Movies & TV / Columns

Comics 411: Thoughts on Rob Liefeld’s Return to X-Force

June 30, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Rob Liefeld X-Force

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last time we discussed Thoughts on Marvel’s ‘Dark Ages’. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Acolyte Of Glorious La Parka~: “One thing you CAN count on:
It will suck mightily.”

Ervgotti85: “The hook? What if the superheroes lose? I read this already it was called Old Man Logan and it was awesome.”

MapleLeafLoveMuscle: “Pretty sure that the Herogasm storyline from The Boys comic was the only mighty-mega-multiteam apocalyptic cross-over event anyone ever really needed. At least anyone who died at Herogasm, typically from a drug overdose, stayed dead. Just ask The Doofer.

Just my opinion but after 35 years of these things, since Crisis On Infinite Earths kicked off these yearly events, I find it hard to believe anyone even can get excited over them. Good thing free digital comics are hard to find because I hate to think what it would cost someone these days to pick up each book in a crossover story when it’s $4/5/6 an issue now.”

Dresden: “I started with comics around 1982, long before the yearly mandatory universe-wide crossover became a thing. I can honestly say they’re the main reason why I don’t read Marvel or DC any more. You can only put up with so many events that loudly proclaim the end is nigh just to see the big ol’ reset button pushed every time and things go back to the way they were. We used to have a saying that no one stays dead except Gwen Stacy, Uncle Ben and Bucky Barnes, and even that has been shot to hell now.

You would think people would stop believing the hype, but every year they all line up to get every title that has the big story banner at the top of the front cover. As long as these things sell, we’ll keep seeing “major” events that have no real consequence at all.”

Benjamin Kellog: “Let me see if I’m understanding this right. The Watcher somehow commits the “Original Sin” of not warning everyone of the “Secret Invasion” coming. When the “Dark Reign” finally hits, our heroes rally together to wage the greatest “Secret Wars” of their collective lives. Sounds like it’ll be a real “Inferno” out there if they don’t defend the “Heroic Age” as best they can. For all we know, this could lead to the “Fall of the Mutants” along with everyone else. This being mainstream superhero comics, however, I’m confident we’ll see the “Heroes Return” to status quo soon enough. Nothing personal, just consider this a friendly “Ultimatum.” Too bad this isn’t a DC event, because I’d love to complain about the endless “Milk Wars” these companies wage for every last dollar with more pointless tie-ins than even the most hardcore reader could possibly hold interest for, but heck, I love those oversized omnibuses which make for great summer reading.”

canuckamuk: “I started collecting comic books when I was 12. That’s 45 years ago. I stopped last month . The almost yearly “EPIC” storyline with 8 gazillion crossovers wore me down. Then seeing the beloved characters retconned and changed to satisfy a woke minority that doesn’t even buy comic was the stake through the heart. They couldn’t let us keep the characters we grew up with, and just make all the NEW characters they liked that we could see if we liked too.”

Al Lobama: “Are we sure this is an event? Because this sounds like a “What If? miniseries set in an alternate reality.

If this is “Age of Apocalypse” for the entire Marvel Universe, then hey, go for it! But as others have said, “What if the Heroes lose?” has been the premise for pretty much every company-wide crossover event Marvel has done in the last decade or so. King in Black began with the heroes all losing to Knull, Secret Empire began with the heroes all losing to Hydra, Secret Wars 2015 began with the heroes all losing to Dr. Doom, Dark Reign began with the heroes all losing to Norman Osborn, and Secret Invasion began with the heroes all losing to the Skrulls. Superheroes losing in the beginning and then fighting from underneath for the whole series until they finally win the big one in the end has been the default formula for Marvel Big Events for a while now, and many people will point to said Big Events as the biggest thing wrong with comics today. But I say thee NAY! I think the real problem here is that Marvel is giving us the same thing they do every Summer and then saying “You’ve never seen anything like THIS before!”*

* That’s not to say that Marvel needs to give their fans something different. Since it’s been many decades since the target comic book audience has turned over due to “aging out”, there is realistically no way you’re going to give lifelong fans a story that they’ve never seen before. Most fans don’t get mad when you don’t give us something new, but we DO get mad when you promise something new and then don’t deliver. So just stop saying it!”

D-Unit: “Interesting concept, but as others have said, not something we haven’t seen before, and I think these massive crossovers have become like a parody of themselves at this point. Think back to like “Knightfall” or the “Death of Superman”, those were fresh at the time, and people were interested to see what happened. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like whenever they announce these “events”, most fans roll their eyes.”

Some awesome comments last week! Thanks for the input and keep it coming!

This week we discuss our…

Thoughts on Rob Liefeld’s Return to X-Force!

You know what you’re getting when Rob Liefeld is on a project so you’re either totally invested or totally turned off. One thing you can’t deny is his ability to excite fans and get people talking. He’s been doing it for over 30 years.

Now the X-Force co-creator is returning to the book this November to write and draw a one-shot titled X-Force: Killshot to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the team’s 1991 debut. On an unrelated note, I’ve always wanted Rob to do a book called BloodBlood but that’s neither here nor there.

If you’re in need of a reminder, the original X-Force spun out from the New Mutants book, which revolved around a new class of students at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. Things changed when the time-traveling Cable entered the picture and the focus became less on them being students and more about them being a young team of soldiers.

From the sound of it, that point will have an impact on X-Force: Killshot, which focuses on Cable traveling through time to assemble five different teams to take on his clone/nemesis Stryfe as he enacts a scheme that reaches across multiple eras. Several characters have been revealed on Liefeld’s two covers for Killshot, including recent Liefeld creation Major X, classic X-Force character Shatterstar, and Venom/Deadpool mash-up Venompool. Domino will also be part of the story.

“On this day thirty years ago, X-Force #1 debuted and took the comic book industry by storm! Created by Rob Liefeld, X-Force #1 was a blockbuster success, selling over 5 million copies to become one of the best-selling single issues in Marvel Comics history,” reads Marvel June 25 announcement of X-Force: Killshot. “Commemorating the anniversary of this groundbreaking issue, Rob Liefeld will return to the X-Force saga this November with a new chapter in X-Force: Killshot!

The special one-shot will feature an “explosive” adventure starring Cable and his militant mutant squad, taking readers back to “the beloved ’90s heyday of the X-Men franchise,” the announcement continues. “Cable and his counterparts will assemble five separate X-Force squadrons, from various points in time, to converge on Asteroid S for an all-out assault to defeat Stryfe once and for all.”

Liefeld has said that Killshot will be X-Force’s “biggest, wildest, most consequential” story ever. “The fans have always carried X-Force and I’m elated to be writing and drawing Cable, Deadpool, Domino, Shatterstar for them again, just as I was 30 years back at the launch of all this,” Liefeld told “I promise you, this will be their biggest, wildest, most consequential adventure to date.” “X-Force was a huge gamble that paid off big for Marvel, paid off big for retailers and it changed my life forever,” Liefeld continues in the announcement. “I’m thrilled and honored to share Killshot with everyone. Thirty years in the making, I intend to make every page a huge kick for fans new and old.”

For me, Liefeld is a great ideas guy. When he first came on the scene I admit I was always intrigued by the story ideas and sketches he’d share with magazines and in interviews. Often the characters or storylines he’d have discussed never planned out the way he described but that just as often didn’t matter. I found when he was paired up with a solid editor, things were more fleshed out. Over time I’ve come to see what Rob says with a discerning eye. He still have the ideas but I’ve tempered my expectations to what actually makes it to the page.

Look, no one can deny his success. For over 30 years the guy has been a big name and big seller in the industry. We can knock his art and his persona but it works. What will Killshot bring? Just looking at his latest stuff gives us a good idea. For me it will be how he leaves things and what future creative teams pick up and run with. Like his Deadpool and when Joe Kelly wrote him, many of Rob’s half-finished ideas usually find better writers and artists that tap that potential to its fullest. What his Killshot brings to the table will most likely find new (better) down the road.

X-Force: Killshot is due out in November. What do you think?

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!