Thursday, July 10, 2008

AMAZING X-MEN #2 – April 1995

Sacrificial Lambs

Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Kevin Somers/Digital Chamelon (colors)


Summary

The X-Men confront the Brotherhood, who have used Madison Jeffries’ power to take control of the Sentinels. Quicksilver orders the team to protect the humans while he chases after Jeffries and Copycat, who are escaping into a crowd of refugees. Jeffries reconfigures the Sentinels’ programming to attack Quicksilver, but Storm creates an electronic pulse to temporarily stop them. Banshee chases after the Brotherhood’s Madri priest and discovers the ark that brought them to Maine. Inside the ark, he learns that Apocalypse’s newest Horseman, Abyss, killed the Madri for failing the mission. Abyss threatens to kill the young boy he’s holding hostage if Quicksilver doesn’t arrive. Banshee gives Quicksilver the message, but Storm refuses to let him go alone. Storm rescues the boy from the ark, while Quicksilver fights Abyss. During the fight, Quicksilver manages to force Abyss inside the dimensional void inside his own body. They return with the boy, who is reunited with his family. Dazzler tells them that the Sentinels have been reprogrammed with Banshee’s harmonics, and are now helping the X-Men in the evacuation. Meanwhile, Sebastian Shaw has reported to Apocalypse that Angel told Gambit the X-Men’s secret location. Karma, the co-owner of Heaven with Angel, is being tortured for info on any security systems inside their headquarters. Apocalypse boasts that he’ll soon face Magneto and learn who is truly fit to survive.


Continuity Notes

The Brotherhood are revealed to be Spyne, Yeti, Arclight, Copycat, Madison Jeffries, and a Madri priest. The Madri are all duplicates of Jamie Madrox, as revealed in Gambit and the X-Ternals #1. Madison Jeffries is Box from Alpha Flight. Since Arclight is portrayed as a man here, I assume it’s not supposed to be the Marauder from the original reality.


Abyss says that he has a score to settle with Quicksilver, but when Quicksilver shows up it appears to be the first time they’ve met. When Quicksilver learns that there’s a new Horseman, he assumes that Abyss is taking Bastion’s place. Bastion hasn’t shown up in the Marvel Universe proper yet, so I don’t know if this was an intentional hint for a new character or if the name was just recycled a few years later.


Creative Differences

A Usenet post from Fabian Nicieza regarding this issue on the week of its release:

I wasn't going to say anything unless it was mentioned by more than one

person, and it was, so...
I will accept the nitpicks on EVERYTHING that was wrong with AMAZING X-MEN
#2 (of which, there was a LOT, whether they were my fault or not), but I
will NOT accept criticism for Banshee's ridiculous "harmonics"
reprogramming of the Sentinels!!
That rewrite surprised me (to say the least... to say the most would not
be nice).
In my original plot and script, QUICKSILVER is leaving the group to save
Jeremy and Exodus says, "What about the Sentinels? They're going to wake
up soon." and Q answers, "Talk to them." To which they all say, "Talk?!!"
Later, when Storm and Q return with the brat they saved, we find out that
indeed, the X-MEN did actually talk to them, trapping the Sentinels in a
logic bind and leading the robots to actually agree to accept the X-Men's
help.
I'm not saying my bit was great or nothing, but geez, it ain't worse than
"harmonics," is it?
I can take a hit and I'll dive on the grenade if I have to, I'm such a
wonderful guy, but I will NOT be blamed for harmonics! (that's my new
motto, catchy, ain't it?)


It’s worth noting that the lettering (a computer font), stays consistent throughout the entire scene, so it doesn’t stand out like a lot of the other rewrites in the past.


Review

This isn’t nearly as good as the first issue. While the first issue set an appropriate mood and introduced the cast in a credible way, this issue largely consists of unfocused fight scenes that don’t have a lot of payoff. It’s still drawn rather nicely by Andy Kubert, but that’s pretty much all this issue has going for it. There’s some attempt to invert Storm and Quicksilver’s personalities, so that she’s emotional and uninhibited while he’s repressed, drawing them together for a romance. It’s not a bad idea, but it seems a little forced and doesn’t really amount to much. The Brotherhood don’t offer any believable resistance to the X-Men, as most of them are defeated off-panel. The members were never identified by name anyway, so when Iceman lists the ones who have been taken care of, you’re forced to assume they were the same characters we saw earlier (it’s obvious who Yeti would be, but Spyne’s very obscure and this version of Arclight bears no resemblance to the established one). After looking through this issue twice, I have to assume that Jeffries and Copycat just escaped off-panel. This plot thread is picked up in Weapon X #2, but it's totally dropped in this issue.


The resolution to the Sentinel cliffhanger from last issue is feebly handled off-panel by giving Banshee new powers, apparently (“harmonics”?). Since Nicieza made it clear that this wasn’t his idea, you’ve got to wonder what role editorial interference had on the overall quality of this issue. The ‘90s reputation for incomprehensible stories is largely due to the inexperienced writing of many of the X-artists (which was actually a brief era), but the last-minute editorial rewriting can’t be overlooked, either. I don’t know how common the rewrites were at this point (even if the altered lettering sometimes provide a clue), but it seems like the disconnects between the creative teams and editorial only increase after the AoA is over.

2 comments:

JR said...

Amazing X-Men # 2's post definitely shows that X-Men comics in the '90's, if not bad, were more complicated than they needed to be. The summary for each comic is insanely complex to the point that, even though I have read these comics, I still get confused trying to figure out who is who and what is happening.

I still love your site, tho, for bringing back nostalgic memories and for revealing my past favorite comics for the messes that they sometimes were.

rob said...

Thanks for the Usenet post. Nicieza may seem surprised at the content of the rewrite, but the way he so matter-of-factly mentions the scene had been rewritten probably shows how common these things were in the X-office of the time.

I feel like issues 3 and 4 of this title really pick things up. The Brotherhood here is completely forgettable.

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