X-Force has been the name of several different Marvel Universe Super Hero teams and comics, with few common members and very little generally to link them except for being closely tied to the X-Men, with varying degrees of cooperation between the two at different times.
The original X-Force was created when Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza were given control of the New Mutants book and made it Darker and Edgier. Adding several badasses and making them more of an "ends justify the means" group, they became a militant strike force very different in attitude from the X-Men. The title was at first extremely popular, with the first issue becoming the #2-selling comic of all time. Liefeld however quickly became frustrated by working with characters he didn't own, and soon left Marvel to form Image Comics in 1992. Nicieza continued to write up through the Age of Apocalypse storyline of 1995, afterwards leaving and being replaced by Jeph Loeb.
Loeb moved the team back to the Xavier Mansion and focused more on character development than fighting. After Loeb's departure in 1997, John Francis Moore took over writing duties and sent X-Force on a roadtrip to San Francisco, where they would reunite with former members Cannonball and Domino, but sales of the book began to fall. In 2000, Warren Ellis was brought in and portrayed the team as a covert group under the leadership of his character Pete Wisdom, but only made the decline worse as far as alienating more fans than before. The series lasted for 115 issues (August, 1991-June, 2001).
In 2004, Marvel brought Liefeld and Nicieza back for a six-issue X-Force miniseries (October, 2004-March, 2005), returning to the original characters, which posted decent sales despite a critical drubbing and Liefeld's using some of his previously unused art for other titles in the book. A four-issue Shatterstar miniseries (April-July, 2005) followed, but neither was extended.
- X-Force (2008)
- Uncanny X-Force
- Cable and X-Force
- Uncanny X-Force (2013)
- X-Force (2013)
- X-Force (2018)
An X-Force team led by Deadpool makes its big screen debut in Deadpool 2.
The first series provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: The infamous fate of the "Externals" story arc once Liefeld left. It was technically resolved... by killing off pretty much everyone involved within the space of a single issue.
- All There in the Manual: Huge chunks of Cable's backstory and origin were only revealed in his ongoing book, once it was launched.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Feral as the Darker and Edgier Wolfsbane.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Freaking Shatterstar.
- Badass Normal: Cable, who despite being a mutant, can't really use his powers on any significant scale without risking death. In lieu of reading people's thoughts and throwing them through the air with his mind, he relies on his...
- BFG: Cable had a lot of these, and wasn't shy about using them.
- Blessed with Suck: Cable, potentially the single most powerful telepath and telekinetic in the Marvel Universe, has to use all but a tiny smidge of those powers to keep the techno-virus infesting half his body from devouring the other half.
- Body Horror: Cable is mostly human on his right side, mostly techno-organic on the left. And if it weren't for his powers, he'd be consumed by the TO virus and die.
- The Marvel NOW Cable X-Force series starts off with people being poisoned with a mutagen which transforms them into horrifying mounds of flesh. One of Dr. Nemesis' attempted cures only makes it worse.
- Briefer Than They Think: Rob Liefeld was only on the book as co-writer for the first year and only on art for the first 9 of those issues. Once he left the book quickly moved away from the three G's (guns, grimaces and grittiness) to more character-based stories culminating in John Francis Moore's Lighter and Softer run.
- Cain and Abel: Cable and his evil clone Stryfe.
- Code Name: Played straight, to the point where Cable and Domino's real names weren't revealed for years. Justified in Cable's case, since revealing his name would spoil a pretty juicy plot twist.
- Continuity Drift: In issue #25, Cable explains his motives for going to the past, to train Sam and the team to proactively fight against Stryfe and Apocalypse. But Cable ends up leaving the team to face Apocalypse on his own, while the team focuses on other threats until disbanding.
- Covert Group: Its team was portrayed as a covert group under the leadership of his character Pete Wisdom starting in 2000.
- Darker and Edgier: This was the defining characteristic of the comic in the beginning.
- During the War: Virtually all of Cable's backstory relates to his battling the forces of Apocalypse a thousand years in the future.
- Guns Akimbo: Domino was particularly fond of this.
- Gun Fu: Domino, though her "luck" power also had a lot to do with it.
- Gun Kata: This completes Domino's trifecta of gun-related tropes, though again, her powers really helped her out.
- Heroic Albino: Domino is described as being an albino, even though she has black hair.
- It's Personal: Cable's hatred for Stryfe stems only partly from the fact that Stryfe has killed everyone Cable loved; most of it is from Stryfe's raping and impregnating his wife with a son that Cable had mixed feelings towards at best.
- Just Friends: Cable and Domino have a long history, during which they've been everything from genuinely just friends to teammates to Friends with Benefits to fully lovers; currently, they seem to be in a "just friends" phase.
- Knight Templar: Cable was very much "ends justify the means" in the beginning; later writers softened him considerably, though it's still not a very good idea to make him mad.
- Road Trip Plot: After Operation: Zero Tolerance the remaining members of the team decide to strike out on their own leading to a year long road trip storyline that takes them from New York to their new home in San Francisco.
- Red Herring: At the start of X-Force, false hints were dropped that Cable and his arch-enemy Stryfe might be the same person (they use a bunch of the same catchphrases, and Stryfe removes his helmet for the first time showing readers that he has the same face as Cable), playing X-Force and the MLF against each other for some reason.
- Retcon: Cable wasn't Scott and Madelyne's son until Chris Claremont and Jim Lee came up with the idea while writing X-Factor #65-68. Executive meddling prevented Nicieza and Lobdell from revealing Stryfe was Nathan Summers and Cable a clone, as Bob Harras wanted Cable to be Nathan, since "having him be the fake would devalue him".
- Token Evil Teammate: Feral. Nobody was very surprised to see her make a FaceHeel Turn in the middle of a battle.
- Why Won't You Die?: It took Cable several tries to put Stryfe down for the count.