Cover art for X-Force (vol. 3) #1
Art by Clayton Crain
|Group publication information|
|First appearance||New Mutants (vol. 1) #100 (April 1991)|
|Created by||Fabian Nicieza
|Type of organization||Team|
|See: List of X-Force members|
|Series publication information|
|Publication date||(vol. 1)
August 1991 – August 2002
January 2004 — March 2005
April 2008 — Present
|Number of issues||(vol. 1)
21 (as of November 2009)
|Famous, Mutant & Mortal||ISBN 0-7851-1023-2|
|X-Force and Cable: Legend Returns||ISBN 0-7851-1429-7|
|Angels And Demons||ISBN 0-7851-3552-9|
|Old Ghosts||ISBN 0-7851-3821-8|
|Not Forgotten||ISBN 0-7851-4019-0|
|X-Force/Cable: Messiah War||ISBN 0-7851-3157-4|
X-Force is a fictional Marvel Comics superhero team, one of several spin-offs of the popular X-Men franchise. Conceived by writer/illustrator Rob Liefeld, the team was formed in The New Mutants #100 (April 1991) and soon afterwards was featured in its own series.
The group was a new incarnation of the 1980s team, the New Mutants. Led by the mutant Cable, X-Force was more militant and aggressive than the X-Men. X-Force was successful in the early 1990s. The series' popularity waned after Liefeld left, causing Marvel to implement several reforms in the title from 1995 until 2001 with varying degrees of success.
Low sales on the series prompted Marvel to revamp the title in 2001 with a new cast in the form of a group of self-interested young mutants who were gathered together by a corporation to become media stars and used the name X-Force. X-Force (vol. 1) was cancelled with #129 and relaunched as X-Statix, which featured the later incarnation of the team. After X-Statix was cancelled with #26, Marvel reunited the original X-Force team for a six-issue 2004 miniseries plotted and drawn by Liefeld.
In 2007-2008, during the Messiah CompleX crossover, a new version of X-Force was formed that had Wolverine leading a more militaristic black ops branch of the X-Men, forming the basis for a new X-Force series starting February 2008 by writers Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, plus Clayton Crain as the artist.
X-Force was created by illustrator Rob Liefeld after he started penciling The New Mutants (vol. 1) comic book in 1989 with #86. The popularity of Liefeld’s art led to him taking over the writing and drawing duties on the book, which allowed him to introduce Cable and several other new hard-edged characters in 1990 and 1991. With help from writer Fabian Nicieza, who provided the dialogue for Liefeld’s plots, Liefeld transformed the New Mutants into X-Force in The New Mutants (vol. 1) #100, the book's final issue. Liefeld and Nicieza launched X-Force (vol. 1) in August 1991. Rob Liefeld obtained the name for the series from an unknown artist at a convention a few months prior to its release. The book sold a record 5 million copies, and remains the second highest selling comic book of all time, surpassed only by Jim Lee's X-Men book that same summer with 8 million copies. The original line-up of the team included Boom Boom, Cable, Cannonball, Domino, Feral, Shatterstar and Warpath. In later issues, X-Force's roster would include Siryn, Rictor and Sunspot.
The main opponents of X-Force during its first year were the terrorist Mutant Liberation Front, led by Stryfe, a masked mutant with a mysterious link to Cable. Early issues also featured the wise-cracking mercenary Deadpool, the immortal Externals, and a new version of The Brotherhood of Mutants.
Propelled by Liefeld's art, X-Force became one of Marvel’s best-selling comic books immediately after its debut. The series rivaled The Amazing Spider-Man and Uncanny X-Men in popularity, particularly with the adolescent demographic. Toy Biz responded to X-Force's popularity by introducing an X-Force action figure line alongside its X-Men action figure line. Liefeld illustrated the series up to #9 and stopped plotting it after #12 as Liefeld had become increasingly frustrated that he did not own the characters he created and that his art was being used on a variety of merchandise while he received little royalties. Along with six other popular Marvel artists, Liefeld left Marvel Comics in 1992 to form Image Comics.
X-Force continued with Nicieza writing and Greg Capullo illustrating. Nicieza, who also wrote X-Men (vol. 2), helped plot the X-Cutioner's Song storyline that overlapped into most X-Men related books in the fall of 1992. In that story, Stryfe frames Cable for an assassination attempt on the X-Men’s founder Professor X, leading to a clash between the X-Men and X-Force. The crossover boosted Cable's popularity, despite the character's apparent death in X-Force #18, leading to his own solo series being launched in 1993.
After X-Cutioner’s Song, X-Force continued under Nicieza and Capullo, and later pencilled Tony Daniel. Having temporarily lost their leader, X-Force attempted to develop an identity of their own. The team gradually developed into a dysfunctional family after Cable's return in #25, and the title regularly combined soap opera plot threads, such as romance and Siryn's alcoholism, with violent action. Nicieza fleshed out previously unknown elements of each character's history, including Siryn's family in Ireland , Rictor's in Mexico, and Cannonball's in Kentucky, as well as the mysterious origins of Shatterstar. This period also saw the reintroduction of characters from the group's New Mutants days, such as Rusty and Skids, Danielle Moonstar, and Cypher and Wolfsbane. A long-simmering sub-plot about Reignfire and the disappearance of Sunspot came to a climax just as the book went on hiatus for the Age of Apocalypse crossover event in 1995.
Due to falling sales, X-Force emerged from the Age of Apocalypse event with a new creative team of writer Jeph Loeb and illustrator Adam Pollina, who significantly revised the team with issue #44. Loeb introduced new team uniforms, had the team move in with the X-Men at the X-Mansion, and placed emphasis on character-driven stories with fewer fight scenes. Rictor quit the team and Cannonball joined the X-Men. Caliban, a super-strong albino mutant who possessed the mind of a child, joined the team. Loeb's stories included revelations about Shatterstar’s origin and the transformation of Boomer (formerly Boom Boom) into the more aggressive Meltdown. Fan response was generally positive.
In 1997, writer John Francis Moore, portrayed the team as carefree walkers exploring the open road and had X-Force break away from Cable and the X-Men. The roster of that incarnation was Meltdown, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath, and Danielle Moonstar. This was one of most acclaimed eras of the series, with warm reaction from fans and critics alike.
In 1998, Moore and new artist Jim Cheung had X-Force move to a new headquarters in San Francisco, returned Cannonball and later Domino to the team, and added Bedlam, a mutant who could disrupt electronic equipment. However, towards the end of this run, sales on the title began to fall drastically.
Writer Warren Ellis, who was known for his dark, cynical style, revamped three books, (X-Force, Generation X, and X-Man), as part of the Revolution revamp of the X-Men series of titles in 2000. Ellis' stint on X-Force, co-written by Ian Edginton and illustrated by Whilce Portacio, saw Bedlam, Cannonball, Meltdown, and Warpath become a covert ops superhero team under the leadership of Pete Wisdom, a British mutant and former intelligence agent who could shoot burning blades of energy from his fingers. Sales remained about the same despite the changes in creators.
In early 2001, X-Force was completely reimagined by writer Peter Milligan and artist Mike Allred, who replaced the existing incarnation of the team with an entirely different group of mutants using the X-Force name. In X-Force (vol. 1) #115, Bedlam, Cannonball, Meltdown, and Warpath all appeared to die in an explosion, though all later subsequently returned. The next issue, #116, saw the introduction of a new, sardonically-toned X-Force consisting of colorfully dressed and emotionally immature young mutants put together and marketed to be media superstars. X-Force was canceled with #129 in late 2002 and replaced with retitled X-Statix in late 2002.
In 2004, Marvel released a new six-issue X-Force mini-series, once again plotted and illustrated by Liefeld, with dialogue by Nicieza, that gathered many of the characters featured in the first X-Force, to critical panning yet decent sales. Some controversy arose from Liefeld's insertion of over ten pages from previous unpublished comic books (Weapon X and Cable: First Contact) with word balloons edited to make them fit the X-Force storyline. It was subsequently followed with a 4-issue prequel X-Force: Shatterstar miniseries.
Cyclops forms a black ops incarnation of X-Force that uses lethal force to permanently deal with threats against mutants. Warpath, Wolfsbane, Wolverine and X-23 form the starting line-up, with Angel, Domino and Elixir joining soon after.
The team's first mission has them investigating the theft of Bastion's head from a S.H.I.E.L.D. base. The trail leads back to the Purifiers, led by Matthew Risman and the mysterious Eli Bard. They attach Bastion's head to the body of a Nimrod unit, to use the revived Bastion in their "holy war" against mutantkind. Bastion retrieves an offspring of the technarch Magus from the ocean floor and revives several deceased X-Men villains, including Cameron Hodge, Bolivar Trask and Graydon Creed, by infecting their corpses with the Technarch Transmode Virus. The virus allows Bastion a degree of mental control over the revived corpses. He also infects two living subjects with the virus: Donald Pierce and the Leper Queen.
During X-Force's raid on a Purifer base, Risman holds Wolfsbane hostage. While Wolverine calls for the team to stand down, X-23 decides Risman is bluffing and activates a concealed detonator that sets off a series of powerful explosives. The explosion brings most of the base down around them, but Risman is able to escape with Wolfsbane during the chaos. Wolverine later admonishes Laura for being so reckless with the lives of her teammates and for allowing Rahne to be kidnapped. After interrogating and killing numerous Purifiers, X-Force finds Rahne held in a warehouse, barely alive. Angel retrieves Elixir to heal Rahne, who wakes up soon after. Laura then catches the scent of Elixir's and Angel's blood, and runs off to help them. She reaches the room just in time to see Wolfsbane standing above Angel with his severed wings in her jaws. While in the Purifiers' custody, Rahne had been brainwashed by her deranged father, Reverend Craig, causing her to go berserk at the sight of an angelic figure. Wolfsbane savagely attacks Laura before handing over Angel's wings to the Purifiers.
Elixir heals both his and Angel's wounds, then discovers that Angel's wings aren't organic and can't be regrown. Angel transforms into Archangel, complete with metallic wings. Archangel wounds Wolverine and X-23 before taking off toward the Purifiers' base, sensing his old wings. Meanwhile, the Purifiers use samples of Angel's stolen wings to develop techno-organic wings for their soldiers, giving them similar abilities to Archangel. The group of Purifiers given wings are dubbed "The Choir". X-Force pursues Archangel to the Purifiers' base and slaughter most of The Choir, while Risman discovers Eli Bard absorbing the Technarch offspring into his hand. X-23 kills Risman with a headshot, and Eli flees after being stabbed by Warpath. Wolverine takes on Bastion, who deems the threat posed by Wolverine "unacceptable" and retreats. Afterwards, X-Force finds Archangel unconscious and in human form, complete with feathered wings. Wolverine informs Cyclops of the turn of events, and Cyclops asks which of X-Force's targets should be next.
Once X-Force regroups at Angel's Aerie, they test the reactions of Rahne and Angel to one another. Rahne reverts to full feral form upon seeing Angel, who responds by transforming into Archangel. Wolverine and Elixir restrain Wolfsbane while Cyclops talks down Archangel, who has trouble controlling his Apocalypse-like mentality while in his transformed state. Laura calls in the Stepford Cuckoos to erase Elixir's memories of X-Force, to help them remain covert. Before they do so, Angel informs them of a live telecast featuring Graydon Creed, who claims an L.M.D. was assassinated in his place and publicly denounces mutants once more. Cyclops assembles X-Force, including Elixir, and unexpectedly declares the Vanisher as their next target.
It is revealed that Scalphunter, a former Marauder, contacted Cyclops about a break-in at an old lab of Mister Sinister that held an altered version of the Legacy Virus. While in pursuit of the Vanisher, the team runs into Domino, who joins forces with them to recover the Legacy Virus. After cornering Vanisher and inducing an inoperable brain tumor (courtesy of Elixir) to ensure his cooperation, Vanisher reveals he lost the virus while escaping from a horde of Marauder clones that were awakened after the death of Sinister. X-Force returns to the lab and kill the cloned Marauders inside. Domino retrieves the virus, only to be confronted by The Right's shocktroopers, who have come to take the virus for themselves. X-23 is injected with the virus while doing battle, and runs toward a nearby molten vat to destroy herself (thus destroying the virus). Elixir catches Laura as she jumps, and uses his healing powers to purge her of the virus, declaring that his purpose in X-Force is to ensure no more of his friends will die. With Vanisher in tow, X-Force returns home.
Meanwhile, Warpath returns to his tribe's reservation at Camp Verde to visit his brother's grave, but discovers the empty graves of his entire tribe before being violently attacked by the Demon Bear. Just as he's about to be killed, Warpath is saved by Ghost Rider, who offers to teach him how to kill a demon. After engaging the Demon Bear in battle once more, Ghost Rider realizes the demon is reacting to pain caused by a dagger embedded in its body. Once Warpath removes the dagger, the demon is revealed to be the spirit guides of Warpath's tribe, corrupted by the black magic of the dagger. These spirits grant Warpath a vision that reveals the history of the man responsible for digging up the graves of his tribe: Eli Bard. Warpath returns home and tells X-Force what the spirits showed him, which ends with the revelation that Eli is using the Technarch Transmode Virus to revive dead mutants as an offering to his queen, Selene.
Soon after, Beautiful Dreamer mysteriously dies after losing control of her powers and killing hundreds of civilians. Cyclops realizes this was likely caused by the mutated Legacy Virus, and assembles X-Force to deal with the situation. Cyclops also reveals he's in the process of tracking down Cable, and gives each of them a time-travel device that will be remotely activated when Beast determines Cable's exact location in the timestream. Fever Pitch loses control of his powers soon after, resulting in a similar massacre. While escaping the explosion, Archangel spots the Leper Queen and informs Cyclops. Once Boom Boom, Hellion and Surge are kidnapped, the Stepford Cuckoos use Cerebra to track them down. Hellion and Surge are injected with the altered Legacy Virus and teleported out just as X-Force storm the Leper Queen's base. As Wolverine questions the Leper Queen, Cyclops informs him that Cable has been found and X-Force is being sent after him. Despite Wolverine's protests, Cyclops activates the time-travel devices, sending X-Force forward in time before they can kill the Leper Queen.
X-Force is involuntarily sent to the future to retrieve Cable and Hope. The landscape is a barren, ravaged area, and the team quickly encounters danger. Apocalypse has been defeated, and Stryfe controls this future, aided by Bishop. X-Force and Cable struggle to save Hope and defeat Stryfe.
Not Forgotten takes place directly after X-Force's return to the present. X-23 emerges from the timestream just in time to save Boom Boom from being killed by the Leper Queen. Seconds after she kills the Leper Queen, both she and Boom Boom are taken into custody by agents of H.A.M.M.E.R. At the United Nations, Hellion and Surge are rescued from the Sapien League by Wolverine, Archangel and Elixir. Boom Boom is freed from H.A.M.M.E.R. custody by Warpath, while X-23 is returned to The Facility. She wakes up to find her left arm severed by Kimura, wielding a chain saw. Before she can cut off the right arm, Kimura is shot by Agent Morales. In a flashback, Agent Young is revealed to be a member of The Facility that infiltrated H.A.M.M.E.R. to acquire the intel that Morales had on X-23. When Young tries to recruit Morales into The Facility, she rejects his offer by beating him unconscious. In the present, X-23 and Morales make their way to a Facility lab that holds mass amounts of the chemical trigger that forces X-23 to kill. While inside the room, X-23 cuts the claws out of her severed arm and gives them to Morales for safekeeping. She lights a Molotov cocktail of sorts which sets the sprinkler system off. The Facility soldiers finish cutting through to Laura just as Kimura realizes the sprinklers are spraying the Trigger Scent everywhere. X-23 goes feral and kills all the soldiers in her way. She gets to the Facility head's office just as the sprinklers start spraying water, washing away the scent. Kimura manages to club Laura from behind and then kills the Facility head, planning on framing Laura for it. Agent Morales arrives and sets Kimura on fire to distract her while she and Laura make her escape. Morales reveals she rigged the place to explode and they get out in time. The rest of X-Force arrives and takes Laura and her severed claws home, leading into the events of Necrosha.
According to Craig Kyle and Chris Yost, they will conclude their run on X-Force during X-Men: Second Coming, the third part of the Messiah Complex trilogy. A new creative team for the title has yet to be announced. According to the Marvel Comics website, the current volume of X-Force is slated for cancellation after X-Men: Second Coming as the team embarks on its final and deadly mission (presumably the series will be cancelled in July or August.). 
|#1-2||Boomer, Cable, Cannonball, Copycat (as Domino), Feral, Shatterstar, Warpath|
|#3-14||Boomer, Cable, Cannonball, Copycat, Feral, Shatterstar, Siryn, Warpath|
|#15-24||Boomer, Cannonball, Feral, Rictor, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#25-28||Boomer, Cable, Cannonball, Feral, Rictor, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#29-43||Boomer, Cable, Cannonball, Domino, Rictor, Shatterstar, Siryn, Warpath|
|#44-50||Boomer, Cable, Caliban, Domino, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#51-69||Cable, Caliban, Domino, Meltdown (formerly Boomer), Rictor, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#70-81||Meltdown, Moonstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#83-86||Bedlam, Cannonball, Meltdown, Moonstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#87-91||Bedlam, Cannonball, Domino, Meltdown, Moonstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#92-101||Bedlam, Cannonball, Domino, Meltdown, Moonstar, Warpath|
|#102-106||Bedlam, Cannonball, Meltdown, Warpath, Wisdom|
|#102-115||Bedlam, Cannonball, Domino, Meltdown, Warpath|
|#116||Anarchist, Battering Ram, Doop, Gin Genie, Plazm, U-Go Girl, Zeitgeist|
|#117-118||Anarchist, Bloke, Doop, Orphan, Phat, Saint Anna, U-Go Girl, Vivisector|
|#119||Anarchist, Doop, Orphan, Phat, Saint Anna, U-Go Girl, Vivisector|
|#120||Anarchist, Doop, Orphan, Phat, U-Go Girl, Vivisector|
|#121-124||Anarchist, Doop, Orphan, Phat, Spike, U-Go Girl, Vivisector|
|#125-128||Anarchist, Dead Girl, Doop, Orphan, Phat, Spike, U-Go Girl, Vivisector|
|#129||Anarchist, Dead Girl, Doop, Orphan, Phat, Vivisector|
|#1-6||Cable, Cannonball, Domino, Kosch, Meltdown, Shatterstar, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#1-3||Warpath, Wolfsbane, Wolverine, X-23|
|#4-8||Archangel, Elixir, Warpath, Wolfsbane, Wolverine, X-23|
|#9-||Archangel, Domino, Elixir, Vanisher, Warpath, Wolfsbane, Wolverine, X-23|
Various stories and series have been collected into trade paperbacks:
Before the team best known as X-Force debuted, Marvel introduced an unrelated, little-known group also called X-Force. It was a short-lived group that was designed to replace Freedom Force. The members were not mutants, but received their powers artificially and were named after the X-Men. This group was organized by a government agency known as M Branch and only appeared in the pages of Cloak and Dagger #9-10 (1990).