New Mutants # 98 - 100
98: Deadpool, Domino, and Downsizing!
Simonson is out, Leifeld is in. That means it's time to quickly tie up loose ends and even more quickly set the table for X-Force.
We start by being introduced to Gideon. He is an immortal (not sure if we know that yet or if I just know from reading as a kid) mutant with a lot of money. Here we see him in a sort of danger room session kicking the ass of a bunch of robots. He's also got people waiting on him hand and foot. So we know he's a mutant, he's rich, he's connected, and he'll be a main player. Got it.
We then quickly jump to see Roberto's dad who is slipped a poisoned drink and quickly has a heart attack. So this makes Roberto the heir to the company and Gideon is involved somehow as well. Ok, ok...
Ohhhhhhhh, heyyyyyyyy Deadpoooooooool. I got so excited to see new X-Force characters added and the transition happening so quickly that I forgot fricken Deadpool is introduced here. I know there is probably more negative juju out there towards Leifeld than positive, but he did create one of the most popular characters Marvel has.
So in the actual story, Deadpool gets inside the complex and attacks Cable.
He also calls him Nathan, which I think might be the first time we see his first name acknowledged. I wonder how many people out there connected the dots naturally to his secret identity. I certainly didn't as a kid.
We also get mention of a guy named Mr. Tolliver, who appears to be a bad guy that paid Deadpool to kill Cable. Lots of new names and concepts being introduced here.
Sam creeps in and hits Deadpool before he can take Cable out. Earlier in the issue, Cable had been trying to teach Sam to silence his blast field, so this is a big accomplishment for him. I'm not sure how Deadpool didn't account for Sam being in the room.
Deadpool is rattling off left and right so the "Merc with a mouth" persona is set up immediately. Cable and Deadpool continue to fight.
Sunspot and Boom-Boom show up and Deadpool is about to get the drop on them when Domino shows up and takes him out.
We see right off the bat that Cable must have called her for help, the two of them have a past, and the rest of the team can see their chemistry. This is the first, of many, instances where writers should "show, don't tell." I think they did a pretty good job of showing the rapport between Cable and Domino, we didn't also need to be told by the other three how much they are getting along.
Leifeld is kind of known for ignoring established cannon, so I'm happy to see him not forget that Rictor wouldn't be ok with forgetting about Rahne being in Genosha still. However, Leifeld was drawing for those issues so I guess that's not asking too much. He also wanted to write him out, so this gives him a good reason.
And with that, Rictor is written out of the series as he goes to find Rahne. He will not be premiering in X-Force, however I do recall that he gets added back in pretty quickly. Perhaps after Leifeld left to start Image? P.S. I love this note.
Gideno shows up and tells Roberto about his father's death.
99: Gideon, Warpath, and Feral
Things are happening fast, people! Here's another new character introduced, Wolfsbane 2.0...I mean Feral. There's not supposed to be too many Morlocks left, but new ones keep conveniently popping up when we need them to. Masque is trying to control her and she doesn't want anything to do with it, so she escapes to the point where the tunnels connect to the mansion.
We are starting to see that this is a new Cable. In the last few issues he seemed like a more compassionate leader who cared about the kids, but now he is hell bent on being edgy and preparing mutants for War. He knows he's losing the New Mutants, so he starts recruiting, starting with Warpath.
I like the idea of their being 5 different kinds of mutants, however I don't recall we hear much about this in the future.
Gideon tells Roberto that he is in charge of the family business now.
I REALLY don't like this. I get that Cable is trying to be edgier here, and Leifeld is consciously choosing to write Ric out, but this is just way too harsh. He's damn lucky Sam didn't walk out too.
I like that Sam sticks up to this though. Us New Mutants readers don't want to throw everything away, so thank you Sam!
Warpath goes back to his reservation and finds everyone dead, with evidence that the Hellfire Club did it (who we used to be associated with). This seems a bit too heavy handed for me. Why couldn't he just make the decision on his own. It's too convenient that everyone in his tribe was killed.
This almost makes me wonder if Cable did it to convince him to join. I don't think that's what happened, but the characterization is so off here that it's not good that I'm questioning whether the leader of these heroes slaughtered innocent people.
Roberto tells Cable that he's leaving for good to take care of things at home. Cable doesn't try to talk him out of it and is a complete dick saying "Whatever." Sam rightfully gets pissed.
Domino is using some soft influence (she's being set up as the mom of the group) to convince Boom-Boom why she should stay.
Where...THE FUCK...is Domino's black eye? That shit isn't makeup! Right...?
Sam and Cable going at it again. Maybe it's not terrible writing because at least they are addressing his heel turn head on. Maybe this is how Leifeld gets the team edgier with trial by fire and this is what Sam needed to go through to justify staying. I don't know, maybe...still don't love it.
I'm really glad these two got this emotional goodbye. Their besties.
Officially addressing that Cable is starting from scratch.
Warpath joins the squad and Cable promises to help him get revenge if he joins his was. I'm going to track this to see if it ever ends up happening. I really hope James brings this up again and holds him to it, but sadly I'm worried it doesn't come up.
Feral creeping around the base watching everyone.
100: Goodbye New Mutants, Hello Shatterstar and X-Force
Shatterstar pops up out of the blue in the danger room. Reminds me of someone else who literally fell out of a portal in the Danger Room. Another character from the Mojoverse with a star on his eye. Hmmm, who was that?
Even though Shatterstar is depicted as the best warrior around, Domino easily beats him down, then offers him a hand.
Show, don't tell!
Shatterstar sent to find the X-Men, settles for X-Force.
Once more, Cable offers to help him with his quest (taking on Mojo) if he will be a soldier in his war. Once again, let's see if Cable honors this promise. Do they all go to the Mojoverse? Does Shatterstar continue to bring this up!?
A bunch of goons from the Mojoverse show up, giving the team an excuse to fight.
Oh, Feral reminds you of Wolverine and Sabretooth? SHOW, DON'T TELL!
Masque shows up looking to claim Feral.
Cable totally takes out his gun and kills one of the Molocks in cold blood. Ok, maybe this team is a bit edgier.
Now in a pretty funny scene, Masque starts cowering and agrees to leave Feral alone.
Oooh, the X-Force name is throw out!
Alright, a few things here. First, it's nice to see Sam and Tabitha have this moment. That is nice, but kind of sad that there are only 2 members of the original team and that one of them was relatively new (Boomer). Also, are these two romantically involved or something!? If so, this came out of nowhere. And Booms is constantly crushing on different people, so am I supposed to buy this?
The MLF is teased at the end. Look, Rusy and Skids are with them!
Rusty and Skids aren't super hot about the whole terrorist stuff.
They announce that they are going to attack Genosha.
At the end, we see Cables face! I remember everyone speculating about this live in the day. Is that Cable!? Is he leading both teams?! Most people forgot that we literally saw the two of them fight each other not too long ago, but still, pretty crazy!
Things are happening fast, people! Simonson is out and Leifeld is in, so the ramp up to X-Force is in overdrive. All old plotlines and characters must go! We have new products to put on the shelves. Leifeld provides the plotting, pencils, and inks on these three issues with Fabian Nicieza providing the scripting.
I've been talking for a long time about how excited I am to get to X-Force. X-Force, Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men re-boot (X-Men Volume 2) were the three comics I read religiously growing up. While the nostalgia is on full force, I'm finding myself having some mixed feelings this time around. As a kid I had started with X-Force, but this time around i have personal attachments to these characters and this world so I'm more critical of how everything is being handled.
It really bothers me that Sunspot has been written out of the team. I never even loved Roberto (Bobby) as a character, but I don't understand why he had to go. Was he not cool enough for you Rob!? How is Sunspot not the perfect fit for the new, edgy X-Force team!? The guy is an asshole. There is an entire miniseries (Fallen Angels) exploring whether he will become a villain, this guy would fit in perfectly. He's also one of the original 5 and has a great bro-mance with Sam (Cannonball) who is sticking around.
Rictor also leaves, but that upsets me less for some reason. Maybe because I have less total time getting to know him and he didn't even start with the New Mutants.
There's a lot that can be said about Rob Leifeld, but you can't argue with the lasting impact he has had on Marvel. Case in point, he created fricken Deadpool who premieres in #98. Nowadays there's few characters more popular that Deadpool and we have Leifeld and X-Force to thank for that.
I also feel very sus about Feral. I see what you're doing here, Rob. You tried to make Rahne more savage, but when that wasn't working, you just created a new character out of thin air who basically is Rahne, but you can write her however you want. When I was 8 and reading this I thought she was a badass, but now this just seems lazy.
We also meet Shatterstar. Again, when I was 8 and didn't know the history, I thought he was super kewl. But now I realize he's basically a copy of Longshot. Almost the same backstory, also has the star on his eye, but this character uses two cool swords. A bit lazy, to be honest.
I do love Domino, even though it seems as though he's not sure what to do with her in the early going. I recall really like Warpath as a kid, and now that I've seen him developed as the most relatable Hellion, I feel even more strongly about him. Gideon is a cool character too.
Alright, so let's talk for a second about what was happening behind the scenes. Rob Leifeld talked directly about this on a recent Robservations podcast that was released 30 years after X-Force # 1 was published.
“They released the writer. We were having creative tensions. This happens.
This is obviously referring to Louise Simonson. I know there is still a lot of tension between these two today, but I have to say I'm impressed that Leifeld wasn't calling her by name and didn't really pile on about her. At this point, the comic was his. And not only that, it was being re-branded!
"I knew I had 3 issues to queue up for X-Force. I had 3 issues to get X-Force situated so that when it launched in June 25th, 1991, it would be ready for the endgame. ”
If it seems like things were happening fast, that's because it was! It was decided that X-Force would come out in June and he had 3 issues to introduce new characters, bring in old ones (like Warpath), and set the table for X-Force # 1.
It was pretty entertaining hearing him talk about how protective he was about his characters, like with this comment about Stryfe:
"I created Stryfe. I wouldn’t tell anyone who was under that mask! I wasn’t going to have that huge moment taken from me. When I finally revealed it, my editor was like ‘Why didn’t you tell us?”
Pretty crazy to think that no one internally knew about Stryfe being a Cable clone at first. It sounds like he was very protective of both letting spoilers get out and that he wanted to protect the characters he created. He talks a bit about this process:
“When it comes to Cable, Domino, Deadpool…I sold them to Marvel.”
Rob Leifeld created each of these characters and technically licensed them to Marvel. I believe he still gets credit for their likeness, which I'm sure has been fun with Deadpool. Speaking of Deadpool, here's what he had to say about creating that character:
"He’s an asshole. He’s Spider-Man with guns and swords. I love Snake Eyes. I loved Boba Fett as a kid. I wanted a mercenary. He was taking on a contract to bring in Cable. My favorite character of all time will always be Wolverine. I realized that he was Weapon 10 (X), and I asked if they had introduced any of the other Weapon projects."
My Rating - 9/10
Next up, we'll check out the Kings of Pain Annual and meet The New Warriors
Next Post - 78: The New Warriors and the Kings of Pain
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