Friday, September 3, 2010

X-MEN UNLIMITED #17 - December 1997

Alone in his Head

Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Tom Lyle (penciler), Perotta/Parsons/Wong (inks), Comicraft (letters), Ariane Lenshoek (colors)

Summary: Wolverine falls for a trap set by Sabretooth and his new associate, Hoo. Hoo uses her powers to swap Wolverine and Sabretooth’s bodies. Before the switch is completed, Sabretooth mortally wounds himself, leaving Wolverine to die in his new body. Posing as Wolverine, Sabretooth informs Archangel that one of his research firms is developing a mutant power neutralizer. They travel to the plant, where the true Wolverine reveals the truth. During their confrontation, the neutralizer prototype is destroyed. Suddenly, the two mutants return to their original bodies. Hoo informs her employer, Sebastian Shaw, that the prototype has been destroyed, as Wolverine decides he must trust that Archangel didn’t know about the research.

Continuity Notes: The neutralizer is based on the one Forge created in his early appearances. Archangel swears he didn’t know about the research and that all of the information has been destroyed. This issue also establishes that Archangel is spending more time at Worthington Industries following his departure from the team.

“Huh?” Moment: Sabretooth (while posing as Wolverine) hints that Archangel might be racist for using his image inducer to replicate white skin.

I Love the ‘90s: Archangel is given a “Dutch boy” haircut reminiscent of the one sported by the blonde member of the Backstreet Boys.

Review: As the recap foldout points out, this is Wolverine’s first confrontation with Sabretooth since Wolverine gave him a partial lobotomy in 1994. You would think this would’ve been a big deal, and X-Men Unlimited was originally created to showcase “event” stories, yet the two concepts aren’t a match. Unlimited has deservedly earned its “filler” reputation by now, and Sabretooth has been so poorly used in X-Factor his appearances are nothing special, so this is just more X-product. By the standards of Unlimited, though, it is an improvement over the previous issues. The rushed inking doesn’t do Tom Lyle any favors, but his yeoman work here is easy to follow and doesn’t sear your eyes with freakish, deformed figures or a bad Jim Lee impression. The story uses the premise pretty well, opening with a just out-of-character Wolverine berating Archangel for a few pages, before a flashback reveals the truth. Archangel is a good choice as the third star, given his relationship with Psylocke and anger with Sabretooth over her assault (plus, Sabretooth nearly killed Archangel in X-Factor, although everyone seems to have forgotten that by now). The story predictably tries to introduce some identity issues, which don’t go very far, but at least the idea is more ambitious than the usual Kavanagh script from this era. I would complain about Wolverine (in Sabretooth’s body) managing to discreetly tail Sabretooth for hours by staying “downwind,” but Sabretooth’s always been able to do that to him, hasn’t he?

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Hmm, I've been a fan of Tom Lyle since he was the regular artist on adjectiveless Spider-Man in the 90's. I had no idea he'd ever done any X-work -- maybe I should check this issue out.

I recently re-read Lyle's Warlock mini-series from around 1999 or so -- he wrote and drew it, and it's a pretty fun read if you're into the 70's-era Starlin characters. Warlock, Gamora, Pip, and Drax feature prominently, as does Genis-Vell. The villains are Blastaar, Annihilus, and a new Negative Zone character called Syphonn.

Anyway, after I read that, I Googled Tom Lyle to see what he's up to these days. It looks like he's become a college art teacher, and runs a blog. I guess that's why I haven't seen him in comics in quite a while!

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