Friday, September 7, 2007

X-FORCE #4 – November 1991

Sabotage Part Two

Rob Liefeld (Plot); Fabian Nicieza (Script), Rob Liefeld (Pencils), Rob Liefeld (Inks), Brian Murray (Colors), Chris Eliopoulos; Joe Rosen (Letters)

Spider-Man and X-Force fight Juggernaut in the wreckage of the World Trade Center, until Deadpool appears to teleport Juggernaut away. In the remains of one of the Towers, Cable shoots Black Tom and lets him fall to his seeming death. Deadpool teleports in time to save Black Tom, telling him that his employer Tolliver needs him.

I Love the ‘90s
Spider-Man references “Stormin’ Norman”, and jokes about forming a “Dessert (sic) Storm” with X-Force.

The image of Cable on the cover is probably the Liefeld highlight of the comic. Not only is Cable holding a gun that appears to be over five feet long, but there’s also something going on with the bottom half of his body that I can’t even begin to describe.

The very first narrative caption of the issue seems to sum up Nicieza’s approach to scripting this series: “Manhattan. Pick it up as you go along.” So far, this series hasn’t had any of the histrionic thought balloons and narrative captions that are associated with X-titles. Nicieza probably feels that this book’s audience isn’t looking for that style.

Also on the first page, Warpath asks, “Does anyone have any idea how tired I am of all this gratuitous fighting?” Shatterstar responds, “No, do you have any idea how much I’m enjoying it?” Apparently, even someone named “Warpath” feels there’s too much mindless action in this title. This is actually a nice example of Nicieza bringing at least a little humor and personality to the series. That's really the only nice thing you can say about this issue.

Many of the characters in this storyline just seem to appear and disappear at random. It’s impossible to keep track of where Boom Boom, Cannonball, Siryn, Gideon, Sunspot, Domino are at any point in the story. This is the first time the plotting of the series gets outright sloppy. Even if the previous issues were all just extended fight scenes, you could at least keep track of where the characters were supposed to be.

Liefeld’s deadline troubles seem to have started. The story is cut short by a two page pin-up (by Mike Mignola of all people), and a two page letter column. The letter column intro says that they’ve received lots of praise and critiques, but there are no letters of complaint over the next two pages.

This issue is colored by someone named Brian Murray. I’ve never heard of him and don’t know what else he’s done, but his work here is dreadful. The early issues of this title had nice color work by Brad Vancata, so it’s especially jarring to see the ugly day-glo job in this issue. I can’t think of any other Marvel comic at the time colored in this odd style.

There’s a narrative caption obviously done by a different letterer that tells us that Boom Boom and Cannonball are helping survivors of the World Trade Center explosion. I’m assuming that this line was added at the last minute to explain where two of the characters disappeared to, and hopefully someone realized that the heroes of this series should be trying to help the victims of a massive explosion. It is weird now to read a comic that involves the destruction of the World Trade Center that doesn’t bother to show a single civilian.

Black Tom surrenders to Cable, but Cable just shots him anyway so that he won’t “escape in two months time to do this all over again”. I knew that Cable had always been willing to kill, but I forgot that they took it this far. After years of seeing the hero send the villain off to jail, we now have a hero not only willing to kill his opponent, but willing to kill a helpless one who has already surrendered. I don't remember this scene really bothering me when I first read this comic, but it stands out as atrocious now. It’s really an awful scene that brings this book to a new level of ugliness.


Justin Boatwright said...

If I'm not mistaken, when Supreme was first launched from Image the artist was one Brian Murray and the art was especially atrocious. Same guy? Not sure. But with Supreme being a Liefeld character maybe there is some connection with him and Murray which may explain his coloring gig on X-Force despite the highly questionable results.

James said...

" It’s really an awful scene that brings this book to a new level of ugliness."

There's also the scene where Shatterstar blinds the Juggernaut with his swords (which might have taken place the previous issue - my memory's hazy). This was the kind of thing that turned me off from the X-books at the time.

Marvel Age (the company's promotional magazine at the time) ran an item about that scene back then. Liefeld originally penciled Shatterstar's swords going *into* Juggernaut's eyes, on panel. Editorial wisely demanded he redraw two panels to tone it down, but Marvel Age printed his original art. It was disgusting.

Jason Leivian said...

This blog is amazing! Will you be moving on to extreme studios - marat mychaels and the like? no one can even remember anything about all those image comics we bought. reading these recaps is a blast.

Salo said...

Thank you for pushing yourself with this. The comicsblogosphere will be eternally thankful for your sacrifice.

G. Kendall said...

Justin - I checked and you're right. Along with drawing Supreme, he still did some coloring and apparently some writing for Extreme, too.

James - I know that McFarlane drew a similar scene in the Spider-Man crossover issue that was redrawn. Was that it, or did Liefeld draw one, too?

Jason - I don't own any of the Extreme stuff Liefeld put out. I do own some early WildC.A.T.S and a few other Image books. I'm thinking about comparing the Image work to what these guys were doing at Marvel.

Salo - Thanks. I actually had a few more things to say about this comic, but didn't feel like dwelling on it any longer.

Pat! said...

i remember that scene! not only did he shoot an unarmed man, be boasted "i don't play that game cassidy!" then shot him a couple dozen times, watched him fall down an elevator shaft, and THEN SMILED!

i'm like you, as a kid i thought "whoa, cable's EXTREME!"

but now i'm like "holy crap, what the hell?!"

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