Thursday, April 24, 2008

X-MEN #34 – July 1994

Life and Consequences
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (breakdowns), Matt Ryan (finished art), Bill Oakley (letterer), Digital Chameleon (colorist)

Using information given to them by Sabretooth, Gambit, Psylocke, Rogue, and Beast sneak into one of Mr. Sinister’s bases to find information on the Legacy Virus. It’s located under the State Home for Foundlings in Nebraska, the orphanage where Cyclops grew up. After defeating a defective clone of the Marauder Riptide, they discover Threnody hooked up to an elaborate device. The machinery allows her to stay lucid and control her powers. She tells the X-Men that she’s been using Sinister’s technology to learn all of the information he’s complied. When the X-Men ask her about leaving, she says that she’s using Sinister just as he’s using her. When Threnody learns about the Riptide clone that attacked the X-Men, she shocked because the cloning chambers haven’t been used since she arrived. Riptide’s cloning partner, a weak Sabretooth clone, appears and is easily defeated by Rogue. Beast doesn’t see any information on the Legacy Virus, but the X-Men learn that Sinister has genetic material on countless people, allowing him to clone them at any time. Against Beast’s wishes, Threnody decides to destroy Sinister’s genetic database. Beast tries to convince her to leave, but Threnody wants to stay and learn more from Sinister while sabotaging his work. The X-Men reluctantly allow her to stay.

Continuity Notes
Sinister’s lab is inside a “pocket-dimensional tesseract chamber”. Beast says that his ability to access it explains Sinister’s ability to teleport (uh...okay). This issue also confirms that the Marauders who returned from the dead were clones. How exactly Riptide’s clone appeared in this issue isn’t explained, although I guess it’s supposed to imply that Sinister is in control of programs that Threnody isn’t aware of. Based on subsequent stories, the information Threnody destroyed didn’t seem to affect Sinister.

Rogue tells Threnody that the price she’ll pay for working with Sinister is “th’ bleedin’ of your soul”. Gambit hears the phrase and questions where he’s heard it before. This could be seen as an early hint at his past with Sinister, but I think it’s supposed to tie in with the subplot about Rogue taking on Bella Donna’s characteristics. I don’t think the “Bella Donna is inside Rogue” subplot was ever resolved.

Miscellaneous Note
The previous issue was only nineteen pages, while this one is twenty. This reminds me of the early issues of X-Force, which would often cut stories short.

I liked this issue as a kid, because it looked like Threnody’s storyline wasn’t going to be forgotten, and the vague hints given about Sinister intrigued me. It holds up okay until the ending, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why would Threnody suddenly decide to destroy Sinister’s genetic databank? It seems strange that she would impulsively decide to wipe out so much of Sinister’s research, even with the Beast telling her not to. If she had such a problem with Sinister having this information, why didn’t she do this sooner? And even if it takes months for Sinister to notice what she’s done, her actions are still going to undermine her goal of learning from Sinister’s data (and, of course, put her life in danger). Up until the irrational ending, though, this isn’t that bad. It’s nice to see the X-Men initiate the action in a story instead of just reacting to a threat. Nicieza does a decent job of developing the various character arcs as the story unfolds, so the issue doesn’t feel as if it’s just killing time until the upcoming crossover starts. Andy Kubert only provides breakdowns in this issue, but Matt Ryan’s finishes give the book a look consistent with the previous issues. It actually looks identical to the previous issues when Ryan was only inking, which says a lot about his drawing abilities.

The X-Men are shown to be genuinely concerned about Threnody, which probably needed to be clearly established since they let Sinister take her away in her previous appearance. I should point out that nothing in that issue indicated that Sinister was actually going to harm Threnody (he wanted to use her powers to find Legacy Virus victims, not experiment on her), but letting one of their nastiest enemies walk away with a mutant didn’t exactly present the X-Men in the best light. I wonder if someone at Marvel realized that, because her storyline was followed up on pretty quickly (judging by the standards of the time, at least). Of course, the X-Men don’t come across much better in this issue, as they let her stay with Sinister, knowing what he’ll probably do to her for destroying his research.

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