X-Force #4 (1991)

X-Force #4 (November, 1991)
“Sabotage: Part 2”
Plot/Art – Rob Liefeld
Balloon Stuffer – Fabian Nicieza
Letters – Rosen & Eliopoulos
Colors – Brian Murray
Edits – Bob Harras
Chief – Tom DeFalco
Cover Price: $1.00

Before we begin, I want to address a little bit of “housekeeping” and discuss how things are going to look around here going forward.  I’ve spent the last several weeks reflecting, and looking backwards… and for anyone who stuck we me through that, I humbly and sincerely thank you.

At present, I’m trying to think about the future… and kind of brainstorming ways to begin moving forward again, if that’s ultimately what I decide to do.

As it currently stands, I manage three “dot coms”:

At this point, I think that’s too many “web presences” for one guy… especially when that “one guy” is me.  Also, Chris and Reggie (dot) com will likely be reverting back to it’s former weirdcomicshistory.blogspot.com pretty soon, as I don’t have access to the “accounting” section of that account.  If I can figure that all out before the domain expires, I will do whatever I can to keep it going.

At present, I do intend to keep updating all of the sites… however, Chris is on Infinite Earths will become the “hub” for all of the content I produce.  This requires me to be a bit more flexible with the format for this place… which, is more than a little bit nerve-wracking a concept for me.

So, going forward… if I put out a new podcast, I will discuss it here.  If I am updating the audio archives, or revisiting an old show… that’ll also be here.  I just figure “streamlining” things will be the easiest way for me to press on.

I apologize if this is too radical a departure from what we’re all accustomed to here at the site… but, it’s really the only idea I have at the moment.  It will allow me to both create new content, while reflecting and revisiting some things Reggie and I created over the past half-decade.  If anyone has any ideas, I’m open to hear ’em.

Thanks… and, here’s the senses-shattering second-half of Spider-Man/X-Force: Sabotage.  I’ll toss the two-parter onto the Collected Editions page as well.

We open with a warning that this story started in Spider-Man #16… and tells us to “pick it up as we go along”.  Well, we’re about to find out that’s far easier said than done.  The first half-dozen pages of this thing are more fighting between Juggernaut and X-Force (with Spider-Man).  Domino has also somehow joined the fight.  There’s some… real cringeworthy dialog here, including Juggernaut asking if X-Force is “nuts” for Warpath attempting to “fastball special” Shatterstar into the big dummy… to which, Shatterstar replies with “yes”.  So, X-Force is nuts.  Juggs also calls Shatterstar a “little prancin’ SOB”, so there’s that too.

After Shatterstar’s onslaught… which sort of plays like this is the first time they’d clashed during this battle… we can see that Juggernaut is bleeding from both eyes (he wasn’t a second ago!).  So… did the eye-trauma thing happen in Spidey #16… or, is this like “another view” of the same scene?  Who knows…  We also don’t have any indication that one of the Trade Towers was knocked down… ya know, the entire friggin’ cliffhanger from the Todd issue.

We hop inside the non-toppled tower, to find Cable still hunting down Black Tom.  He tells Tom that… he’s a dead man.  Like, he’s got two choices… surrender and die, or fight… and die.

Tom chooses “fight”… and so, they do.  Cable manages to knock Tom into an elevator shaft, where he’s ironically hanging onto a “cable” for dear life.  Wonk wonkkkkk.  Cable (capital C) decides it’s time to “Shoot fish in a barrel” and blasts his Mark-69 Liefeldian Bumble-Bomber right into Tom’s defenseless face!

Tom plummets down the shaft… where he’s eventually caught by… Deadpool!  Hey, this issue is suddenly worth a few bucks!  He tells Tom that Mr. Tolliver needs him… and they blink out.

Outside… jeez… the Juggernaut fight continues.  Also, we get a scene featuring ol’ “Front-Butt” Gee Dub Bridge himself.  He suggests that now might be the best time to bring Cable down.  Talk about a one-track mind!

Back to the skirmish.  Siryn flies up to Juggernaut and… well, swipes his helmet!  That shouldn’t be able to happen, right?  Well, Shatterstar informs him (and us) that his swords were forged in a “Dimension of Magic and Science”… and, I guess when he impaled Juggernaut’s eyeballs on them, they also somehow sheared off the supports for the helmet?  In response, Juggernaut informs Shatterstar that his mother’s a pansy… or something.  Da hell?

Finally, Cable shows up outside… and confronts Juggernaut.  Before the final-battle can commence, however, Deadpool… uh, comes up from under the ground, and grabs Juggernaut by the ankle?  The hell am I looking at here?  I guess Mr. Tolliver needs Marko too… because they vanish into thin air.

Front Butt Gee Dub arrives to arrest Cable, who… as always… pulls the ol’ “Bodyslide by whatever” gimmick and zips the team away.  That’s that!

This was… not great.

One of the things I try and do anytime I discuss an “infamous” run of books, is… not so much be contrarian to the hive-mind, but to… I dunno, not allow the hive-mind to influence my feelings.  Welp, sometimes the hive-mind is right.  While I feel like Liefeld’s work gets the short shrift more often than not online… sometimes we get a “story” like this, which… really isn’t one that holds up to any positive critique.

Actually, I take that back… the one “check” I can place in the “positive” column is, Rob and Fabian had a much better grip on these characters than Todd did.  Though in fairness, Rob and Fabian didn’t think they were cashing their final Marvel check with this story either.

When I revisited this, I made the “mistake” of reading the Spidey chapter and X-Force chapter in succession.  Like, as soon as I put the Spider-Man ish down, I picked up this one expecting… ya know, a continuation.  That’s… not exactly what we get.  At least, that’s not readily apparent anyway.

We don’t get any indication that a building was toppled at the end of the Todd ish.  It’s unclear whether or not the Shatterstar-eye trauma scene had already occurred… or was occurring for the first time here?  Was this some weird, artistic attempt at “multiple POVs” or something?  Whatever it was, it didn’t really work.

Did this “story” (again, we use that term loosely) really require forty-something pages to be told?  It really all comes down to Spider-Man and X-Force fight the Juggernaut… and that fight ends as unspectacularly and predictably as you’d expect: Juggs’ helmet comes off.  Never seen that before, right?

Oh well… it’s worth noting that there were some subplots bubbling… which, I suppose is another “check” in the positives column.  Juggernaut and Black Tom were nyoinked out by Deadpool on behalf of Mr. Tolliver… so, there’s that.  Ol’ G.W. Bridge is still acting like Cable’s scorned lover, so there’s that too.

Is this worth the read?  Well… ehhh.  If you’re in the mood for like “top tier” 90’s excess… yeah.  I mean, let’s be honest, there are times when an issue/story like this is just what the doctor ordered.  Otherwise, ya probably don’t need this one in your life.


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4 thoughts on “X-Force #4 (1991)

  • May 30, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    First off…I totally support the idea of this site as your central hub! You've always been EXCELLENT at the content JUST here, and I see absolutely zero issue (no pun REALLY intended) with you adjusting format…just like shifting to including Marvel, and sharing so much great stuff about Reggie and the work you both did, etc.

    While the "focus" might shift and morph…your blog reflects you and I think–especially after the YEARS of phenomenal work you've done–it's more about being content from you than it is a strict format. (Nothing wrong with holding to a strict format, mind you).

    Even with your title–"on infinite earths"–is very open (to my view) for adjustments and all. When I started MY blog, I'd envisioned one blog covering comics, one covering prose books, and one for general blogging…and fell into just the single blog; and by its title kinda locked myself into "comics" though I stretch it a bit with some stuff loosely-connected.

    Always appreciate your authenticity and open-ness/transparency here, for sure!

    On the X-Force side…cool to see some of this in writing and the visuals, even after listening to you and Chris on Claremont to Claremont as well!

    This was one of my EARLIEST TPB stories ever along with The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told. I had no idea at the time who Liefeld or McFarlane were; I just saw these weird characters and Spider-Man and Juggernaut. Didn't care for it much at the time for lack of context and the sideways orientation bugged me. But it was what it was!

    I totally forgot about X-Force doubling as "Cable" for awhile…NOW, if I saw a lettercol "Cable-Grams" I'd SWEAR it was an issue of CABLE.

    That pinup is (to me) a reminder of simpler times. Granted, X-Force debuted with the bagged issue with different cards…but otherwise, I don't "remember" any "variants" otherwise for a number of years (the Fatal Attractions hologram issue was still a single-cover I believe?).

    But nowadays, it seems like if there COULD be a "pinup," it gets the "variant cover" treatment instead. Annoys the heck outta me on principle; as if ANY and ALL art not done specifically for story-serving interior panel MUST be put on a variant cover.

    'nuff mindless rambling from me for this for now!

  • May 31, 2020 at 1:05 am

    I think that this blog should hilight the "CHRIS" part of its name. Making it the hub for all your work is an awesome idea.

    Looking at those ads brings back fond memories for me. As a kid I always loved the art for the Marvel subscriptions ads. I even had a subscription to Avengers at one point. I had to get a photocopy of the page because I was not about to cut up one of my comics.

  • September 10, 2021 at 4:55 am

    This is some astounding writing. You and Chris are the funniest pairings of the Claremont to Claremont segments and so X-Force has become my favorite to hear about despite having always felt rather gideon about the series.

  • September 11, 2021 at 8:54 am

    I just learned there was a 2019 miniseries called Hulkverines. Such a thing really puts all other comics in perspective.


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