Issue(s): X-Force #24
Meanwhile, X-Force gets back from their fight with the Externals, and are greeted by Cannonball, who tells them that they're going right back out to rescue Rusty and Skids. Cannonball does ask what happened to Crule, who was a prisoner of X-Force, and it turns out they left him floating in the ocean.
We then learn that Rusty and Skids were secretly being transferred to Professor Xavier's mansion for treatment; Cannonball says it would be bad publicity if the general population found out that they weren't being charged with anything. We also learn that it was Xavier who got X-Force involved. Note the idea of using them when a mission is too dirty for the government sponsored X-Factor. In this case the X-Men are just said to be occupied elsewhere, but the idea of X-Force being a black ops type team for Xavier (and, by extension, Val Cooper) suggests an interesting direction for them, different (and possibly more sustainable) than the outlaw idea that we saw last issue. On the other hand this is more like X-Force doing a favor for Xavier and a chance (for some of them) to rescue former friends; it's not like an official partnership between Xavier and X-Force has been set up here.
Also note that Cooper says "we" have a mole in the Friends of Humanity.
A nice little bit of character development when X-Force is going after the Friends is when Siryn challenges Cannonball on his habit of relying solely on former New Mutants to lead squads.
X-Force's attack on the Friends of Humanity is pretty uneventful. The Friends had high tech weaponry that made it possible for them to take down the Vault transport, but it's not much of a match for X-Force.
But Rusty and Skids (whose first name is revealed to be Sally; we already learned her last name was Blevins) are still brainwashed and full of anti-human rants.
Meanwhile, we see someone with a glove with a familiar looking color scheme magnetically repurposing the remnants of Cable's Graymalkin satellite.
In another subplot, Copycat shoots Deadpool and Sluggo while they're already unconscious (from last issue). She knows that it won't kill them, but it will give her time to lead the Six Pack members Domino, Grizzly, and Hammer to X-Force.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The first we see of X-Force in this issue, they are just returning to Camp Verde from returning from rescuing Warpath, Siryn, and Boom Boom from the X-Ternals and reuniting with Cannonball (who didn't go on that mission). And Cannonball immediately has them suit up to go and rescue Rusty and Skids. This issue ends with the brainwashed Rusty and Skids in X-Force's custody, and we'll see them returning to Camp Verde again next issue. So the intention was for it to be more or less a direct sequence from the previous arc, through this issue, and to next issue, which is part two of Fatal Attractions. However, last arc had to go before Cable #1-3 and it had to take place while James Rhodes was running Stark Enterprises, before Iron Man #287-289. The return of Tony Stark has a number of cascading dependencies, and it's therefore pretty much impossible to push everything affected by Stark's return forward in publication time. So i am assuming that there is a gap in between this issue and next, with X-Force maybe spending a few weeks trying to de-program Rusty and Skids elsewhere before returning to Camp Verde.
The subplot with Domino and Copycat seems to begin soon after last issue. Domino and the Six Pack next appear in Cable #4, which takes place before next issue.
I did put this after X-Men Unlimited #1, with the idea that Magneto started off in Antarctica and has now moved into space. I'm placing this after Cable #1-3, when Graymalkin couldn't be detected from the future and Professor was able to communicate with G.W. Bridge. We'll see in Cable #4 that the Professor is suddenly silent, and the X-Force retrieves the Professor from Asteroid M in X-Force #25. Cable #4 begins as basically a direct continuation from #3, and so due to the back and forth regarding Graymalkin, i've got Cable #1-3 directly before this and Cable #4 directly after.
Asteroid M/Avalon is hidden until Cable overrides the cloaking next issue, which explains how it can have been put together here but not discovered during the long gap i'm creating.
The MCP list Exodus as appearing in this issue, but i don't see him. Trish Tilby appears on television to report on the abduction of Rusty and Skids.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBoom Boom, Cannonball, Copycat, Crule, Deadpool, Domino, Feral, Grizzly (Six Pack), Hammer (Six Pack), Magneto, Professor X, Rictor, Rusty Collins, Shatterstar, Siryn, Skids, Sluggo, Sunspot, Trish Tilby, Valerie Cooper, Warpath
"Copycat shoots Deadpool and Sluggo while they're already unconscious (from last issue). She knows that it won't kill them, but it will give her time to lead the Six Pack members Domino, Grizzly, and Hammer to X-Force."- This is the first clear indication of Deadpool's healing factor.
Posted by: Michael | November 15, 2016 7:57 PM
I used to assume Rusty and Skids were persuaded to join the MLF by the media coverage of their fight against the Vulture and Nitro; instead of taking the low-hanging fruit and having them defend their own decision, Nicieza just says they were brainwashed and leaves them on the curb. Kind of a cop-out.
Posted by: iLegion | November 15, 2016 8:33 PM
It is really problematic to have Xavier _and_ the US Government both asking X-Force for favors in order to preserve their own images. Reminds me of Spider-Man choosing to look the other way when Punisher is around.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 15, 2016 11:08 PM
Not necessarily, Luis. This is pretty much the direction X-Force heads toward here on out, including in other volumes. In addition the current Marvel Universe has pretty much EVERY team having it's own "Black-Ops" division (I thonk the Avengers have, like three.) And of course of you have a deeper degree of cynicism, you could argue that the real-life government has ALWAYS had this arrangement with "someone" (which probably inspires "Modern" Marvel to continue to mine stories in that vein)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | November 16, 2016 1:18 AM
I've been waiting to see how you untangle X-Force, Cable, and the Deadpool mini from this era. I just read through it myself (my read-through having finally and unhappily overtaken your project, Fnord) and I'm not at all satisfied with my sequence, which took a break after X-Force #23 to go read other titles (including UXM #300, UXM Annual #17, X-Men Unlimited #1, X-Men #20 to 23, and Wolverine #69 to 71) before returning for Cable #1 to 3, X-Force #24, Cable #4, and then Deadpool Circle Chase #1 to 4. That Deadpool placement in particular didn't feel right re: where recent events with Vanessa were up to, but any other order I tried caused problems for Garrison Kane.
Posted by: Greg T | November 16, 2016 4:53 AM
iLegion, this doesn't take away from your point at all, but i just want it noted that Rusty and Skids being brainwashed was previously brought up in X-Men #15 (also by Nicieza).
Greg T, as you can probably see from my comments on the General Comments page, i'm struggling with it too. I'm placing my break after #24 instead of #23 because of the Domino/Copycat subplot but i think we'll wind up looking pretty similar otherwise (and of course everything is still subject to change until i finish the year). Let me know if you think i'm missing something major about where to put that gap (understanding that neither option is perfect).
Posted by: fnord12 | November 16, 2016 9:23 AM
@Jon Dubya: Yeah, the idea of a "black ops" superhero group is inherently problematic. The ethical issues are rather serious.
To think I would come to see groups that claim to be Avengers filling that role...
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 16, 2016 4:21 PM
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