Friday, February 8, 2013

NEW MUTANTS #94 – October 1990


Lethal Weapons
Credits:  Louise Simonson (writer), Rob Liefeld (penciler), Hilary Barta (inker), Joe Rosen (letters), Brad Vancata (colors)

Summary:  Cannonball takes a keycard from Dragoness, allowing his team to escape the MLF’s custody.  Meanwhile, Cable and Wolverine stop their fight after Cable explains the significance of the MLF’s plot in Madripoor.  The two teams reunite at a warehouse the MLF is using to stockpile Sleet, arriving just as Stryfe appears.  During the battle, Rictor accidentally causes Dragoness’ powers to set the building on fire.  The heroes escape, unsure if Stryfe has survived.

Continuity Notes:
  • This issue continues last issue’s hint that Cable and Wolverine have a long history together (Cable even calls Wolverine “Logan.”)  As Wolverine explains to Wolfsbane:  “Fight goes way back…an’ it’s real enough.  This old buzzard an’ me been tryin’ to come to a reckoning, off an’ on, fer years.”
  • It’s confirmed that the armed soldiers that occasionally appear with the MLF are paid humans.  Stryfe, not surprisingly, considers them expendable.
  • Cable and Stryfe have their first on-panel confrontation.  Cable declares that Stryfe won’t be able to kill any more women or children, which is broadly consistent with later revelations that Stryfe killed Cable’s wife and brainwashed his son.
  • Boom-Boom and Cannonball have their first kiss.  After Dragoness tauntingly kisses Cannonball, a jealous Boom-Boom decides to show him a real kiss.
  • On the final page, Cable promises that rescuing Rusty and Skids is the team’s next goal.  The next issue blurb on the same page swears that Cable was genuine, but unfortunately, the team will have to deal with the Genoshans next.  For the record, Cable never does anything to help Rusty and Skids.

“Huh?” Moment:  Cannonball, with both hands restrained, is somehow able to steal a keycard out of Dragoness’ headdress as they kiss.

Review:  It’s not hard to see why an adolescent reader would love Rob Liefeld’s Wolverine.  If you liked the giant, exaggerated cowl Jim Lee gave the character, then Liefeld’s got him beat.  I’m not sure how Wolverine is able to hold his head up with this enormous thing around his face, but I’m guessing an adamantium skull helps.  I initially wondered if Liefeld was inspired by Todd McFarlane’s interpretation of Wolverine from the “Perceptions” arc in Spider-Man, but looking at the cover dates, apparently it’s the other way around.  I actually don’t mind this over-the-top rendition of the character, and it seems as if Liefeld has a lot of fun with him during the story.  This is also by far Hilary Barta’s best issue as inker, giving the issue the faux-Art Adams texture that Liefeld’s pencils need.  

The story is largely an excuse for Wolverine and Cable to jump around during a series of giant panels, while the other characters dutifully get into the proper position for the climax.  The issue would’ve been greatly served with a lengthier confrontation between Cable and Stryfe, instead of the mild one-page shootout we’re given.  Stryfe’s supposed to be Cable’s greatest nemesis, his main motivation to fight, so seeing them together for the first time should feel like a big deal.  Instead, the reader is simply given a few more cryptic lines of dialogue before Rictor screws things up (again) and the team’s forced to abandon the fight.  Unfortunately, it’s just the first in a series of anti-climatic confrontations between Cable and Stryfe, which in retrospect, turned out to be one of the weakest rivalries in the ‘90s X-comics.

3 comments:

wwk5d said...

I dunno, when Lee exaggerated the cowl, it still looked kind of cool. Liefeld's version, like much of what he draws, is just hideous.

Because fanboys an the time demanded it, here is a bad-ass version of Wolverine in a shredded costume! How kewl! Though, it's nowhere near as funny as the X-tinction Agenda issue that features him on the cover...

Also, who has time for a lengthier Cable/Stryfe confrontation when we need to spend so much time on a pointless Cable/Wolverine brawl (in order to establish how awesome Cable is)?

Anonymous said...

Well, I think X-Cutioner's Song did a more than decent job as a climax to their rivalry, it actually sold it, in my mind, as being much more epic than it was in hindsight, as you pointed out.

That story alone sealed Stryfe as my favorite of the X-Men's villains; it's cool that Nicieaza was able to build him up into so much more for 12 issues when all of his appearances prior to it are this weak. It's a shame Marvel couldn't find more to do with him up until Messiah War (which ended up just wasting him). That said, issue #2 of the new Cable and X-Force had a guy with spikey armor in the shadows, maybe he'll get another shot?

Teebore said...

Cannonball, with both hands restrained, is somehow able to steal a keycard out of Dragoness’ headdress as they kiss.

Also, why is she keeping it in her headdress?

Unfortunately, it’s just the first in a series of anti-climatic confrontations between Cable and Stryfe, which in retrospect, turned out to be one of the weakest rivalries in the ‘90s X-comics.

Yeah, but man, did I eat it up while it was unfolding.

And like anonymous said, I do think "X-Cutioner's Song" did a pretty decent job of making their rivalry feel more epic than it ever had before just before it was shut down.

But looking back over the whole thing, there's definitely a sense of "huh, that never really amounted to much, did it?"

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