Don’t Touch That Dial!
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Chris Bachalo (penciler), Mark Buckingham (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon (colors)
Gateway suddenly appears as Chamber watches television in the basement of the boys’ dorm. During a mental conversation, Gateway encourages Chamber to comfort Husk, who is upset after learning about the Legacy Virus. Chamber soon discovers that the prospect of dying just for being a mutant has driven her to drink. Inside the Biosphere, Banshee tries to communicate with the mute Penance in different languages, but she still doesn’t respond. When he returns to his private cottage, he’s pleased to discover that she followed him. Taking it as a sign she’s making progress, he offers her an apple. In New York, Jubilee, Synch, M, and Skin are on a field trip. While on their way to meet up with Emma Frost, M suddenly freezes. Unable to get her to respond, or to get into contact with Emma, the team heads to Frost Industries without M. While in the building’s parking garage, their car is attacked and their driver is killed. They’re horrified to discover dead bodies strung up against the wall, next to threatening messages written in paint. Frost sends the team a mental command to forget her and go find help. They ignore her warning and head to her penthouse. When they arrive, they’re attacked by a mutant named Hemingway, who claims to be a member of a group called Gene Nation. After a brief fight, Synch pushes him down the elevator shaft. Skin discovers a terrified young mutant inside Emma’s office, who tries to explain what happened with “psionic holograms”.
Gateway is shown to have the ability to truly communicate for the first time, although it’s a mental conversation with Chamber, and his English is broken.
While in New York, Skin runs into a former associate from Los Angeles. The man claims that everyone back home thinks he’s dead. Skin tells him that no one can know he’s still alive, especially “Torre”. This is the first time Skin's past is hinted at.
I Love the ‘90s
Gateway and Chamber watch Beavis & Butt-Head and Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), Marvel was publishing licensed comics about both properties at the time. There’s also a Sega Genesis on the floor of the basement, and later on there’s even an ad for Sega’s ill-fated 32X attachment.
Approved By The Comics Code Authority
I wonder if the paint cans next to the dead bodies in the garage were added later, after someone objected to the idea of messages being written out in blood (although I think there’s a similar scene in Uncanny that does use blood).
This is a much denser read than the previous issues of the series, which all had rather thin plots. The book doesn’t feel like it’s waiting for something to happen anymore, which makes it more enjoyable to read. Bachalo is beginning to develop his multiple panels per page trick, which places up to twelve panels on a page, with even some extra doodling on the side. He uses the layout approach generally on the conversation scenes in this issue, which helps to speed them along. Remarkably, none of the pages look cramped, which shows that Bachalo can produce comprehensible page layouts when he’s not trying too hard to show off. He does throw in a couple of splash pages and oversized panels, but thanks to the denser pages, they don’t feel so gratuitous. In fact, the alternating panel sizes give the book a nice visual variety.
The main story in this issue is a set-up for the Gene Nation storyline, which carried over into Uncanny and didn’t really impact this title at all. That’s either a nice way to maintain a cohesive feel amongst the line, or yet another cross-promotion done to keep the spotlight on this new title. I’m not sure which, since I don’t remember how the next issue concluded this specific arc. The character subplots seem to be okay, but most of them are so vaguely defined at this point it’s hard to say. Husk’s fear that the Legacy Virus might infect her is a realistic anxiety, and it’s odd that none of the X-Men seemed that concerned about it happening to them in their own titles. Her suddenly turning into a lush over it (with one beer, apparently), takes it a little far, though. I don’t know if Skin’s LA “friend” appearing in New York is supposed to be fishy or not, so I won’t complain too much about it (that’s still a massive coincidence, though). I do like the idea that we essentially know nothing about these characters, so we’ll slowly learn the details of their past just like you would a real person you’re just becoming acquainted with. All things considered, I’d say this is the best issue of the series so far. Even though none of the ideas introduced are resolved within the issue, they at least have promising beginnings.