I thought it might be fun to re-read my favorite Marvel mutants book, and by "my favorite", I mean the only one that I've read much of. After all, can't let Fluit be the only one who writes about mutants around here! ;)
Any way, in typical Baronial fashion, I begin with a book that doesn't contain the word "X-Statix" in it at all.
X-Force #116 (May 2001): "Exit Wounds"
Written by Peter Milligan, art by Michael Allred.
The premise of this book is the existence of a team of mutants who are more concerned with publicity than they are with acceptance or heroism, which is an interesting idea
I'll start with a note about the art. Allred's style seems to be peculiarly suited to stories of an "oddball" or "quirky" nature. I like his stuff here, don't know that I'd want to see him drawing Jonah Hex or the JSA.
We meet the various team members:
We see that there exists an "X-Force Cafe", obviously modeled on the Hard Rock Cafe. (Ever eaten at an Hard Rock Cafe? I have. The food's no better than Bennigan's, and it's alot pricier.) We see what looks like Wolverine and Cyclops among the customers.
To build goodwill, Coach sends them on a mission to rescue a boy band who are being held hostage by crooks. They are in the process of doing this, when suddenly they are all mowed down by an attack chopper, with only Edie and Tike left alive!
Overall: Well, I have to admit, that ending really surprised me that first time I read it. Sluk's death was no biggy, because I knew of teams having a member set up to be killed off, bu tI had not foreseen that they'd kill off most of them! That really drew me in. I don't remember what prompted me to pick up this book in the first place - it may have been just a whim. I wasn't a big X-fan, but it hooked me pretty quickly.
Another fun series. I agree about Allred, even though I love him as an artist. He was perfect for this series.
X-Force #117 (June 2001): "Mister Sensitive"
Writer: Milligan / Art: Allred
This issue introduces us to Guy Smith, a.k.a. "Mister Sensitive", whose power seems to br hyper-sensitivity., which is ameliorated by a speical suit that Professor X gave him.When we first encounter him, he is in the process of playing Russian roulette, I guess because he is tortured by life. Can't say as I was all that wild about Guy as a character at first, though he grew on me after awhile.
We next see Coach reviewing last issue's debacle with Coach, and learn that the team's owner is Spike Freeman, a "software trillionaire". We are introduced to the new team members:
The team is told their new mission, to rescue Paco, who is sort of an Elian Gonzalez analogue. At a press conference, Guy re-names himself the Orphan. The event is crashed by four members of the old X-Force - Cannonball, Meltdown, Domino and a guy that I don't recognize. They argue over the new team's use of the name. Coach names Guy the new team leader, upsetttng Edie.
Later, a reporter interviews Guy outside his home. After Guy goes in, she reports hearing a shot from inside his house!
Overall: Interesting developments. I wasn't really all the wild about any of the new team when I first saw them, but I like them a little better now on re-reading them. What's especially interesting is how one can enjoy reading about a group of characters who are all their own worst enemies.
Although Milligan was the writer, my recollection is Allred created the characters. U-Go-Girl's name reminded me of this; it's very much in his vein.
X-Force #118 (July 2001): "And Then There Were Six"
It turns out the shot last issue was Edie interrupting Guy's nightly Russian roulette. He tires to brush it off claiming he thought she was a stalker, she tries to convince him to leave the team.
We see glimpses of the other team member's private lives: Myles' father won't speak to him, Bill Bob is actually from a middle class background, Anna is seen praying in a church.
They are sent on a mission to South America to rescue Paco Perez, a boy mutant held by revolutionaries. Chaos ensues, and Bloke is killed. They get to Paco, but he's hooked up into a red-wire/blue-wire dealie, and Guy doesn't know which tube to pull out first!
Overall: An interesting story. I like they way they develop the characters, especially the relationship between Guy and Edie, and the hints that Billy Bob is more like Bloke than he would want to admit. Can't say as I'll miss Bloke, he was a little too obviously set up to be killed off.
I hadn’t followed a mutant title in 10 years when X-Force debuted, but the revamp of X-Force, Uncanny X-Men and X-Men (renamed New X-Men when Grant Morrison took over) interested me in te entire franchise again… at least for a time. Uncanny didn’t do much for me, but I was a big fan of both New X-Men and X-Force/X-Statix for as long as the creative teams which drew me in remained. They were both so different, and that appealed to me. I liked them so much I even have them in hardcover.
Here’s a notable bit of trivia you didn’t mention: X-Force #116 was the first comic Marvel published without the CCA seal of approval. In its place, Joe Quesada placed a small blurb which read “Look Kids! No Code!” the Comics Code Authority was an organization which had long since outlived its usefulness (if it ever had one) and dropping it was the right decision, but I recall Marvel drew some bad publicity for the blurb at the time. Then again, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” as some would have it.
X-Force #119 (October 2001): "What's One Life?"
Things move quickly as Anna is shot, Guy rescues Paco, and Tike tells Edie to take them home, only to have her take them to her family home, which turns out to be somewhere in the Ozarks. Anna makes Guy promise to take her mother's ring to her family in Argentina. As she dies, her essence passes into Guy.
When Coach tells Guy that their sponsors want to dissect Paco for possible cures his body may contain, Guy refuses to turn him over. Coach sics two new mutants - Succubus and Smoke - on him, but Tike, Billy Bob and Myles come to his rescue, in a surprising show of loyalty. Guy brings Paco to Anna's father, then sneezes (!) Anna's essence into her father! Anna's father agrees to look after Paco.
Elsewhere, Edie is haunted by Zeitgeist's memory. Coach shows her a tape of Guy's supposedly-dead parents that he intends to use against Guy, and promises to make her leader if she helps him get rid of Guy!
Overaal: Yet another interesting issue. I like the twists and turns this story has taken, and how the characters oftne end up being heroes in spite of themselves. A shame to lose Anna, but thinking about it, while a healer is certainly useful to have around, they wouldn't necessarily be all that useful in combat.
X-Force #120 (November 2001): "X-Force: Snikt!"
An amusing cover, with Wolverine saying "Ya know, I'm doin' this to boost sales".
Inside, we learn that Wolverine is old friends with Doop. Is there no one that doesn't have a past with Logan?
Coach and Freeman plot to get rid of Guy. Edie visits Guy at home, and rigs his gun to definitely kill him. When she later expresses regret to Coach, he drugs her, then prepares to rape her. Guy, having detected Edie's tampering, shows up alive. Coach sics Smoke and Succubus on him, but Wolverine shows up, claiming that he's looking after Guy as a favor for a friend. Edie kills Coach, and Logan gives Guy a tape showing Coach and Axel planning to kill off the whole team except for Axel and Tike, which Guy keep to himself. Guy decides X-Force is worth living for, and give up Russian rulette. He and Edie are left wondering who Guy's guardian angel is. Don't recall myself. Charlei X seems like a likely candidate, as soemone that would be able to call Logan in.
Overall: I'm still really enjoying the twists and turns of this book.It's been long enough since I read it last, that I can't always guess what's going to happen next.
X-Force #121 (December 2001): "Lacuna: Part One: Captain Coconut"
We start with Guy, Edie and Tike discussing a potential new teammate called Spike, though not Spike Freeman. Tike doesn't like him. Apparenelty, there were no repercussions over Edie shooting Coach dead last issue.
Elsewhere, we see Freeman encouraging Myles and Billy Bob to act out if they want more publicity. A new mutant called Lacuna begins pestering the team for membership.
Spike, who is black, crashes the team's press conference and accuses Tike of being a "coconut", i.e., black on the outside, but white on the inside. Is "coconut" a term that is used? I had always heard the term "Oreo", myself. Perhaps Marvel wanted to avoid using a specific brand name. Tike walks away from the confrontation, and Myles and Billy Bob try to steal the spoltight by attacking Spike. Freeman pushes Buy to accept Spike on the team. Later, at poolside, Guy tries to persuade the others to accept Spike. A fracas ensues, and Lacuna crashes the party demanding membership. She threatens to hurl herself into the now-boiling pool water if they say no. Edie, for one, is indifferent.
Overall: An interesting issue. It is a fact that even in the 21st Century, super-teams tend to be mostly-white affairs. I'm not a fan of "tokenism" as such, but I do think that diverse teams tend to be mor einteresting, if nothing else. Also interesting that this book is entertaining even when there's no sign of a super-villain in sight. Of coruse, I suppose you don't need villains when your team is busy battling each other.
You're right, "Oreo" would be more likely to be thrown around. I've never heard Coconut used for that purpose.
I just refreshed my memory on the internet. "Coconut" is used like "Oreo" but generally refers to Asians and Pacific Islanders and not people of African decent.
X-Force #122 (January 2002): "Lacuna: Part Two: Larry King Has The Flu"
We learn that Tike was raised by white parents who didn't deal with it well when his powers manifested. I've often thought that there must be unique issues when an adopted child is of noticeably different derivation than its parents. If nothing else, I would imagine that the "you're adopted" conversation must necessarily come sooner than it would otherwise.
Lacuna still pushes for membership, but the others say no. Tike doesn't want Spiek ont he team, because he's afraid that he'll then beocme the "expendable black man". In the end, he agrees to have Spike if they'll also induct Lacuna.
Edie subs for Larry King and interviews Spike, and the rest of the team crashes the show, as does Lacuna.
At a press conference, Guy announces Spike's induction. Lacuna refuses membership to take up a TV career, having realized that all she really wants is to be a disappointment to her aging hippie parents. We end with the team, now including Spike, considering new members, including Dead Girl and Venus Dee Milo.
Overall: Interesing stuff. If nothing else, it got me to thinking about issues that comics usually don't.
It's interesting. I was discussing just this scenario over the weekend with a friend. She had a friend of mixed racial descent who was being raised by a single parent who refused to tell the child that her father was Black. As you might imagine, this caused a lot of identity issues, especially since the young lady's overriding racial characteristics were African in nature, and she wondered why she couldn't get her hair to behave like that of her friends, and why her skin was so much darker.
It's better addressed later in the series, and I'll wait to comment on that until you get there.