Friday, February 20, 2009

X-MAN #20-#22 (October 1996 – December 1996)

#20 (Kavanagh/Skroce/LaRosa/Comicraft/Morsehead/Malibu) X-Man’s new logo debuts with this issue, and if I were cynical, I’d say it’s been redesigned to trick readers with poor eyesight into thinking it’s a more popular title. This issue reveals that the shadowy figure Threnody ran into in the last issue is the Abomination. Conveniently enough, Threnody actually has a past with him. When she was younger, the group of outsiders that Abomination leads took her in. Her powers went out of control, accidentally killing two of his people, forcing Abomination to kick her out of their home. I’m not quite sure where the idea that Abomination leads a group of outcasts comes from (is this what Peter David decided to do with him after the “Hulk Smash” era ended?), but this issue certainly runs with it. When the group learns that Threnody has taken a leather jacket that belonged to a deceased member, she’s attacked. X-Man finds her and saves her, and then spends the rest of the issue fighting the Abomination. X-Man learns about Threnody’s past from Abomination’s memories, but decides to trust her because she doesn’t deny what happened. There’s a slight variation on X-Man’s powers, as he mentally tricks Abomination into thinking that he won a physical fight him, allowing him to escape with Threnody. This is at least preferable to seeing his powers explode for the five hundredth time. This is a mediocre issue, but X-Man doesn’t behave like a total idiot in it, and the art has its moments, so it’s above par by X-Man standards.

#21 (Kavanagh/Cruz/LaRosa/Comicraft/Thomas/GCW) – This begins a new direction for the title, as X-Man and Threnody move to New York and Roger Cruz debuts as artist. Cruz’s art is extremely inconsistent, but you can see some promise on a few pages. Moving X-Man to New York seems like a waste, since the character could live anywhere and NYC is already overpopulated with Marvel heroes. However, Kavanagh manages to use the city well in this issue. X-Man actually uses his powers creatively, by conning the con artists in Central Park, and connecting to the normal people around him in a human way. He spends a nice day with Threnody until he accidentally uses his telekinetic powers in public, which of course causes a riot. X-Man surprisingly doesn’t behave childishly, declaring instead that he’s actually going to grow closer to humanity. This seems like a deliberate attempt to address some of the more egregious problems with this series, and it’s a stronger story than I would expect from Kavanagh at this point.

The Selene subplot continues, as she proposes reuniting the Hellfire Club with Sebastian Shaw. Trevor Fitzroy, who is now serving Selene, makes the argument that the time is right for mutants to unite because of the threat of Operation: Zero Tolerance. It’s implied that Fitzroy knows Bastion’s plans because he’s from the future, which isn’t a bad way to use the character. Forcing disparate mutants to unite in the face of OZT has a lot of potential, and it’s too bad the actual crossover did little with this. For the record, the Statement of Ownership in this issue lists average sales for the year at 227,315 copies, with the most recent issue selling 243,916.

#22 (Kavanagh/Cruz/Clark/LaRosa/Geiger/Comicraft/Thomas/GCW) – Not an awful lot going on in this issue. X-Man kills a few pages stopping an arsonist, and then travels to Central Park, where he’s developed a following. He charges for his services and uses his telepathic powers in positive ways, such as helping the mother of a kid fighting cancer find her inner courage. I like this direction, as it gives the character some type of purpose and answers the basic question of “how does he afford food and shelter?”. There’s an inordinate amount of time spent on X-Man and Threnody shopping for clothes and looking for an apartment, which unfortunately drags the issue down towards the end. The alternating scenes have Selene introducing Madelyne Pryor to Sebastian Shaw, teasing the idea that Madelyne will help them defeat the X-Men. It seems like every issue has Selene/Madelyne subplot pages, and they never go anywhere. Last issue’s scenes had promise, but now it looks like the characters are just being gathered to fight the X-Men (who, you know, aren’t the stars of this book). There's also a one-page scene that teases a Bastion appearance in Silver Surfer of all places. Overall, this isn’t too impressive, but the new direction has promise.


Matt said...

X-Man #22 was my first issue of the title. I've always been a big Sebastian Shaw fan, and his appearance here, with the promise of more to come, got me interested. Plus, I couldn't get enough of the faux-manga-style Madureira impersonators (the good ones, anyway, of which I considered Cruz to be one).

But as I recall, I didn't last long on this title. Shaw dropped out of sight soon, and not even Roger Cruz's art (which I really liked a lot at this time) could get me to stomach Terry Kavanagh's writing.

Anonymous said...

The logo change of X-Man is really annoying. Try shuffling through the randomness of bargain bins. Oooh! Is that an X-Men I don't have? NO, it's just another X-Man title I don't want.

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