She Got Game
Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Aaron Lopresti (penciler), Walden Wong (inker), Felix Serrano (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)
Summary: Forge arrives at the academy to install a new Danger Room in the school’s gym. The new technology is made out of a mysterious metamorphic matter that Forge’s recently discovered and rendered inert. As he lectures the students on ethics, Gaia accidentally revives the Danger Room’s originally programming. It emerges as “Paradox” and attacks Forge. With Emma Frost’s help, a shutdown code is implanted in Paradox’s memory, ending the fight.
Continuity Notes: Forge says he discovered Paradox’s technology during a “recent…adventure.” I have no clue if this is a reference to a published story or merely an idea Hama was percolating. Forge also casually reveals that the school’s Biosphere (or “Bio-Sphere” as it’s often spelled) is made up of a portion of Karkoa’s body. I know that Scott Lobdell teased a Karkoa story towards the end of his run, but I have no memory of this ever being established. At any rate, Karkoa’s desire to be “whole again” is Forge’s explanation for the Biosphere’s recent disappearance. In other news, Artie and Leech have moved into the attic, and Emma discusses Special Education classes for the boys.
Review: Not only does this story involve a sentient Danger Room run amok, but it opens with a surprise Sentinel attack on mutant students gathered in an assembly. Two ideas from Astonishing X-Men in one issue? If I thought for a second that Joss Whedon ever read more than three issues of Generation X, I might be suspicious. Anyway, while Aaron Lopresti can’t capture John Cassaday’s incredible Sentinel attack from Astonishing X-Men #1, Larry Hama has at least written a more plausible “living Danger Room” story. Paradox mentions the irony of Forge teaching an ethics class after essentially enslaving a sentient being, but in Forge’s defense, he honestly thought Paradox’s original programming had been erased. In Astonishing X-Men, Professor Xavier is just a deranged zealot who forced an alien consciousness into slavery because his students “must be trained.” (Perfectly in character, you guys.)
Aside from the novelty that the more mature, serious Marvel that hires “real” writers ended up using the same idea, there’s nothing particularly memorable here. Larry Hama exits with a straightforward action story and a brief dissertation on the nature of superpowers and ethics, which is preferable to overly complicated origin stories and interdimensional hijinks, but it isn’t nearly as interesting as his earlier issues. Before he got into Pookas and Tokens, Hama opened his run with some intriguing character subplots and introduced a few civilian cast members that had potential. He seemed to have the right idea -- focus on the characters and give them a few “normal” people to interact with -- but the M/Penance origin storyline derailed the book spectacularly. After that, he focused on smaller, slightly silly story arcs, but the momentum was lost. Marvel wanted a new direction, so beginning next issue, a young writer named Jay Faerber is given the reigns.