Wednesday, April 13, 2011

PINT-SIZED X-BABIES #1 - August 1998


Credits: Ruben Diaz & J. J. Kirby (story), J. J. Kirby (penciler), Sean Parsons w/Koblish, Perrotta, Vines, Russell, Williams, & Ramos (inks), Comicraft’s Dave Lanphear (letters), Ruffner, Hicks, Schigiel, Smith, & Tutrone (colors)

Summary: The X-Babies defeat the Brotherhood of Mutant Bullies in battle, but their victory is short-lived, as Mojo and Arcade develop a new game show to exploit the team -- Murderama. The X-Babies are pitted against the BoMB in a rigged trivia contest, which has the team split up and sent on numerous quests. Cyke sneaks off the set and returns with Charlie X and the extended X-Babies family. The heroes escape, leading Mojo to transform “Arcade” into his true form…the child doppelganger Funhouse. Funhouse is sent to have his spine removed.

Continuity Notes: For perhaps the first time, the X-Babies are given individual names instead of sharing names with their adult counterparts. The team consists of Cyke (Cyclops), Shower (Storm), Wolvie (Wolverine), Creepy Crawler (Nightcrawler), Colossusus (Colossus), Boyo (Banshee), and Charlie X (Professor X). Their archenemies are the Brotherhood of Mutant Bullies, which include Mysti Q (Mystique), Slob (Blob), Phyro (Pyro), Snaggletooth (Sabretooth), Juggernut (Juggernaut), Toadpole (Toad), and Magneato (Magneto).

Production Notes: This is a forty-eight page, standard format one-shot.

Review: Around the time Marvel had the gall to release a second X-Men spinoff comic, Chris Claremont created the X-Babies as a parody of the over-commercialization of the franchise. I’m sure the last thing on his mind was the actual existence of X-Babies one-shots and limited series (or something like Cartoon Network’s The Superhero Squad Show), but that’s where we are by the late ‘90s. What makes this one-shot immediately stand out is J. J. Kirby’s artwork, which resembles a blend of modern-day Skottie Young and Ed McGuiness. The inking begins to give out before the comic is over, but much of the issue has bold, Tim Townsend-style inking that complements the short, boxy figures very well.

The story is, of course, not intended to be taken very seriously, but there’s a surprising lack of jokes, and most of the focus seems to be on zaniness rather than parody. When the X-titles delved into comedy in the ‘80s, Claremont was usually willing to make fun of Marvel or even himself. Maybe the culture of Marvel at this time wouldn’t allow that kind of comedy, but it’s disappointing that the extent of meta-humor we get is a parody of Banshee’s phonetic accent. It’s still a fun read, though. It’s hard to dislike a comic that has kid X-Men living in a treehouse mansion, fighting against Magneato and his Brotherhood of Mutant Bullies.


dschonbe said...

Colossusus is fantastic.

Do you think Charlie X grows up to become Dave Sim's Charles X from Cerebus?

Paul O'Brien said...

The X-Babies actually predate the launch of Adjectiveless X-Men by two or three years. But you're right, their first story is clearly a parody of the commercialisation of the franchise, with Mojo representing Marvel itself. (This made more sense at the time, when Marvel was owned by New World Pictures.)

G. Kendall said...

By "second X-Men spinoff comic" I meant X-Factor, which seemed to particularly annoy Claremont. I probably should've said "second X-spinoff" or "second mutant book" since technically, no one in New Mutants or X-Factor were "X-Men" at the time.

dschonbe said...

I can't recall where from (possibly Jason Powell's issue by issue analysis?), but I have heard that New Mutants was a hastily put together proposal by Claremont in order to head off any mutant spin offs outside his control. If that's the case, it would make sense that X-factor would bother him so much.

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