Major X #1
Written by Rob Liefeld
Art by Rob Liefeld, Adelso Corona, Dan Fraga and Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 2 out of 10
As the 1990s have gotten further and further away in the collective rearview, there’s been a critical reevaluation of the creators and work of that era. Case in point: check out the resurgence of Rob Liefeld following the smash-hit success of the Deadpool movies. At the height of his popularity, Liefeld was one of the most dynamic visual storytellers on the stands. Sure, not everything looked right, but it looked cool, and cool sold comic books. In the time since then, Liefeld has worn a lot of hats while running Extreme Studios and other publishing ventures. He’s even scored some critical victories curating a new line of Extreme titles with mixture of big names and indie talent. But despite these important contributions as a whole, Liefeld’s actual art and storytelling chops haven’t progressed at all, and Major X represents the worst of his and the X-publishing line’s bad habits.
Ultimately, this story just feels half-baked from the start. According to Liefeld, this story takes place sometime between New Mutants #98 and X-Force #1, and that certainly feels true because it shares so much in common with X-Force #1. And when measured up against his younger self’s art (and Fabian Nicieza’s underrated scripting), modern-day Liefeld sadly isn’t measuring up. The art is bland and boxy - missing the dynamism of his past work. Even the character designs take a major step back. Say what you will about ‘90s art being busy, but at least the designs has a little bit of character. Major X just looks like Deadpool with a red-and-black Juggernaut helmet on. Dreadpool (yes, you read that right) is just Deadpool with shoulder pads. Cable is wearing a costume that’s more in line with his New Mutants #87 look than how he looked in 1991. Details are completely missing from Cannonball’s outfit. What’s there to get excited about here, exactly?
I’m all for a nostalgia trip, but even Liefeld himself seems uncharacteristically restrained here. The story may reveal itself to be much bigger, but at this juncture is very insular. Liefeld needs to get us through some exposition, so we get four pages of Major X riding around on a motorcycle in a desert. The fight with Cable and X-Force that runs through most of the issue is set in the most boring of gray X-Mansion rooms. And worse, it’s so poorly choreographed that it borrows a moment from X-Force #1 exactly, and does it with about 200% less energy. Oh and don’t worry, I won’t spoil the big reveal here - that being Major X’s identity - but you’ll probably be able to parse it pretty quickly once Dreadpool shows up.
In general, I’m a big fan of Rob Liefeld. I loved his work on New Mutants and X-Force. I still reread old Youngblood. But it’s clear at this point that his talents lie elsewhere in comic books - in identifying talent, curating titles, and being a spokesperson for the medium. Which makes books like this a shame. Because the ideas presented in Major X are stale. The energy is nonexistent. And ultimately, work like this runs counter to the legacy that Liefeld really embodies, which is an iconoclastic creator who pushed the medium forward with his seemingly boundless spirit and enthusiasm. Major X feels like a creator trying to relive the magic of their youth by mining the past, when really the way to recapture that magic is to keep moving forward instead of looking back. This is a timeslide that readers would do well to reconsider.