Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Alé Garza (penciler), Sean Parsons (inker), Mike Rockwitz w/McNabb Studios (colors), Comicraft (letters)
Summary: Skin, Jubilee, and Husk accompany Emma on a business trip to Los Angeles. They travel to Skin’s old neighborhood, where he confronts Tores, the ex-girlfriend who recently tried to kill him. He learns that she mistakenly believed Skin responsible for tricking her into participating in a drive-by shooting. The real culprit, Lupo, appears. Tores teams with Gen X to defend Skin from Lupo, just as Skin’s mother walks into the alley. She sees Tores’ powers and calls her a freak. Skin overhears this and decides he can never tell his mother that he’s still alive.
Continuity Notes: Skin reveals that his powers manifested after he was duped into riding along with Lupo’s gang during the drive-by. He was abandoned by the others and awoke shortly before the car exploded. Assuming Tores was the shooter, he kept the gun to protect her, and allowed the police to think he died in the explosion. In this issue, it’s revealed that Tores’ powers also manifested during the shooting, which caused the car to catch fire. Lupo initially planned to pin the shootings on Tores, but settled on Skin after he disappeared.
Production Notes: This is one of the many #1/2 issues published by Wizard (or “Gareb Shamus Enterprises” to be more specific) during the ‘90s. The #1/2 comics could only be ordered through Wizard issues with coupons for the specific comic. They cost an inordinate amount of money and were allegedly “rare,” although the print runs probably match those of a mid-level Marvel or DC book published today. The credits page incorrectly lists the writer as “Lara Hama,” by the way.
Review: I don’t plan on reviewing all of the Marvel/Wizard #1/2 books, but this one resolves a long-running character subplot, so I feel like it’s worth mentioning. Scott Lobdell never got around to revealing why exactly Skin faked his death, or what his connection to Tores was, so it’s now up to Larry Hama to resolve the mysteries. Thankfully, this works a lot better than the M/Emplate resolution. It still debatable if this is what Lobdell had in mind when establishing the subplot, but it manages to provide a credible explanation for Skin’s “death” and explain away James Robinson’s characterization of Tores (she inexplicably wanted to kill Skin during the “Operation: Zero Tolerance” crossover issues). On top of that, the story resolves the “gun in the cigar box” mystery from Hama’s early issues (Skin kept the gun, wrongly assuming it had Tores’ prints), and conclusively states that Skin never killed anyone in the drive-by.
While some of Hama’s annoying “teen speak” is still present, the doomed romance between Tores, a rebellious girl drawn to the local gangs, and Skin, a nice mama’s boy who doesn’t want any trouble, still feels authentic. Ending the story with Skin realizing that even with the real culprit revealed, he still can’t tell his mother he’s alive because of her prejudices, works as an unhappy ending because the angst isn’t overplayed. There’s actually more story here than in the previous three issues of the regular Generation X series combined. It’s also one of the strongest stories Hama’s written for the characters, and continuity-wise, the most important Skin story yet. If you were a regular Generation X reader and just assumed this was filler, the joke was on you.