A Skinning of Souls – Part One: Waiting For The Ripening
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Mark Penington (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Joe Rosas (colorist)
In Siberia, Illyana Rasputin is being monitored by a secret agent of the Russian government. Two other government agents, Darkstar and Alexi Garnoff, investigate a small town where every citizen’s mind has been erased. An unseen force attacks both of them. Colonel Vazhin decides to send an expendable agent, Omega Red, to investigate, but he also disappears. The X-Men arrive in Siberia with Colossus to visit his family. Once Colonel Vazhin learns that the X-Men are in Russia, he wants to use them to find out what happened to Darkstar, Garnoff, and Omega Red. Meanwhile, a woman with purple hair fights a street gang in Tokyo.
During their brief scene together, much of the dialogue between Cannonball and Xavier has been re-lettered. This scene establishes that government agent Val Cooper has asked Xavier to keep X-Force confined to the mansion, but he’ll look the other way while they take care of some business. This leads into a New Warriors/X-Force crossover.
I Love the ‘90s
Jubilee thinks that being exposed to the “dude from that MTV Sports show” will speed up young Illyana’s hormones.
This is the first part of a storyline that puts pieces in place for the next crossover. As you might’ve noticed, this is also the first issue of X-Men since the last crossover. Welcome to 1993 (or 2007). Colossus has now begun to express regrets over joining the X-Men after his brother’s suicide, which will tie into his future decision to abandon the team for the Acolytes. Illyana has also been re-introduced, so that she can soon die and push Colossus further over the edge. It’s obvious that’s there’s a lot of planning ahead at this point (Jubilee and Illyana are already becoming close, tying in to another future issue), but it’s all attached to a dull story.
I never liked this arc as a kid, probably because it was too hard for me to follow (especially with all of those Russian names). Except for the Rasputins, I had no idea who any of the Russian characters in this issue are, and there’s nothing in the story to make you care about them. Nicieza also makes the odd decision to have Omega Red’s recruitment and battle with the mystery villain take place off-panel. I think the next issue covers some of this territory, but I don’t understand why Nicieza decided to skip over it in the first chapter. Nicieza’s also still in the early days of his X-Men run, where he’s doing an exaggerated Chris Claremont impression on each page. As I’ve said before, his work in X-Force doesn’t read this way, so someone somewhere must’ve decided that this title should have a Claremontian feel. Andy Kubert is also still in a rough place, drawing some odd facial expressions and, for some reason, as much smoke as he can on each page. He’s also turned Colonel Vazhin from a scrawny middle-aged man into a muscular he-man.