Friday, March 19, 2010

GENERATION X #-1 - July 1997

The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship!

Credits: James Robinson (writer), Chris Bachalo (penciler), Al Vey (inker), Marie Javins (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)

Summary: Sixteen-year-old runaway Emma Frost invades Manhattan high society. While using her telepathic powers to gain stock tips, she’s drawn to Harry Leland of the Hellfire Club. Soon, the strain of using her powers forces Emma to collapse. When she recovers, she’s harassed by the party guests’ bodyguards. They turn violent when she rejects them. Emma is rescued by the Dark Beast, who offers her a partnership. NYPD detective Sean Cassidy noticed Emma needed help and finally catches up to her as she’s about to shake Dark Beast’s hand. Sean attacks the Dark Beast, who responds violently. Sean’s partner arrives with Harry Leland, and Emma uses her psychic powers to send them home. When alone with the Dark Beast, she accepts his offer.

Continuity Notes: I’m not sure when Banshee’s tenure as an NYPD detective is supposed to fit in his backstory, but I’ve seen it referenced before. He’s following Harry Leland, who is suspected of murder. Emma Frost is described as sixteen, and if you go along with the premise that Flashback Month was supposed to be ten years ago, it’s fitting that Grant Morrison later had Emma declare she was twenty-seven in New X-Men. Dark Beast, for unknown reasons, is suffering from amnesia and is speaking with a simplified speech pattern. I guess the idea is that he’s still disoriented by coming to this timeline, but that happened ten years ago by this point. Also, it seems like he couldn’t have “created” the Morlocks in this mental condition.

Review: I’ve always liked the idea that Emma Frost used her powers unscrupulously to become wealthy at a young age, so I enjoyed the beginning of this story. However, as it progresses, the story seems to take a backseat to the gimmicky introduction of random characters. I guess you could get away with saying Emma Frost and Banshee first met years earlier (I don’t think they were in the same comic until the UXM issues that set up Generation X), but what is the Dark Beast doing here? A cameo by Harry Leland makes sense given Emma’s future with the Hellfire Club, but why does he come back in the end? Why establish that he’s being investigated for murder? Maybe there’s a significance here I’m not aware of, but judging this issue on its own merits, these elements just seem out of place. I do now remember a hint in the early Generation X issues that Dark Beast had a grudge against Emma Frost, so I guess his appearance here was a step in answering that mystery. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go very far towards resolving the dangling subplot, and I don’t think anyone’s touched the idea since. At the very least, this issue has solid work from Chris Bachalo. I actually had no idea Bachalo drew this issue. For years, for some reason, I thought this was a fill-in drawn in a Jeff Matsuda-style. Discovering it wasn’t a fill-in was a nice surprise.


Matt said...

One thing I've noticed as you've reviewed these is that most of the Flashback issues seem to be done by the regular creative teams. That's kind of a surprise to me, since this sort of project seems like something where they'd use fill-in artists.

wwk5d said...

Anything featuring the shoe-horning of the AOA characters will always get points deducted from me. I never liked how the Dark Beat and Sugarman were forced into the backstory of the Morlocks and Genosha. Tying in Emma's history to the Dark Beast was pointless to me, since nothing ever came of it, and did anyone really care about him by this point?

Initially, having Leland appear was a nice idea, but the murder plot was also pointless. Leland was long dead by this point, so it's not like that story could be addressed in the current series, and it's not like there was anything already mentioned about it.

I do like the way Emma is used on the cover, nice homage to the way Prof X appeared on the early X-men covers.

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