Wednesday, February 27, 2013

X-MAN #59 – January 2000

The Ties that Bond
Credits:  Terry Kavanagh (writer), Mike Miller (penciler), Bud LaRosa (inker), Mike Thomas (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)

Summary:  X-Man spars against the Fantastic Four, and later submits to Mr. Fantastic’s scan, which will enable him to trace energy from the Age of Apocalypse.  Later, while bonding with Franklin Richards, a premonition leads X-Man to cut his visit short.  As he leaves the FF’s headquarters, he’s ambushed by Caliban, who now serves Apocalypse as Pestilence.  Caliban grabs X-Man and teleports away.

I Love the '90s: The Human Torch is singing Ricky Martin’s “La Vida Loca” while sharing a shower with X-Man.  If you’re looking for subtext, just remember this was written back in 1999.

Review:  I half-suspect Terry Kavanagh wrote this as a try-out for Fantastic Four.  The book was open following Claremont’s return to the X-Men, and Kavanagh had to know that he wouldn’t be on X-Man after the Counter-X relaunch, so it’s not a completely ridiculous theory.  Can you imagine what a fifty-issue run of a Terry Kavanagh Fantastic Four would be like?  

As horrific a thought that may be, Kavanagh actually does demonstrate some affection for the characters this issue.  None of the characterizations are deep, but everyone’s broadly in-character, and Kavanagh knows enough to at least pay a lot of lip service to the idea of family.  X-Man spends most of his downtime with the FF eating ice cream with five-year-old Franklin Richards, a character that just might be his intellectual rival.  They talk about how scary that mean ol’ Onslaught was, and reflect on how awesome psi-armor is.  Actual line of dialogue at the issue’s end:  “But you promised *snff* t’teach me how t’make *snff* *snff* psi-armor…”  “Next time, buddy.  There will be a next time, I swear…”

Seeing the bond between the team makes X-Man long for companionship, but he’s determined to begin yet another new direction in his life.  Now, he’s decided to track down all of the other escapees from the Age of Apocalypse in order to prevent them from somehow spoiling this virgin Earth (it seems to me that he should specifically target Apocalypse if that’s his goal, but whatever).  As X-Man explains to Mr. Fantastic:  “Took some trouble in Seattle to remind me o’ that, though.  Again.  Found an old friend and a new enemy, all in the same place…without even looking, guess that’s when I finally realized it’s time – it’s really time now – to start running after things, instead of away.”  So Kavanagh has X-Man acknowledge twice in one little speech that his life has been aimless – oh, for about fifty-nine issues now – and it’s time to do something about it.  

Kavanagh starts off this brave new direction by wasting the first half of this issue on a training sequence with the FF that’s unconvincingly played as a real fight, followed by numerous pages of X-Man chatting with the team, and then he gets attacked by Caliban on the final page and teleported away to participate in a crossover.  Yes, I’m convinced all of this title’s problems are solved now.

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