The X-Force by Kyle & Yost Omnibus is the #57 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus of 2017 on Tigereyes’s Secret Ballot – and I’ve included the complete X-Force reading order (and casualty count) below!
Visit the Marvel Masterworks Message Board to view the original posting of results by Tigereyes.
What Is It? X-Force (2008) maintained the proactive mandate of 1991’s X-Force iteration but added a no-holds-barred bloody approach to the X-Men’s take on counterterrorism.
That’s what you get when Cyclops appoints Wolverine to lead a team of hunter-killers, although he’s not too happy about his line-up. X-23 is there – despite Wolverine trying to steer her to non-violence, as is Warpath – a reluctant killer, both Angel and Rahne – not entirely in control of themselves, and later Domino, Vanisher, and Elixir.
X-Force (2008) ran for 28 issues and one annual from April 2008 to September 2010.
Past Ranking: This year is the book’s debut placement in the ballot results.
Creators: Written by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost with art by Clayton Crain along with pencils by Mike Choi, Alina Urusov, Carlo G. Barberi, Gabriele Dell’Otto, and Jason Trent Pearson, inks by Sandu Florea, colors by Sonia Oback, Edgar Delgado (AKA Pato), and Dave Stewart, and letters by Jeff Eckleberry and Cory Petit.
Probable Contents: X-Force (2008) #1-25 & Annual 1, X-Force: Sex & Violence #1-3, Cable (2008) #13-15 (and material from #6-7 & 12), Messiah War one-shot, X-Men: Future History – The Messiah War Sourcebook, X-Force/New Mutants: Necrosha One-Shot, X-Necrosha: The Gathering, and X-Force Special: Ain’t No Dog, as well as some background material. See below for a full reading order.
[Thanks to John S. on FB for catching two of the one-shots I omitted!]Click to expand a discussion of further content for this volume.
X-Force was a part of three events during its run.
The first, Messiah War in #14-16, was a direct crossover with Cable #13-15 with a few pages of introduction in #12. (The original Messiah War collection included Cable #11-12, but they are not relevant to X-Force.) It has appeared in its own oversize hardcover, but is brief enough to be reprinted here stripped of some of its unnecessary supporting material like Cable #11-12 and X-Men: The Times and Life of Lucas Bishop #1-3.
The second, X-Necrosha in #21-25, was not a direct crossover with New Mutants and X-Men Legacy. Those issues, all collected along with X-Force in the X-Necrosha oversize hardcover, are not required to read the X-Force story, which resolves several ongoing plot threads in the title.
The final event, Second Coming #26-28, was a direct crossover across all of the X-Men team books – Uncanny X-Men, X-Men Legacy, and New Mutants, and X-Force. There is no way (and little point) to excerpting just the X-Force material from the crossover – though, it does resolve several remaining plot threads from this title!
Can you read it right now? Yes!
With the exception of Messiah War and Second Coming, X-Force has now been released in four formats! A pair of oversized hardcovers – Volume 1 and Volume 2 – are the quickest way to collect the non-event issues, but Complete Collection Volume 1 and Volume 2 paperbacks add the Necrosha material.
See the Guide to X-Force for every possible iteration. Or, just head to Marvel Unlimited – every issue is available there (although, note you have to type “X Necrosha” to find the Necrosha one-shots in search.
There no other way to say it: X-Force was a shock.
Up to this point it the X-Men’s 40 years of history we had seen plenty of bloody panels – many of them courtesy of Wolverine, Cable, and Deadpool, but also some in books like X-Statix. Yet, even when the X-Men were at their most proactive and forceful, they were rarely a team of killers. That’s something we associated more with their enemies, like the Marauders or Omega Red.
(And of course, there were some major-scale genocidal wipeouts courtesy of Dark Phoenix (billions!) and the mega-sentinel at the beginning of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men (millions!).)
X-Force was the first time that we had an X-Men team devoted to merciless killing. That was only possible because the mutant race found themselves with their backs up against the wall in the wake of House of M and Messiah Complex – with their population decimated and their birthrate flatlined. Cyclops charges Wolverine with proactively eliminating threats to mutant-kind – starting with the fanatical Purifiers.
Wolverine would be game for the exercise on his own, but it’s who Cyclops sends along with him that causes conflict. His first choice is X-23 – a perfect killer, and also a female clone-daughter of Wolverine who he is desperate to save from following his bloody path.
The team is filled out with other reluctant killers – Warpath and Rahne, and unwillingly enlists Angel after he becomes a part of their enemies’ plot. Despite their collective hesitance about each other and about killing, the team quickly gels into a murderous family unit unwilling to leave any member behind.
I’ve read this run several times over, yet paging through it to put together this post I found myself sucked in again and again. Through all this darkness there are some wonderful character moments – particularly for X-23, who had been written almost exclusively by Kyle and Yost to this point, but also for Warpath. And the grim plot is just too clever to behold – for each threat the team crosses off, they only set up a bigger and more-brutal one to follow.
If Fox ever gets an “ends justify the means” X-Force team off the ground in their film franchise, this book is going to hit omnibus so fast your head will spin. There’s just nothing else out there in the X-Men franchise as satisfying brutal and consistently written as this.
Will we see this omnibus in 2018? Probably not. This series has been pretty well saturated in reprints, and it only glancingly includes the cash cows Deadpool and Deadpool. I suspect Marvel would wait until an X-Force film is officially on the horizon.
Would I recommend buying it? Absolutely, yes! This series is infinitely satisfying and merits re-reading – indicators of a worthy omnibus purchase.
Why shouldn’t you buy it? If you don’t like bloody, violent comics, this series isn’t for you. There’s also the generally dark artwork – especially the computer-animated art of Clayton Crain, which can be an acquired taste. It’s worth paging through an issue before you buy.
X-Force Reading Order & Casualty Count
This volume of X-Force has a reputation for being the bloodiest in X-Men history, but how many enemies actually appear to die on-panel? And, of those deaths, how many are especially graphic – headshots, disembowlments, et cetera.
- Issue #1 – 10 casualties, 2 graphic – the most being a claw through the back of the head and out of the mouth
- Issue #2 – 31 casualties, none graphic
- Issue #3 – 0 casualties! Are they even trying?
- Issue #4 – Again, 0 casualties, but a super-graphic scene of a certain character losing part of his body
- Issue #5 – 50+ casualties, though X-Force were only responsible for 3 – a trio of graphic beheadings
- Issue #6 – 8 on-panel, but we later return to see scores more dead
- X-Force: Ain’t No Dog – The first story has a major body count – 4 already dead when we arrive, 30+ in a Wolverine rampage, and a final 1 in specific. Only 2 (maybe 3?) die in the Warpath backup, which fits between #2-3 but is meant to be read in retrospect.
- X-Force Annual 1: Possibly just 3? Wolverine says he’s trying for a no-kills mission up to a certain point, so a lot of the bodies we see drop are likely alive.
- Issue #7 – 0 casualties! Too much talking!
- Issue #8 – Well, I guess Wolverine doesn’t count, since he doesn’t stay dead.
- Issue #9 – 10 or more Marauder clones in a fantastic action sequence with a number of very graphic demises
- Issue #10 – 2 leftover Marauders, but X-23 really goes through the wringer in this one
- Issue #11 – This flashback issue doesn’t feature much X-Force, so it features just 1 death and 1 seeming death with a recovery
- Sex & Violence #1 – At least 12 on-panel. This series was released after the end of X-Force, but occurs during #12. Since #12 opened a trade paperback collection, S&V fits better before it as an act break – but, you could also slot it at the end of your read.
- Sex & Violence #2 – This one is packed with deaths at the corners of panels. I can spot 23, but could be more.
- Sex & Violence #3 – Another packed-with-death fight, but we see at least 8 definitively bit it on panel
- Issue #12 – The one is a doozy – 1,100 humans, 2 mutants, and then another 75 humans and counting as the issue closes – include a lot of partially vaporized skeletal remains.
- Issue #13 – A panel showing the end of issue #12 from another perspective includes at least 30 identifiable casualties, and more implied. Then, X-Force dispatches another 4, and we see 1 very upsetting execution style murder of a character we love.
- (the excerpt from Cable #12 fits here)
- X-Force/Cable: Messiah War One-Shot – 7 deaths, plus a pretty dire injury for one of our heroes
- Cable #13 – An imaginary future shooting, but that doesn’t count, does it?
- Issue #14 – 8 enemies die on panel, although the implied body count is at least twice that
- Cable #14 – No deaths in this one, either. I guess because there are children present?
- Issue #15 – 10 or so enemies are already dead on the floor when we arrive on the scene, but most of the graphic violence here is in the fight between X-Force and Stryfe (and, also, on Deadpool’s face)
- Cable #15 – Deadpool is disemboweled rather impressively, but that hasn’t killed him in the past.
- Issue #16 – 4 deaths, though one is a super-sad mercy killing
- Issue #17 – At least 12 deaths, including some of the most graphic dismemberments yet. Wolverine turns one guy into deli cuts. And one prior death is reversed!
- Issue #18 – Just 2 in this issue. Plus, now we’re getting into bringing dead characters back from the dead – am I going to count them as casualties when they get killed again? Oh, plus someone loses an arm.
- Issue #19 – 1 death in this issue, and it’s not even a person!
- Issue #20 – At least 19 killed both on-panel and off, all but one by X-23 – including a few ooky slices through body parts.1468
- X Necrosha: The Gathering #1 – 13 dead on panel, plus a burning building full of people – but, the most unsettling imagery is some animal dismemberment. All of these stories take place in the past, but this issue was released between X-Force #21-22. While you could read it before #21 and the Necrosha one-shot, since it’s effectively a prologue, but the X-Necrosha OHC included it as back-matter. Reading order is up to you!
- X Necrosha #1 – No one dies, but lots of dead bodies are reanimated!
- Issue #21 – 3 sort of semi-human thingers
- Issue #22 – 16, all undead
- Issue #23 – Honestly, it’s sort of hard to tell in this one. A few?
- Issue #24 – 100s of techno-organic zombies
- Issue #25 – 4, plus Selene, if you can ever count her as dead.
Total casualty count: 1504 confirmed dead on panel, probably another 50 piled up dead on panel that we didn’t see die, and hundreds more undead zombie-type things.
The 2017 Most-Wanted Marvel Omnibus Secret Ballot Results