Monday, August 8, 2011

X-MAN#45 - December 1998

Crossing Borders

Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Mark Pajarillo (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Comicraft (letters), Mike Thomas (colors)

Summary: X-Man has another vision that shows him accidentally destroying the Earth. He awakens to discover a Techno-Gnome inserting the dream into his mind. After destroying the gnome, Madelyne teleports him to the location he sensed in his dream, the island of Tramahoi in the Philippines. After facing more Techno-Gnomes, X-Man discovers their creator, Blaquesmith. Blaquesmith tells X-Man and Madelyne that “he” has returned. They’re transported to Latveria, where they witness a pyramid falling out of the sky. Meanwhile, Slaine examines the remains of a Techno-Gnome for Ness. Suddenly, they’re attacked by Manx and the Shadow-Sisters. Following Slaine’s dying request, Ness doesn’t pursue the fight, but instead travels to Tramahoi.

Continuity Notes: Ness and Slaine are apparently members of a group called the Hellbent. Manx and the Shadow-Sisters consider them traitors, but no more information is given on their rivalry.

Production Note: Alan Davis receives a “special thanks” credit. He apparently drew the final page of the story, unless Mark Pajarillo radically changed his art style for the sake of one page.

Review: This is the prelude to “Blood Brothers,” a crossover between X-Man and Cable that consumes three issues of X-Man and only one issue of Cable. I can’t imagine anyone really wanted to participate in this, but Marvel still felt the need to connect Cable and X-Man periodically during this era, so this is what we’re stuck with. I doubt Kavanagh always intended Blaquesmith to be the mastermind behind the Techno-Gnomes when they were introduced several issues ago, but given the vague nature of the storyline so far, it’s impossible to tell where any of this was originally going. We’re now supposed to believe that Blaquesmith used the robots to “test” X-Man in preparation for this fight, and that no one was really in danger so long as Blaquesmith controlled the gnomes, which is a copout if nothing else. Given Blaquesmith’s previous appearances, this doesn’t sound like something he would do; but then again, Blaquesmith is still something of a cipher, so I guess it’s possible.

What’s really frustrating about the issue is the introduction of yet another shadowy mutant (?) group. We still have no idea who (Wit)Ness is, his new friend from last issue, Slaine, hasn’t been fleshed out, and now we’re exposed to Manx and the Shadow-Sisters -- a werewolf and two robed bald girls. Maybe they’re also “the Hellbent,” maybe they represent another organization, maybe Ness burned them on a coke deal…who knows, who cares. The amount of random crap Kavanagh throws against the wall in each issue of this book is staggering. I just can’t wait until the secret origin of the Gauntlet is revealed…and the doctor with X-Man’s powers returns…and the Hellfire Club makes its move…and Threnody makes her epic comeback…

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