Credits: Eric Stephenson (writer), Roger Cruz (penciler), Lary Stucker (inker), Steve Dutro & Kurt Hathaway (letters), Dan Shadian & Extreme Color (colors)
Summary: A representative of Mojo, the Agent, tricks the members of Youngblood into signing contracts that take them to Mojoworld. Youngblood’s leader, Shaft, escapes through a portal that takes him to the Marvel Universe. He lands in the Danger Room, where he’s confronted by the X-Men and X-Force. Professor Xavier confirms that he isn’t a threat, and Cable declares that X-Force will aid Shaft. Meanwhile, Major Domo informs Mojo that Youngblood will be Mojoworld’s new ratings champions, and that their world is ripe for exploitation. Ricochet Rita and Mojo II offer to aid Youngblood, as X-Force arrives with Shaft. The united teams split up to destroy Mojo’s teleportation nexuses in Mojoworld and Youngblood’s reality. With the aid of the Extreme Universe’s heroes, they succeed. X-Force disappears back into their reality, as Badrock ponders if he should go back and overthrow Mojo. Elsewhere, Mojo is ecstatic with his ratings and plans a sequel with more Extreme heroes.
Continuity Notes: The members of Youngblood are Shaft, Vogue, Riptide, Badrock, Diehard, and Knightsabre. The story takes place right before the Onslaught crossover, so X-Force consists of Cable, Domino, Sunspot, Meldown, Shatterstar, Caliban, Siryn, and Warpath. Shatterstar’s past with Mojo is used as Cable’s justification for X-Force taking on the mission. When freeing the Extreme Universe heroes from prison, Cable runs into someone from his past. His name is Bravo, and he’s an exact duplicate of Cable. I don’t know if this is an actual Extreme character, or a parody of the dozens of Extreme characters who look like Cable.
I Love the ‘90s: Beast laments that he’s never able to watch “Regis and Kathy Lee” when Shaft arrives.
Review: This is another Image crossover, made possible by Marvel’s “Heroes Reborn” deal with Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld. Liefeld didn’t finish “Heroes Reborn,” and he left Image during this time, but that didn’t stop a collection of Extreme/Marvel Universe crossovers from being released (including one I only recently discovered…Cable/Prophet). First of all, I will say that this is not a terrible-looking comic. I realize that’s extremely faint praise, but the idea of a 1996 Youngblood/X-Force crossover is probably going to evoke images of a horrid Liefeld-clone setting a world’s record for the highest number of clinched teeth in a comic. The art comes from Roger Cruz, still in his Joe Mad fan club days. It seems like he only provided rough pencils and the inker simply didn’t flesh them out. There’s barely any shading throughout the comic, and it occasionally seems as if the lines connecting the figures are barely meeting. At the same time, this prevents any of the ugly, excessive crosshatching of the ‘90s. So, not terrible, but rushed. Visually, the only aspect that’s truly ugly is some of the lettering. Random pages of the book go from traditional hand lettering to an amateurish attempt at computer lettering and the result is a mess.
The story parallels the art. Not as bad as you probably expected, but it’s not exactly setting a new standard for inter-company crossovers. I’ve only read a few Eric Stephenson comics, but I do know he has his fans and tends to be viewed as one of the few talented writers to be working at Image in the early days. Some aspects of the plot don’t work at all if you dwell on them (Why would Mojo’s portal take Shaft directly to the Danger Room? How exactly does X-Force reach Mojoworld?), but the majority of the story works as standard superheroics. Stephenson seems to have a grasp on all of the characters, and he even uses Shatterstar’s long-forgotten original motivation to justify X-Force’s role in the story. I get the impression that I would have more fun with this if I had any investment in the Extreme Universe, but Stephenson does at least give most of Youngblood’s members a tiny bit of personality. Connecting Youngblood, the media stars of their world, to Mojoworld’s “ratings equal power” gimmick makes sense and it works as a natural segue into the X-Universe.
Stephenson throws in a lot of meta-commentary, which even makes the often-tedious Mojoworld slightly more amusing (at least the members of Youngblood get annoyed with the constant media references). At one point, Mojo declares Youngblood the solution to disinterest in the X-Men, who aren’t the ratings champs they once were. I’m surprised Marvel let this one slip through, since it’s not exactly a hidden swipe at the line. Besides, it’s not even true. The X-books were still dominant in 1996, and any hopes that the new breed of Image heroes would replace Marvel and DC were pretty much gone by this point. At any rate, this was more enjoyable than I would’ve expected, and I’m actually curious about how the other crossovers turned out.