The Blood Hunters
Rob Liefeld (plot); Fabian Nicieza (Script), Rob Liefeld (Pencils), Rob Liefeld (Inks), Erik Larsen (Ink Assist - uncredited), Brad Vancata (Colors), Chris Eliopoulos (Letters).
Kane stops Deadpool from stealing a shipment of Japanese technology for his boss Tolliver. G. W. Bridge attempts to recruit Kane for a new team set to capture Cable, but Kane refuses. Meanwhile, X-Force has a training session in the woods, and Feral guts Cannonball. While at the World Trade Center, Black Tom summons Juggernaut.
It’s the second issue of their series, and the title characters have already taken a back seat to various subplots and mysteries. The first half of the issue is dedicated to introducing Kane, the new Weapon X. Kane was pushed as a major character in the X-titles for years before fading into obscurity. I believe he last showed up in Deadpool’s solo series as an out-and-out villain. Kane fulfills a standard X-stereotype by being involved in three mysteries in his very first appearance. He’s a part of the mysterious Weapon X agency, he’s tracking down Deadpool and his mysterious employer Tolliver, and he has a mysterious past with Cable. After most of the mysteries surrounding Kane were resolved, no one at Marvel seemed to have any use for the character.
The X-Force characters appear in exactly half of the story pages of this issue, and their appearance is limited to a tedious training sequence. In fairness, the scene does establish the depths of Feral’s psychosis, and Cannonball’s injuries do have plot significance in future issues. Still, a lot more could have been done with eleven pages. One of the things I intend to do with this blog is compare the actual material to the stereotypes that surround it. The X-books were criticized heavily in the 1990s for having incomprehensible plots, but so far, X-Force is content just giving you kicks to the face.
Liefeld’s art is exactly what you would expect. In a scene that lasts nine pages, Kane’s eyes are only visible in one panel. In all of the other panels, I assume he’s just squinting really hard. Maybe he’s intensely concentrating on his mysterious backstory. In another panel, the members of X-Force all seem to be floating off the ground. Nicieza’s script is again sufficient, with only a few clunkers, like Kane mentally telling himself to “Get –Into – The- Groove”.
It’s interesting that the cover brags, “Deadpool’s Back!” in only his second appearance. The entire comic is really dedicated to Liefeld’s new creations, while characters established years earlier in New Mutants barely do anything (except bleed, in Cannonball’s case). The success of this series, and of Image a year later, shows the audience’s willingness at the time to invest in new characters. Getting readers to accept new characters today seems almost impossible for the Big Two. The only new character Marvel seems to have had success with in recent years is a female Wolverine clone.