Thursday, November 8, 2007

X-FORCE # 17 – December 1992

Sleeping With The Enemy
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Greg Capullo (penciler), Harry Candelario (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Frenchie (Steve?) Buccellato (colorist)

Stryfe battles Apocalypse, stabbing him with the ancient sword the MLF stole from a museum. Weakened, Apocalypse teleports away. The Dark Riders, serving the survivor, now follow Stryfe. Cable reveals to Wolverine and Bishop that Stryfe is a terrorist from his timeline who came back to this era to prevent the “High Lord ascension”. Cyclops and Jean escape from their cells, while Apocalypse arrives at the X-Men’s mansion, looking for help.

This is part eight of the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover. It comes polybagged with a Mr. Sinister trading card.

Continuity Notes
Apocalypse recognizes Stryfe without his mask. He says that he once used the ancient blade to kill Stryfe in the past.

Cable’s computer reveals that Stryfe is an anarchist from the era of 3783-3806 AD. Stryfe fought against both the ruling “High Lords of New Canaan” and the rebellion, called “Clan Chosen”. As Apocalypse gained more power, Stryfe and Zero teleported back in time to 1983. Styfe hoped that exacerbating mutant rebellion would prevent the High Lord ascension.

Cable reveals that he was a member of Clan Chosen, who came back to this time after facing defeat in the future. He came back to control the High Lord’s ascension in order to “ensure order in the future”. The “High Lord” from this era is presumably Cannonball, although why Styfe thinks that preventing Cannonball’s “ascension” will stop Apocalypse in the future isn’t clear.

This is the first time Cable’s future battles with Apocalypse are revealed. The final issue of the Cable mini-series implied that Cable knew Apocalypse from his timeline, but no details were given.

The storyline begins to picks up the pace, with an issue focusing mainly on Stryfe. Since Stryfe was supposed to be the major villain in X-Force, it’s appropriate that these revelations happen in this title. Stryfe had been a mystery character for a few years, so finally getting some answers about him made this crossover feel like it was an important story. Cable’s connection to Apocalypse is established here, but not in a really dramatic way. Cable refers to his enemy as the “High Lords of New Canaan”, and Apocalypse is given only a small cameo in one panel during the flashback. Nevertheless, Cable’s battles with Apocalypse will define the character for much of the ‘90s. Up until this point, Cable’s major adversary had been Stryfe. And even if Stryfe is given a partial origin in this issue, there’s no information on why Cable hates him so much, or why exactly Stryfe was fighting both the establishment and the rebellion in the future. It seems like the X-books never want to give you all of the answers. I should also point out that if Cyclops and Jean are being held prisoner by Stryfe’s power, they could’ve just left while he was fighting Apocalypse during the first half of this issue.

Capullo continues to do a great job on the artwork. Combined with Candelario’s inks, this issue has a late ‘80s Byrne look to it. The Stryfe/Apocalypse fight is appropriately larger-than-life, while managing to pull off credible versions of two designs that often look ridiculous. It’s a really impressive looking issue, although Eliopoulos goes overboard on the exaggerated lettering (especially on pages eight and nine).


Teebore said...

At the time, I remember liking this issue A LOT (it was one of the few issues of the crossover I remember routinely pulling out and rereading w/o reading the crossover in it's entirety).

For whatever reason, I just really liked that Stryfe/Apocalypse fight.

Justin Boatwright said...

The Strfe/Apocalypse fight was pretty cool and very well done by Capullo but Stryfe's dialogue during the fight was pretty over the top even for his standards.

I always liked the scene with Siryn and Madrox talking about the relationship she had with one of his duplicates. I had forgotten about it but it adds another layer to complicated relationship they have going on in the current X-Factor series.

One other thing that stood out to me more than before was the lettering by Chris Eliopoulos. You just don't see the big colored in bubble letters anymore, like the ones that Stryfe throws out every other sentence. It is a nice old school touch and one I wouldn't mind seeing more of these days. Maybe it will make a comeback like thought balloons.

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