Thursday, October 14, 2010

X-MEN UNLIMITED #18 - April 1998

Once an X-Man…

Credits: Tom DeFalco (writer), Marcello Frusin (penciler), Jose Marzan, Jr. (inker), Comicraft’s Emerson Miranda (letters), Shannon Blanchard (colors)

Summary: In San Francisco, Gambit robs from criminals while searching for Mr. Sinister. Overwhelmed with guilt over his involvement in the Morlock Massacre, Gambit is haunted by visions of the X-Men. When Gambit’s contact, Oscar, gives him the option of finding Mr. Sinister or ending Hydro-Man’s killing spree, Gambit decides to be a hero and stop Hydro-Man. After defeating Hydro-Man, Gambit discovers Sinister has killed Oscar. Eventually, Gambit realizes he’s hallucinating, as a dog sled arrives to rescue him in the Antarctic.

Continuity Notes: This takes place during Gambit’s missing months after the X-Men left him for dead in the Antarctic (and, retroactively, we of course learn that they never intended to leave him for dead). I don’t know if the man leading the dog sled was ever identified, as we’re later told the Green Mist Lady, and then New Son, saved Gambit in the Antarctic.

Review: X-Men Unlimited has a new editor, Frank Pittarese, with this issue, which might explain why we’re not getting more of the Howard Mackie/Terry Kavanagh tag-team. Tom DeFalco didn’t do a lot of work on the X-titles, but he did show up more than you might expect in the ‘90s. DeFalco has said in interviews that he was given What If…? (which then led to Spider-Girl) as an assignment because Marvel contractually had to offer him writing jobs during these years. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this was an open job that was also offered to him, since the book never kept a regular writer and any of the issues not written by Howard Mackie or Terry Kavanagh just seemed like random assignments.

DeFalco actually drops his typical Silver Age, borderline-cornball, scripting for the story. He instead adopts a 1970s, “Your name is Iron Fist…” second-person narrative style, which does help to set the story’s mood. Gambit’s overcome with guilt after his role in the Morlock Massacre has been exposed, but he’s determined to prove to himself that he truly is a hero. In the end, this just turns out to be a self-indulgent fantasy, but as the narration says, “It may be a lie…but you cling to it nonetheless.” This is one of the better examples of how to write what is essentially filler; the character is in the same place he was when the story started, but he’s undergone an emotional arc and learned something about himself. Plus, we get an appearance from a villain from outside of the X-canon. I know Tom DeFalco has advocated for this in interviews, so I’m glad he was able to work Hydro-Man in, even as a hallucination.

Guiding Light

Credits: Bill Rosemann (writer), Marty Egeland (penciler), Howard M. Shum (inker), Comicraft’s Emerson Miranda (letters)

Summary: A group of city workers comes near the area of the sewers where Callisto is recuperating. Marrow singles out the supervisor, shows him Angel’s bloodstains on the wall, and demands he stay away from their sacred place. He soon orders his men to leave the tunnels.

Continuity Notes: A footnote places this story prior to X-Men #72.

Review: I forgot “Your Man @ Marvel” had written a few comics during these days. This is a very brief story that plays off Marrow’s original motivation for joining the X-Men -- Callisto wanted her to find a “better way.” Rather than killing the men, she just scares them off, and then goes back to nursing Callisto. Nothing particularly memorable here, except for artist Marty Egeland’s decision to transform the leaves that covered Callisto’s wounded chest in her previous appearance into a skimpy leaf bra that barely covers her nipples. Classy.


Matt said...

I believe Tom DeFalco also used the second person style for every issue of the first Spider-Girl series, before switching to first person for the subsequent series. He must've had an itch to write in that style around this time.

Also, if this issue is purely a hallucination by Gambit, with no outside influences involved, I find it kind of funny that he dreamt about fighting Hydro-Man, a villain he's probably never met, much less even heard of, before! But the effort to get the X-Men out of their enclosed corner of the Marvel U. was appreciated nonetheless.

tomorrowboy 2.7 said...

Bill Rosemann's Deadline miniseries is actually pretty good.

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