Tuesday, January 17, 2012

X-FORCE #87 - February 1999

Armageddon Now Part One - Family Matters
Credits: John Francis Moore (writer), Jim Cheung (penciler), Mark Morales (inker), Marie Javins (colors), Comicraft’s Dave Lanphear (letters)

Summary: Proudstar receives a message from Tarot warning him that the team will soon be betrayed. Later, Meltdown’s father visits, introducing his new wife and offering Meltdown a chance to join him as a member of the Triune Understanding. She angrily rejects him, and is insulted again when she realizes Sunspot followed her. As Moonstar tries to understand her new cosmic powers, Domino and Jesse Aaronson follow a lead on his missing brother. They discover Christopher Aaronson in Santa Lucia, California. He now leads the New Hellions -- Magma, Paradigm, Tarot, and Switch.

Continuity Notes: As Proudstar points out, Tarot should’ve been dead following the events of Uncanny X-Men #281-282. A flashback to five years ago reveals Tarot and Christopher Aaronson were once in a relationship. He rejected Emma Frost’s offer to join the Hellions at the time, using his powers to block her psychic influence. Christopher divulges that he was identified as a mutant at age six, but escaped government custody at thirteen, using his psionic disruption powers to drive his captors mad.

Meltdown’s father had a vague death scene in X-Force #49 (his trailer exploded). This issue establishes that he survived the explosion and later reevaluated his life, leading him to the Triune Understanding. The Triunes are a cult, allegedly inspired by Scientology, from the concurrent issues of Avengers.

Review: This begins the “Armageddon Now” storyline, which resolves the mystery of the missing Bedlam brother and introduces a new team of Hellions. I don’t think anyone’s surprised at this point that Moore wants to revive the Hellions, but they can serve a purpose outside of nostalgia. It’s not hard to cast them as a legitimate threat to X-Force, who don’t have enough opposing teams to fight, and Moore deserves some credit for acknowledging their horrid death scene and trying to do something with it. Plus, adding Magma to the roster is a nice “Wait a minute!” moment.

I also like the way Moore is integrating Christopher Aaronson into past X-continuity as a “behind-the-scenes” character. This can too often be a cheat, but the foundation of the Hellions is a vague area of backstory with plenty of room to fill, and his presence isn’t being done to undermine past continuity. Pairing him in a relationship with Tarot also humanizes her character a bit. The Hellions actually didn’t appear in too many comics during the New Mutants years, so many of them never moved past the cipher stage. I vaguely recall Tarot receiving some character work in the ‘80s, but it couldn’t have been an extensive amount. She feels like a better defined character this issue, and her connection to Jesse’s brother adds some intrigue to the storyline.


wwk5d said...

The original Hellions (minus James) might not have had the most depth, but Claremont did give them each enough personality to differentiate them from each other (ie, Empath was sadistic and arrogant, Catseye thought she was a cat who would turn into a human, Roulette was flirtatious, etc).

kerry said...

Remember this storyline fondly. I've always felt Moore was a very solid storyteller, he just lacked a lot of the flash that was coming to mark the next breed of comics writers (hence, Warren Ellis revamp after this). Very underrated writer. Ellis rightly pointed out that for a team called "X-FORCE" they weren't particularly driven or proactive during the Moore period, but I never felt this was a detriment to the story.

Adam Farrar said...

I think this is the way to retroactively insert a character into a long running history. I'd much rather see someone who briefly interacted with a minor character than a shadowy mastermind who has been manipulating people for decades.

ray swift said...

Amen to what Adam said.
What do you know, I found myself liking the new Hellions in X-force #88. They are cool and distinctive, and not too overpowered. King Beldam is arrogant as a leader but not to the point which makes him too much like a typical egomaniac super-villian. Issue #88 felt to me like a good Justice League (TAS) episode, with a fleshy and colorful yet grounded and not OP kind of villians team.
My only complain is about Magma. I know that she was retconed, but the change in her personality doesn't seem realistic to me. She might felt crisis in her life and needed an anchor in the model of the new hellions, but the new mutants were her familty - and as it appears now, her only REAL family. Her cold reaction to her old team mates make no sense. Better use another character.
I do give Moore a shout out for bringing Tarot and Feral in a very compelling (Tarot) and accurate (Feral) way.

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