Comics
Published September 19, 2023

Meet the Mutant Liberation Front, the X-Men's Polar Opposite

What is the Mutant Liberation Front? Meet this team of mutants who fights for their rights through violent means, which has pit them against the X-Men, X-Force, and more.

For decades, the X-Men and the other teams inspired by Professor X's philosophy have tried to protect a world that hates and fears mutants. However, the Mutant Liberation Front took the opposite approach. The violent young mutants of the MLF fought for mutant rights through vicious attacks on their enemies, which has also forced them into regular battles with the young heroes of the New Mutants and X-Force. Although most of the group's members joined the X-Men in the mutant nation Krakoa, the FALL OF X has introduced a new Mutant Liberation Front that is deadlier than ever. 

Now, let's take a closer look at the Mutant Liberation Front and how it evolved from a group of disaffected young mutants into an Avengers-level threat. We'll also break down how these villains lured several X-Men into their ranks as a new MLF takes shape in UNCANNY AVENGERS (2023) #2 by Gerry Duggan, Javier Garrón, Morry Hollowell, and VC's Travis Lanham.

WHAT IS THE MUTANT LIBERATION FRONT?

The Mutant Liberation Front debuted in NEW MUTANTS (1983) #86 by Louise Simonson, Rob Liefeld, and Bob Wiacek. The team was originally assembled by Stryfe, a tyrannical clone of Cable raised by Apocalypse in the far future. The MLF acted as Stryfe's personal strike force and committed terrorist acts that drew the attention of Cable and the New Mutants, just as those heroes evolved into the militaristic X-Force. 

Later Mutant Liberation Front teams were led by Reignfire, an evil clone of the New Mutants' Sunspot, and the hallucination-creating Wildside, one of the group's original members. Beyond its leaders, the original MLF brought together several lethal villains, including the paralyzing Reaper, the size-changing Thumbelina, the heat-manipulator Strobe, the four-armed Forearm, and the teleporter Zero. The original team also included the time-manipulating Tempo, who always had reservations about the group's violent methods. She eventually joined Kate Pryde's Marauders and the X-Men in the Krakoan era. 

Across its various line-ups, the MLF briefly recruited several disillusioned X-Men, including Hope Summers, Banshee, Skids, Rusty Collins, Feral, and Danielle Moonstar, who infiltrated the team as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

STRYFE AND THE MUTANT LIBERATION FRONT 

Shortly after fleeing the future where he and Cable were raised, Stryfe formed the Mutant Liberation Front in the modern day. From secret bases hidden around the world, Stryfe orchestrated the MLF's first attack on a research facility and demanded the release of Skids and Rusty Collins, two young mutant allies of the X-Men who had just been arrested. 

In his first appearance, Cable unsuccessfully tried to stop the MLF in NEW MUTANTS (1983) #87 by Louise Simonson, Rob Liefeld, and Bob Wiacek. The MLF went on to free Skids and Collins and recruited them to their team by giving them neural implants that altered their thinking. Meanwhile, Cable started mentoring the New Mutants, who tracked the MLF down to Madripoor, where they encountered MLF members Dragoness, Samurai, and Sumo for the first time. 

After Cable formally turned the New Mutants into X-Force, the heroes attacked a Mutant Liberation Front base on their first mission. The MLF subsequently freed Mister Sinister's henchmen, the Nasty Boys, from custody and fought a fierce battle with the government-sponsored X-Factor team. 

After Tempo tried unsuccessfully to stop the villains from attacking a clinic, the MLF began gathering several Apocalypse-related artifacts for Stryfe. Just as knowledge of Stryfe's resemblance to Cable started to spread, the MLF leader tried to assassinate Professor X while posing as Cable in the "X-Cutioner's Song" crossover event. Stryfe sent the X-Men into disarray and tried to get revenge on everyone he felt wronged by; the MLF served him throughout the event, until all its members were captured.

THE MUTANT LIBERATION FRONT AND X-FORCE

After a brief hiatus, the Mutant Liberation Front jumped back into action under the leadership of Reignfire in X-FORCE (1991) #26 by Fabian Nicieza, Mat Broome, Bud LaRosa, and Scott Hanna. Reignfire's MLF included Wildside, Forearm, Tempo, Reaper, the undercover Danielle Moonstar, and the teleporter Locus. 

While X-Force reeled from the apparent betrayal of their old friend Moonstar, the MLF targeted the anti-mutant bureaucrat Henry Peter Gyrich for their first mission. During the MLF's subsequent battle with X-Force, Gryich's anti-mutant sentiments convinced X-Force's Feral to leave the team and join the MLF. However, Tempo left the MLF and briefly helped X-Force before stepping away to pursue a normal civilian life.

In subsequent encounters, Reignfire caused confusion over his connection to Sunspot and made X-Force think he was really their longtime teammate. After covertly stopping the MLF from stealing Moira MacTaggert's research on a mutant plague called the Legacy Virus, Moonstar eventually told a relieved X-Force why she was working undercover for S.H.I.E.L.D. 

When the mutant-hating machine Bastion and his Prime Sentinels targeted the mutant population in "Operation: Zero Tolerance," the MLF captured a government facility that was creating a new strain of the Legacy Virus. While Moonstar returned to her friends in X-Force after this encounter, Bastion's Sentinels ultimately captured most of the MLF. 

After Reignfire and Locus subsequently stalked X-Force through the United States, the mutant heroes ultimately learned Reignfire was a protoplasmic clone of Sunspot and defeated him. Although the MLF was dormant for the next several years, the group was briefly reassembled when an alternate-future Domino traveled back in time and posed as Stryfe to stop an immortal creature named Skorrn.

THE MUTANT LIBERATION FRONT RETURNS

When the Mutant Liberation Front resurfaced, the group returned in two drastically different forms. At a time when anti-mutant sentiment was reaching a fever pitch, Wildside reassembled the classic Mutant Liberation Front with a few of his old teammates in UNCANNY X-MEN (2018) #1 by Ed Brisson, Matthew RosenbergKelly Thompson, and Mahmud Asrar, where they fought the X-Men at a facility developing a treatment to prevent the mutant gene from activating in children. 

After most of the X-Men were transported to an alternate reality and presumed dead, the MLF found two new members with Hope Summers, who was grieving the apparent death of her adoptive father Cable, and Banshee, who was recovering from his time as one of Apocalypse's Horsemen. Even though Hope took out one of his eyes in battle, Cyclops eventually convinced these two heroes to return to the X-Men, and the rest of the MLF was apprehended. 

Around the same time, a younger version of Stryfe traveled from his future to the modern day with the Mutant Liberation Army, his timeline's answer to the MLF, in X-FORCE (2018) #4 by Brisson and Dylan Burnett. Along with Zero, this time-traveling team included new mutants Conduit, Triptych, and Andrei Cutov. 

After a younger version of Cable time-traveled to the present, Stryfe and the MLA captured him and his alternate reality sister Rachel Summers, who acted as a religious figure known as Mother Askani in their timeline. When they returned to the future, Stryfe tried to use the Summers siblings to wipe out Cable's allies in the Clan Askani and Clan Chosen. However, the modern X-Force traveled to the future and helped Cable and Rachel defeat Stryfe and his forces.

THE NEW MUTANT LIBERATION FRONT

When the world's mutants came together to form the nation Krakoa, Wildside and his Mutant Liberation Front joined them, and most of the team lived together in one of the island's communal dorms. However, the relative peace of Krakoa shattered when the mutant-hating organization Orchis attacked the Hellfire Gala and forced Professor X to send most of the mutant population to parts unknown. With the remaining X-Men forced underground, Orchis put together a new Mutant Liberation Front to foster even more anti-mutant sentiment in UNCANNY AVENGERS (2023) #1 by Gerry Duggan and Javier Garrón.

This MLF is led by the mysterious new Captain Krakoa, who aims to tarnish mutantkind's image using a stolen Krakoan battlesuit and an identity once held by Cyclops. This team also includes a blood-thirsty Wildside and Blob, who genuinely believes he is supporting the mutant cause and working with Cyclops. Captain Krakoa also recruited the sadistic mutant siblings known collectively as Fenris, who were freed from their imprisonment in the depths of Krakoa's pit. 

As the MLF launched attacks around the world, they encountered Captain America and his combined team of veteran X-Men and Avengers. Captain Krakoa subsequently broke Captain America's arm, and Fenris used their energy powers to blast a hole through Deadpool. The Mutant Liberation Front stands ready to carry out Orchis' dark vision and make humanity hate and fear mutants more than ever.

Meet Captain Krakoa's Mutant Liberation Front in UNCANNY AVENGERS #2, on sale this Wednesday, September 20!

Grab these comics and more at your local comic book shop! Or redeem then read your digital copy on the Marvel Unlimited app by using the code found in your print comic. Find and support your local comic book shop at ComicShopLocator.com.

To read your Marvel comics digitally, download the Marvel Unlimited app for iOS and Android devices. Gain an expansive catalog of 30,000+ comics spanning Marvel Comics history, plus access your entire digital library including comics redeemed from print.

Related

X-MEN (2024) #1 cover by Ryan Stegman

Comics

In Jed Mackay and Ryan Stegman's 'X-Men,' Cyclops Reignites Mutant Revolution

Check out the main cover and learn more about Jed MacKay and Ryan Stegman's 'X-Men,' one of the three core series of the X-Men's upcoming From the Ashes era kicking off in July.

Gambit's Greatest Hits (So Far)

Comics

Gambit's Greatest Hits (So Far)

Meet Remy LeBeau AKA Gambit! This dashing Cajun has more than a few tricks up his sleeve—you might even call him the X-Men's lucky charm.

Collect These Rare X-Men '97 Trading Packs on Whatnot

Culture & Lifestyle

Collect These Rare X-Men '97 Trading Packs on Whatnot

Marvel artists Ariel Olivetti, Rob Liefeld, Salvador Larroca and Stephen Segovia created variant covers for a one-of-a-kind Marvel Comic Trading Pack!

X-MEN '97 (2024) #2 cover by Todd Nauck

Comics

April 10's New Marvel Comics: The Full List

Check out some additional 'X-Men '97' adventures, go back to school with the Ultimate X-Men, face Mojo with Ms. Marvel, and more in this week's comics!