Friday, January 6, 2012

JLX UNLEASHED! #1 - June 1997

The Unextinguishable Flame!
Credits: Christopher Priest (writer), Oscar Jimenez (penciler), Hannibal & Rodriguez (inks), Patricia Mulvihill (colors), Ken Lopez (letters)

Summary: The fire-dragon Fing Fang Flame, reanimated by the Hellfire League of Injustice, causes mayhem across the planet. Amazon, against the wishes of her JLA teammates, seeks the help of Mr. X and the imprisoned JLX. Mr. X takes the unstable metamutant Chaos out of suspended animation and travels with the JLX to Tokyo. Chaos is believed dead in battle, inspiring his brother Apollo to snap out his comatose state and absorb the magic fueling Fing Fang Flame. As the authorities arrive, Amazon decides to join the team.

Continuity Notes: The Hellfire League of Injustice merges the Hellfire Club and Injustice League. Chaos is an amalgam of Havok and Spitfire. Only one year later, the name Chaos (or "Xaos") will be used for another Havok amalgam, this one belonging to Cerebro’s team of X-Men.

Review: Just looking at the credits makes it obvious this was one of DC’s contributions to the Amalgam event (although Priest would be back at Marvel by the next year, ending a solid ten-year break with the company). That doesn’t stop JLX from leaning heavily towards the Marvel side, though. Priest has the speech patterns of the X-titles down cold, making this almost indistinguishable from something Scott Lobdell or Fabian Nicieza might’ve written in the ‘90s. The team’s recovering from the government’s latest android attack, Chaos hates Mr. X, Apollo is comatose, Iceberg is desperate to prove herself, Runaway is pining for her missing boyfriend, and Nightcreeper can’t stop cracking jokes. All the team needs is one or two alleged traitors. Actually, I guess they’ve already been betrayed, as Firebird is now the Hellfire member Dark Firebird.

I remember rumors that Priest was considered for the Uncanny X-Men job that went to Joe Casey…I wonder if anyone making that call had ever read this comic? Would this material pull the decision in his favor, or was this the kind of X-comic “New Marvel” was desperate to get away from? Regardless, it’s a shame he didn’t get the assignment. Aside from the fact that it’s hard to imagine anyone not named Chuck Austen doing a worse job than Casey did, it’s obvious Priest knows how to handle this material. The previous JLX one-shot suffered from what seemed to be a snide dismissal of the source material; Priest is able to bring some humor to the concept without mocking the elements that made the X-titles so popular in the first place. There are a few storytelling problems with the issue (Chaos apparently dies twice during the story, but neither scene is very clear), but this is by far one of the better X-related Amalgam comics.

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