The Common Right of Toads and Men
Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Adam Kubert (penciler), Dan Green & Mark Sellers (inkers), Pat Brosseau (letterer), Joe Rosas & Digital Chameleon (colors)
Weapon X travels to Wundagore Mountain and is confronted by two of Apocalypse’s cybernetically-enhanced soldiers, Mangle and Dead-Eye. He defeats the cyborgs and walks through the X-Men’s former headquarters. He comes across Carol Danvers, an agent of the Human Defense League who’s assigned to protect Gateway. They climb to the top of his tower to find Gateway listening to various media transmissions while in an apparent catatonic state. Weapon X rips apart his television screens, which snaps Gateway out of his condition. They touch hands, which briefly fills Weapon X’s mind with the information Gateway’s been absorbing. Gateway ascertains that Weapon X has been sent by the Human High Council to ask him to pilot the nuclear strike against Apocalypse. He refuses to do it, as the combined bodies of Mangle and Dead-Eye return to kill Weapon X. They’re easily defeated, but a revived Donald Pierce suddenly returns in a dive-bomber with another cyborg, Vultura. Gateway teleports the trio inside Pierce’s plane, where Vultura is dispatched by Weapon X. Carol Danvers knocks Pierce out of the plane, and both of them are apparently killed in midair when her grenade goes off. Gateway tells Weapon X that he’s now willing to hear what the Council has to say.
The title of this issue comes from a line in the Emily Dickinson poem “A Toad Can Die of Light”. Hama must’ve been in a lyrical mood, since one of the broadcast transmissions Gateway is listening to also quotes a poem by William Butler Yeats.
There’s not a lot of plot here (it seems like a lot of the AoA titles aren’t advancing the storyline very far with their third issues), but this still manages to be an entertaining read. Kubert’s art brings a lot of excitement to the action pages, and Hama’s still able to use the first-person narrative captions for some nice character moments. Wolverine’s reflections on his time with the X-Men and the experiments performed on him in the Weapon X project are well done (although it leaves you to wonder why he calls himself “Weapon X” in this reality if he resents the project for doing such horrible things to him). Carol Danvers isn’t given a lot to do, but her characterization still makes an impression during her scenes. Reinventing Gateway as a chain-smoking, loquacious hippie is amusing, although it requires you to already be familiar with the character to really get the joke. I was thrilled to see Gateway when I first read this issue, since some of the earliest Uncanny X-Men comics I read where during the Australian era, and it seemed to me like that period had already been forgotten (I was also hoping he would become a regular in Generation X, but it never happened). He’s really just one of dozens of obscure characters brought back for the AoA event, which seemed to continue the “let’s bring everybody back” trend that started to go through the books around the time of the Phalanx crossover. The AoA might’ve been the climax of this trend, because I don’t remember a lot of the lesser-known characters being used once it was over. It seems like the books instead focused on creating a lot of new characters that lasted about as long as the Upstarts (remember Havok’s Brotherhood team?).