Thursday, March 19, 2009

X-MAN #23 - #25, January 1997 - March 1997


#23 (Kavanagh/Cruz/Clark/LaRosa/Comicraft/Thomas) - Even by X-Man standards, this one is surprisingly aimless. X-Man spends a few pages recapping his issues with Threnody (he likes her, but is still afraid that Mr. Sinister is playing both of them), then has a visit from Bishop and Rogue (they’re concerned about him, but he’s still unwilling to trust the X-Men). Meanwhile, Madelyne Pryor spars with Scribe and Mountjoy in order to earn the role of Black Rook in the Hellfire Club. Finally, X-Man has a vision of the Age of Apocalypse, which leads into the X-Man ’96 annual. The end. Cruz’s art is still improving, so at least most of the issue has somewhat attractive cartooning, but the story is obviously filler. And reviving the Hellfire Club in a lower-tier spinoff just feels wrong to me.

#24 (Kavanagh/Cruz/LaRosa/Comicraft/Thomas/GCW) – Remember when Marvel decided that Spider-Man and X-Man were going to be best pals? This issue takes place after an X-Man guest appearance in Amazing Spider-Man, which I assume ended with X-Man being attacked by a shadowy figure. The mystery villain turns out to be Morbius, whose bite is transforming X-Man into a vampire. (Morbius’ powers don’t actually work this way, but it’s explained that X-Man is “telempathic”, which forces him to follow Morbius’ example. I suspect that the story was plotted out before someone realized that Morbius doesn’t actually turn people into vampires, and a quickie explanation had to be found). X-Man wants to be near Threnody, so Spider-Man helps him find her. Threnody is across town at a hospital, feeding off the death energies of terminally ill patients. I’ll give Kavanagh credit for using her powers in creative ways, and for finding a Spider-Man villain with a thematic connection to her.

Eventually, Morbius meets up with Threnody in a graveyard and entices her over to his side. Spider-Man and X-Man arrive, X-Man fights off Morbius’ influence, and Morbius flees (into the pages of Peter Parker, Spider-Man according to the footnote). X-Man realizes that Threnody needs help and tells her to stay away until she’s willing to admit it. The story’s “X-Man is a vampire” gimmick doesn’t work, but some interesting things are done with Threnody, and the Spider-Man guest appearance isn’t totally gratuitous. The Madelyne Pryor subplot in this issue has her drawing closer to Sebastian Shaw (and healing his mysterious scar), as Tessa watches on in disgust. The issue ends with Madelyne tracing X-Man’s steps on the final page, which finally moves her extremely long-running subplot into the title character’s direction.

#25 (Kavanagh/Cruz/Jones//LaRosa/Martin/Comicraft/Thomas/GCW) – The Madelyne Pryor mystery receives some resolution in this anniversary issue, but questions still linger. Askani member Sanctity contacts Jean Grey, telling her to kill X-Man. She refuses to kill him, but she does track him down, shortly after he’s reunited with Madelyne. Just in case you didn’t think their relationship was disgusting enough in the previous issues, X-Man and Madelyne share a long, open-mouthed kiss before they’re interrupted by Jean. Madelyne attacks Jean, which eventually leads to X-Man and Jean combining their mental powers against her. X-Man finally learns that he created Madelyne after he subconsciously longed for Jean Grey (you know, his mother figure) when he first arrived in this reality. This explains why the Askani want him dead (his ability to psionically create people from thin air is deemed too dangerous), but many other questions are left unanswered.

It’s not stated in the issue, but since Madelyne has access to all of her memories, I assuming that he pulled her soul out of…somewhere…and gave it physical form. Why exactly he became sexually attracted to the woman he created to replace his need for a maternal figure isn’t even brought up, which is a shame since it should’ve at least been played for a joke. When X-Man tries to erase Madelyne, he can’t, because she’s somehow independent of his consciousness. The story doesn’t explain this either, and even has Madelyne comment that it raises “so many more questions without answers”. The story ends with her teleporting away (she can do that now, I guess) and rejoining Sebastian Shaw in Hong Kong. It’s heavily implied that she’s now sexually involved with Shaw, which makes the hook-up connections amongst the various X-characters even more tangled.

The extremely brief scene with Shaw is the only appearance of the Hellfire Club in the story, which makes me wonder why exactly the group has been receiving so much attention in this title. Even the double-sized anniversary issue doesn’t bother to resolve their storyline, or answer all of the questions surrounding Madelyne. I haven’t read any issues of this series after this one, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of these plot threads never had a real resolution. Not only does X-Man still have no real reason to exist, but it’s also copying the worst traits of the various X-titles. It’s hard to believe that the series went on for another three years before someone decided to reboot it.

3 comments:

Seangreyson said...

Ah yes the Nate/Madeline situation. My question would be simply how this got by every level of editorial review without anyone ever asking the question: Wait Nate and Madelyne do what? Isn't she his aunt/clone of mom?

This sort of stuff snuck into silver age stories but you don't generally see it in mainstream books anymore.

wwk5d said...

yeah, it was kind of icky...and why the hell is she even in this title? wouldn't it make more sense for her to be in X-men or Cable? dumb, dumb, and dumb.

ray swift said...

I'm not even bothering...

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