Monday, August 30, 2010

COLOSSUS #1 - October 1997

A Most Dangerous Game

Credits: Ben Raab (writer), Bryan Hitch (penciler), Paul Neary (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Jason Wright (colors)

Summary: While on vacation in Paris, Colossus and Meggan are targeted by Arcade. After they’re kidnapped by his assistant Ms. Locke, Colossus awakens in Murderworld. Through various scenarios, he has to rescue Meggan. He eventually realizes Arcade is behind the deception and breaks through to the control panel. Arcade arranges for Colossus to stage his death in order to learn who ordered the hit. After Colossus performs a mock execution, Arcade escapes with the heroes. Arcade reveals he wanted to fake his own death because he’s now fearful of his clients, Black Air. The group tries to discretely escape on an ocean liner, unaware Black Air is following them.

Continuity Notes: Black Air wants to kill Colossus in retaliation for his role in stopping their plan in Excalibur #100. You would think they would also want Meggan taken out, but Arcade claims she wasn’t a part of the deal. Following the Victims miniseries, Ms. Locke is a robot replacement for the murdered original. Arcade’s face is now back to normal, without explanation.

“Huh?” Moment: While on a murderous rollercoaster ride, Meggan transforms a cluster of spikes into butterflies. Is transmutation one of her powers? I know she has elemental powers, super strength, can fly, change (her) shape, and occasionally imitate other mutant powers…but this, too? Also, even though the spikes clearly transformed into butterflies, Meggan says she’s turned them into flowers.

Review: What do you do with a Colossus one-shot? The Cold War is long gone by this point, so you can’t go the route of his early solo stories and use American/USSR relations as a plot point. He left the Acolytes years earlier and has already convincingly redeemed himself as a member of Excalibur. His sister is dead, and a time travel story about her and his insane brother is being used in the New Mutants miniseries. So…just pair him with a team member he rarely interacts with and give him an adventure with Arcade. Raab does attempt to tie the story specifically to Colossus, as Arcade’s simulations recall his past as an Acolyte, and revive “the Proletarian,” an identity he took when Arcade brainwashed him during their first encounter. Plus, Arcade somehow knows Colossus killed Proteus and Riptide back in the Claremont days, so his guilt is briefly referenced. But, really, this is a light-hearted adventure story that doesn’t attempt to say an awful lot about the character. This easily could’ve been an X-Men Unlimited issue, but we all know there just wasn’t enough X-product on the market at this time. Poor Marvel had to put something with the X-characters on the stands.

This is a fun read, although I wonder why the story’s structure sucks away so much of the potential drama. We know from the beginning that Arcade and Ms. Locke are after the heroes, so when Colossus awakens in his Acolyte uniform, we already know it’s a Murderworld simulation. Later on, Colossus and Arcade make an on-panel deal to fake Arcade’s death, which is faithfully executed a few pages later. However, Meggan is in a Virtual Reality simulator and doesn’t see the deal, so she really thinks Colossus is killing Arcade later on. Why leave only Meggan in the dark? Since the details of their arrangement are revealed later, we didn’t have to see their agreement upfront. It’s like the story is going for a “What’s going on?!” effect, but feels the need to just tell you everything that’s going to happen before it happens.

The art is provided by Bryan Hitch, and I think this is the best work he’s done at this point. The Alan Davis influence is still evident, but not as blatant as in his previous comics. The characters are all clean and attractive, the action scenes have energy, and the storytelling is clear. Plus, there’s not one visible photo-reference to be found. I don’t want to pull a “your old stuff was better”…but I like this so much more than the gallery of Google Image Search results his work often resembles now.

LINK: Dave’s Long Box once examined this comic, and the sexual politics of Meggan.


wwk5d said...

Dave’s Long Box has some scans of the artwork...was it all done by Hitch? Some panels look *very* much like his Alan Davis phase, while some others (like this one just look like bard in-house art style. Just wondering...

wwk5d said...

Er, BAD in-house art style lol

G. Kendall said...

Hitch is the only artist credited. That page looks like Hitch of this era to me.

ray swift said...

Well, I might be biased by Claremont and Davis's run, but I Meggan was actually one of my favorite characters of Excalibur.
Judging from people reactions to this issue, I would sadly conclude that she didn't evolove from this day on, which is sad. I think the direction of Claremont and Davis with this character was to get her from being patheticly naive to gradualy mature and develope independence.
I'm sadden to hear she is just going to be a trophy wife for captain britain.

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