Yet another series of titles coming out of Marvel NOW! were announced with a pair of teasers that showcased the words WANTED and KILLERS, which turned out to be the newest titles to feature X-Force. WANTED referred to the upcoming Cable and X-Force by Dennis Hopeless and Salvadore Larroca, while KILLERS referred to the next volume of Uncanny X-Force by Sam Humphries and Ron Garney. Uncanny follows Psylocke and her team (Storm, Puck, and Spiral) as they continue in the vein of the previous series in a world spanning adventure of undisclosed killing. Cable and X-Force heralds the return of Cable to the team (Domino, Colossus, Forge, and Dr. Nemesis) he created, on the run from the Uncanny Avengers, another new team appearing after AvX.
Crazy Comic Fun Fact: The Uncanny Avengers are led by Alex Summers (Havok), who is actually Cable’s uncle, despite Cable being, like three times Havok’s age. Time travel is fun.
Out of all the various titles to spin-off from the main series, X-Force is one of the longest lasting as well as most frequently altered teams in X-history. All the different versions of the team always had a different objective than the X-Men as a whole save one, and X-Force has proven to be a standing faction in the X-Men mythology. So in order to get ready for the next generation of X-Force, we obviously have to take a look at the past roots of the team like any self respecting geek.
Here’s what I pulled out of the Comic Box:
Generally considered the Second Class of the Xavier Institute, the New Mutants were created by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod. First appearing in one of Marvel’s early graphic novels, a format they were starting to become very experimental with. Continuing in an ongoing series, The New Mutants introduced us to Sam Guthrie (Cannonball), Dani Moonstar (Mirage), Roberto da Costa (Sunspot), Xi’an Coy Manh (Karma), and Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane). This ethnically diverse team of youths began training at the Xavier School to hone the use of their powers. It was a great companion series to the very popular 80′s Uncanny X-Men, but it was an even better solo series that started building the future generation of mutantkind. New members included Warlock, Doug Ramsey (Cypher), Illyana Rasputin (Magik), and Amara Aquila (Magma). This would be considered the main group of New Mutants and would remain together for a few years.
Other members came and went, as did other mentors. The team started out under the tutelage of Professor Xavier, but eventually fell under the guidance of Magneto, who Xavier had left in charge of the school while he cruised with aliens in space. Long story. Eventually the team was left to rely largely on their own, until an encounter with a man named Cable who would have a lasting impact on the team.
Yes. The Liefeld Era. As in Rob Liefeld. Please keep reading. Liefeld (& Fabian Nicieza) took over the New Mutants title, radically altering the team. First he introduced Cable, a mysterious, militaristic ’90s stereotype that took the reins of the New Mutants. The team lost the majority of its members, with only Cannonball and Boom Boom (who was added to the New Mutants later in the series run along with Julio Richter) remaining when the team transitioned into X-Force. Led by Cable, the team added Domino, Shatterstar, James Proudstar (Warpath), and Feral. Liefeld was also responsible for the creation of Deadpool who featured heavily in the early issues. As X-Force completely removed themselves from the X-Men, they took on more of a renegade status, serving as a kind of militant arm of Xavier’s Dream.
Liefeld left the book, meaning that we would finally get to see characters drawn with feet and proper body proportions. Nicieza continued scripting with Greg Capullo and later Tony Daniel taking over on the art. New members Theresa Rourke (Siryn), Julio Richtor (Rictor), and former New Mutant Sunspot soon joined the ranks. A family dynamic started to grow between the team, with Cable as the surprising father figure. During this time the team’s history was explored, including Cable’s origin as the time displaced son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor (yet another long story), which led to closer relations with the X-Men. Then came the Age of Apocalypse and the suspension of all X-titles while that storyline played out.
Crazy Comic Fun Fact: Liefeld left the book. Seriously, that was the best thing to ever happen to X-Force.
Jeph Loeb took over X-Force after the AoA hiatus, and changed the direction of the team. No longer were they renegades fighting a war separate from the X-Men. Loeb brought the team back to the X-mansion to work closer than ever with Xavier and the X-Men. For the first time the team had uniforms and a set mission. Cable was an active leader dedicated to preparing his squad for the future. The team consisted of Domino, Siryn, Shatterstar, Sunspot, Warpath, Meltdown (Formerly Boom Boom/Boomer), and newcomer Caliban, a Morlock tracker.
Cannonball was absent for the first time as he was promoted to a spot on the X-Men, the first of the New Mutants to join the team. Things went well for X-Force here, for a while. Unfortunately, this was not too last. X-Force was deeply affected by the Onslaught Saga, which featured the evil psychic coupling of Xavier & Magneto forming a giant monster named Onslaught… You know what? Let’s just chalk that one up to yet another long story.
Crazy Comic Fun Fact: Meltdown developed a close relationship with Sabretooth while at the mansion. Sabretooth was recovering after Wolverine popped a claw through his brain, altering his personality. Eventually the real Sabretooth reared his ugly head, busting out of the mansion and mortally wounding Psylocke.
Moore Era (Post-Cable)
John Francis Moore took over and once again the direction of the book changed. After the Onslaught Saga, the team felt let down by their mentors and abandoned the Xavier institute, leaving Cable behind. The team headed out on the road, and consisted of Siryn, Warpath, Sunspot, Meltdown, and Dani Moonstar, who had recently returned to the team. The time spent on the road was a refreshing and honest look at the team. The stories became more personal, and flushed out the characteristics of the members better than any incarnation before it. It took this team of twenty somethings who had been caught up in the crazy X-World for most of their lives and set them free to live normally for a change. New relationships developed, and the team learned how to live without a leader, mentor, or guardian holding them back.
Eventually Cannonball and Caliban (briefly) returned to the team which soon set up shop in San Francisco, set to make a go as a legit mutant super hero team. It’s an interesting pre-cursor to the X-Men settling there years later, and Jim Cheung’s pencils were spectacular. Newcomer Jesse Aaronson (Bedlam) soon joined the team, and Domino returned as well to offer her leadership. With the return of Domino, another wrinkle was brought into the lives of X-Force, and yet another mentor. Pete Wisdom, known best for his time with Excalibur (basically the British X-Men).
Crazy Comic Fun Fact: Bedlam actually first appeared in one of the Age of Apocalypse titles before ever showing up in the Marvel Universe.
Revolution was an X-Men wide event that was an attempt to boost dwindling sales and revamp the characters. Story lines moved ahead 6 months and new creative teams took over the reins. Warren Ellis, Ian Singleton and Whilce Portacio brought us yet another new look at X-Force that was worlds away from the team family book it had become. With the introduction of Pete Wisdom, and the 6 month time gap, we are introduced to what is essentially a black ops team doing dirty missions under the radar. Left with only Cannonball, Meltdown, Warpath, and Bedlam, the team exhibited slightly enhanced powers, including a strange upgrade to Warpath that suddenly enabled him to fly, with really no explanation whatsoever. The run was short lived, kind of forgettable, and pretty much completely disregarded shortly after. The team was supposedly killed in the final issue, which opened the door for the strangest X-Force yet.
What a cliffhanger! We’ve taken a look at the start of the team that made the name X-Force, but this isn’t the end of it. We’ll take a look at more factions of X-Force next week!