The Best Offense
Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Steve Epting (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Glynis Oliver (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)
Shard’s hologram appears in front of Wild Child again, daring him to go out and have fun. Meanwhile, Forge and the rest of X-Factor are building devices to ward off the Adversary. Roma warns Forge that his technology isn’t enough. Wild Child and Shard ride past them on his motorcycle. When Polaris tries to talk them into staying, Wild Child tells her that putting X-Factor ahead of their relationship is probably why Havok left. Elsewhere, Val Cooper is monitoring Sabretooth’s recovery. He breaks out of his stasis tank and attacks her, but is stopped by the guards. Wild Child and Shard party at a nearby club. When Shard’s body beings to blink on and off, they’re targeted by two members of the Friends of Humanity. Shard proves she can take care of herself by blasting them with her plasma powers. Later, Wild Child tries to kiss her but she disappears again. He returns home and apologizes to Polaris, who tells him that she’s moving on with her life without Havok.
According to this issue, Shard is a totally solid hologram who can turn intangible when she wants. However, because Forge isn’t through fixing her holomatrix programming, she can’t remain solid indefinitely.
I Love the ‘90s
Wild Child has a copy of Silverchair’s “Frogstomp” CD.
An added word balloon emphasizes that the tazers used on Sabretooth weren’t set to kill. A few pages later, an added balloon explains that Shard’s plasma blasts didn’t kill the FoH members.
I’m sure the idea of three-dimensional holograms has shown up in other places, but there’s no explanation for how Shard could be solid here. She’s also able to shoot “plasma blasts”, which isn’t something I could see a hologram doing.
According to the Statement of Ownership, average sales for the year were 213,745 copies with the most recent issue selling 204,600.
For whatever reason, Mackie essentially abandons the Adversary storyline with this issue and decides to focus on Wild Child and Shard instead. This is, thankfully, better than the past few issues. Mackie’s dialogue isn’t as awkward and stiff here, and Epting’s art is pretty remarkable for most of the issue. Shard does have a fairly annoying “spunky” personality, but the story moves at a steady pace and doesn’t give her too much focus at one time, so she doesn’t seem to be as irritating as I remembered. Mackie does have one good idea, which is that Shard grew up in a mutant subculture, so Wild Child’s physical appearance actually fits into her standard of beauty. Wild Child still doesn’t have much of a personality, but he’s slightly more sympathetic here. The idea that he’s falling in love with a hologram is absurd, but it almost works in this issue. The rest of the story is dedicated to more ominous (and dull) scenes about Adversary, and a subplot about Val Cooper preparing for Sabretooth’s arrival. The story doesn’t outright say that he’s joining the team, but you’d have to be pretty dense not to pick up on it (and I think Marvel was already running house ads listing him as a part of the new team). The Sabretooth scene is mainly there to establish that he didn’t die at the end of his one-shot special, and it almost seems as if it’s there to kill a few pages. However, like a lot of things in this issue, Epting’s bold artwork makes the scene stand out. I seem to recall hating this issue, but looking back, it is at least tolerable.