Charles Xavier’s dream was one of unity and harmony -- he believed that mutants and humans could live in peace despite their differences. To help promote his ideology, he trained a small group of pupils with special abilities to combat opposing forces who would try to push negative views on mutants. For the most part, Xavier was successful. For every mass extinction incident his team prevents, more and more converts believing his X-Men were more than just freaks of nature popped up. Of course, the inverse happened, too. Fringe groups and radicals sprung up everywhere, on both sides. Some groups of humans wished to see mutants detained, wiped out, or cured. And there were mutants who believed the same thing should happen to Homo sapiens.
If either mutant or human factions of extremists became a looming threat a group of mutants, that often consisted of X-Men, would step to the plate to get things done through unorthodox (at least by Xavier standards) means. This group was X-Force, who was originally just an edgier version of the New Mutants with a few wild cards in the mix, has become the hit squad branch of the X-Men. The members of X-Force are often mutants who have checked their better angels at the door, and will do some rather dirty deeds to quell any perceived threats, often through acts of brutality. Assassinations, sabotage, and covert operations are just a few of X-Force’s specialties. If the X-Men get sent on you, there’s a chance you’ll have a discussion about your transgressions, but if it’s the X-Force…all bets are off.
Don’t let this diminutive, floating green blob fool you. He may look ripe for being turned into a big, cuddly plush, but make no mistake: Doop is a monster. First introduced as a cameraman filming the exploits of the reality TV superhero team, X-Statix (formally X-Force), Doop soon joined their ranks and put his knack for violence on full display.
Early in his career, during an audition session the character Corkscrew commits a crime. Later, Doop goes on a camping trip with Corkscrew during which the Slimer-esque Cold War era experiment takes out Corkscrew with an ax as retribution for the mutant’s transgression. So yeah, Doop does not play around.
Tabitha Smith, better known as the X-Force member Boom-Boom, has had a rather sordid history. Before joining New Mutants (and later X-Force), Tabitha lives a hard life on the streets. During her time scarping by, she and one of her dearest friends, Gina, are threatened by a low-level street tough known as Tiger. Things quickly go off the rails when the Tiger ends Gina. Tabitha expressed disdain for the demise of her friend by taking out Tiger with her ability to create explosive orbs of mental energy.
Late into her X-Force career, Tabitha displays a more rebellious attitude, taking up the moniker Meltdown. During her time as Meltdown she takes on some heavy hitters and even tortures The Blob. This little Southern Belle means business.
The aggression displayed by Alex Cluney was not necessarily aimed with malicious intent. From the extremely short period of time readers spent with the mutant known as Zeitgeist, they gleaned that Cluney simply had rotten luck. First introduced in X-Force #116, when writer Peter Milligan and artist Mike Allred revamped the team completely, Zeitgeist would leave a lasting impression on the rest of the creator’s run, even if the character himself didn’t survive his first and only issue appearance.
But the tragedy of Zeitgeist is the nature of his mutant power, and specifically how he discovered it in his teenage years. Alex learned he had the ability spew a hyper-corrosive ooze during a make out session with a young woman. She was equally surprised.
Marrow has had a tough go of it. First introduced as one of the sewer-dwelling Morlocks, she was conditioned to be deadly in combat, utilizing her mutant ability to produce excessive bone growth and utilize these extremities as weapons. Even after being saved by the X-Men, she had very few scruples about getting blood on her hands.
Her identity is so ingrained in her warrior stature that during her time as a member of X-Force, she scarified the life of her unborn child to regain full control on her mutant powers. If that doesn’t leave you with a chip on your shoulder, then a giant chunk of bone sticking out of it will.
If you had to sum up the character of Deathlok in three words, they’d be: Zombie. Cyborg. Assassin. Honestly, is there anything else that needs to be said? Now, several people have been subjected to the horrific transformation of becoming Deathlok. During Rick Remender’s run on Uncanny X-Force, a group of Deathlok assassins attacked team member Fantomex. One of these cybernetic beings goes rogue and joins the team, becoming a solid military strategist for the mutant hit squad.
When Deathlok is standing around, looking extremely cool, he’s fighting targets with analytical precision, making his deadly in the battlefield. The lack of immediate empathy makes Deathlok both a valuable member of X-Force, and a scary person to let your guard down around.
A decade ago, X-Force became a very different beast from what it had been during the ‘90s. The team dealt with mutant threats (just like before) but with extreme prejudice and lethal force, turning what used to be the “bad boys” of the X-books into the hit squad. One of the new members of this revamped team was Laura Kinney, better known at the time as X-23.
Now if there’s anyone who isn’t afraid to get blood on their hands (or claws in this stance), it’s Laura. Carrying the weight of her genetic father’s semi-suppressed bloodlust and a the savagery of a disgruntled surgeon on a sugar high, X-23 spent most of her time with the team chopping through Purifiers with steely resolve.
After the New Mutants shifted into X-Force, Sam Guthrie became second in command under the tutelage of Cable. Groomed from sweet Southern farm boy to hard-edged mutant warrior, Sam became a force to be reckoned with… even if he did almost pass away in one of the early adventures of the newly formed team at the hands of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
But Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie didn’t let a little inconvenience like getting impaled slow him down. While Sam hasn’t exactly racked up a huge body count compared to some of his other X-Force teammates, he has a certain tenacity to make him an intimidating force, one that is nigh unstoppable.
If there is a black ops offshoot of the X-Men doing dirt somewhere, there’s about a 90% chance that Neena Thurman is among their ranks. The mutant known as Domino has held her own with plenty of heavy-hitters during her time as a member of X-Force, the Wild Pack, and Old Man Logan’s Weapon X crew.
While she may not possess a regenerative healing factor or a set of nifty adamantium claws like some of her teammates, Domino is just as aggressive and unforgiving without them. Even if her luck fails her from time to time, there aren’t many situations Neena can’t navigate with serendipity and a few well-placed bullets.
Shatterstar rules. A refugee from the interdimensional planet, Mojoworld, Gaveedra-Seven was genetically engineered to be a warrior. Taken and forced to fight in gladiator arenas, the man who would later reclaim some sense of agency by taking on the name Benjamin Russell (which sounds way better than Gaveedra-Seven) found new purpose as a member of X-Force.
One of the early examples of Shatterstar’s aggression came during a confrontation with the Mutant Liberation Front (a group filled with C-list villains), when he lopped off the hand of Reaper. He would go on to also impale the Morlock, Masque in one of the most hilariously impossible Rob Liefeld anatomy moments ever. And even though his hands are hidden in the panel, you know they’re messy.
Despite originally showing up as a foil to the mutants who would later go on to be part of X-Force, Deadpool is one of the most recognizable and frequently associated members of the team (next to Cable, of course). In fact, Deadpool is almost the mascot for the team despite not being in several of its iterations. We suppose you could chalk that up to the character staring in a pair of massive blockbusters (one of which featured a quickly truncated version of the team).
Quips and bad jokes aside, Wade Wilson is one of the most dangerous people ever to be part of the team. Deadpool not only doesn’t mind killing with immunity, he kind of enjoys it.
10 AOA NIGHTCRAWLER
X-Force has no shortage of odd-ball characters in its ranks, but few are as out of left field as Nightcrawler. Wait, we’re not talking about the fact Kurt Wagner is blue and looks like a demon, no, what makes the Nightcrawler who was part of Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force roster so odd is that this version of the character was from Earth-295, which is where the massive event series “Age of Apocalypse” took place.
Before joining X-Force, this version of Nightcrawler was absolutely unforgiving (he bamfed Deadpool’s head off, for crying out loud), but once he joined the team he showed an even nastier side. One instant in particular involved teleporting a live shark inside of the Blob. Gross.
9 DOCTOR NEMESIS
The character of Doctor Nemesis has been around since the Golden Age, originally appearing in the pulp comics Lightning Comics in the ‘40s. Since then, the characters has seen a few different incarnations, one them being a member of X-Force during Dennis Hopeless and Salvador Larroca’s series, Cable and X-Force.
While trying to find a cure for a virus that turns people into monsters, Doctor Nemesis learns that his best attempts fell short and, in fact, were making the infected victims become more powerful. In order to quell the outbreak, he stops his research and proposes a plan to wipe out every victim. And, much to no one’s surprise, Cable agrees to carry out the mission.
Psylocke has always been one tough customer, which makes her role as co-leader of X-Force fitting. During the Uncanny X-Force story arc “The Dark Angel Saga,” Betsy Braddock is faced with a tough choice: show mercy to the man she loves and let a horrible being live, or take out her beloved to save the world. Well, Psylocke chooses the latter.
During a confrontation with Archangel, who plans on eradicating all life on Earth, Psylocke plunges the Life Seed (an object used to separate any traces of Apocalypse’s influence on Warren) into her lover’s abdomen. The act destroys any trace of Archangel from Warren’s personality and is also one of the harshest breakups in comic book history.
Cable is such a gruff, tough-as-nails hero that you could fill a book with the measures he’s willing to take in order to get a mission complete. Nathan Summers comes from an unorthodox background (to put it mildly) and has been hardened by the horrific future from whence he hailed.
Now, this isn’t to say Cable is an unreasonable man. He’s a soldier and he attacks with purpose. One prime example of this occurred in New Mutants #100 during which he shoots the Morlock, Brute in the head to protect his teammate Feral from the sewer-dwelling Marauders. While subtly is not Cable’s strongest attribute, he certainly knows how to get a point across -- don’t mess with his team.
For about a decade or so, when he wasn’t trying to make Charles Xavier’s dream of unity come true through peaceful means and reactionary combat, Wolverine was moonlighting as a cold-blooded hit machine for the proactive deterrent team of mutants, X-Force. Logan knows sometimes you can’t just talk things out, and where words fail, a trio of razor-sharp claws might just work.
As a member of X-Force, Wolverine has seen his fair share of combat, a lot of which ended in severed limbs and blood loss, but the most brutal moment happens when he confronts his son, Daken. After a heated interrogation and an attempt to drown his old man, Daken is held face down in a puddle by Wolverine until he stops moving.
Lucas Bishop has had a tumultuous past… and future (look, it’s complicated). The guy has seen horrors you could only imagine, and sometimes that trauma (or being possessed by an evil entity) can skew his judgment. Some of his more brutal transgressions include taking out the villainous Hellfire Club member Trevor Fitzroy. But what really makes Bishop one monstrous dude happened during the crossover event “Messiah Complex.”
While technically not a member of X-Force yet, he shows all the tenacity of one of the team’s members as he stalks Hope Summers as an infant. Bishop sees the child as the cause of the demise of millions and decides to take out the child at all costs. Even after losing an arm, he continues, attacking friends and teammates.
After the events of "Messiah Complex," Cyclops decides to put together a new version of X-Force to include members who were more morally ambiguous when it came to violence. Wolfsbane is certainly one of those characters, but the extent to which the violence she leveled against people was a product of brainwashing… by her own father.
With the adjective “kill the angel” in her head, Rahne Sinclair attacks Angel, tearing his wings from his back and freeing the personality of Archangel. Later, she sees her father with the severed wings at either side of him and is triggered once again. Only this time she doesn’t stop at the wings. When X-Force finds her, Wolfsbane’s covered in blood, but no trace of her father.
Next to Cable, Warpath might be the longest lasting member of X-Force over the years. No matter what incarnation the team takes, James Proudstar is ready to display his combat abilities. When it comes to hand-to-hand combat, few mutants are as brutal and effective as Warpath. Seeing him clear a field with a pair of massive knives with the same grit and gusto as teammates like Wolverine prove the guy has no fear.
During Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, and Clayton Crain’s run on X-Force, Proudstar got a chance to show off his hyper reflexes and warrior spirit by taking out throngs of Purifiers with great ease. Warpath continued to be a valuable asset when it comes to combat in Old Man Logan’s Weapon X team.
Let’s not bury the lead here: Fantomex straight up shot a kid in the face. Like, point blank. Early in its run, the series Uncanny X-Force proved itself to be an X-book unlike any other. The new team was up to handle some terrible missions, some of which included taking out a would-be mutant tyrant when he was young.
In the story arc “The Apocalypse Solution” the team take on their first mission and head to the moon to confront a new incarnation of the villain Apocalypse. The only problem is that this incarnation is nothing more than a child who doesn’t know what he is. Once they find the reborn villain, no one in the team can bring themselves to take the kid out… except Fantomex. He’s pretty cool with it.
There’s a little bit of a caveat to this one: Warren Worthington is a good guy… well, mostly (he did have bizarre relations with a teenage girl), but his alter ego, Archangel is not to be trifled with. Even when Warren has Archangel under control, he is quick to use a barrage of bladed feathers to cut through enemies.
It’s hard to say who has the highest kill count when it comes to the members of X-Force, but we’d hazard a guess Archangel is up there. There have been plenty of panels in the pages of X-Force comics that see a room full of enemies get a shower of razors from above… and it’s ruthless every time.