Credits: Joseph Harris (writer), Mike Miller (penciler), Nghia Lam (inker), Glynis Oliver (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)
Summary: Shard rescues an accused mutant on the subway, and later tracks him to his school. She discovers the boy, Kevin, isn’t a mutant, he’s simply double-jointed. Shard befriends Kevin, but when she visits him the next day, discovers he’s joined the anti-mutant clique. The kids throw rocks at Shard, forcing her to use her powers and scare them away. Kevin returns to school, only to learn he’s still an outcast.
We Get Letters: Does this surprise you? The editor says issue #150 “promises to be a shocker!” and “you’ll just have to be here for #150!” when a fan demands the death of the XUE.
Review: When a series reaches the end, the inventory stories sitting in the drawer are occasionally brought into the light. If only the poor soul stuck writing responses for the letter column was given the memo. The X-office was trying out Joseph Harris on a few projects during this era, so I’m not surprised to see him on this job. I realize there’s no real objective standard to judge this material, but you would think someone working at Marvel would’ve realized that the new kid had, at the very least, a better ear for dialogue than the regular writer. His story isn’t a byzantine, nonsensical mess either. Harris did pick up more work from Marvel during the final days of the Bob Harras era, but shockingly enough, he never received the plump assignments given to former Marvel staffers working as freelancers.
Since the ongoing storylines of this title are impossible to jump into (as the motivations and characterizations change from issue to issue, and the overall direction seems made up on the fly), Harris pens a standalone Shard solo story. He starts with a boilerplate X-premise, team member discovers a neophyte mutant, and throws in a few twists. Not the “I secretly wasn’t a villain” kind of twist that ruined this comic, but ones that work as honest surprises. Although the idea of kids mistaking a double-jointed classmate with a mutant might seem implausible, I really have known teenagers that dumb. The rest of the twists don’t require any suspension of disbelief. Maybe Kevin does like Shard, but when he’s offered a chance to join a popular clique and save his own skin, of course he turns against her. And if he thinks the cool kids will stay with him, he’s deluding himself. There’s no great physical drama in the story, but there are enough twists and at least plausible characterizations to keep it entertaining.