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Comic Book / X-Force (2008)

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In early 2006, former X-Men: Evolution writing team Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost took over the teen team New X-Men, bringing with them their creation Laura "X-23" Kinney. They took that team through the aftermath of the House of M storyline and introduced The Purifiers, Reverand William Stryker's fanatical mutant-hating army of followers. After the cancellation of New X-Men, Kyle and Yost launched a third incarnation of X-Force as a black ops team sanctioned by Cyclops to combat The Purifiers in a way that the X-Men — who are trying to re-establish themselves as a respectable, law-abiding superhero team - never could. He puts Wolverine in charge of the new group, with members James "Warpath" Proudstar, X-23 and Rahne "Wolfsbane" Sinclair, and the team is soon joined by Warren "Angel/Archangel" Worthington, Neena "Domino" Thurman and Josh "Elixir" Foley.


Reaction to this series was extremely mixed, with the book consistently rating in the top 30 for monthly sales, but many critics seeing it as an example of Darker and Edgier taken to self-parodic lengths. The series lasted for 28 issues (April, 2008-September, 2010). It ended with the Second Coming crossover, which concluded one of the bigger plotlines.

The third X-Force series provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Not only do Wolverine and X-23 have their adamantium claws, Warpath carries several knives and Archangel is fond of shooting metal "feathers" through the air.
  • Anti-Hero: Wolverine has always been one, but the point of this series was to bring previously more standard heroic characters like Warpath and Wolfsbane on a darker path of "doing what needs to be done", making questionable moral decisions and, obviously, killing a lot of people in the name of the greater good. Logan is very wary of the younger heroes joining him in this area.
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  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Wolverine and Wolfsbane.
  • Back from the Dead: Bastion uses the transmode virus, taken from a chunk of Warlock's father, Magus, to bring back several X-Men villains, including Steven Lang, Graydon Creed and Bolivar Trask.
  • Badass Crew: With the addition of Domino, six out of seven members of the team have at least double-digit body counts.
  • Bare Your Midriff: X-23 exemplifies this trope. So when she joined X-Force, hers was the only uniform that showed off her abs.
  • Berserk Button: Wolverine and Warpath both have a couple, though they are metaphorical. X-23, Archangel, and Wolfsbane have literal berserk buttons.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Purifiers, and Bastion in particular, especially after they get a high council of techno-organically revived X-Men enemies working with them. Partway through the series, Selene starts to come into prominence, her plans taking center stage for the "Necrosha" storyline, before Bastion takes over again for the "Second Coming" crossover event.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Matthew Risman, leader of the Purifiers and Stryker's Dragon in New X-Men. Once Bastion is brought online, he quickly usurps the Purifers from him, and Risman ends up dead by the end of the first arc.
  • Biomanipulation: Elixir has this as his mutant ability. With a touch, he can manipulate another person's cells. He primarily uses it to heal his teammates, but sometimes he can also use it offensively such as giving his enemies tumors.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: X-Force is doing what needs to be done to prevent racial genocide, but they are still killing people left, right and center. Logan warns X-23 and Warpath in the first issue that if they start down this path, they'll never be able to come back.
  • Boxed Crook: The Vanisher. How does one keep a high-end teleporter under control, you ask? Have the guy with Biomanipulation powers give him an inoperable brain tumor that only he can remove.
  • The Bus Came Back: The Leper Queen returns, last having been seen during the Milligan X-Men run in Apocalypse's "care".
  • Call-Back:
    • Bastion's head returns from the SHIELD facility it has been sitting in since the '90s, combined with the discarded body of Nimrod left behind from New X-Men, which the Purifiers recovered from Eagle's Plaza.
    • Magus somehow managed to leave a chunk of himself at the bottom of the ocean floor after he was defeated by the New Mutants back in the '80s, mindless and converting ocean life into techno-organic form until the Purifiers turn it to their own ends.
  • Carnival of Killers: Inverted; X-Force are the heroes, yet they rack up quite the body count.
  • Cassandra Truth: After Warren has his wings ripped off by a conditioned Wolfsbane and reverts back to his Archangel persona, Laura (who didn't quite like him from the start) continually tries to warn Logan that his current instability and unpredictability makes him a dangerous liability in the field, but Logan dismisses her concerns. When Warren later loses control and nearly tanks a mission as a result, Logan immediately snaps at her not to say "I told you so" while the rest of the team rushes to fix it.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Domino has probability altering powers, but she mainly relies on her marksmanship and hand-to-hand abilities.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Warpath learns the mystic Ghost Dance from Ghost Rider. in the finale for Necrosha he teaches it to the rest of X-Force so they can attack a now godlike Selene.
  • Church Militant: Reverand Stryker's (and later Bastion's) Purifiers.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Deadpool joins the team later on.
  • Darker and Edgier: As per usual. Also as literal as possible, since the outfits are black and there are a lot of bladed weapons.
  • Death by Irony: Reverand Craig falls victim to the psychological conditioning he put Wolfsbane through, when the Purifiers were only able to capture her and have her subjected to the conditioning because she was trying to "save" him.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Risman objects to Bastion's operating methods, for all the good it does him.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Inverted; X-Force are technically "good guys", but their new outfits are grey-on-black with glowing red-eyed black masks. Just in case you somehow failed to notice that this series is Darker and Edgier. Special points go to Archangel's costume: In this series, Angel can sort of Henshin into Archangel, though it comes with violent personality changes. As Archangel, he has his original, Apocalypse-given costume, which spontaneously manifests when he changes (meaning he really, really shouldn't be able to change its color.)
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • Of the most twisted sort during Necrosha: Many of the dead mutants brought back to life by Bard and Selene were X-Men, their friends and allies, or even just civilians, who are now under Selene's power. Their actual loyalties to Selene vary, however. Some, like Caliban and Banshee, suggest Selene have complete control over them. Others, however, such as Thunderbird, are visibly acting against their will but are unable to fight back directly (though Thunderbird was able to warn Warpath how Selene can be defeated). To twist the knife further, those who are aware of what is happening to them are often seen begging and pleading for their friends to either kill them or to run. In a tie-in with the New Mutants, Doug Ramsey is also resurrected and enslaved, but is able to break Selene's control with the help of Warlock. Somehow, Destiny is able to escape Selene's control on her own.
    • More traditionally, Wither, who was once one of the New X-Men until fleeing the mansion after accidentally hurting Wallflower. He willingly joins Selene in the interim and becomes her right hand and lover.
  • Foreshadowing: Quite a bit of it. Notably, many major plot elements for Necrosha are hinted at in a private encounter between Warpath and Ghost Rider. Particularly the importance of the dagger which turned the spirit animals of Warpath's people into a rampaging demon bear, and the importance of the Ghost Dance.
  • The Fundamentalist: The Purifiers consider themselves to be on a holy quest to kill all mutants. And, of course, Reverend Craig.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The Purifiers have learned nothing from the Nimrod incident. They bring back Bastion, who proves to be far worse than Nimrod, and impossible to control. He usurps control, and then begins doing horrific things to finish off mutantkind.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Wolverine and X-23 are often shown recovering from flat-out horrific injuries. X-23 gets the worst of it, though, since her healing factor is better than Wolverine's. She spends some time unable to speak after she has her throat ripped out and she has to wait for it to heal, and her Interrupted Suicide ends up with all her flesh and hair burned completely off.
  • Handicapped Bad Ass: Kimura hacks off one of Laura's arms with a chainsaw. She's still able to utterly destroy the garrison of the base where she's being held.
  • Healing Factor: Wolverine and X-23, of course. Hers works faster because Wolverine's is compromised by his adamantium-laced skeleton, but the tradeoff is that she doesn't have unbreakable bones.
  • Healing Hands: Elixir, a power that is largely redundant when half the team has a Healing Factor or is Made of Iron. Subverted in that he can kill you with those very same hands.
  • Inconvenient Summons: The team gets dragged off into a cross-over on Cyclops' orders just as the Leper Queen is about to kill Boom-Boom. Fortunately, time-travel means they get to come back and stop her.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Played semi-straight with Laura; she would like to be normal but doesn't know how. Inverted in that Logan is fine with his life, but wants a more normal one for Laura. He is not at all happy about Cyclops recruiting her for the team.
  • Just Friends: Wolverine and Domino have had an on-and-off thing for years, even before this incarnation of the team was formed.
  • Legion of Doom: Bastion's Purifier council, consisting of;
    • Bastion (Big Bad)
    • William Stryker
    • The Leper Queen
    • Graydon Creed
    • Steven Lang
    • Cameron Hodge
    • Donald Pierce
    • And Bolivar Trask (who is the Token Good Teammate, as it turns out, unfairly given the credit for everyone his Sentinels have murdered, including the Genosha massacre).
  • Love Makes You Evil: Eli Bard's love for Selene has driven him to commit countless murders and horrific acts over the centuries to try and win back her affections.
  • Kill 'Em All: If there's a group standing in X-Force's way, it's a pretty sure bet that none of them are going to see another sunrise.
  • Knife Nut: The initial members either had blades built into their bodies or used knives as their primary weapons.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Wolfsbane, who is able to turn into a WolfWoman or a full Werewolf, but in this series is usually more along the lines of a Woman-Wolf.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Rahne gets drawn into the plot because her father, Reverend Craig, has joined up with the Purifiers and she believes they are holding him hostage. This was a trap to lure her to them so that the Purifiers could pump Rahne full of heroin while Craig subjected his daughter to mental and physical torture, including implanting her with a trigger to make her tear off Angel's wings.
  • Older Than They Look: Eli Bard is about two thousand years old.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: It is hinted by Thunderbird that this is what Selene will eventually become once she becomes a goddess.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Selene's servant Eli Bard and apparently her new protegé Wither are vampires in the sense that they've been gifted with eternal life by Selene giving them a vampire like state complete with fangs and a "game face." In flashbacks, Bard is shown draining the blood of others to survive, but Wither is never shown to suffer from this need.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The mutants who are "resurrected" by Eli Bard's corrupted Techno-Organic Virus.
  • Painted-On Pants: In full effect, with both Mr. Fanservice and Ms. Fanservice versions.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Neither Wolverine, X-23 or Wolfsbane are especially tall, but angering any of them will probably be the last thing you do.
  • Pregnant Badass: Wolfsbane starts shaping up into one of these; being that her child is half Asgardian wolf-spirit, Elixir had to alter her DNA to be more like the baby just to keep the pregnancy from killing her. This has given her superhuman strength, bulletproof skin, and more acute senses than Wolverine or X-23.
  • Put on a Bus: Rahne goes back to X-Factor (2006) after getting pregnant.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: The entire original group (Wolverine, X-23, Warpath and Wolfsbane) have heightened senses, and Warpath is also an Apache Indian with well-honed tracking skills.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The mysterious Eli Bard manipulates the Purifiers into recreating genocidal maniac Bastion, then into finding a fragment of the old New Mutants techno-organic enemy Magus. After Bastion uses it to bring a group of the X-Mens's old mutant-killing human enemies back to life, Bard combines with the entity. Not good.
  • Sinister Minister: Reverend William Stryker and Matthew Risman. The restored Bastion too, though he prefers to stay in the shadows. Reverend Craig shows up again, too, though he doesn't last very long.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Rahne and Hrimhari. They originally met back when Rahne was a member of the New Mutants and, though they fell in love, had to part ways. Now they meet again, finally consummate their relationship, Rahne gets pregnant...and Hrimhari has to give up his own life to save Rahne's and their baby's. These two just can't catch a break.
  • The Stoic: X-23. Unless it's a threat to someone she cares about, she tends to be very matter-of-fact about any given situation.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Wolfsbane, when she kills and eats her father. And Selene and her inner circle embody this trope. Each and every one of them are essentially death in human (well, mutant) form.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Though officially a member of the team, Wolfsbane's storyline keeps her away from the main plot for most of the book's run, sometimes drifting into Trapped by Mountain Lions territory. While everybody else is off fighting Bastion or getting dragged into the future, Rahne spends her time recovering from various injuries, meeting her long-lost love Hrimhari and fighting off Frost Giants with him. She doesn't actually go on a mission with the rest of the team until issue 24, and even that was involuntary due to Vanisher teleporting her without asking. She leaves the team at the end of issue 25.
  • Villain Killer: The explicit reason for the team's existence is to kill villains that the X-Men need dead without it being linked to them.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Inverted comically. You start off thinking this about Wolverine and the others. Then you remember that what they're doing isn't really that different from what they've done in the past. Then you remember that they're only together because of Scott "Mr. By-The-Book" Summers. Wolverine calls him on it more than once, and it's insinuated that Wolverine only agreed to do it because he cares for Laura, James and Rahne; and he also realized that if he refused, Scott would just find someone else to lead the team, and that person might not be as concerned as Wolverine would be with keeping them safe (or sane).
    • Cyclops has to perpetually keep X-Force a secret from fellow X-Men founders Beast and Iceman because he knows he'll get this reaction from them. When they learn of the team, he gets just that.
  • Wolverine Publicity:
    • Wolverine and X-23; Logan was even on three teams at the time (the X-Men, X-Force and the Avengers)
    • The book has lately been subject to some "Deadpool Publicity" as well.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Averted, while Eli Bard does raise an army of dead mutants using the Techno-Organic Virus, he only does so to provide mutant souls for Selene to feast on and become a goddess.