Previously in X-Force…Warpath was summoned by the mysterious Sledge to retrieve the Vanisher from a strange dimension. In exchange, Sledge gave Warpath info on reporter Michael Whitecloud, the one man who knows the story behind the murder of Warpath’s tribe. Meanwhile, following the events of Operation: Zero Tolerance, the remaining members of X-Force refused to assume false identities and parted ways with Cable.
Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Adam Pollina (penciler), Team X (inks), Comicraft (letters), Marie Javins & Digital Chameleon (colors)
Summary: X-Force is stranded in Minerva, Ohio after their car breaks down. While waiting for it to be fixed, they sneak into a hotel room for the night. In the parking lot, they rescue young Richie Alegria from armed men. Richie opens a suitcase filled with money and offers X-Force a job. Meanwhile, Domino learns that Zero Tolerance implanted a non-removable device in her brain that slows her reaction times.
Continuity Notes: Warpath has retrieved the Vanisher for Sledge, and been picked up by X-Force, in-between issues. While eating at a diner, Sunspot learns his credit cards have been cut off due to a lawsuit against his father’s estate.
I Love the ‘90s: Meltdown complains that she hasn’t seen Talk Soup in weeks.
Review: After finishing off a few of Jeph Loeb’s storylines, and dealing with a crossover, John Francis Moore begins to make the book his own. Based on interviews and some of the other comics he’s written, I know that Moore has an issue with authority figures and an appreciation for Beat writers like Jack Kerouac. Not surprisingly, once the crossover is done, he has the cast break away from their mentor, go on a road trip, and throws in a few counter-culture references (I assume Louise and Scooter, the two hippies who pick up X-Force in a van, are a nod towards some ‘60s thing I know nothing about). Moore’s already proven he has a handle on the characters, and he now places them in a situation Xavier’s brood rarely deal with -- they’re broke. The question of how they’re supposed to travel across country (or what their destination even is) makes for a fun setup and immediately separates the title from the other X-books.
Lies & Deception
Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Adam Pollina (penciler), Mark Morales (inks), Comicraft (letters), Marie Javins (colors)
Summary: In Chicago, Sunspot, Meltdown, and Moonstar protect Richie Alegria from the mob. When they learn the mob wants Richie to repay them, and that he lied about the mob targeting his father, they’re tempted to leave. Richie convinces them to stick around for a few days. Meanwhile, Siryn and Warpath travel to Nebraska to meet Michael Whitecloud. Whitecloud reveals to Warpath that a genetics program named Project: Stepladder is responsible for their tribe’s murder. He claims that proof of Stepladder’s involvement is in a bus locker in Kansas. Suddenly, Whitecloud’s head violently explodes. Elsewhere, Domino stops a bank robbery, as a shadowy figure follows X-Force’s trail in Ohio.
Continuity Notes: Michael Whitecloud says that he learned of Project: Stepladder from radiologist Lucius DeWitt. Whitecloud offered to keep him, and a Stepladder test subject named Gordon Thorpe, at his Camp Verde home. While Whitecloud was in town one night, Stepladder destroyed Camp Verde and planted evidence implicating the Hellfire Club.
Miscellaneous Note: The Statement of Ownership has average sales for the year at 155,261 with the most recent issue selling 131,282 copies.
I Love the ‘90s: Two of the Chicago mobsters are arguing over which actor is the best NYPD Blue star. Their boss comments that every goon has to have an opinion “ever since that stupid Tarantino movie.”
Review: Splitting the cast up tends to be John Francis Moore’s take on team comics, and he’s already working on four plotlines at the same time (the mob story, Warpath’s investigation into the Camp Verde massacre, Domino’s continuing subplot, and now there’s a shadowy figure that’s trailing the team). As I’ve mentioned before, I like it when a lot of things are going on at the same time, and a team comic gives you a unique opportunity to explore various plot threads without making the title too schizophrenic. On their own, none of these threads are overwhelmingly interesting, but when they’re added together, the book takes on a real momentum. The new characters, Michael Whitecloud and Richie Alegria, might just be there to help set stories into place, but Moore also manages to give them enough personality to feel real. Whitecloud is a drunken mess after years on the run from Stepladder, but rather than skipping over the obvious, Moore has the character muse “I don’t know which stereotype I became, the alcoholic reporter or the drunk Indian.” Richie Alegria was initially the mob victim, but this issue we learn he’s a lying con artist, who’s good enough to keep X-Force around even when they know he’s probably running a scam. Moore also gets credit for not only resolving the long-forgotten mystery of the Camp Verde massacre, but for using it as the catalyst for new material.