just didn't find the content terribly interested and didn't feel like putting as much energy into it's coverage. I know I'm somewhat close to X-Force turning into X-Statix (whatever that's about), so I'll probably keep going, but I'm disappointed in myself that I'm considering walking away. For now, that's not the plan.

I'm really happy they are resolving the Warpath family genocide line. I'm the type of guy who will be watching an action movie as a man is on his way to his date, before being interrupted and taken on a wild adventure..but I can't stop thinking about his date. Did he get to call the girl? Is she still waiting for him? This is how I feel about Warpath. He was a pretty respectable man and Cable told him that if he joined X-Force, he would help him figure out what happened to his family. Well, I never forgot about that. It took 70 odd issues for this to be resolved and Cable actually had nothing to do with it. Still, I'm glad he got his closure.

There is a quote where Roberto goes pretty meta:

“Just call us, the X New Mutants Force.”

I love that JFM is just coming right out and addressing this because YES, that's what is happening. Cable is gone, Dani is back, Shan is making guest appearances, Sam might be sticking around. Yes, that's exactly what is happening and I'm here for it.

Character Beats

Siryn - As mentioned above, she is asserting herself as the team leader by being the perpetual stick in the mud. I mean, it works for Cyclops (even though I'm still waiting to like him), but it just makes me like the character less. She's best when flirting with Deadpool. (Before you even start to think that I have a problem with strong female characters, please take 2 minutes to look at all of my favorite character posts over the years and you'll see that's not the case.)

Warpath - Also mentioned before, he's finally figured out what happened to his tribe. I know there are some serious Xfans out there who adore Warpath...I'm still waiting. Also, I can't decide how I feel about his relationship with Siryn. It was clear they weren't going to get together, but then it looked like she was getting feelings for him (or at least jealousy), but now they are just best friends again. I'm conflicted. Let's see where this goes.

Sunspot- I've never really been a Roberto fan. I mean, he's ok. It was pretty cool to see him without money, acting more humble, and slowly falling for Tabby. I like how realistic it seemed that they both felt guilty about Sam. The Reignfire stuff was really dumb, but I had been bitching a bunch about how that was never resolved. It's so obvious that this isn't what was originally intended so it makes this less enjoyable to me.

Meltdown - This is the most I've liked Tabby throughout this run. I do think she is a strong female and can survive without a boyfriend, but this drama with Sam and Roberto is pretty fun so keep it coming.

Moonstar - Dani is back. That's awesome. I love Dani. You know what though, I can't really think of anything cool that happened with her during these stories. I mean, I'm glad she's back but I don't understand why if they aren't going to use her. Do better, JFM!

Rictor and Shatterstar - Don't miss them, but it is weird not having Shatty be a part of

Domino - I'm glad she is staying fairly prominent. It would have been easy for her to slip into the shadows with the focus on the 5 teenagers and Cable going off on his own. Her side stories haven't been terribly interesting, but I'm glad to be reading them since I like her so much.

Cannonball - I'm fine with him coming back to X-Force, if that's where this is going. It would be interesting to see if he reverts back to his leader form, and then to see how that clashes with Siryn...and Dani...and Domino.

My Rating - 6/10


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