It Only Hurts When I Sing
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Chris Bachalo (penciler), Mark Buckingham (inker), Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)
As Skin and Chamber continue to search the Seattle Core for Illyana, they witness one mutant guard ruthlessly kill a man and his daughter. Mondo emerges from the building and drops the guard to his death as retribution. Meanwhile, Husk and Vincente continue to masquerade as Quietus inside his personal office. They’re still unable to find any information on Illyana. Sugar Man enters, telling “Quietus” that Shadow King noticed someone psioincally searching Apocalypse’s files earlier. He wants Quietus to investigate. After he leaves, a frightened Husk seduces Vincente. At the main entrance to the Core, Colossus and Shadowcat wait for a signal from the others. Inside the Core, Mondo saves a young girl who was shoved off a ledge by a guard. When he brings her back to the top, he discovers Illyana nearby. Colossus gets word from Know-It-All that Mondo has rescued Illyana, and rushes inside to save her before Mondo’s power accidentally absorbs her completely. Simultaneously, Skin and Chamber are reunited with Husk and Vincente, who are still disguised as Quietus. Sugar Man enters, and demands that Quietus kill Skin and Chamber. "Quietus" draws his gun and shoots.
This is another issue that mainly relies on Bachalo’s art to work. He certainly designs enough odd-looking freaks and monsters here. The multi-headed dog-type monster with facial piercings that shows up on the second page has got to be the weirdest looking thing in any mainstream comic from this era. The story consists of more scenes of the heroes wandering around the Core, with a couple of character moments thrown in. Since the previous issue already hammered home how horrible conditions in the Core are, I’m not really thrilled about reading another issue filled with depictions of nasty mutants killing innocent people. The interaction between Skin and Chamber is nicely done, capturing the anger and the helplessness anyone would feel after seeing innocent people casually murdered, but it doesn’t justify another issue dedicated to showing off how terrible the Core is. The seduction scene between Husk and Vincente feels strained, and it only seems to exist to emphasize how different this Husk is from her uptight counterpart in the original reality. And since Husk and Vincente were already (needlessly) searching through paperwork to find Illyana in the last issue, it feels like the plot’s really beginning to stall. Bachalo’s art does carry a lot of this, but the more you think about it, the more you realize that hardly anything’s happening.