In X-Force, a gang called The Upstarts have been killing mutants for points in order to get a seat at the Hellfire Club’s table.
Note: New Warriors #44 doesn’t bear the “Child’s Play” cover banner, but it’s a prelude as the team starts noting what Shinobi Shaw is up to.
X-Force #33 officially starts this event, opening with Fenris’ team capturing (not killing) Magma. The new rule, installed by Gamesmaster (who just took over leadership of Hellfire Club), is capture-don’t-kill. I’m assuming that was because then Marvel could have more recognizable mutant targets and not have to kill the characters. Because we don’t have NEARLY a big enough cast in the X-verse, right?
This game was cooler when it was like the mutant version of Scourge purging the 616 of lesser-known characters and thinning the herd.
Anyway, since Firestar is a mutant, we get a New Warriors/X-Force team up (when Graydon Creed’s team tries to snatch her up).
Also, Shinobi Shaw considers recruiting Justice–who is released from prison after murdering his father, and is greeted by protesters who he manhandles.
So, two bases for crossover.
Justice actually does join–but as a double agent. They also try to recruit Archangel. Fabian Nicieza does a nice job of juxtaposing the team-members who have histories of criminal/borderline behavior against the more righteous ones. Lots of little fights between Upstarts and the heroes in the teams, as folks get captured by the Club. It’s a good way to spend a few pages with many characters–and there are a ton of them here.
And along the way, Dani gets a new costume.
There’s not a lot of logic to how the battle ends (in a stalemate), but I think it’s really about Paige Guthrie–Husk–saying she and the “next generation” of mutants want education from both sides of the equation: Charles Xavier and Hellfire Club. This seems like a launchpad for Generation X–which will be a fantastic comic.
Other impacts of this story:
- A new Speedball costume. Nova is not impressed.
- The return of Dani Moonstar (noted above), who joins the Mutant Liberation Front (but much later we find out she’s a double agent, working for SHIELD).
- The Upstarts disband after being repeatedly beaten up in this story.
- There is some talk of Namorita’s genetics, but as far as I could tell nothing definitive.
- Cable has telepathic powers for the first time.