Thursday, May 8, 2008

X-FORCE #38 – September 1994

The Faith Dancers
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Tony Daniel (penciler), Kevin Conrad (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Marie Javins (colorist)

Douglock takes Forge, Wolfsbane, and Cannonball to the Italian Alps, telling them that he needs their help to stop the Phalanx. After meditating for hours, Professor Xavier is able to contact Forge through the Astral Plane. Forge tells him that he thinks that the Phalanx might have a right to exist after bonding with Douglock. Douglock senses Phalanx growth in a nearby valley, and the team soon discovers the Nursery Conduit. Douglock says that the site grew beyond the control of the Phalanx’s collective intelligence, which means that the Phalanx are now reproducing. The team investigates the nursery site, and a Phalanx embryo hatches and latches itself on to Forge. While in telepathic contact with him, Xavier realizes that Forge has lost himself to the Phalanx. Cannonball breaks the Phalanx’s connection to Forge as Xavier’s astral form disappears. Douglock convinces the others to let him infect them with the Transmode Virus so that they can enter the Phalanx’s Babel Spire. They arrive too late, as the signal has already gone out to the Phalanx’s parent race that they are ready to be a part of their celestial conscience.
Meanwhile, Moira MacTaggert studies the remnant traces of the Transmode Virus inside Warlock’s former teammates, enabling her to trace Phalanx activity. Xavier asks for one group of the combined X-teams to guard Moira while she continues to research the Phalanx, and another one to fight against the Phalanx in the Alps. Siryn and Polaris combine their powers to send Boomer, Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Amanda Sefton, and Rictor to the Alps.

Approved By The Comics Code Authority
Wolfsbane’s costume is drawn as a full-on thong (which is especially odd given the fact that she’s in half-wolf form) on page 41. The fact that sweet, innocent Rahne’s characterization was being ignored for the sake of gratuitous T&A bothered me even as a fourteen year old.

Continuity Note
The story doesn’t seem to coincide with the previous chapter’s ending, which had Douglock acting as if he was under someone else’s control when he kidnapped the team. Now, the story says that Douglock only took them when they ignored his warning that they had to travel to the Alps.

It’s an improvement over the previous chapter, if only because Nicieza is able to introduce some characterization into the story. Having Forge contemplate if the Phalanx have a right to exist adds some complexity, as does Douglock’s assertion that Cannonball is treating him the same way humans treat mutants. Nicieza’s also able to get some mileage out of Cannonball’s refusal to believe the Doug could be alive again. These moments work pretty well, but they’re all tied into an uninteresting crossover that’s delving into a lot of pseudo-science. As a kid, I can remember getting confused at this point in the story, because I just accepted the fact that the Phalanx were an anti-mutant group, and now they’re a group of aliens that want to take over the Earth.

Just like the previous chapter in X-Factor, this issue doesn’t feel like it’s an issue of the regular series. Cannonball is the only team member to receive any attention, while everyone else just stands around in the background. At the time, this didn’t seem so bad, because I think the majority of X-Force’s readers probably were X-completists. Seeing the team interact with the other X-groups was a large part of the appeal of these stories. Looking at it now, it comes across as a gratuitous interruption of whatever momentum the book was building.

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