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X-Force: “New Beginnings” (Marvel Comics, 1991; #116-120)

I have mentioned before that an X-Force book played an important role in getting me to finally start reading monthly comics. This is not that book! (Although, I have only read about half of that Uncanny X-Force run because I do not want to not have any more of it to read, so I suspect we will talk about it sometime this year when). This is the Milligan and Allred X-Force run that spawns X-Statix.

This is not the big muscles, bigger guns, and pouches galore X-Force of the ‘90s. In fact, this run doesn’t even follow those characters. Instead, a venture capitalist now funds the X-Force, and its members are glorified, mutant reality stars. Each character is damaged and dysfunctional, and they can barely work together as a team. It’s a formula that I do not always find compelling, but here it works.

It works for me because of an omnipresent tension between a constant threat of death and the occasional glimmer of humanity from the X-Force’s members. As soon as that happens, the clock starts ticking on hope—specifically, the hope that that character will have some epiphany or some change of heart that moves them closer to being heroic before their demise. And when that happens, it is very satisfying.

Mike Allred handles line duty here. I’m always a fan of his art, which often includes phenomenal amounts of detail, and which has always has the benefit of Laura Allred’s bold, vibrant color-work. Their pop art style may seem like a strange fit for such a cynical book, but I like the juxtaposition between the bold, cartoony style and how broken everyone is. That contradiction is fitting for a book about characters who put their lives on the line in exchange for a ritzier lifestyle: behind the glitz and public popularity, there is an inevitable, mortal cost.

Part of me wants to categorize these books each day, and I suspect that by the end of 2017, I’ll have established some loose taxonomy of sub-genres and narrative structures (in my head at least, if nowhere important). In that division, this iteration of X-Force will be in the Doom Patrol family (along with Secret Six). That’s where good books about weird teams of broken losers who eventually prove themselves heroes go. And if you like those books, odds are good that you’ll enjoy Milligan and Allred’s run on X-Force.

Collected in

  • X-Force: New Beginnings (#116-120)
  • X-Force: Famous, Mutant & Mortal (#116-129)
  • X-Statix Omnibus (X-Force E116-129; X-Statix #1-26; X-Statix Presents Deadgirl #1; Brotherhood #9; Wolverine/Doop #1-2)


Writer: Peter Milligan | Artist: Michael Allred | Colorist: Laura Allred | Letterers: Mike Allred & Blambot | Assistant Editor: John Miesegaes | Editor: Axel Alonso

Batman/Deadman: Death and Glory (DC Comics, 1996; OGN)

RUNLOVEKILL: Volume One (Image, 2015; #1-4)