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Thursday, September 2, 2021

X-amining X-Force #60

"I Know YOU Are But What Am I?"
November 1996

In a Nutshell
X-Force tries to rescue Cable & Shatterstar from Mojo.

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciler: Anthony Castrillo 
Inker: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Marie Javins
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

On Mojoworld, Mojo attempts to brainwash the captive Shatterstar & Cable. Meanwhile, Longshot brings X-Force to Doctor Strange to get his help traveling to Mojoworld. In Miami, Risque, eager to find Warpath, is confronted by Blob, Mimic, and their mysterious leader. In Mojoworld, Longshot X-Force meets up with Dazzler and her fellow rebels, then helps them storm Mojo's castle. But they find it curiously empty, save for a single television playing the "Cable and Shatterstar Show". Longshot explains that they've been digitized, and won't survive in that form for long. What's worse, humans watching the show on Earth become entranced, much to the delight of Mojo, who wants to make the entire world his captive audience.   

Firsts and Other Notables
Risque returns in this issue, and it's revealed that Blob and Mimic were responsible for pulling her out of the X-Mansion during Mister Sinister's attack between issues #57 and #58, acting on the orders of a mysterious figure whom Risque seems to fear. The identity of this individual, appearing here in the shadows, is unclear, as he doesn't really resemble either Sledge, who will be revealed in issue #66 as Risque's employer who sent her after Warpath, nor a similarly-shadowed, mysterious figure who appears with Blob and Mimic in issue #65 and is likely meant to be the same person as is appearing here (ultimately, I'm sure the lack of clarity is the result of the change in creative teams mid-story. 

With Longshot already on hand, Dazzler joins in the fun as well. 

A Work in Progress
Longshot is familiar with Doctor Strange due to their interactions in Longshot's introductory miniseries

Mojo is said to have become more warlike and more interested in actual conquest versus just controlling ratings, all of which Longshot fears is the start of a Hundred Years War between his rebel faction and Mojo that may or may not be a reference to X-Force Annual #1

Warpath is said to have moved at speeds of upwards of 100 MPH in this issue. 

When Mojo's creation of a soul-sucking TV show starring Cable and Shatterstar is revealed, the family being ensnared by the show is said to be living in Rutland, Vermont, home to regular Halloween parades and frequent superhero/comic book creator appearances

The Reference Section
The cover of this issue is an homage to the design/style of TV Guide covers at the time. 

Artistic Achievements
I generally enjoy Anthony Castrillo's work on this series and his somewhat animation-inspired style, yet his faces tend to run together (a not uncommon problem amongst comic book artists) as best illustrated in this panel, in which the only noticeable difference between Rictor and Warpath is their hair. 

Austin's Analysis
This issue is a bit like Generation X #21, in that this whole Shatterstar-focused story that began last issue was set up as the vehicle by which we'd finally learn the "true" origin of Shatterstar and get payoff to all the Benjamin Russell hints Loeb had been making since taking over the series, yet one brief moment from Shatterstar aside, all of that promise gets brushed aside in this issue for a broader "War in Mojoworld/Mojo comes to Earth!" story. While the question of whether the story has enough pages to pay off the implicit promise of its plot is a perhaps more of a concern for future issues (spoiler alert: it doesn't), the fact that so little of this issue is spent on the mystery it's ostensibly meant to be answering doesn't bode well. What we do get is, as has become the norm from Loeb of late, effective if not terribly exciting superhero storytelling. Doctor Strange's appearance is random, but a perfectly cromulent vehicle for getting the rest of the cast to Mojoworld after Cable & Shatterstar's abduction last issue, this issue is sure to throw all the staples of a Mojoworld story (Dazzler, Spiral, etc.) into the mix, and the reveal that Mojo has fled his own world for Earth (after most of X-Force spent of most of the issue trying to get there) is a mildly fun twist to take the story into its closing chapter. It's not the most original or compelling of issues, but it gets the job done. Whether in doing so, it prevents the rest of the story from doing what it needs to do remains to be seen. 

Next Issue
Next week, Warren Ellis gives us the Pryde and Wisdom miniseries, then leaves Excalibur in Excalibur #103.

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  1. I hate to say it but any Mojo story is the definition of "diminishing returns". I know it's just part of the deal in long running series but Mojo seems to be especially prone to it. Which is too bad because he was very scary and intimidating in his earliest appearances. From here on he begins to seem more like a cartoon villain. I'm guessing it's because there just isn't that much to him. And there should be. He's a perfect vessel for the exploration of piwep, greed and corruption if writers would stop holding back.

    I honestly thought Risque was working for Bastion for the longest time. And while it's very by the numbers, I'm not a fan of the trope where a mystery villain is kept in the shadows until itsi time for the big reveal where you're supposed to be surprised it's a brand new character. I'm wondering if Loeb intended it to be someone else and the next writer didn't know who?

    This is coming off more negative than I intended as it's a perfectly serviceable issue, it just makes me a little sad to see so much potential wasted.

    1. Ugh, my phone's predictive texting keeps messing up the words. "piwep" should be "power".

    2. Yeah, Mojo seemed threatening in some early X-issues I have, and for good reason: he's the dictator of a gigantic piece of real estate and has limitless resources and armies to throw at the heroes! Yet by the '90s, it was largely "LOL this guy's fat" and he was treated as a bit of a prattling fool. Nobody in the comics gave him any dignity.

  2. I remember really hating Adam Pollina's art when he came onto X-force, it wasnt what i was used to and felt a little too 'out there' for the X-books. But it's a sign of how good he was that by this point when i opened the book and saw he wasnt penciling (thank god marvel eventually started putting the creators names on the covers) it was like a dagger to my heart.

  3. Dazzler's outfit here is...oof. Somehow both generic and too bogged down with extraneous details? What even is that shoulder pouch loop?

    Dr. Strange's cape-as-trench, though, is *mwah* -- compliments to the chef.

    -- Thom H.


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