Credits: John Dokes (writer), Kevin Lau w/Adam Pollina (pencilers), Andrew Pepoy w/Norman Lee (inkers), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Leeann Clark (colorist)
Summary: Shinobi Shaw has kidnapped Nga Coy Manh and Leon Coy Manh, the siblings of former New Mutants member Karma. Shaw’s scientists are experimenting on them, hoping to find a way to neutralize the mutant x-gene (which will give Shaw power over other mutants, including his father). X-Force infiltrate Shaw’s base and are confronted by his henchmen, Clear-Cut and Mindmeld. While Clear-Cut duels with Shatterstar, Mindmeld forces Domino into Caliban’s mind and Meltdown into Sunspot’s mind. The team is taken into custody, as Domino and Meltdown’s unconscious bodies are taken away for experimentation. After Spiral takes Nga and Leon away, Shaw reveals that he knows Clear-Cut is a double agent. Mindmeld possesses him, which inadvertently returns Domino and Meltdown back to their own bodies. Domino uses the key Clear-Cut slipped her to free the others, and the team soon destroys Shaw’s headquarters and frees Clear-Cut. After escaping, Clear-Cut tells the team that his debt to Cable is paid.
Continuity Notes: Final Fantasy rejects Clear-Cut and Mindmeld appear for the first time. Clear-Cut claims that Shaw didn’t detect the mutant gene in his body because not everyone with special powers is a mutant (he has a magic sword that spontaneously appears, which is apparently his power). I’m assuming that his past with Cable has never been revealed. Mindmeld, who is outright androgynous, can possesses minds and transfer them to other bodies. Domino refers to Mindmeld as a she, but Meltdown refers to her as “Mr. or Mrs.”.
Spiral shows up for literally one panel to take the Coy Manh kids away, which is presumably a setup for the Beast miniseries that’s mentioned on the last page.
Review: Did you want more filler? I know I did. There are a few decent ideas here, but the story’s cluttered with too much nonsense and bad artwork. Kevin Lau returns with more of that generic manga look that gives virtually every character the same face and body type. I have no idea if Mindmeld is supposed to be androgynous, or if Lau just draw an extremely effeminate man and the writer decided to have fun with it. Adam Pollina is credited as co-artist, but none of the actual drawings look like his work. Some of the page layouts and poses on the final pages are definitely his, so I’m assuming he provided some last minute layouts, or very rough breakdowns.
The basic idea of the story has potential; a one issue story that has the cast trapped in one another’s bodies while an inside agent tries to stop Shinobi Shaw is fine. However, there are too many characters in the story, and no one is properly introduced. The mutants Shaw is experimenting on didn’t have to be Karma’s siblings (who were long forgotten at this point, although the story acts as if they’re recurring supporting cast members), unless this story only existed to setup the Beast mini in the first place. Clear-Cut and Mindmeld are treated as if they’re established characters that we’re already familiar with, and Spiral shows up with no explanation of who she is or what her connection to Shaw is supposed to be. Even if you’re already familiar with all of the continuity elements, the story still comes across as needlessly convoluted. This is the stereotypical “too complicated” X-story, the type that critics used for years to condemn the entire line.