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CSBG Archive

Gimmick or Good? – X-Force #1

In this column, Mark Ginocchio (from Chasing Amazing) takes a look at the gimmick covers from the 1990s and gives his take on whether the comic in question was just a gimmick or whether the comic within the gimmick cover was good. Hence “Gimmick or Good?” Here is an archive of all the comics featured so far. We continue with 1991’s polybagged with collectible trading cards X-Force #1…

XForce1_cover

X-Force #1 (published August 1991) – plot and art by Rob Liefeld, script by Fabian Nicieza

Given the “X-family” top 50 greatest stories list recently compiled by the readers of Comics Should Be Good, I thought the timing was right for Gimmick or Good? to tackle one of the biggest phenoms of the “gimmick era” of comic books: X-Force #1. The X-Force series was born from the first X-family spinoff title, New Mutants, which ran for 100 issues during the 1980s and early 90s. When a babyfaced Rob Liefeld took over on pencils for New Mutants #86, he helped transform the struggling series into a big-time seller, playing a critical role in the creation of popular new characters such as Cable and Deadpool. These characters, and others, were the backbone for X-Force #1, which sold more than four million copies, due in large part to the fact that issue was polybagged with five separate “collectible” trading cards. To this day, it remains the second highest-selling comic book in history behind Chris Claremont/Jim Lee’s X-Men #1.

But what about inside the comic?

While Fabian Nicieza gets scripting credit for the issue, make no mistake that this comic is unquestionably marketed as a Liefeld creation, who is listed on the masthead as providing “everything but …” Given Liefeld’s meteoric rise in the industry during the early 90s, this was probably a smart move by Marvel and helped move more copies of the book (along with all those trading cards). But from my perspective, history has not been kind to Liefeld’s legacy and by proxy, his work on X-Force #1.

XForce1_01

Let’s start with the art, since there’s really not a hekcuva lot of story to talk about outside of some generic good guys vs. “terrorists” tale that lacks any characterization, fun or passion. I’m sure the bulk of CSBG’s readership is well-versed in Liefeld’s artistic flaws: unrealistic human anatomy, reliance of absurdly oversized guns and weaponry, and just overall inconsistencies from page to page. Despite the fact that you already know these things, let me point out a couple of examples and you can tell me in the comments section if I’m being too nit-picky or if my criticism is spot on.

Here’s Cable, the undisputed star of this comic book series. He has a small head, and a shoulder-to-shoulder span that I’m guesstimating to be about six-feet. Which also means the bazooka-laser gun he’s brandishing is about sox-feet long. His legs look like they’re as big as stone columns that are found in the Roman Forum.

XForce1_02

Is this the most anatomically offensive Liefeld drawing I’ve ever seen? No. But it’s pretty awful, and what exacerbates it is how inconsistent his characters are. Here’s Cable a few pages later. Is this the same guy?

XForce1_03

Here’s Shatterstar cutting off a hand that’s flying in a fashion that defies physics (I know, I know, using laws of science in an argument about comic books is generally straw man stuff, but seriously look at how that hand is flying!):

XForce1_04

By the end of the comic, we have S.H.I.E.L.D. Commander Bridge, who looks like he visited the head shrinker that did a number on Beetlejuice at the doctor’s office:

XForce1_05

I don’t even know what to make of this:

XForce1_06

Don’t you love just looking back at this stuff and being reminded of all the greatness that is 1990s comic books? Don’t act like you were above it. This thing sold four million copies based primarily on the fact that a LOT of people loved this kind of art at one point.

That’s not to say that Nicieza is off the hook here. Some of the dialogue is just brutal. There’s one sequence in particular involving Feral that’s just hackneyed good guy/bad guy fisticuffs banter complete with some terrible puns related to Feral’s cat-like qualities. Did we really need a “Purrrfectly” line thrown into a superhero comic book that was written in 1991? I thought that joke went away when Julie Newmar’s run on Batman ended in the 60s.

XForce1_07

Of course Nicieza doesn’t have a lot to work with in terms of plot, and he would go on to script much more riveting stories involving the X-Men in a few years. X-Force #1 just feels like it meanders from one fight scene to the next, each one sporting a different smoking laser gun, or a samurai sword. The only time my attention felt remotely grabbed was when Black Tom Cassidy, a classic X-Men villain, showed up as the hired muscle for the generic evil corporate Arianna Jankos character.

XForce1_08

If there’s some artistry to this comic that I’m just being ignorant/ambivalent too, please tell me about it. From my vantage point, the story is boring, the art is cringe-worthy and I’m not invested in any of the characters one iota. How much did you get if you resold the entire set of trading cards?

Verdict: Gimmick

60 Comments

Is it sad that I got a bit giddy seeing that you included the New Teen Titans v1 #39 double-page “homage” in your review?

Actually, I was curious about that myself, whether you were including that on purpose or not, Mark.

Here’s the original…

ntt39

GIMMICK GIMMICK GIMMICK!!!

I loved X-Force growing up and it still has a special place in my heart. But the series was pretty much nothing but an excuse to have cool Leifeld art and to show lots of blood and guns.

The other big gimmick aspect of it was the polybags and collectibility of it. I have something like 10 or 15 copies of this issue, either that I bought or that were handed down to me. That’s how common this book is, that people are just giving them away. At every convention I go to I also see at least one dealer with a box full of copies of this issue, sometimes 5 of them bagged together and sold for a couple bucks. But I know that people bought these and kept the polybags intact because they felt that these books would be worth something today. And you know most of them weren’t read for this reason – When I see this issue at cons most of them are still bagged, meaning they were probably spare copies some collector bought thinking he could put his kids through college some day. Action Comics #1 is valuable because there are less than 30 known copies. A book that had 4 million issues sold is NOT rare and therefore NOT collectible. Crap like this is why the collector bubble burst a few years later.

To be fair, Thumbelina is supposed to have weird anatomy.

As Jay Prescott Sherman would no doubt say if he were a comic book expert:

IT STINKS!

Still better than fucking Knightfall.

At least he actually tried to draw a background on the splash page…

Hey Brian,

What about a series of the worst swipes in comicdom? i never knew about the swipe above and it is soooooo obvious once you see it.

Blech to this issue by the way.

X-Force #1 is a EPIC and a starting point for a era (along X-Factor #71, X-Men #1 and Uncanny X-Men #281).
God bless Marvel Now for Cable & X-Force, X-Men and the simian Beast!

Rob Liefeld artwork (and I use that term loosely) is ugly to begin with, but Rob Liefeld artwork printed on the flexographic press just gives me a headache.

There used to be a lot of sites dedicated to swipes online, but I can’t find them anymore. One was called Swipe of the Week, and I swear like 60% of them were by Liefeld (and 20% were by Roger Cruz). There are also some articles online dedicated to Liefeld swipes but I don’t think any of them are as comprehensive as Swipe of the Week was. I think Liefeld was in very over his head when it came to basic things like page composition, how to construct scenes, panel to panel flow, everything. I feel kind of bad for the guy in a way because I think he basically HAD to swipe. I don’t think he knew how to do even the most basic stuff on his own. Once I found out about his swiping, I suddenly understood why his panel to panel flow was so awful. He was swiping each panel from different books and by different artists, and the panels were originally never meant to follow each other. You can really see this in his fight scenes. Each panel in a fight scene was totally incongruent with the panel preceding it, and the action had no logical flow. I think he was just taking different fight scene panels from different books and just putting them together in a nonsensical order.

I’ve always been a massive Liefeld basher, and it’s easy to critique his strange sense of anatomy.

But is Uderzo’s anatomy accurate? Is Bachalo’s? Kieth’s?

It’s a medium that allows visual representations of a bunch of weird stuff that doesn’t have to follow the rules of the real world. Of course, if Liefeld and co were trying to sell this as a realistic comic, then that’s a different story. But I’m not sure that’s what it’s supposed to be.

How anyone can find Liefeld’s style and the world that his creations represent appealing is another question. And that’s beyond me. One can understand escapism and an appreciation for art that isn’t realistic. Some of my favourite stuff in all mediums is surrealistic.

But what is so appealing about pouches? Please, somebody explain it to me. What the hell is so appealing about pouches? Or shoulder pads? And why would I want to escape to a world with no feet?

Black Tom and Arianna are a good example of the inconsistency you were talking about. Standing next to each other, he’s about two feet taller than her, but in the next panel they’re about the same height.

I’ve always been a massive Liefeld basher, and it’s easy to critique his strange sense of anatomy.

But is Uderzo’s anatomy accurate? Is Bachalo’s? Kieth’s?

I think Liefeld’s problem was that there was like 85% inaccuracy and 15% accuracy in his anatomy proportions. It’s one thing to take a generally accurate foundation and then deviate from that with some creative license and exaggeration. For example Jack Kirby gave people flat fingertips and square knees and weird teeth but they were still recognizably human. Another problem for Liefeld was that his anatomical inaccuracy wasn’t even INTERNALLY consistent within the comic, or even within a page. For example, early in Humberto Ramos career he was very cartoony but within the world of one of his issues there was a consistency from the first page to the last page. Relative character heights stayed consistent, exaggerated body parts remained exaggerated in the same way from beginning to end, etc. With Liefeld, the same character’s body proportions changed panel to panel, as did relative character heights. So for people like Bachalo, Kirby, Keith, and others, their oddities come off as specific style choices that require some level of skill to do because of how conistently they could render these choices, while for Liefled they just came off as careless sloppiness or lack of skill.

That art is worst then I remember. I admit, I picked up 2 copies of this trash. One I read, one I keep in the polybag. I thought , “I’ll sell this for 50 times the cover price in 2 weeks”. That didn’t happen. After reading the book, I saw why I wouldn’t make that kind of money off that book. In 1996, my son turned 5. I gave him both copies of X-Force to do what he wanted to do with them. To him they were just coloring books that were already colored.

I think we comic book fans were collectively on crack back then. That was a ugly drawn, badly written book. And most of us fell for it. Look at that panel with Black Tom. Is he 10 feet tall? Or is the woman standing next to him a little person?

This may feel like a shot at the new52, (can we call it something else? Something that has been around for two years is not new) but after looking at those X-Force pages and seeing that his art has not improved at all, why did they think it was a good idea to put Liefeld on so many books? Is Bob Harris stuck in the early 90’s?

Doom Force #1 exemplifies the problem with Leifeld art. It was al about the action lines around everyones crotch, the extream stretch lines around all the females over large boobs, and a mock Art Adams anatomy. The rest was crap. Some 20+years later the only reason his art can be worth talking about, is the absurdity of it’s popularity. @bdaily82….. Kieth & Bachalo at least invented their own style, rather than copping others. Throw in Leifeld’s big mouth…… you have a picter of a larger than lifem lucky-ass loser,,,,

I can accept Liefeld’s wonky anatomy as part of his style, but what what bugs me is his lack continuity. You want to draw a crazy, improbable gun? Fine, but is it too much to ask that it stays consistent from panel to panel? As the creator of Cable you’d think he could keep track of what arm is metal and which eye is glowy.

Maybe I was just a little too old by the time Liefeldian art hit comics (I was 15 in 1991) , but I always thought it was absolutely awful. Or maybe it was because I was a girl who liked pretty art that I just couldn’t deal with this aggressively ugly crap. I also remember not understanding why people thought these #1s would be worth anything. I was young, but I knew only rare comics had value, and a comic that sold millions would not be rare. It was just common sense.

Fabian Nicieza was personaly picked by Rob Liefeld to do the dialogue after Louis Simonson left. That being said, I think even Nicieza got annoyed by Rob. At the beginning of X-Force #4, Warpath asks “Does anyone have any idea how tired I am of this gratuitous fighting?” Also, there is this conversation between Warpath and Domino as X-Force and Spider-Man battle Juggernaut:

Domino: What strategy are you guys employing?
Warpath: Uhm… Strategy?
Domino: Forget I asked.

I admire Nicieza for staying on the book after Liefeld left and trying to add characterization to the team.

Is this even a question? For one thing, the big boxy and/or tubey guns seem to be a crutch used to avoid drawing the complexities of actual military weapons.

Gimmick all the way. There was no need to cancel New Mutants, other than to re-brand it as X-Force to cash in on both the popularity of X-Men and the collector’s craze for #1 issues. The whole shtick of bagging the issues with 5 different cards was an even more shameless ploy to convince people to buy 5 copies. The worst part is that a lot of us (my 13 year old self included) were blinded by the glitz and hype surrounding Marvel’s X-titles and Rob Liefeld. Looking back, I cannot believe I was so stupid to think that art was anywhere approaching “good”. Thank goodness I later discovered the works of George Perez, Joe Kubert, and John Romita.

I never realized that Liefeld had so blatantly swiped George Perez for that two page spread in X-Force #1. But I’m not surprised to learn about it, though. Liefeld swiped Perez a lot more recently on the New 52 run of Deathstroke, correct?

See, my internal 13 year old tells me that the Shatterstar de-handing (that’s totally a word, right?) is just fuggin’ kewl. It’s like House of Wax, that 3D movie, with the guy with the yoyos who, for no discernible reason, is flinging them at the audience because 3D!

That said, it’s not like Liefeld’s any good, or has improved. Unfortunately, he became so big so early that he had no reason to improve.

But give him credit for allowing the recent reboots of Glory and Prophet. Those books are fucking awesome.

Oddly enough, of all the early 90s gimmicky polybag books, this one is one that I DON’T see very often. It’s weird.

It’s not like the book got much better after Liefeld left. I read several of the random issues I have a year or so ago when reading a bunch of Deadpool related comics, and Nicieza’s story and dialogue are pretty awful there, too.

As for swipes, bleeding cool does some occasionally, but Rich is often mocked for how they aren’t really swipes.

My younger self liked Liefeld’s art, but even by the time of X-FOrce #1 I realized it wasn’t very good. I still bought this issue, although only one copy. My mom then, in what she thought was a nice gesture, bought me all five copies with the trading cards. It was a nice gesture, even if I realized it was a waste of money.

I did voluntarily buy all the covers for X-Men #1, though. I thought they looked cool. Just 2 days ago I was at a used bookstore that has like 40 longboxes of comics in the basement that are 3 for a dollar, and there were boxes of X-Men #1 in there. A handful of X-Force #1, but more X-Men. I was able to buy most of the original X-Factor series to replace the issues I sold off over 10 years ago. The recent X-titles list made me want to go back and revisit them.

[…] Gimmick or Good feature at Comics Should Be Good returns with one of the biggest selling comics of all-time, X-Force #1, which features the artistic stylings of the controversial Rob Liefeld, with script by long-time […]

When this comic came out, it represented a milestone for me. Since every copy came bagged, you had to open it to read it. Therefore, since, to read it was to destroy its value, it was the first comic that was marketed to collectors, instead of readers. At the time I thought that was a slippery slope.

It will be a hard truth. Hope it won’t sound too harsh.
Even when you are right, and there is nothing to argue with, I still don’t like your reviews.
It seems that you have too much of a pleasure from pointing out what was wrong there.
Maybe it’s not your fault. Maybe I am too emotionally invested in it.
But truth be told, the column is too predictable, and has nothing interesting to offer.
I said my piece, now go on and shout at me if you want.
I’ll understand.

I was mostly into DC at the time, and only got about 3-4 Marvels a month, but I did get X-Force 1, in part to give it a try and in part as investment (I think this was the time one of my pull lists had ‘All Marvel 1s’). That part won, and did not open it. Years later I realized it would not have much value and thought about opening it, but by then had no desire to read it.

I am sure it is now in my ‘to be sold’ pile, but I do not know if it is still in bag or not.

For the same reasons I had Youngblood 1 in my reserve bag for about 2 months. I kept putting off purchasing it until I realized it was not a Marvel, and put it back on the shelf.

I really liked Liefeld on Hawk and Dove 1, and really hated him on Amazing Spider-Man Annual 23 (Atlantis Attacks).

On the off chance that anyone here hasn’t seen these, welcome to an hour of both laughter and pain. And then more pain…

http://www.progressiveboink.com/2012/4/21/2960508/worst-rob-liefeld-drawings

http://www.progressiveboink.com/2012/6/14/3084348/the-second-40-worst-rob-liefeld-drawings

@Chakal can you explain what’s RIGHT with X-Force #1 (as well as several of the other 90’s comics Mark reviews), or at least why it doesn’t deserve such scrutiny?

After Liefeld left it came together into a really nice book. This is sort of the ugly middle chapter of the New Mutants/X-Force saga.

…to Liefeld’s credit, he was one of the last Marvel creators to create a bunch of new characters for the company. Granted, they were mostly rip-offs of existing superhero archetypes, but he still gave Marvel the IPs for Cable, Domino, Deadpool, Shatterstar, Stryfe, the Externals, the Six-Pack, Feral, Thornn, Copycat, Forearm, Kane, Gideon, and probably others. These days it seems like very few creators working for Marvel create new characters who aren’t completely derivative of others (for example, Daken and Skarr), but Liefeld gave us Cable and Deadpool, both of whom could stand on their own outside of the X-Books, and became quite compelling once they were written and drawn by better creators.

he still gave Marvel the IPs for Cable, Domino, Deadpool, Shatterstar, Stryfe, the Externals, the Six-Pack, Feral, Thornn, Copycat, Forearm, Kane, Gideon, and probably others.

And I’ve actually heard of the first three of those! Only vaguely in Domino’s case, but still.

I know little about many of the characters here, but in the panel shown with the woman and Black Tom (whom I have a little knowledge of)… why is he about three heads taller than her? She looks about adverge height when she was walking towards the table compared to the seated men, and nearly the same height as he in the next. I ask in all seriousness; does she have a mutant size changing ability? Or is it another Liefeild art example of his odd proportions and inconsistency?

Even with the “Gimmick or Good?” gimmick, what is the point of reviewing this comic? As if Rob and X-Force have not been ripped apart over and over on the internet forever. This review and the comments do not point out anything about X-Force #1 that has not already been critiqued or laughed at. One angle that is not looked at enough is why it hoooked many kids genuinely, without any knowledge of speculation or hype. Even now I feel nostalgia panges looking at the art.

Liefeld bashing is a little too easy

The guy was a 19 year old pizza boy when DC put him on the Hawk & Dove mini. He has no real training, but he wasn’t bad. He looked like a passable Art Adams type with Karl Kessel inking him.

His connection with X-books turned him into a rock start seemingly a week later. Marvel was selling a new title on the strength of his name alone within four years. The guy didn’t have anyone teaching him how to draw feet, or do layouts or anything. He had less preparation for being a comic Rock Star than any of the Image guys.

That isn’t to say the X-Force #1 is a good comic. It isn’t.

Say what you like about Liefeld, but Lee, McFarlane, and any of the Liefeld wannabes that everyone forgets about were all even worse. He may have been the least technically trained illustrator in comics in the 90s (aside from the assholes that drew the Ninja High School Swimsuit Specials), but there was and still is a ton of stuff that’s even uglier and that’s ultimately more important.

Those are some muscular legs on Robin! ;-)

@ 90s kid

Cover gimmicks were huge in the 90s and are still around today, that is why this column exists.

X-Force 1 was picked, in part, because this is the 50th anniversary month for the Avengers and X-Men, and the Comics Should Be Good blogs are celebrating the occasion.

@ Dean Hacker

That is all true, but there are books, classes and other artists that he could have, should have, and still can learn from. It is evident that he had something, as 90s kid wrote he hooked a lot of kids, and it is a bit of a shame that he never developed it better.

@Neil Kapit:

The reason no one makes new characters anymore is because they know they won’t own them, so why bother? One of the reasons for Leifeld leaving was he was creating so many characters but had no control over them, so he wanted to be able to own them. Once Image formed and the creator-owned age really took off, Marvel had a series of annuals where the creators would make a villain for their heroes to fight. The problem was no creators wanted to give Marvel their good creations (Knowing they could make millions off it at Marvel) so they just created absolute garbage villains, most of which were never heard from again.

And to piggyback on what some others said about Nicieza, I also agree that he did his best work on the series once Leifeld left. Rob had this tendency to create cool characters but neglected to give them backstories or personalities – If Wolverine can do it why can’t he? But Wolverine’s mysterious background was done tastefully, and with Cable and Deadpool and Domino and Shatterstar and Feral there were bits and pieces given, but in the end they were just people who liked to fight and kill shit. I really don’t remember much of the stories from the Leifeld period, I only remember them once he left and Greg Capullo took over. And that’s when the series threw some characterization in there and it wasn’t just an excuse to have fights for 22 pages.

Four million copies sold and only a fraction of them ever actually read. Such a sad thought, comics bought and sealed away in baggies, never to be opened!

I am grateful for a Comics Review article * I read around 1985 that explained why some comics are valuable (my first lesson in supply and demand at the tender age of 11). because of that article I avoided wasting money by stocking up on polybag issues and multiple number X-men number ones, etc. The 90s did a lot of damage to the industry in all their gimmick-driven, foil-covered, giant-shoulders-and-micro-headed glory.

* it was called “paper drives, little brothers, and crusading mothers” or something like that. Great read if you can find it.

I still rather liked Liefeld’s run on New Mutants/X-Force. It’s not great, but I’ve personally read much worse. I think most of it gets by for me on the sheer enthusiasm Liefeld’s work exudes. he may not be the best artist, but I genuinely get the feeling from his work that he loves what he does. The series gets much better when Nicieza takes over, but I still reread these issues because their fun, and very 90s, stories (which also adds a kind of kitchiness enjoyment factor to them for me).

Plus, someone just did a series of blog articles on the actual comics story telling techniques Liefeld’s uses in these X-Force issues, and she actually makes some very good points about how the comics have this pop-art vibe and ultimately more experimental feel with the visual storytelling than anything any of the original Image founders did in their Marvel work. Which is ironic because about halfway through his first batch of Youngblood issues, Liefeld’s style didn’t evolve at all; he’s still basically using the same style he developed around 1994, which was a bit more simplified and scratchier version of what we see here. Plus he would drop the pop-art kind of visual storytelling stuff and what little variety he had in facial expressions would disappear with said style.

@EHH: Agreed. Nicieza did some great work. X-Force #1 was a rare failure for him.
@Saul: Yep. Liefeld started off rough but with promise. The problem became that people latched on to the energy and he found himself massively popular before he had a chance to actually develop his skills. Then the problems of anatomy and the like became his signatures, and then he lost the energy. Now his work has all the ugliness and laziness it always had without the energy that made it promising.

I have most of the New Mutants books, and Liefeld’s X-Force issues, but still went and bought the Premiere hardcovers…as rough as his art is, and as lazy as his stories feel now, when I bought them at the age of 12 they were amazing, and that old feeling hits every time I reread the early stuff of his…

@T “There used to be a lot of sites dedicated to swipes online, but I can’t find them anymore.”

I’d heard that some of the old classic sites were shut down due to complaints by Marvel or DC or similar.

The blogs and sites that I know of that covered material in the last five or six years were generally only sporadically covering a single artist (like Greg Land), and probably quit because after a while it is just beating a dead horse.

I really miss Swipe of the Week/Month’s content, but I don’t see a comic book site trying to restart that idea any time soon.

but there was and still is a ton of stuff that’s even uglier and that’s ultimately more important.

When critiquing anything, there’s ALWAYS something worse. If we start setting the bar THAT low than we’d be unable to critique ANYTHING.

@Brian, I actually grabbed that splash page because it lists Liefeld in the masthead as doing “everything but” per the review. I actually never read Teen Titans, so the infamous “homage” is news to me!!!

I always believed that Liefeld’s biggest haters are 30-50 year old adults who are angry not at him, but at their younger selves for liking Liefeld’s work back in the early 90s.

That said, criticism of his art for things like anatomy is pure hypocrisy. Why are greats like Jack Kirby, Chris Bachalo, and Bill Sienkiewicz allowed to play around with it and Liefeld isn’t?

Could it be because all art is subjective and you have to apply double standards to criticize it at all? No couldn’t be, right guys?

Looking at Leifeld art is like watching a snuff film. This stuff ruined comics forever. This sold four million copies and ten years later the best selling books can barely break 100K.

Red Comet…there’s a world of difference between being stylized and not being able to draw. When you draw a character and you can see his chest and back at the same time, that’s just a poor artist. When you draw Captain America and his shield changes from the size of a record album to the size of a car door from panel to panel you have no clue what you are doing.

That said, criticism of his art for things like anatomy is pure hypocrisy. Why are greats like Jack Kirby, Chris Bachalo, and Bill Sienkiewicz allowed to play around with it and Liefeld isn’t?

I explained the differences in my early comment:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2013/09/13/gimmick-or-good-x-force-1/#comment-4274677

Yes, Liefeld is an easy target, but that’s only because he’s such a richly deserving one. Sure, there’s a lot of bad artists, bad writers and bad comics out there, but no-one did more to elevate mediocrity and sensationalism in comics than Liefeld did, whether it was his own art, or the plethora of forgettable characters he created, or the league of weak artists he employed to copy him (Marat. Mychaels, anyone?).

He wasn’t solely responsible for the near-collapse of the comics industry, but he was a MAJOR contributor.

The guy and his inexplicable popularity are a blight on comics and I’m not buying the Liefeld-as-pop-art-visionary line (linked above) for a second. The ’40 worst…’ blog linked above are right on the money. Liefeld was a dumb kid who struck it very lucky but still conceives and draws comics as though he’s 14 years old, despite now being in his mid-40’s.

There is certainly a degree of self-hatred for ever buying into it (for me, I was 16, relatively new to comics and thinking “Liefeld’s supposed to be good, right?” and buying his stuff while waiting for it to actually BE good) but the hatred for him is genuine. He may.not be THE worst comic artist ever, but he’s the worst multi-million seller. What’s so aggravating about it is that he has neither the talent nor skill to justify his sales and all the money he made from them, while screwing up comics for everyone.

The fact he keeps getting work is a testament to the importance of sales over quality. Question is, who still Buys Liefeld’s comics now that everyone sees through him?

Oh, and X-Force #1? Typically rubbish.

I know it’s fashionable to dump on Liefeld, but here’s something else to consider: were the book’s editors asleep? If I drop a drink on someone at work, it’s my manager’s job to tell me what I did wrong. (Okay, I should know better than to drop a drink on someone, but still.)

It’s obvious Liefeld is lacking basic perspective drawing (see the last page of Black Tom and the lady). Yet the editors let this through! Why didn’t someone stand up and say “This isn’t how a professional comic book artist should draw people standing next to each other”.
I can understand stylist choices, but like other people are saying- the style has to be consistent. One panel can’t show a mountain of a man and the next panel (on the same page!) shows the same character with a tiny head.

Or were the editorial staff all drunk on the power of selling millions of comics each month that quality didn’t matter?

Excellent point. No-one called him on his bull at any point. Why not? From all accounts, he’s loud-mouthed, arrogant and difficult to work with, so maybe no-one dared? Especially later on, once he had more clout to throw around. But early in his career, why did none of his editors say “this just isn’t good enough”?

Or perhaps they did and the published work is the improved version.*shudder*

Seeing as his very first paying gig caused trouble (the infamous flipped panel issue of Hawk and Dove that Kesel had to lightbox and almost completely redraw) it really is a surprise that he got work so easily at Marvel.

I guess New Mutants had been tanking under Weezie and Brett Blevins and they just wanted to see what Liefeld could do. If his work didn’t sell, they’d have cancelled the book anyway but at least they had a chance to test him out somewhere that wouldn’t damage the line any further.

I love the hot colour palette and there are attempts at dynamism like that severed hand that could be something special if the execution wasn’t so childlike. A decent artist, inker and colourist could probably release the energy you can feel the poor craft holding back. You’re right though, this is a bad comic, maybe the ground zero of many more horrible comics. I think I got this for free on the Marvel app and the plot is offensively violent in the way that children and right wingers love. Which is why it sold 4 million copies.

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of Liefeld’s exaggerated sense of depth and mass. X Force was a pinnacle series for Marvel.

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