Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Adam Pollina (penciler), Mark Morales and Company (inks), Comicraft’s Kolja Fuchs (letters), Marie Javins & Gloria Vasquez (colors)
Summary: X-Force arrives in Texas for the Colossal Man Festival. At the event, they run into Karma and Cannonball. Unbeknownst to Cannonball, Sunspot and Meltdown shared a kiss while dancing earlier. Moonstar and Warpath are soon ambushed by Selene, who uses Moonstar’s Asgardian blood to open a box that contains an ancient staff. They defeat Selene, but the staff is knocked inside the Colossal Man construct, which brings it to life. X-Force destroys the Colossal Man, as Cable proudly watches from the crowd.
Continuity Notes: Karma, who now has a pink buzzcut, says she’s found a doctor who can undo the damage done to her siblings in the Beast miniseries (even though world-class intellect Hank McCoy declared their transformation was permanent in the same series). The first hints that Karma is a lesbian are dropped, as she’s traveling with two females, one of them with the stereotypical butch look, and declares that Cannonball is “definitely not my type.” Warpath decides he doesn’t like his codename, which leads to him simply going by “Proudstar” for a while. A narrative caption says Sunspot became a mutant at fifteen, although his earliest appearances had his age at thirteen. More pedantry: Cable claims he’s been “keeping tabs” on the team since their road trip began, even though his solo series leaves barely enough of a gap for even this appearance.
Miscellaneous Notes: The Colossal Man Festival is an obvious riff on the Burning Man event, and the Colossal Man is inspired by its giant wooden “Man” statue. Selene’s mystic staff is called a “runestaff” which is apparently a reference to Michael Moorcock’s novels.
Review: John Francis Moore showcases his sympathy for the counterculture again, as X-Force spends time with their fellow “freaks” and parties at a hippie music festival. I probably wouldn’t go to Burning Man if you paid me, so the setting holds no interest for me, but Moore’s character work is still enough to make the book enjoyable. He’s perhaps trying too hard to emphasize that the young cast is still searching for their individual identities, to the point that Karma is now unrecognizable, but his work with characters like Moonstar and Warpath is great. My favorite scene in the issue has Moonstar using her powers to psychically draw out Warpath’s fading memories of his family. Taking a real concern, forgetting the little details of lost loved ones, and combining it with supernatural elements is one of the unique opportunities genre fiction allows a writer. It’s a genuinely sweet scene; the kind most of the other X-books just weren’t doing by the late ‘90s. More than ever, this cast feels like real characters, and it seems like Moore’s having fun telling their stories.