Wednesday, December 30, 2009

X-FORCE Annual #1 - 1992

Previously…in “Shattershot”: Arize, the geneticist responsible for creating bipeds in the spineless Mojoworld, escaped to Earth. After avoiding attempts by Mojo and a rival network to retrieve him, he agreed to team up with Spiral to end Mojo’s rule once and for all.

The Mirror Liars - Shattershot Part Four

Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Greg Capullo (penciler), Harry Candelario (inker), Mike Thomas (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer)

Summary: Over a hundred years in the future, Arize has successfully overthrown the Spineless Ones in Mojoworld with X-Force’s help. Shatterstar is now the ruler of the planet, and despite his misgivings, oversees the Biped’s oppression of the Spineless Ones. Arize comes to Earth, approximately ten years from the present, to inform X-Force that Shatterstar has followed in Mojo’s footsteps. They travel to Mojoworld, where they disrupt a gladiator game Shatterstar is overseeing. When Shatterstar sees his creator Arize fighting with the Spineless Ones, he realizes he’s made a mistake. The Scheduler, the man who posed as Shatterstar’s assistant but was secretly manipulating him, refuses to give up power to the Spineless Ones. He stabs Shatterstar in the back and nearly kills Arize. Shatterstar fights back, and refuses to honor the crowd’s demand that he kill the Scheduler. He promises that Bipeds and Spineless Ones will find a peaceful way to live together in freedom.

Continuity Notes: The X-Force of ten years in the future consists of Cannonball, Cyberlock, Magik, Sunspot, Powerpax, & Siryn. Cyberlock resembles Douglock, Magik is a teenage Illyana Rasputin, and Powerpax is "Frankie Power" from Power Pack (apparently an altered version of Alex Power). Cable is supposed to be dead at this point. An elderly Longshot has a brief cameo at the end, approving of Shatterstar’s new direction.

Review: So, after many, many years, I’ve finally come across the final chapter of this storyline. I’ve occasionally seen this cited as one of the strangest conclusions to a story Marvel’s ever published, and I can only assume it came about because someone wanted to leave the Mojoworld continuity of the present day alone. Jim Lee’s final X-Men arc was published around this time, and since it ended with Longshot overthrowing Mojo (who had Spiral as an aide again, even though she left with Arize in the last chapter of this storyline to overthrow Mojo), I can see why this story might’ve gone through a rewrite or two. Nicieza shifts the scene to the future, dropping hints about potential storylines that haven't happened for the most part. We did get “Cyberlock” as Douglock in a few years, but none of the other clues ever paid off. In fact, literally ten years from the publication of this comic, X-Force was in the process of becoming X-Statix, which is something no one in 1992 could’ve seen coming. Doing stories set in the future can work if you have an audience naïve enough to think there’s a master plan and every vague hint will have a payoff, which is a place the comics industry hasn’t been for a while. I probably would’ve eaten this up if I read it when I was twelve, though. This issue is somewhat notable for being Greg Capullo’s first X-Force work, and while it’s a little shaky (Shatterstar looks awful on the cover, doesn’t he?); the majority of the art is pretty solid.

The Crush

Credits: Gavin Curtis (writer & penciler), Dan Panosian (inker), Ed Lazellari (colors), Joe Rosen (letterer)

Summary: Wiz Kid is jealous of Patrick Conrad, his teacher’s new boyfriend. While spying, Wiz Kid learns that Conrad is actually an anti-mutant activist. He convinces Artie and Leech to help him pursue Conrad. After Conrad nearly kills the boys, the police take him into custody. Wiz Kid asks Ms. Huntington to wait for him to grow up, which cheers her up.

Review: I assume this sat in a drawer for a few years, waiting for a New Mutants annual that never arrived. Actually, these guys are castoffs from the original incarnation of X-Factor, aren’t they? At any rate, this is a dated reminder of the pre-shoulder pad era, where kids with innocuous powers could be peripheral X-characters and clutter up the back of an annual. There’s not much of a story here, but I do like Gavin Curtis’ Cockrum-esque art.

Know Your Enemy

Credits: Dan Slott (writer), Sandu Florea (penciler) Brad Vancata (inker), Dana Moreshead (colors), Richard Starkings (letterer)

Summary: Cable drills X-Force on their potential foes. Cannonball and Boomer leave in protest after seeing Sunspot and the X-Men on the list. Cable tells Domino that X-Force can’t stay dreamers while fighting a war.

Continuity Notes: The foes listed include Masque, Kane, Black Tom, Juggernaut, G. W. Bridge, Deadpool, the new Brotherhood, Sunspot and Gideon, Proteus, Stryfe, the MLF, and the X-Men. There’s really nowhere for this to fit in continuity, unless Cable is briefing X-Force on characters he thinks they’re going to meet.

“Huh?” Moment: Proteus? Proteus? X-Force never fought Proteus! I know the final New Mutants annual featured a storyline that had someone trying to resurrect Proteus, but this is still an odd addition.

Review: Dan Slott wrote a similar backup in this year’s UXM annual, which had Wolverine counting down the X-Men’s most dangerous foes to Jubilee. (The number one threat? Human intolerance. You just learned a lesson, Jubilee.) This is obviously filler, memorable only for Sandu Florea’s attempt at out-Liefelding Liefeld by giving Cable the largest shoulder pads in history. I think all of these top villain countdowns should just be given to Fred Hembeck. Can’t we all agree on that?


Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, that storyline actually ended with them resurrecting Proteus. The last part was in the X-Factor annual of that year (1990 maybe).

It actually got more bizarre than you think. X-Force, the New Warriors, the Muir Island mutants, and the original X-Factor all teamed up to convince Proteus to kill himself as he was too powerful for them to murder.

Adam Farrar said...

I think that all Marvel Annuals that year had a Top Ten countdown. I loved them. I also loved Annuals with maps of headquarters and apartments.

Flossin said...

Yep, Shatterstar does look terrible on that cover. For some reason I have this issue and miss all the previous instalments of this storyline..

Teebore said...

Doing stories set in the future can work if you have an audience naïve enough to think there’s a master plan and every vague hint will have a payoff, which is a place the comics industry hasn’t been for a while. I probably would’ve eaten this up if I read it when I was twelve, though.

I was roughly twelve when this came out, and that naive at the time, so yes, I did indeed eat this up. :)

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