Wednesday, June 25, 2014

X-MEN FOREVER #4 - September 2009


Credits:  Chris Claremont (writer), Tom Grummett (pencils), Cory Hamscher (inks), Tom Orzechowski (letters), Wilfredo Quintana (colors)

Summary:  Storm escapes through the Morlock Tunnels.  Jean rejoins the X-Men to search for her, while Xavier, Beast, and Nick Fury monitor the mission from the mansion.  Cyclops convinces Sabretooth to join their search.  Beast detects two similar energy patterns, so Rogue, Nightcrawler, and Gambit are sent to investigate the second reading.  Storm escapes the X-Men, but soon finds herself confronted by agents of the Consortium who have been sent to kill her.  Meanwhile, Rogue’s team discovers an adolescent Storm on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Continuity Notes:  
  • Shadowcat is still wearing her classic Excalibur outfit in the issue, regardless of what the cover shows us.
  • The adolescent version of Storm debuted in Uncanny X-Men #253.  The origin later given was that Nanny regressed her to childhood after “rescuing” her from the X-Men.
  • The Consortium will play a large role in this series as it progresses.  Essentially, they’re an anti-mutant conspiracy.
  • Jean reemerges with a new costume, even though her “tattered” costume from the first issue was drawn as normal in the past two chapters.  The triangle shape over her chest is sometimes drawn as a Phoenix symbol and sometimes not.  The model is never consistent.
  • Beast theorizes that Shadowcat now has Wolverine’s claw because she phased through Wolverine’s body while Fabian Cortez was using his powers on Wolverine.  The combination of powers caused an “overload of the physiologic and mutagenic processes…”
  • Rogue claims that her encounter with Fabian Cortez has silenced the residual voices she hears in her head after absorbing someone’s persona.

Review:  Hooray, I get to complain about Kitty’s claw again.  Thankfully not dragging this out, Claremont presents the justification for how exactly Kitty has an adamantium claw bonded to her skeleton now, via the Beast, who’s rarely wrong about anything so this must be the real answer.  The explanation hinges on the reader believing that Fabian Cortez’s powers work essentially as magic, warping a mutant’s powers into whatever the story needs them to be.  I was perfectly okay with Claremont expounding upon Cortez’s powers earlier in the series, since the character was largely a mystery in his initial appearances and it is plausible that Cortez is capable of more than what we saw in those three issues.  But the idea that he could amplify Kitty’s powers to the point that she’s absorbed a part of Wolverine’s skeleton, and apparently part of his personality, just stretches credibility too far.  I’m willing to give up some of my bias on how Cortez’s powers work, but I refuse to believe he can perform magic, nor am I willing to forget that Weapon X established the adamantium bonding process as insanely complicated, even within the fantastic world of the Marvel Universe.  Making this more annoying is Claremont going out of his way to remind us that Wolverine’s supposed to be in pain every time he pops his claws.  So, Kitty’s now just as tough as Wolverine?  And I guess she somehow picked up a portion of his healing factor, too?  Honestly, this is such a horrendous idea I’m shocked it made it to print.  

Don’t let the above rant lead you to believe that I’m opposed to insane plot twists, though.  I love adolescent Storm (wait, that doesn’t sound right…) and I’m thrilled Claremont actually revived her for this series.  This is partially nostalgia, as Storm was de-aged during my first year of X-fandom and I have great memories of the stories from this era.  More importantly, I just love the Marvel Universe’s plausible lunacy that allows a major character to “die,” reemerge as a pre-teen, and then carry on in adventures for a year-plus before the readers are ever told how it happened.  That final bit is the most important element, presenting a credible explanation within a reasonable time after you’ve introduced the crazy idea.  The mystery of why Storm isn’t dead, and why she’s now a kid, was just a part of the chaotic fun of Uncanny X-Men during that era.  I don’t think there are necessarily more stories to be told about Storm as an adolescent, but the mystery surrounding how she’s returned is a great hook for future stories in this series.

So, one good plot twist, one bad.  The rest of the issue goes through the paces fairly well, allowing Storm to escape while setting Sabretooth up as a potential ally to the team.  Claremont gives Cyclops a few nice moments in the issue, as he’s able to handle Sabretooth without resorting to another fight, and get him on the team’s side when they need him.  Cyclops is also given a brief moment to react to last issue’s big revelation, and while it doesn’t make the Jean/Wolverine romance more palatable, it does allow Cyclops to maintain some dignity and remain sympathetic.  There is a sense in the series that no one but Jean understands where this is coming from, which works because that’s probably the point of view of most of the audience, although I still find the elevation of what was once flirting to some great romance just annoying.

Grummett handles the action and character interactions very well, and as I’ve said several times by now, I think his X-Men look essentially perfect.  I would rank Grummett’s X-Men in these issues up there with Cockrum, Byrne, or Davis any day.  Unfortunately, the misguided attempts to redesign the team have already begun, so there isn’t a lot of time to enjoy their “real” looks.  


Matt said...

I liked the twist about kid Storm, too. It was genuinely unexpected and a neat idea. I won't comment on the claw, other than to say that I agree with you both on what a stupid idea it is, and on the "magical" nature of Cortez's powers.

Regarding Jean's costume, I think I had the impression that the idea was the triangle would just be a triangle when she was being normal Jean, but it'd become a Phoenix emblem when she used extra power. I'm not sure if that idea works consistently in the art, but that was what I figured at the time.

I neglected to mention previously, but another retro aspect of this series that I enjoyed was the presence of cover blurbs. Unfortunately I like the idea more in theory than in execution here. The blurbs on this series have no personality. They're just text. Sometimes they have interesting fonts, but where are the starbursts behind them and the crazy "?!?" punctuations? They're just very businesslike and rarely fun.

Man, I can't believe this series started six years ago already. If you asked me to give it a best guess off the top of my head, I might have said three or four, tops.

Matt said...

Oops. Five years ago.

Jason said...

I was pretty unimpressed with this whole "evil traitor/doppelganger" Storm thing. THAT's what we would have gotten if Claremont hadn't left in 1991?

Yes, so much better than what we got in the X-books at the time, i.e. Gambit being floated as a possible traitor, Stryfe being revealed as an evil duplicate of Cable, Domino being revealed as an evil impostor, Madrox being revealed as an evil doppelganger, and of course the classic Kwannon/Psylocke epic. Am I forgetting any?

Anonymous said...

I still maintain that Gambit being a possible traitor was a very cool idea. The resolution, of course, sucked. But I still wonder what the original plans for that were, if any.

Anonymous said...


Loving these reviews and I agree with you that Grummett does some great work on this series.

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