Let’s talk Cannonball and X-Force. And shoulderpads.

X-Force dropped like a bomb. 

X-Force #1 sold 5 MILLION copies. Only topped by X-Men #1.


Five million copies – which is why you can now cop one for about… 50 cents. Still polybagged.

It was a weird time for comics. There was a speculator interest in comics for investment value. Variant covers were hot. Rob Liefeld was in a Levi’s commercial. There were button sets.

And trading cards. Lots of them. Complete sets in fact.

The Batman movies were still good. Superman was about to die. Like I said – weird times. 

And X-Force was hot. White hot. And then something happened. It wasn’t that good. If you are mad at me right now, go back and re-read those first 10 issues. Not good. Let’s be honest – issues 3+4 are absolute garbage filler created to crossover two of the three hottest books of the day (McFarlane’s Spider-Man being the other) and Liefeld’s run ONLY lasted 8 issues (1-7, 9) so for two of those 8 to be filler… wack. And the stories were thin. Issues 1 + 2 I enjoy, but the Spider crossover’s only redeeming feature is some good back and forth between Black Tom Cassidy and Juggernaut – that’s all.

Oh, and remember that whole development of Cannoball? Well.. it kind of.. sputters? He’s an external. Do you know what that means? He can’t die. That separates him from other Marvel heroes how? As it turns out the Sauron issues were the “highlight” of the Liefeld run, and that’s where Sam gets gutted, literally. And the rest of the team turns that hotbed of teen angst into a vengeance mission… which is about as good (and deep) as it got with X-Force.

I’ll say this – at least he’s not whining. And just as Liefeld exits stage right… so does Cable. Latchkey X-Force. (*LOL at $50.oo for the shirt below)

But then the strangest thing happens… X-Force becomes readable. Very readable. The art is spotty in the post Liefeld period but finds some consistency with Greg Capullo. who later found his nitch on this little series called Spawn. My interest, however, peaked when artist Tony Daniel joined the team.

Daniel’s art was quick, sharp, and decidedly different than the very Image influenced feel that X-Force had suffered from post Liefeld. Daniel had a style that I have a hard time of pin pointing, but will say it has sharper lines, tighter definition and makes me think of a controlled Chris Bachalo who deals in sharper angles and images; whereas Bachalo softens images with curves, Daniel gives you a sharper cut to his lines.

But a change was coming, and Jeph Loeb and artist Adam Pollina took over. Through both these runs I thoroughly enjoyed X-Force, and part of that just happened to be Cannonball leaving to join the X-Men (where he was AWFUL. Talk about paint drying level of characterization) and inevitably rejoining them.

I think this is the best and most underrated era of either the X-Force or New Mutants series and urge people to check this run out. Loeb was a great talent and huge part of making the tangential x-series (Cable, X-Force) quality, and a reason the X-Men ruled the 90’s with no real challengers. 

What happened next? Warren Ellis joined the book at a very poor period and the series fell apart. Peter Milligan shuffled the deck and gave the series a last gasp, but it was a completely different beast. 

So, my point is – Cannonball is a bummer. He’s best remembered when he’s not around. Last seen, he’s been sporting a costume with a giant “C” on his chest. He might as well right “AVERAGE” on his boots. Or maybe just “MEDIOCRE”. But decide for yourself. Maybe you always wished to be a human rocket, but not the coolest one (Nova, The Rocketeer, I’m probably forgetting a few) or a third rate Cyclops. But me?

Not a fan.

One Comment

  1. b. murphy
    Posted April 6, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I definitely own the polybagged X-Force 1. Didn’t it come with trading cards?? Or am I dreaming that?

    X-Force had a great cast of villians. Nothing, pretty much nobody, beats Deadpool. Would love to see a post up on that guy!

    I was also a fan of Shatterstar. Never understood that double sword weapon, but was down for his vibe.

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