Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Rob Haynes (layouts), Casey Jones (penciler), Jason Martin & Jon Holdredge (inks), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Leann Clark (colors)
Summary: Brunnhilda arrives on Earth, revealing to Moonstar that the Valkyries have been captured. She’s taken back to Asgard by a Hellhound, leading Moonstar to call X-Force for help. They travel to Ungava Bay, Canada, where they walk through a hidden gate into Asgard. They’re attacked by Malekith, the Valkyries’ captor. Cable is taken prisoner and X-Force is forced to retreat. They learn that Malekith is keeping the Valkyries prisoner in Valhalla, where only Moonstar is allowed. Sunspot sneaks along with her, though, and is almost taken by Hela. Moonstar charges her psychic arrow with the life force Brunnhilda passed on to her on Earth and revives the Valkyries. Soon, with Cable’s help, she uses another psychic arrow to defeat Malekith. The Valkyries return X-Force to Earth, but Moonstar still refuses to join the team.
Continuity Notes: Like this year’s X-Men annual, this story takes place before the “Operation: Zero Tolerance” crossover. At this point, Cable is still living in the mansion with X-Force and Moonstar is working undercover with the MLF.
Review: I had no idea this comic existed until a commenter pointed it out to me. This is one of John Francis Moore’s early tributes to the New Mutants series, as virtually the entire story is an homage to the X-Men and New Mutants stories found in the Asgardian Wars trade paperback. Even though Cannonball wasn’t available for the story, Kindra, the dwarf with a crush on him from the original story, still has a cameo. Obviously, much of the appeal is nostalgia, and the novelty of seeing X-Force in one of the fantastical worlds of the Marvel Universe doesn’t hurt the story, either.
Unfortunately, a lot of this relies on the art to work, and as much as I enjoy Casey Jones’ work, much of the issue looks rushed. One of the reasons why the original Asgard storyline is so well regarded is due to Arthur Adams’ insanely detailed art (even if the printing of the original issues didn’t do the work justice). Here, Asgard’s scenery is detailed just enough to let the reader know where the story’s taking place, but there’s no real effort put into selling it. Story-wise, Moore crams a lot into thirty-nine pages, so much so I wonder if the idea would’ve worked better as an extended story arc in the regular series. A few thought balloons and dialogue exchanges provide some insight into how the cast is reacting to the events, but the focus is really on getting the story done by the issue’s end. Rushed as it feels at times, this is still a decent read, and an early indication of the direction Moore will take the series.