Friday, August 12, 2011

X-MAN #47 - January 1999

Blood Brothers Part Three - Dreams End

Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), J. H. Williams III (penciler), Mick Gray (inker), Mike Thomas (colors), Comicraft (letters)

Summary: Madelyne joins Stryfe’s side, prompting Cable to grab X-Man and escape the pyramid. X-Man impulsively rushes back into Stryfe’s headquarters, forcing Madelyne to blow her cover and defend him. Stryfe responds by siphoning Madelyne’s psychic energy, nearly killing her, until Cable arrives and telekinetically holds her body together. Ness finally makes his way to the pyramid and urges X-Man not to live out the apocalyptic vision they shared. Rather than continue his dangerous telekinetic fight with Stryfe, X-Man attaches the power-siphon to Stryfe and leaves it on a feedback loop until it explodes. With the world saved, Cable and X-Man begin to grow closer.

Continuity Notes: X-Man’s telepathy is gone, although the previous issue strongly hinted that it returned after his encounter with Psynapse. He does receive one new power this issue, as he can now use telekinesis to shift his molecules and phase like Shadowcat. Also, a narrative caption describes Ness as a “recent exile of the long-hidden race known as Hellbent, last of the Night-Tribes, according to legend unspoken -- reduced to a single, secret Nest now -- people of the shadows, one and all.” Doesn’t that clear everything up?

I Love the ‘90s: X-Man’s costume now consists of the long, baggy shorts you might remember from the days of Korn and Limp Bizkit.

Review: So “Blood Brothers” ends, not with a horrific, population-clearing bang, but with a tiny whimper. Just as I’m unconvinced that the Techno-Gnomes were always a part of this storyline, I doubt the vision of X-Man killing half the planet from issue #39 was originally meant to play a role in the crossover. The details just don’t fit, down to the armor worn by X-Man’s opponent (it vaguely resembles Stryfe’s outfit, but is far from a match), to the design of the pyramid, to the clothes Ness wore in the vision. Plus, X-Man had long hair in the vision, which he only grew right before this arc began. The story has to stretch to make the connections work, such as X-Man’s realization that Cable’s arm resembles the armor worn by the man in his vision (not quite, it appears that he had metal arms underneath the gold and purple armor), and then dismisses all of the elements that don’t fit. There’s certainly no talk of reviving “the sleeper” a.k.a. “the world ender” a.k.a. character-probably-meant-to-be-Apocalypse, which is what the fight in #39 is all about. It reads as if Kavanagh had one of those epic-yet-vague plans for a future storyline, but later decided to cram them into an editorially mandated Cable crossover in order to give the story some significance. The vision material never worked anyway, because no one could possibly believe the comic’s ever going to have X-Man destroy half of the planet. Marvel can’t even keep Morlocks in the ground.

The strength of this storyline came from the pairing of the characters, which is where the final chapter falls short. Jean Grey and the Dark Riders have disappeared in-between chapters, Stryfe is a ranting loon like always, only now less entertaining, Madelyne makes an unconvincing turn to the dark side again, and Cable and X-Man spend most of the issue in a fight scene. This started as a promising examination of the Summers bloodline and all of the insanity it’s attracted, but ends with a bland fight scene. And, how exactly is Stryfe alive again…?

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