#6 (Loeb/Skroce/LaRosa/Thomas/Digitial Chamelon/Starkings/Comicraft) – Once again, we’re given a story about a powerful villain sending a flunky to find X-Man.This time, it’s Sugar Man sending Rex, instead of Apocalypse sending Domino.It ends predictably with more giant panels of X-Man’s powers erupting, while the villain survives to continue the hunt.The rest of the issue is spent on X-Man’s conversation with Madelyne Pryor, which mainly consists of the two of them acting confused and clueless, since Nate still thinks he’s in the AoA and Madelyne doesn’t know where she came from.Loeb does drop a few hints about Madelyne that have potential (she’s terrified of Sinister’s name, and X-Man accidentally creates a monster that looks like Havok when he enters her mind), but I don’t have a lot of faith in a satisfactory conclusion.Skroce’s art brings a lot of energy to the thin story, and he’s one of the few artists that can capture the freakiness of Sugar Man.
#7 (Loeb/Skroce/Hester/LaRosa/Ryan/Williams/Thomas/Digitial Chamelon/Starkings/Comicraft) – On the run from Rex, X-Man and Madelyne end up in Paris…as the story begins to disturbingly hint at a romance between the two.If you’re a new reader and know nothing about these characters, I guess this doesn’t stand out, since the story presents it as two desperate people drawing comfort from one another.But any long-time fan (and who else would care about the return of Madelyne Pryor?) knows that Madelyne’s a clone of Nate’s mother.So not only is Nate a teenage clone of an existing character, but he’s also got the hots for his mom?And the story doesn’t even hint at how freaky this is?What a way to launch a new character!Was Loeb actually going somewhere with this?The story’s main plot involves Selene discovering Madelyne in Paris and tempting her over to her side.It’s not much different from the plots of the previous issues, only now it’s Madelyne who’s the villain’s target. Selene is actually successful in this story and it’s not dragged out over several issues, so at least there’s some variation, I guess.Selene says that she knows Madelyne’s identity and the power she possesses, but I can’t think of any previous comics where the two met.Selene is a sorceress, so I guess it’s possible she learned through supernatural means, though.
#8 (Loeb/Rozum/Skroce/McDaniel/LaRosa/Miller/Russell/Pennington/Ryan/Thomas/Malibu’s Hues/Starkings/Comicraft) – And now we have an issue with a plotter, a scripter, two pencilers, five inkers, and an extra ghost letterer who’s replacing pages of scripted dialogue (also notice that Malibu’s Hues did color separations, so Marvel must’ve purchased Malibu Comics at this point).This issue’s plot involves X-Man taking a job on a luxury boat, as he tries to deal with Madelyne’s departure in the previous issue.He has wild mood swings and gets drunk for the first time, and then fights Rex for a few pages.The crazy mood swings come out of nowhere, leaving you with the impression that he’s truly mad and not just troubled.So now he’s an insane clone of an existing character who’s got a thing for his mother.Not only is the art rushed and unattractive, but the dialogue annoyingly switches between thought and word balloons, so Nate ends up spontaneously saying things like “I’ve spent too many hours thinking about my past” to a girl who just complimented him on his paint job.Dark Beast saves X-Man from Rex on the final page, which isn’t that bad of a cliffhanger, but it doesn’t compensate for such an aimless issue.
#9 (Loeb/Ostrander/Skroce/Haynes/LaRosa/Carani /Lowe/Hanna/Pennington/Thomas/Malibu’s Hues/Starkings/Comicraft) and (Ostrander/Weeks/Sienkiewicz/Becton/Malibu/Comicraft)– “Creative differences” surface as Jeph Loeb receives a “story idea” credit and is replaced by John Ostrander.Loeb said in a recent interview that he left the book because he disagreed with Bob Harras over the title’s direction, which shockingly implies that someone at Marvel thought that this title had a direction.Counting the backup story, this issue has a co-plotter, a writer, three pencilers, and six inkers.I’ll give it credit for not looking like a total mess like the previous issue.Rob Haynes draws most of this issue, turning in some nice-looking pages that remind me of Rick Leonardi’s work.The story consists of Dark Beast trying to draw X-Man over to his side (gasp!), X-Man getting angry at him and unleashing his powers in a two-page spread (shock!), and a few pages of Blaquesmith tailing X-Man.At the end of the story, Nate decides that he should go find the X-Men, which leads into this issue’s back-up story.The backup, featuring Blaquesmith “in his first solo adventure” has decent artwork by Lee Weeks and Bill Sienkiewicz, but a nonexistent plot.While on his way to warn Professor Xavier about X-Man’s arrival, Blaquesmith is attacked by a strange aircraft.Blaquesmith plays possum, gets one good shot in, and leaves.End of story.This title’s only nine issues old and it’s already forced to run pointless filler.Not exactly a positive sign of what’s to come.