Monday, May 10, 2010

GENERATION X #29 - #30, August - September 1997

Previously…in Generation X: The students found themselves in Skin’s old neighborhood of East Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Jubilee was captured by Bastion. After getting separated during Black Tom’s attack, Banshee, Penance, and Emma Frost searched for the missing team.

No Surrender

Credits: James Robinson (writer), Chris Bachalo w/Pop Mhan (pencilers), Al Vey w/Eric Cannon, Tim Townsend, & Al Milgrom (inkers), Comicraft (letters), Marie Javins (colors)

Summary: In LA, Gen X heads to the home of Skin’s cousin, Gil. The next morning, they’re attacked by armed men led by Tores, Skin’s former gang rival. Bastion’s Prime Sentinels destroy the home, and target Tores when she chastises them for going too far. Skin grabs Tores and takes her along as the team escapes. Meanwhile, Banshee, Emma, and Penance hide out from the Zero Tolerance agents guarding Emma’s home. D.O.A. appears, offering to tell them where the students are if they hand Penance over to Emplate. Elsewhere, Jubilee helps Daria control her nanotech powers.

Continuity Notes: Tores is a mystery character from Skin’s past. She was contacted by Zero Tolerance and agreed to work with them when she learned Skin was alive. Gil is the only family member who knows Skin faked his death. After last issue, Banshee and Emma were supposed to be responding to the X-Men’s distress call (after Zero Tolerance shot them out of the sky). That’s briefly acknowledged, but the story has been dropped very quickly.

Review: James Robinson’s brief sojourn with the X-titles continues, as he follows up the Zero Tolerance subplots generated by Scott Lobdell before his departure. This probably isn’t the best storyline for Robinson to begin with (and the “Flashback” issues weren’t a great staring place, either) but he does a solid job. Actually, it’s hard to tell Lobdell is even gone at this point. While Robinson is writing the cast as younger and less cynical than Lobdell, he’s definitely following the template Lobdell established. Large sections of the book are dedicated to character interaction, Bachalo is given a lot of room to draw the random craziness he enjoys in the background, and the ongoing storylines continue unabated. We also see more of Bachalo’s multiple panels per page gimmick, which allows the various story threads to get at least a little room during the twenty-three pages.

Some Things Hurt More Than Cars and Girls

Credits: James Robinson (writer), Chris Bachalo (penciler), Al Vey & Eric Cannon (inkers), Comicraft (letters), Marie Javins & Digital Chameleon (colors)

Summary: Gen X follows Tores to her uncle’s auto shop. They hide inside the shop as the Prime Sentinels search outside. M convinces Chamber to pursue his relationship with Husk, and later shares her first kiss with Synch when they both realize they could die soon. Soon, the Prime Sentinels invade. Elsewhere, Emma and Banshee argue over turning Penance over to Emplate. When Banshee refuses, Emma psi-blasts him and asks Emplate if they have a deal. Meanwhile, Daria helps Jubilee escape Bastion’s custody.

Miscellaneous Note: The title of this issue is a reference to a song I've never heard of, "Cars and Girls."

Review: If these covers didn’t give you enough of a clue, we’ve now reached the point where Chris Bachalo is in full-on kiddie mode. He was clearly headed in that direction in the previous issues, but #30 seems to be the tipping point. I like Bachalo’s art, especially his work in the early issues of this title, but I never understood this digression. Making the teenage characters more childlike might be defensible, but Emma Frost, their teacher, should not look like a member of Power Pack. As I’ve mentioned before, since Bachalo has always been a large part of this book’s appeal, the issues he doesn’t draw -- or he does draw, just in a radically different style -- don’t feel right.

I wonder if the kiddie redesigns influenced Robinson’s stories, since the cast now acts closer to thirteen than sixteen. Synch and M even share their first kiss, which seems like a pubescent right-of-passage that’s a little young for the characters Lobdell created. (At the same time, Peter David’s casual treatment of M’s sexual activity in the modern X-Factor book didn’t feel right, either). Even though the team might be acting too young, Robinson is still handling the book rather well. The crossover doesn’t feel like a pointless diversion, since he’s leaving room for character interactions and the ongoing storylines are allowed to continue. Like X-Force, the Sentinels are there to be the villains for a few issues, while the main titles are left to deal with Bastion and OZT. It’s not a big shock that Daria helps Jubilee and Emma attempts to fake-out Emplate, but the execution is fine.


evanmcb said...

At the time, I thought the "kiddie" style was a result of Mark Buckingham no longer inking over Bachalo's pencils. Just a guess, though. I like both of those artists, but I definitely prefer them more together than apart. GenX 1-4 are classic.

Matt said...

Guh. I was never a fan of Bachalo (I'm still not), but this was when my dislike for his art was at its peak! My preferred Gen-X artist was Terry Dodson.

wwk5d said...

Started to lose interest with the title around here. The art kept getting worse and worse, epecially the 'kiddie' aspect of it. And Robison never grabbed me as a writer. This title become unreadable to me till the Faeber (sp?) run.

ray swift said...

I'm afraid I did find a very noticeable difference between Lobdel and Robinson. I actually didn't read the creative team headline and therefore didn't know there was a change in the writer, so when I kept reading and felt the story was bad and differently written, I was kinda glad to find out I was right - and there is a reason behind it.
To me, the story was too childish and silly. The characters acted silly, and not the fun kild of sillyness they usually have. The most blunt change (I'm surprised you didn't mention) is in M's behavior: She is so much off-character that she doesn't seems as Monet as all. Just a new character with M's appearance and name. Robinson also ignores the Paige-Jonothon romantic arc, that suppose to put them in awkward position, and just make it shallow, as Jono straggeling to tell Paige his feeling and brood about his appearance again (I thought we are through this part already) and Paige acts like a dum witted, completely oblivious to everything going on. The women in Robinson's writing at general seems to suffer from a serious devolusion in their intelligence, as even Emma is acting like a spoiled brat who Banshee has to scold.
Meaning Robinson isn't only a bad writer. He is also a jerk against women.

ray swift said...

Also, the portrayal of the sentinels in these issues makes them look like a bunch of third grade wussies. They are enormously depowered and dozens of them cannot handel a bunch of kids (Skin and his girlfriend actually hides from the sentinels behind a wooden table!)
For no explained reason, the sentinels couldn't locate the mutants kids until they spotted them - with their eyes!

Tom said...

Concerning M, though, keep in mind that the M who appears here is not the one from Peter David's X-Factor. The M in Robinson's run is two little girls combined into a teenage woman, so it would make since that it'd be her/their first kiss, at least.

I think I only read one of the Lobdell issues of Generation X (excluding the AoA version, Generation Next), so I'm no expert on how the characters were handled previously, but I enjoyed James Robinson's issues. Even though it was mid-crossover, the pacing at times felt rather relaxed: I feel he wanted to give the gang a little time to just be teens in between all the OZT moments.

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