(Marvel Comics, 2013)
Reviewed by Cory Thrall
WRITTEN BY: Dennis Hopeless
ARTWORK BY: Salvador Larroca
COLOR ARTWORK: Frank D’Armata
When the original X-Force title was pulled from the ashes of ‘New Mutants’, I was in my mid-teens and had been a big Marvel Comics fan for quite some time at this point already. Sure, it was mostly in the Spider-Man and X-Men universe of titles, but the beginning of X-Force caught my attention enough to buy and read the first chunk of issues. I was horrified, to be honest, at the artwork by Rob Liefeld (an artist I still can’t stand to this day), but the story was new and interesting enough for a while to make that not too big of a deal. Once the story lowered itself to the same level the artwork found itself firmly planted in, I was no longer reading.
From then on, X-Force – and especially Cable – were one of my least favorite comics out at the time. Cable, to me, was a hilariously huge mutant carrying weaponry that resembled the side of trucks more than any form of actually useable weapon. Some were such a waste of time that they were simply shiny metal seemingly folded over itself, with an end that obviously fired…something? The more I saw of Cable through the following years was more of the same, until he eventually faded from my view and mind.
When I saw the announcement for the Marvel NOW ‘Cable & X-Force’ title, I was not interested in the least. I ignored it as much as I could until – to my surprise – I began to hear good things about this title. After hearing a bit more, I jumped in, and read my way quickly to the newest issue, #6. What I can tell you is that I was wrong. Not only could they make Cable an intriguing and thickly layered character, but they could even make me believe, finally, that he was certainly not one to mess with.
In this title, Cable has begun having visions accompanied by major headaches. These visions show him glimpses of tragedies about to happen, and he has been leading his team into position to battle these before they actually do. A mostly unknown battle is how the first issue opened, with a confused Uncanny Avengers calling it a ‘terrorist attack’, demanding the team give themselves up to the authorities. Of course, they don’t, but this starts the main theme of the title right from the first pages – the world sees them as a dangerous group of Mutant terrorists, all while they try and stop the happenings Cable has foreseen. It’s a difficult position for all involved.
In the previous issue #5, the team was attempting to take down an anti-Mutant corporation from releasing a deadly virus. Having seen the chaos in his own head, Cable and his team plan out an attack, yet fail to succeed in saving the factory workers within the compound that was housing the virus. The virus quickly turns the workers to savage beasts, who X-Force eventually have to take down. Upon death, the beats revert back to their human forms, again leaving the team in the midst of a pile of corpses. Needless to say, when the Uncanny Avengers track them down to the very factory, they are not happy about the ‘terrorist attack’ they have once again found the team at the head of.
Meanwhile, Piotr/Colossus is resting up in Mexico, no longer wanting to be a ‘superhero’. He opens up to fellow team mate Domino, and their talk ends up with them spending the night together. The next day, in a fit of responsibility and shame, Piotr turns himself in, no longer able to deal with what he had done as one of the Phoenix Five during the ‘Avengers vs. X-Men’ crossover event. Finally, this leaves us with the newest issue – #6.
Issue 6 opens with Colossus being taken in by the Raft Prison authorities, with his old buddy Logan by his side. Colossus explains his need to stand trial for all he has done, from the Phoenix Five to the supposed terrorist movements of the team. To me, this is the main story for this issue. You see the rest of the team (and even a new member) going about doing the things they need to further the overall plan, but the main focus is on Piotr and his overbearing guilt. Of course, this is a man of steel that has a heart of pure gold – something that has been a staple of his character for a long time. The way he reacts to the situations around him is perfectly in character. His proclamation that the team had no intention of harming any factory workers while he is allowing himself to be caged for this very crime speaks volumes on how rich of a character he is. His sense of responsibility outweighs his sense of self. It is a hard batch of scenes to read, but they work so well that it’s heart breaking and sad to see a man filled with so much guilt.
While Piotr is following his heart, the remaining X-Force members – with the addition of old team mate Boom Boom, break into a S.W.O.R.D. prison, where not only Colossus is being held captive. Also, among the many Mutants arrested and placed in this secret facility is Kitty Pryde, the old flame and constant love of Piotr. She is also dealing with the things Piotr has done (including a horridly rude scene when he was a part of the Phoenix Five), but her feelings for him – however conflicted – still fill her with worry and hope that he might be able to finally find some peace. A closing scene involving her and Piotr is touching, bittersweet, and some well played dramatics.
The issue ends as the remaining members of X-Force commandeer a ship and, as they attempt to head out of orbit, they are attacked. Cable jumps out of the ship, telling the team to head to the preplanned rendezvous point as he stays behind to handle the attacker. As they take off, Cable faces the one who blasted the ship – his father, Cyclops. He wants to have a little ‘chat’ with his son, and that’s where we’re left, until next issue, which is sure to be quite a read!
While I’ve never really been much of an ‘action!’ comic fan (which this is in many ways), it’s the smartly written adventures of this title that draw me in. The characters are nicely fleshed out and their interactions are lively and flow very well. Cable is how I always felt he should be – a hardened badass whose character and actions show this, not just an idea of it shoved down our throats. His relationship with his ‘daughter’ Hope are both stubborn Father and caring hero. Dennis Hopeless writes tight and heavy scripts, never mixing in too much action or too much drama. It’s a finely tuned center, where you can enjoy the action because you actually care about the team and it’s members. This is, of course, a major change from any of the X-Force or Cable stories I have read, and one I find to be perfectly handled.
Salvador Larroca’s art is as visually strong as always, leaving a fine line between hulking masses of meat and weaponry and realistically looking figures and gadgets. His work is expressive, emotional, and hard nosed. The color artwork from Frank D’Armata is beautiful, and I’m sure all of the varying forms of metal on the X-Force team are a blast to color. His color work overall fits the tone of the book in just the right way. The clean and precise artwork makes this title flow even smoother, with Hopeless’ scripting tying it all together.
For one who came a long way from hating Cable and his X-Force team to now really enjoying this new title, I must say I’m impressed. This is one I was sure I’d hate, but expectations are hardly what they seem, and this is proof that you should always know about the things you proclaim to dislike, in the off chance that you may very well be wrong. In this case, I was very wrong, but am now very happy to have found this title. Next issue looks to be one of the best yet, and something that has been boiling for quite some time. I’ll be there, ready to crack it open the second it’s released. Hopefully you will, too!
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