I have long raised a questioning eyebrow to Marvel Comics’ plan over the past year to publish two separate X-Force titles: Uncanny X-Force and Cable and X-Force. Both are about a team of renegade X-Men fighting evil on the fringes of superherodom, and both feature a random assortment of characters, many of whom didn’t necessarily have anything to do with X-Force. It seemed that Marvel was only concerned with wringing as much money out of the brand name as they could.
Well now it seems that grand experiment is coming to an end. Marvel is cancelling both titles and combining only some of the characters into a new adjectiveless X-Force, launching in February.
What went wrong? Who can say. Were the titles selling well? Did Marvel wise up and realize the world doesn’t need two separate X-Force titles? Was nobody enjoying Puck?
These are questions that only those in the know can properly answer, and Marvel isn’t returning my calls. I tried reading both comics but gave up after an issue or two because I just didn’t see the point. On the one hand, they were both made well enough. But I didn’t care about the characters or the plots. That’s on me, not on them.
Well Marvel and USA Today are all manner of excited to tell you about the new series, which will be written by new writer Simon Spurrier, with art by Rock He-Kim. Based on the interview, Spurrier is going to take X-Force back to basics so that they’re simply a black-ops mutant team doing black-ops type things.
“What I’ve taken from those early X-Force episodes is a take-no-prisoners attitude towards action,” Spurrier says. “But I like to think I’ve injected a little post-millennial sophistication, too. “This isn’t a steroidal macho-fest: It’s a slick, nasty, oh-so-grim beast that’ll cut your throat and blow up your headquarters before you even know it’s there.”
Of the more than a dozen characters in Uncanny X-Force and Cable and X-Force, only three are going to make this new team: Cable, Psylocke and Fantomex. Though Spurrier does suggest that other characters will probably pop in from time to time.
Of special note is a new member: Marrow! And since I once proclaimed Marrow my second favorite X-Woman of all time, you better believe I’m going to pick up this book just for her.
On Marrow, Spurrier compared her to Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica, and said:
“She’s a fighter too damaged by own experiences to ever really fit in,” Spurrier says. “She’s one of those brilliant characters which the X-books handle so well who can’t rightly be described as a hero or a villain: a product of her own tragedy.”
So because of Marrow, I’ll definitely be buying this book. What does everybody else think?
Why is Marvel putting out two separate but incredibly similar X-Force comics these days? Alright, stupid question. The answer is to make more money, obviously. That’s why there are so many different X-Men titles. But from a creative standpoint, what the heck is Marvel thinking? I have read both Cable and X-Force and Uncanny X-Force, as well as various creator interviews, and it looks to me like the two books might as well be mirror images of one another. Both are about a random assortment of X-characters randomly banding together to fight a random threat. What happened to the days of yore, when the name ‘X-Force’ actually stood for something? When the title was used to tell new, off-kilter stories that were different from the normal X-Men?
Cable and X-Force is about Cable, Domino, Forge, Hope, Colossus and Dr. Nemesis battling the techno-organic virus. Uncanny X-Force is about Storm, Psylocke, Puck, Spiral and Fantomex battling a new designer drug, and possibly Bishop. If you don’t read comics regularly, then it’s possible that those two sentences don’t make a lick of sense. But even if you do read comics, it’s like the Marvel writers just threw darts at a wall of character names to decide who was going to appear in their version of X-Force.
And that sounds like an awesome game! So being the creative guy that I am, I’ve decided to play it as well. If Marvel suddenly decides to give me the reigns to create my own random X-Force team – let’s call it ‘X-Treme X-Force’ – then these are the 6 characters I would use.
What the hell, Marvel!? Some of us still have Christmas shopping to do, yet you hit us the week before Christmas with a massive pile of new comics to buy? Jeez louise! Bad enough this is also my heavy DC Comics week too! So let’s just say I bought a ton of comics this week, all so Marvel can be all fancy and only release Amazing Spider-Man #700 next week. Their big marketing scheme is hell on my wallet. At least most of the comics that came out this week were pretty good.
Everything under the sun seemed to come out this week, giving us a wide range of different titles. We’ve got major releases for the Avengers, X-Men and the Fantastic Four, not to mention both X-Force titles. If you’re more into Batman and the Death of the Family story, there are both the Nightwing and Red Hood tie-ins, one of which was good and the other quite bad. So very busy week. And though there were a lot of great titles, I think FF #2 pulls away with Comic Book of the Week. I really think that title is going to live up to its awesome potential.
Comic Reviews: All-New X-Men #4, Avengers #2, Batwoman #15, Cable and X-Force #2, Captain Marvel #8, FF #2, Green Lantern #15, Green Lantern: New Guardians #15, Hawkeye #6, Indestructible Hulk #2, Nightwing #15, Red Hood and the Outlaws #15, Thor: God of Thunder #3, Thunderbolts #2, Uncanny X-Force #35, Wolverine and the X-Men #22, Wonder Woman #15.
Where are all the Christmas specials at? I would have expected more Christmas-themed comics this week, but perhaps everything is being saved for next week, when every comic under the sun is going to come out. Seriously, there are going to be almost a dozen comics for me next week! Which is so weird, considering there are only four this week. What’s up with that? But at least they’re four good comics, including some truly exciting chapters in the ‘Death of the Family’ story in Batman. The Joker is at the top of his villainous game, and he hits the Bat-books with a wicked one-two punch this week. And that’s not including the books I don’t read, like Batgirl, which this week announced the unceremonious firing of writer extraordinaire Gaily Simone. How DC could fire that woman is beyond me, especially firing her by e-mail. I’m definitely not going to pick up Batgirl anytime soon with Simone kicked off the book. Bad move, DC Comics.
But no matter, the rest of the Bat-books are doing splendidly. And out of the two I read this week, Batman and Robin inches ahead to win Comic Book of the Week!
Comic Reviews: Batman #15, Batman and Robin #15, Cable and X-Force #1, Winter Soldier #13.
The other day I told you guys about the new Cable and X-Force title coming up in Marvel NOW! It was a new take on the X-Force franchise, and actually looked and sounded kind of cool. Plus it fit with the idea of Marvel NOW! being a relaunch of titles and trying some new ideas.
Well apparently Marvel isn’t yet ready to let go of the old ideas. They’re still going to publish Uncanny X-Force, giving us competing X-Force titles for some godforsaken reason.
Right now, Uncanny X-Force is a popular series by writer Rick Remender about Wolverine leading a team of black ops X-Men on kill missions. It’s a very good series, starring characters like Deadpool, Fantomex, Psylocke, Dark Nightcrawler and, at one point, Archangel. But Remender is moving on to bigger comics, and with last week’s Cable-related announcement, I thought for sure that Marvel was hanging up this series as a job well done.
Nope! They’re going to hand it off to a relatively untested writer, who is going to get rid of most of those characters and instead write about a black ops team starring Psylocke, Storm, Spiral and Puck!
I’m as much of a Puck fan as the next geek, but really, Marvel? This is what you’re doing for Marvel NOW!? This relaunch is your chance to clear out some of the clutter and cut away some of the excess comics that the world doesn’t need. And nobody in the world needs a series about these characters trying to be a black ops team. Did you learn nothing from Regenesis? Over the past year, Marvel has been publishing several dozen different X-Men books, including X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine and the X-Men, X-Men: Legacy, and Astonishing X-Men, among other extra titles like New Mutants and X-Factor. In order to populate these books, Marvel was just throwing mutants at them. Astonishing X-Men starred Wolverine, Iceman, Gambit, Karma, Cecilia Reyes, and Northstar. What kind of team is that?
I don’t have the exact numbers, but I think it’s safe to say all those extra X-books didn’t do nearly as well as the main series.
Yet it looks like Marvel is doing it again. Just throw a random group of characters together, give it an already familiar name, and just hope people buy it. How long until we see the likes of Uncanny X-Factor? Mimic and the X-Men? Superfluous X-Men? X-Men: Regency? Probably a year from now after Marvel goes through it’s next Big Event/Relaunch…
This interview with new writer Sam Humphries doesn’t really explain why Marvel wants competing X-Force titles. But at least he seems happy to be writing comics, lucky bastard.