Issue(s): X-Force #6, X-Force #7, X-Force #8, X-Force #9, X-Force #10
The main story in these issues are a fight between X-Force and the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants that we saw the build up for last issue and (kind of) in last year's annual event. We see Phantazia in the interior of a book (as opposed to last issue's cover) for the first time, and they bolster their ranks by forging an alliance with the remnants of the Morlocks led by Masque.
Masque is initially against the idea, but he's convinced by one of his minions, Thornn, who looks a lot like Feral (and Wolfsbane).
This is the second Marvel character named Thornn with two Ns, for what it is worth.
Meanwhile, some sexual innuendo from Cable and Domino.
In between orgasms, we see mention of the fact that Cable is buying weapons from AIM because it's the only place "here and now" where he can get the kind of weapons he's used to.
Domino suggests that Cable tell X-Force, or at least Cannonball and Boom Boom, about his past, but Cable says they've been acting too "self-righteous" lately and doesn't think they're ready.
Cannonball and Boom Boom, meanwhile, are getting into an argument with Feral, and the rest of X-Force are outside in a training session (it's again noted that Warpath is getting stronger, without explanation). That's when the Brotherhood and Morlocks attack.
This is where the promise of X-Force, limited as it was, is basically lost. For all its faults, X-Force as a concept was interesting for being an outlaw group of pro-active vigilantes, striking at enemies that the law couldn't go after, and theoretically not waiting until the villains went out to try to take over the world or whatever. I liked the idea that they were operating out of an abandoned Sentinel base, too. A nice secret headquarters. But now we have two groups of villains showing up at their secret base for what can at best be considered a grudge match. Their motivations are as generic and random as they come. If it was Stryfe and the Mutant Liberation Front attacking, it wouldn't fit the pro-active theme but it would at least be tolerable. This is purely basic villain stuff.
Phantazia's power is harmonizing. Toad recruited her from a Simon & Garfunkel cover band.
We learn that Thornn is Feral's sister. And that Cable has a real way with words. "Walking autopsy". Wow.
We all know that Toad is playing out of his league, but he has developed a new power. Poison secretions.
But Toad is blasted away by Shatterstar, who briefly left the battle field to get a big gun and to fill his pant legs with bread dough or something.
Some of the battle is happening outside, and some inside X-Force's base, in the dark. Which sometimes makes things look cooler...
...but other times i can't help think is used as a way to avoid drawing detail.
Cannonball being nigh invulnerable while blasting proves to not be very effective against Sauron, who seemingly kills him. The key panel seems to have been covered up by a sound effect. Maybe too violent for the Code.
Despite ending on that cliffhanger, and the Kane back-up also ending on a cliffhanger, issue #8 is mostly a flashback. There is a framing sequence by Liefeld or someone doing a good job of imitating him, but the majority of the issue is by Mike Mignola showing a scene from Cable's past. And no Kane back-up at all. The flashback is largely unrelated to anything going on in the surrounding issues, but the last couple of pages do make an effort to tie it in. So i don't know if the Mignola portion was something that was waiting in case Liefeld missed a deadline or if was planned all along.
The flashback takes place approximately ten years earlier, and it shows Cable working with a Wild Pack (unrelated to Silver Sable's Wild Pack, i assume) that includes Domino, G.W. Bridge, and Kane, along with two previously unseen characters, Grizzly and Hammer.
They are raiding a Hydra base. For what it is worth, they trigger a recording of Baron von Strucker.
Strucker's recording comes with a self-destruction sequence, but the Wild Pack manage to acquire what they were after and Cable gets them out in time with a "bodyslide by six". It turns out the Wild Pack were working for AIM.
The introduction of the new characters and the confirmation that Cable (and company, including future SHIELD officer G.W. Bridge) has done some shady work in the past are already revelations, but we go further when, after the mission is over, Cable performs a "timeslide" into the future, where he's attended by robots named after the original X-Men.
So that's confirmation that Cable is a time-traveler from the future.
At the end, while he's in the future, his computer ("Professor") tells him that there's been a possible "awakening", and it's Cannonball.
Cannonball is also referred to as a "High Lord"
It's because of this that Cable goes back into the past and sets himself up as Cannonball's teacher.
Note also that "a part of" Cable was just a child, and the computer has faulty memories when it comes to "personal recollections". This fits with the idea that "Professor" is really Ship, who was sent into the future along with baby Nathan Summers (but that's not spelled out here).
It's because of this that Cable is expecting Cannonball to wake up after Sauron mortally stabbed him. Back in the present for issue #9, the fight with the Brotherhood and the Morlocks continue (horrible perspective in that second scan below).
Cable's face gets scratched up by Thornn. This results in a two-page sideways splash panel that i'll try to reproduce here.
After that, Shatterstar (seemingly) kills Masque.
And then Cannonball wakes up after all, wondering why someone stuffed more bread dough down his pants.
In the back-up story, Kane is in Canada looking into what was supposed to be a smuggling operation (liquor and cigarettes, to avoid taxes). But instead he finds the MLF.
After fighting the MLF for a bit..
...they teleport away, but Kane follows, and encounters Stryfe.
Issue #10 opens with the continuation from the Kane back-ups. But it's interspersed with Gideon meeting a group of the High Lords reacting to Cannonball's awakening.
It turns out Gideon thought that Sunspot, not Cannonball would be the next High Lord, and that's why he took Sunspot under his wing. To rectify his mistake, Gideon says he's going to activate someone named Krule. Meanwhile, Kane is getting beaten up.
Kane manages to fight his way to Stryfe, who shocks him by removing his mask, revealing Cable's face.
Back with X-Force, Cable explains the High Lord nonsense to Cannonball. It's a very weird direction to take Cannonball, and just kind of weird in general. It feels like an idea that Liefeld thought of while falling asleep watching Highlander, and no one thought to tell him that it was a bad idea for the unassuming character that we've known since the early days of New Mutants. It's so dumb i can hardly comment on it. I prefer to just pretend it isn't happening.
Also note that Pacella's mimicry of Liefeld extends to drawing panels that are just giant pin-ups of someone standing there talking a lot.
Pacella's art actually manages to be worse than Liefeld's.
The pin-ups continue as we jump back to Stryfe, who tries to convince Kane that he really is Cable, even though Kane saw Cable fight Stryfe "seven years" ago.
Stryfe then knocks Kane out and has Zero teleport him back to Department H. Kane tells General Clarke to contact G.W. Bridge at SHIELD and tell him that he's going to work with him on taking down Cable after all. "Weapon Prime" will be at his disposal, and Rictor is now with Department H as well.
And Tolliver contacts Deadpool, telling him to go after "Domino".
I suppose some kudos are in order for finally filling in some of the details of Cable's past. It does seem that Liefeld is more interested in Cable and Kane and related characters than the actual X-Force team, especially since the Externals/High Lords idea seems to indicate that Liefeld has no @#$#! clue what to do with the characters.
Ugh, reviewing X-Force comics are so exhausting. My partner Min says i should just write, "Pouches, pouches, no feet, pouches", but i do try to bring you a little more than that. At the expense of my SOUL!
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: At the beginning of issue #6, Stryfe is reviewing the files of various persons of interest, and he includes Bishop and Trevor Fitzroy in that list. Fitzroy had potentially been on present-day Earth for some time prior to his first published appearance, but Bishop arrives in Uncanny X-Men #282, so this story would have to take place after that (and i pushed that story forward in publication time, which affects this arc's placement). I should note that the same scene has Stryfe talking about Magneto as if he's still alive, but i guess coming from the future Stryfe knows that is the case (Stryfe is also weirdly defensive. "Let them think me laughable. A minor pawn...". I don't know that any of these characters have laughed at you Stryfe. Readers, maybe...). As Michael notes in the comments, since Cable's face is damaged in this arc and isn't repaired until issue #15, at which point he's not really a regular member of the X-Force team, this story has to take place after Captain America #402-408, which leads into Infinity War (Cap #408 is an Infinity War tie-in that takes place prior to Infinity War #1). And since the Brotherhood of Evil explicitly appear in X-Factor #82-83 and then Darkhawk #19-20 & Sleepwalker #17 after this, and Sleepwalker #18 is an Infinity War tie-in, that means that this story (and all of those other Brotherhood appearances) have to take place during Infinity War.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showAbsalom, Blob, Boom Boom, Burke, Cable (Adult), Cannonball, Copycat, Deadpool, Feral, Forearm, General Jeremy Clarke, Genesis, Gideon, Kane, Masque, Nicodemus (External), Phantazia, Pyro, Rictor, Saul, Sauron, Shatterstar, Siryn, Stryfe, Sumo, Thornn (Morlock), Toad, Warpath, Wildside, Zero
The reason why Sam's invulnerability doesn't protect him from Sauron is said to be Phantazia's scrambling of his powers.
Posted by: Michael | February 7, 2016 4:29 PM
We really appreciate you putting your soul and sanity on the line for detailed reviews like this Fnord!
With these issues there actually does seem to be some point to everything. The Gideon/Sunspot stuff ties into the High Lord stuff, which seems to tie into Cable's future. The Cable/Stryfe stuff is moving forward, the Kane, Domino, Deadpool and Toliver threads are picked up upon (in contrast to previous issues where it seemed we were just getting new characters thrown at us without any story or purpose to them.) Unfortunately the stories themselves aren't very good, the art is even worse (I fully agree Pacella's is far, far worse than Liefelds) and the focus that seems to emerge here doesn't last.
The real shame is that when you take a step back, and look at it in a review like this, there actually is a lot of potential here. I like the pro-active set up. (Would it be that hard to set up a slugfest by having the Brotherhood commit a random act of terrorism and for X-Force to them track them down?) I like the idea of Bridge, Kane and other parts of Cable's shady past with Wild Pack/6 Pack coming back to haunt him. The Stryfe/Cable mystery is interesting, and while the High Lords/External stuff is indeed an odd direction to go with Cannonball, and the Externals themselves are all a bit boring, I do like the idea of a team of immortal mutants who have been around for a long time and who Cable knows will cause trouble in the future.
Posted by: Berend | February 7, 2016 4:41 PM
Appreciate it, Fnord!
IMHO, X-Force under Liefeld falls squarely in the so bad it's good category. It's just soooooo over the top I can't help but smile. Whereas Lee's X-Men is bad but you can kind of see the appeal to a young unassuming audience purely by rule of cool. Uncanny at this point, though, is just BAD. I think it was a commenter on this very site who proposed Whilce's run on Uncanny as worse in some ways than Chuck Austin's will be. I might agree.
Posted by: gfsdf gfbd | February 7, 2016 4:42 PM
Marvel used so many bad pencilers at this point in the hopes they'd become equal to McFarlane, Lee, and Liefeld. But they just don't have the craft down.
It would have been better to use past journeyman with good skills (Bob Hall, Rich Buckler) and paired them with an inker who would duplicate the same tricks (lots of cross hatching, overly detailed).
Posted by: Chris | February 7, 2016 4:46 PM
The only thing worse than bad Liefeld art is bad knockoff Liefeld art.
The 90s dark ages are in full swing now, and the Image knockoffs, hired off the street, presumably, will infect the whole line by year's end
Posted by: Bob | February 7, 2016 5:11 PM
I don't know if anyone has said it yet but all the gritting teeth made me think we're suddenly in a Nick Park/Aardman short. (now all we need is cheese)
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 7, 2016 5:53 PM
Hey, what are those word balloons doing in my collection of full body pin-ups?
Posted by: kveto | February 7, 2016 5:59 PM
LOL @ bread dough. Man this is shit...and this is the stuff that was selling back then! Unreal.
Posted by: Robert | February 7, 2016 6:34 PM
Shatterstar is hilariously deformed in that shot of him holding a gun...
It's interesting to learn that Cable gets his guns from AIM. Well, this actually explains the absurdity of him having this kind of weaponry in modern times... But doesn't it conflict with what will revealed later during X-Cutioner's Song? In that story, Apocalypse inspected Cable's guns and recognized them as *his* tech...
BTW. How old is Domino supposed to be, actually? She's an adult when in Wild Pack... and that was ten years before X-Force. So, she's middle-aged? I've never seen her that way...
Posted by: Piotr W | February 7, 2016 6:39 PM
At least these issues have balls out Liefeld plots and art. After Liefeld leaves, this title treads water for its entire run until Milligan and Allred come aboard and slowly revamp it into X-Statix. You've got a long slog ahead.
Posted by: Red Comet | February 7, 2016 8:26 PM
I think the explanation for the High Lord cncept that's totally inappropriate to Cannonball and X-Force is it's something Liefeld came up with--we, ripped off from "Highlander"--when he though he was going to take over Wolverine's book, before that went to Silvestri. Immortal opponents who can only be killed by severing the "five branches" would make sense as foes Wolverine could slice and dice yet who would still be viable recurring characters.
There's some completely incomprehensible Harras (probably) gibberish about High Lord "ascension"--I guess there is a "Highlander" equivalent, so maybe this is Liefeld's idea--coming up that ties into Apocalypse's status in Cable's future timeline. It never gets properly explained, and then it all gets scrapped by the time the Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix mini rolls around.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 7, 2016 8:33 PM
I don't mind admitting I miss the usually tiresome Celebrity member of our ranks here, i thought for sure he was going to give us more comparisons to Kirby and the Liefeld-Kirby link. Hey, that's not meant as a burn, either- I do not agree, at ALL, with Brimstone's revisionist philosophy of the Image guys, but I do find them entertaining as I can at least give him credit for apparently actually believing the stuff he days.
Or, you know. He's busy doing Celebrity stuff.
Posted by: Brian Carey | February 7, 2016 11:44 PM
@Red Comet- i actually liked Fabian's post X-Cutioner's Song run.
Posted by: Michael | February 7, 2016 11:50 PM
LOL!! Brian, good call. I admit, I was thinking the same thing but I didn't want to be the one to say it :)
Posted by: Bill | February 8, 2016 12:11 AM
Bill, look what's happened to us! His charisma is obviously legit, I've been a loyal lurker for two years and here I am, missing that guy. Fnord13 needs to just play up the celebrity connection here in my opinion hehe
Posted by: Brian Carey | February 8, 2016 12:23 AM
These issues are amauteristic in so many different ways.
Characters who seem to have been poisoned a variant of Joker's laughing toxin that forces them to stand still in a bilateral simetry pose to the camera while also growing them an inhuman quantity of teeth.
An experienced soldier who has no grasp of the idea of financing the enemy.
Body proportions that are only stable in their insistence to remain outside the human range.
Plotting that can't be bothered to even pretend to have any idea of where it is going.
How come this stuff sold at all?
That said, some hints do come across relatively clearly. These issues seem to attempt to make Cable a Terminator-type character, what with the implication that his face skin is covering a metallic face and that he and Stryfe are time-displaced versions of the same person (a Kang/Immortus situation is being hinted here). Perhaps not by coincidence, Terminator 2 is a 1991 movie. I assume Marvel did not want to be sued and changed their minds later. Besides, stealing ideas from both Highlander and Terminator at the same time would perhaps feel unconfortable.
Interesting that some effort seems to be happening to tie the books in a very general way, with the use of Fitzroy and Department H here while Alpha Flight is attempting to present itself as more of a mutant and international group. I don't think it flies, but they are making the attempt.
Phantazia's powers are awfully generic. It is a good thing that X-Force is so cavalier as to offer generous extrapolations of how they might perhaps work, even if it makes no sense.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 8, 2016 8:39 AM
These teeth are so disgusting.
The flashback part's cleaner art is actually slightly more tolerable to me, even if the anatomy on the characters is still pretty messed up.
Posted by: Enchlore | February 8, 2016 11:35 AM
I think you're right about Terminator 2 causing Liefeld to play up Cable's cyborg and time travel elements. That movie was HUGE when it came out.
I also agree that Highlander seems to be the inspiration for the High Lord/X-ternal storyline. It's a cult film these days, but back in the late 80s/early 90s it enjoyed a lot of success via video rental. I might be remembering it wrong, but I believe it was on HBO's regular rotation for a while back then too.
Posted by: Red Comet | February 8, 2016 12:42 PM
@Red, you're not remembering it wrong. HBO showed it a lot and it had a sizable cult following. The Highlander TV series also started in 1992.
Posted by: Robert | February 8, 2016 12:49 PM
The puckered crotches are killing me. They haunt my dreams.
Posted by: Eyescream | February 8, 2016 10:10 PM
I'm glad I keep getting referenced on the site.. here, under a Machine Man post... I guess it's prompting me to respond now even tho I seem to be the only one actually following fnord's rule system of last words and trolling but I guess if your name isn't Mark Drummond the rules don't apply to you, LOL
fnord I would like to request on your mercy to not ban me because I enjoy coming to this site and reliving the 1990s era that I loved but I have to make this last post and then I wont post anymore (as I was already not going to). But the truth is, things and other members of this site are just not fair to me. I think most criticism is all jealousy anyway. I didn't realize until I re-read stuff this afternoon that you guys were mocking my user name. Uhh, have you guys ever heard of something called BRANDING? Guys- lots of you do this. Click on your name and it takes you to your blog, or tumblr, or whatever. That's all I did. I am branding because I am an established, known entity. Did I ever link to my line of award-winning hot sauces? Nope. Did I ever share links of me and my close personal friend Michael Rooker (Guardians of Galaxy, Walking Dead)? Nah, I didn't do any of that. I talked about comics.
When I first started posting here, so many other posters wrote me, like "is this THE Brimstone" and "wow I've been a fan of yours for years" etc and I was like, "lets just focus on fnords work here I am keeping a low profile" so yes I am guilty of linking to one of my websites with my screenname why this brought about criticism I have no idea
I spent all evening going all over this in my head because I really like the entries here and the project but yes,believe it or not, I have feelings too and the mockery really hurts me because I have lived my life as a champion and am always aware I am a role model for many. I have a softer side I am not ashamed of it and I write poetry and I wrote this tonight with lots of emotion
he hid his own pain
Posted by: Brimstone: Wrestler, Celebrity | February 9, 2016 1:05 AM
Yeah, well, my uncle had a bit part in 'Mad Max 2', but you don't see me going on about that either.
Posted by: Oliver_C | February 9, 2016 4:56 AM
I (mostly) enjoy your posts. As someone that hasn't read new comics since the late 80s. I find your perspective unique; in that apparently these titles were selling but nobody liked it.
We all know what branding is. It's just that we all also know that using someone else's site to do our marketing isn't right. Your username was utterly mock-able.
Your use of derogatory adjectives pertaining to sexuality are questionable - "fruity" - although I tend to refrain from being offended by those sort of words, unless the people using them are using them with malice. Your usage of them just made me shake my head and think, "huh, people still use fruity that way".
At any rate, I like your enthusiasm for the site. And I enjoy the level of engagement you bring to it. I hope you keep the conversation going, but how about if we just know you as Brimstone; not Brimstone: .............
Posted by: Yogi deadhead | February 9, 2016 5:39 AM
I hadn't heard of you before this, Brimstone, yet I have a positive opinion of you from your comments. They've made an entertaining project at least a little more entertaining.
Listing all the things I consider my accomplishments after my user name... well, it's not something I would do, but seeing someone else do that is really nothing to get upset about. What's more distasteful to me is picking on a person over such a minor faux pas.
Posted by: Mortificator | February 9, 2016 5:46 AM
Brimstone, all i asked in my previous comment to you is that you not reply to that particular comment so as to not derail the thread, and that you watch the borderline bullying. I also said that i've enjoyed your comments on the actual comics, and you are welcome to continue commenting here.
I agree that it wasn't necessary for people to continue to reference you after that, but i saw it as inevitable blowing off of steam after you semi-hijacked the site. Moderating these disputes is the most annoying aspect of running this site - i really just want to write about comics - so i'll acknowledge that i should have jumped in.
Regarding marketing, it had to be obvious that having such a long user name was not the norm, and it was disruptive and clearly annoyed some other readers. On smaller screens it causes odd line breaks. But i didn't complain about that; i just limited the user name field. Additionally, for what it is worth, it's common on blogs, and it's the case on this one, that all links in the comments section are tagged with a "no follow" attribute, so that search engine crawlers won't find it and it won't improve SEO. So any marketing you are doing is directly to the people that are reading this site, and judging by the reactions you've seen you may realize that it may not have been working the way you hoped. But i leave that to you.
I have one more request to everybody: no more poetry! ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | February 9, 2016 7:50 AM
We'll all be good.
(Fnord, I sincerely apologise. I don't know what came over me. I've shown restraint all this time. Please accept my apologies.)
Posted by: kveto | February 9, 2016 8:04 AM
Posted by: kveto | February 9, 2016 8:05 AM
I don't think there is anything wrong with BRANDING guys and what you need to realize is I don't have a blog or something I am an established entity in the Entertainment world so I have to keep branding myself as my well known persona is my intellectual property. I have to retain protectorship of the Brimstone brand! I never post links to my many, many celebrity signings or anything else and never spammed nobody.
Secondly I apologized which I think gets me some credit on this wide world interweb, even though I didn't mean fruity to be bullying (?) because, where I grew up, "fruity" means "goofy" and not a term for Gay/LGBT. "Actin' fruity" is when you start mocking your buddies or something. The guys who had a problem with me or were apparently rubbed the wrong way shoulda just written me and I would have apologized but I was glad to do it publically! Again I feel like all the stuff against me has been blown up because of my celebrity stature and it makes me a target
Posted by: Brimstone: Wrestler, Celebrity | February 9, 2016 11:07 AM
Brimy, No one here cares about branding, we come here for the comics reviews and chronological placement. I'm published in the comics field but other than this post you've never seen me make mention of it because it's irrelevant to this site/project. I don't plan on mentioning it again.
Let's stick to the purpose of the site and not worry about name dropping or self-promotion as it virtually screams of "look at me" and this whole endeavor isn't about you. Be here as a fan of Marvel Comics.
Sorry, fnord, I just had to get that off my chest. I'll be back to normal commenting :)
Posted by: Bill | February 9, 2016 11:38 AM
I think one of the major problems with Liefeld that people don't often highlight is how he seems to get bored of drawing the same design for a character after about the 20th time and just starts drawing them in a different costume. With no mention of the change in the script, it actually makes following the stories quite hard.
I think this is like Boom-Boom's 6th or 7th Liefeld costume.
Not quite as bad as the 6-issue X-Force series from 2004 where Cable gets through 4 costumes.
Posted by: AF | February 9, 2016 12:16 PM
Well I first need to chime in to explain that I sorta have to protect my identity being an established celeb figure in the entertainment and comics world... second, I also thought I could promote fnord's site a lil' more by my huge, significant fanbase, asking me all the time "Brim what are u looking at this week" etc and I can point them out to this wonderful site.. just doing my part. When people see the Brimstone Brand, they know it's gonna be explosive
Since I really did wanna talk about comics and since everyone has elected me the official Rob Liefeld defender LOL I want to point out what I really think about these issues: and that is, Liefeld once again transcends comic norms and does something innovative. Nah, I'm NOT just saying thing bc u all baited me- hear me out. So Cannonball and Boom Boom's costumes keep changing. I call it "evolving". Think about it- who wears the same outfits all the time? If X-Force is supposed to be this pro activist militia group wouldn't you keep adding accessories to your uniform (NOT costume) as the mission required? this was realism and real cutting edge and is one more thing that changed the game due to Liefeld's forward thinking and innovative approach. Once again I am just mystified at the stuff ppl find to nitpick about. But to each his own of course
Posted by: Brimstone: Wrestler, Celebrity | February 9, 2016 3:30 PM
Far and away the best artwork out of these five issues was in #8, by Mike Mignola & Bob Wiacek. I remember in early 1992 being very pleasantly surprised to find Mignola's pencils in that issue, since I was already a big fan of his.
A number of years later I read an interview with Mignola where he explained why X-Force #8 was the last work he did at Marvel for years afterward. Apparently he was supposed to also draw the cover for the issue, but then Bob Harras or someone else in editorial reneged and had Liefeld draw it. Mignola was understandably upset, especially since by this point Liefeld had one foot out the door on his way to Image Comics and Youngblood. Mignola was insulted that he was getting passed up in favor of Liefeld, who had already handed in his walking papers.
It's regrettable that Harras & Co burned that bridge. Mignola became yet another top talent who now wanted nothing to do with Marvel in the 1990s. But in the end it did work out for Mignola, since he soon after created Hellboy. And that was definitely a bigger boon to the comic book medium than seeing him drawing a bunch of X-Men books.
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 9, 2016 4:57 PM
I have just regained access to my comics collection in the last two days. And I do own these issues. And as I go through the agonizing process of reorganizing them, I am seriously considering offering fnord a kidney or something (just in case he needs it) for sparing me ever having to look at these books again once I file them. I've reconnected with a lot of awesome comics in the last two days and, wow, these are not remotely among them.
tl;dr Fnord, you're taking one for the team. May God have mercy on your soul.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 12, 2016 12:20 AM
"When i first started posting here, so many other posters started writing me, asking 'is this the REAL Brimstone'..."
Thanks for a big laugh before I go to work.
Posted by: Brian Carey | February 13, 2016 7:07 AM
AF, that "ever-changing costume" thing was also a problem in New Mutants too. (I've made plenty of jokes about Rictor's inconsistent hairstyles.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | March 9, 2016 2:59 AM
It's a problem in nearly all Liefeld books. (for what it's worth, I count much of his New Mutants run as "X-Force"... and so do the Marvel trades department).
That 2004 X-Force series has got to be the worst for it. Shatterstar and Cable practically change clothes every scene. Sometimes mid-scene.
Posted by: AF | March 9, 2016 4:16 AM
I have two no-prize/fan fix thoughts for these issues. First, Sauron's ability to wound Cannonball even while he's blasting can be explained away by the same vague retcon that said Sam's not really immortal and what happened here didn't really happen. Maybe Cable secretly using telepathy or some technology to alter everyone's perceptions?
Second, Masque is "dead" for about a decade after this appearance and I don't think we really get an explanation of how he survived when he reappears. But this one's easy: Masque never uses his powers in these issues, so perhaps this isn't Masque at all--leaping into combat like this certainly isn't characteristic--but some Morlock that Masque has reshape do to look just like him. (That won't work for fnord's project, since it would mean self-creatively writing out a character who's meant to appear here, but it's the simple explanation
Posted by: Walter Lawson | March 20, 2016 5:56 AM
Walter, there's no need to explain Sauron's ability to wound Sam- it's explained in the story as a result of the specific interaction between Sam's blast field and Phantazia's energy scrambling powers.
Posted by: Michael | March 20, 2016 9:31 PM
I know this is considered heresy, but I actually prefer the Liefeld art to the Mignola art. I know Mignola is revered by many, but his art has never worked for me, and even less so in a standard superhero comic.
These issues are the crux of the problem with X-Force. It gives hints that Liefeld might have had an overall plan - Cable's back-story, the Externals, Kane and Stryfe - but he had taken so long just to get to this point.
The main problem with the Externals, from my point of view, was that it was a perfect description of Apocalypse, and yet he wasn't included, perhaps because he was a co-creation of Weezie, whom Liefeld had pushed out of the way to create X-Force in the first place.
But good god, all those teeth!
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 14, 2016 11:45 AM
I think Apocalypse was definitely part of the wider Externals plan, if not specifically mentioned in these particular issues. Or at least, he was ret-conned in very quickly, at least by '93, when Stryfe's Strike File comes around. Definitely by issue #25, when Cable gives his full origin and reveals Apocalypse owned the timeline he came from. Hell, by the beginning of #37, Gideon is relaying to Sam what looks to be a furst stab at an origin story for Apocalypse (though I might be wrong here)
Anyways, if it wasn't obvious already I agree with Michael that Nicieza's run post-Liefeld made for a decent superhero book, even though, hilariously, the artists kept jumping from here to draw Spawn. And I liked Sam as an External precisely because a) he was the last character you'd expect, and b) if there really was going to be some contest between immortal mutant highlords for ownership of the world then Sam was definitely the Bernie Sanders character going up against Gideon, Selene, and Apocalypse
Posted by: George Lochinski | July 4, 2016 4:48 PM
Regarding the er..."sexy" bathtub scene, I take it we're suppose to tactfully ignore the implication of Cable getting it on with an imposter? (Boy the outcry that would come out if this "revelation were coming out today...)
And yeah, I don't think Copycat's mission really require her to make bathtime O-faces with her mark. I can kinda see why Deadpool would be upset there.
By the way, fnord (or anybody, really) who was the first "Thornn" (this duplication seems especially bizarre since the big reason for these type of names is not simply because "myzspailing wurdz iz kewl" but because it always the creators to claimed trademarked names...i.e. "Poizen" is up for grabs, but "Poison" might distract Bret Michaels from playing with coke-fueled grpupies and hire a laywer.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 3, 2016 12:36 AM
The first Thornn was a member of Salem's Seven.
Posted by: Michael | October 4, 2016 7:15 PM
One of the things that all these years later stands out for me about these issues is Phantazia... and not in a good way.
Reading these comics in 1992, I had no clue who Phantazia was supposed to be. I didn't know if she had appeared before or was a new character. She just showed up along with Toad and Blob and Pyro with zero explanation. We weren't given any clue about where she came from, what her real name was supposed to be, how she met the rest of the Brotherhood, or why she decided to join them.
Years later, once I found out that she was indeed a brand new character, I realized that she epitomized Rob Liefeld's weaknesses as a creator. He designs these "kewl" looking characters and just tosses them into his stories, often giving little to no consideration towards developing their personalities or backstories.
This became especially apparent to me a couple of years after, when he was doing Youngblood. There were literally armies of brand new characters getting thrown at the reader at the drop of a hat, and they were nearly all cyphers. On the rare occasion when Liefeld *did* give a character an origin, it was usually something hopelessly convoluted, typically involving time travel or alternate realities, at which point you found yourself wishing that he hadn't have bothered.
So, did anyone else at Marvel ever get around to giving Phantazia a backstory or personality?
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 29, 2016 1:07 PM
I think Phantazia was "driven mad" by M-Day but that may have taken place off-panel. Or possibly even in one of those files books...
And Phantazia really represents the worst of Liefeld's laziness. Don't feel like drawing faces? Give her a mask. Give her plenty of hair too so you never have to draw ears. Don't want to draw feet? Even better, don't give her a body at all!
Posted by: Bigvis497 | July 6, 2017 1:18 AM
But the less feet and faces you draw, the more time you have to add extra teeth!
Posted by: Berend | July 6, 2017 4:30 AM
I know this is a Liefeld comic and all, and everything should be taken with a grain of salt...BUT, Cable gets half of his face ripped, and nobody bats an eye!
Sure the guy has a cyborg arm, but one thing is to have robotic limbs, the other is to be a full cyborg underneath...
Zero character development...
Posted by: Bibs | March 14, 2018 4:00 AM
Gonna be honest, the flashback is the best part of the arc, art-wise. (a few shots in the other issues are actually okay, but it's still Liefeldish art) I know X-Force is a Liefeldian concept, but Mignola's distinctive style and shading could have worked really well for the book. It has kind of a black ops feel, and he manages to respect Liefeld's character designs while still removing everything that makes them... Liefeldesque. (inhuman faces, weird legs, and so on) Yeah, I'm having fun coming up with adjectives.
Now I wonder what Pacella's art would look like if he wasn't mimicking Liefeld.
Posted by: Nth Wolf | April 23, 2018 7:01 AM
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