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Thursday, January 16, 2020

X-amining X-Force #45

"Under One Roof "
August 1995

In a Nutshell
Caliban battles Sabretooth before X-Force heads out on a mission.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Adam Pollina
Inker: Mark Pennington
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Separations: Electric Crayon
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Caliban attacks the now-docile Sabretooth, intent of gaining his revenge for the Morlock Massacre. A horrified Boomer tries to stop him, but it takes Cable to talk Caliban down, pointing out that killing Sabretooth in his current state would be dishonorable. Later, as Warpath & Caliban train together & Beast examines the recently injured Shatterstar, Cable meets with Professor X, who asks Cable to go on a mission for him. Cable proceeds to gather the team, but Beast holds back Shatterstar, and Boomer begs off, telling Cable she isn't feeling well in the hopes of spending some time with Cannonball. The rest of the team heads out for Siberia, to check on a relay station that has gone offline. They find the station destroyed and most of the crew dead, seemingly at the hands of Mimic.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue features the return of Mimic (popping up on the final page to serve as the cliffhanger lead-in to next issue), the not-quite-a-mutant with the ability to mimic the powers of other mutants who represents the first non-original five member of the X-Men. He was last seen battling Hulk & Wolverine in a Marvel Comics Presents story, and will hang around after this re-introductory story for a bit to serve as a lackey of Onslaught.

Shatterstar is recovering from his injuries sustained in Cable #22, leading to him be treated by Beast, who casts doubt on his alien origins (which is presumably Loeb planting a seed for his later story about Shatterstar's "origins"), but does confirm his physiology is closest to that of Longshot’s (which is interesting in as much Beast, who was with the original X-Factor during Longshot's tenure with the X-Men, shouldn't be all that familiar with Longshot's physiology anyway. Presumably, he's looking at old medical records or something).

Cable says he knows something about the original design of the Danger Room; I believe a later flashback story will establish that he contributed to the design of the room somehow, though for now, this is just one of those cage Cable teases that occasionally gets thrown out.

A Work in Progress
Caliban, now living under the same roof as the man who helped slaughter the Morlocks and personally fought Caliban in X-Factor & New Mutants, attacks the now-docile Sabretooth.

Cable & Xavier discuss Cable’s ongoing desire to use his telepathy more.

Boomer fakes sick to get out of a mission in the hopes of getting some alone time with Cannonball, but he is busy with X-Men stuff (specifically, heading into the city for the events of Uncanny X-Men #323-324).

Austin's Analysis
Loeb continues to explore the new team dynamics, before sending the post-AoA, newly mansion-fied group out on their first mission (though with Shatterstar injured, Boomer calling in "sick", and Domino nowhere to be found, it still doesn't quite represent the first mission for the full team). For the most part, the character work here is on point: Boomer's infatuation with Sabretooth is still a work-in-progress (and it'll ultimate turn out to be somewhat problematic), but her begging off a mission to make time with Cannonball is very on-point for a character who has consistently flaunted authority. And Loeb deserves credit for quickly addressing the potential conflict in having Sabretooth & Caliban living under the same roof: it suggests he's done his homework, to some extent, and their history together, while not the deepest cut of X-lore, it isn't exactly well-remembered or frequently referenced (basically, I'm a sucker for anyone referencing Simonson's X-Factor). Loeb is still finding his way on the series, with the new status quo not yet shaken out, but there's evidence here that he's not just ignoring everything that's come before.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Wolverine takes a test in Wolverine #92. Next week, Generation X #7 and Excalibur #89!

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  1. How does Cable know who Mimic is?

    1. Even if he was unfamiliar with him prior, at this point, Cable has presumably looked through Xavier's files (since the X-Men and X-Force are living together now, operating out of the same base), just from the perspective of knowing everything he doesn't know about possible threats.

    2. I think he cheated and read the first volume of X-Men Omnibus.

  2. 1) I honestly believe that barely anyone among readers knew who Mimic was or cared about his sudden appearance. The last time he was mentioned in an X-Men comic was probably in that recap in Cyclops’ head during Jean Grey (Phoenix)’s funeral, all the way back in 1980. And even during the silver age, once he left, he was done, just like Unus. If he appeared elsewhere in the mean time, like Unus, who noticed?
    2) I hated what was done to Caliban. They kept the Rob Liefeld design and behavior, which was nothing to do with him. The last tome Caliban acted and looked as himself, was when he escaped Apocalypse and found Archangel in a duel with Sabertooth, back in X-Factor.
    3) I said this many times here: I hated what they did with Cannonball. He was a very tall, very skinny, with long face and long nose, and a military haircut. At this point, he looked like a generic Backstreet Boys or Leon Kennedy or Leonardo DiCaprio. If his physical appearance makes no sense, his behavior in X-Men will make even less, as he’s portrayed as a naive and hesitant rookie, and treated as such by the other X-Men, when at this point he had more time as superhero than Psylocke.

    1. 1. I know I was excited to see Mimic back when this first came out - I was familiar with him thanks to stuff like the Marvel Handbook and trading cards and was excited to be able to read a story featuring him (since all his old Silver Age appearances were difficult to acquire). Now, I'll also freely admit that I may well have been in the minority there, but only rarely will I knock a creator for dusting off a long-forgotten corner of X-lore.
      2. Technically, his look here is more reminiscent of his post-Apocalypse "bulking up" that was on display in that X-FACTOR story you mention than his original form (and I don't think that bulky appearance was a Liefeld design - it appeared before his appearances in the Liefeld-drawn NEW MUTANTS issues - but maybe he did it ahead of those appearances). The weird thing with Caliban in this era of X-FORCE is that he has the newer bulked up look, but personality-wise, he's regressed to the more child-like, first-person speaking personality he had before he threw in with Apocalypse.
      3. As I've said, I like the idea of Cannonball joining the X-Men in principal, but I also greatly dislike how he was handled once he did. He went from being X-Force's Cyclops to a complete noob.

    2. I was also excited to see Mimic.
      By this point, I was collecting back-issues of X-Men comics from the Silver Age.
      I always found Mimic to be such a cool character.

      Mimic was actually killed off in an issue of Incredible Hulk during the period when X-Men comics were reprints.
      So, he wasn't available to make appearances.

    3. Austin, you got me wrong about two points:
      1) I don’t mind a creator bringing back old characters, but I believe that some foreshadowing would have made Mimic’s reappearance far more meaningful. Let’s say that a couple of issues earlier, someone had recalled him and the time in which he was a member of the team. Anything.
      2) Regarding Caliban, notice that he has a long face and really big eyes, with small pupils. That was his face, the way he looked, and he kept all the way to the battle with Archangel and Sabertooth. It was Liefeld who gave his face the visual that was kept from then on, with the very small eyes and nose that looked like Voldemort’s nose. Doubt me? Compare his appearance in the X-Factor issue and the one in which he broke Sabertooth’s back in New Mutants. I wasn’t talking about him having a larger and muscular body.

    4. I was excited about Mimic too. I was a teen and had brushed up on X-Men lore the same ways Austin did.

      On a related note, I really like what Mike Carey did with Mimic in his X-Men Legacy run. If it were up to me, Mike Carey would write the X-books until the end of time. Wonderful mix of old and new and like Peter David, he could take neglected and has-been characters and effortlessly make them essential members of a team.

      I remember Mimic being dead there for a while. Did he just get better? Was it ever explained? And wasn't Unus also dead a couple times and also just got better?

      Someone (Mike Carey, for example) needs to do a team book consisting entirely of Silver Age leftovers, and not as a comedy book, either. Marvel has greenlit worse things.

    5. I don't believe that Mimic's not being dead was ever explained, no.

      Yes, the same thing occurred with Unus.
      It was in an issue of Marvel Fanfare featuring the Hulk.
      Unus had to strain his forcefield so much to repel the Hulk, that it led to his power going out of control, until he could no longer even receive oxygen.

      I believe he just randomly showed up on Genosha during the Grant Morrison run.

    6. "I don't believe that Mimic's not being dead was ever explained, no."

      It was, though you'd be forgiven for missing it. ;) He died back in Incredible Hulk 161, when he absorbed too much of the Hulk's gamma radiation. In Marvel Comics Presents 54-61, it was explained that he was only MOSTLY dead, and when Wolverine wandered nearby (Canada's a small place), the comatose Mimic automatically copied his healing factor and revived. (This was a bad story that's only notable for bringing Mimic back. Other than that, it featured him copying Wolverine's appearance along with his powers -- including adamantium -- and suggested Mimic's father was involved in Weapon X AND that Mimic was a latent mutant, which... no. And no.)

  3. Mimic showed on my radar somehow too, maybe from Wizard Mag. He struck me as a loner who could 'keroauc' around with his own agenda and a fist full of O5 powers. Think he mostly shows up here and there, hat in hand with a sad story of where he's been. Liked him during Dark Reign. Calibans alright too I guess.. served under Saline during Necrosha(?) ::Whil5tImD::

    1. I appreciated how X-Men Legacy tried to reconcile his awful Silver Age personality as mental illness. It was very tastefully done and he became a very repentant character. He really tried to put his past behind him and get the help he needed, and he made some powerful bonds with Rogue and I believe that Collective guy. I was upset when the next writers came in and of course, dropped him. Now I'm sure he's back to being a villain or dead because why not.

    2. "Now I'm sure he's back to being a villain or dead because why not."

      I didn't read the story myself, but I know he was used to facilitate returning the Silver Age X-Men to their own time. While in the present day, Angel had gotten some flaming wings (lol sure, whatever), so YoungCable kidnapped him and transplanted Mimic's wings onto him. (Which I ALWAYS wondered why they never tried for Archangel back in his metal wing days, but I assumed the wings wouldn't quite align, since Mimic is taller and way heavier than Warren, so his wings would've been too big. But, uh, comics.) My understanding is that Mimic died at the end of that story.

      RIP Calvin. We'll always have that issue where you and Rogue foiled a mass supervillain prison break, and she thought you were trying to ask her out.


  4. I’m proving the rule of those of you who were intrigued to see Mimic here because a dozen years before, in the early/mid ’80s equivalent of Wizard, trading cards, and Marvel indexes, I read about him in Fantaco’s X-Men Chronicles — whose brief synopses were a poor substitute for old issues of the comics themselves but just about the only one available at a time when the All-New / Uncanny revival’s popularity had yet to translate into reprints of the early days. (There was a revival of Amazing Adventures launched during the Claremont/Byrne era with reprints of the original X-Men stories but it only made it up to X-Men #8. Per the GCD, Mimic’s introduction from #19 wasn’t reprinted in the U.S. between X-Men #69 in 1971 and a Masterworks volume in 1998.)

    // Shatterstar is recovering from his injuries sustained in Cable #22 //


    1. Per the GCD, Mimic’s introduction from #19 wasn’t reprinted in the U.S. between X-Men #69 in 1971 and a Masterworks volume in 1998.

      While that seems wild in today's age of copious trade & digital reprints, I remember that pain acutely - the earliest Lee/Kirby issues got reprinted fairly regularly, and there was at least a few places you could find the Neal Adams issues, but everything in between was impossible to find outside of the original issues (or the 70s reprints), which drove an anal-retentive completionist X-fan like me NUTS. I remember being bummed when X-MEN: THE EARLY YEARS got cancelled before it got out of the Lee/Kirby stuff, for just that reason. And I still remember the palpable excitement when ESSENTIAL UNCANNY X-MEN vol. 1 was published, because its size meant I could finally affordably read some post-Lee/Kirby issues (I'm pretty sure I first read Mimic's first appearance via that volume, in black-and-white).


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