Tuesday, June 10, 2008

X-MEN #39 – December 1994

Birds of a Feather
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Terry Dodson (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Kevin Somers/Marie Javins/Digital Chameleon (colors)

Cyclops’ grandfather, Philip Summers, crashes his airplane in the Canadian wilderness. Adam X, X-Treme, smells the smoke from miles away and comes to his rescue. Adam tends to Philip’s wounds and the two begin to talk and become close. As Philip’s condition worsens, Adam builds a teepee to keep him warm during the night. Adam reveals to Philip that he’s an alien, but traveling the stars doesn’t mean anything to him because he feels empty inside. Philip tells him that he has more inside of him than most people, and that he would be honored to spend his final moments with him. As Philip approaches death, Adam X lightly cuts his hands and uses his power to ignite the electrolytes in blood to keep Philip warm. In the morning, the pair is discovered. Later, at the hospital, the doctor says that Philip’s vision is gone forever, but he will survive. After visiting his room, Jean Grey senses another person with Philip. She returns to find Adam X. Realizing that he’s a friend, she uses her telepathic powers so that Philip can see Adam’s space travels with his own eyes. As Adam X leaves, Jean senses that his sadness feels familiar to her. Unbeknownst to Jean, the incident is being watched by a mysterious figure, who is himself being watched by another mystery figure. Meanwhile in New Orleans, Bella Donna declares that the Assassins Guild will have revenge on Gambit at her father’s wake. Elsewhere, Legion has a vision from Destiny telling him that he will fulfill his father’s dream.

Continuity Notes
At the time this story was written, Adam X really was supposed to be the third Summers brother. This is the first issue to strongly hint at the revelation. As Nicieza has explained online, the original idea was that Kate Summers gave birth to Adam X after being taken away from her husband and (I believe) raped by D’Ken. This would make Adam X half-human and half-Shi’ar. The mystery figure watching the events at the end is supposed to be Eric the Red (as revealed in the mid-90s Captain Marvel series), and the figure watching Eric the Red is supposed to be Mr. Sinister. The mystery man being watched by another mystery man scene is taken directly from an issue of UXM from the 1970s (a reference that flew right past me as a kid).

Figuring out the chronology of this issue is a little difficult. Bella Donna is at her father’s wake, declaring revenge on Gambit, which is a scene covered in Rogue #1. The details don’t exactly match up, but it’s possible that her father had more than one service, I guess. Beast mentions that Gambit took off after Rogue, which also happened in Rogue #1. However, the scene with Legion takes place right after he wakes up from his coma, which happened simultaneously with Uncanny X-Men #319, which was supposed to take place after the Rogue miniseries. Got that?

Knowing that the Adam X storyline never goes anywhere kind of makes this one feel pointless. Actually, knowing what Nicieza really had in mind for Adam X doesn’t help things out either. If Adam X is the offspring of Kate Summers and a Shi’ar alien, that means he doesn’t actually have Summers DNA (unless Cyclops’ parents were involved in an incestuous relationship, of course). So instead of this being a touching story about a young man meeting his paternal grandfather, it’s about a young man meeting the father of the man his mother was married to while he was conceived during her alien rape. That’s not really the same thing. Why exactly Nicieza was planning on that route instead of just revealing that Corsair (Cyclops’ father) impregnated an alien after his wife was killed, I don’t know. That would’ve given Adam X Summers’ DNA (thus explaining Sinister’s interest in him), instead of Whatever-Cyclops’ Mother’s-Maiden- Name-Is DNA.

Judged it on its own merits, it’s an okay story. It doesn’t come across as deep as I think Nicieza might’ve intended it to, but the emotional scenes aren’t bad and it is successful in making Adam X a little more likable. It is kind of funny to see a character with a codename like “X-Treme” using his powers to do something like help an old man after a plane crash. That’s definitely not a stereotypical ‘90s story. I didn’t like Dodson’s art when I first read this issue, but I can look at it now and see that he’s well suited for a story for like this. Overall, it’s not very good but it has a few moments.


Kerry said...

I remember this as being my least favorite issue of this era. Even as a kid I thought Nicieza was being blisteringly obvious in his hints about Adam-X being the Third Summers, and if there's a more '90s X-character than "X-treme," with his stupid soul patch and blades everywhere, I can't think of it. Rogue's jacket and Cable's shoulder pads maybe come close.

Teebore said...

As a huge Cyclops fan, the 3rd Summers Brother was one of the more nagging unresolved plotlines from this era for me. Despite the obviousness of this issue, I was frustrated it was never made clear or followed up on.

Lackluster though it may be, I enjoyed Brubaker's Deadly Genesis series simply because it finally resolved that plot once and for all, and reminded me of when I was reading these stories for the first time, and naively believed all those plots were planned out in advance and would be resolved.

Paul said...

In the '90s, I always thought Gambit was going to be the Third Summers Brother. His eyes are red, the fact that he was adopted by the Thieves Guild, and Sinister's interest in him fed into that idea. I think Claremont played around with that idea a little in X-Men: The End, but I'm not sure.

GLF said...

Here I sit in 2016, commenting on a 2008 article of an awesome blog, after reading a 1994 comic, eheh.

Anyways, recently I've started reading all the UXM & XM comics (including the many many tie-ins along the way). The starting point being the Fatal Attraction crossover and I've found in this blog the perfect companion for my journey.

Regarding this particular issue, I just wanted to say that this is one of the worst comic covers I've ever seen...what's up with that?


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