Characters Appearing: Beast, Boom Boom, Brightwind, Cable (Adult), Cannonball, Domino, Feral, Graydon Creed, Jose Hidalgo, Mad Dog Rassitano, Marcus Stone, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Professor X, Rictor, Rigger Ruiz, Shatterstar, Siryn, Thornn (Morlock), Warpath
Issue(s): X-Force #40, X-Force #41
But the main story in this issue has Code Blue tracking down Feral's sister, Thornn, and arresting her for the murder of some of her family members. Beyond Code Blue, one of the policemen is Jose Hidalgo, Thornn's former boyfriend. And Thornn tells Hidalgo that Feral really committed the murders. News reports, with some behind the scenes manipulation from Graydon Creed and the Friends of Humanity (as part of their general interest in discrediting mutants), broadcast information on the arrest, and X-Force find out about it. They break Thornn out of prison to learn the truth.
The short of it is that Feral didn't kill her two siblings (although it seems she might have not lifted a finger to help one of them) but she admits to killing her mother's abusive boyfriend, who also attempted to rape her and her sister (he apparently had a thing for furries).
Considering X-Force are an "outlaw" team (and that they live in a universe where the Punisher kills six guys like Harry Bellinger before breakfast and readers don't blink), X-Force may have let that slide. But Feral also went back and killed her mother after that. So X-Force subdue her and turn her over to the police. Dani Moonstar somehow makes sure that the MLF are blamed for the prison breakout instead of X-Force.
I was never a Feral fan but saddling her with a double homicide retcon as a way of getting rid of her seems cruel. The story also has a feel similar to what Fabian Nicieza did with Justice, where he killed his abusive father. But it's much darker to have Feral be a victim of sexual abuse and, unlike Justice, not agreeing to serve her time of her own free will. I also think that in general X-Force are not the right sort of team for a "you have to serve your time" kind of story. It seems like Feral coming to terms with what she did while still acknowledging that she was trapped in a cycle of abuse, and maybe having her leave the team to find herself, might have been a better ending. In any event, it's a very grim and not very entertaining story, and it's a weird tonal clash with the very camp - but fun! - idea of having X-Force set up base in Arcade's cartoon Murderworld at the start of the arc.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Professor X and the Beast watch the newscasts on television and decide that the X-Men don't need to get involved (Cable actually contacted the Professor to say that X-Force is on it).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I partly agree with you, Fnord, but the twist that Feral, one of our protagonists, is the real killer while her seemingly villainous sibling is innocent is novel and kind of cool, at least in theory. Feral has never been sympathetic, so it doesn’t really do any violence to an existing character portrayal. But it’s not well executed, and it creates the dramatically unsatisfying result that Feral, a poor man’s Wolfsbane, is now replaced by Thornn, a poor man’s Feral. I mean, she doesn’t join the book, but she’s now one more benign mutant out there, in place of Feral. It’s substituting an even more generic character for an already uninteresting one.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 6, 2018 8:24 PM
I actually liked this one. The entire point of Feral's arc is that some victims of abuse DON'T rise above it. If you look carefully, Feral was always evil. She told Masque she didn't want to go along with Masque's plan because she thought it was suicidal, not because innocent people might be hurt. She nearly killed Sam during a training exercise.
Posted by: Michael | February 6, 2018 10:11 PM
I felt it fit perfectly for Feral to be revealed to be a murderer. I was never comfortable with the fact that X-Force gave her a pass for nearly killing Cannonball. I chalk some of that implausibility to Rob Liefeld not really being able to do long-term plotting, instead relying on loosely stringing together a bunch of cool action scenes, with little regard for logic or characterization. Considering all the loose ends that left for Fabian Nicieza to tie up once he took over full writing chores on this series, it's not surprising that it took him thre eyears to get around to addressing the problems with Feral.
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 7, 2018 8:06 PM
This mostly works for me too. At the point of her defection to the MLF, Feral was a mostly untenable character. In-universe, she had little interest in X-Force's mission, few strong ties to the team, and had already shown a willingness to hurt her teammates (and that was before whatever she got up to with the MLF). Out-universe, all those things made her a character hard to root for, combined with thin characterization and a generic look/power set. Basically, she needed to either go down a "struggling with her inner demons" Wolverine-style redemptive path, or go full-villain, and the latter was far more novel than the former. As Fnord says, the execution of this doesn't always work (particularly the tonal clash between the inherently-ridiculous X-Force and the rather serious subject matter in Feral and Thornn's backstory), but the end result is still worth it.
Posted by: Austin Gorton | February 8, 2018 9:47 AM
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