Tuesday, January 15, 2008

X-FORCE #25 – August 1993

Back To Front
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Greg Capullo (penciler), Wiacek/Green/Ryan/Palmiotti/Hanna/Conrad/Milgrom (inkers), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), George Roussos (colorist)

X-Force returns to their Arizona base to find Cable waiting for them. Cable says that he realized how much he needed the team while he was lost in the timestream. Exodus appears, offering Cannonball and Sunspot sanctuary on Avalon. Cannonball only agrees to go if Exodus also takes the rest of the remaining New Mutants members. Exodus agrees, taking Boomer, Rusty, Skids, and Rictor with him. Cannonball secretly gives Cable a tracking device before he leaves, so the rest of X-Force follows Exodus into space. In Avalon, Magneto cures Rusty and Skids of their brainwashing, and offers the former New Mutants the opportunity to live above the Earth in his new home. When Cable sees Avalon, he recognizes it as his old space station, Graymalkin. After fighting Exodus, the remaining members of X-Force teleport inside. Cable plans to remove the Professor’s programming from Avalon’s core and then destroy the space station. Cannonball explains to Cable that Rusty and Skids want to stay on Avalon, and tries to talk him out of destroying it. Cable ignores his objections, and teleports X-Force away. After removing the Professor’s programming, Magneto confronts Cable. When Cable attacks, Magneto rips out his metal body parts. Cable, barely alive, manages to teleport away.

This issue has a cardstock hologram cover. The hologram apparently required special care.

I Love the ‘90s
Warpath says that he “zones out” on Porno For Pyros. Don’t we all?

Continuity Notes
Cable tells Cannonball that he lied about Tyler not being his son in order to keep himself “emotionally distant”.

On page 20, Cable recaps his origin, outright naming Apocalypse as his future enemy, and reiterating that he came to this timeline to develop “High-Lord “ Cannonball as a “savior of mutantkind”.

After ten issues away, Cable returns to X-Force. Cable would remain in his mentor role for the next few years, before Marvel did another “students strike out on their own” storyline. The opening of this issue makes a big deal out of Cable having a change of heart, no longer keeping secrets and even declaring that he’s following his students’ way, not his own. It’s a good direction for the character, but it’s hard to reconcile this humility with Cable’s actions in his own solo series. Cable does make an effort to reach out to his former Six Pack teammates in that series, but the first few issues still go out of their way to point out Cable’s callousness. I suppose that this might all be related to the “Stryfe’s ghost” subplot growing in Cable’s own title, but it’s hard to tell. Cable’s own actions at the end of this issue, ignoring Cannonball and attempting to destroy Magneto’s ship, aren’t really consistent with his earlier characterization in this story, either. I assume that this is done intentionally, to show that Cable isn’t willing to totally give up control. At any rate, this issue does seem to mark the beginning of the “kinder, gentler” Cable, an interpretation that’s stuck around for years (has anyone tried to go back to the “big guns, bad attitude” Cable? I honestly don’t remember.)

It’s surprising that Magneto makes his return in this book and not in one of the two main X-Men titles. His return had been teased for months, with characters even shown to be afraid to say his name, and suddenly he appears in this comic without much fanfare. Unlike the later chapters of this storyline, Magneto isn’t portrayed as particularly bloodthirsty in this issue (in fact, Cable attacks him first). Magneto’s conversation with Cable isn’t bad, and now that I think about, you could do a lot with these two characters together. Unfortunately, their scene together is very brief, and ends with Magneto basically doing to Cable what he’s going to do to Wolverine in a few weeks. The rest of the issue seems devoted to establishing Magneto’s new home and building up Exodus as a serious threat. Neither of these things have a lot to do with X-Force, although Nicieza tries to build a connection with Cannonball’s past with Magneto. A lot could be done with that relationship, too, but it never goes anywhere. Some of Nicieza’s peculiar scripting from X-Men seems to spill over into this series with Magneto and Exodus’ dialogue, plus this gem from Cable: “We find the others, then we roll right over the people who did this – because Heaven also awaits those who PREY! Wow.

This issue marks the end of Greg Capullo’s run on the title. He left to pencil the Grant Morrison issues of Spawn, soon becoming the regular artist of that series. The trend of this time was for creators to leave Marvel to do their own creator-owned series at Image, so it’s odd that he stuck around to draw someone else’s book. Couldn’t he have done that at Marvel? I know that he eventually did create his own series for Image, but I don’t think it lasted for very long. His run on X-Force was a favorite as a kid, and I’m glad to go back and see that it still looks good. His final issue unfortunately has seven different inkers, but there’s still not a lot to criticize. I should also point out that legendary Fantastic Four inker George Roussos (Geo Bell), colored this issue. Who would’ve thought that a Silver Age Kirby inker would also be the one making sure Feral’s costume is the right shade of pink twenty years later?


Chris said...

I think the closest anyone's come to bringing back Cable's "big guns, bad attitude" premise was David Tischman during the Morrison/Casey reboot era (around Cable # 97, I think). But even there the absurdities were toned down for its "real world" approach.

(Thoroughly enjoying your blog, btw, after finding it last weekend. Great, great job!)

Teebore said...

Even as a kid I too thought it was odd that Magneto came back in this issue. It wasn't even a RETURN!(which happened more dramatically in Uncanny), so much as he just...showed up, as if this issue wasn't the first time he appeared since his death.

As a someone who was fishing old New Mutants issues out of quarter bins while this story was going on, I also really liked that the connection between Magento and the X-Force members who were once New Mutants was touched on.

Mike Loughlin said...

As a kid, I never understood how Cannonball's ability to fly into things was going to save mutantkind. Come to think of it, I still don't.

Fnord Serious said...

"...Magneto basically doing to Cable what he’s going to do to Wolverine in a few weeks."

Too bad we didn't also get a Cable with bone armor and giant bone guns, eh?

Cove West said...

X-FORCE's chapter of "Fatal Attractions" is my favorite part of the crossover, less because of what it does for the crossover than for what it does for the series. In many ways, it's the climax of the series in its original configuration--Stryfe, Tolliver, Vanessa, Kane, the Externals, Deadpool, Cable missing, the kids coming into their own, and most importantly, Cable's myriad mysteries--essentially, All Things Liefeld. For all its faults, the first two years gave the title a distinct identity, and it doesn't regain one again until the "Road Trip" arc three years or so later.

Cable's revelations seem both quaint and disturbing in retrospect--quaint because his backstory and motivations will never be this simple again, and disturbing because what seems to be a finally-clear explanation for "X-Cutioner's Song" will become something we'd rather not have been explained in coming years. But in its contemporary context, Cable's slate-cleaning is refreshing and exciting. It's actually one of the few non-cryptic resolutions in the X-verse all decade.

But IMO, Nicieza's crowning achievement is how he handles Sam and Magnus. Sam's "open hand/closed fist" discussion in #19 only resolved his catharsis with Xavier, but now he gets to have it out with Cable and Magneto. By resolving his conflicts with Nathan, Sam is able to get past his self-doubts; by doing so with Magnus (who, more than anyone else, was the New Mutants' primary mentor), he essentially graduates to adulthood. Not that anyone actually REMEMBERS that he's not a kid anymore after this, but it's still there in its context. Meanwhile, Nicieza turns in the most Claremontian Magneto of the decade (even better than Claremont himself), portraying him as a noble warrior fighting for a dangerous agenda, and as a long-lost teacher who has nothing but respect for his students. Not that THAT lasts more than a month...

As Exodus's first full appearance, I can see a lot of potential in him. His monk-like personality is interesting and constrasts nicely with his immense power. But like Magnus, the nuance portrayed here quickly falls by the wayside. And I wonder what the writers originally had in mind for his backstory, before the Black Knight/Apocalypse stuff got shoehorned in (and did we ever learn how he came to worship Magneto?).

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