Wednesday, June 15, 2011

X-MEN UNLIMITED #20 - September 1998

Where the Wild Things Were

Credits: Joseph Harris (writer), Alè Garza (penciler), Cabin Boy w/ Pepoy & Leigh (inks), Comicraft (letters), Shannon Blanchard (colors)

Summary: Munson, a displaced Asgardian troll, discovers Generation X at a carnival. He kidnaps Husk and takes her back to the forest, where he’s hiding out with fellow trolls Nettles and Chambliss. Convinced that Husk is magic, they demand that she restore the damaged Rainbow Bridge to Asgard. Frustrated by her inability to help, Munson and Chambliss search for the rest of Generation X while Nettles stays with Husk. A girl searching for her lost dog spots the trolls, leading to a crazed mob invading the forest. Husk takes Nettles to the school for protection, while Munson and Chambliss sneak in upstairs. Husk placates Munson and Chambliss by giving them a husked skin made of gold, and calls Police Chief Authier to disperse the mob. Nettles, the more humane troll, is offered sanctuary at the school, but decides to return to the forest to look after his fellow trolls.

Continuity Notes: This story takes place shortly after the “Heroes Return” relaunch of the mainstream Marvel Universe. At this point in continuity, a mysterious force has left Asgard in ruins.

Approved By The Comics Code Authority: One of the carnival attendees is wearing a pot leaf t-shirt. Sounds like someone needs a little trip to…the Fast Lane.

Review: Here’s another standalone Gen X story by Joseph Harris, and it’s certainly an improvement over that Dracula annual. Harris takes advantage of Unlimited’s double-sized format by presenting a three-act story (Gen X has fun at the carnival, Husk and Nettles bond in the forest, and the mob tracks the trolls to the school) that has enough room to comfortably work out each of the ideas. The carnival setting is reminiscent of the early Generation X issues, allowing the characters to have fun and play off each other for a few pages before any of the superhero action begins. Pairing the team with Asgardian trolls is a clever use of the Marvel Universe (I initially assumed Tom DeFalco wrote this story when I read the description, since it sounds like one of his efforts to incorporate the X-characters into the broader Marvel Universe), and Alè Garza certainly does a great job drawing the beasts. I’m also pleased to see the return of Police Chief Authier, a character introduced by Larry Hama that probably didn’t receive a lot of attention after he left the book.

My only real complaint about the issue would be the missing dog subplot. The opening of the story makes it clear that Hannah’s dog, Maxie, was eaten by the trolls. It’s not a pleasant thought, but Harris gets some dark humor out of the trolls’ taste for canine. At the story’s end, Hannah’s mother finally finds her in the mob, claiming that she’s been worried sick since Maxie returned home without her. Huh? Is this woman so dense she can’t recognize her own dog, or did the trolls just happen to eat a different dog named Maxie? Maybe that’s the twist Harris was going for, but it reads as if an editor didn’t paying enough attention to the story’s opening and tacked on a happy ending.

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