Credits: Jeph Loeb (writer), Adam Pollina (penciler), LaRosa/Morales/Delperdang (inkers), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Marie Javins & Electric Crayon (colors)
X-Force, now under Tessa’s mental command, receive orders from Sebastian Shaw. Their mission is to find Cable and kill him. In Manhattan, Cable and Domino are searching for the missing members of X-Force. They’re suddenly attacked by the team and lead on a chase through Wall Street. When Sunspot approaches, Cable knocks him unconscious with a concussion grenade and enters his mind. With Sunspot forced over to his side, Cable leaves him with Domino as backup while he confronts the rest of the team. After receiving a beating from each member, Cable enters their minds and forces them to remember their past together. The team members come to their senses and break free of Tessa’s control. Holocaust is displeased by Shaw’s failure and begins to doubt him.
This is another anniversary issue with a double-gatefold, prismatic foil cover. There’s also an alternate cover, which I believe is the first one that’s come up in the issues I’ve reviewed so far. The second cover is drawn by Rob Liefeld, which means that the “Heroes Reborn” deal had probably been announced by this point. I have the Adam Pollina cover (honest!), which was the one used on the non-enhanced newsstand version.
It’s revealed that when Cable “psionically pushed Reignfire out of Bobby’s head”, that Sunspot ended up with some of Cable’s memories. This explains why Sunspot could speak Askani in a previous issue.
According to the Statement of Ownership, average sales for the year were at 224,293, with the most recent issue selling 216,270 copies.
This is a double-sized anniversary issue that mainly consists of an extended fight scene that pits Cable against X-Force. It’s really all about the action, and Pollina’s stylized art is able to keep things visually interesting, even if he’s not helped by the multiple inkers. The chase scenes aren’t that bad, and I get that Loeb is using the anniversary issue to show how much the characters have grown with Cable and to put him in a position where his training is turned against him. What the story fails to do is make you care about anything that’s going on. The dialogue is very dull and obvious, and any conflict that Cable might have about facing his students is barely conveyed. There is a nice moment where Cable refuses to take Domino’s gun before confronting the team, but that’s really it. Even this is a wasted opportunity, since the Cable of X-Force #1 probably wouldn’t hesitate to take the gun, yet that isn’t brought up here. The fact that Cable’s son has been brainwashed for years, which forced Cable to nearly kill him in the past, is also ignored. The only real attempt to convey any emotions comes in a rushed scene at the end, as Cable shoves some scenes from New Mutants back issues into X-Force’s head. I guess it’s not as bad as the old “talking the hero out of his brainwashing” cliché, but it’s not much better. And now that this storyline is over, I have to wonder what the point of Holocaust’s introduction was supposed to be. Shaw’s sudden interest in X-Force is explained here, with the rather weak rationalization that killing Cable would enable him to use X-Force as his personal soldiers, but Holocaust’s role is left unclear. I suppose he played his role in kidnapping the team, but he doesn’t participate in the climax of the story at all. It comes across as another awkward insertion of an AoA character into a mainstream reality storyline. Taken on its own, this is a middling action story, but as the conclusion to an ongoing storyline and an anniversary issue, it’s definitely a disappointment.