Friday, April 22, 2011

X-MAN #39-#40, June-July 1998

If Tomorrow Never Comes…

Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Mark Pajarillo (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Joe Andreani (colors), Comicraft’s Kiff Scholl (letters)

Apparently, X-Man’s life in New York is now over, which ends whatever semblance of direction or purpose the book ever had. The story opens with Nate meditating, envisioning his own death, which of course is cryptic and light on the details. He fights a man in an armored suit that somewhat resembles Stryfe’s, apparently to prevent Apocalypse’s resurrection. Their psychic battle creates a massive feedback that kills half of the Earth’s population. That’s one way to oversell a premise.

Nate awakens in the Canadian wilderness, which we learn is where Madelyne Pryor took him after the previous issue. For the first time, Nate has a justifiable mood swing, as he suddenly realizes that his relationship with Madelyne is creepy and she should just leave him alone. Before their conversation can go anywhere, she points out that Nate inadvertently created a psychic explosion while meditating, which has unleashed a monster named Tundra. Nearby, two other Great Beasts approach. I’ll again give Kavanagh credit for pulling some unexpected villains out of the air, but he unfortunately ties their resurrection to a mystery man called “the Witness.” He somehow senses…either the Great Beasts, or X-Man’s vision (the story isn’t very clear). Every X-fan of this era knew the Witness as the-man-who-might-be-Gambit from Bishop’s origin story, so teasing them with an unrelated character is just wrong.

Nothing Left But the Screaming

Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Richard Pace (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Mike Thomas (colors), Comicraft’s Kiff Scholl (letters)

With Madelyne’s help, X-Man defeats the ancient Alpha Flight enemies, while Kavanagh revives the Gauntlet for a few subplot scenes. He doesn’t offer much detail on the mystery group, although we do learn that they’re lead by a Commander Scanlon, a telepath apparently obsessed with detaining Nate Grey. Finally, the new Witness from the previous issue makes a brief cameo. The narrative captions now refer to him as “the man named Ness,” and the implication is that he’s witnessed X-Man destroy the Earth before. He might even be intended as an older, alternate reality version of Nate (he has a similar face and haircut), but it’s possible the guest artist isn’t so great at drawing distinctive faces. I will say that he draws wonderful monsters, which helps the issue tremendously. It’s still vague and aimless, but at least the action scenes look terrific.

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