Friday, November 1, 2013

X-FACTOR #66 - May 1991


Endgame Part II:  Heroic Effort
Credits:  Jim Lee & Whilce Portacio (plot), Chris Claremont (script), Whilce Portacio (penciler), Art Thibert (inker), Glynis Oliver & Steve Buccelato (colors), Pat Brosseau (letters)

Summary:  Ship’s systems go haywire, attacking the citizens of Manhattan.  Inside, the Askani appears and steals Nathan from Foxbat.  X-Factor assumes she’s a villain and attacks her; in the confusion, Foxbat takes back Nathan.  Askani realizes she’s attacked Nathan’s family and flees.  Outside, Sergeant Charlotte Jones is somehow able to enter Ship’s forcefield.  She’s soon attacked by Gauntlet and rescued by Archangel.  Gauntlet and his teammates teleport away.  Ship manages to speak to X-Factor, and reveals that the only solution to Apocalypse’s corruption of his system is self-destruction.  He shoots into space and, even as Beast tries to override his commands, explodes.  

Continuity Notes:  
  • Ship’s forcefield is supposed to keep out any non-mutants.  Why Charlotte Jones and (I believe) a few other humans were allowed to occasionally enter remains a mystery.
  • Askani, who we still don’t know is just one of many, refers to Nathan as “The Chosen.”  Years later, we will discover Cable is baby Nathan, and that he’s the “The Chosen” to defeat Apocalypse.  
  • Askani also refers to Nathan as her “little brother,” which does broadly fit with the later revelation that the Askani Clan was formed by his sister-from-another-reality, Rachel Summers.

Review:  It’s a Jim Lee/ Whilce Portacio production, so not surprisingly, we’re getting a fast-moving plot and an excessive amount of cramped, awkward fight scenes.  This isn’t nearly as incoherent as you might expect, however, and Claremont’s script is able to add a bit of humanity to the proceedings.  There’s no room in the plot for any member of X-Factor to exhibit an awful lot of personality, but Claremont does capture the sense that these characters are all old friends, and he seems to really enjoy writing the loquacious Beast (which probably isn’t much of a shock.)  Askani, on the other hand, still has that annoying robotic speech pattern that no one has ever made work, and the Dark Riders (of the Storm) are strictly generic at this stage.  Portacio’s art consists of a lot of scowling and dramatic poses, but there is an energy there.  I can see why a kid bored with whatever was going in Avengers at the time would get excited to see something so stylized and energetic. 


wwk5d said...

I guess they knew the members of X-factor would be re-joining the X-men at this point, since adios Ship's body!

cyke68 said...

I can see why a kid bored with whatever was going in Avengers at the time would get excited to see something so stylized and energetic.

Not to mention Portacio's rendering of them here, which is a nice treat. I always love those scenes where pandemonium breaks out in one title, spilling into the city shared by a bunch of other heroes. We get resulting cameos from Captain America, She-Hulk, and the FF.

Ship's lift off and explosion feels like an event, as it had really settled into the Marvel U Manhattan as yet another odd landmark (alongside the Baxter Building/Four Freedoms Plaza, Avengers Mansion, and so on). Beast's desperation in trying to salvage some of its intelligence is pretty gripping thanks to Claremont's dialogue.

A rather different storyline was planned beginning with this issue. It would still see Apocalypse making his move and introduce the Askani, but the crux was to be Scott and Jean's wedding. Bob Harras nixed it, thinking that was a rather bigger deal than the pages of a lowly satellite title could contain. They'd soon be back in the X-Men anyway, so fair enough I guess. But it's curious to think Claremont might have scripted that instead (if attached to the story at all in that form).

cyke68 said...

Ah ha. I thought Brian Cronin covered the original plan at Comics Book Legends Revealed, and sure enough:

Apparently DeFalco, not Harras, shut it down.

wwk5d said...

While I find Portacio's art to be tolerable here...I HATED the slight redesign he gave Arcangel's wings...

Jason said...

I'm a big fan of this storyline. My review, from about three years ago or so:

(Like cyke68, I was particularly taken with Beast's frantic moments before the Ship explosion ...)

Teebore said...

Ah, the Askani. As a testament to my 90s era obsession with all things Cable, my very first email address involved the name "Askani".

Like cyke68 and Jason, Beast's desperate attempt to save Ship has always resonated with me. Simonson really did a good job making Ship feel like another member of the team during this era.

@wwk5d:While I find Portacio's art to be tolerable here...I HATED the slight redesign he gave Arcangel's wings...

Ditto. They just seem needlessly complicated.

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