Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Tale of Two X-Forces—Psylocke and Cable Take the Reins

With old school mainstays like Howard Mackie and Scott Lobdell writing teen comic heroes, the return of gimmick covers, and the resurrections of old properties, it’s like the 1990s are alive and well in comicdom.  I remember the era well; all those glow in the dark covers and teen angst driven characters, the trenchcoat clad anti-heroes, and the guns and pouches that adorned the uniforms of many an X-Man.

And, now, it’s like déjà vu all over again.

Who cares if the issue was good?  The frikkin’ thing
had a glow in the dark cover!

A few years back, during the X-Over known as the Messiah CompleX, Cyclops unveiled a secret hit squad, a team of mutants that were given the mandate to strike as they saw fit and put down threats before they could formulate strikes on the remaining mutants after House of M.

And, thus, the new X-Force was born, led by Wolverine, the best he is at what he does, which was apparently killing things and being on half a dozen teams and still finding the time to have solo adventures and sleep with a plethora of women.

Originally conceived of during the 1990s, X-Force was the team that the New Mutants morphed into after issue #100 of their own series.  After starting out as students of Xavier, and then a reformed Magneto, the New Mutants fell under the tutelage of the time-traveling Cable, who offered a more militaristic approach to Xavier’s dream.

The series lasted as a superhero book for 119 issues with an ever-changing roster until Peter Milligan revamped it with an even more subversive twist of mutants, having pretty much nothing to do with the old edict.

How this title got away with staying “X-Force” for so long, I’ll never know…

After X-Force was canceled and replaced by X-Statix with the same new cast and creative team, we only had a six issue miniseries a few years later with which to get our X-Force fix.  But then Cyclops’ idea to put together a new X-Force took off and while that incarnation broke up after Second Coming, Uncanny X-Force formed in its wake, with some of the same members and a few new ones being written by Rick Remender.

Remender’s run is wrapping up this month, but that doesn’t mean the X-Force property is going away.  Rather, it’s expanding, and you have no idea how hard it was to not write “x-panding,” just for the pun.

But which one is Keyser Soze..?

First, this month is going to see Cable in charge of an X-Force team for the first time in over a decade, leading Colossus, Dr. Nemesis, Domino and Forge as fugitives from the law in Dennis Hopeless and Salvador Larocca’s Cable and X-Force.  Cable was presumed killed in Second Coming but then came back in the four issue Avengers: X-Sanction just before Avengers Vs. X-Men and was left in a coma after Hope cured his techno-organic virus.

Of course, before that coma, he had attempted to kill all of the Avengers, so that goes a long way towards explaining that whole fugitive status, now doesn’t it?

Would you believe Captain America holds grudges about these sorts of things?!

Meanwhile, Psylocke is going to be placed into the unlikely role of leader in the second volume of Uncanny X-Force by Sam Humphries and Ron Garney, coming next month.  With Storm, Spiral, Puck, and a female incarnation of Fantomex squaring off against a soon to be returning Bishop, her squad is going to be picking up the pieces left after the double whammy of Remender’s final two major storylines on the current volume of Uncanny X-Force, The Dark Angel Saga and Final Execution.

Psylocke has been put through the emotional wringer, having lost her true love, a piece of her soul, and whatever innocence remained within her and her team’s lineup is interesting not only because it leaves off the mainstays of Deadpool and Wolverine, but also includes the former villain who was responsible for much of Psylocke’s past grief, Spiral, as well as Alpha Flight’s Puck, who has barely been used in recent years at all, mostly due to being dead.

Puck is clearly the Marvel U’s mackdaddy given he’s the only guy here.

Both teams have very different mission statements, though a meeting between them down the road is all but inevitable.  It’ll be interesting to see how well they fare, sales wise, given the lack of star power on the writers’ sides of the creative teams and many of the characters not having proven track records of carrying books without the bigger names like the aforementioned Wolverine or Deadpool.

Whatever happens, there’s no doubt that both Uncanny X-Force and Cable and X-Force are going to be on the fringe of the main X-Books and with Bishop coming back to stir up trouble and Hope poised to figure into Cable’s future, it’s a good chance that these two titles could be the dark horses to watch.

We can only hope their first meeting looks better than this trainwreck…

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