Tuesday, May 6, 2008

UNCANNY X-MEN #317 – October 1994

“Generation Next” Part Three – Enter Freely and of Your Own Will
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Dan Green (inker), Steve Buccellato (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer)

Paige Guthrie wakes up inside a Phalanx holding cell, along with four other young mutants: Angelo, Gregor, Clarice, and Monet. Monet is still in an apparent catatonic state while the others are discussing possible escape plans. When Phalanx member Harvest enters, the meek Clarice surprisingly fights back, using her powers to make parts of his body appear and reappear. Gregor forces her to stop, claiming that Harvest would hurt her. Harvest leaves, and soon Monet speaks for the first time. She’s fashioned a part of their techno-organic suits into a weapon that she uses against Gregor, exposing him as a member of the Phalanx in disguise. Monet then uses her super strength to punch through the wall. The teenagers leave their cage and learn that they’re on a ship. Paige has been infected with the transmode virus, but Monet refuses to leave her behind. Meanwhile, Emma Frost takes Banshee, Everett Thomas, and Jubilee to her west coast home. Frost and Banshee infiltrate a SHIELD safe house to use their technology to locate Paige. After sneaking in, they’re eventually caught, but Banshee uses his sonic powers to give Frost more time to find the information they need.

Continuity Notes
This issue is the first appearance of Skin (Angelo) and Blink (Clarice), although they don’t officially have codenames yet. Technically, this is the first time we see the members of Generation X together.

The transmode virus was first referenced in the earlier issues of New Mutants The idea was that anyone Warlock touched could be infected with this virus and transformed into a techno-organic being. Why exactly Paige is the only person infected isn’t explained.

Another chapter that’s pretty light on plot. The Gen X kids escape their cell while Banshee and Emma Frost get closer to finding them. None of it’s really that exciting. The main purpose of this issue is to set the stage for the upcoming characterizations and relationships in the Generation X series. Paige is overly optimistic, Skin is deeply cynical, and M is haughty and mysterious. Lobdell does a competent job of establishing their personalities, even if none of the characters are really that likable. Blink actually comes across as the most sympathetic character, which is a sure sign that she’s going to die in the next chapter. Even though Blink was a character that was always intended to die, she apparently amassed a large fan following based on her role in this story. I can see part of the appeal, as her anime-influenced design still looked new at the time, and her characterization as a scared young girl rings more true than the typical portrayal of a teenage hero. She was obviously created in order to invoke sympathy in the readers, and I think many of them weren’t used to the idea of a character who really was supposed to stay dead. The fact that so many fans campaigned for her return for years shows that the titles were still making some connection with the readers, at least. I can see why fans warmed up to her so quickly, but I never understood why so many people wanted her back so badly (it’s looking like her death will be the only memorable part of this storyline).

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