Monday, May 5, 2008

X-MEN #36 – September 1994

“Generation Next” Part Two – Drop the Leash
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Digital Chameleon (colorist)

The Phalanx continue their attempts at assimilating Monet St. Croix, while Cameron Hodge tells Stephen Lang that the Phalanx will assimilate all opposition and destroy anything that can’t be assimilated. Lang questions if something is wrong with his creation. Banshee, Sabretooth, Emma Frost, and Jubilee travel to St. Louis to stop the Phalanx from taking another new mutant, Everett Thomas. Thomas helps Banshee and Sabretooth stop the Phalanx members sent after him, while other parts of the Phalanx attack Frost and Jubilee. In Kentucky, the Phalanx kidnap Paige Guthrie from her family home. Meanwhile, Thomas uses his synching power to mimic Jubilee’s pyrokinetic ability and blast the Phalanx to an atomic level. Stephen Lang sends his consciousness through the techno-organic mesh to brag about kidnapping Jean Grey’s sister, Sara, and Paige Guthrie. Frost is telepathically able to pick up a general location for Paige. They prepare to leave when they discover that Sabretooth has escaped.

Continuity Notes
Everett Thomas, Synch, appears for the first time. The other members of Generation X have very brief cameos as headshots early in the story.

The Guthries’ mother is way off-model, based on my memories of her appearances in New Mutants. She looks to be the same age as her teenage daughter. In fact, Mrs. Guthrie, Paige, and Emma Frost all pretty much look alike in this issue.

Sara Grey went missing in an early issue of X-Factor, which came over five years before this story. Since Lang was previously seen in a mental hospital in Lobdell’s run before starting the Phalanx, this wouldn’t explain where she was during the intervening years.

Stephen Lang tells the X-Men that the Phalanx were formed from the techno-organic remains of Warlock and his own hatred of mutants. There’s still no explanation of who took him from the mental hospital.

In the letters page, a fan asks if Rogue will ever be able to control her powers. The response is “In this reality?”. Even though it’s not in the actual story, it’s the first hint towards the “Age of Apocalypse” storyline.

After a slow start, the second part of the Phalanx crossover focuses more on action and less on suspense. There’s really not a lot of plot, as the story mainly serves to introduce Synch and have Sabretooth escape. Synch isn’t given much of a personality here, as all that’s established is a smug attitude and not much else. I don’t remember hardly anything about Synch, so I’m not even sure if that’s consistent with the way he’ll be portrayed in the future. Kubert does a decent job on the action scenes, but some of the character work is off. I mentioned above the fact that the three blonde females in the story all look alike, despite being different ages. Synch is also given some odd facial expressions (especially on page seven, when his face apparently gains a hundred pounds). Nicieza’s approach of just plowing through the action and not dwelling on the plot is the best way to go about this, since the plot doesn’t entirely hold up. For example, Sara Grey is brought back to remind the readers of the Phalanx’s earlier appearances when they targeted the X-Men’s friends and family. And yet, just a few pages earlier, Banshee assures Synch that his family is safe and that the Phalanx only want mutants. Why exactly the Phalanx want young mutants doesn’t make a lot of sense either, unless the idea is that they’re tracking down every known mutant and the young ones in Xavier’s files are the only ones they haven’t reached yet. This might be handled in the other chapters relegated to the spinoffs, but it’s odd that none of the characters in the story bring it up.


rob said...

This is much different than Lobdell's part one, but enjoyable in it's own ways. The action scenes are strong and this ragtag group is fun to read about. But I've always hated the Sarah Grey element of the story. It's brought in from nowhere and should have no personal impact on the characters involved here (although Banshee seems to immediately recognize her and his furious ...okay).

I think they explained away Synch's appearance here in a later letters column by saying his powers were picking up Sabretooth's mass/muscle and that's why he is huge in these issues and a normal 15 yr old-sized under Bachalo in Gen X. I always hated that explanation.

rob said...

ps. SO excited you have reached the Phalanx Covenant. Cannot wait for the build up issues to AoA and the crossover itself.

Teebore said...

I remember loving the Sara Grey bit when this came out. I had read her mysterious disappearance in the back issue of X-Factor and when it was mentioned here, I had this "one more loose end checked off" excitement about it

(I even almost thought that maybe the Phalanx story was in the works all those years ago when she first disappeared, but even my younger naive self didn't think they planned that far ahead. Especially since her appearance in this issue was meaningless to the rest of the crossover).

Rio said...

I believe the title is a reference to Pearl Jam's "Leash" (Drop the Leash being the main chorus). That should be worthy of a I Love the ‘90s note.

G. Kendall said...

That would make sense - referencing the music those Gen X kids loved so much.

kerry said...

Tch--As a big ol' Pearl Jam fan, I totally should have caught that.

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