Wednesday, August 3, 2011

X-MEN UNLIMITED #21 - December 1998

Devil’s Haircut

Credits: Todd Dezago (writer), Andy Smith (penciler), Andrew Hennessy (inker), Felix Serrano (colors), Comicraft (letters)

Summary: After receiving word that the Earth is under attack, Guido convinces Lila Cheney to teleport him back home. After failing to contact X-Factor, Guido reaches Muir Island. The island’s inhabitants, Beast, Madrox, and Wolfsbane, fly out to meet him. Beast detects extraterrestrial activity in Vermont, leading the mutants to a country club that is simultaneously hosting a wedding reception and Halloween party. Donning Halloween disguises, the team searches the club and eventually stumbles across a demonic invasion led by Melvin J. Weals, a disgruntled video store clerk who’s disrupting the wedding reception. Powered by the Hell Toupee, Melvin tries to steal the bride away from the groom, but is thwarted by Guido. After returning to space, Guido learns that his source on the alien invasion was actually listening to an old broadcast of “War of the Worlds.”

I Love the '90s: The title of the issue is a reference to one of Beck’s biggest hits in the ‘90s. Plus, Guido tries on a costume reminiscent of the one worn by Shaq in the abominable Steel movie.

Review: A holiday-based humor issue starring characters forsaken by the major titles. By Unlimited standards, that isn’t so bad. This is loosely a sequel to Todd Dezago and Andy Smith’s Strong Guy Reborn one-shot, although thankfully this one is funnier and more competently drawn (Andy Smith also seems to have worked his own wedding into the story, so maybe this issue had some sentimental value for him). The laughs are interrupted by Guido’s discovery of Havok’s “death” at the end, but those kinds of scenes are necessary if you’re trying to maintain a consistent cross-title continuity. As a sign of just how disjointed the X-office could be in these days, Guido’s given an on-panel notification of Havok’s death while Cyclops’ reaction was never shown.

I get the sense that Dezago also misses the days of Peter David’s X-Factor, given the characters’ reminiscence for a time when not everything in the X-universe had to be deathly serious. Considering the numerous titles within the line, I think David was absolutely right to set his book apart by giving it a humorous slant. Marvel didn’t seem to like it, but that’s never stopped fandom’s nostalgia for what, in retrospect, was a short run of issues. While this doesn’t live up to classic X-Factor, it is the funniest Todd Dezago comic I’ve read at this point. I would be remiss for not bringing up another X-Men story set during a Halloween party, though. Classic X-Men #28’s “Who Am I?”, a back-up story by Ann Nocenti and John Bolton that’s light on laughs, but heavy on the psychodrama and general weirdness.

1 comment:

Adam Farrar said...

When I read the words "Hell Toupee" I had to stop and go back up to see who the writer was. Oh. That's bad.

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