Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Anthony Castrillo (penciler), Mark Morales w/Chad Hunt (inkers), Comicraft (lettering), Lee Ann Clark & Graphic Color Works (colors)
Summary: Meltdown wakes up in Liddleville, and soon discovers Dimitri Fortunov. She flashes back to the events that lead her inside Dr. Doom’s castle. Cable lead X-Force on a mission to ensure that Doom’s Time Platform doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Nathaniel Richards joined the team and helped them break into the castle. After facing a group of Doom’s robots, Meltdown was abducted and her consciousness was placed inside Liddleville. Fortunov explains that Doom’s castle once belonged to his family, and that he broke into the castle to arm himself while fighting to unite Latveria. Soon, X-Force manages to free Meltdown and Fortunov and return them to their proper bodies. The group locates Doom’s Time Platform, as G. W. Bridge and two SHIELD agents arrive. Bridge claims that the UN has jurisdiction over everything in Doom’s castle. Fortunov declares that no one outside of Latveria has the right to the technology, and throws a grenade. A SHIELD agent blasts Fortunov into the control panel, activating the Time Platform. Meanwhile, Sunspot, Warpath, and Caliban act as backup and hide amongst the gypsies. One gypsy touches Warpath’s hand and has a horrific vision of the future. Seconds later, the gypsies receive word that Doom’s castle has disappeared.
Continuity Notes: Dr. Doom is believed dead at this time, after the events of Onslaught: Marvel Universe. Liddleville is the miniature town Dr. Doom created with the Puppet Master to imprison the Fantastic Four in FF #236. The gimmick is that a person stays in a dream state as his thoughts are animated by the tiny synthetic doppelganger in the town. Fortunov has a companion, Sergei, who was apparently killed when his mind was placed into his Liddleville doppelganger. Who exactly was making tiny replicas of Meltdown and the others isn’t explained.
We Get Letters: Actual editorial responses to reader comments on the recent “Origin of Shatterstar” debacle: “We hope you enjoyed the solution, even if it was a tad bit complicated.” “Star’s life has certainly changed, and it’s been way too complicated for Star or his fans to follow.” “Needless to say, evidence regarding the truth about our man Star does appear to contradict itself, doesn’t it?” And finally, “We have to admit that the final explanation for Shatterstar’s origin ended up being a wee bit complicated and pretty confusing. Although we may tell you more somewhere down the road, we will make sure that whatever we add will only clarify what has become somewhat of a temporally challenged origin story”. I wonder if Jason Liebig, the assistant editor, wrote these responses. In one interview, he claimed that he told Bob Harras during his job interview that he considered the buildup to Onslaught to be bad storytelling, so this sounds like something he might’ve written.
Review: This is John Francis Moore’s debut on X-Force, although it still feels like the series is in fill-in mode. This is a plot-heavy issue that isn’t outright terrible, but manages to be extremely dull. I’m not sure why so much of the issue is dedicated to Liddleville, since it doesn’t appear to add anything to the story and forces many other plot details to get cramped into too few pages. It seems like Moore assumes we’re already familiar with the town’s first appearance in an early ‘80s FF issue and the gimmick is amusing enough to justify such a lengthy digression. It isn’t. The rest of the issue consists of getting the characters where they’re supposed to be and setting the Time Platform up for whatever Moore wants to use it for in the next issue. Again, it’s not necessarily a bad setup for a story, but it all feels pretty generic and dull.