Thursday, November 6, 2008

GENERATION X #12 -#16, February 1996 - June 1996

#12 (Lobdell/Dezago/Grummett/Buckingham/Sellers/Morales/Milgrom/Rubinstein/Buccellato/Starkings) – This is the start of the Return of Emplate arc, which has the team captured piecemeal by Emplate’s slaves. There’s some decent character work here, as Chamber is reunited with Gayle, the girl he accidentally paralyzed when his powers first erupted. She’s been drawn into Emplate’s service, which gives Chamber the best kidnapping scene. There’s very little else in this issue, aside from vague clues about M and Penance that I’m sure weren’t resolved satisfactorily. Grummett’s art is competent, managing to survive five inkers pretty well, but it still feels strange to see mainstream superhero artwork on this title.

#13 (Lobdell/Grummett/Buckingham/Starkings/Comicraft/Team Bucce/Electric Crayon) – This isn’t that bad as an action-heavy middle chapter. One of the mysteries from the earlier issues is paid off here, as it’s confirmed that Emplate is M’s brother. There’s more vague dialogue about Emplate blaming himself for something that happened to their mother, but Lobdell continues the X-tradition of never fully resolving anything by not providing any details. There’s also a confusing scene between Chamber and Gayle, which has the two of them somehow buried in the ground in-between pages. Chamber claims that their encounter last issue proved that she was never paralyzed, which forced me to go back and see what he’s talking about. In the final panel of their scene together last issue, you do see the bottom of Gayle’s legs standing up. It’s not treated as a dramatic reveal, so it’s easy to miss. Gayle still claims in this issue that she’s crippled and Chamber is responsible for it, but I’m not sure where Lobdell’s going with this. Bishop shows up on the final page to rescue the team from Emplate, which is surprisingly one of the few times one of the X-Men showed up in this series.

#14 (Lobdell/Ferry/Buckingham/Starkings/Comicraft/Buccellato) – Lobdell resolves a few more mysteries, confirming that Penance is M’s sister, and elaborating on Bishop’s earlier claim that “Emplates” roam the streets in his future (he reveals that Emplate created “countless hordes” of zombie-like followers). There’s also an absurd scene that has a disoriented Bishop confusing M for his mother, which was hopefully done only as a red herring. Pascal Ferry shows up as the guest artist, turning in a nice job that’s reminiscent of Bachalo’s earlier work. His more abstract style would’ve been a better fit than the previous fill-ins, who stuck out like sore thumbs compared to the Bachalo issues. The story ends with Emplate somehow phasing out of reality, another ill-defined aspect of the character that still hasn’t been resolved. If more of the mysteries surrounding Emplate, M, and Penance had been answered, this would’ve felt like a more substantial storyline. It is an improvement over the preceding post-Bachalo issues, but without any significant answers, it still feels like the book’s killing time.

#15 (Lobdell/Dezago/Grummett/Milgrom/Starkings/Comicraft/Scheele/Malibu) - The previous issue’s ending revealed that Emplate has turned Synch into one of his pawns and sent him home to either recruit or kill his family. This leads directly into the next two issues, which sends the team to St. Louis to find him. I like the introduction of Synch’s family, who are portrayed as a normal, middle class couple with foster children. This is the first time Synch’s received a lot of attention in this series, and it’s nice to see that Lobdell didn’t treat him as a stereotypical minority character. The story ends with a cliffhanger, which has the possessed Synch gaining the powers of M, Jubilee, and Husk. It’s an okay issue, which manages to reveal information on Synch’s character while moving the action story forward.

#16 (Lobdell/Dezago/Grummett/Milgrom/Starkings/Comicraft/Team Bucce/Malibu) – The Synch storyline ends with something of a copout. M provokes Synch into synchronizing with the true source of her mutant power, claiming that the abilities she’s exhibited so far are just an “after affect”. This somehow frees him of Emplate’s possession, as he learns “the truth”. Just like the resolution to #14, it’s an extremely vague ending that doesn’t make a lot of sense (I know about the upcoming revelation that M is autistic, but I don’t see how that could harm Synch in such a way…if that’s what Lobdell had in mind in the first place). The rest of the issue is dedicated to Chamber reacting to his brief abduction by Onslaught. Onslaught blocked the memory of his face from Chamber, and this is somehow causing him great mental strain. Skin takes him to see Professor Xavier, saying, “if you can’t count on Charles Xavier to help you – who can you count on?” The specific phrasing leads me to believe that Onslaught’s identity might’ve been worked out by this point, but it’s also possible that he was one of many suspects the X-office was considering. The issue ends with Skin and Chamber being ambushed by X-Cutioner, who blames Skin for the murder of Angelo Espinosa (his real name). That’s a nice cliffhanger, but the rest of the issue is fairly dull.


rob said...

I'm pretty sure Gen X#16 came out a month before the big reveal of Onslaught's ID in X-Men#54, so they must have had it worked out. I know the X-office post-AoA is looking like a bit of a disaster, but I'm sure the suspects had been nailed down by this point. I think Xavier as Onslaught's identity had been figured out a bit earlier by the editors, it's just that they had no idea how to integrate all of their clues and plot threads (the glaring plot holes in XM#50, the missing scientist scene, all the X-Force nonsense with Mimic and Blob)into any coherent story that gradually and logially led up to the reveal because they were making those parts up as they went along.

As for these issues, they're decent, but the book really ramps up when Bachalo returns. I remember really liking Grummet's work at the time and also enjoying the spotlight that M and Synch got. Especially M fighting on her own in #13.

Aqualad said...

I recently gave away all of my Gen X and X-Force issues (save for a couple of really good ones). These books were really important to me back then, but they read as only OK now. Ellis' Excalibur, though, only seems to get better with age.

Matthew J. Brady said...

Gen X gets good (or at least decent) again with the next issue, #17, which is when Bachalo returns and starts to do some neat stuff with the art. Also, Howard the Duck shows up to guest-star in a couple issues. I always liked that stretch. After #25, it's hit-and-miss, but it generally looks pretty good. But once Bachalo leaves again, forget about it.

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