No, not THAT X-Force, the other one. The one that Cyclops created as a covert mutant operations squad, led by Wolverine. The team started out before the Utopia storyline and continued on its own, gathering up the New Mutants and X-Men: Legacy titles to run into the Necrosha storyline. In this issue, Necrosha makes it to Utopia Island, the new floating home of the X-Men. Madison Jeffries appears in one panel as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505 and Diamond Lil appears in two panels.
As Utopia Island is being attacked by a bunch of very dead and very bad bad guys, the X-Men feel the tide turning against them. Many of their opponents are lost loved ones whose bodies need to be hideously mutilated in order to be defeated. In the heat of battle, Cyclops turns to Jeffries to ask if he can interface with the techno-organic invaders. Note that Jeffries is not drawn with his signature greyed temples, the only time since joining up with the X-Men that he’s drawn this way. Clayton Crain’s style is so impenetrably murky that it’s not all that surprising, but since Cyclops addresses him directly as “Madison”, there’s little doubt who he is.
It would have been nice to have Jeffries transmorph some nearby machinery into a suit of Box armor and start cleaning up the place. He could singlehandedly wipe out all 30 invaders, but is relegated to just monitoring the battle and devising interface schemes, which is a shame. Since Matt Fraction had repeatedly under-used his incredible offensive combat abilities, it’s becoming par for the course for writers to use him this way, so I’ll blame what Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost are doing here on the other guy instead.
The real gem of this issue is the resurfacing of Diamond Lil. She hasn’t appeared since X-Men: 198 #4 (Jun 2006) when she appeared briefly as a member of a tiny group of disaffected mutants who survived M-Day with their powers intact. Fans had been wondering about her whereabouts, especially since her husband Madison has been quite busy in various X-books since the beginning of 2009 as a member of the X-Men Science Team.
She is shown in one panel tending to Iceman, who was taken out in battle. Shown wearing her classic green and yellow diamond patterned costume and her yellow diamond mask, she’s not identified outright, but her identity has been confirmed by Chris Yost on an internet forum. Lil shows up again very tiny at the end of the story in a 2pg spread, in the background and in the same position as earlier, tending to Iceman. It’s not clear if she’s joined the X-Men, just visiting, living on Utopia, or even if she’s still married to Madison, but this little cameo is very good news for Alpha Flight fans and I’m delighted to have her included in this comic.
Note: this issue has a variant cover, also by Clayton Crain:
|X-Force #22 – Clayton Crain variant|