Major X is a series that seemed to elicit a snap judgment out of everyone who loves comics. They either hated it off the bat or couldn’t wait for more Rob Liefeld stories in the X-Men universe. It also promised to deliver more Deadpool, Cable, and Wolverine stories, all of which are prime characters drawn by Liefeld for those nostalgic of the ’90s. Now collected in trade paperback, the seven-issue series can be read in one convenient sitting.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
A mysterious new player enters the Marvel Universe…and the X-Men are square in the center of his crosshairs! What is the mission of Major X – and what does it have to do with the time-traveler known as Cable? It’s a race against time to save mutantkind from certain devastation, but will Cable try to stop the deadly soldier and his far-reaching goals – or will he forge a tentative union with the mysterious military man? Writer/artist Rob Liefeld introduces a new wrinkle into the saga of Marvel’s Mightiest Mutants! Join the X-Men as they ask the question that will soon be on everyone’s lips: who is Major X?!
Why does this matter?
At the back of this collection there is a nice interview with Liefeld explaining how this project got off the ground and why it needs to be told. In his answer it’s quite clear this is a book for those who loved Liefeld’s work with Cable in the ’90s as he explains, “I always wanted to expand Cable’s legacy.” If you dug Liefeld’s work on Cable you will likely love this series.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
A good reviewer reviews something for what it’s attempting to do, not for what it should be, and from that point of view this book works quite well. It’s a fight comic first, thrusting these heroes into battle every chance it gets no matter how nonsensical the plotting can be. If you like Liefeld’s art this is going to be a big win for you — though he only draws the first, sixth, and number zero (zeroth?) issues. His style is plain to see, from the layout design to the ’90s vibes. It’s like Liefeld hasn’t changed at all since those iconic days nearly 20 years ago. That includes the choreography in fight scenes, the many familiar faces, and very in-your-face imagery. Speaking of characters, fans of Liefeld will love this issue with every character Liefeld has drawn that you can think of popping up.
The first issue plays out as basically one long fight sequence between multiple characters, all of which hang onto the big mystery of who Major X is and why he’s jumped into the past. There are a lot of big ideas in this book like the “X-istence” that adds further mystery to the narrative. Atlantis and a great war between Namor and his people and the mutants weave in and out of the narrative. If you like fight comics there’s so much here I can only say this is a must-buy, particularly if you like Liefeld’s art. Much of the narrative hangs on cliffhangers like who Major X’s parents are or a looming threat, but for fight comics that’s pretty much standard stuff.
The art is backed up by Brent Peeples for issue #2, #4, and #5 and Whilce Portacio on issue #3. I’m not sure how hard they tried to match Liefeld’s style, but they do a pretty good job.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The art is very “Liefeld” to the point where it maybe could have used another pass. Panel to panel, the art isn’t consistent enough to look seamless, and vehicles can go from well rendered to oddly cast in silhouette even though the lighting doesn’t call for it. A character can look pretty normal one panel and then in the next their chest is hilariously huge. His style is also very flat, which feels odd these days when panels generally look so dynamic. At this point, it’s what we’ve all come to expect from Liefeld, but there’s no question it can be jarring. Peeples and Partacio drawing the middle chunk of the story is a good thing largely because it feels cleaner and more competent.
The plotting of this series is way too simple. A McGuffin is used to keep things moving along, but it can border on nonsensical when it comes to twists, heroes winning, and even dialogue. Nothing is really earned, and instead stuff just happens. Major X and other characters seem to prattle on about what whatever it is they want while fighting continues. Once you accept the fact that this is a rather simple fight comic, though, it’s not that bothersome.
Is it good?
Serving as a fun throwback to Liefeld’s days drawing Cable, Deadpool, and Wolverine, this is going to be a huge success for some. It offers a ton of action, a curious mystery, and plenty of cliffhangers. It certainly accomplishes what it sets out to do and therefore succeeds. That said, it’s overly simple, the art can look unfinished, and you’ll care little for anyone and anything that happens in the book.
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