Wednesday, January 14, 2009

X-MAN #19 – September 1996

Shades of Grey
Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Steve Skroce (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Mike Thomas & Malibu (colors)

Summary: X-Man awakens inside Sinister’s lair, while the Marauders’ Arclight and Scalphunter taunt the captive Threnody. Sinister explains that he was able to penetrate X-Man’s mind after he unlocked Threnody’s psi-restraints and entered her mind. Sinister shows X-Man images he scraped from Bishop’s mind of the Age of Apocalypse, and tells him that there is now a threat worse than Apocalypse. Meanwhile, Onslaught forces Franklin Richards to send a telepathic call for help to X-Man. When X-Man senses the message, Sinister tries to prevent him from leaving. X-Man breaks free of Sinister’s restraints, and sees a mental image of Franklin. He reaches out to Franklin, whose form suddenly shifts into Onslaught. Onslaught grabs X-Man and takes him away. Meanwhile, Threnody kills a rat and uses its "death energy" to escape her shackles. She’s confronted by Arclight and Scalphunter in the sewers. Suddenly, a large mystery figures appears behind them.

Continuity Notes: Sinister’s ability to shut off X-Man’s powers (in X-Force #57) is described as a “one-time trick”. X-Man claims that his brain has already rewired itself to prevent it from happening again.

Threnody is apparently aware of Gambit’s past with Sinister, telling Scalphunter that “the Cajun” might save her.

Review: This issue was referenced in quite a few of the Onslaught crossover chapters at the time, and I’ve always wondered what happened in this issue that was so important. Now I know -- Onslaught takes X-Man away from Sinister, all in the course of about four pages. Okay. The majority of the issue simply consists of X-Man yelling at Sinister, while Sinister keeps telling him what a great weapon he is. Actually, what exactly Sinister wants to do isn’t clear. If he wants X-Man to voluntarily join him in fighting Onslaught (even though last issue it was Apocalypse he was worried about), he’s not particularly charismatic. If he has some means of brainwashing him, there’s never any indication. The dialogue is never that interesting, but Skroce brings a lot of energy to the pages, which helps to liven things up. The alternating scenes with Threnody are less dull, and actually offer a small amount of characterization for Scalphunter and Arclight. Believing that Onslaught really is the end of everything, they decide to have an “out with a bang” fling. At first, it seems as if they’re going to have fun right in front of their prisoner Threnody, but things are brought back to a PG level when it’s revealed that they actually went into another room to finish. As strange as it sounds, it’s probably the closest thing to real human emotion the issue presents.

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