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Marvel: The return of X-FORCE And the return of Rob Liefeld!
Dateline: Monday, March 22, 2004
Source: Newsarama

During a panel held at last weekend's Wizard World in Los Angeles, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada announced that the company will be dusting off its X-FORCE comic book property this coming September. What makes the news more interesting is that the book will be drawn by none other than Rob Liefeld, the creator of the team. Fabian Nicieza will write the book.

After a run on THE NEW MUTANTS turned the book into a bestseller for Marvel, Liefeld helped create X-FORCE and turned it into a title that regularly sold hundreds of thousands of copies a month. One of a new wave of superstar comic book artists, Liefeld grew rich and achieved fame outside of comics. Eventually he left Marvel in the early 90s, ditching X-FORCE to help found Image Comics with six other artists. Liefeld's project at Image, YOUNGBLOOD, proved to be another hit. But Liefeld's ride at the top was soon to come crashing back down to Earth as the speculator boom of the early 90s ended, comic book shops went out of business and books that used to sell half-a-million copies a month were barely reaching six figures. Liefeld was hired by Marvel in the later half of the 90s to work on the company's Heroes Reborn reboot for CAPTAIN AMERICA which didn't materialize as planned. He was then removed from Image Comics by the other founding fathers. Critics of the artist chide him for missed deadlines, failed promises and substandard art, but it doesn't change the fact that his name alone could once guarantee a comic book massive sales.

Based on the artwork released by Marvel, it appears the team will consist of Cable, Domino, Feral, Shatterstar, Warpath and Caliban. The new X-FORCE comic will be a limited series of unspecified length.

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Reported: 21/03/2004
Source: Newsarama

Liefeld, Nicieza Return to X-Force These folks look familiar? What about these names: Rob Liefeld, Fabian Nicieza? How about the words: They¹re back. Head spinning from déjà vu yet? This fall, Rob Liefeld, Fabian Nicieza and X-Force return for a six to eight issue miniseries as announced at WizardWorld LA¹s ³Cup ŒO Joe² panel with Marvel E-I-C Joe Quesada. Newsarama had the opportunity to speak with Liefeld about the project.

Newsarama: First off, who brought you back to both Marvel and X-Force?
Rob Liefeld: No matter who is at the helm of the company, I'll always feel that Marvel is, in many ways, my parent¹s house. I feel that I can always re-visit and hang out there so I don't ever have any hesitation about working there. The relationship has never been anything but mutually beneficial to and for me and Marvel despite editorial conflicts along the years. That said, I think Mark Millar was a big factor, sort of nudging the powers that be into putting this together and definitely Bill Jemas and absolutely this doesn't happen without Joe Quesada's stamp of approval. And probably many more people behind the scenes that I'm unaware of.

NRAMA: But then, what you say yes to the offer?
RL: It was the opportunity to revisit a group of characters that I have tremendous passion and love for and was missing in a really big way. While drawing Youngblood Bloodsport, I really waxed nostalgic for the good ol' days and X-Force was and is the "Grandaddy" to me of all the creations that came next and all the unbelievable events that came about in my career. Without X-Force everything is waaaaaay different. I'm very fortunate to have the chance to sort of re-boot these characters and really, really fortunate that there wasn't another team working on them and directing their path because then I have no opportunity to do this.

NRAMA: Was there any trepidation on your part, in regards to re-treading on ground that you¹ve already been on, in name, at the very least? Was there a temptation at least, to let that work stand, and speak for itself?
RL: Oh yeah, there was plenty of trepidation. In fact I turned it down twice before finally convincing myself to do it because I was really intimidated and let's face it, it is a gigantic, daunting challenge to see if we can restore this book to anything resembling the glory days when this book was a top seller and the characters were extremely relevant to the Marvel Universe. It's been quite some time since this franchise was a water cooler book and I'd be lying if I told you I have doubts about what we can accomplish. We're giving it our best effort though, trying our hardest to make this as exciting as possible.

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NRAMA: Back in the day, what was your view of X-Force, overallŠa family, a paramilitary team, first and foremost? The fist of Xavier¹s dream?
RL: X-Force was originally imagined as a group of extreme mutant activists that operated outside the parameters of Xavier¹s school. Cable believes in being pro-active, striking against the threats to mutants and humans, Xavier is much more subtle, restrained. Cable is not. He has seen the future and it's not a pretty picture. That conflict will once again come to the forefront of their relationship.

NRAMA: Given your druthers, and had a thing called Image not popped up, where would you have ultimately taken the team?
RL: Wow, y'know I had a pretty extensive outline that would have developed in a slightly different direction than the book went in, much of it furthering the Stryfe/Cable relationship as well as giving Sam an even bigger role. There was a lot of reveals with Domino as well. I have to say though that Fabe really cemented the book after I left, his run with Greg Capullo was fantastic. Fabe has the same passion for this group as I do. The book has missed someone with a real passion for the characters and their relationships since Jeph Loeb completed his run.

NRAMA: While you¹ve been away from Marvel (in regards to how deeply you were involved in your X-Force days) for about 15 years, you¹ve obviously been watching what they do, both with the characters you created, as well as the X-Universe at large. Compared to your heyday back in the early Œ90s, how do you see the X-universe now?
RL: Y'know I really don't have a good handle on everything in the X-Universe as I once did. I follow the core books but it has really grown so much that I can't give a really confident comment other than I'm excited about the directions the books are taking. There is so much talent involved in the X-Universe that there is always going to be some good stuff coming to the fans. Bottom line, the X-Universe is chock full of so many multi-dimensional characters that there is no shortage of directions they can be taken in.

NRAMA: How about your overall feelings about X-Force? It was work for hire, sure, but is there still that paternal/ownership feeling to both the team and characters? I assume that the power of creation does come with a long-term feeling of intimate knowledge, that is, reading some Sam Guthrie dialog written by someone else, and thinking, ³That¹s not what Sam would¹ve said²Š.
RL: Well, although I have a proprietary interest in Sam as a member of the team, he is primarily a Chris Claremont character but certainly Cable and the gang, Shatterstar, Warpath, Domino, Deadpool, Feral, Stryfe are like my kids. I root for them and feel bad when they struggle. I've enjoyed all the different interpretations of the characters through the year. As a whole, the group has definitely seen better times than the recent years have offered. It's going to be a big challenge to bring them back to being anywhere near relevant again.

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NRAMA: Okay ­ enough with the past. Specifically, how did this project come together? Did Marvel come to you, you approach them, did Fabian came to you, you to FabianŠwhat?
RL: It all started with Marvel contacting me asking me if I wanted to do the covers to Cable/Deadpool. From there it really started rolling pretty fast. By late summer of last year we had a deal to bring X-Force back together again. Believe me when I tell you how absolutely shocked I was at the whole thing. Hopefully they remembered how popular this franchise once was and wanted to take a chance to bring them back to prominence.

NRAMA: What¹s the working relationship like with Fabian ­ a back in the saddle again type of thing?
RL: He's great. I mean, together we created a phenomenon from the ashes of the New Mutants which sales-wise was falling apart when I came on board. I mean no one had any idea who these characters were, they didn't exist prior to drawing them in my sketchbook and we really caught lightning in a bottle. We worked our tales off and we're going at it again with the same zest because we know we have our work cut out for us. I feel these characters lost a lot of momentum through the years and the challenge is what really sparked me. When it came to putting X-Force back together, there was never anyone other than Fabian to consider. X-Force was our success and we should be together for this outing.

NRAMA: So ­ give me the high concept hereŠare we back with Cannonball, and the rest, or is this the All New all Different X-Force?
RL: There are plenty of new characters that play major roles, but Sam is there big time, he's central to everything going on, but he doesn't come into the picture until the second issue. Shatterstar is a major player and we catch up with him in the first issue. All the old faces are there, though which side they fall on creates plenty of tension. And of course, Cable has some issues with his former soldiers and they aren't entirely trusting or compliant with him. The situation is as follows: there is a terrorist group from the future that is hell bent on awakening a terrible menace from our past in the present. One really cool monster, ninjas, assassins, barbarians, time-travelers and plenty of intrigue. All the ingredients that set X-Force apart from the pack 13 years ago are front and center here. The sins of Cable's past really come back to haunt him this time around...

NRAMA: But how does this all fit in with Cable¹s other missions? Is this another thing he was sent to stop, or, given the changes he¹s made in the present, his future, and thus his mission in the present are always adapting and morphing?
RL: Nope ­ nothing like that. This is the thing he came back to prevent. This is his mission. The protocols are revealed to him and he recognizes the sacrifices he's going to need to make. Most everything else he's done has helped prepare him for this conflict.

NRAMA: So what is the nature of these threats that he and the team have to stop?
RL: I¹m not going to spill it all, but it¹s a safe bet that a bad ass mutant monster, future terrorist cels, ninjas, yakuza gangs and a former Lieutenant in his command are just the tip of the iceberg.

NRAMA: Šand Cable has to find all the old team-members. I can imagine the strife for some ­ last time they went with him, some of them died, and some of them were very nearly killedŠ It¹s a safe bet to assume that the interpersonal relationships and team dynamic will be a little different this time out?
RL: That is an understatement. He finds very few allies to give him the support he needs. He is definitely not seen as the good guy to many of his former charges.

NRAMA: So how does the first arc play out?
RL: You've got to read the books in order to find out the answers you're seeking. As for cameos, look for Wolverine and Xaiver. Towards the very end, I'm hoping the Avengers or F.F. are on the scene.

NRAMA: Bluntly here Rob ­ it¹s a monthly, right? Are you going to be able to keep up?
RL: It's monthly. They're not soliciting until September, and right now 3 of the 12 are in the can. Farthest ahead I've ever, ever been on any project.

NRAMA: Alright - pitchman time ­ you think this is something the market is looking for and will accept right now?
RL: I have no idea but I'm hopeful people will check out the story and come along for the ride. It's big fun and high adventure with the drama and intrigue that brought the previous run on New Mutants and X-Force to the fore.

NRAMA: You going to get a Levi¹s commercial out of this deal as well?
RL: Yeah, they're re-visiting the old commercial with a new series that asks, "Is your fly still buttoned?" Happily, for me, mine is.

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