Return to Hellfire!
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Joe Rosas (colorist)
Psylocke and Sabretooth spar in the Danger Room as the Professor examines Sabretooth’s physiological response to combat. Archangel receives an invitation to a Hellfire Club party. Psylocke’s father was a Hellfire member, and she asks to accompany Archangel. At the party, the pair is abducted by Shinobi Shaw. Shaw offers Archangel the role of White King in the Hellfire Club. Archangel refuses and a fight breaks out. Psylocke stabs Shaw with her psychic knife, releasing his memories of childhood abuse. The fight stops, and Shaw realizes that following in his father’s footsteps isn’t bringing him happiness.
Archangel and Shinobi Shaw knew each other as children. Shinobi’s father considered him to be a disappointment but always admired Archangel.
Archangel meets Dwayne Taylor, Night Thrasher, inside the Hellfire Club, in a scene that occurs simultaneously with X-Force #32.
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Psylocke’s breasts are literally larger than her head on page eleven. There’s occasional cheesecake in these comics, but this goes a lot farther than usual (and I'd like to extend a warm welcome to everyone Googling "Psylocke breasts").
Jubilee tells Iceman it’s time to become the “master of your domain” when giving him his copy of National Geographic.
After Psylocke tells Beast not to call her “Betsy”, the rest of their conversation is re-lettered. This ties into the needlessly confusing Kwannon storyline, but I’m not sure why parts of the conversation were changed.
When Sabretooth tells Psylocke that she’s his kind of woman, her response is “I know, Creed. And that worries me to no end.” Archangel is incensed that she’s flirting with Sabretooth. How is she flirting?
According to the Statement of Ownership, average sales for the year were 672,175 with the most recent issue at 579,300.
I’m not sure what the point of this issue is. Ever since the X-line was revamped in 1991, Archangel didn’t receive a lot of attention, which is surprising given his prominent role in X-Factor. The conflict involving the use of his wings was dismissed early on after the revamp, and his characterization seemed to alternate between lighthearted and grim over the next two years. There’ some attempt to develop his character with this issue, as Archangel considers the fact that he’s expelled the darkness Apocalypse forced onto him, but hasn’t replaced it with anything. This is apparently resolved at the end of the issue, when he gives a speech to Shaw about having friends that helped him to determine his own destiny. I’m assuming that Shaw is supposed to represent someone who can’t get out of the shadow of someone else and be his own man, so he’s now emulating the abusive father he despises. Actually, these aren’t bad ideas, but the execution is weak. If Shaw's issues with his father are supposed to parallel Archangel's relationship with Apocalypse, the idea doesn't really come across well. Shaw doesn’t even meet up with Archangel until the story’s halfway over, and most of their scenes together are just spent fighting.
The beginnings of the Psylocke/Archangel romance start with this issue. I never understood the appeal of the relationship, but Marvel stuck with it for around seven years, even giving them a miniseries together. The justification for putting the two of them together in this story seems to be the fact that both of them come from rich families. Later on, the idea that both of them have undergone physical changes is used to bring them together. This never worked for me, when you consider how many other X-characters have gone through physical transformations. Is this really the basis of a relationship? It’s interesting that Psylocke doesn’t seem interested in Archangel at all in this issue. He implies that he’s physically attracted to her (in what seems like a meta-commentary on the tradition Jim Lee began of sexing up the female characters), but she barely says a word to him throughout the issue. Their relationship really begins when the Kwannon storyline is finally over, so I’ll take another look at it when I get to those issues.