Monday, September 2, 2013

GENERATION X #61 - March 2000

Christmas Cheer Fear - Part Two
Credits:  Jay Faerber (writer), Kevin Sharpe (penciler), Russell/Ramos/Czop (inkers), Kevin Tinsley (colors), Comicraft (letters)

Summary:  Black Tom subdues the team and reveals the true origin of Mondo.  He explains to the team that he rescued Mondo from the Hellfire Club, following Cordelia’s betrayal.  Later, a Mondo clone was sent to infiltrate Generation X.  Now, Black Tom is helping Mondo get revenge on Cordelia.  Suddenly, Penance enters from the woods and cuts Juggernaut’s helmet off.  Emma uses her telepathic powers to incapacitate him, leading Black Tom to order Mondo to escape.  Meanwhile, M meets her new headmaster De La Corte and discovers he’s a vampire.  She’s bitten in the neck during their struggle.

Continuity Notes:  Black Tom flashes back to the team’s first encounter with Mondo in Generation X Annual ’95.  He reveals that he was Barrington, the mystery figure in charge of a platoon of armed soldiers.  I’m not sure if Jay Faerber knew this, but Barrington actually became an established supporting cast member in the Maverick solo series (after appearing as a shadowy figure for years in X-stories featuring Maverick.)  This still works in continuity however, since it’s entirely plausible that Black Tom could’ve impersonated Barrington on that one occasion.  This also explains why exactly Maverick’s boss was so interested in Mondo, anyway.

Review:  I think Scott Lobdell briefly toyed with the idea of making Black Tom the team’s main villain, and it would seem Jay Faerber was thinking along those lines when writing these issues.  I can see it working; Tom obviously has a connection to Banshee, and given his past with Siryn, there’s a precedent for his interest in young mutants.  He’s a much better choice than Emplate, at least.  

Black Tom’s latest protégé is Mondo, the “real” one, who’s given more lines this issue than ever before.  Faerber’s decided to ditch Mondo’s previous characterization as a lazy beach bum and just write him as an angry villain out for revenge.  I can’t imagine this went over well with the people who clung to those early cameo appearances, but I suppose it’s justified within the context of the story.  Connecting Black Tom to the events of Generation X Annual ’95 is a strange move, but I think it’s actually a clever way to work within continuity and insert Black Tom into Mondo’s past without too many headaches.  (Although the specifics of how Black Tom pulled off the Barrington impersonation, especially while he was morphing into a living tree, should probably be elaborated on.)

Faerber’s run isn’t exactly known for the action scenes, but the team’s first fight with Juggernaut is actually pretty exciting.  Chamber gets to have a classic “I’ve exhausted my powers, but he just won’t stop!” moment, as he uses his powers for the first time in what feels like ages.  Penance also gets her moment, and for perhaps the first time her diamond-hard claws play a real role in the story when she rips Juggernaut’s helmet off.  Juggernaut also looks great when drawn by Kevin Sharpe, who’s the rare fill-in artist that’s actually compatible with Terry Dodson’s style.  As for that vampire subplot, I have a feeling it’s going to be a needless distraction in an issue that should really be devoted to Faerber’s various subplots, but I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

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