Sunday, November 4, 2012

Milligan & Allred's X-Force

X-Force: New Beginnings (Marvel, 2001)

I'd been eyeing these books for some time now, drawn to the unusual cast of characters gracing their covers, colorfully rendered in artist Mike Allred's unique, graphic style. The art reminded me of Batman: Year One  and  DC: New Frontier, illustrated by David Mazzucchelli and Darwyn Cooke respectively- well drawn, but not fussy on detail, with a certain retro feel to it. I picked up the New Beginnings TPB (X-Force #116-120) up for $9.99 at V-Stock, then hit the Fantasy Shop for The Final Chapter (X-Force #121-129). A radical departure at the end of the title's first volume that started with Liefeld's original 90's lineup, I was blown away at how great, how smart this short run of  Milligan & Allred's X-Force was.

From Wikipedia;
In early 2001, X-Force was completely reimagined by writer Peter Milligan and artist Mike Allred, who replaced the existing incarnation of the team with an entirely different group of mutants using the X-Force name. In X-Force, vol. 1 #115, Bedlam, Cannonball, Meltdown, and Warpath all appeared to die in an explosion, though all subsequently returned. The next issue, #116, saw the introduction of a new, sardonically toned X-Force consisting of colorfully dressed and emotionally immature young mutants put together and marketed to be media superstars. X-Force was canceled with #129 in late 2002 and replaced with the retitled X-Statix series in late 2002.

X-Force: The Final Chapter (Marvel, 2002)
Our heroes are a flawed, often troubled group of young mutants with particularly tortured, miserable existences. Several members are horribly dispatched early on in the series with a sense of finality not usually present in the imaginary world of comics, where death is often a temporary state. It was full of betrayal, mortal bond, violence, unusual coupling and heartache. It's cynicism was tempered with both a graphic and situational sense of tragic comedy, bringing a sense of depth in the characters that made me laugh at them one page and pity them the next. And while a lot of other comics from this period surrounding the terrorist attacks on the United States have been compared in context of the uncertain times in which they were written, this run of X-Force is a particularly interesting and deeply psychological.

It may not be among the considered among the greatest literature of our times in a conventional sense, but I was impressed. Milligan & Allred didn't just make a comic book, they made a contemporary work of art a little ahead of it's time, in a manner similar to Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns or Alan Moore's Watchmen in the 80's. I enjoyed it as much as I did the Volume 3 work I read awhile back, the 2008-2010 run of the title by writers Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost and artist Clayton Crain. Milligan & Allred's X-Force is worthy of any X-Book enthusiast's attention. A+
More Later-Make It FUN!


  1. I gotta say...I would have much prefered they would have started off with the X Statix name. Having them take on the XForce name sullied it IMO. Not to be too critical but I do not get Allred's art. It looks like Andy Warhol did it.

  2. Well, they played it well with Cannonball & Domino showing up to pick a fight over the use of the X-Force name & how the young team sullied their good name. While I'm not 100% sure, I'd bet they originally meant to keep this new team after "killing off" key members of the original X-Force, but later changed their minds. Andy Warhol didn't come to mind looking at Allred's art, but that's an interesting comparison with it's simplistic, graphic style. I didn't understand Warhol's work as a high school student, but after several years of studying art history I came to realize he was probably one of, if not the most important artist of the 20th century- a hugely talented workhorse of an individual whose output was rivaled only by Picasso.

  3. I always thought this run on X-Force looked interesting.

  4. I like to refer to this as Doop's X-Force, haha!

  5. I remember when these issues came out - they were quite popular and a little bit radical. I always wanted to read them, but never did. I'm glad you brought them up because now I'm going to hunt them down and give them a try. I am a fan of Allred's work, and Milligan seems like a good writer, so it will be fun to see how they stack up.