I was inspired to do a little light reading due to some recent title announcements coming out of Marvel NOW! Two titles bearing the name X-Force and representing both of the biggest era's of the X-Force history. Cable and X-Force brings us back to the start of the team, and puts a key mutant in Marvel NOW! back in charge of the team he took over, trained, and developed into the elite squad that started the name. Uncanny X-Force will follow the most recent incarnation of X-Force, now led by Psylocke with a bit of an unusual roster.
You can read more about this team and the new costume designs from the writer and the artist here.
We started this trip down X-Force memory lane last week and went through the formative years of the team. With a pretty consistent cast of characters and over a hundred issue run the series as we knew it came to an end with the apparent death of the current team. What followed was a strange and extremely different take on the team we had come to know and love.
Here’s what I pulled out of the Comic Box:
Man, what can I say about X-Statix? Created by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred (Yes, from Madman fame), the X-Statix team first appeared in the issue immediately following the ‘death’ of X-Force, and was billed as a brand new team of media darlings that took the name X-Force as their own. Without a single connection to the X-Men, New Mutants, or any previous X-Force team the new group of mutants was more of a parody of the X-world, and comics in general than any real addition to the history of X-Force. Known for killing off almost the entire team in the first issue, X-Statix was a blip on the radar of X-Force.
It is a series that I would definitely recommend on it’s own, but not if you are looking to be an X-Force historian. Eventually the purists who wanted to see the ‘real’ X-Force return got through to Marvel, who ended the X-Force series and released a new #1 for X-Statix, the rebranded team. Reception of the series was pretty good, but as sales started to die down the series was cancelled, leaving any and all X-Force teams in limbo.
Liefeld Era (Again)
Liefeld wrote and scripted a mini-series that brought together most of the original crew of X-Force once again under the leadership of Cable. It was terrible. I almost didn’t even list it. Memorable for two reasons. Deadpool and Wolverine were kind of sort of on the team. And there was some controversy regarding Liefeld’s use of previously unpublished pages from other comics with different word balloons added. X-Force would take a long hiatus after this with the team members living their lives in different forms with the X-Men, putting this horrendous mini-series behind them.
New Mutants Part Deux
When the X-Men move base to San Francisco and form Utopia, Cyclops instructs Cannonball to form a team and handle various missions in an official X-capacity. Cannonball decides to go old school and reforms the New Mutants, the former team of teens and per-cursor to X-Force all grown up. After X-Force, it really felt like coming home when the team was assembled. Cannonball led Dani Moonstar, Sunspot, Magma, Karma, and Magik. The members had all come full circle, and it felt pretty great to see how far the New Mutants had come. Their time as X-Force may be over, but they took what they learned and use it well.
The New Mutants continued to bring in new members like X-Man and carry on’s like Legion, and fought beside the X-Men in every major event over the last few years. They remained a team until the unveiling of Marvel NOW!, and with the appearance of both Cannonball and Sunspot on the Avengers, it remains to be seen what will happen to the New Mutants.
That pretty much says it all. Wolverine had his own X-Force. Next.
Okay. I’ll indulge. During Messiah Complex, Cyclops organized a group of mutant trackers to hunt down the first born mutant since M-Day (Do I really have to say it’s a long story again?). After their success he made the team official, on an entirely unofficial level. This secret ops version of X-Force was written by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost with art by Clayton Crain, and featured Wolverine, X-23, Warpath, and Wolfsbane. Warpath was the obvious connection to the previous team, with Wolfsbane giving a throwback to the New Mutants. But this team was anything but the New Mutants.
Soon joined by another long time X-Force member Domino, along with Angel (Archangel), Elixir, and Vanisher, the team was tasked with putting an end to mutant related threats before they happened, by any means necessary. The team lost a number of members and battled a number of the X-Men’s heavy villains, while remaining behind the scenes and unknown to the X-Men. Warpath and Wolfsbane both struggled with their new roles as killers, and the entire team took a pretty dark turn. While led by Wolverine, the missions were handed out by Cyclops and X-Force’s impact was huge in every X-event over the next few years. Then the X-Men found out.
Cyclops disbanded the team to save face, causing Wolverine to form his own X-Force, unknown to Cyclops or the X-Men. The team still consisted of Archangel and Wolvy, with Psylocke, Deadpool and Fantomex joining up, marking the first time Deadpool was officially on an X-Team. They similarly tasked themselves with taking out the big threats with extreme prejudice, with thier first mission being to kill the resurrected Apocalypse who was in the body of a child. The team’s biggest enemy was at most times itself, wracked with guilt and indecision over some of the tasks they set.
With the eventual betrayal of Archangel (now Dark Angel), the team traveled to the Age of Apocalypse universe on a quest to cure him. This led to the team gaining a new member in the AoA Nightcrawler, as well as a new mission. To hunt down the escaped threats from the AoA who had escaped to their universe, and end the threat. The final saga deals with reprecussion from the series, including what to do with Kid Apocalypse, who became a de facto member of the team. The Marvel NOW! rebranding will follow this series, 6 months down the line.
So what’s in store for the teams with Marvel NOW! changing everything up? Do we lose what makesX-Force grand? Or is Marvel truly embracing the history of the team and moving forward with respect to all involved? I think that releasing two clear titles for one of the longest running and truly stand alone X-Team is a smart move by Marvel, and I can’t wait to enjoy both titles, and carry on my love for a team that I grew up alongside.