With issue 44, we’re in the Jeph Loeb and Adam Pollina era of the team. As I will continue to say as I do these reviews, I’m absolutely floored at the level of artistic talent that transitioned through this book. Any editor would dream of a bullpen of artists coming through.
Adam Pollina’s superstar status isn’t quite earned in this debut issue. The characters are all a bit on the cartoony side, and there are times when the anatomy shifts a tad. But the seeds are here. The top-notch facial expressions. The unique takes on costumes and civilian clothes. He also uses geometric shapes to fill in panel backgrounds, which Liefeld did for a short while back in issue #1. It’s a neat effect, one I’d like to see used more today. Pollina doesn’t shy away from making his male characters just as attractive as his women. (I just read on Wikipedia that Pollina worked for an adult comics publisher before Marvel, so I guess I see how that happened!)
I also love his big, dopey Caliban. This is my favorite take on the character for sure.
Jeph Loeb’s story picks up with the team hanging out at the X-Mansion as Cable and Cyclops debate what to do with the team. I like the respect the team holds for Cyclops. These days, Scott Summers is so close to a villain that I find myself remembering his old status fondly. Loeb has the characters all doubting themselves quite a bit. They are definitely in the “student” aspect of their personalities, totally going along with Cable and Domino’s leadership.
It is pretty fun, considering how established the X-Force roster is after 44 issues. There has been a fair amount of turnover, but the core of the New Mutants team is still here. Cable, Domino, Warpath, Sunspot, Rictor, Shatterstar, and Boom Boom are all still hanging around. Sabretooth is in his mindless animal state, kept safely locked away in the Danger Room. So basically, the issue is all talking, with the team debating what Cable is going to do with them. In the end, it is pretty much status quo with one big change; Cannonball is off to join the X-Men. The cover gives it away a little bit, but that’s OK. I remember thinking it was a big deal when Sam Guthrie made the grade to full X-status. Now that he’s an Avenger, it is crazy seeing how far the character has come.
I’m pretty intrigued to see what was going on in the next issues, though! The issue ends with Siryn (mouth clamped, of course) being taken into a mental institution. I don’t remember what happens there at all!
This is a pretty GOOD comic, covering an interesting era in X-history. The best part? Pollina’s fantastic Sunspot!