82: X-Force Launches

What’s Covered?

X-Force # 1 - 5 (June - Oct 1991)


Roster Watch

Synopsis


#1: Who we working with?

Plot - Rob Leifeld

Script - Fabian Nicieza

Pencils - Rob Leifeld

Pretty cool action scene, of course, showing us the new and improved X-Force team attacking an MLF base.

The doors open up and the MLF pours in for a fight.

Leifeld is trying to show us that this comic is edgier and gritty so Shatterstar cuts off Reaper's hand in their first battle. (Editor's note: Oops, this made me realize that I covered this in the wrong order because I talked about Reaper having already lost his hand and then losing his leg in 84: XF 71 - 78 (X-Factor Re-Launch)).

Stryfe, the man with the plan, realizes he is beat and decides to retreat. His access code is Nathan 0-0-0! OOOOh, what's that about! Cable's Name is Nathan! Is there any other significant to the name Nathan? (I'm playing along).

Cool looking Feral drawing as she battles another maniac, Wildside.

Sunspot (Roberto Dacosta) has been running his late father's company and training under the tutelage of the mutant Gideon for 6 months.

We meet G.W. Bridge. (The George Washington Bridge, really?) He's an old war buddy of Cable's (who isn't?) who's now working for SHIELD, currently responsible for tracking keeping tabs on Cable and X-Force.

Boom Boom questions whether or not Cable really cares about the people on his team. I find this really interesting. It's one thing for the team to be edgy and callous, but if their own team is wondering whether their leader cares about their lives...well that's a problem.

Domino calls Cable out for using his telekinesis. I believe this is the first time we've seen him use this skill on panel. This is clearly teasing his true identity hard. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever personally read the comics where that became common, so it might be new to me how that all unravels. Exciting!


#2: Training Camp

Plot - Rob Leifeld

Script - Fabian Nicieza

Pencils - Rob Leifeld

This issues is actually quite simplistic and really broken into two parts. The first part involves the introduction of a new character named Kane who goes by Weapon X. This is the first time we're introduced to the Weapon X project introduced as something that has iterations. So far we had just seen vague hints that people like Wolverine, Sabretooth, and Silver Fox were used by Weapon X but they had no recollection of it. This character seems to call himself "Weapon X" and be working in agreement as part of that personal. Odd. A large part of this comic is dedicated to him fighting Deadpool, an instant fan favorite.

The other half of this issue is showing the sharpening their skills through an outdoor training exercise. This exercise is used to show Feral going too far and almost gutting Sam. Boom Boom pretty much never forgives her for this.



#3-4: Familiar Friends

Plot - Rob Leifeld

Script - Fabian Nicieza

Pencils - Rob Leifeld

Remember when Excalibur was launching and they needed a familiar X foe to fight early on? Yea well X-Force is doing it too. We're also re-introduced to Banshee's daughter Theresa Cassidy, AKA Siryn. This is a good natural entry point for her too because she has a history with Juggernaut and his "best friend" Black Tom, who is her uncle (or cousin or something).

So the thing going on here is that Black Tom and Juggernaut are holding some of the richest men in the world hostage. I'm not entirely sure why they are doing this, but I am sure that it doesn't matter, because it's just something generic and mustache twirly.


Roberto and Gideon are amongst the kidnapped and playing the whole "we should do something, we have super powers game" but they don't. Until later when they totally do and I don't understand why they didn't early on. This is all very thin.


This reminds me of a Louise Simonson interview I read somewhere talking about how Leifeld used to draw square windows in the outside of a building and circle windows they would come inside. Not a lot of consistency.

X-Force shows up to free the hostages and fight Black Tom and Juggs. Siryn temporarily aligns herself with X-Force at this point.

Warpath jumps out of a helicopter onto Juggernaut.

This scene reminds me of the scene in Deadpool 2 when X-Force jumps out of the helicopter, however this doesn't end up with everyone dead.

So this is a big scene. Cable chases Black Tom into an elevator shaft and he while hanging from the ledge he surrenders. Cable says he doesn't play that way and shoots him and plans to let him fall to his death. This is another step to show that this comic is edgier and different than X-Men.

However Deadpool ends up secretly catching him and teleporting him to Tolliver, for some purpose that I still don't understand.

Spider-Man shows up for the 4th issue and the entire issue is printed sideways (I have no idea why). The entire issues (and it's continued into an issue of Spider-Man) is a big slugfest.

Juggernaut is beaten the typical way. Shatterstar had loosen his helmet, Siryn pulled it off, but then instead of a psyhic assault (they don't have one), Shatterstar just threatens to decapitate him. Deadpool teleports him away before he can apprehended.


#5: a New Brotherhood

Plot - Rob Leifeld

Script - Fabian Nicieza

Pencils - Rob Leifeld

Deadpool drops Juggs and B.T. off in front of Tolliver. Even though I'm yapping about how I read X-Force more than any other comic, I really only got through Issue 30 (if that far, lost part of my original collection) and my memory is very hazy). So I honestly don't recall what the hell is up with Tolliver.

So apparently Toad is actually smart? We saw him playing chess in 78: The New Warriors and the Kings of Pain with Gideon, so I guess we should have seen this coming. He's bringing the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. He's already got his good buddies Blob and Pyro (who doesn't appear in these issues, outside of the cover) in the gang, and in this issue he finds Karl Lykos, the human version of Sauron living a peaceful life with his girlfriend.

So Gideon's an asshole, amiright? Gideon goes on TV and declares that X-Force was behind the Shenanigan's with him and the other rich peeps being kidnapped. This sets up a new status quo where the team is outlaws, making it more believable that Cable might really be Stryfe, and putting the X teams against each other (for the next X event , X-Cutioners Song).

Sam is questioning Cable's leadership, and I REALLY like this. Sam would definitely not stand for this shit.

Yup, this is how it would go down. Sam would see it through, to fix it from within and Tabitha would just follow Sam.

I put this entire panel in here for a few reasons. First of all, this depiction of Feral is pretty famous for Leifeld forgetting to draw Feral's other leg. Lol, now you won't be able to unsee that.


Second, it's funny watching Feral flirt so hard core with Shatterbuns and him having no idea how to flirt back.

So even though X-Force was just named a bunch of Outlaws. Siryn decides this is a good time to officially join the team, thus granting her the green box around her picture in my graphic this week. I also don't know if it's accurate to call her "mature and experienced" but ok.

Bridge hints at him gathering some former associates of Cable's to track him down.

And back to Toad. Toad forces Lykos to absorb the life essence of his girlfriend (killing her) and thus transforming back into Sauron. What an asshole! From what I understand, Leifeld and Jim Lee both just really wanted to draw Sauron. Who doesn't want to draw dinosaurs, right?


Next up, we'll be jumping back into Excalibur. It's not quite a re-boot, but it might as well be since Alan Davis takes over, cleans up EVERY loose end, introduces new characters, and makes the comic good for the first time.


My Connections


Growing up, there was probably no other comic book that I purchased serially like I did X-Force. I have stronger memories of the X-Men, but that was mostly due to the animated series. When it came to purchasing, reading, and staying loyal to comic books, I stuck with X-Force longer than any other.


For now, let's focus on these 5 issues and the characters as they are introduced here. Cable is the headliner and can certainly carry a title on his shoulders. There is a clear effort here to lean into his true identity, as well as to push harder into the whole mantra of X-Force as true renegades. Domino is a character who I know grows into someone I love, but she still seems a bit lost at this point...she's not there yet. Warpath, Feral, and Shatterstar all seem like one dimensional fighters, however I know that Warpath at least will grow into one of the most complex and well liked mutants in the Marvel universe, so I can't wait to watch him grow. We already know Cannonball and and Boom Boom so it's fun to see them pushing back against the direction the team is going, unsure that they are on board with this new path. They are my center, reminding me that I know who these people are. We also get a new member in Siryn, who even though I barely know her, I feel as though I've actually known her for years.


At least Leifeld knows where his bread is buttered...colorful villains. We get more of the merc with a mouth, Deadpool. New villains (or questionable allies) in the form of Weapon X, G.W Bridge, and the mysterious Tolliver. These first few issues also bring back the MLF and Stryfe, Gideon, Black Tom and Juggernaut, and teases a revamped Brotherhood of Evil Mutants led by Toad (of all people). Oh, and Spider-Man shows up.


There is a lot more focus on cool characters standing around looking cool in their cool outfits as opposed to character development. The art itself, which looks great in a pinup, is greatly flawed. It's fun to see how far Leifeld will go to avoid drawing feet. I didn't realize when I was younger how quickly Leifeld abandoned Marvel to join Image, so I'm very interested to see how the quality of this comic is impacted by his departure.


Creators

It's funny diving back into the deeper details of things I wasn't paying attention to as a kid. For instance, learning about the terrible things done to Scotty Pippen by Jerry Krause during the era of my beloved Chicago Bulls. Learning the true story behind Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton. And now, I start to hear more and more about Rob Liefeld and Marvel. I have such a STRONG emotional attachment to this comic book so I am hesitant to turn any scorn towards X-Force or Leifeld, but as I am re-reading the series and paying closer to attention to things, I see that some of the criticism is warranted.


In a Robservations Podcast, Rob Leifeld offers his own perspective on how he become polarizing:

“In time, I became polarizing. It’s because of my youth. My youth was used against me. It was used to punish me. Because I was young, you could call me brash, you could call me unpolished, but I was really offended that I was called greedy.”

Leifeld was a pretty competitive guy. He knew that his buddy Todd McFarlane (who he will later found Image comics with) broke sales records with Spider-Man # 1. He had recently found out that Jim Lee would get to do his own X-Men launch and he didn't want to be left behind. Unfortunately, the idea to transform New Mutants into X-Force almost didn't happen. Leifeld shares that he and marketer Sven Larson came up with a plan to keep the project moving forward:

“Sven Larson recommend that we delay X-Men # 1 to August. This would give them two more months to ramp up and gain momentum. With New Mutants # 100 coming out in February, you would have 3 months to prepare and it would serve as the kickoff for the entire Summer mutants promotion. You could have X-Force # 1 in June, the revamped X-Factor in July and the brand new X-Men in August.”

The rest is history. X-Force # 1 did launch in June of 1991 and broke the Spider-Man sales records. It was the best selling comic of all time until X-Men beat it two months later.



My Rating - 10/10


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