Friday, December 25, 2009

X-MEN VS. THE BROOD #1 - September 1996

Day of Wrath- Part One

Credits: John Ostrander (writer), Bryan Hitch (penciler), Paul Neary (inker), Joe Rosas & Malibu (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letterer)

Summary: While vacationing with Cyclops at the Grand Canyon, Phoenix psychically overhears a message sent from the Brood Empress to Hannah Connover, a minister’s wife in a nearby town. The duo follows the psychic trail, leading Phoenix to realize that Hannah is actually a Brood Queen. After turning to her faith in God, Hannah fought against the Brood infection and has tried to maintain her humanity. The Brood Empress sends an army of Brood assassins to kill the defiant Hannah. Their attack leads the humans Hannah infected to become Brood and defend their queen. The fight is soon interrupted by the newly arrived X-Men. After defeating the assassins, Wolverine advocates killing Hannah before she fully becomes a Brood. Realizing that she’s created an army of Brood-humans, Hannah asks the X-Men to kill her.

Continuity Notes: This mini is a direct sequel to a Claremont/Silvestri storyline that began in Uncanny X-Men #232. Hannah Connover is the wife of William Connover, head of the Glory Day Ministry and the “first major religious figure to align himself with mutant rights.” A Brood-infected human named Josey Thomas cured Hannah’s arthritis and gave her “healing” powers that actually infected people with the Brood. Josey Thomas is jealous that Hannah is a Brood Queen, and points the Brood assassins towards her. The Brood kill Josey because she’s been tainted by contact with the rebellious queen.

Where exactly this fits in continuity is a bit unclear. An editorial note says that it takes place before the “Onslaught” crossover, which was recently completed when the mini was actually published. I place it right after Bishop got his haircut in the X-Babies storyline (X-Men #46-#47). It can’t take place much later than this, as Wolverine isn’t in his (sigh) feral dog-state.

Bishop wonders if Hannah might be the first of a new race of Brood. He claims that there are several factions of the Brood in the future, including benign ones.

Beast says this is his first encounter with the Brood, which ignores his role in the X-Men/Ghost Rider crossover, which had the Brood infecting Gambit’s family.

Review: I’m not sure what the genesis of the limited series is, outside of the fact that Marvel was pushing out X-related minis and one-shots like crazy during this era. The format is a little strange, as it’s two issues with forty-eight pages each and no ads. It seems like something that should’ve been in a bookshelf format, even though it isn’t. Maybe the collapse of the comics market made Marvel skittish about the more expensive format.

Regardless of its origins, this is a self-contained story that isn’t earth-shattering, but does use the characters well and picks up on a long-forgotten plotline from the later Claremont years. In some ways, it’s very reminiscent of an ‘80s Marvel comic, as all of the cast is introduced in tidy narrative captions, characters have long inner-monologues explaining their deep conflicts, and the threat of nasty aliens coming to Earth is treated as serious drama. Hitch’s art, along with Neary’s inks, is also reminiscent of something Marvel might’ve published ten years prior to the mini’s release. Thankfully, a feeble Image or manga clone wasn’t used, and this is Hitch before the photo-referencing days. Some of the dialogue is pretty stilted, and perhaps added later by editorial (Cannonball: “Shoot! Wasn’t all that long ago Ah didn’t know how t’land mahself, and here I am pilotin’ a big ol’ jet. Times are strange!”), but Ostrander handles most of the cast well enough. He also makes Hannah Connover and her husband sympathetic characters, and paces the story so that all of the necessary exposition is covered while the plot keeps rolling. I think Ostrander’s work for the X-office only consists of this and a few issues of X-Man, but it seems like his style would’ve worked out well on one of the main titles.

1 comment:

Matt said...

John Ostrander was also the "solo Bishop guy." He wrote (at least) Bishop's solo mini-series, and I think two X.S.E. series. I think that means he created Shard and Mountjoy.

I never understood when the X-office would do that -- give a mini to someone who wasn't really identified with the line in general, never mind the character in question. It was the same when Howard Mackie was the go-to guy for solo Gambit and Rogue action, even before he was part of the X-office on X-Factor.

Anyway, I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing -- it just strikes me as odd.

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