Notes From The Underground
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Chris Bachalo (penciler), Mark Buckingham (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon (colors)
Gene Nation’s Marrow and Hemingway taunt their prisoner, Emma Frost, using the Morlock child Leech to block her psionic powers. Marrow claims that she doesn’t want to kill her until the “First One” (the Dark Beast) arrives. Meanwhile, Synch uses his synchronistic aura to track Emma and her mutant abductors. When Generation X eventually finds her, their powers disappear after getting so close to Leech. Finally, Emma decides to kick Leech and knocks him out. She then uses her telepathic powers to attack Marrow and Hemingway, but is surprised to learn that they can quickly recover from psychic blasts. The team drops in, suspicious that Emma will seek revenge instead of turning the pair over to the authorities. Elsewhere, the Dark Beast watches the events from a series of monitors and decides to kill everyone involved in order to cover his plans. He triggers a giant explosion, which the team narrowly escapes. As Jubilee feebly attempts to rescue Leech, M suddenly reappears and saves them both. Later, the team heads to the Xavier Institute, where Professor Xavier reveals that Leech and Artie, the young boy in Emma’s office, are being transferred to Gen X’s school. Jubilee reunites with Wolverine, who is still struggling with his animal nature in the woods outside of the Institute. While at Xavier’s school in Massachusetts, Chamber helps a drunken Husk back to her room. Soon, there’s a giant explosion inside the girls' dormitory.
I think this issue is supposed to happen simultaneously with Uncanny X-Men #322, but for some reason I filed this one first years ago. Marrow is still being developed at this point, and she’s given an odd speech pattern where she occasionally says made-up words like “legend-whispers” and uses “nice” as a noun. There’s also an implication that Dark Beast and Emma already know each other, which I think actually was resolved somewhere.
I Love the ‘90s
Jubilee comments, “I thought Gen Xers were supposed to be slackers.” Also, inside Dark Beast’s lair, there are some ugly, blocky computer models of the characters.
The Gene Nation storyline peters out, making me wonder why it was introduced in the first place. I guess it’s supposed to fill up the requisite action scenes, but none of the team members ever got to have any meaningful interactions with Gene Nation, and they seemed to be dropped into the story without any real justification. I suppose kidnapping Emma somehow ties everything back to a Dark Beast subplot, but that’s a storyline that was ignored for years. Plus, the action in this issue mainly consists of Emma kicking Leech and then posing while using her psionic powers. Marrow and Hemingway spend all of their screentime just standing around and scowling at Emma. Having Dark Beast set off an explosion before anything is actually resolved is an annoying conclusion, and it seems like this type of copout showed up a lot in the books during this era.
Like the previous issues of this series, the character interactions and strong artwork help to balance the flimsy story. You do get the impression that Lobdell likes the characters and enjoys writing them. He’s succeeded in giving most of them distinctive personalities that rarely fall into the “angst-ridden mutant” stereotype. Jubilee’s reunion with Wolverine is well handled, even making me forget that it’s tied into one of the dumbest things ever done to the character. The implication that Emma is ready to kill Gene Nation and it’s up to her students to stop her is an interesting twist. Bachalo’s artwork continues to be a fantastic mix of cartooning, the original Vertigo style, and traditional superhero comics (although this is the issue where he begins drawing Emma as if she were a little girl, a move I never liked). So, really, it’s hard to totally trash Generation X at this point. The stories aren’t holding up, but I can’t deny that it has other attributes that are enjoyable.