Back to Reality
Credits: Warren Ellis (writer), Ken Lashley (penciler), Tom Wegrzyn (inker), Joe Rosas (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)
With Excalibur’s plane going down, Meggan uses her elemental powers to create electricity to feed the generators and restore the engines. The team lands and is caught in the middle of a fight between Mutates and armed humans. During the course of the fight, Britanic’s vision of the future begins to become true, as Peter Wisdom is hit by a human guerrilla fighter’s “biting” bullets. When one of the extremist Mutates also targets Wisdom, he reluctantly uses his ability to create “hot knives” to defend himself. The team is able to able to pull one of the special bullets they were sent to find out of a corpse. The bullet has a human’s face. The Sugar Man watches from a hidden location as Jenny Ransome, a Mutate representative of the struggling new government, takes Britanic aside. She tells him that the bullets were created out of a mutant named Pizer’s body twenty years ago, and his father worked as a consultant on the project. Britanic demands to see proof that his father was involved before he’ll believe it. Ransome and Britanic reunite with the rest of Excalibur at the home of Dr. Monroe, the assumed creator of the Mutate bonding process. While searching his private lab for information, Douglock learns that Monroe actually had a sponsor who originated the process and gave him the ideas. When Douglock’s close to learning the sponsor’s identity, the computer explodes on the Sugar Man’s command. Agents from Black Air watch as Excalibur escapes the exploding lab, content that the secret of the Mutate genegineering process will be theirs.
“Hot knives” is apparently a marijuana reference, which Ellis allegedly inserted as a joke.
The Statement of Ownership list average sales at 137,800 with the most recent issue selling 131,000 copies.
I’m not sure what Warren Ellis was planning on doing with this Genosha storyline when it began five months earlier, but I doubt it involved revealing that the Sugar Man had secretly been behind the creation of the Mutates. Originally, it seemed as if the story would actually involve Black Air, the mutant bullets, and Brian Braddock’s father, but those threads take a backseat to the revelation about Genosha’s “true” origin. This is really what annoyed me the most about the aftermath of the Age of Apocalypse storyline. It’s one thing to bring the AoA characters into the mainstream reality and just do mediocre stories with them; it’s another to awkwardly shoehorn them into the past twenty years of continuity. The original Genosha storyline already introduced Dr. Monroe as the creator of the Mutates, so it’s not as if this was a long-standing mystery that really needed to be cleared up. Inserting Sugar Man into Genosha (with the weak explanation that Genosha was his “earliest experiment in unorthodox industry”) is totally arbitrary. I assume that this was done in order to make Sugar Man seem more important, or maybe to justify spending four months on the AoA by having it retroactively influence the original world, but it’s so awkward it can’t work. Sugar Man turned out to be pretty much a dud in Generation Next anyway, so this forced attempt at relevance is even more annoying.
The rest of the issue turns out to be a decent action-oriented story. Ellis does have a handle on the characters, even if Wisdom and Britanic (or “Britannic”, as Ellis begins spelling it here) seem a little melodramatic at times. The structure of the story is a little odd since parts of it have to be told as flashbacks in order to make room for Excalibur’s appearance in X-Men Prime, but it’s not too distracting. The next issue is the start of a trilogy dealing with Black Air, which I suspect is closer to what Ellis had in mind when he took over the title.