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Psycho dad is sad…  he can’t go to SDCC.

But at least he got the Dark Phoenix Gamestop Exclusive!

dark phoenix


 X-Force #57 (August 1996)

The Best Laid Plans
[Onslaught, Impact 1]


Writer:  Jeph Loeb
Pencils:  Anthony Castrillo
Inker:  Mark Morales

Of all of X-Force and even X-Man, only Domino is left standing to face Sinister.  He laughs her off.  They’ve fought before and he’s come out on top every time.  But suddenly Caliban leaps in from behind, shredding Sinister’s back.  The two face off, with Caliban tearing into the man who orchestrated the massacre of Caliban’s people.  The attack buys Domino enough time to rally the rest of the team, set the self-destruct system and blow up the mansion.

Caliban vs Sinister

The fireball is noticeable to Warpath who is approaching the mansion with his new friend, Risque.  She wants to turn back, but Warpath is concerned for his friends, especially Siryn.  Sinister is relatively unharmed, but pretty damn pissed (you would be too if you were beaten up and then had a house explode with you in it).  Domino, X-Man, and Sunspot survived, but apparently, whatever Sinister did (last issue), it left Nate without his mutant abilities.

Underneath the mansion, Caliban survived and is joined by Meltdown,  But he is noticeably upset by how he lost control.  He is worried he might hurt his friends.  Tabitha gives him a big hug, comforting him.  Elsewhere, Domino and Sunspot decide that maybe something about Cable’s teachings would explain why Sinister could shut down X-Man but not Cable.  So X-Man uses his last bit of energy for one last psi-probe (pretty convenient, eh?) to dig into Sunspot’s mind (Cable placed Askani teachings into Sunspot’s head to free him from the Reignfire persona).  They both get knocked for a loop.

Elsewhere in the mansion, Siryn’s powers are useless against Sinister.  Shatterstar tries to help, but he can’t get anywhere either.  But before Sinister can finish them, Warpath shows up, joined by Risque who hurls imploded objects at Sinister (yes, it’s as silly as it sounds).  But Sinister is only staggered…he prepares to retaliate…when X-Man bursts through the floor, hurling energy at Sinister, and downing the geneticist!

Sinister surrenders.  But only because he cannot match X-Man’s powers.  He pleads with X-Man to join him in his quest to defeat Onslaught.  He claims his motives are pure.  He invites Nate to read his mind.  But that creates a connection that Sinister exploits and renders everyone in the room unconscious.

This is just a cool visual effect


ugh.  this issue…  just…ugh.

I have one thing good to say about to say this issue so I’m just going to get it out of the way:  Caliban.  I loved Caliban in this issue and I actually loved his character arc where he joined X-Force and to see him here finally confront the monster who was responsible for the death of his “family” was fantastic.  To see his reaction at himself to losing control and reverting to his horseman persona was great.  His concern was heartfelt and I genuinely felt sorry for him.

Meltdown Caliban
a touching scene

But the rest?  I never thought I’d say this, but I miss Adam Pollina.  Castrillo’s art just…looks so plain.  uninteresting.  Boring.  Adam Pollina, for all his odd style, is better to look at.  And we get a case of “bait and switch” since Pollina did the cover.  UGH!

And Jeph Loeb just disappointed me with this book…  The biggest problem I have is that THEY BLOW UP THE X-MANSION.  Seriously…this is the ONLY book it’s really mentioned in.  In fact, the X-Mansion is present (even if damaged) in the books immediately following Onslaught.  But on top of the inconsistency, why blow up the X-mansion in a book X-Men fans aren’t even necessarily going to follow?  And then you mean to tell me that NOBODY GOT HURT?  When Sean (Banshee) did it during X-Men Phalanx, he made sure everybody human was clear and then he had to clear a path away from the explosion.  But instead we’re expected to believe that Domino’s luck power keeps EVERYBODY alive?  Sorry…not buying it…

Nate Grey in this issue was rendered powerless by Sinister at the end of X-Man #18.  Seriously.  He even says so in this issue.  Tells Domino he can’t use his powers.  And yet, magically (I type this dripping with sarcasm but that doesn’t always translate well to the written word) he suddenly has strength for a single psi-probe to check out the Askani teachings buried in Sunspot’s mind?  I mean, if he’d just said he was weak or his powers were scrambled, fine.  But he said that “Sinister shut down my powers”.  UGH.

And then there’s Risque.  I never liked Risque.  She was one of the new characters created by Loeb and was a love interest for Warpath.  But my biggest problem is that it feels like Loeb is forcing us to think she’s a bigger deal than she really seems to be because Sinister has NO IDEA WHO SHE IS.  And for Sinister to not know of a mutant is odd.  But the bigger problem is that while Sinister doesn’t know who she is, SHE KNOWS OF SINISTER.  UGH.

I really don’t know what Loeb was thinking.  Maybe he was just irritated with Onslaught.  Maybe he just didn’t care anymore.  Maybe he was sick when he wrote this issue.

But regardless, this was a bad issue.  Just bad.