Friday, March 1, 2013

GENERATION X ‘99 - November 1999

Family Business
Credits:  Jay Faerber (writer), Pete Woods, Kevin Sharpe, & Yancey Labat (pencilers), Wong/Czop/Ramos/Koblish (inks), Kevin Tinsley (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)

Summary:  Jubilee notices her parents standing next to Gen X villain Hunter Brawn in an old photograph.  She investigates, and discovers a connection between Brawn and the bank where her father served as president.  She confronts the bank’s vice president Elliott Lu, who confesses that her parents were killed in a staged car accident after her father discovered Brawn’s money laundering scheme.  Jubilee travels to Brawn’s home, unaware that Synch has broken his promise and told Banshee about her plan.  Banshee sends the team to aid Jubilee against Legault, but allows her to face Brawn.  She refuses to kill him, and allows Brawn to be taken into custody following Lu’s confession.  Later, M says goodbye to the team and leaves with her father.

Continuity Notes
  • Generation X faced Hunter Brawn and his flunky Legault back in Generation X #51.  Husk’s potential boyfriend Tristan is Brawn’s grandson.
  • According to Jubilee, the specific date of her parents’ death is October 15th.  I’m sure this will come up often in future stories, so let's all make a note of it.
  • The major continuity concern with this issue is the portrayal of the Lees’ deaths.  As established in Wolverine #72, Jubilee’s parents were killed in a staged car crash by hitmen Reno & Molokai.  Their death was a mistake, as Reno & Molokai were paid to kill a different pair of Lees who lived next door.

I Love the '90s:  Jubilee uses a pay phone to call Synch, even though it’s established just a few pages earlier that she has a cell phone with her (she plugs it into her laptop to go online).

Review:  I’m assuming Jay Faerber came across Jubilee’s first entry in the Handbook (the 1989 update miniseries), read the portion about her parents dying in a car accident on Mulholland Drive, and assumed no one had ever done a story addressing this.  He’s wrong, of course, but that’s what editors are for.  Apparently, they never read those stories, either.  But even if they missed the story arc in Wolverine #72-74, you would think Marvel’s editor-in-chief, Bob Harras, would’ve caught this.  He was the editor of Wolverine at the time, and the editor of Uncanny X-Men during Jubilee’s first appearances.  This is the kind of stuff that was beginning to slip through during the final days of Bob Harras’ stint as editor-in-chief, and it’s a shame that Marvel’s continuity hasn’t recovered to this day.

Now, technically, it’s possible to make both stories work.  You just have to believe that both Lee families on this street in Beverly Hills had hits placed on them on the same day.  If Reno & Molokai made a mistake and grabbed the wrong Lees, it didn’t really matter since they were on someone else’s hit list anyway.  This also requires you to believe the first massive coincidence that a pair of goons Wolverine faced earlier in his solo series turned out to be the Lees’ killers, and the second coincidence that the person who ordered the hit would later become an enemy of Jubilee’s team, Generation X.  

Looking back, Wolverine #72-74 was far from a highlight of Hama’s run, but I still prefer his interpretation of the Lees’ murder.  Hama had a habit of inserting tragic consequences based on simple misunderstandings in his work; perhaps most famously in G. I. Joe when several established characters are killed after Tomax and Xamot misunderstand Cobra Commander’s orders to “get rid of them.”  Revealing that Jubilee’s parents died because they happened to share the same last name with the wrong family just feels more poignant than a simple story about money laundering.  What’s worse is that both stories have the same ending – Jubilee confronting the person (or persons) responsible for her parents’ deaths and finding the strength not to kill them.  And, both times, Wolverine plays a role in her decision, even if he isn’t physically in this issue.

Ignoring all of the continuity complaints, I do have some admiration for Faerber for at least trying to tell a real story in an annual.  Annuals were an absolute dead zone by 1999.  No one even bothered to arrange quickie crossovers in them anymore.  Faerber’s created a story that not only adds to one character’s established past (admittedly, in a clumsy way), but also impacts the lineup of the team.  

Throughout the issue, M is dealing with her father’s decision to withdraw her from the school, a choice she isn’t necessarily opposed to.  Banshee tries to convince her father to give M the space she needs to grow up and make her own decisions, which Faerber later parallels with Jubilee’s solo mission against Hunter Brawn.  Banshee gives Jubilee the freedom to confront Brawn on her own, confident she’ll make the right choice.  (Somewhat confident, since he sends Synch and Husk to keep an eye on her.)  Later, M says goodbye to the team, acknowledging that no one really liked her, and maybe it’s best this way.  Faerber also advances the Tristan Brawn/Husk subplot, as Tristan definitively turns away from his grandfather and becomes a more legitimate love interest for Husk.  So, yes, things happen and the story is much more than filler.  Unfortunately, it’s built on shaky continuity, and most of the emotional beats of the story were already covered years earlier.


Matt said...

Wait, Jubilee's dad and Kitty's dad were both bank presidents? And both daughters went on to become sidekicks to Wolverine?

Teebore said...

I do have some admiration for Faerber for at least trying to tell a real story in an annual.

Agreed. I certainly didn't disagree with the sentiment behind Quesada and Jemas doing away with annuals because they were just pointless filler. I just would have preferred their solution to have been not making them pointless filler.

@Matt: Wait, Jubilee's dad and Kitty's dad were both bank presidents? And both daughters went on to become sidekicks to Wolverine?

Ha! I never made that connection before. Makes me wonder what Armor's dad does. And by "wonder", I mean, "oh, he must be a bank president too".

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