Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Antonio Daniel (penciler), Pennington/Wiacek/Vancata
/Williams/Conrad (inkers), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Kevin Somers (colorist)
X-Force stops the hunter Adam X, X-Treme, from kidnapping the young mutant Neurotap. Adam X is working for Martin Strong, a mutant with a research facility designed to remove the gene that causes mutations. X-Force leads Adam X to their headquarters where he’s ambushed. Adam X reveals that he only works for Strong because he’s promised to give him information about his past. X-Force convinces him to turn against Strong, and disguised as prisoners, Adam X brings X-Force into the facility. After fighting Strong, it’s revealed that Neurotap was working for Strong the entire time, and that this was an elaborate scheme to capture more mutants for research. Cable defeats Strong, and learns that his large, powerful body is a false synthetic shell, hiding his weak, fish-like body. X-Force debates over destroying the facility, finally deciding that some mutants might want, or need, Strong’s research. Cable offers Adam X a place on the team, but he refuses.
This issue comes polybagged with an X-Treme trading card.
This is the first appearance of Adam X, or X-Treme. Later stories would imply that he was the third Summers brother, but Marvel backed away from that pretty quickly.
According to Strong, Feral is seventeen.
It’s another 1993 annual, introducing another character who never really took off. Adam X would show up in a decent amount of Nicieza’s work until the mid-90s before he went off into obscurity. The character’s name and look pretty much scream “1993”, so it doesn’t surprise me that Marvel wanted to leave him behind in this era. To be fair, Nicieza does give him some personality, but he still falls into the X-stereotype of the noble warrior with a hidden past, with a little bit of amnesia thrown in. Actually, whether or not he even has amnesia isn’t clear in this issue. He claims to be working with Martin Strong in order to get info on his past, and tells X-Force he “doesn’t remember” if he has amnesia, but begins referencing his own memories later in the story. This doesn’t do a lot to sell the importance of his search for answers.
Unlike most annuals, there are no back-up stories and only a few pin-ups for filler. This issue reads like it might’ve been a three issue story arc truncated to fit inside the annual. Some of the elements, like Cannonball, Siryn, and Feral working undercover, don’t make a lot of sense. Why is X-Force going to such great lengths to get inside Strong’s facility if they already have three members working inside? The moral issue of the story, if scientists have a right to eliminate the mutation gene, was brought up months earlier in one of Peter David’s X-Factor issues. Casting Strong as such an obvious villain, kidnapping mutants and experimenting on them, makes the issue seem a lot less ambiguous, even though X-Force decides to let him carry on his research at the end. Nicieza’s able to pull off the ending without making the team look like idiots, but a lot more could’ve been done with the ethical dilemma.
This issue marks Antonio Daniel’s first work with the characters. He’ll go on to become the regular penciler of the monthly series soon. His work in this issue is more restrained than the exaggerated, Image-friendly look he’ll soon adopt. Most of it doesn’t look that bad, and it survives five inkers pretty well. Is he the same Tony Daniel doing work for DC now? I don’t know what happened to him after he stopped doing work for McFarlane.