Tuesday, October 14, 2008

X-MAN #10 - #13, December 1995- March 1996

Continuing the mini-reviews of X-Man, the spinoff I didn’t mind missing out on, even as a completist teenager.

#10 (Ostrander/Skroce/Duursema/Jones/LaRosa/Atkin/Hunter/Thomas/Webb/Malibu/Comicraft) – Good lord, look at those credits. This is Xavier’s first meeting with X-Man, a confrontation the series has been building up to for a few issues. It mainly consists of Xavier seeking out X-Man in his astral form, X-Man irrationally attacking him, and Xavier playing possum so that he can escape. I’m not sure what Marvel was thinking with this; establishing that a new, teenage character is a more powerful telepath than Professor Xavier. Isn’t Xavier a more valuable character if it’s firmly established that no one can top his mental expertise? Isn’t Xavier a more important commodity to Marvel than X-Man? Building up a new character by giving him such over the top powers feels cheap. The art in this issue is also a mess, as Skroce turns in a rush job and two other pencilers and multiple inkers have to come in and finish it off.


#11 (Ostrander/Skroce/LaRosa/Thomas/Brosseau) – X-Man, conveniently enough, runs into Rogue at the beach. Of course, he behaves irrationally and his powers explode, since there’s apparently some edict to have this happen in every issue. Rogue calms him down and the two become friendly. The X-Cutioner, blaming Rogue for the death of her first kiss Cody, appears and attacks her. Rogue and X-Man team up against him, and he teleports away soon enough. Skroce does energetic work on the fight scene, and the fight thankfully consists of more than just splash pages of X-Man’s powers exploding (although that happens too). The issue ends with Rogue suggesting X-Man seek out Moira MacTaggert, since he seems to distrust Xavier so much. This isn’t as awkward as the previous issues, but it does increase the sense of aimlessness the series has. It now seems as if the new direction is to have X-Man meet a different X-character from another book in each issue. This issue is filled with re-lettered word balloons, which makes me curious about what might’ve been happening behind the scenes.


#12 (Ostrander/Skroce/LaRosa/Thomas/Comicraft) – This issue opens with a gratuitous fight scene between X-Man and Excalibur. The idea that the team would automatically attack a stranger approaching the island is already dodgy, but having super-powerful characters like Colossus just punching the crap out of someone with no provocation is ridiculous. For all Colossus knows, he could’ve easily just killed X-Man. The fight thankfully gets brushed aside after the first few pages (because Moira just “forgot” to tell Excalibur that X-Man was coming). The next few pages aren’t bad, as Ostrander establishes that Moira is afraid of X-Man turning out like her son, the power-mad Proteus. That’s a smart use of past continuity, and Ostrander is able to get some decent emotions out of it. Wolfsbane develops a crush on X-Man and they spend a few pages together exploring the sea. This is probably the first creative use of X-Man’s powers we’ve seen so far, as X-Man uses telekinetics to part the water around a sunken ship like the Red Sea. The rest of the issue just goes back to X-Man acting irrational and having his powers explode, unfortunately. After meeting Excalibur’s prisoner Spoor, X-Man is slightly suspicious of Moira. When he reaches into her mind to verify Spoor’s claims, he sees that she’s been communicating with Professor Xavier (who he illogically distrusts because he still thinks that Magneto is the X-Men’s leader and Xavier’s a fraud). He also learns that his powers will cause his body to burn out before he turns twenty-one. Because he’s X-Man, this leads him to get angry and cause a giant explosion. This leads to a crossover with Excalibur, which I’m sure I’ll get to in a few days.


#13 (Ostrander/Ross/Hunter/Thomas/Comicraft) – Threnody, on the run from the Marauders after leaving Mr. Sinister, calls out to X-Man. He finds her in the sewers underneath Paris. The result is a pretty lengthy fight sequence, but this one at least has X-Man using his powers in creative ways. Using his telepathic powers to confuse the Marauders, and his telekinetic powers to sabotage their weapons, he ends up killing all of them but one. (The story doesn’t even treat this as a morally dubious action, perhaps because the narration goes out of its way to remind us that these are clones. I guess clones aren’t a part of Marvel’s culture of life). The remaining Marauder is given a psychic implant, which will force him to hide X-Man’s identity and Threnody’s location from Sinister. Just as a straightforward action story, this is better than the previous issues. Connecting X-Man to Threnody isn’t a bad idea, since it links X-Man back to his origin as a Sinister creation, and it gives Threnody something to do. The art is a major drawback, as it features a young Luke Ross trying to integrate Madureria’s manga style with the early Image look. It ain’t pretty. Like most of the issues preceding it, this issue is filled with obviously re-lettered word balloons. These are the hand-lettered corrections that are very obvious when compared to Comicraft’s computer font. Either Comicraft was making a ton of mistakes, or someone at Marvel felt an overwhelming desire to perform last-minute rewrites on every issue of this series.

7 comments:

jim said...

does no one comment on X-Man because no one actually read it? I never did. But I think the meeting with Xavier is a critical part of the Onslaught story line.

rob said...

That's the reason I don't comment. I remember that the meeting with Xavier is important because Xavier brings his astral form into the physical world. Something like that. And somehow this gives Onslaught an idea or sparks off something about his creation.

Chris said...

The Excalibur crossover issue is the only X-Man ish I purchased after the Age of Apocalypse. I particularly loved the Excalibur issue that concluded the story due to it showing just how much of a little nitwit Nate Grey really was, lol. Man I hated that character until Counter X came around.

Fnord Serious said...

It's too bad to hear that these issues are so awful. Ostrander has lots of fans and you think he would be able to do something interesting with such an open concept. I wonder what kind of editorial edicts he was operating under.

wwk5d said...

Actually, considering how unplanned Onslaught was (they were making it up as they go along), I think that issue was retrofitted into being important once they decided Onslaught was to be Professor X.

Yeah, considering these issues were written by Ostrander, they are rather disappointing. Nate really was an obnoxious twit, wasn't he?

x-man75 said...

Being maybe the last surviving fan of Nate, I find that I must try to defend his actions at every available oppurtunity!

The main thing to remember about Nate, and this is very easily forgotten, is the fact that he came from the Age of Apocalypse world. There was practically noboby there he could trust. The few people he did trust, like Forge, wound up murdered because of the fact that Forge was unfortunate enough to know Nate.

Sinister totally duped Nate in the AOA world, so it shouldn't be that much of a suprise that Nate tended to lash out at people he didn't trust, like Xavier(who WAS spying on Nate), or even Excalibur and Moria, after his meeting with Spoor.

I personally liked the Ostrander issues much more then the issues that followed, which were written by Terry Kavanagh...

Like I said, when reading about a character like Nate, it is kind of important to take his entire history in before condeming him. He was in a strange world, and at just about every turn, he was being harrassed or followed by both heroes and villains alike. I think that would taint anybody's outlook a little.

ray swift said...

Men, Mr. Sinister won't let go of his precious lame Marauders. He just keep recreating them again and again.
Let them die already, Sinister! Move on!

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