Liberation through Subjugation
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Matt Broome (penciler), Bud Larosa (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), George Roussos (colorist)
The new Mutant Liberation Front kidnaps Henry Peter Gyrich from his home. Spying on Federal security systems, X-Force learns that neither X-Factor nor the X-Men will be sent to rescue Gyrich. X-Force uses Cable’s technology to track the genetic signatures of the MLF members they’ve already met to their base, an island in the Bermuda Triangle. After traveling to the island, Cannonball, Rictor, Sunspot, and Boomer are shocked to learn that former New Mutant Dani Moonstar is a member of the MLF. Meanwhile, Feral and Cable track Gyrich to his cage, and are attacked from behind by Reignfire.
The MLF’s island base used to belong to Magneto, and it temporarily served as the X-Men’s headquarters after Uncanny X-Men #150.
This issue is an effort to develop the new MLF as the X-Force’s main adversary, which didn’t exactly pan out. A full half of the issue is devoted exclusively to the MLF, actually giving them more screen time than X-Force. The first third of the issue showcases the MLF on a mission, while later scenes have the characters interacting with one another and articulating their philosophy. Unlike the earlier issues of X-Force, there seems to be real thought put into the characterizations and the mission statement of the group. Continuing his efforts to connect this series to its past as New Mutants, Nicieza reintroduces former teammate Mirage as Moonstar. Having a former teammate on the opposing side automatically gives the new MLF a little more credibility, giving me the impression that Nicieza was serious about reforming the MLF’s image. Coming off the heels of Colossus’ defection, I can see why this probably angered a lot of long-time fans, but it does add a lot of drama to the title, and I think Nicieza got a lot of good material from the move. I remember liking this incarnation of the MLF as a kid, and I think the story holds up pretty well. The art, on the other hand, is dreadful. Everything in this issue is just a chore to look at, filled with awkward anatomy, ugly faces, and countless instances of the saliva strand syndrome. The backgrounds disappear often, undermining the whole idea of setting the story on a strange, exotic island with elaborate architecture. The coloring also looks murky and off-register for much of the issue. It’s a shame, because this is one of the few times the MLF actually seemed interesting.