Issue(s): X-Force #19
That final sequence is called "overextending your metaphor".
A friend of mine was outraged when this issue came out over the idea of Cannonball striking at Xavier. And i'm sure that was a common reaction; i can certainly understand it. At the same time (even if we think that Cannonball is really swinging hard enough to hurt, and i guess the speedlines and the impact when Xavier blocks the swing do indicate that), i don't know that we're supposed to identify with Cannonball, exactly. I think at this point Professor X had enough gravitas that it's sort of expected that the audience understands that he's generally "right". Cannonball comes across to me as someone that's confused and rebellious. And the idea that he's taking an (open handed) swing at his former mentor is a way of showing that he's overly emotional, not that he's a kewl badass. I think Nicieza is doing a good job in depicting characters in all their complexity, not trying to say that X-Force is right and the X-Men are old and out of date.
In any event, to complete the overextended metaphor, we see Feral kill the mouse when no one's looking. X-Force then leave with Lila Cheney.
There are other developments of note in this issue.
For one, Boom Boom (still recovering from the broken jaw received during X-Cutioner's Song) changes her name to Boomer and gets a new costume.
She's also told by Lila Cheney that there's no competition between them for Cannonball. Lila and Sam are "just friends" who "had a little fling". Lila is "too busy, and he's too young". The latter is an interesting, and i assume unintentional, contrast to the main theme of this issue, which is in a sense about Cannonball growing up.
Other X-Forcers get new costumes as well.
We also see Warpath and Siryn steal data from the X-Men's computers. Professor X is in fact aware of it. He tells Cannonball at the end, but tells an outraged Cannonball not to make an issue of it. He just wants Cannonball to realize that "this is the path you have chosen -- one of second-guessing and moral compromises".
We also see Vanessa (the woman that was pretending to be Domino) living in Massachusetts with a friend (Tina Valentino).
And we see G.W. Bridge, wearing a regulation SHIELD uniform for once, getting chewed out by Henry Gyrich after the loss of equipment to X-Force, and then quitting.
But most of the issue is focused on the philosophical schism between X-Force and the X-Men. In addition to the direct discussion between Xavier and Cannonball, we get a lot of good scenes of various characters from X-Force and the X-Men either interacting or thinking about the differences. This continues to be a strong period for the X-Force book. We're beyond Cable and beyond Liefeld; Greg Capullo is no longer even aping Liefeld and is doing really nice work. X-Force are on their own, trying to carve a path for themselves while making "moral compromises", separated from the X-Men and on the run from the likes of SHIELD. It's the outlaw team that there's always been a place for in the Marvel universe.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after New Warriors #31. X-Force are said to have been under house arrest for "almost three weeks". G.W. Bridge's appearance in Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #45-47 should take place prior to this, especially since Bridge wonders where Fury (i.e. not Dugan) is when he's called in to talk to Gyrich and General Clarke.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBeast, Boom Boom, Cannonball, Copycat, Feral, G.W. Bridge, General Jeremy Clarke, Henry Peter Gyrich, Lila Cheney, Professor X, Rictor, Shatterstar, Siryn, Stevie Hunter, Storm, Sunspot, Tina Valentino, Warpath
"G.W. Bridge's appearance in Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #45-47 should take place prior to this, especially since Bridge wonders where Fury (i.e. not Dugan) is when he's called in to talk to Gyrich and General Clarke."
Posted by: Michael | August 29, 2016 9:28 PM
Xavier: "You are no longer children..."
Did Nicieza not understand at all that the New Mutants were kids when Cable got there? I like his writing on X-Men and New Warriors but I don't think he understood the former students in X-Force at all.
Posted by: Jeff | August 30, 2016 10:04 AM
@Jeff: I suppose you could read Xavier's comment more metaphorically - they are still technically children, but what they've gone through means they're not children anymore.
That said, Nicieza definitely writes this era of X-FORCE like the characters are in their late teens/early 20s (with the original X-Men and their peers late 20s/30s over in his X-MEN), a notion that gets further cemented when GENERATION X comes along shortly and introduces a new crop of teen mutants (thus thrusting the former New Mutants in X-Force into a "college undergrad" kind of age bracket just by existing).
Certainly, if Sunspot was 14 when NEW MUTANTS launched, it's doubtful that five years of time has passed since then, especially given the compressed timeline, but this is hardly the only group of characters to suffer from both the vagaries of time in comics, and the compressed timeline specifically (ie Kitty Pryde).
Posted by: Austin Gorton | August 30, 2016 10:52 AM
Keep in mind, the very concept of "teenagers" was really only invented fifty or sixty years ago. Sam would have been considered a grown man at his age, most likely married with children. He couldn't vote or do a few other things, but that's about it. That's certainly where he came from, having already gone to work in the mines to support his family because that's just what you do.
I would think Bobby and Boom-Boom are the only ones in the group shot who didn't come from that life, and Boom-Boom ran away from home at 13. Not sure how Siryn was raised and don't care about Feral, but Feral obviously took hunting for a living very seriously. I don't like that the characters wound up like this, but they aren't children any longer.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 30, 2016 6:02 PM
...i don't know that we're supposed to identify with Cannonball, exactly. I think at this point Professor X had enough gravitas that it's sort of expected that the audience understands that he's generally "right".
I dunno. It seems like the comics after this (continuing right up to the present day...yes even after ol' Charlie got killed off for real) seem to be devoted to showing that "no he is NOT in fact always 'right.'"
And while he may not be "correct", I really like the development they are taking Cannonball, with him coming into his own as a assertive, confident leader. I like the fact that without anyone else to steal the spotlight, Sam gets a turn to shine (one of the odd things about the New Mutants is that, despite being "co-leaders" Dani always seem to be the one taking responsibility for setting a direction and forging the path for the group.) Also, as Austin stated X-Force was treated more a a college-aged group of young adults rather than teenagers in any case. (compare the way they are viewed here with the way teenage super-groups are treated in today's comic climate.)
By the way did Sam change costumes right in the middle of a speech?
Posted by: Jon Dubya | September 7, 2016 8:53 PM
There's a scene here where Sunspot tells an anecdote about how back when he was a student he used to sit out on the grass because he knew it was difficult for Professor X to get his wheelchair there...
... except am I misremembering, or is there no significant period where Sunspot is a student and Xavier is in a wheelchair? Almost immediately after he recruits the New Mutants he's implanted by the Brood, and dies, and get his new Shi'ar body, and he doesn't lose his legs again until the Muir Island Saga, by which point Bobby is in no sense a Xavier student. It stuck out to me as a Nieceza-not-paying-attention moment.
Posted by: Greg T | October 30, 2016 3:54 AM
Xavier was still in a wheelchair for a while after he got his new body- he didn't regain the ability to walk until New Mutants 14. So that was a significant portion of Xavier's tutelage of the original New Mutants.
Posted by: Michael | October 30, 2016 9:05 AM
Extra Niceza bonus: Cannonball finally lost his overdone "cornpole" accent.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | March 21, 2017 7:26 PM
Also regarding Jeff's point: would that have mattered anyway? I remember a recurring gag being a bunch of adult heroes failing to similarly contain the Runaways. (Indeed that always seems to be a losing battle with any teen heroes. Any such plot never ends up suceeding anyway.)
And even at this this time, the X-men were poorly eqipped to properly take care of kids anyway (remember in the build up to Generation X, much is made out of the fact that the team was too involved in 90s Epic X-related shennanigans to give Jubilee the attention she needed.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | March 21, 2017 7:36 PM
This is my favorite issue of X-Force to date (meaning, out of the first 19 issues, not everything that follows - I haven't read that). I didn't feel like the metaphor was over-extended. To me it was pretty well-done, putting question to the X-Men's methods in a more modern, seemingly darker time. I personally still take the X-Men's side on the "open-hand" approach, and I lament that in modern times, Cannonball's line of thinking seems to have lead to more compromised heroes than we had before this time period. But as far as making the reader think about what they might otherwise take for granted, I think it's effective, and the book is richer for it. It also, like Jon said, does a good job of letting Sam shine as a guy who is finally ready to step up and take on the responsibilities of leadership.
Btw, I didn't get the impression that Sam meant to slap the Professor upside the head - which would have been very immature and overly emotional. I read it more as something like what Wolverine has sometimes done - coming as close as possible without causing harm, with the intention of making a point.
Posted by: Ghost | June 27, 2018 1:18 AM
Also, in regard to the debate over the age of the X-Force "kids":
Marvel's sliding time scale where everything has always happened within the past 10-15 years (usually closer to 10) is ridiculous. I understand the need for a sliding time scale in this medium, but it should really be more around 20-25 years so that it doesn't have to slide SO much. There's really no need to try to crunch all of Marvel's history into such a short period. It ends up making things make less sense, not more.
ANYWAY, in my head, X-Force is mostly in their late teens at this point, with many of the younger X-Men in their early 20's and the original team at or around 30. This seems to fit with how they are written as well as what has been said in recent issues (Then again, The Beast, in the same issue in which he mentioned that he was about to turn 30, also said the newer X-Men like Gambit and Rogue were as young as when he first began, which is obviously not true, so take their dialogue for what you will). I read Sam as being somewhere between 18 and 20 by now. I'm pretty sure, based on calculations I made when everyone was younger, that he is only a year or two younger than Colossus, and we know Sam is older than Kitty Pride, who has to be at least 16 or 17 by now, right?
Posted by: Ghost | June 27, 2018 1:29 AM
Re: Rogue and Gambit's ages- Hank is usually written as 18 when he joined the X-Men. Rogue is said to be 18 in X-Men 182, while Gambit is said to have married Belladonna and killed her brother on his 18th birthday. Obviously some time has passed since for both of them but I think that saying they're as young as he was when he started out is fair.
Posted by: Michael | June 27, 2018 7:51 AM
Maybe. This situation brings up another thought for me though. How old are the X-Men in 2018? I ask because if Hank is nearing 30, that implies that 11-12 years have gone by since the X-Men were founded. But it's been another 26 years since then in real time, so you would think that by now in comic time it has been at least another 9-10 years. BUT according to Marvel's sliding time scale, there weren't even superheroes that far back. So are we to believe that 10 years between the beginning and now, and that almost no time has passed since then? Or do we disregard his age at this time and assume everything that has happened so far took place in, say 5 years? this is what I mean about the sliding time scale being dumb. You can't have a universe go on forever, without rebooting its continuity, and still claim everything that has ever happened occurred in the last decade or so.
I better idea would have been to establish that every three years in reality is one in Marvel, or something like that. It allows for a sliding time scale without crunching the events at either end.
Posted by: Ghost | June 27, 2018 4:07 PM
*I should have said there weren't any X-Men, not there weren't any superheroes. Obviously there were still some. Anything prior to the FF isn't really part of the sliding time scale.
Posted by: Ghost | June 27, 2018 4:08 PM
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