Trust Is a Two-Edged Sword
Credits: Glenn Herdling (writer), Ian Churchill (penciler), Hilary Barta and Bud La Rosa (inkers), Richard Starkings (letterer), Dana Moreshead and Mike Thomas (colorists)
Caliban has kidnapped Jubilee, hoping to exchange her for Sabretooth. The only X-Man he’ll agree to meet with is Kitty Pryde, who has flown in from Scotland. Professor Xavier hopes that Kitty can talk Caliban into giving Jubilee back. The X-Men need Sabretooth to find Caliban’s specific location in the sewers, so Jean Grey gives him the telepathic “glow” in exchange for going along. While in the sewers, Sabretooth tries to escape but Kitty is able to stop him. They’re soon discovered by Caliban who opens the floodgates in the sewer, hoping that Sabretooth will drown and that Kitty will phase through the wall to safety. Kitty escapes with Sabretooth, but they’re soon attacked by a giant squid. Caliban steps in to save Kitty, but he can’t stop the squid. Sabretooth surprises Kitty by killing it and saving their lives. He then tricks Kitty into accidentally short-circuiting his manacles, but he’s quickly recaptured. Caliban, ashamed of what he has turned into, disappears.
In one of his early appearances, Caliban tried to marry Kitty Pryde. He wants revenge on Sabretooth for his role in the Morlock Massacre. After Caliban was remade by Apocalypse, he had a lasting feud with Sabretooth in the earlier issues of X-Factor.
On page forty-three, Kitty Pryde’s dialogue has been re-lettered to have Kitty consider the possibility that Sabretooth could be reformed.
Kitty is able to walk through the sewers without a flashlight. She implies that she can see in the dark because her name is “Shadowcat”.
There’s an ad for “Universal Collectibles Club”, some sort of discount comics service. Buried in the tiny print of their ad is this: “Harlan Ellison, Neil Young, Peter David, God Street Wine and Eddie Vedder call for your complimentary membership and special prize! Ask for Cary!” God Street Wine was apparently a ‘90s jam band I’ve never heard of. Were they as cool as Peter David and Eddie Vedder? Do you think Vedder ever called Cary? Why was Eddie Vedder asked to join but not Kurt Cobain? Maybe Billy Corgan wanted free comics! If you joined the club, you could also get ‘90s classics like Ravage 2009 #1 and Deathmate Prologue for free, and there was no limit on the number of copies of Punisher 2099 #1 and Shadowhawk II #1 you could buy.
This issue didn’t seem so bad to me until the giant squid showed up. It makes sense that people with a grudge against Sabretooth would now be going after the X-Men, and Caliban’s hatred of Sabretooth was the center of a few X-Factor stories, so I don’t have a problem with the premise of the story. Caliban’s given some odd speech patterns for the first half of the issue, but he seems to be more in character by the story’s end. The idea that only Sabretooth can find Caliban doesn’t work when you consider the fact that this story features two telepaths. I’m not sure why the story goes in that direction since Sabretooth was Calbian’s ransom demand in the first place, so he already had a reason to go into the sewers. I understand why Herdling introduced a separate menace for Caliban and Sabretooth to fight towards the end of the story…but an inexplicable giant squid hiding in the sewers? Really? This is a Marvel comic, there could have at least been an explanation that it was the result of an abandoned AIM project or something.
This is the first issue during this era to have someone seriously consider the idea that Sabretooth might reform. The dialogue comes in a re-lettered balloon, so I don’t know if Herdling intended for this idea to be raised or if it was added by editorial. It’s possible that Marvel was still considering having him actually join the team at this point, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the idea were put out in there in the comics to see how people responded. Or maybe Herdling intended for that scene to be red herring before Sabretooth’s final escape attempt. Throwing in that last escape attempt with only three pages left doesn’t work because there’s not enough room to go anywhere with it. Even Jubilee points out how implausible it was for Kitty to be able to repair Sabretooth’s manacles so quickly. I didn’t notice a lot of these flaws as a kid and seem to remember liking this story. I will say that Herdling handles Kitty, Jubilee, and Sabretooth’s characterizations pretty well, even if the plot doesn’t entirely work.