When you look at the comic book reviews for Rob Liefeld's Major X, the title isn't exactly swimming in praise. For the most part, the complaints all seem to point back to the same thing: It's an unfortunate reminder of '90s comics.
Intentionally, that's exactly what Major X aims for, as it hearkens back to the '90s X-Force era and features a similar sort of over-the-top (and pouchified) aesthetic that Liefeld is renowned (and lambasted) for. Perhaps more unintentionally, it's riddled with characters appearing for no reason whatsoever, laughable Jean-Claude Van Damme-esque one-liners and a plot that's completely secondary to the action scenes.
Yet, all three issues of the comic have sold out before hitting the stores, with Major X #1 hitting its third printing run already. Criticism be damned, because this six-issue series is red hot and the fans can't seem to get enough of it. It leads to the million dollar question here: Were '90s comics as bad as people make them out to be?
Judging by Major X, the answer is a resounding no. The comic book medium has evolved in a healthy way, and there's certainly a drive for stronger narratives and anatomically-accurate artwork, but there's still a place and time for big, dumb fun.
After all, Liefeld is the guy who co-created Deadpool and Cable, two of the most popular characters in Marvel Comics, and they're both a slice short of being as cheesy as mozzarella. While different writers and artists have interpreted them in their own ways, they're still two quintessential '90s characters at the heart of it.
Digging deeper, you'll find that many of the X books of that era have failed to reach the same peak of popularity as they did under the likes of Liefeld and his colleagues at the time. X-Force, for one, has never been the same as its initial run, when it sold more copies than anyone expected and proved to be an edgier alternative to the X-Men.
"It is the second best-selling comic book of all time for a reason. People rallied around it," Liefeld told Fandango about X-Force. "I mean, my X-Men had weapons. They had attitude. They had aggression."
It's this type of brazen statement that has equally endeared and alienated Liefeld to the comics community for years. Make no mistake about it, though, he has backed it up every step of the way, especially in 1992. It took massive guts to do what he and several other top creators did when they left the Big Two to form Image Comics.
From introducing new series such as Spawn, Youngblood, Savage Dragon and others into the public consciousness, it also opened up another avenue for creator-owned comics. Image kicked down the door for other indies to seriously enter the market, and helped create a sustainable industry for comic creators that didn't just rely on Marvel and DC.
The thing is, Liefeld and his collaborators built their house on the same sort of foundation as Major X. Much like a Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger movie from that era, you appreciated it for what it was. It might not have been award-winning or genre-defining material, but it was still highly entertaining and serviceable.
As modern day comics goes through its own crucible of issues, Liefeld seems to understand what the general public wants. Major X is unlikely to pick up any Eisner nominations or receive better reviews, but there again, not everything released needs to be Citizen Kane. Sometimes, comic book fans just want a bit of cheese and nonstop action, like they did in the old days.