The original X-Force was so quintessentially ’90s — it was big guns, took itself way more serious than anyone wanted to, and seemed like the most random collection of characters in a title. But what gave X-Force its charm was its cast, seeing those really random characters develop alongside each other and get a chance to shine in this unique spotlight. If you ask any fan of the original X-Force comic what their favorite thing about it is, they’ll probably say Cannonball, the early years of Rictor and Shatterstar’s relationship, Siryn’s stint as a leader — it’s the team that made the book so special rather than the premise.
X-Force: Killshot #1 is nothing like that book.
X-Force: Killshot #1 assumes that the best parts of X-Force are Cable’s adventures — not Cable as a team leader for all these rambunctious kids, but Cable himself. And so, X-Force: Killshot #1 feels less like the “30th-anniversary tribute” to the title that we were promised and more like a boring, self-indulgent Cable story that takes itself way too seriously. Literally nothing that made the original X-Force book special at all is in this title.
The first three pages are pretty much the same layout over and over — it’s visually quite boring. It’s the same exact layout of characters in the same exact position — the only differentiating factor here is that the characters are occasionally a different version of themselves. And I won’t lie, Cable assembling a team of characters from different points in the timestream is actually a really cool idea. But I can’t help but read this series and wonder why this team isn’t a more recognizable X-Force line-up? Where was Boom Boom, Feral, Siryn — these were characters that were on the team during Liefeld’s first nine issues of the 1991 series, so it feels odd they aren’t here at all. And other characters like Warpath and Cannonball feel so underused they might as well not be there at all.
Shouldn’t your “anniversary” issue be a tribute to the characters who made the series a mainstay? Why is The Thing here? Who knows?
This issue makes more noise for Major X, who no one was looking forward to seeing in an X-Force book, than any actual members of X-Force. It feels weird for an “anniversary” issue of a series to not feature any of the myriad of characters who appeared in the first series’ 129 issues (like Sunspot, Mirage, Rictor) and to instead so heavily feature this guy.
The other thing that’s weird about this issue is that it doesn’t really do much to explain what the MLF’s motivations are. Several MLF characters have been appearing in background panels or have had small cameo roles in several Krakoa-era books, so why did they suddenly decide to flip the switch and help Stryfe? Are there going to be any repercussions for these characters because they tried to help Stryfe? Who knows?
The art certainly isn’t the worst thing Rob Liefeld’s ever drawn (no, that might actually be the original X-Force), but it really isn’t his best work either. Remember when his art looked like this? Yeah, this was probably his best work.
There’s truly not much to say about the art beyond it being pretty standard fare Liefeld. You know what you’re getting into before opening this book.
Seeing Logan’s silver costume back was nice though, not only because it’s his X-Force costume but because it’s just a really awesome-looking suit in general.
Sometimes the book feels like it’s trying to be something it isn’t. Like when Deadpool (any version of Deadpool) is quipping it’s like trying to watch someone desperately trying to be funny but you don’t have the heart to tell them they actually aren’t that funny. Watching this book attempt humor feels like taking a fish out of water or trying to fit a tiny sweater on a giant — it just doesn’t work and it’s an awkward fit.
Cable is actually the only character that gets the spurts of good dialogue here. In the beginning of the issue he makes a comment about “keeping the snakes” out of Krakoa. It’s no secret that House of X/Powers of X and certain books afterward have really leaned into the imagery of Krakoa being this “Garden of Eden” for mutants — one X-title even opened with Kurt comparing Krakoa to Eden straight up. The idea of keeping the “snakes” out of Eden just really works for that imagery.
X-Force: Killshot does the exact opposite of what made Cable: Reloaded work so well. Reloaded poked fun at the over-seriousness of a character like Cable and had a lot of fun with the idea that this gruff, super gritty ’90s dude just happened to always be some babysitter for a group of kids. That was part of what made the original X-Force so fun too, seeing this character have to interact with the likes of teens like Boom Boom. And Killshot doesn’t have that self-awareness, nor does it realize the fun it could have with this premise while delivering an action-packed story. As an anniversary issue, it lacks any heart and it never feels like it’s actually paying any sort of tribute to the series or its characters.
At the end of the day, X-Force: Killshot Anniversary Special is less an X-Force book and more of a Cable book. It doesn’t really deliver on the premise of being an anniversary issue to celebrate X-Force and instead, gives us the most boring X-Force line-up to date.
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