This week sees the release of X-Force: Killshot, a 33-page one-shot written, drawn, and inked by artist Rob Liefeld. Liefeld, who created Cable, Deadpool, and the X-Force team itself, is no stranger to coming back to revisit the characters, but this time is a little different. Killshot picks up some ideas from earlier Liefeld stories, as well as playing with the time-travel and strategic genius aspects of Cable that are so often forgotten by other creative teams. That means seeing generations of X-Force teams, numerous characters, a few iterations of Deadpool, a few iterations of Cable, and lots of huge — we mean huge — guns.
Liefeld never has any problem being self-referential, so it’s perhaps no surprise that in Killshot, he not only made a few jokes about the tropes of his work, but also picked up on two different stories he began years ago. One example, the “100 Cables” concept he came up with in the early ’90s, was something that had never even been officially started.
“Thirty years is a big deal,” Liefeld told ComicBook. “The older I get, the more appreciation I have for the time when I did all of this work. I was very young, very focused, and very isolated. I was putting in 12, 13 hour days. I literally did not see my personal friends for almost two years. I would talk to them on the phone, but I couldn’t just escape and go see movies, and hang out at restaurants, and do what college-aged kids were doing, because my college was making New Mutants and X-Force. So, 30 years later is a big deal.”
Liefeld knows that some writers and artists resist going back to their best-known works over and over again, but he can’t get behind that kind of thinking. To him, he has investment — both financial and emotional — in characters like Deadpool and Cable. He loves getting his hands on them again, especially when he can tell a story he’s passionate about.
“When Marvel asked me if I wanted to do Deadpool’s 30th celebration, I said, ‘Well, we’re going to do something for X-Force, too, right?'” Liefeld explained. “To their credit, there was not a hesitation. It was almost like, ‘We’ve been so hyper-focused on this that we hadn’t taken X-Force into consideration, but yes, let’s do that, and let’s plan for that later in the year. It was not something they had on the schedule for 2021, which is why it’s out in November of 2021. I’m just really appreciative that they opened the door to make this happen. I have a lot of stories to tell.”
What kind of stories? Well, in some cases, it’s stories that he conceived a long time ago.
“Back in the 2000s, Steve Skroce had to be called back to The Matrix‘s production,” Liefeld recalled. “He left Wolverine, which he had taken over and kicked off with a story. He was supposed to be the new creative guy, but he obviously had a loyalty to The Matrix, and they called me, and I pinch-hitted for four issues. Those Wolverine issues start a story, and that story continues…what is, it almost, you know, I guess 17, 18 years later? In Major X, I picked up those threads, and I kept telling that story, and now I’m telling the rest of that story in X-Force 30th, and I think it’s satisfying and I think it is a great punch.”
It wasn’t just the Wolverine story, though. In fact, the whole issue owes a debt to Liefeld’s younger self.
“I left X-Force in 1991, I have sketches from that time, called ‘100 Cables,'” Liefeld said. “Cable was always created to look like a tough guy that you don’t want to quarrel with, but he is somewhere between Nick Fury and Reed Richards-level smart and strategic. So ‘100 Cables’ is one cable specifically rallying the efforts of the others. [Killshot] is kind of the 30-page version of ‘100 Cables.’ So I give you five or six Cables, but he brings along five or six X-Forces. So this is a continuation of a storyline that I had been wanting to do since before I left.”
You can get X-Force: Killshot in comic shops and on digital comics storefronts today.