Oh My God! He’s Dead!
Credits: Dan Raspler (writer), Dev Madan (penciler), Keith Champagne (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Noel Giddings (colorist)
Oh, he isn’t dead. After the team freaks out, Hard Drive wakes up. He erected a telekinetic shield a split-second before Ricky shot him, so he’s fine. For now. The team grabs Ricky, who dismisses his actions by claiming that he assumed Hard Drive is always protected by a telekinetic shield. Before Off-Ramp teleports him to jail, child genius Ricky quickly discerns one of the biggest mysteries of the series. How could Hard Drive know to erect a shield unless he was reading Ricky’s mind? And if he can read minds, who’s to say he hasn’t been telepathically influencing the team as well? Bonfire, Off-Ramp, and Junior suddenly remember the times they’ve been manipulated by Hard Drive, exposing his past behavior to the team. Everyone unites against their former leader, a fight breaks out, and Hard Drive is revealed as…“emotionally unstable” to say the least. When he comes close to killing Off-Ramp, Hard Drive breaks down and agrees to seek help.
Monstergirl also claims that Hard Drive has tampered with her mind, which a handy footnote informs us is a lie. Hard Drive is incensed by her betrayal.
Bonfire will leave the team now that she’s consummated her relationship with Frostbite, at least according to Hard Drive. She doesn’t exactly deny it.
Thunderhead opens a present left by Hard Drive before he left for the hospital. It’s a specially made guitar that fits his large hands.
Frostbite never gets to join the fight. He was out when Off-Ramp teleported in to retrieve him, so he missed everything.
One year into the book’s run, one of the its largest secrets is exposed to the team. That seems like an appropriate amount of time to tease an idea, but then again I’ve read so many ‘90s X-titles, my judgment might be impaired. The action in this issue doesn’t feel as forced as it did in the previous arc, since it’s entirely plausible that the team would react violently to Hard Drive’s dirty secret. The characterization of Hard Drive remains interesting, as he defends his actions by saying he did it all for “the people of the world.” He’s only magnifying emotions, not creating them, and if he’s using his powers to influence other “metas” to help humanity, so what? He desperately wants the team to like him, and when they understandably turn against him, his childlike response to the rejection is brutal. Is Hard Drive comics’ first bi-polar superhero? Is his childishness a commentary on comics fans? Will any of this be resolved before the series is cancelled?