The Beginning of the End - Part One
Credits: Rob Liefeld (plot & art), Fabian Nicieza (script), Joe Rosen (letters), Steve Buccellato (colors)
Summary: Gideon arranges for one of his minions, Eve, to poison Sunspot’s father. Meanwhile, Cable and Cannonball train in the Danger Room, as Boom-Boom and Rictor debate over what to do about Wolfsbane. Later, Deadpool abruptly enters and attacks Cable. The New Mutants fight back, but it’s the sudden arrival of Domino that rescues Cable. After Cable ships Deadpool back to his employer Mr. Tolliver, he reviews new potential team members with Domino. That night, Rictor leaves the team for Genosha, hoping to retrieve Wolfsbane, and Gideon enters Sunspot’s room, informing him his father has died.
- This issue marks the debuts of Gideon, Deadpool, and Domino, along with Gideon’s assistants, Adam and Eve (they really catch on). Domino is actually Copycat in disguise at this point, but the readers won’t discover that until over a year later.
- Mr. Tolliver is also mentioned for the first time, although he won’t physically appear until several months later in X-Force. (And even more months pass before we learn he’s Cable son, Tyler). Speaking of Mr. Tolliver, why is he sending Deadpool to kill Cable on the same night (we later learn) he’s sending Copycat to spy on him in disguise as Domino?
- Gideon’s powers are described as “super-human enhancement assimilation,” which means he can mimic other people’s powers. Bizarrely, he first exhibits this power when training with robots, not super-humans.
- Deadpool’s first words to Cable: “You’re Nathan, right?” This establishes Cable’s first name, and clearly implies that this is Cable and Deadpool’s first meeting. While writing the Cable and Deadpool series, Fabian Nicieza seemed to be under the impression that Cable knew Deadpool from his old mercenary days, which doesn’t work.
- Deadpool’s given those Orzechowski-style double word balloons, although they’re colored red in this issue. Beginning with his second appearance, they’re colored yellow, setting the precedent that continued into the first ongoing Deadpool series, which dropped the extra lines around his balloons, but colored his standard word balloons yellow.
- Cable shoots laser blasts out his mechanical arm. The arm we’ll later learn is consumed by the techno-organic virus.
- Gideon makes casual references to his friendship with Sebastian Shaw in the opening scene. Later, Sunspot recognizes him as an “old friend.”
I Love the '90s: Rictor has a giant Bart Simpson poster in his bedroom.
“Huh?” Moment: Liefeld draws the mansion’s underground complex as if it’s the actual mansion, which is in ruins at this point. Every other interpretation of the underground level has it slick, metallic, and futuristic. Liefeld gives some of the rooms wooden walls and floors, and even staircases that lead to…somewhere. This could work, assuming that the underground level has multiple stories, and it’s not impossible that some of the rooms would have traditional furnishings. Still, it’s hard to reconcile this with what we’ve seen before.
Review: Rob Liefeld makes his debut as sole plotter on the series, and inker, and it’s appropriately Liefeldian. The plot consists of three unrelated characters all suddenly appearing in the team’s allegedly secret headquarters on the same night, some vague hints about Cable’s past, and a few training sequences that involve giant robots. Oh, and the ongoing Rusty and Skids subplot, the original motivation behind Cable’s introduction in this series, is dismissed by Cable casually saying that it’s “too difficult” to do anything for them now. That’s commitment to your readers.
In terms of a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end, there’s not a lot here. If you have the goodwill to assume that there’s a great plan in place for the Gideon and Mr. Tolliver mysteries, this issue might not seem so bad, but I don’t think anyone will tell you these plot threads had satisfactory endings. To Liefeld’s credit, Domino and Deadpool have gone on to have long lives outside of this issue, although I think much of the credit goes to Nicieza’s scripting abilities. Nicieza's script also creates a nice dynamic between Cable and Cannonball, which initially seems like a father/son relationship, but takes on a different meaning when you discover Liefeld wanted Cable to be Cannonball's future self at this point.
So what does Liefeld accomplish artistically, given the freedom to draw and ink however he feels? There’s a lot of material here if you want to make another one of those “Top 10 Worst Rob Liefeld Drawings” lists. Starting with the cover, Deadpool’s around seven feet tall and standing on straw legs, as the nine-feet-tall Gideon is standing behind him, striking a duck-face while squinting so hard his eyes have disappeared. Little things like, say, Sunspot’s father drinking a cup of coffee, or even decorating his office or drawing his chair consistently, also seem beyond Liefeld’s grasp. And, of course, the characters feel the need to spread their legs as far as humanly possible for absolutely no reason during the middle of conversation scenes. Pretty bad stuff, although this issue will probably always have a life on the secondary market due to Deadpool's first appearance.