Monday, July 18, 2011

X-PATROL #1 - April 1996


Credits: Karl & Barbara Kesel (writers), Roger Cruz (penciler), Jon Holdredge (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Tom Vincent (colors)

Summary: Dr. Niles Cable summons the mutant outcasts Elasti-Girl, Ferro Man, Shatterstarfire, Beastling, and Dial H.U.S.K. together to form the X-Patrol. They travel to the island-nation of Latveria to stop Dr. Doomsday, a highly evolved scientist plotting to rule two alternate universes. X-Patrol destroys his machinery and narrowly escapes with their lives. Unfortunately, the battle leaves Niles Cable crippled.

Continuity Notes: X-Patrol is the Amalgam Universe’s fusion of Doom Patrol with various X-teams. Dr. Niles Cable blends Dr. Niles Caulder and Cable, Shatterstarfire is Shatterstar and Starfire, Beastling is a combination of Beast and Beast Boy/Changeling, Ferro Man merges Colossus and Ferro Lad, Dial H.U.S.K. is Husk and Dial H for H.E.R.O., and Elasti-Girl merges…well, Elasti-Girl with the Wasp (and Domino, oddly enough).

Review: Amalgam was notable for transcending the malaise of the decade that spawned the concept and producing a series of fun, imaginative one-shots. X-Patrol, unfortunately, was probably the least recognized title from the event. I imagine the x-treme cover did a lot to chase away the critics who enjoyed the event specifically because it harkened back to an era before the pre-‘90s ugliness. And while Roger Cruz isn’t quite so ‘90s on the interiors, it’s hard to fault someone for buying a Dave Gibbons or Paul Smith comic and skipping this one. The story is still enjoyable, though, in the way most of the Amalgam books are. Characters are jumbled together, often based solely on similar-sounding names, fictitious back issues are referenced, and a few in-jokes are snuck in. My favorite is the glimpse of the “second rate” worlds Dr. Doomsday is plotting to invade -- the Marvel and DC Universes, filled with “twisted, splintered” versions of the true Amalgam heroes.

The story doesn’t strictly stick to the premise, as many of the DC characters amalgamated were never Doom Patrol members, and Dr. Doom and Doomsday have rarely interacted with the X-Men and Doom Patrol respectively, but those kinds of rules tended to be stretched throughout the Amalgam line. There is one inconsistency that does bother me, however. My understanding of the Amalgam Universe is that the characters aren’t literally merged into a singular body; they’ve merely assumed identities similar to those taken by heroes in another universe. Therefore, Super Soldier is still Steve Rogers, Dark Claw is still Logan, and Amazon is still Ororo Monroe. That’s true of most of the characters here, as Janet van Dyne has simply gone through a path in life that leads her to take on an identity that isn’t the Wasp. Other characters, like “Hank Logan” a.k.a. Beastling, are literally amalgamated versions of Marvel and DC heroes. How did this work? Did reality merge some people together and leave others merely to assume identities that resemble different characters? I haven’t read any of the stories that actually rationalize how the Amalgam Universe came to exist, so I don’t know. I realize this event was about fun more than rules, but since this speaks to the fundamental makeup of the universe, some consistency would be nice.


The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

If I recall correctly there really was no consistent application of any rules. Some people had different code names, others were two (or three!) people smushed together. It was kind of haphazard, but it was never meant to be taken that seriously.

wwk5d said...

Yeah. Remember, Dr. Strangefate ended up being Charles Xavier under the mask...that was a nice twist, actually.

kingderella said...

"My understanding of the Amalgam Universe is that the characters aren’t literally merged into a singular body; they’ve merely assumed identities similar to those taken by heroes in another universe."

thats the first time ive read this interpretation. i dont think it was meant to be read that way.

i actually really like cruz' art in this issue. i generally like 'early image' art if its done well, and i think thats the case here.

Anthony R. said...

remember doom force?

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