Monday, May 18, 2009

X-MEN #76 - X-MEN #77, June 1998 - July 1998

X-Men #76

A Boykie and His Dinges

Credits: Joe Kelly (writer), Mat Broome (penciler), Sean Parson w/Aaron Sowd (inkers), Liquid! (colors), Comicraft (letters)

Summary: Maggott tells Wolverine a story from his past. In South Africa, Maggott lived in a crowded home with his large family. At the age of twelve, he was no longer able to digest food, causing his family excessive medical bills. Feeling that he was a burden, he drove into the desert, hoping to die. Magneto suddenly appeared and released the two slugs living inside Maggott’s body. Magneto explained to Maggott that he was a mutant and took him back home. There, he discovered that his older brother had been killed by Apartheid soldiers. Magneto took Maggott into the city, where his father was fighting Apartheid. Magneto murdered the soldiers, horrifying Maggott. Magneto left, telling Maggott that one day they’ll fight as brothers.

Continuity Notes: The “mysterious package from Africa” subplot continues, as Storm picks it up from the post office. When she opens it, a mystical statuette appears, telling her that she must come home and stop “Ananasi”. The next issue clarifies that the statuette is of Ainet, a “village priestess” who took Storm in as a teenager.

It’s finally confirmed that Maggott’s slugs act as his digestive system. They feed on matter, and then return the nourishment to him by somehow merging with the hole in his stomach.

Approved By The Comics Code Authority: Letterers are traditionally careful with the word “flick”, as it tends to look like another word when written in all caps. “Flick” is used as a sound effect on page two, and the letterer has made the brave decision not to space the L and I far apart, but to have them actually overlap.

Review: It’s strange to read an entire issue dedicated to Maggott while knowing that Marvel is just a few issues away from consigning him to obscurity. It’s a suitable enough origin story, although it’s another indication that Joe Kelly’s interpretation of Magneto is out of whack (even though he was clearly a villain pre-Claremont, I don’t think he was the type for a casual, cold-blooded slaughter until the ‘90s). While the story does explain Maggott’s connection to Magneto, it still doesn’t resolve the character’s original mystery, which had him searching for Magneto for unspecified reasons. I did find this a satisfactory resolution as a teen though, and thought that Maggott had some potential as a character. However, even then I found the character’s speech pattern annoying. In this issue, Kelly is particularly bad about cramming his dialogue with South African slang (which Kelly pulled from some website) that’s often impenetrable. Mat Broome shows up as guest artist, years after his early X-Force fill-ins. His work on X-Force has aged horribly, but most of his pages here aren’t so bad.

X-Men #77

Storm Front

Credits: Joe Kelly (writer), German Garcia (penciler), Art Thibert (inker), Liquid! (colors), Comicraft (letters)

Summary: Psylocke uses her shadow teleportation powers to take the X-Men to Africa, where Storm finds her old village empty. Ainet appears, possessed by the trickster god, Ananasi. As Storm attacks Ananasi, the rest of the X-Men disappear, emerging inside various fantasies. Psylocke manages to find Storm, telling her that Ananasi is actually a telepath and not a god. They enter the psionic plane together, where Psylocke is goaded by Ananasi into pushing her powers to their limits. Storm realizes that she was never the real target, but is unable to stop Psylocke from stabbing Ananasi with a psychic sword. A psionic event covers the earth, as Ananasi is exposed as the Shadow King.

Review: This is the first part of “Psi-War”, which I think was originally supposed to be a much larger event than it turned out to be. The story mainly consists of getting the X-Men to Africa, a few fantasy sequences, and the last page reveal of the Shadow King. It’s not exactly a shock that a story about Storm returning to Africa would have the Shadow King as the villain, especially after Psylocke reveals that Ananasi is actually a telepath mid-issue, but Kelly manages to get an enjoyable story out of this. He’s aided by German Garcia, who has a nice grasp of most of the cast and an impressive design for Ananasi. Kelly tries to shift the focus to Psylocke, as it becomes more obvious that the story is about telepaths, which is the first time a writer has tried to make some sort of statement about her character in a while. He goes the predictable route by having the Shadow King mock her identity issues, and her redundancy as the X-Men’s third-tier telepath. I think he crosses the line with too much meta-commentary (“You’ve been transmogrified and obliterated and possessed and killed so many times…you’re everyone’s plaything.”), but it’s nice to see someone using this as the starting point for a story and not an excuse to just dismiss the character.


Jeff said...

I REALLY like the Psi-War two-parter. Even knowing it was supposed to be a huge crossover and got neutered, the Shadow King is more fun here than he has been since possibly his first appearance. I want to talk about it more, but I think most of the stuff I like is in #78 so I'll wait. Also, it's fun to compare the reveal of the Shadow King here with the similar scene in X-Men #60. Kelly has a great grasp on the character.

rob said...

#76 doesn't do much for me. Nothing here really indicates how Maggott would know Joseph isn't Magneto (#73) or justify his search for Magneto.

#77 is much better, with Kelly's fun team dynamics in full force and a decent adventure for the team. Archangel and Psylocke had been hanging around the periphery of the team for two years now, so it's nice that Kelly tried to address both of their roles. And I've always really enjoyed Garcia's work on this book.

wwk5d said...

Wasn't this story designed as a way for Kelly to write out Psylocke for good? I remember reading an interview with him, and him saying that she wasn't exactly one of his favorite characters...

Still, it does seem like editorial was doing lots of re-writing. The whole story of the package seems to change with each issue. Still, Kelly does do some good character work in #77.

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