Saturday, November 5, 2011

X-Force #1

I was kinda surprised to find an unopened X-Force #1 (Marvel, Aug. 1991) in the dollar comic bin, but I shouldn't have been- just recently I watched  the History Channel's Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked  (2003), and Stan Lee himself was talking about the great comic book crash of the 90's. A boom in the popularity due to Marvel's ever-expanding X-Men comics titles, title crossover events, video games, toys, and a Fox animated X-Men show got a lot of outsiders interested in comics. When these speculators tried to unload the extra copies & special editions that prosperous times had afforded, they found that no one was interested, so they quit buying. This left publishers who had been pumping out excessive runs with a glut of extra books- Marvel had to declare bankruptcy & scale back franchises drastically as a result, and a lot of independent comic shops went under. As Stan Lee said in the show, what made the old comics worth a lot was their rarity, and the speculators failed to see this.  Consequently, there's a lot of 90's comics out there- hell, I found two of these poly-bagged   :D

Back & front of the issue, showing Cannonball, Shatterstar, Warpath, Domino, Boom Boom, Feral, & Cable... 

X-Force came out of New Mutants, part of the diversification capitalizing on popularity of the X-Men franchise, also including X-Factor, Excalibur, and the Wolverine solo series. I missed out on most all of this at the time, but I find a nostalgic charm in the over-the-top excesses of the 90's. Artist Rob Liefeld seems to have been roundly blessed & cursed for his work here, and for good reason- it looks like a very talented, very young person did the pencilling. I kinda like that about it.  He was certainly unique, and his work must have looked very different from the accepted "comics style" when it came out.  I read that writer Mark Millar defended incompared it to Jack Kirby- very unusual when it came out, & cartoony. It's ambitious & expressive in my eyes... it was what it was. Hostility toward the exaggerated style he contributed to, perhaps even created in the 90's, was partially a product of his extreme success & market saturation in my opinion. I won't dismiss Liefeld as an artist no matter how many hater fanboys don't like it- he was a huge success, the man is still working, and looking at his website I can see he's grown. He created Deadpool for goodness sakes! There are many points to be considered in subjective art appreciation, your personal issues shouldn't be one of them. That said, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and there's no accounting for individual taste, including my own. 

In this first issue, Cable and his X-Force fly to Antartica to take down the mutant terrorist group known as the Mutant Liberation Front, breaking into their base base and taking the guards by storm. Cable has turned the New Mutants into an elite tactical unit! The team is confronted by Forearm, Kamikaze, Wildside, and Reaper, upon pentrating their base, leading to a bloody confrontation, Shatterstar cutting off Reaper's hand, and Feral breaking Wildside's jaw. The M.L.F narrowly escapes through a teleport Zero opened, Stryfe having activated the base's self destruct sequence, which upon discovery, X-Force's scout craft teleports them aboard & away just in time. 

Check out this splashy, two-page spread....

In a highrise penthouse back in New York, Gideon trains Sunspot in battle tactics and invitites him to a stock buyout later, where Arianna Jankos introduces the two men to Black Tom Cassidy, who surprisedly takes them hostage there along with everyone else in the World Trade Center.  All the time just a step behind, G.W. Bridge and S.H.I.E.L.D. have been searching for Cable and his rogue team, calling General Clarke of the Canadian military to bring "Department K" onto the case- "It's time to call in Weapon X!".  Bridge's request refers to the return of Deadpool in issue #2, the popular mercenary introduced only seven months earlier in The New Mutants #98.
Front and back of the Deadpool trading card included in this collector's edition:

I picked up the first five issues of this title a couple weeks ago, including a Spider-Man crossover issue involving Juggernaut which I enjoyed thoroughly. I grabbed more of what I could find in the dollar comic bin this weekend at BAM's Anniversary Sale, and a couple issues of Cable's solo title as well.

*Check out Rob Liefeld's website
More Later- Make It FUN!


  1. I used to have about 5 of these un-opened at one point Super-D. They were pretty dirty common and cheap at the time i had them. I don't even know way i had so many because i really dislike Rob Liefield's art. Heck most of the art from this time period i hate but Liefield's tops my list.

  2. Yes, i did see more feet on the new stuff :D ...It looks different, slicker to me. He's not for everybody. I for instance, am not of fan of fine artist Alex Katz- hugely successful, but boring to me somehow. And there are some I'm certain don't like my art, even though I sold over 30 paintings last year. But, the great thing about art is that there is something for everyone :)

  3. I had tons of these growing up.I always found his art to be a little odd as well.The way he drew closed fists was comical to me.Nonetheless the characters and colors in the book were great and i liked them.

  4. I have been thinking alot about those early days of Image and guys like Liefeld. I so hate his stuff today but at the time I thought he was great. Everyone learns by copying someone else and his stuff was easy for a kid to copy and easily filled up a page so that you could at least TRY to tell a superhero story when you were 25. I knew a lot about comics even then and I still loved his stuff. I have such a weird relationship with his work because it took alot for me to hate him and his HEROES UNLEASHED stuff is really really bad. I hope you skip over that period. But I have to say I have been enjoying your posts about these comics very much. I feel like I am collecting comics again and I can argue why or why I didn't like particular issues. I bet there is not a collection out there that doesn't have a X-FORCE 1 still in the bag

  5. Thanks Cal! I work very hard on these & they take awhile. I don't usually get this many comments on my comic posts, but I DO get a lot of page views in my stats... ?? I must've chosen the right artist this time :D