Thursday, September 27, 2007

X-FORCE #8 – March 1992

Flashed Before My Eyes
Credits: Rob Liefeld (plot, framing sequence pencils), Mike Mignola (main story pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Fabian Nicieza (script), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Steve Buccellato (colors)

Cable flashes back to a mission from ten years ago. Cable, Domino, Kane, Grizzly, Hammer, and G.W. Bridge are revealed to be members of a mercenary group called the Wild Pack. They infiltrate a Hydra base in New Mexico and return to AIM a device that had been stolen from them. Cable drives away from the team and teleports a thousand years into the future. While there, a computer called The Professor tells him about a mutant High-Lord named Sam Guthrie. Cable teleports back to a time just before Sam’s “awakening”. In the present, Cable shoots Sauron in retaliation for impaling Sam.

Continuity Notes
Unless something happened in New Mutants that I don’t know about, this is the issue that confirms that Cable is a time traveler. It’s also the first appearance of the Wild Pack, which explains how many of the characters introduced so far know Cable. This is also the first issue that implies that Cable might be Cyclops’s son. He’s named his servant robots after the original X-Men, and has a computer called “The Professor”. The Professor tells Cable, “A part of you was but a child, Nathan. And I was a projected energy matrix. We are fortunate we survived at all.”

Cannonball’s emergence as a High-Lord is explicitly given as Cable’s reason for coming back to this time. To put it mildly, this idea has been discreetly forgotten.

Miscellaneous Note
This issue is cut short by two pin-ups and a two page letter column. This is the third issue out of the past five with a shortened main story.

A Rob Liefeld framing sequence around Mike Mignola art. I present to you the oddest looking comic book in history. Unless you have a twisted sense of humor, you can’t possibly believe that putting Mignola and Liefeld on the same comic is going to be a good idea. If you ever wanted to see Mignola draw lots of pouches, belts, and shoulder pads, this comic is for you. Reading this issue, one thought kept coming to mind -- who would’ve thought in 1992 that there would be a Mike Mignola movie before there was a Rob Liefeld movie?

Mignola doesn’t even attempt to follow the house style of the X-books of this era. It’s very clearly Mignola, with sparse detail lines and heavy blacks, but he’s still drawing Liefeld characters. Kane, Domino, and Hammer don’t look that bad, but Cable and Grizzly still look ridiculous. It is cool to see Mignola draw classic Marvel villains like Hydra and AIM, and he’s able to make even something simple, like Cable driving away on a motorcycle, look dynamic.

This issue pays off a lot of the mysteries that had been developing for months. It’s hard to read it in the proper context because now everyone knows that Cable is a time-traveler, and most of the Wild Pack have faded into obscurity. It makes me wonder why a fill-in artist drew such an important issue of this title, but I’m under the impression that Liefeld has really lost interest by this point. As a kid who actually cared about the mysteries in this book, this issue wasn’t much of a resolution. I was more confused than anything. Cable teleporting into the future doesn’t come across as a big deal at all, so I wondered if I had already missed something. Everything about this issue is jarring, not just the artwork. The story jumps from Cannonball getting killed, to Cable flashing back to ten years ago, to Cable jumping to the future, to back to the present.

I also had no idea what to make of Mignola’s art. I thought some of panels looked cool, but I didn’t think that it was “realistic” enough. I thought everything was too sparse and flat. If you had asked me, I would’ve told you that both Liefeld and Mignola’s art looked “weird”, but probably couldn’t articulate why. I wasn’t enough of a Liefeld fan to follow him to Image, but I didn’t like this other “weird” art, either. I wonder if a kid today would choose Liefeld over Mignola. I can only imagine what Liefeld’s diehard fans thought of this issue.


Cove West said...

Looking at the GCD, the "Cannonball as High-Lord" didn't last as long as I remembered -- #8 (Mar 92) until #54 (May 96) when Selene killed the Externals and poo-poohed Sam's immortality, though it really had faded away by the time Sam joined the X-Men circa #44. At the time, it was one of my favorite X-threads and helped contribute to Sam becoming one of my favorite characters (hey, I started at X-FORCE #1, so all I had until then was Pointless!Cannonball). Looking back now, I'm ashamed beyond words, but I do wonder if Sam would have become an X-Man without the whole "but he's gonna grow up to lead the mutant race!" thing whipping fans into chanted tongues.

I still have a soft spot for the Wild Pack (Six Pack now isn't it, to differentiate from Silver Sable's posse?). Okay, Hammer was weird and Grizzly was one too many giant-furry-beastial-mutant guys, but the rest would still be a solid supporting cast for a Cable series (isn't it weird that, besides the first Cable mini, they WEREN'T his supporting cast?). GW Bridge is Nate's moral mirror, Kane is his sometimes-rebellious/sometimes-faithful protege, and Domino is his sidekick/confidant/consigliere. And of course, Deadpool. Looks like potential to me. They were a better fit for what Liefeld was doing than the New Mutants were, anyway.

And to think, this was the SIMPLE period of Cable's backstory, before clones and mother-clones and alternate-reality clones, before time-traveling sister-as-Mother, father-as-foster-father, and mother-template-as-foster-mother, and before the entirety of the '90s X-books revolved around his destiny. He's relatively a blank slate here!

Adam said...

Man, back in the day they used have alot of characters from the future telling how minor characters would end up being the Chosen One or pivotal in the coming war or something. I remember Bishop saying something similar to Jubilee... It just seemed like an easy way to try and make them seem more important and everything to sound omnious.

James said...

This may be pointing out the obvious, but the fact that Mignola didn't bother to try and imitate the house style of the X-books might be a mark of his substantial talent. He conformed (as best he could) the characters to his art, not vice versa, which is a good sign of a true artist, I think. Of course, if my 16-year-old self had read this story, I probably wouldn't have thought about it that way.

Nate said...

It has been said, over the years by various folks, that Mignola was angry that he wasn't allowed to do the cover for this issue, and that he refused to work for Marvel since.
As far as why he was on the book in the first place, Liefeld is an avowed Mignola fan, and that he was an early influence on him. According to Liefeld, Macfarlane encouraged him to shed the influence because the kids wouldn't dig it.

Christopher said...

And when Mignola did the cover for Grant Morrison and DC's Liefeld-parody DOOM FORCE, he signed it "Mignola -- Doin' Penance."

Take a look...

--Chris K

G. Kendall said...

My memory is that Nicieza did a good job developing personalities for the Wild/Six Pack. I remember thinking that the Cable mini-series was good (Kurt Busiek even complemented it once), so I'm looking forward to re-reading those issues. I bought Cable's solo series for over forty issues and don't remember a thing about it.

Mignola was really in a no-win situation with this issue. He was filling in for an artist who couldn't be further away from his own style. Mignola fans probably wouldn't want to see him on X-Force, and X-Force fans probably wouldn't want to see him on X-Force.
Mignola was the first artist to draw Cable's future world, and I don't remember if later artists scrapped what he did. It'll be interesting to see.
Some scans of this issue can be found here:

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