X-Force #2 (September, 1991)
“The Blood Hunters”
Plot & Pictures – Rob Liefeld
Script – Fabian Nicieza
Letters – Chris Eliopoulos
Colors – Brad Vancata
Editor – Bob Harras
Chief – Tom DeFalco
In my time as a comics fan and collector, I’ve seen many books fluctuate in value… go from “wall books” to “quarter-bin books”… and vice versa. I don’t believe, however, I’ve seen one as… I dunno, value-bi-polar as this issue.
X-Force #2 boasts the second appearance of Deadpool… which actually meant something back in 1991… and once again, means something today. However, for much of Deadpool’s existence, not a soul cared! I feel like I was the only idiot buying his ongoing, fearing a cancellation notice month after month.
Jump back to the 2000’s… and X-Force #2 was “just another Liefeld quarter-book”. This was a book you could find by the foot in any quarter bin in the land… comic shops couldn’t give this one away!It’s insane that now, since the mainstream (and comics fans alike) have decided to care about Deadpool, that it’s once again a sorta-kinda coveted issue. If I knew then, what I know now… well, I probably still wouldn’t have bought a grip of ’em.
Now, if only some of these people gave half a rip about Deadpool back when Joe Kelly and/or Christopher Priest were writing him… he might actually be a character worth reading today!
Does anyone have any other “rags to riches” tales of comics valuation? I can think of a few more, but this one takes the cake (much of the Infinity Gauntlet miniseries is up there too)! Lemme know in the comments!
Last issue, ol’ front-butt, G.W. Bridge suggested that they were going to need to enlist the aid of Weapon X in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s pursuit of Cable. By the sound of it, you might’ve thought this meant we were going to be getting a Wolverine guest-spot… but, not so fast kemosabes… that ain’t our guy. Our guy… is Garrison Kane. We meet him at the Port Menier Shipyards on Anticosti Island in Quebec. He’s there to track down another target… a certain Merc with a Mouth.
Kane gets the jump on Deadpool, and the two tussle over the course of way too many pages. Wade makes with the snark, while Kane internally monologues Madonna lyrics. We learn here that these two have some familiarity with one another… because, anytime a mysterious new character arrives on the scene, he’s sure to know (and be known by) anybody who’s anybody.
After repeatedly punching Deadpool in the jaw, Kane gets kicked into a stack of crates. Weapon X rebounds by… literally firing his left fist back at the baddie. When the hand reaches its destination… it wraps itself around Deadpool’s throat!
Just then… G.W. Bridge makes an appearance! While Wade wriggles on the ground, Bridge pitches Kane with the S.H.I.E.L.D. gig. Garrison thinks on it for a moment… because, naturally he and Cable go way back… but ultimately turns Bridge down. During this prolonged chat, however, Deadpool manages to get away.
We next shift scenes to the Adirondacks, where Cable has concocted a training exercise for X-Force. The gimmick for this go-round is: Everyone vs. Feral. The kids scoff at the one-sidedness of this event… however, Cable instills that they’d really oughta not take this so lightly. The first Forcers to head into the woods are Sam and James. Feral gets the jump on Cannonball while he’s cannon-balling, and manages to “steer” him right into Warpath’s chest. Whoops… there’s two down.
Next up, Feral runs into Boom Boom… who brags a bit about her new wrist-gimmick “launchers” for her time bombs. Feral slips behind Tabby and points those very same blasters right at Cable!
Then… the ultimate showdown: Domino’s boobs vs. Feral’s feet! This results in yet another win for the Cat-Girl…
But then… Shatterstar. Oh boy, Shatterstar. This goofball comes in and soliloquizes about how killing is “what he is”… to their credit, they both manage to keep a straight face long enough to face off.
In the distraction, however… Cannonball blasts into the scene, crashing into Feral, and smashing her into a nearby tree!
Feral responds by… eviscerating poor Sam! Well, that’s what supposedly happens here… though the art can’t get all that explicit. Sam looks… well, mildly discomforted?
Cable, realizing this training exercise has gone a bit too far, blasts Feral with one of his crazy guns… just kayoing her.
We shift scenes over to the World Trade Center, where Black Tom and his gal-Friday, Arianna have assembled an interdimensional locator and teleporter atop one of the towers. Tom claims he can’t wait to see his ugly friend again.
Back in the mountains… Sam wakes up, looking pretty good for a dude who just had his guts torn out. He asks Cable what he’s going to do about Feral… but, the main man hasn’t a clue.
We wrap up back at the WTC… where, the teleporter starts to glow… and, once we turn the book sideways, we learn that Black Toms “pug ugly friend” is… the Juggernaut!
With everything we know about Todd McFarlane’s departure from Marvel a couple of months after this, I’d like to draw your eye to the scene wherein Cannonball is eviscerated. Scroll back up a couple beats in case you missed it… because, the way it was depicted, you very well might have!
In that scene, Feral goes… well, feral… and slices Sam’s belly and guts open. In the panel, however, it just looks like she tore his outfit a little bit. If not for X-Force’s reaction, we’d never know that this was a near-mortal blow. Now, usually, I think I am a proponent of the “less is more” school of thought when it comes to gore and violence… which, is why I didn’t think much about “missing out” on Todd’s panel of Shatterstar running his knife through Juggernaut’s eye in Spider-Man #16. It was unnecessary shock and gore (shock and gaw?)… which only served to darken the issue. The panel we got instead (again, from Todd), told the same tale, but in a way where we didn’t have to actually see the blade go through Juggy’s eyeball.
The fact that Todd would choose to draw the scene the way he (initially) did, says quite a bit.
- He wasn’t used to people telling him “no”
- He could get away with a lot
- He was looking for a way out of Marvel that also gave him the creative “high ground”
- He damn sure wasn’t reading X-Force!
For the rest of the issue? The Deadpoolishness was, ehh, okay. He’s still very much a Spider-clone (not that one) here, with his banter and design. It didn’t help matters that he was sharing the scene with some of the most boring characters of the era in Garrison Kane and “ol’ Front-Butt” G.W. Bridge.
The Sunspot and friggin’ Gideon bits trot on… and our big reveal is the return of the Juggernaut. I can’t remember if this was underwhelming at the time… but, nowadays, it seems as though: if Black Tom shows up, chances are the “big reveal” will be the Juggernaut bursting onto the scene as well. No surprise then, no surprise now.
The art is… exactly what you want it to be. If you want to defend Rob’s work, you can. If you want to mock it… well, I’ve got good news, there’s plenty for you here as well!
Overall, a decent enough issue, heavy on subplots… several of which, will unfortunately go nowhere due to the Image X-odus the following year.