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Thursday, September 10, 2020

X-amining X-Force #52

"Bad Girls"
March 1996

In a Nutshell
Domino, Siryn & Meltdown fight Blob

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Adam Pollina
Inker: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Color Enhancement: Electric Crayon
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Domino, Siryn & Meltdown have returned to Camp Hayden, site of the aborted Nimrod project, to ensure the project has indeed been shutdown. But they find the entire facility empty, with the word "Onslaught" scrawled on one of the walls. Just then, an enormous Blob - displaying a finer control of his mutant abilities - drops into the facility, attacking them. Meanwhile, Warpath & Shatterstar spar in the Danger Room, with Shatterstar worrying that as he grows more human, he is losing his fighting edge. Back at Camp Hayden, Blob, claiming to serve Onslaught, quickly gains the upper hand, until Meltdown's new attitude and control over her powers forces him to stand down. The ladies of X-Force ponder what to do with him, just as Mimic - his powers also surprising stable - flies in and carries out Blob. In New York, Caliban & Sunspot arrive outside Gideon's building, responding to a call for help he made to Sunspot. Just then, Gideon flies out an upper story window and crashes to the ground in front of them, dead.

Firsts and Other Notables
This is another "build-up the mystery of Onslaught" issue, with the ladies of X-Force are returning to Camp Hayden, the site of the Nimrod project where X-Force battled, appropriately enough, Nimrod, in issues #35-36. Similar to the the disappearing Sentinels in X-Men #46, it turns out to be another case of Sentinel tech going missing and replacing with the scrawling of "Onslaught" somewhere in the building; while the Sentinels will indeed turn up as part of "Onslaught", no specific mention is made of the Nimrod tech here.

In other Onslaught teases, Blob returns in this issue (he last appeared fighting Strong Guy pre-AoA in X-Factor #107), bigger and more massive than before, and with greater control over his mass, something he attributes to Onslaught. He will continue to serve Onslaught in a minor capacity, before eventually throwing in with another iteration of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

Mimic, previously linked to Onslaught in issue #46, returns briefly, and his control over his power, like Blob, is noted (the idea, I believe, is that this is meant to foreshadow the "Xavier is Onslaught" reveal, because he's helping his minions hone their powers just like Xavier does with the X-Men). 

The issue concludes with Sunspot & Caliban coming across a seemingly-dead Gideon, setting up next issue's story, in which Loeb can't leave the X-Ternals well enough alone...

A Work in Progress
Meltdown notes she was a thief before she was a mutant (which may not technically be true but is close enough), a reference to her early days as a minor thief working for the Vanisher.

Shatterstar is worrying that he's losing his fighting edge and he becomes more acclimated to Earth and more human in general.

Meltdown is able to "recall" a time bomb she's created, something it's said she couldn't do before (in which, once created, one of her bombs had to detonate).

When Domino questions Meltdown's more extreme response to the confrontation with Blob, Meltdown challenges here that X-Force's mission is to get the bad guys before they hurt someone innocent.

Austin's Analysis
Jeph Loeb gets in on the "teasing Onslaught" game, using a mission intended (in-universe and out-of-universe) to show off Boomer's new Meltdown attitude as a vehicle to throw out some more Onslaught tidbits: he's done something to the Nimrod facility at Camp Hayden, and now has Blob in his employ (as well as a souped-up Mimic to go along with, per X-Men #50, the newly introduced Post). The Camp Hayden pull is a nice touch of continuity, hearkening back to one of the book's pre-Loeb, pre-AoA adventures, but Loeb perhaps doesn't draw the starkest contrast between the pre-Sabretooth Boomer and the present Meltdown: we know from Domino & Siryn's reaction that we're meant to think Meltdown's game of chicken represents her pushing things too far, but honestly, it's not that far off from standard superhero intimidation tactics, especially coming in the book that's meant to feature the more aggressive, "take no prisoners!" team. he execution isn't terrible or anything - the general point stands - but it's not as effective as it could be. That aside, this is a largely fun issue, with the X-Force ladies taking on a classic X-villain, one who gives Adam Pollina a chance to put his skills at more grotesque, surreal anatomy to good use.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Wolverine draws closer to the Dark Riders' trap in Wolverine #99. Next week, Generation X #13 and Excalibur #95!

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  1. The art and coloring of this book are beyond terrible. I remember looking at this and feeling like it was a mess after coming from Tony D., Greg C., Rob L, etc. and then we had this mess of blurry colored mess.

    1. Yo Scott I'm gonna' need you to use the word "mess" one more time. thx

    2. Received.

      Thank you.

    3. Adam Pollina is a better artist than Tony Daniel and Rob Liefeld.

  2. I have read great many X-books ending in a proclamation that someone is dead.

    This one was the first to erupt me into a cheerful enthusiastic "Yay!".


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