Issue(s): X-Force #5
In any event, this is definitely where the art on this book loses its luster. This is actually a very nuanced thing to say. Liefeld's art of course has always been, at best, weird and stylized. But for the first few issues of this series there was a noticeable uptick in the effort, with more detail and more cool moments (although as commenters have pointed out on this site, a lot of those cool panels were in fact swipes). But with this issue the art gets more mundane. At the same time, it gets a little more "realistic", and maybe even arguably "better" from a technical point of view. But whatever we think of him today, Liefeld was extremely popular at the time, and as the art gets "better" it loses what makes it Liefeld art (to be cynical, i wonder if the reason Marvel "forgot" to include credits for Mychaels and Murray was because Liefeld was the draw of the book; this would have been 19 year old Mychaels' first art credit, and per the CBR link he was "disappointed" when he saw that his credit wasn't included).
I knew about the Mychaels situation before re-reading this issue for my project, but i didn't remember which issue it started with. I did notice right away that the art seemed "worse" than before, but when i saw this page i realized this issue must be where Mychaels started.
You'll notice that the faces, especially Boom Boom's, are not Liefeldian at all. But what struck me was Boom Boom's mostly realistic looking leg muscles. Granted her legs end in weird toe-less Barbie doll feet, and no, putting hatch lines on them doesn't hide that at all. But i like the fact that a woman that engages in regular training and physical activity has some real muscles instead of the usual impossibly skinny string beans. I wish John Byrne's She-Hulk had so much muscle definition, frankly. But at the same time, these aren't exactly compelling panels. Whatever makes Rob Liefeld's art "kewl" is missing from this page, except maybe in the final Cannonball panel.
Also missing from this issue is a plot. Per the cover, this issue is about the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. But two of those Mutants - Pyro and the new one, Phantazia - do not appear in this issue. The focus is on Toad - who will lead the new Brotherhood) - and the Blob torturing Karl Lykos and killing his girlfriend Tanya Anderssen (these guys look more like the Brotherhood of Toothy Mutants)...
...so that he will turn back into Sauron.
Pyro and Phantazia are not mentioned, and the question of how Blob and Pyro escaped from Iraq per X-Factor annual #6 is not addressed.
As was the case with Juggernaut last issue, Sauron is erroneously called a mutant multiple times, even though he got his powers by getting bitten by radioactive pterodactyls.
I also have a hard time accepting the Toad as a boss villain. I really need to see the scene that convinces Blob to listen to anything he has to say. It'll later be revealed that Toad worked out the return of Blob and Pyro, but that's something that should have been explained quickly in this story, not mentioned in the back of an annual a couple years from now. Toad is just not a credible leader villain without major development for the character (it would have been nice if his various turns in the Vision & the Scarlet Witch series and with the "Misfits" was addressed as well, but now i know i'm asking for a lot).
Beyond the Brotherhood scenes, there is a lot of X-Force standing around talking, and there is an argument between Henry Gyrich, Val Cooper, Nick Fury, and G.W. Bridge. Gideon told the press after last issue that Cable and X-Force were the masterminds behind the Juggernaut and Black Tom's attack on the World Trade Center. Gyrich wants Bridge to "sanction" Cable, but Bridge refuses to kill him, and Fury backs him up on that. Gyrich says that "it has been determined... that Dr. Cooper's X-Factor unit is not yet ready" to go after X-Force, so it is up to Bridge and SHIELD. Gyrich says if that fails, he's received financial backing to start up Project: Wideawake again.
And uh, that's it.
Nothing wrong with a transitional/bridge issue, of course, but my god if it feels like nothing happens here.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: Deadpool was seen teleporting away in X-Force #4 with Juggernaut, and he arrives at Tolliver's place at the beginning of this issue. That doesn't necessarily mean it was an instantaneous teleport; Deadpool obviously deposited Black Tom somewhere when he went back to retrieve Juggernaut, and maybe they spent some time bandaging Tom before going to Tolliver. And Juggernaut arrives looking really winded, which certainly wasn't the case at the end of X-Force #4, so maybe Deadpool has been subjecting him to multiple teleports. Still, since there are no other dependencies, i've pushed this back in publication time so it's not too far from last issue. Enough time has passed for the news media to have run Gideon's accusations "non-stop since they first did the interview". Toad mentions Magneto's "delusions of nobility" but that doesn't necessarily mean that this takes place before Magneto is (seemingly) killed; who knows if Toad has been keeping up with current events.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBlack Tom, Blob, Boom Boom, Cable (Adult), Cannonball, Copycat, Deadpool, Feral, G.W. Bridge, Genesis, Henry Peter Gyrich, Juggernaut, Nick Fury, Sauron, Shatterstar, Siryn, Tanya Anderssen, Toad, Valerie Cooper, Warpath
Weirdly, in this issue, Warpath thinks about wanting revenge on Shaw, Frost and Leland. Now, it's possible this takes place before Emma gets rendered comatose in X-Men 281, but Warpath should know about Shaw's and Leland's deaths by now- Leland died way back in X-Men 209.
Posted by: Michael | November 18, 2015 7:46 PM
Particularly weird to think Sauron is a mutant because in his former appearances it's explicitly a point he is a "non-mutant variant".
I couldn't swallow Toad as a mastermind leader either. I appreciate the effort to do something with the character, especially as he dates back to X-Men #1, but nothing indicates this level of intelligence and drive. I could much easier buy Toad becoming his own man and abandoning his old persona, but this is a bit too much. I'd find it much easier to believe Mesmero was the new leader or Frenzy from the old Alliance of Evil.
Posted by: Chris | November 18, 2015 8:57 PM
Who shrank the Blob's head?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 20, 2015 3:58 PM
The Blob's head has been looking more and more ridiculous at least since Liefeld joined New Mutants/X-Force. I don't know if its worse that his head looks a lot like a cylinder at this point or the fact he suddenly has a bazillion teeth. (then again so does Toad now...well the bazillion teeth part)
Posted by: Ataru320 | January 12, 2016 3:25 PM
Boom Boom looks like 40 in that scan but the character is supposed to be barely what, 15/16?
Posted by: Jeff | February 15, 2016 12:43 AM
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