Learning to Fly
Credits: Joseph Harris (writer), Steven Harris (penciler), Rick Kethcum (inker), Matt Hicks (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters)
Summary: Cannonball crashes into San Francisco Bay as all mutants lose their powers across the globe. After he’s taken to the hospital, a depressed Meltdown wanders the city. She soon meets a boy named Kevin, who lost his newfound ability to fly when all mutant powers were cancelled. He tries to gain his peers’ acceptance by doing another flying stunt the next day. Meltdown is barely able to rescue him. Later, Meltdown spends time with the recuperating Cannonball, contemplating what it means to be “normal.”
Continuity Notes: It’s another story following Uncanny X-Men #379, even though there aren’t any footnotes pointing the reader in that direction.
Review: Last issue was the big anniversary issue, and John Francis Moore’s final story, while next issue is the start of the Warren Ellis revamp. What to do with the issue in-between? Give Moore one more issue to tie up loose ends from his run? Reunite Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld for one final story featuring the original members of the team? Another New Mutants tribute story, perhaps? Nope. The proper answer is “Kill time with a tie-in to the main X-Men books.” The “All Mutants Lose Their Powers” arc (Did it ever have a real name?) seemed oddly un-ambitious given the nature of the story, but in retrospect I can understand why Marvel didn’t want to make it into a larger event. Writers can do the type of story seen in this issue, and…that’s pretty much it. The cast reflects on losing their powers, then they have to move on with their lives. How many comics truly need to address this, especially when everyone knows it’s only temporary?
Joe Harris does a nice enough job exploring some of the obvious ideas, allowing Meltdown to narrate the story and reflect on what being a mutant has ultimately cost her. The new kid, Kevin (or “Freakshow” to the kids at school) is the archetypal lonely weirdo who thinks being able to fly is his ticket to popularity, which turns the focus to the other side of the equation, just how good it could feel for someone like that to be special. Thankfully, Harris doesn’t go the predictable route and have Kevin get lynched at the end (in fact, the kids seem genuinely excited to see someone fly); Kevin instead embarrasses himself when he refuses to accept that his gift is now gone. It’s a sad ending, but Harris doesn't make the scene overly dramatic. No teen suicides, fortunately. The main drag on the issue is the art, which couldn’t possibly be more ill-suited for a quiet character story. Steven Harris simply cannot draw believable, consistent human faces. These are ugly, ugly people. Harris seems to be inspired by Adam Pollina’s style, but it looks like someone kept clip art of some of Pollina’s worst drawings from early in his run and just copied them over and over again. Cable also looked horrible this month, making me wonder what was going on behind-the-scenes in the weeks before the “Revolution” revamp.