NM V1 # 87 - 94 (Jan '90 -
The first introduction of Cable, Stryfe, and the Mutant Liberation Front.
NM # 87: First introduction of Cable
Writer - Louise Simonson
Pencils - Rob Leifeld
And there they are. They Mutant Liberation Front. Front and center in my New Mutants comics. A comic that has been particularly bland for quite some time. This panel is clearly featuring Wildside. He's a Wolverine/Sabretooth/Wild Child type character with perpetually squinty eyes. Every team needs a psychopath. There is also Forearm. Lol, what a pun! Reaver looks badass even though I can't recall what he does. Strobe is alright looking. Thumbelina seems really out of place. I actually love that an overweight female is added to a group of villains, but it just seems as though she doesn't belong and the writing doesn't help that in any way.
The MLF are basically like mutant terrorists. Under Stryfe's leadership, they claim to be attacking various bases and people to further the mutant agenda, however it's hinted at that Stryfe may be hiding behind that argument in an attempt to obtain power.
And there's the man with the plan. The dude who is always carrying a large gun. The guy who gets a new outfit in practically every one of these issues, Cable. I love that we first see him tracking down the MLF because I always correlate the two.
Even though I indicated Dani left the team in my graphic from the Asgard blog, Dani officially announces in this issue that she's staying in Asgard, effectively being written out from the comic. While I have VERY warm feelings about this transition into X-Force, I think they made a big mistake leaving Dani out. She was a great character. I can understand their reluctance to bring Warlock and Wolfsbane over (happens next blog), but this just seems like a bad choice. I think I read somewhere that Dani was too much of a rebel and wouldn't have fallen in line with Cable like everyone else did, but that's not a strong enough reason. I looked up her character in the Marvel Wiki and it looks like she starts showing up in X-Force around #33. I checked my collection and it doesn't look like I made it that far. I stopped around # 30. This is 3 years of reading, but the comic boom started to slow down, Liefeld and his art had left, and I was getting older and a bit too cool for comics.
There are a bunch of shenanigans that ensure, but essentially the New Mutants get on a Warlock ship, leave Asgard, and make it home!
Another fascinating topic: Rusty and Skids. We check in with them here recuperating in a hospital, and monitored by Freedom Force, after their run in with the Vulture and Nitro at the tale end of the Asgard plot.
The MLF show up to free Rusty and Skids. Rusty is essentially unconscious so the primary decisions are made by Skids, who had been making some hardline comments against mutants lately. Keep in mind that she used to be a Morlock. Skids can tell that they are terrorists, but she also hates Freedom Force and is currently being held/terrorized by them. She decides to grudgingly go after them. It's not like X-Factor, or really the New Mutants have prioritized going after them.
I find these two fascinating because they actually appear in a lot of artistry done by Leifeld advertising the team, leading me to believe that he thought they would be staying part of the team. As an uninformed reader, I am SHOCKED that these two might be going bad as that seems like a big character pivot for them. As someone who read X-Force, I don't recall these two popping up as members of the MLF, however I didn't know who they were so I might have just not paid much attention to it.
After failing to stop the MLF in the opening panels, Cable is recuperating in a Freedom Force holding cell. We are first introduced to him as a grizzled veteran with a long track record that everyone seems to know. This leads me to believe that they didn't quite know his future story involving time travel and important family connections.
NM # 88: Cable vs. Freedom Force
Writer - Louise Simonson
Pencils - Rob Leifeld
Whether it's true or not, Freedom Force really has it out for Rusty (and Skids!) They have been trying to shit on him consistently since X-Factor # 1 (as covered in 39: X-Factor 1 - 3).
The central conflict of this story shows weird/evil Moira demanding that Rahne come to her at Muir Island. This sets up the major conflict in this story, with Rahne angsting about leaving her friends and them going off to buy her a goodbye present.
Cable tricks some guards using a fuse from his bionic arms, jumps out a window, finds a gun, and doesn't hesitate to fire away at Blog. He's being introduced as a real badass.
Rahne and Rictor seem to be getting closer and Boom-Boom is getting jealous. I really don't know how to feel about this. They New Mutants are constantly getting crushes on one another, but none of them ever dated each other (except Rusty and Skids, but that started in X-Factor), which I think was a missed opportunity. Maybe they didn't want to weigh the series down with a major couple like Scott and Jean, but again I think that was a mistake. And Tabitha...she's always crushing on everyone so I pay NO attention to that.
With all that being said, Rictor and Rahne truly will start dating shortly, but even that is short lived as Rahne leaves the team shortly after.
The team FINALLY returns from Asgard and are excited to see the X-Factor ship is back. If you recall, they saw it heading into space right before they went to Asgard. Thank God the Asgard and Judgment War storylines are over now.
Some of the team members are sympathizing with the MLF, especially because they came in conflict with Freedom Force, but Iceman is there to remind them that they are terrorists.
Cable is still kicking Freedom Force's ass, this time using Pyro's fire to burn the Blob.
NM # 89: Cable Officially Takes on the New Mutants
Writer - Louise Simonson
Pencils - Rob Leifeld
As the New Mutants are out trying to find a present for Rahne, they come across Cable being attacked by Freedom Force. Boomer notes that they promised not to attack FF, but they attacked someone else first so it's fair game.
Sam, in his short period as the sole leader, notes that this is a technicality but comes to Cable's aid regardless.
The team quickly realize that Cable is wise, a badass fighter, and someone who respects them.
Cable follows the team back to Ship and is able to convince Moira that Wolfsbane can stay. Of course, Moira knows Cable and agrees to go along with this. This goes a long way towards Cable earning the kid's respect.
Rictor starts bitching about Cable. There is some history between them and he doesn't like them, although I still don't know what is through my current reading.
NM # 90 - 91: Sabretooth and Caliban
Writer - Louise Simonson
Pencils - Rob Leifeld
Oooooooh, do you recognize that cover art!? That's been the background for my New Mutants Roster Watch for the last 90 issues. We finally got here! Awesome.
Sabretooth...still an asshole. He's still in the sewers killing Morlocks for fun.
Cable leads the team to the X-Mansion where they will use the bottom levels (danger room, etc.) as their base for the foreseeable future.
Cable explains that they are to continue their studies. As a former history teacher, I love his line about "You'd best get to know the world, Rahne, in all it's complexity, if you are to have any hope of saving it."
Rictor gets ticked off about needing to study and his hidden animosity towards Cable. I love Cable's approach though. He's taking off the kid gloves and is like "everyone gear up, we're going after him." You just know Magneto would have been like "Go watch cartoons. I'm going to take care of this by looking things up in the Hellfire Club database."
Caliban, who had broken from Apocalypse in the pages of X-Factor, finds Sabretooth in the tunnels and an epic fight breaks out.
Say what you want about Rob Leifeld, but the dude can draw fight scenes! I usually yadda yadda through fight scenes just looking for dialogue. But I keep finding myself stopping and admiring the fights.
Cable and the team run into Masque so he can remind them that he's in charge of the sewers. This is important because Masque keeps popping up in the various X series. Also, Cable shows patience and uses his words to get past Masque without a fight, which is something both myself and the kids are impressed by.
Sabretooth had slashed Rictor open, so Cable once again uses diplomacy and tells Caliban he doesn't wish to fight, he just wants to take Rictor and leave. This is reminding me that I forgot to include the panel of Rahne not listening and trying to attack Sabretooth anyway. She gets slapped down easily.
A few points with Rahne. First of all, you can see that her feelings for Rictor are actually pretty deep with this sending her off the deep end. Second, Leifeld is really trying to make her seem a little crazy. He clearly wants her to be more ferocious. I haven't found any written evidence of this, but I would put money on the fact that she gets written out and replaced by Feral so that he could have his ferocious werewolf without needing to explain why Rahne stopped being such a sweety.
Rictor gets embarassed and is goaded by Sabretooth, so she ends up shaking the tunnels and having it collapose on both of them. Also, it had looked like his guts were ripped out, but starting here (and moving forward) there isn't another mention of his injury.
Sam, showing his leadership chops, suggests that they leave again without a fight. Cable agrees. We already know Rahne disagreed, but Bobby freaks out a bit. However, he backs down, once again showing the team looking up to him.
Caliban ends up winning the fight, apparently breaking Sabretooth's back. We know that injury won't last with his healing factor.
I love this. Cable is just like...hang on, I want to watch this.
Rictor catches Cable training hard in the Danger Room. While he still has whatever grudge, he decides that Cable has earned his respect. This issue has been all about respect, and now Cable has won over the entire team.
NM # 92: Skrull Fill in Issue
Writer - Dwight Zimmerman
Penciler - Bob Hall
Inker - Jeff Albrecht
Colorist - Nel Yomtov
Letterer - Michael Heisler
Leifeld was only on New Mutants for 5 issues before he couldn't keep up with deadlines, leaving us with this dreadful story. Since it has no impact on continuity, I'll just offer a brief synopsis. The team recalls a time when they went to a carnival and all the carnies were actually Skrull's suck in carnival form. There's mystery, fighting, and an ending. Let's move on.
# 93 - 94 - MFL in Madripoor
NM # 93-94: MFL and Wolverine in Madripoor
Writer - Louise Simonson
Pencils - Rob Leifeld
We're inching ever so closely to the X-Tinction Agenda. The team is overseas already, stopping in Madripoor for this issue before heading to Genosha for the event. Isn't this a cool splash page with this battle scene? Once again I can't help but to stop and just admire the art. I pretty much never do this but I'm doing it a lot lately.
The team is here to stop the MLF from doing something evil in Madripoor.
Since they are in an asian country, they might as well hook up with Sunfire.
We meet 3 members of the MLF: Kamikaze, Dragoness, and Sumo. While I think these 3 look cool and you know I love new characters, I was a little disappointed to see them here. I mean...we just met the other members of the MLF, we could have gotten to know the members we met a few issues back a little better here. Oh well.
Stryfe and Zero show up. We learn that Stryfe is planning to use some poison or something against the humans in a number of major cities. He plans on doing this to "help mutants." I don't buy his motives like I do that of Magneto.
Since they are in Madripoor, guess who shows up? Wolverine, of course. Look at this cool panel.
Look at this even cooler panel showing the two of them fight.
Eventually they are all captured and Boom-Boom fabricates a reason to kiss Sam while they try to escape. So is this random or does Boom-Boom like Sam now? Really, I can't keep up. She'll like Professor X next issue.
The team, including Boom-Boom uses their new martials arts trainings (from Cable) in this fight. I like that Boom-Boom will have more than her bombs to fight with, but it seems a little forced that she could take on these highly trained cyborgs after maybe a few weeks of training.
Now Wolverine and Cable are teaming up. This is a cool scene where Wolvie doesn't like the idea of stealth and just jumps right in.
Cable and Stryfe have a fist fight with Cable winning of course. I don't recall most plot details from my 90's reads, but I do remember that big secret with Stryfe. I won't say anything here, but it's worth nothing that these two are on the page at the same time.
Coming up we're checking in one last time with the X-Men before we start up the X-Tinction Agenda. Want to find out what Rogue's been up to?! Are you ready to meet Gambit!? Come on, let's go!
Guys! People! Friends! Cable is here. O.M.G. Cable is here. I hope you all understand that I grew up in the 90's and X-Force (plus Guardians of the Galaxy) was really the only comic I read serially. So to see Cable, Stryfe, and the Mutant Liberation Front show up, plus the New Mutants start to look like X-Force... well I am having way too much fun.
We've been talking about Jim Lee starting to take over X-Men and this marks the beginning of Rob Liefeld taking over from Louis Simonson (and Brett Blevins as the primary artist). I'm conflicted on my thoughts regarding Rob. On one hand, there is a very STRONG, warm feeling when I see these amazingly drawn characters that makes me spend so much extra time just marveling at character design in a way I hadn't done at all in this X-Men journey. On the other hand, this blog has primarily focused on story and I know Rob isn't known of having the best writing skills. It will be interesting to see how I end up feeling about the stories 30 years later (and after critiquing all these comics). For the issues covered here, Simonson is doing the writing and Rob is just drawing, but soon he'll be doing both.
I also didn't realize how obsessed I am with the Mutant Liberation Front until they appeared in the pages of these bland New Mutant comics I've been powering through for months. It could just be nostalgia, with 12 year old me loving all of these unique and new characters, but regardless I love their designs and it is really exciting and energizing me. I also read X-Force, but I never read New Mutants, so I remember liking it but often getting confused about character backstory and past relationships. It's so fun to see how it all came together.
This is where things get very fascinating when we take a peek behind the curtain. Louise Simonson and Rob Leifeld both have a lot to say about working together and it's pretty clear things were contentious as Leifeld slowly pushed Simonson out of the comic (intentionally or not).
It all began with X-Men Editor Bob Harras and his anxiety. On the Robservations Podcast Rob Leifeld tells us that:
“Bob (Harras) was worried that McFarlane’s success on Spider-Man was catching up to X-Men. He decided he needed to counter punch.”
X-Men had been # 1 on the charts for years, but Todd McFarlane's success with the Spider-Man # 1 re-launch made him feel that the X-Men needed to do something to stay atop the charts. On the Robservations Podcast, Rob Leifeld shares his perspective on the issues facing the X-Office:
“Each of the X-Men writers had been on the comic for between 5 to 15 years. It needed a tweak, it needed a kick. He was looking to jumpstart and he needed some fresh faces. One of those fresh faces that he gave a call to was myself.”
While we'll talk about Jim Lee and the X-Men re-launch soon, it actually started with Harras asking Leifeld to take over X-Factor.
“He had asked me if I wanted to take over X-Factor because Walt Simonson had just finished an enormous run. I told him that I didn’t want to follow Walt Simonson. That was a bad idea.”
“Do you really want to follow the best there ever was? I don’t want people to think that it was so much better when Walt did it?”
“He said he was looking to make a change on New Mutants. The artist had recently had a baby. The creative team was a little long in the tooth. I did not call up looking to take over New Mutants.”
I believe there is a lot of narrative out there that Rob showed up and aggressively tried to push Simonson out. This perspective leads us to believe that Bob Harras came to him and began by asking him to take over X-Factor. So it sounds as though Rob is trying to clarify that he didn't immediately show up and demand New Mutants. Also, it sounds like he made a smart career choice by requesting to take over New Mutants where he could make more of a splash.
In Comic Creators on X-Men, Bob Harras gave his perspective on the decision to bring Rob Leifeld in:
"Rob did a New Mutants cover for me, and the book it appeared on shot up in sales, especially on the newstands. So Rob came in and he showed me some sketches and some of his ideas. There was energy in his stuff that reminded me of Jim (Lee)'s work and I liked that. So I put Rob on New Mutants and that's when we introduced Cable. "
Regardless, everyone agreed that they needed to start with a new leader. Louise Simonson has given her perspective in an interview:
"Bob (Harras, the editor) wanted the New Mutants to have an adult leader... I said okay, but he can' t be like Professor X. I'd really had it with Professor X whining about sending his little charges off into battle. This had to be a battle commander. He had to use these characters as soldiers because he knew what was coming."
I'm not sure whose idea Cable really is, but Rob also gave his point of view:
“Bob Harras said The New Mutants needed a new leader. I looked at Xavier and Magneto, who were the two biggest mentors for the New Mutants. Magneto and Xavier each had their own worldview. So how about this kickass soldier from the future with an X-Men legacy tie to one of the families?”
Louise Simonson hasn't held back in interviews regarding her opinions on Rob:
"It took me about six months to figure out that Rob wasn't interested in stories at all. He just wanted to do what he wanted to do, which was cool drawings of people posing in their costumes that would sell for lots of money."
Whether that criticism was accurate or not, it certainly succeeded in making lots of money. Leifeld tells us that:
“The sales changed. If you look at the end of New Mutants # 85, it says ‘Rob Leifeld is coming.' The Book was selling 112,000 copies. Suddenly we were at 150,000 by Issue # 88. By Issue 92 with Wolverine…we hit 300,000. We had jumped X-Factor and we are somewhere between Wolverine and (Uncanny) X-Men.”
In that same Robservations Podcast Rob Leifeld tells us more about how the character of Cable came to be. He wanted to create the next Wolverine and I would argue that he came close.
“Bob wanted to call him Quinn. My other name was Cybrid. But Cable, I was fighting for Cable. If you don’t allow me to call him Cable, then I’m not going to sell him to you.”
In addition, Leifeld shares about the effort he had to put forward in order to get Wolverine in the comic:
“I pressed and pressed for this Wolverine appearance with Stryfe. And we had to wait for clearance because you had to submit and the powers at be had to decide whether we could get access.”
My Rating - 10/10
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