“World Against One: Part 1 of 4”
Writer: Brandon Thomas
Artist: Rob Liefeld
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Matt Yackey
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Following the events of the first X-Force series, the sword-wielding interdimensional gladiator known as Shatterstar finds himself fighting in the underground arenas on the island of Madripoor. It is there that a reluctant Shatterstar finds himself caught up in a deadly power struggle between a mysterious woman, a deadly clan of Ninjas and an all-powerful artifact known only as the Five Fingers of Annihilation.
For those of us decrepit enough to remember the mid 90s, Rob Liefeld’s original X-Force comic was one of those remarkable series you couldn’t help but love. While the X-Men were busy running around trying to make nice with the rest of humanity, the mysterious Cable and his merry band of mutants were out fighting a war for the survival of their species. It was an intriguing take on Xavier’s dream of peaceful co-existence and the series made a welcome addition to Marvel’s overarching “X” mythos. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and X-Force soon vanished from the radar, developing into a very different comic as the brilliant and highly underrated X-Statix.
Now it seems that X-Force is back, not only as a reloaded series penned by Fabian Nicieza and illustrated once more by veteran artist Rob Liefeld, but in a spin-off series featuring fan-favorite Shatterstar. X-Force: Shatterstar #1 picks up after the conclusion of the first X-Force series, with the sword-wielding warrior from Mojoworld now fighting in gladiatorial style combat on the island of Madripoor. It is after one of his acrobatic bouts however, that Shatterstar is approached by a mysterious woman who informs him that the Earth is about to be annihilated by a deadly “Destroyer” and that only Shatterstar can stop him. But before the former X-Force front-man can piece together the woman’s cryptic message he is attacked by a deadly trio of Red Ninjas. After defeating his opponents, Shatterstar soon learns that one of the Ninjas is Dominicus Pierce, the supposed “Destroyer” of humanity, who quickly informs Shatterstar that their true enemy is something known as the Skornn; an all-powerful entity that feeds on the life-force of mutants. Only a small mystic dagger known as the Five Fingers of Annihilation is capable of defeating the Skornn, and Pierce soon puts the weapon in Shatterstar’s hands. The issue concludes with a familiar villain from the Marvel universe making an appearance and Shatterstar now completely drawn into the deadly power struggle.
In terms of quality, X-Force: Shatterstar #1 is a hell of a read, even for readers who don’t know their ass from their elbow when it comes to the history of either Shatterstar or X-Force. Writer (and incidentally long-time SBC columnist) Brandon Thomas does an incredible job here. His writing is rich and textured and it is clear Thomas has a solid grasp on the character with a keen eye for pacing and detail. Thomas switches brilliantly between Shatterstar’s introspective monologues and the stories many action sequences. In all cases the writing avoids the usual comic book pitfalls and clichés, and Thomas presents a wonderful example of interspersing dialogue in the midst of over the top action. Above all Thomas is able to tell a layered an interesting story, all while balancing a narrative that contains an equal mixture of character and action.
Fortunately, the art is equally admirable. For some reason Liefeld has developed a reputation among fans with claims that he is producing redundant artwork, but his work here remains unique and is a welcome respite from the majority of rehashed styles flooding the market. The action sequences are well composed, energetic, and complement Brandon Thomas’ style wonderfully.
In the end X-Force: Shatterstar #1 is well worth picking up. The writing is incredibly polished and original, the art well-done, and the story intriguing. Fans looking for their fix of Shatterstar rejoice…the “Force” is definitely strong in this one.
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