Thursday, January 8, 2009

X-MAN #15-#18, May 1996-August 1996

#15 (Ostrander/Kavanagh/Skroce/LaRosa/Hunter/Thomas/Graphic Colorworks/Comicraft) – The letters page in this issue prints three separate letters commenting on how irrational X-Man is, with one writer nailing the formulaic nature of the series as “Nate meets a character, Nate blows up at character, Nate leaves”. Perhaps someone realized that this wasn’t working, as it seems like this issue is more of an effort to make Nate a sympathetic character. The majority of the issue is spent on building up his relationship with Threnody, who helps him realize how foolish he’s been behaving. Threnody is given some character development, as she (reasonably) contemplates leaving Nate, but eventually decides that she needs him too much. Meanwhile, Onslaught recruits Holocaust and sends him after X-Man. Skroce produces some impressive images as Nate and Threnody spend time in each other’s minds, and I like his interpretation of Holocaust. There’s nothing that remarkable about this issue, but it is at least a change from the series’ already tired formula.

#16 (Kavanagh/Semeiks/LaRosa/Thomas/Graphic Colorworks/Comicraft) – X-Man and Holocaust fight for most of the issue, trading some groan-worthy dialogue with one another (“I will never allow you or your demon-sire to purge life on this planet…in more rivers of human blood!”). The dull fight scene alternates with scenes of Threnody dealing with the human casualties of Holocaust’s rampage. She begins to wonder if she’s some sort of vampire, as her mutant power gives her a rush when she’s around dying bodies. Meanwhile, Madelyne Pryor discovers a hidden room in Selene’s penthouse filled with dead bodies. This somehow leads Madelyne to believe that joining Selene as a partner is a good idea. The X-Man/Holocaust fight ends when Holocaust takes Threnody captive. Threnody, fearing what she’s become, tells X-Man to just let her die. He of course doesn’t, and agrees to join Holocaust and Onslaught to save her life. This is a generally weak issue, although the new development in Threnody’s power is potentially interesting.

#17 (Kavanagh/Skroce/LaRosa/Hunter/Thomas/Malibu/Comicraft) – X-Man, shockingly enough, quickly turns on Holocaust and telepathically unlocks Threnody’s power, which temporarily knocks him away. He comes back, and engages in another issue-long fight scene with X-Man. X-Man finally chases him away after cracking his armor. He then decides that one of the superteams not associated with Xavier could help him with his powers, and settles on the Avengers. Conveniently, he meets up with the team in Avengers #400, just in time for the Onslaught crossover. Meanwhile, Selene uses Madelyne Pryor to attract Trevor Fitzroy in London. She then kidnaps him as payback for torturing her in Uncanny X-Men #301. The main story here isn’t much different than the previous issue, except Steve Skroce returns to liven up the action scenes. And if there’s a point to the ongoing Madelyne/Selene subplot, I have no idea what it is.

#18 (Kavanagh/Skroce/LaRosa/Hunter/Thomas/Malibu/Comicraft) – Mr. Sinister learns that Apocalypse is back, which apparently inspires him to directly go after X-Man (I know that Sinister has always believed that the offspring of Cyclops and Phoenix has the power to defeat Apocalypse, but the story isn’t very clear on this point). In another ambiguous scene, he sends the Marauders after Threnody, who was left behind by X-Man (I assume this happened in Avengers #400, but it’s another plot point that’s left vague). She manages to defeat them, but Sinister greets her personally and asks for information on X-Man (if she willingly or unwillingly gives him the information is left -- you guessed it -- vague). Meanwhile, X-Man is being safeguarded from Onslaught by X-Force at Xavier’s mansion. They detect the presence of someone sneaking around the mansion and raid Cable’s armory for supplies. Mr. Sinister shows himself and attacks, which for some reason inspires X-Man to remember that Sinister’s “Age of Apocalypse” counterpart created him (apparently Kavanagh forgot that Sinister already told Nate that he created him in X-Man #4). Sinister then takes control of X-Man’s body and knocks him unconscious. This is really a mess of an issue that’s needlessly confusing and often feels barely coherent. At least one storyline is advanced, as this world’s Sinister finally meets X-Man, but the circumstances leading up to the climax are extremely weak.


Seangreyson said...

This was my senior year in High School. However when I went off to college I wasn't able to keep buying X-man. Looking back, I wasn't that concerned about it. It really had gotten unsatisfying by this point.

Though I do remember liking #25...maybe I should pull them out again. :)

Matt said...

Ahh, good ol' Terry Kavanagh. One of the most un-readable writers ever to work at the House of Ideas.

Matthew J. Brady said...

I don't know why I remember this, but I bought Avengers 400 (an anniversary issue that would surely be valuable someday), and X-Man's appearance consisted of one panel at the end in which he showed up on their doorstep following a big battle of some sort and told about Onslaught. So, no, no plot points were resolved there.

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