Friday, January 10, 2014

WILDC.A.T.S/X-MEN - THE MODERN AGE - August 1997

 


Credits:  James Robinson (writer), Adam Hughes (penciler), Mark Farmer (inker), Joe Chiodo & Martin Jimenez (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Dave Lanphear (letters)

Summary:  The X-Men investigate the British Hellfire Club.  Nightcrawler hopes to find a missing mutant boy from a nearby town, but instead encounters Warblade, who is tracking Daemonites.  Later, Marlowe arrives at the Hellfire Club with Spartan and Voodoo in disguise as his aides.  The leader of the British Hellfire Club, Blair Cameron, attempts to recruit Marlowe during dinner.  That night, Marlowe, Spartan, and Voodoo are abducted by Cameron, who reveals that he needs to sacrifice an immortal (Marlowe) and a virgin with great power (the missing mutant) to unleash a demon.  The Daemonites have aided him in his plan.  Suddenly, the X-Men arrive with the rest of the WildC.A.T.S and rescue their teammates.  Cameron is defeated and the manor is destroyed.  However, the teams realize that their styles are too different to ever be compatible.

Continuity Notes:  
  • The X-Men of the “modern age” consist of the team circa 1979.  The WildC.A.T.S. team appears to be the original lineup from 1992.
  • One glaring continuity error is Wolverine’s brown costume, which he didn’t wear until after the death of Phoenix, who is clearly alive in this story.  The story also assumes that the Hellfire Club is a long established enemy of the X-Men, even though they only knew of the Club’s existence a few weeks before Phoenix’s death.
  • This story is set after the previous two WildC.A.T.S/X-Men crossover comics.  Wolverine recognizes Zealot from The Golden Age, and Grifter can see Phoenix is Jean Grey following The Silver Age.

Gimmicks:  Two covers exist for the comic.  One by Adam Hughes and another by Paul Smith.

Review:  Okay, I guess no one wanted to acknowledge that the “modern age” of the X-Men of this era consisted of…half the team in space, with the other half stuck on Earth fighting Zero Tolerance.  And Wolverine couldn’t decide if he had a nose or not.  The creators could’ve gone back to, say, the more coherent lineup that predates the “Onslaught” event, or even the days of Claremont/Lee’s X-Men #1.  Seeing the WildC.A.T.S. encounter the X-Men as they existed just as Jim Lee left to actually create the WildC.A.T.S. could’ve been fun --  the crossover comic you would’ve never thought could happen back in 1992.  Going back to pre-1980 seems ridiculous for a book that’s nominally concurrent with what was being published in 1997.  

Ignoring that pedantry, this chapter pairs James Robinson with Adam Hughes, making this one of the few times Hughes has ever done interior art on an X-Men story.  The results are of course beautiful, and while I’m sure the prospect of seeing Hughes draw female characters in Hellfire regalia is one reason why they were chosen as villains, his interpretation of the standard Hellfire guard is also pretty amazing.  Robinson’s story is a simple setup that does the job of getting the teams together, even if he doesn’t seem too interested in why the Daemonites (arch-enemies of the WildC.A.T.S.) would be so eager to help a human summon a demon.  Perhaps the answer could be found in an existing WildC.A.T.S. issue, but the story does very little to clue us in on who the characters are or why they’re doing what they’re doing.  Like many of these ’90s intercompany crossovers, the assumption is that you already know who these people are and are just desperate to see them in the same comic together.  

As a basic cloak and dagger/action story, this moves along at a decent pace with no real problems, until you get to the tacked-on ending.  Over the course of one page, we’re to believe that the X-Men have had the sudden revelation that they just can’t associate with these WildC.A.T.S. characters, based solely on their willingness to kill alien monsters.  Overlooking that their teammate Wolverine was eagerly slicing up these monsters just a few pages earlier, this is still ridiculous.  Ugly aliens and monsters are pretty much always exempt for a hero’s no killing rule, and the X-Men have certainly shown this in the past.  The final page just reads as if Robinson is desperate to find a conclusion, so he’s decided to throw in a little conflict to disrupt the happy ending.  Making this more awkward is Cyclops’ melodramatic proclamation that if the teams meet again, it will be a “dark and terrible day.”  It’s almost as if they already knew the title of the next chapter

1 comment:

wwk5d said...

The mismatch in line-up does seem a bit...odd. They could have still had Jean Grey and Grifter meet up again had they used the Jim Lee line-up from 1992.