I’ve recently started rereading some comic books from the 1990s, and this weekend, I decided to go with some classic X-Force 08-11 due to the recent Deadpool movie. These comics actually came out while I was an avid comic book fan and I own and have read these before, but my tastes back then tended more towards the X-Men series and I remember those storylines a lot clearer than this one.
Issue number 08 starts out with the apparent death of Samuel Guthrie, also known as Cannonball. There’s a lot of history discussed just in the first two or three pages of this issue, with Cable thinking about how long ago his team ran as Wild Pack instead of X-Force.
Rereading these comics demonstrates exactly why I related (and probably even more strongly actually relate right now) to Domino as a character. One of the interesting things in this issue is the verbal play between Bridge and Domino as they are fighting their way into a Hydra installation. Bridge says, “Some rear support would be appreciated.” Domino replies by saying, “I’m not touching that one with a ten-foot pole.” And then once the team climbs to the top of the building, Cable asks, “Where’s Bridge?” To which Grizzly replies, “Under me.” And Domino says, “That’s a frightening thought.” Domino is one of those lesser known characters in the Marvel Universe, but one who is highly amusing to me for a lot of reasons. Especially her dialogue. After the team discovers a trap, she says, “Vas ees these ‘Bodyslide’ all the time? I do sooo love your funky toys, Nate!”
Two years ago or more, when I was having a discussion with another comic book enthusiast, we discussed the art work of Rob Liefeld, who has been a very popular comic book artist for some time now. I had not been paying attention to the comic book world for about a decade and my friend showed me pictures of the huge chests on all the men. The last page of this comic reminds me very heavily of that discussion, which amused me greatly.
Issue number 09 starts out exactly where 08 left off, with Cable attempting to save the life of Sam Guthrie. The battle between the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Wild Pack becomes a team-on-team battle with characters like Boom Boom and Domino taking on Sauron and Thornn while Cable works to get Sam back to the medi-lab. Again, I am struck with how similarly Domino and I think and react. “And you’re toast, right? … Now get up – ’cause I’m just in the right mood to deal with you!” She then proceeds to call them all idiots while she beats the crap out of them. And then gems like this, “Just because he’s dead, doesn’t mean it’s fatal!”
One of the key differences between X-Force and the rest of the X-Men titles of this time is that Wild Pack has absolutely zero reservations about killing people. While the rest of the X-Men related titles of this time spent great effort to not kill their opponents, X-Force will kill anyone they have to, knowing that enemies left alive will come after them later or cause more harm to more people. If in the middle of a fight, they have no qualms about stabbing people through the back with their swords or shooting them in the back. I remember when I was younger and reading these stories how different this kind of behavior was for people designated as the heroes or the good guys. These comics came out at a time before the anti-hero became popular.
And, randomly, why-oh-why is Domino wearing a bikini top on the cover of this comic when that isn’t even close to what she’s wearing during the comic or what’s going on inside the comic? I could rant about sexism in comic books for a very, very long time, but this came out decades ago and I don’t have the energy to waste on this tonight.
Issue number 10 starts with the battle between Weapon X and the Mutant Liberation Front. Weapon X does a great job of kicking most of the butts of the Mutant Liberation Front henchmen until he is confronted with Stryfe, who takes off his helmet to reveal Cable’s face.
Meanwhile, Gideon is having a discussion with the other immortals concerning a newly awakened high-lord, which the last issue revealed to be Sam Guthrie. The discussion is designed to answer some questions brought up in the last two issues, as well as interest the reader in the future and encourage thoughts about what this kind of revelation might mean. In this way, this storyline is done very nicely to increase the interest of the reader and the tension of the storyline. Cable then tells Sam about how he’s an External, which is a mutant gifted with eternal life. Sam reacts to the news in a way that is much more encouraging than the way some people would have reacted. He said everyone is supposed to have their time and he kind of goes into shock, which shows the reader what kind of character Sam truly is.
The subtle humor in this comic series continues to amuse me. When Kane/Weapon X confronts Stryfe, Forearm intervenes to prevent Kane/Weapon X from attacking Stryfe and Forearm says, “He cuts our paychecks. He makes out the grocery lists. ‘Sides, all the video rental cards are in his name.” These comic books came out at a time when video rental stores were prevalent and I don’t know that future generations reading these comic books will understand that reference.
The end frame of this comic book is a drawing of Deadpool, which is not at all how Deadpool looks these days. His thighs are almost as big as his chest and his waist and head are both disproportionately tiny. The discussion about Rob Liefeld’s art work continues to be relevant here.
Issue number 11 begins with Cable and X-Force bringing the head of Masque, the former Morlock leader, into the Morlock tunnels. I am struck again by how different this style of hero or good guy team is from the standard X-Men titles of this time. I’m about to go into some major spoilers for Deadpool, so if you don’t want to know what might be coming in the actual, modern movie line for some character development, you really should stop reading right now.
Seriously. Stop reading. These spoilers are interesting and don’t bode well for the future Deadpool movies.
In this entire issue, and the one panel of the previous issue in this series, Deadpool refers to Domino as Vanessa. And then when he attacks her from behind, he refers to himself as, “Your old boyfriend, Deadpool!” As their fight continues, he says that her face belongs to someone else and he says, “‘Cause you an’ I both know … that when this gig is done … you’re still Vanessa, an’ you’re still Tolliver property.” But the real Domino is currently a captive of Tolliver and is being tortured and abused in the dungeon of Tolliver’s castle. Which shows so many things that these comic could and did with their storylines and how most of the comic books from this time were all long arches and not a one-issue stand alone. The writers of this series really did a great job with the placement of information, the character building, and the world building.
Overall, I’m really glad that I am rereading these comics. I have missed the comic books from the 1990s, mostly for the storylines that were actually part of a long-term plan. This isn’t a fractured storyline and the plot holes aren’t multiplying like tribbles. I would rate all of these as a solid three or a high three on my rating scale.