Friday, November 7, 2008

X-FORCE #53 – April 1996

Even An X-Ternal Can Die!
Credits: Jeph Loeb (writer), Adam Pollina (penciler), Mark Morales (inker), Marie Javins & Malibu Hues (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)

Summary: Sunspot watches in shock as Gideon’s body withers away. Caliban senses the arrival of two more Externals, Absalom and Crule, who mistakenly believe that Sunspot and Caliban are the ones hunting the Externals. The remaining members of X-Force respond to Sunspot’s call for help and join the fight. While Domino attends to Caliban’s wounds, Warpath climbs up Gideon’s skyscraper. Domino realizes that the Externals are being defeated too easily, and orders X-Force to back off. Inside Gideon’s penthouse, Warpath discovers the body of another External, Saul. He senses the presence of someone else, and is ambushed by a mystery woman.

Production Note: This issue, shockingly enough, only has nineteen pages of story. There’s a two-page letter column and two-page X-Facts hype section to make up for the missing pages.

Review: This is essentially an issue-long fight scene that also tries to advance the “Who’s Killing the Externals?” mystery. Absalom and Crule have no reason to fight the team, which makes the entire issue feel padded. Pollina’s art is dynamic enough to sell the action, so it’s never truly boring, but there’s no getting around the fact that the lengthy fight scene isn’t advancing the actual storyline. I appreciate the fact that Loeb is at least trying to resolve some of the dangling plotlines from the earlier issues, but the Externals storyline never really worked in the first place, and it seems like he’s reviving the idea just to bury it. I remember reading this issue when it was first released and trying to remember who Absalom and Crule even were. Reading it today, having read their previous appearances less than a year ago, I still had a hard time remembering who they were supposed to be. Apparently, Cruel has evil ponytails that come out of the skull emblem on his forehead. You’d think I would’ve remembered that.

7 comments:

x-man75 said...

I can remember reading this issue and wondering to myself, "WHY exactly is Loeb killing off the Externals?" Back then, it made little sense, and looking back on it now, it still makes little sense.

The deaths never really led to anything, or at least I can't remember them leading to anything, besides a quick battle with the villain responsible. The whole thing seemed strangely rushed as well. The Externals had been a thorn in the side of X-Force on and off throughout the series, but were easily dispatched in basically one issue. That kind of bugged me.

If I'm not mistaken, wasn't this the storyline that retconned Cannonball's statis as an External as well? THAT is something I don't think I'll ever understand...

Chris said...

Didn't this story come about as a problem with the HIGHLANDER creators, what with the External concept being really similar?

x-man75 said...

You know Chris, I think you may be right on that one... I remember hearing that the Highlander creators had threatened a lawsuit back in the day, but I was never sure if it was true or just some rumor with no merit.

I guess that would explain why Marvel was in such a rush to kill off all the External characters and claim Cannonball was no longer one of them.

G. Kendall said...

I think the "Comic book urban legends revealed" series debunked the Highlander rumor.

x-man75 said...

Huh, at least the Highlander rumor kind explained why the Externals were killed off. If that rumor isn't true, I just can't understand the purpose of the deaths...

The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

The Externals storyline is so bad that even retconning it out of existence and killing all the characters involved was still horrible. They did a lot of those in the 90s.

wwk5d said...

A mess all around...plus, retconning Cannonball not being an External just ended up giving us one hell of a dangler...mainly, how did he return from the dead in the early issues of X-force?

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