A Night to Remember
Credits: Jay Faerber (writer), Terry Dodson & Chris Renaud (pencilers), Rachel Dodson, Scott Elmer, & John Czop (inkers), Kevin Tinsley (colors), Comicraft’s Saida Temofonte (letters)
Summary: A weakened Emplate stalks the team as they prepare for the school dance. Emplate makes his presence known during the dance, distracting Gen X from his real goal of abducting Penance, who’s targeted by Emplate’s followers in the dorms. Half of the team stops Emplate’s flunkies, only to discover that Emplate has converted the other half in their absence. Synch pushes Jubilee into breaking Emplate’s influence, which leads to her destroying the social hall. In the wreckage, the St. Croix twins are discovered yet again next to Penance’s body. As the twins recuperate, Penance regains consciousness and escapes the school.
Continuity Notes: Because this is very important, the following people pair up for the dance:
Husk pays off her debt to Tristan and takes him as her date, Jubilee and Synch go “as friends,” M goes with Skin, and Chamber is paired with a goth human student. When the team suggests Banshee take Emma, she recruits Iceman as her date during his training session with Gen X to avoid being asked.
I Love the '90s: Skin on his physical appearance before developing mutant powers: “I wasn’t no Ricky Martin, but I did okay.”
Approved By The Comics Code Authority: Chamber refers to Emplate’s follower Vincent as a “wanker.” Apparently, Jay Faerber knew “wanker” as a British insult, but didn’t realize that it’s not generally used in “all ages” material.
Review: A double-sized five-year anniversary issue? That’s unusual, especially just a few issues after a double-sized fiftieth issue. That fiftieth issue was partially squandered on an X-Man crossover, so I wonder if perhaps this was originally Faerber’s plan for the double-sized fiftieth issue. “The big dance” isn’t really a strong enough concept to justify a double-sized story, but adding the return of Emplate into the mix creates a packed issue that balances the character scenes and action quite well.
Unfortunately, the return of Emplate also means the return of the M/Penance/Emplate sibling fiasco, and yet another wrinkle is added to the mystery this issue. The first time the St. Croix twins spontaneously appeared after a giant explosion wasn’t exactly a highlight for the series, and I’m not enthused to see the idea resurrected. We’ve already had a conclusion to the M/Penance/St. Croix twins storyline; it was mostly nonsense, but the story did create a clear status quo for the characters moving forward. M has her own body back and the twins are magically combined into the form of Penance. Now, the twins are back in their own bodies, yet somehow Penance endures. Add this to Emplate’s unexplained illness, and we’re left with -- hooray -- more St. Croix family mysteries.
The character moments, as always, are the real highlight of the story. The drama leading up to the dance, as each character deals with the internal high school politics of who-asks-who to go, is executed masterfully. Husk uses this as an opportunity to finally go on that blackmail date with Tristan, only to discover that she likes the guy. Synch asks Jubilee to go as a friend, not realizing that she honestly has feelings for him. M is too pretty and intimidating for anyone to ask out, so she’s stuck going with Skin. He never considered asking her; she only asked him after Artie and Leech asked on his behalf (following his revelation to them that having a beautiful date would help his self-esteem). When Skin finds out he was her pity date, he’s annoyed, while she refuses to admit that she might be capable of feelings like “pity” in the first place. And Chamber is stuck with an anonymous goth girl. So, there’s still a lot of humor and genuine character work, even if the main story is potentially moving into a dodgy area.