Assault on Graymalkin
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Greg Capullo (pencils), Harry Candelario (inks), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Steve Buccellato (colors)
Stark Enterprises employees discover Graymalkin, Cable’s orbital space station. SHIELD strikes an agreement with Stark Enterprises head James Rhodes to investigate the space station. GW Bridge, believing that Cable is involved, temporarily rejoins SHIELD. X-Force, along with Lila Cheney, view a news report about the space station’s discovery and teleport inside. They soon confront Nick Fury, Bridge, and two other SHIELD agents. After defeating them, the team is confronted by Iron Man. Meanwhile, Vanessa unwillingly morphs into her best friend, Domino continues to search for X-Force, and the sickly External Nicodemus bursts into flames.
Cable’s sentient computer system, The Professor, is confirmed to be Ship from X-Factor. The Professor knows nothing about this and claims that he first went online in 3761 AD.
The Statement of Ownership has average sales at 759,125, with the most recent issue at 550,900.
I don’t think I’ve read these issues since they were first published, but I remember really liking this story arc. I’m sure a lot of it had to do with Capullo’s artwork, which is pretty remarkable in this issue, but I was also into the story. Nicieza gets things off to a quick start by jumping from one conversation to another to get the exposition out of the way. It’s a clever idea that he pulls off very well. I don’t know why exactly Nicieza had Bridge quit SHIELD last issue only to rejoin in this one, but I’ll overlook it. The one-page subplot scenes with the leftover Liefeld characters also help to build suspense for future issues. Even if the book is going in a different direction, Nicieza isn’t throwing everything out of the window, which is admirable.
Capullo’s new costumes make their full debut in this issue, with some mixed results. They’re all improvements over the Liefeld designs, but some of them still have the worst elements of that early ‘90s look. I guess it took a few years for everyone to figure out how bad giant shoulder pads looked. Capullo handles the action scenes very well, but he also makes the conversation scenes look interesting. X-Force remains an action-heavy title, but the action is now centered around better stories with competent artwork, which goes a long way.