Rob Liefeld’s 'Major X' Is an Anti-Deadpool Three Decades in the Making
“I tried to give this character compassion." Rob Liefeld opens up about his newest toy in Marvel's X-Men sandbox.
Rob Liefeld, the creator of Deadpool, has a new toy for Marvel’s toy box. His name is Major X, and he’s been waiting for a long, long time to make his comic book debut. To Liefeld, Major X, its first issue available now, stands at the nexus of a prolific career that’s topped comic sales and Hollywood box office weekends. But who is Major X?
First, he’s a new character, whole cloth. Not a riff. Not a remix. Not a variation of an existing X-Man. New. And second, he’s nothing like Deadpool, Liefeld’s most recognized creation, even if they share some striking visual similarities.
“I just wanted to do something new,” Liefeld tells Inverse. “Major X is me stepping out of my comfort zone. A challenge for me to plant something new and have it resonate.”
In Major X, which features illustrations from Brent Peeples and Whilce Portacio, the mysterious title character jumps from his alternate dimension, X-istence — “A paradise for mutantkind”— into the mainstream Marvel Universe circa 1991, when Liefeld’s X-Force rocked the comics industry. Over the six-issue series, Major X runs amok in the fringes of a bygone era of Marvel, doing whatever he can to save his home of X-istence.
“He is going to do anything he can to fight his way towards where he needs to be,” Liefeld says. “That is the mission.”
"I went bonkers on this one — Rob Liefeld
Stand your Major X and Deadpool action figures side-by-side and you’ll notice they may look a tad similar; like Deadpool, Major X also has a taste for sleek red spandex, dual-wielding guns, and keeping his swords strapped to his back.
As Liefeld told Inverse of his artistic style in 2018: “I brought gear. All my characters were weaponized. Futuristic guns, swords, throwing knives, belt pouches, cybernetic appendages. Everything I was doing was visceral. Visible.”
But Liefeld now assures us Major X is no reshash. Under the surface, he’s a new type of anti-hero. “Major X is not a grizzled as Cable, and not as crazy as Deadpool.” Instead, Major X is “very determined, resourceful, and passionate.”
“Deadpool is a crazy asshole,” Liefeld explains on the differences to Deadpool, adding that Wade Wilson is the “un-PC” voice “we’re all scared to let loose but he has no qualms putting it other there.” With Major X, on the other hand, “I tried to give this character compassion. He’s not content to just suit up and move on in this world.”
“I went bonkers on this one,” adds the creator. “This is a big story. It’s out there, it’s fearless, things go wrong. It’s a blast.”
In another dimension, Major X may have been as big as Deadpool. Maybe Ryan Reynolds would have played him, instead of Deadpool, in two R-rated blockbusters. But in this reality, Major X is only getting started now. Back in 1991, Major X was a sketch of Liefeld’s he would have fleshed out in his third year at Marvel. But in December 1991, Liefeld — along with Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Jim Valentino, and a handful of others who were hailed as Marvel’s best creators at the time — left to form Image Comics, itself an origin story that’s become the stuff of legend.
“Major X started as some unfinished business that I had,” Liefeld says. “He was a storyline had I stayed on in the early ‘90s, had I done a complete third year.”
Left inside Liefeld’s drawer, Major X hibernated until late 2017. That year, in November, Marvel hired its new Editor-in-Chief, C.B. Cebulski, who called Liefeld looking to (in Liefeld’s words) “get some punch back” in the X-Men. Cebulski offered him a spot in an upcoming X-Men crossover. Liefeld declined, and pitched him Major X instead. Cebulski enthusiastically accepted.
“He was working on the focus as he was taking over,” Liefeld says. “I told him about Major X and he said, ‘Rob, I love this. Let’s do this.’”
The 51-year-old creator’s comic book career is defined by doing new things. In 1991, Liefeld made history with his best-selling X-Force #1, still the second best-selling single issue of all time. It’s an astonishing achievement when you consider that Liefeld’s ripped figures on the cover didn’t exist, in any form, until a year and a half prior to publication. Rival publisher DC Comics was left in the dust.
“They killed Superman and they still couldn’t catch me,” boasts Liefeld.
The creator of Deadpool, Cable, and now Major X has a motto and a philosophy born out of frustration. During his X-Men heyday, Liefeld said he had to wait a whole six months before he could feature Wolverine in his storylines.
“I wanted Wolverine to fight Cable,” Liefeld says. “I made that request for my first issue. I had a six-month wait to get approved.” That’s when a lightbulb flickered. “So I was like, ‘You know what? Stop playing with everyone else’s toys. Make your own.”
Fast forward to Major X, and Liefeld has even less time to wait for Marvel’s approval. (Although, because of time travel, he’s free to have Wolverine and Cable in his comics right from the start.) “I can’t be caught up in approvals with how many other writers. I’m running around that, and it sparked more creativity in me, to deliver a different journey than I intended.”
Major X #1 is available now.