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Thursday, June 23, 2016

X-amining X-Force #7

"Under the Knife"/ "X-Tenuating Circumstances"
February 1992

In a Nutshell
Cannonball is killed by Sauron.

Plot/Art: Rob Liefeld
Rob's Scripter: Fabian Nicieza
Rob's Letterer: Chris Eliopoulis
Rob's Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Rob's Editor: Bob Harras
Robs Banks: Tom DeFalco

Plot
First Story: As Siryn, Warpath & Shatterstar battle Toad, Blob & Sauron, Masque, Thornn & Phantazia infiltrate X-Force's base. Entering the hangar, they find the rest of the team waiting for them. Outside, Shatterstar locates a weapon cache and helps Siryn defeat Toad, while Blob falls into a ravine, and the three race back to their base. Inside, Feral & Thornn fight one another, while Cannonball flies into Phantazia, which disrupts his blast field. As Sauron enters the base looking for a new opponent, Cannonball approaches him, but his blast field is unable to prevent Sauron from skewering him through the chest with one of his wing talons, much to the horror of Boom-Boom, who cries out that he's dead.

Second Story: Dispatched to investigate reports of smuggling activity, Weapon X infiltrates a cabin in the Canadian woods and battles a group of soldiers before encountering members of the Mutant Liberation Front.

Firsts and Other Notables
Cannonball seemingly dies this issue, run through by Sauron (who now has some kind of talon on his wings, apparently) after getting his protective blast field scrambled by Phantazia. This marks the beginning of the High Lord subplot, in which it's revealed that Sam is one of a race of immortal mutants known as Externals, and that Cable's primary motivation for coming to this timeline from the future was to guide Sam's ascension. At least, that's the story until Liefeld leaves the book and, over time, all of that is mostly either retconned out or simply ignored.


This issue reveals that Feral's first name is Maria, that Thornn is her sister (and named Lucia), that the pair come from some kind of Spanish-speaking background,


Phantazia finally does something, and speaks, this issue. We also find out that she has some kind of ability to disrupt electromagnetic systems, and is, at least at times, just a head and floating cloak, since Cannonball is able to fly straight in and be enveloped by her cloak.


Toad, arguing that he's more than just a sycophant, shows off a new ability to secret a sticky resin from his fingers, something he wasn't able to do in previous appearances.


A backup story in this issue features Kane, the new Weapon X introduced in issue #2, investigating reports of a smuggling operation that brings him into conflict with MLF members Forearm, Wildside and Sumo; it will continue in the next issue, and eventually dovetail with events in the series' main storyline.


A Work in Progress
This issue opens with a discussion of the Brotherhood including the word "evil" in their name.


Masque, looking more and more like an evil dwarf throughout the issue, comments on the state of Cable's tech.


Cables berates Masque for not leaving well enough alone and attacking X-Force's base a second time, a reference to his previous attack in New Mutants #100.


The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
Just when you think Shatterstar couldn't be anymore 90s, he shows up in a vest with a bug gun and more pouches.


501 Genes
Liefeld turns in a not terrible partial group shot of the team (partially marred by the exclamation point panel on the other side of the page), which I believe gets used in some promotional art at some point.


Blob is defeated off-panel when he falls into a ravine while fighting Warpath, another apparent case of Nicieza's script covering for Blob's complete disappearance from the fight halfway through the issue.

It's in the Mail
Augie DeBlieck Jr., a writer for Comic Book Resources, has a letter in this issue's letter column.

Austin's Analysis
This is probably the most decompressed issue of this series yet (which is saying something), as it's essentially an issue long fight scene and nothing else. Nicieza manages to sneak in a little bit of background for Feral as she fights her sister, Toad gets a new power, and there's a brief discussion about the use of "evil" in the Brotherhood's moniker, but otherwise, this is just pure Liefeld slugfest, and thus takes all of five minutes to read. Even the big cliffhanger ending, which does, briefly, lead to some development of the mysteries surrounding Cable, is ultimately pointless given the benefit of hindsight, since everything it leads to more or less gets rolled back once Liefeld is gone. The brevity of the issue isn't helped by the presence of the backup story, which not only leads to a shorter main story, but is also nothing but fighting, so it only adds a minute or two to the total read time, and offers up little to break the stylistic monotony of the issue overall.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, X-Factor battles the Nasty Boys in X-Factor #75. Next week, X-Men #5 and Excalibur #47.

Collected Editions
 

13 comments:

  1. This might be my last X-Force issue until one of the crossover issues for the X-Cutioner's Song. I think I was finally realizing that I just didn't care about, or for, much of any of this. As such, I think it's my last Liefield-penciled issue. I'll pour one out for him.

    Speaking of which, that Shatterstar pic is hilarious. It looks like an assemblage of random body parts. I'm not sure any one part fits with any other.

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    1. Don't worry, Liefeld isn't too far behind you; he's only got one more full issue of pencils left before he's gone too. :)

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  2. Weapon X and a cabin. I can't quite point it, but something's off here.

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  3. I see that Liefeld has a habit of making covers out of the final scene (often the very last page) of story.

    The GCD index for this issue credits inks to both Liefeld and Marat Mychaels, but there’s no indication of where the Mychaels credit comes from.

    // Sam is one of a race of immortal mutants known as Externals //

    I’ve never heard of this before now. Weird. Not just Sam being one, but Externals period. Mutant “X” factor + “Eternal” = “External” is dumb on its own, given that (among other reasons) “external” is already a word whose meaning doesn’t really overlap with this coinage, but I guess it makes the title of Gambit and the X-Ternals during Age of Apocalypse marginally less stupid. Decades-old mystery solved for me right there.

    // Toad … shows off a new ability to secret a sticky resin from his fingers //

    He also shows off close to sixty teeth, which is probably more a 501 Genes thing.

    // This issue opens with a discussion of the Brotherhood including the word "evil" in their name. //

    Either Warpath slept through all his classes at the Massachusetts Academy or Hellions training was severely lacking in the basics of mutant history. Also he must not have paid attention to the 1980 Presidential election, or whenever that happened at this point in Marvel Time.

    I realize this sort of thing happens in comics (as well as movies and television) regularly, but if Cable honestly wanted Masque, Thornn, and Phantazia dead, there’s no way he’d have missed all three of them when taking them by surprise with an automatic weapon.

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    1. Marvel Universe in general has been very ignorant of the 1980 election. How could he lose when there was an actual attempt on his life during the campaign? On later issues of UNCANNY from 1985/-86 we've seen that Reagan is the incumbent; was he elected only in 1984 in Marvel Universe or are we supposed to understand that Kelly lost to Reagan in 1980, and if so does that mean that he's a Democrat or was he running as a third candidate?

      There's the scientific dissections of comic book worlds; there's legal ones, but I'm not sure if someone has tried a political one at any point.

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    2. but I guess it makes the title of Gambit and the X-Ternals during Age of Apocalypse marginally less stupid.

      Marginally less stupid, perhaps, though the "X-Ternal" in that title has absolutely nothing to do with the Externals soon to be introduced in this book, which makes it an entirely different kind of stupid.

      Either Warpath slept through all his classes at the Massachusetts Academy or Hellions training was severely lacking in the basics of mutant history.

      A similar though occurred to me. It seems like Shatterstar (or heck, even Siryn) would have been better candidates for the "character who disguises exposition for readers not familiar with a concept as a question asked to another character" role.

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    3. @Teemu: There's the scientific dissections of comic book worlds; there's legal ones, but I'm not sure if someone has tried a political one at any point.

      And, of course, the constantly sliding Marvel timeline makes that increasingly more difficult as time goes by.

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    4. Reagan showed up in Marvel Comics during his first term- for example, Avengers 231-232 in 1983 and the Falcon limited series in 1984.
      Kelly's Presidential run was obviously supposed to be a homage to Ted Kennedy's Presidential run in 1980, which never got past the primaries. So presumably Kelly never got past the primaries either.

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    5. Anonymous, DoFP happened explicitly October 31st 1980 and Kelly is referred specifically as "the presidential candidate". We should be well past the primaries at the time. Of course now that I check it up the actual election (if we go by our world dates) would be only five days later, so he most certainly would be doing some last minute campaigning instead of any committee business. It really would be safest bet to assume Kitty/Kate technically messed up with Kelly's status at the time and he didn't make it past the primaries.

      Though, the last page of #142 happens "a month" later, in December, and the President, who's identity is kept hidden, sanctions the Project: Wideawake. With the election having been held at November he should be a lame duck at this point but doesn't really give the airs of one so maybe they had the election at different time for some reason. Maybe the events of CAPTAIN AMERICA #180 has hiccuped the time tables for some years ahead.

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    6. As a dedicated post-Liefeld X-Force reader, I only saw the Externals get murdered and some villain's monologue about how Sam was never really an External.

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  4. This might be my last X-Force issue until one of the crossover issues for the X-Cutioner's Song. I think I was finally realizing that I just didn't care about, or for, much of any of this. As such, I think it's my last Liefield-penciled issue. I'll pour one out for him.

    Speaking of which, that Shatterstar pic is hilarious. It looks like an assemblage of random body parts. I'm not sure any one part fits with any other.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That's some great foreshortening in the issue's final panel. Cable has the hand of a toddler.

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  6. What makes the "External" plotline even more stupis is that we ALREADY have a race of immortals in the Marvel Universe. Was Liefeld aware of that little tidbit? Did he forget abot Apocalypse (who had long been establish as one of the "first" mutants)? And of course by the period people with healing factors (hi, Wolverine!) were being written as functionally immortal anyway so this whole concept is diluted from the start.

    Also, Shatterstar are you using guns or swords? Pick a weapon and commit! (Also, see a doctor about that advanced elephatitis in your legs, will ya?)

    Poor Toad. Every decade or so, someone tries to make him "cool" and they inevitably fail every time. Even being Ray Park'd didn't help.

    By the way, was it every explained HOW Cannonball came back to life, after the whole "Externals" plotline went belly-up?

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