Friday, August 5, 2011

TEAM X 2000 #1 - February 1999

Paradox Lost!

Credits: Sean Ruffner & A. Smithee (writers), Kevin Lau (penciler), Sean Parson, Marlo Alquiza, & Cabin Boy (inks), Comicraft (letters), Kevin Tinsley & Sean Ruffner (colors)

Summary: While stranded in space, Bishop and Deathbird pass through a Jump-Gate. They arrive on a future Earth, ruled by the Shi’ar Empress, Alanna. After studying her aunt Deathbird’s journals, Alanna was inspired to kill her parents, Professor Xavier and Lilandra. Now, she rules the Earth, but a group of super-powered revolutionaries, the Morlocks, fights against her. While Deathbird is courted by Alanna, Bishop is recruited by the Morlocks. Deathbird sees through her niece’s deception and turns against her, as the Morlocks destroy a portion of Alanna’s palace. Deathbird decides to set an example by sparing Alanna’s life, inspiring Bishop to kiss her. Later, the Morlocks send the duo through the Jump-Gate and back to their timeline.

Continuity Notes: The team of superheroes (and Dr. Doom) united against the Shi’ar originally went by the name Team X, according to the flashback, which accounts for the comic’s name. What’s never explained is why they’ve now chosen to call themselves “Morlocks.” Regardless, the Morlocks consist of Cable, Wolverine, Falcon (killed in battle), Longshot, Dr. Doom, and Jubilee (who now goes by “Vertigo” in honor of her deceased mentor).

I Love the '90s: The story is set in the faraway future of 2018, giving Xavier and Lilandra enough years to marry and give birth to an eighteen-year-old daughter.

Production Notes: This is a forty-eight page, standard format, one-shot. The co-writer, A. Smithee, is presumably a reference to Alan Smithee, the pseudonym screenwriters used to adopt when they disagreed with changes made to their script.

Review: I remember this one getting a very icy reception, although I think most of the indignation was directed towards the art. Kevin Lau draws in the stereotypical manga style, the one imitated by ten-year-old Pokemon fans everywhere, which didn’t sit well with the traditional X-fanbase. I see their point; Deathbird has never had giant eyes, a pointy noise, pointy mouth, and pointy chin before, nor has she ever looked like a pre-schooler. I don’t know why Lau feels the need to rely on this generic face, but it’s the one he’s attached to all of the female characters; even Jubilee, who’s supposedly aged twenty years by this point. Oddly enough, Lau’s male characters have a heavier Western influence, which means Bishop looks essentially on-model from his previous Uncanny X-Men appearances. When Lau isn’t drawing those creepy-eyed, triangle-nosed females, the art’s fine, but it’s hard to find a page without those weird girls.

Considering the likelihood that this story was heavily rewritten, I was expecting a mess, but it actually hangs together fairly well. Ruffner’s chosen what appears initially to be an arbitrary cast of characters, but as the story goes on, it becomes obvious that in most cases, he’s pairing the Shi’ar Empire with Earth’s avian heroes and villains (Archangel is Alanna’s unwilling consort, Falcon is using his birds as spies against the empire, and Vulture and Sauron are Alanna’s flunkies). That doesn’t explain some of the random cast members, like Longshot (Although he does have hollow bones, like a bird, right?), and Jubilee’s capricious transformation into Vertigo, but it’s hard to complain about randomness in an alternate reality story. That’s just a part of the genre. Ruffner shows some understanding of the characters, and actually gives Bishop more resistance to a relationship with Deathbird than the preceding Uncanny X-Men writers ever did. I still think it was a bad idea, but I’m glad this story has Bishop acknowledging that he really should not be hooking up with a lunatic like this. Making Deathbird realize that she’s partially to blame for this world also provides some justification for her to reform, which is an aspect the earlier Bishop/Deathbird stories didn’t really have.


Lebeau2501 said...

Deathbird makes out with every male lead in every comic she appears in. Personally I really have no interest in the Shi'ar stories. If you've read one you've read them all. Lilandra is in trouble or gets mind controlled, X-Men have to intervene and then have to fight the Imperial Guard until they convince them to help them fight a larger threat that is manipulating the power struggle that the Shi'ar always tend to be in. It's just boring to me. I like the more down-to-Earth(pun intended) character studies.
Come by and visit my comics blog if you have a moment. I read mostly X-Men realted books, but have branched into the Iron Man and Thor areas from time to time.

Simon said...

Hi there, I came across this review after reading an ad for the comic in Uncanny X-men 366 (I'm reading Uncanny X-men Vol 1 all the way through from the start). I had no idea this comic existed! It sounds like such a product of the 1990s. Haha. But I want to read it now out of curiosity! It has such a random cast, too, which has raised my curiosity factor.

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