Thursday, February 12, 2009

GENERATION X #20 – #22, October 1996- December 1996

#20 (Lobdell/Bachalo/Buckingham/Starkings/Buccellato/Malibu) – This is another quiet issue that focuses on the characters while building a few ominous subplots. Bastion and his assistant Daria (who only seemed to appear in this series, while Harper was his aide in the other titles) investigate the airport incident from Gen X #1 and learn that Frost Enterprises purchased Chamber’s ticket to America. Meanwhile, the Gen X kids hang out and have the small talk Lobdell seemed to enjoy writing, Franklin Richards is dropped off at the school, and Skin and Chamber continue their road trip. Their original motive of finding Xavier is dropped without explanation (I know that he turned into Onslaught in the meantime, but how did Skin and Chamber know this?), and they’re suddenly in California. Howard the Duck offers them a ride, which revived his creator Steve Gerber’s feud with Marvel. (I seem to recall Lobdell saying that a Hulk supporting cast member was written in his script, but Bachalo drew Howard the Duck because he felt like it.) This is a fun issue, even if none of the plots really go anywhere.

I initially thought the Statement of Ownership in this issue revealed that this series was the highest-seller of the line, which seemed odd. Looking closer, the date listed under the header is October 1, 1995. For that period, average sales for the year were 349,843 copies and 358,529 for the most recent issue. The next issue prints the 1996 Statement of Ownership, which lists average sales for the year at 247,828 copies and 254,532 for the most recent issue. Assuming these aren’t typos, this title lost 100,000 readers in one year. It’s amazing how many readers the industry continued to bleed after the speculator bubble burst.

#21 (Lobdell/Bachalo/Pimentel/Starkings/Buccellato) – Beast guest stars, fulfilling one of the promises made when the series debuted, that the X-Men would show up to teach the students. Large segments of the pages are dedicated to Bachalo’s renderings of the doodles on the edge of Jubilee’s test paper, which is a cute touch. The final page reveals that M is autistic, which is the explanation for her sporadic “space-outs”. I’m no expert on autism, but I don’t think the symptoms quite match up with the way M has been portrayed in the past. The other story in this issue involves Skin, Chamber, and Howard the Duck getting into a bar fight. Skin sneaks out of the bar and visits his own grave, hinting again that he faked his death but not offering any real information on the mystery. A female gang leader with a connection to Skin, Tores, is introduced, but she also remains a mystery. It’s another enjoyable issue, but it feels like too many plot details are being left ambiguous.

#22 (Lobdell/Wright/Bachalo/Vey/Hanna/Starkings/Buccellato) – This is the Halloween issue, which is used to justify several pages of the cast hanging around a Halloween festival. There’s a forced attempt at adding some “touching” moments, but it’s mainly an excuse for Bachalo to draw whatever freaky things he feels like. The rest of the issue has Nightmare bothering Emma Frost for unclear reasons. Frost doesn’t believe him when he claims a mysterious “she” has overtaken the dream world. He then claims that he’s testing Emma to see if “she” can enter the dream world through Emma’s powers. He later shows Emma a horrific vision of the future in her dreams. I have no idea if any of this is supposed to mean anything. Michael Wright, whose name I don’t recognize, is credited as co-writer. It’s possible he wasn’t on the same page as Lobdell, which might’ve added to the confusion. The final result is the third issue in a row with a pretty thin plot. The previous two issues still managed to work, but this one is too cryptic and lackadaisical for its own good.

2 comments:

Matthew J. Brady said...

This may have been my first exposure to Howard the Duck, other than a vague familiarity with the movie. I still like Bachalo's interpretation of him. As for Emma's visions in #22, I always thought it was a teaser for the upcoming #25, but I haven't read it in years, so I don't know if that works or not. And all that business about "she" taking over the dream world or whatever, who knows what that was about. If I remember right, Lobdell only stayed on the book through #27 or so, so he might have been setting up some stuff that never paid off. Or, like the rest of the X-titles at the time, it was just random crap that didn't make sense anyway.

wwk5d said...

The vision I think was maybe a set-up, but it didn't quite end up like what we saw in #25, was it? And yeah, the 'she' stuff probably was a set-up for stuff which Lobdell never got around to...My memory is a little fuzzy...all I know is, these were the last few issues I stuck with the title. #25 I began to lose interest in the title. And while I would check in sporadically, it wasn't until the Faber run I came back...

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