Monday, January 23, 2012

GENERATION X #50 - April 1999

War of the Mutants Part One: Divided We Fall
Credits: Jay Faerber (writer), Terry Dodson (penciler), Rachel Dodson (inker), John Kalisz (colors), Comicraft (letters)

Summary: As the school is opened to human students, Dark Beast and his minions spy on Gen X. When Emma Frost sees footage of X-Man on television, she telepathically reaches out to him. He senses her presence and discerns that Emma has a past with the Dark Beast. Meanwhile, Banshee sees surveillance footage of a helicopter abducting a student and races after him. In town, Gen X is attacked by the Dark Beast’s men. Gaia reaches Emma for help, but they’re suddenly interrupted by X-Man. Finally, Banshee tracks the helicopter to Vermont, where he's attacked by a large man.

Continuity Notes: The Dark Beast comments that he’s hidden in the sewers for decades to avoid being mistaken for this reality’s Hank McCoy. That’s irreconcilable with his earlier appearances, which audaciously claimed that he never even considered this reality had a Hank McCoy.

Emma’s sister Adrienne remarks that it’s good the school has changed its name back to “The Massachusetts Academy” given the public’s mistrust of Professor Xavier following the Onslaught event. That implies that the general public is aware that Xavier was Onslaught, which doesn’t work with continuity. At this point, even his identity as a mutant was still a secret.

Banshee is on the phone with a mystery man (?) who he’s recruiting as the school’s new gym teacher.

Dark Beast’s flunkies consist of new characters Membrain and Fever Pitch, along with a few leftover Gene Nation members, Hemingway and Vessel (whose names don’t seem to appear in this issue, which is annoying given how obscure these villains are).

Review: Generation X #1 and X-Man #1 didn’t debut in the same month, but due to the “Age of Apocalypse” storyline suspending Generation X for four months and X-Man continuing after the AoA stunt ended, they’ve run concurrent issue numbers since #5. No one thought to unite them for their twenty-fifth issues, but aren’t we lucky that someone’s decided to do a crossover during their fiftieth issues. (Of course, just two years later, they’ll reach cancellation together with their seventy-fifth issues. And the world is saved from gratuitous X-spinoffs forever…)

There is one obvious connection between X-Man and Generation X that hasn’t been explored yet, and that’s the teen angle. If Generation X is supposed to be training the next generation of mutants, and X-Man is a teenage mutant, the most powerful in the world, it makes sense to exploit that for one story. Another link would be Emma Frost’s past with X-Man’s arch-nemesis (whenever he bothers to remember X-Man), the Dark Beast. The exact nature of their relationship hasn’t been revealed at this point, even though Scott Lobdell hinted at their shared past early in Generation X’s run, and James Robinson detailed their first meeting in Generation X #-1.

I’m not sure if Jay Faerber was eager to participate in a crossover so early in his run, but he still works in a few decent ideas. Integrating the school with a new human student body opens the door to numerous story possibilities, making me wonder a) why no one’s done it before and b) why the concept was dismissed so quickly after Faerber’s exit. I’ll never understand the attitude that the X-teams shouldn’t be interacting with normal people. Isn’t this the entire point -- to train mutants to use their powers responsibly and be able to enter mainstream society? These titles have to be grounded in reality in order to work, so making the school a literal school and giving the team dozens of potential supporting cast members to interact with makes perfect sense.

Unfortunately, there’s no room to flesh out any of the new students this issue, but Faerber does find the space to split the team up into small groups and work in some characterization scenes. Husk is still angry at Chamber for brushing her off. Chamber doesn’t want to share the school with humans. Skin isn’t willing to believe all humans are bigots. M wants a tattoo to symbolize her ownership of her body. Synch is apparently the object of affection for M, Gaia, and Jubilee. Thankfully, the crossover material is simply used to justify the fight scenes, making this read like a standard Generation X issue that just happens to be concluded in X-Man.


wwk5d said...

This issue kind of sums up Faebers run. Lots of good ideas (some of which had potential but were never expanded upon), hit or miss plots, but lots of good, solid, character work. The run isn't a forgotten classic by any means, but the pluses do tend to outweigh the minuses.

ray swift said...

I find Faerber's gen X a solid read. His stories and plot are his strong attributes. He write teenagers better then Hama (which his run reminds me more of what Wholverine run would look like if it was goofy, and composed of slang-talking teenagers). But as for the characters, although he writes them as normal people, I didn't feel it's the same characters that Lobdel brought to the story. Like they share the same history but don't have the same personality anymore. It's only a lips service. Jubilee is not the same cheeky, quirky, sharp-tongued teenager anymore. M has a completely new personality (I know that she is retconed to be Penance, but still, it seems they try to treat her both as the old M and the new one simultaneously). Emma... All of the characters seems to me like a close call - but not a hit on the spot. It comes and goes. They also suffer from over exposition in their dialogue.
I can compare Faerber's style of writing to Louise Simonson from the 80's: They both aren't BAD writers, but it seems that when they writing the characters something is off, unhuman, over-exposition-like.

Still readable and enjoyable though. But I can't help it but feel: "this is not Gen X", while I read.

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