Monday, April 13, 2009

X-MEN #69 – November 1997

Last Exit
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Carlos Pacheco & Salvador Larroca (pencilers), Art Thibert (inker), Comicraft (lettering), Liquid! (colors)

Summary: Sabra arrives and rescues Iceman, Cecilia Reyes, and Marrow from the Prime Sentinels. Following the information she’s gathered, the mutants travel with Sabra to Connecticut. Meanwhile, Senator Kelly rebukes Operation: Zero Tolerance on the floor of the Senate. Soon, Iceman and the others arrive at a mansion in Connecticut. They’re greeted by Bastion and an army of Prime Sentinels. An older woman named Rose Gilberti is there, looking after Detective Jones’ son, Timothy. Bastion says that Timothy is free to go, but Rose questions what Bastion has become. Iceman uses his powers to force Bastion outside, demanding a personal conversation. The two debate Bastion’s actions, until the Prime Sentinels arrive. Suddenly, agents of SHIELD appear, declaring that OZT’s permission to act on US soil has been revoked. Bastion agrees to be taken into custody, as Iceman explains to Marrow that resolving the conflict peacefully separates the X-Men from Bastion.

Continuity Notes: Bastion claims that Rose Gilberti is the “closest thing I have to a mother” and that she “took me in when I had no more of a mind than that of a newborn child”.

Review: And here we have the legendary anti-climax to the OZT crossover. There’s still an issue of Wolverine that’s dedicated to sending the X-Men back home, but this is the real conclusion to the storyline. And, after over a year of buildup, it ends with Bastion turning himself in for no discernible reason, after Senator Kelly gives an “impassioned” off-panel plea to the government to withdraw support. There’s also a new character introduced, Rose Gilberti, who is supposed to play some important role in Bastion’s origin. Unfortunately, she receives less than a paragraph’s worth of dialogue, and the artist chooses to frame the panel so that we only see the back of her head. Since the issue ends with page after page of Iceman and Bastion debating OZT, it’s hard to figure out why exactly she’s in the story. I’m assuming that she was supposed to be the human who teaches Bastion that his actions against mutants are truly inhuman, but she only speaks in one panel before she’s forgotten about. And why exactly was Sabra brought into this? I understand that she helps move Iceman where he needs to be for the climax, but there could’ve been any number of ways to get to this point. She received a lengthy setup a few issues earlier, dropped out for a bit, moves the plot along in this issue, and then disappears. Outside of the novelty of pairing her with the X-Men for the first time (I don’t think she ever appeared outside of Incredible Hulk), I have no idea what the point was supposed to be.

It’s too bad the story just fizzed out, because you can see along the way that it had potential. The X-Men on the run, mutants from across the globe suddenly targeted by Sentinels, the mansion ransacked, the X-Men’s secrets stolen, Senator Kelly forced to reexamine his anti-mutant beliefs – none of these are bad ideas. The story never seems committed to selling the scale of the operation, though, so the only mutant who doesn’t regularly appear in an X-title targeted by OZT turns out to be Sabra. Meanwhile, in Uncanny, Archangel, Psylocke, and Maggott don’t seem to be having any problems with Prime Sentinels. The climax also suffers from only offering hints about Bastion, and never actually giving him an origin. It’s another example of the X-office keeping something a secret longer than it needs to be, even though this mystery had already been solved by guesses in the letters page. It’s not hard to figure out that Bastion is an amalgam of Nimrod and Master Mold, so why not explain how he got that way in the final chapter? Maybe Bastion’s wimpy surrender wouldn’t have seemed so bad if the readers were given an origin for the character. At least something would’ve been resolved. Instead, we get an issue filled with speeches, more vague hints without a resolution, and a villain who surrenders because it’s page twenty-two already and it’s time to move on. Disappointing.


Ostrakos said...

I know Sabra also appeared in a few issues of New Warriors back in the 90s.

ray swift said...

I actually like the idea of a villian surrending. As you said, it's anti-climactic, but in a good way, a surprising way, because you accept all the villians to walk through the same old and boring road. Also, Bastion actually had reasons and a build-up to go this way. We already saw him in several issues show empathic sides, like he feel sorry for the mutants and wish there was another way (but thinks there isn't) and is bound to his programing. So turning himself in instead of fightning the humans he is suppose to protect instead of going all maniac-villian on them (or just the robots from I, robot) is actually fresh and makes Bastion more interesting character.
I do agree that the climax had other major faults, such as the complete absance of interaction between the different X-books the participated in the crossover. There was no "big boom" in the end like previous marvel crossovers. You could actually deliver the same story with only the X-men issues and the Ice-man storyline.
Also, the ending felt so abrupt. They just happened to found him in his home instead of some secret base doing... what excally? Excpecting Ice-man? That mother figure of his had no part, and as you said, Sabra's pat, which was supposed to bring a critical information about Bastion's weakness, didn't happen.
So yes, it wasn't a good conclusion, but the surrendering part wasn't the problem, in my opinion.

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