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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Is Sunspot Reignfire or What?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today, courtesy of my pal, worstblogever from CBR, we look at the complicated relationship between X-Force member Sunspot and X-Force villain Reignfire…

Reignfire showed up in X-Force #26 (by Fabian Nicieza and Matt Broome, with inks by Bud LaRosa and Scott Hanna) as the new leader of the Mutant Liberation Front (formerly led by Stryfe)…

He clashed with X-Force in #27 and 28 (both by Nicieza, with #27 by Broome/LaRosa and #28 by incoming regular X-Force artists Tony Daniel and Kevin Conrad)

In #28, it is revealed that he knows Cable’s real name…

After X-Force member Feral defects and joins Reignfire’s MLF, Cable blasts her. However, things look bleak…

Note that Sunspot and Reignfire were both at the same place and the same time.

So Sunspot was missing for many months.

In X-Force #43, the last issue of Nicieza’s run, with art by Daniel and Conrad, Cannonball gets close to finding his old friend, Sunspot. Instead, they first meet Locus, who explains that her teleportation powers also can take you into the future…

She implies that that is what happened to Bobby and her – they went into the future.

We cut to the MLF, where Dani Moonstar (who was working undercover as a member of the team) has been discovered by the rest of the group and things look bleak for HER…

As you can see, this is tied up with the storyline that led to the Age of Apocalypse.

In the next issue, Jeph Loeb abd Adam Pollina took over the book (Mark Farmer inked Pollina on the first issue), and Loeb quickly got rid of the Reignfire plot by saying that Cable erased that personality from Bobby’s mind…

This confirmed that Bobby WAS Reignfire, though.

Things changed, though, in X-Force #78, written by John Francis Moore and drawn by Pollina and Mark Morales…

Dani Moonstar gets the same treatment…

And later, Sunspot meets Reignfire….

In the next issue, we see how Reignfire orchestrated the whole thing…

We also learn how he came about, as Dr. Joshua (who had, indeed, been experimenting on Sunspot back in the early issues of X-Force) made the connection between the two mutants…

Naturally, Reignfire was defeated by X-Force.

He showed up again but was killed before we learned anything more about him.

Thanks to worstblogever for all the helpful research for this piece!


This reminds me in so many ways why I washed my hands of the mutant books.

Reignfire is such a wonderfully awful
90s character name.

Loeb’s unwillingness to explain what happened in the fight with Reignfire and how Bobby became Reignfire was one of the most annoying aspects of his run on X-Force.

@DanLarkin: With such awfully awful 90s art.

I freaking loved that Tony Daniel art as a kid. I’m sorry. And i hated that Pollina art just as much.

Loeb taking over X-Force was heartbreaking to me at 14. I had no idea who he as but I sure as heck hated what he wrote.

I think I speak for all of us when I say we’re so glad that this issue doesn’t have fans with the level of insane obsession that the Polaris/Magneto issue does.

Actually, I love Adam Pollina’s pencils. Has he done any work since X-Force?

With such awfully awful 90s art.

Adam Pollina was quite good. He recently did a beautiful looking Angel: Year One mini-series for Marvel (well, “recently” in that it came in the last five years).

And Tony Daniel has come a looooooong way from those days. He’s improved a whole lot. One thing that really impresses me about Daniel is that he’s been working in comics for roughly twenty years and yet he is still improving his art from month to month.

The art burns my eyes. It’s like looking into the sun.

I never liked that later Reignfire retcon. It never made much sense to me and it undid what I thought was a pretty cool plot twist that Nicieza had been foreshadowing for a long time. Even though Moore wrote it, though, I blame Loeb because he’s the one that decided to just cut off the story with a couple of throwaway lines instead of dealing with any sort of ramifications for it.

Honestly, though, the biggest thing that always threw me about the Reignfire retcon was why Locus was suddenly black. You would think an editor would have caught that.

She was colored black in #28, as well. I bet that was the issue Pollina looked to for reference.

Wasn’t NIcieza’s original plan for Reignfire was that he was a time travelling Sunspot from the future?

Yeah, as noted in the piece, she took Bobby into the future with her. That’s where he became Reignfire and returned to the past as Reignfire, which is how he and Sunspot could be at the same place at the same time.

So much ridiculous fun, X-Force was the focal point of nineties comics, from bleeding awful to epically brilliant. Love it all.

I must give Nicieza points for acknowledging the cliched aspect of some of this (“New mutant messiah? Been there, done that.”)

Laurence J Sinclair

August 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I keep reading MLF as MILF…

Always liked Pollina’s work

Reignfire is such a wonderfully awful 90s character name.

And yet even that pales next to the splendor of “Forearm.” I suppose “FourArm” was too on the nose… and I don’t know that I could have come up with anything better (QuadraFist? FourFighter? No matter how you try to get at the idea of “four-armed fighter,” the names all sound idiotic.)

I keep thinking he should have a brother named Forewarn who’s from the future… only to have it revealed that it’s REALLY the same guy, who years down the road had two arms removed, meaning Forewarn IS Forearm.

–yeah, I know. That was bad. I’m easily amused. But the hell of it is, I could see that happening in an X-book.

interesting to learn since never liked the whole sunspot as reignfire thing. including that he was suppose to be sunspot from the future only to have it changed to reignfire being an experiment of another crazy mad guy by having sunspot blood turn another person into reignfire. instead. and though the whole Polaris Magneto thing is crazy this reignfire sunspot is kind of a head of it with the xbooks.

My eyes are now bleeding from looking at that art.

You’re right, Greg. It could happen.

I think I speak for reasonable people when I say that how Polaris fans reacted to the recent article, when put into its proper context, made perfect sense.

The full purpose of this column is unclear. It was unclear when the Polaris article was written, and it’s still unclear with this very article I’m commenting on right now. When you read the first paragraph, all it says is that this is a column about past plot points that were specifically overturned. Does it say anywhere something along the lines of “For the purposes of this column, I will not even so much as mention in passing how things have gone instead?” No.

A disclaimer of that variety is important. Without it, then to someone that doesn’t normally read this column and isn’t “in” on its nature, it comes off as excessively biased, as if it’s trying to promote the subject of the article as being the “right” way for a character to be treated.

I can guarantee with absolute certainty that the majority of Polaris fans that had commented on the Polaris article for this column would have responded to it in a relaxed manner, and perhaps even a positive and supportive one, if the column laid out from the start that not mentioning in the slightest how 616 went about things was the usual way to go about things here.

Not to mention it was an especially touchy subject. If it were about, for example, when Lorna was the Horseman of Pestilence, or when she was Malice, I doubt the reaction would have been as strong. If anything, I would have to argue said reaction is proof that the premise of this article needs to be stated more openly and bluntly for newcomers.

Between Reignfire and Exodus, the 90s were booming with crappy overpowered mutants.

Salarta, the concept of this column is quite simply to present interesting and non-superminor instances in which a character/thing/event was taken in an interesting direction only to be completely abandoned/reversed by a later situation. They’re quite interesting and aren’t meant in any way to be judgmental, although sometimes the author can’t help but letting his opinion to the better idea come through, which isn’t a problem.

garik16, thanks for the comment. I learned that was the column’s focus after Cronin left a comment in the Polaris article that gave an explanation, but I still appreciate you taking the time to clarify it for me in case I didn’t know.

My main reason for commenting here this time was because of the guy above that attacked Polaris fans for their response to the Polaris article of this column, when in fact the core problem was how unclear the full scope of the article was. To me, that’s like bashing someone as being “stupid” for getting upset about an electric fence shocking them when the fence had no signage except to say that it’s a fence.

@Michael: “Loeb’s unwillingness to explain what happened…”

…continues with his modern work (see Red Hulk, among others) but somehow does not ever hurt his reputation with the comic-buying public, which I will never understand.

Pollina’s artwork is uneven there, at best. Some of the floating Reignfire stuff has some anatomical issues.

For all those that are perversely drawn to 90’s X-Force, it is worth noting (I think I mentioned it before) that sequential issues of New Mutants and X-Force are being collected in the Marvel Premiere Hardcover format. They skipped X-Tinction Agenda and Executioner’s Song, but there are five volumes announced thus far. I think it’s actually the longest series in the Premiere Hardcover format at this time.

My main reason for commenting here this time was because of the guy above that attacked Polaris fans for their response to the Polaris article of this column, when in fact the core problem was how unclear the full scope of the article was.

It is not unclear. It is quite clear, explicit even.

we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent).

Which is exactly what the article gave.

If you expect more than that, then you’re expecting more than what the clear description of the article provided. Which is fine. It’s always okay to say that you wish you got even more than what you’re given. It is not fair, though, to then say “the article failed to mention” or whatever, when the article did exactly what it claimed it would do.

Do note that above explanation was given and accepted by the reasonable Polaris fans in the comment section of the article in question.

Brian Cronin:

The part of it being about plot points that have been both abandoned and overturned is clear. The part where things that are not about those plot points will absolutely not be addressed is not.

I’m not debating that you are somehow “required” to do something “more” than what you’re already doing. I’m simply stating that I believe the column at least needs some kind of forewarning that it is not going to address anything beyond the plot point being discussed.

It may sound simple and obvious to you, but at least to me, it was not. And I have trouble with the notion that a person has to intuit all your intentions with the column to count as reasonable. I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m attacking you or your column personally. I’m not. I’m speaking based exactly on my personal experience. I don’t see what the problem is with just adding an extra sentence to the column to ensure there’s no such confusion in the future.

I think it’s understood by everyone that all articles on this site, and in fact on any comics site, should be expected to detail the complete history of Lorna Dane from cradle to (spoiler warning) grave, regardless of whether the explicit subject of the post is about Lois Lane or whatever.

Pfft, screw that, every article on the internet should be about bacon. Mmm bacon.

Man, all of this stuff is a hot mess. Somehow I can’t see ever catching up on this era of the X-books.

I’m guessing Nicieza wasn’t aware that there actually was a Marvel sonic-powered character named Screaming Mimi.

Brian Cronin
August 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm

“Yeah, as noted in the piece, she took Bobby into the future with her. That’s where he became Reignfire and returned to the past as Reignfire, which is how he and Sunspot could be at the same place at the same time.”

My bad! I sped-read the piece!

That was very convoluted. It is a good example of bad story telling.

Craig. both X-Tinction Agenda and Executioner’s Song have been recently collected in thier own books.

Craig, what’s particularly annoying about this example is that apparently everyone knew what happened in between X-Force 43 and 44 and yet they never discuss it in front of the reader. And it’s not clear what happened to Dani- she inexplicably disappears and nobody discusses it.

What, exactly, is the issue with the Polaris column? Or this one?

The Polaris column asked “is Magneto her dad or what?” Then Brian laid out different stories that showed that yes he was. Then no he wasn’t. Then, oh, yes, he is again.

Which is the stated purpose of this column.

Here, “Is Sunspot Reignfire or what?”. Yes he was. Then, wait, no he wasn’t.

Is my reading comprehension off here?

As to this column, it just goes to show that Liefeld wasn’t solely responsible for how horrible XForce was.

Also, I am a bit unclear — did the Age of Apocalypse take place in between 43 and 44?

Of course, those pages explain everything. And here I thought the Close Saga was convoluted.

I also read “this new MILF” instead of “MLF” in those panels, not to mention “human PISS” instead of “human PIGS.”


Also, I am a bit unclear — did the Age of Apocalypse take place in between 43 and 44?

All the X-Books “ended” for four months while the Age of Apocalypse took place with brand-new mini-series taking the place of each of the books. In place of X-Force was Gambit and the X-Ternals.

Sorry, I did know about the AoA hiatus, I was asking if it was between those particular 2 issues (because I hadn’t read that last page of 43 completely). I do have nearly all of AoA now (I still need the Alpha, X Universe 1 and 2, and Omega and/or Prime. Because you all care).

So X-Force 43
Gambit and X-Ternals 1-4
X-Force 44
is the order they came out. For the slow people like myself.

I did have a point about that, though — not only was it a new writer on the book, but the plot point was, at that point, 4 months old, and a way cooler storyline took place in between. So I would give Loeb a bit of a pass on sweeping that one under the rug. (T won’t ever speak to me again! :) ) Did Loeb write G and the X-T, also?

You can also do…. Just who killed everybody at Campe Verde anyway? It was the Hellfire Club! No, it was Stryfe!

Thanks for the shout-out Cronin!

I’m glad everyone seems to be in agreement that this story is, at best, convoluted, and at worst, a total clusterf***. I’d seen this question asked a few times on the CBR X-Men Forum, and trying to answer it in the FAQ thread was… well, about as long of a story as Cronin made it here. I’m literally writing that part of the FAQ thread and I’m like, “Good lord… the Reignfire/Sunspot thing has more retcons than half the stories I’ve seen in ‘Abandoned and Forsakened’… Hey, wait a second, that’s not a bad idea!”

I love the hell out of these columns. It’s a great fact-check for fans, and a great lesson in how retcons can often be not worth the hassle. Anytime I get a good one, Cronin, I’ll kick it your way. (And I think there are a few others in the FAQ that are worth cherry-picking)

So what is the confusion about Shatterstar’s origin? I remember the character but whatever got abandoned and forsaken must have been after I became an X-Reader No More.


Oh, you don’t want to go there. Seeing how Loeb tried to “explain” Shatterstar’s origin, I think we should be glad that he didn’t try to explain Reignfire, because this article would have been 3 times as long and make 3 times less sense.

Basically the big confusion is whether Shatterstar is related to Longshot or not (more specifically Longshot and Dazzler’s son).

To be short, it went a bit like this:
Is Shatterstar Longshot’s son?

Jim Lee I believe?: Maybe he is.
Fabian: No, he isn’t.
Some other writer: He could be
Fabian: NO, HE ISN’T.
Loeb: He could be merged with a human who is his physical duplicate and they are both somehow related to Longshot and Spiral but I won’t go into detail. Also he has the memories of his duplicate already before the merge.
Everybody else: WHAT? That wasn’t even the question?
PAD: yeah, I’m not touching that.

Oh, I think I do remember bits and pieces of that, Dizzy.
“He could be merged with a human who is his physical duplicate and they are both somehow related to Longshot and Spiral but I won’t go into detail. Also he has the memories of his duplicate already before the merge” sounds a lot like the rationale used here for Reignfire.

Loeb really is the worst. I wish they’d just put Loeb and Greg Land on a Reignfire and Forearm MAX comic so I wouldn’t be tempted to read it.

Gotta say I loved the Jeph Loeb and Adam Pollina run on X-Force (or at least the first 10 or so issues). It was a really fun read. And great art. At the time I was upset when Loeb left.

John Francis Moore didn’t really do it for me – which was ashame. Because I really enjoyed the majority of his X-Men 2099 run.

I started reading X-FORCE in the beginning…a family member of mine got me a subscription and it ended around issue 12 which was fine because it wasn’t my cup of tea and I wasn’t a fan of Rob Liefeld’s art (and to see that he hasn’t improved in the twenty-whatever years since is shocking to me).

I started picking it up again as of issue 44 (mainly for Polina’s art) and dropped it again with issue 81. I really, REALLY enjoyed those few years of the book, though. This article reminds me that I need to rebuild that run in my collection.

THAT being said, yeah…REIGNFIRE? Yeeeeesh…

Despite a few exceptions (STARMAN, HELLBOY) the 90’s were a TERRIBLE time for comics. Awful. I know that time period is special for some people since so many began reading comics at that time but, really…they were awful.

I always thought Locus was a backdoor way to bring Illyana back as a teleporter w.o the entire ‘soul stolen sorcerer’ thing.

Best ‘Forearm’ line goes to Jamie Madrox “Is it true you have a brother who’s mutant power is to telekinetically flush commodes and he’s known as Fourflusher?”

And this part
“I am the storm on the horizon
I am the sweltering tempest waiting to errupt.”
All I can think of is “I am Darkwing Duck!”

Also loved how “The ability to absorb solar energy and convert it to strength” is now ‘Exo-Thermic” *rolls eyes*

The most shocking thing in all of this is the revelation that there are Polaris fans.


I’m impressed that they correctly prophesied that CDs would be obsolete in the near future.

Travis: As you should know from when I showed you a first page of Gambit and the X-Ternals, Nicieza wrote that sucker, too. Come on – don’t you remember every single post I’ve ever made on this blog? What else do you have to do with your time except memorize every one of them?????

Yeah, I don’t get the interest in Polaris, either.

Pollina has interesting interpretations on how gravity works…

And maybe I missed something in the comments, but the gist of it is that all columns everywhere should list all the things they’re NOT covering? Uhm, yeah…

Maybe we can blame this whole confusing cain of events on a shorting out of the time differential due to the Blinovitch Limitation Effect.

I now regret not reading the comments on the Polaris bit.

IAM FeAR: you left Stryfe and Hazard off your list. Though…I must admit, I do have a certain weird affinity for Stryfe. Must be all his pointy-ness.

Michael M Jones

August 6, 2012 at 10:49 am

Oh the art, it hurts me so bad.
I lived through all these stories once before and it still makes me cry.
At the time, weren’t they teasing that Locus was actually a version of Illyana, with the time/space teleportation shtick?

Greg: You’re so right. I am suitably chagrined that I failed to remember one of your posts. Kicking myself now.

Polaris has fans due mainly to word of mouth. If Marvel actually promoted her and actually tried to use her potential for a change, she’d be a breakout character that really boosted Marvel’s sales wherever she was presented to great levels. I know this because it took me finding out about her purely by random on the Marvel wikia for me to start actually reading any of Marvel’s comics or watch Wolverine and the X-Men, among other things. Even mentioning her to people outside the hardcore comic book fans tends to generate responses of “Who’s Polaris?” followed shortly by surprise that they never even knew who she was until that moment.

I think it’s mostly nostalgia by the people running things that keeps holding her back, as has happened to many other characters. Which ultimately hurts the whole company, since people that could become big fans of Marvel and their IPs end up having no reason to do so as they don’t know such characters even exist.

OK, this just got weird….green hair fetish? Why would one be browsing Polaris wiki entries if you didn’t even read Marvel Comics, ever?

One of the things I find interesting about these posts is that they introduce me to people with completely different tastes than mine.

I think Polaris has fans because of Peter David’s X-Factor. Before that she spent most of her time being possessed by super-villains.

Fraser, you have to read X-Force 61 to truly appreciate how little sense Shatterstar’s origin makes. It really is Beyond the Impossible.
Dizzy D, according to most accounts, X-Force 61 was rewritten by the editors- even Loeb didn’t understand it when they were done.

Pollina’s characters mistly looked like heroin addicts to me, I was so happy when he got replaced by Jim Cheung.

If you want some more Marvel 90’s goodness why not do and A&F on Peters Parkers Parents

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

August 9, 2012 at 3:19 am

“Despite a few exceptions (STARMAN, HELLBOY) the 90?s were a TERRIBLE time for comics. Awful. I know that time period is special for some people since so many began reading comics at that time but, really…they were awful.”

Please. “Comics” does not equal “superhero comics”. You’re seriously trying to argue that the decade that gave us Sandman (well, at least half of it), Preacher, The Invisibles, Transmetropolitan etc etc was a bad time for comics?

Aaah the 90s. :D

Loeb & Pollina’s run on X Force was actually pretty good. It was rather shortlived, but I was seriously bummed at the time that Loeb left the title. After John Francis Moore took over I lost interest in the title, I’ve never read the issues where they showed that Reignfire apparantly wasn’t Sunspot.

Nicieza’s version still makes more sense to me, especially when you consider that Sunspot was already shown a future version of himself in early New Mutants issues where he turned out a villain. I believe just before the 50th issue.

As for Tony Daniel’s art, it never fails to surprise me how much an artist can change (for the better) in time. The same goes for Hitch and Ian Churchil. I am not necessarily a fan of these guys’ art, but they have improved by leaps & bounds from the first work I’ve seen from them. There’s a backup story in a X annual starring the Beast drawn by Churchil and you would not believe it’s drawn by the same guy if you compare it to his current work.

Loeb sucked. His writing on this title was just horrible. Just as bad as the Liefeld era. Loeb just lucked out by having a better artist.

The Nicieze era has some good writing (90s names like Reignfire aside), but other than Greg Capullo, his stint was saddled with some really bad artwork. It’s too bad, because he did some really good work with the characters. Too bad he got taken off mid-way though AOA, since he seemed to be setting up a nice status quo.

Then Loeb happened, and it was just ugh.

The Reignfire nonsense aside, JFM’s run was pretty good. The “Road Trip” issues with Pollina are just great, and the rest of his run was good too9even if it did focus too much on Deviants instead of the mutant stuff).

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