Although criticized for emphasizing flashy art, big muscles and guns over character development, X-Force was tremendously successful in the early 1990s. The series' popularity waned after Liefeld left, causing Marvel to implement several reforms in the title from 1995 until 2001 with varying degrees of success.
Low sales on the series prompted Marvel to revamp the title in 2001 with a new cast in the form of a group of self-interested young mutants who were gathered together by a corporation to become media stars and used the name X-Force. X-Force (vol. 1) was cancelled with #125 and relaunched as X-Statix, which featured the later incarnation of the team.
After X-Statix was cancelled with #26, Marvel reunited the original X-Force team for a six-issue 2004 miniseries plotted and drawn by Liefeld.
In 2007-2008, during the Messiah Complex crossover, a new version of X-Force was formed that had Wolverine leading a more militaristic black ops branch of the X-Men, forming the basis for a new X-Force series starting February 2008 by writers Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, plus Clayton Crain as the artist.
In issue #3, X-Force would be joined by:
Later, in issue #15, two former New Mutants who had left before the team's evolution into X-Force joined:
The main opponents of X-Force during its first year were the terrorist Mutant Liberation Front, led by Stryfe, a masked mutant with a mysterious link to Cable. Early issues also featured the wise-cracking mercenary Deadpool, the immortal Externals, and a new version of The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, the X-Men’s oldest enemy group.
Propelled by Liefeld's art, X-Force became one of Marvel’s best-selling comic books immediately after its debut. The series rivaled The Amazing Spider-Man and Uncanny X-Men in popularity, particularly with the adolescent demographic. Toy Biz responded to X-Force's popularity by introducing an X-Force action figure line alongside its X-Men action figure line.
Writer Mark Waid and painter Alex Ross parodied X-Force and other anti-hero groups from the early 1990s in the 1996 DC Comics miniseries Kingdom Come, which portrayed a future where a generation of violent anti-heroes had replaced the familiar DC characters. Their leader Magog bore an intentional resemblance to Shatterstar and Cable.
Liefeld illustrated the series up to #9 and stopped plotting it after #12 as Liefeld had become increasingly frustrated that he did not own the characters he created and that his art was being used on a variety of merchandise while he received little royalties. Along with six other popular Marvel artists, Liefeld left Marvel Comics along with six other Marvel artists in 1992 to form Image Comics.
After X-Cutioner’s Song, X-Force continued under Nicieza and Capullo, and later pencilled Tony Daniel. Having temporarily lost their leader, X-Force attempted to develop an identity of their own. The team gradually developed into a dysfunctional family after Cable's return in #25, and the title regularly combined soap opera plot threads, such as romance and Siryn's alcoholism, with violent action. Nicieza fleshed out previously unknown elements of each character's history, including Siryn's family in Ireland , Rictor's in Mexico, and Cannonball's in Kentucky, as well as the mysterious origins of Shatterstar. This period also saw the reintroduction of characters from the group's New Mutants days, such as Rusty and Skids, Danielle Moonstar, and Cypher and Wolfsbane. A long-simmering sub-plot about Reignfire and the disappearance of Sunspot came to a climax just as the book went on hiatus for the Age of Apocalypse crossover event in 1995.
Due to falling sales, X-Force emerged from the Age of Apocalypse event with a new creative team of writer Jeph Loeb and illustrator Adam Pollina, who significantly revised the team with issue #43. Loeb introduced new team uniforms, had the team move in with the X-Men at the X-Mansion, and placed emphasis on character-driven stories with fewer fight scenes. Rictor quit the team and Cannonball joined the X-Men. Caliban, a super-strong albino mutant who possessed the mind of a child, joined the team. Loeb's stories included revelations about Shatterstar’s origin and the transformation of Boomer (formerly Boom Boom) into the more aggressive Meltdown. Fan response was generally positive.
In 1998, Moore and new artist Jim Cheung had X-Force move to a new headquarters in San Francisco, returned Cannonball and later Domino to the team, and added Bedlam, a mutant who could disrupt electronic equipment. However, towards the end of this run, sales on the title began to fall drastically.
Writer Warren Ellis, who was known for his dark, cynical style, revamped three books, (X-Force, Generation X, and X-Man), as part of the Revolution revamp of the X-Men series of titles in 2000. Ellis' stint on X-Force, co-written by Ian Edginton and illustrated by Whilce Portacio, saw Bedlam, Cannonball, Meltdown, and Warpath become a covert ops superhero team under the leadership of Pete Wisdom, a British mutant and former intelligence agent who could shoot burning blades of energy from his fingers. Sales remained about the same despite the changes in creators.
For more details on this version of X-Force, see X-Statix.
Although all members of the final version of the first X-Force were apparently killed in an explosion, it was later revealed that they survived but had disbanded.
In 2001, New X-Men writer Grant Morrison introduced X-Corporation, a global mutant rescue mission. Since then, many former members of X-Force have been seen in various X-Men related books as X-Corp operatives: Sunspot in Los Angeles, Domino and Risque in Hong Kong, Cannonball, Rictor and Siryn in Paris, and Feral and Warpath in Mumbai. More recently, Cannonball has been an X-Men member and Domino joined the new Six Pack in Cable & Deadpool.
In 2004, Marvel released a new six-issue X-Force mini-series, once again plotted and illustrated by Liefeld, with dialogue by Nicieza, that gathered many of the characters featured in the first X-Force, to critical panning yet decent sales. Some controversy arose from Liefeld's insertion of over ten pages from previous unpublished comic books (Wolverine and Cable: First Contact) with word balloons edited to make them fit the X-Force storyline. It was subsequently followed with a 4-issue prequel X-Force: Shatterstar miniseries.
As of late 2007, Cannonball, Caliban and Warpath are members of separate teams of X-Men; Caliban recently sacrificed himself to save Warpath. Rictor and Siryn have joined X-Factor Investigations, and Boom-Boom/Meltdown is in the superhero comedy series Nextwave. Not all members have moved on to other teams; Feral and Moonstar are no longer mutants, having lost their powers due to the events of "M-Day". Feral was later seen repowered in Wolverine (vol. 2) #54 and killed by a Weapon X-influenced Sabretooth. Moonstar is now an instructor for The Initiative at Camp Hammond. Shatterstar and Domino recently appeared in Civil War: X-Men when they attempted to free The 198, operating as X-Force.
In the Messiah Complex storyline, specifically Uncanny X-Men #493, Cyclops orders Wolverine to form a new version of X-Force and hunt down Cable. Wolverine selects the X-Men's best trackers, Warpath, Caliban, Hepzibah, Wolfsbane, and X-23.
The new X-Force eventually locate Cable and defend him from an attack from Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers, a battle in which X-23 all but kills Lady Deathstrike and Caliban is shot dead by a Reaver.
|#1-2||Boomer, Cable, Cannonball, Copycat (as Domino), Feral, Shatterstar, Warpath|
|#3-14||Boomer, Cable, Cannonball, Copycat, Feral, Shatterstar, Siryn, Warpath|
|#15-18||Boomer, Cannonball, Feral, Rictor, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#19-23||Boomer, Cannonball, Feral, Lila Cheney, Rictor, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#24||Boomer, Cannonball, Feral, Rictor, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#25-28||Boomer, Cable, Cannonball, Feral, Rictor, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#29-43||Boomer, Cable, Cannonball, Domino, Rictor, Shatterstar, Siryn, Warpath|
|#44-50||Boomer, Cable, Caliban, Domino, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#51-69||Cable, Caliban, Domino, Meltdown (formerly Boomer), Rictor, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#70-81||Meltdown, Moonstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#83-86||Bedlam, Cannonball, Meltdown, Moonstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#87-91||Bedlam, Cannonball, Domino, Meltdown, Moonstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#92-101||Bedlam, Cannonball, Domino, Meltdown, Moonstar, Warpath|
|#102-106||Bedlam, Cannonball, Meltdown, Warpath, Wisdom|
|#102-115||Bedlam, Cannonball, Domino, Meltdown, Warpath|
|#116||Anarchist, Battering Ram, Doop, Gin Genie, Plazm, U-Go Girl, Zeitgeist|
|#117-118||Anarchist, Bloke, Doop, Orphan, Phat, Saint Anna, U-Go Girl, Vivisector|
|#119||Anarchist, Doop, Orphan, Phat, Saint Anna, U-Go Girl, Vivisector|
|#120||Anarchist, Doop, Orphan, Phat, U-Go Girl, Vivisector|
|#121-124||Anarchist, Doop, Orphan, Phat, Spike, U-Go Girl, Vivisector|
|#125-128||Anarchist, Dead Girl, Doop, Orphan, Phat, Spike, U-Go Girl, Vivisector|
|#129||Anarchist, Dead Girl, Doop, Orphan, Phat, Vivisector|
|#1-6||Cable, Cannonball, Domino, Meltdown, Shatterstar, Sunspot, Warpath|
|#1-3||Warpath, Wolfsbane, Wolverine, X-23|
|#4-8||Archangel, Warpath, Wolfsbane, Wolverine, X-23|
|#9-onward||Archangel, Domino, Warpath, Wolfsbane, Wolverine, X-23|