The End of the Beginning
Credits: Rob Liefeld (plot, pencils, inks), Fabian Nicieza (script), Brad Vancata (colors), Joe Rosen (letters)
Summary: The team tries to stop Shatterstar from destroying the practice robots in the Danger Room, leading to a fight. Eventually, Cable knocks him out. Later, Shatterstar explains that he’s traveled from a future Mojoverse in search of the X-Men. Boom-Boom goes to the kitchen to find food for Shatterstar, and discovers Feral. Feral explains that she needs the team’s help against Masque. Simultaneously, Mojo V’s soldiers materialize inside the complex. The team defeats them, but while they’re distracted, Masque makes his move. Cable quickly kills his lackey Brute, intimidating Masque into leaving. Cable explains that the complex is no longer safe and that the team must begin the next phase of its mission. Later, Strfye summons the MLF for an assignment. He takes off his helmet in private, revealing he has Cable’s face.
Shatterstar explains that he’s a rebel from Mojoverse, one hundred years in the future. He claims Mojoverse is ruled by Mojo V and his executioner, Spiral.
I believe this issue marks the first time Cable kills someone (on-panel).
Cannonball comments that Cable’s remade the team into an “X-Force,” which of course sets up the new series.
This issue is the first time Stryfe is unmasked. Not only does he have Cable’s face, but he also repeats a line of dialogue uttered by Cable in a previous issue. At one point, Liefeld considered revealing that Cable and Stryfe were the same person from different points in the timestream, and it’s obvious the creators want you to think that Cable has been Stryfe all along as the big cliffhanger.
I Love the '90s: Proudstar is wearing a belt literally made out of pouches.
We Get Letters: This issue prints the first letter from a fan irrationally obsessed with Deadpool.
Review: New Mutants draws to an end, as Cable officially recruits James Proudstar, Feral, and Shatterstar to join his mysterious friend Domino in X-Force. (Okay, Cannonball and Boom-Boom can come, too.) And if you’re expecting any heartfelt tributes to the long-running series in its one hundredth and final issue, ha, yeah right… Anyone intimately familiar with the history of this series was surely seeing red, but as a kid who always dismissed this book as dull, I was excited to see the start of something new. That “something new” turned out to be quite a mess, but at this moment, X-Force looks like it has promise. A team that’s willing to “fight for the dream,” new characters, new mysteries, and more of Cable and his violent shenanigans, which is what every twelve-year-old wants.
As for this specific issue, I have the same predictable complaints about the art (and I have to point out this is the issue with the infamous double-page swipe from Ronin), but the story does a credible job of inducting the new members into the team and setting up the new direction. Nicieza’s dialogue helps a lot, as Cable is still amusingly deadpan and not a generic Clint Eastwood clone, and the rest of the cast show at least some semblance of a personality. And that cliffhanger had to freak out any one of the impressionable kids reading at the time (except for me, as I had no idea who Stryfe was supposed to be.) Now, as I said earlier, all of this leads into a book that’s genuinely awful for over a year after its release, and it turns out that Cable’s promises to help Proudstar, Shatterstar, and Feral are just as empty as his original pledge to rescue Rusty and Skids. Knowing that the stories and art are only going to get worse from here probably does lessen my opinion of the issue, but I can’t deny that the story made me genuinely curious, at the time, to find out what happens next. On that level, it’s a fair set-up for a new beginning.