Monday, November 3, 2008

X-FORCE #52 – March 1996

Bad Girls
Credits: Jeph Loeb (writer), Adam Pollina (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Marie Javins & Electric Crayon (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)

Summary: Domino, Siryn, and Meltdown (Boomer’s new codename) travel to Camp Hayden to verify that its Nimrod research facility has been shut down. They discover a newly-enhanced Blob inside, who has been sent by Onslaught to steal the remaining Nimrod technology. Blob uses his new mass shifting power to deflect Domino’s ammo against the team. Meltdown jumps on Blob’s back and shoves a timebomb down his throat. Even after he surrenders, she refuses to stop the bomb. Domino finally asks her to turn off the bomb and she relents. Mimic suddenly arrives and rescues Blob from the team. Meanwhile, Sunspot and Caliban respond to Gideon’s call for help. Outside of his skyscraper, they discover his dead body.

Continuity Notes: Both Blob and Meltdown exhibit new powers in this issue. Meltdown is able to draw her timebomb out of Blob’s mouth back into her hands. Blob, who is now even larger, is able to shift his mass, which somehow enables him to deflect an armor-piercing shell. He also appears to be able to extend his arm like Mr. Fantastic in one scene. He implies that Onslaught enhanced his powers.

Production Note: This is another X-comic with only nineteen pages. Like most of the other shortened comics, the missing pages are replaced with an expanded letters column and hype pages.

We Get Letters: A letter writer asks if Shatterstar is gay, and the editor’s reply is that “as far as we can see it, there aren’t any sexual undertones” to his relationship with Rictor. This seems to go against Mark Powers’ claim that Loeb just never got around to outing the characters, and that editorial wasn’t standing in his way (although Mark Powers isn’t credited as editor yet, so who knows).

Review: We’re now entering the phase where Onslaught goes from vague clues to vague rationalizations for entire stories. Judged on its own, this is a run of the mill action story with inconsistent art, which actually makes it better than most of the later Onslaught tie-ins. Pollina draws some dynamic action scenes, and his Blob redesign is appropriately gross, but his anatomy and faces look rough for much of the issue. Aside from its attempts to build up the Onslaught mystery, the story mainly serves to showcase Boomer’s new attitude as Meltdown. The story’s somewhat successful in presenting her new outlook and providing a legitimate motivation (basically that she’s sick of being a victim), but her new personality is just reminiscent of the typical ‘90s anti-hero. When I first read this issue, I thought the idea of a character radically changing their personality overnight seemed forced, but Loeb puts more effort into selling the conversion than I remembered. What drags this down more than anything is the knowledge of where all of these Onslaught clues are going, plus I seem to recall the upcoming Externals storyline is something of a mess.


Arvin Bautista said...

Love Pollina's dynamic artwork (style reminds me of Peter Chung (?)'s Aeon Flux), but man he draws women's faces like they're half molten.

wwk5d said...

Yeah, his faces were a bit weak at this point...still, I really loved his style back then. it was so different from much of the other X-titles, and he def made the book look unique.

x-man75 said...

Huh, what a great blog idea... I loved these comics back in the day and wound up spending a lot of money to fill in my 90's X-collection a few years ago.

I still have quite the fondness for these comics, even though, X-Force without Cannonball was never the same for me. I always liked Meltdown, and was very pleased when they changed her name/personality... Boomer was just lame!

As for the Shatterstar/gay thing, I don't think Marvel would have ever had the guts to pull the trigger on that one... Then again, Rictor's past relationship was comically mentioned a few times in the current X-Factor issues, so who knows.

I can see, I'll have a lot of great reading material on this blog for hopefully a long time!

izzat said...

Man, this issue bugged me. Tabitha always struck me as a weak character, but trying to give her depth and "an edge" was even worse. Her victory over an Onslaught-enhanced Blob was just embarrassing.

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