Monday, September 1, 2014

X-MEN FOREVER #9 - December 2009


Sentinels - Reborn!
Credits:  Chris Claremont (writer), Steve Scott & Peter Vale (pencils), Al Vey & Gary Martin (inks), Ed Dukeshire (letters), Sotocolor’s C. Garcia (colors)

Summary:  The X-Men fight the Sentinels destroying a village.  Jean surprises the team by taking out numerous Sentinels simultaneously.  Shadowcat tours the inside of a Sentinel and hypothesizes that they’re being used as foundries.  Meanwhile, Daisy Dugan arrives and rescues Nick Fury from Ziggy Trask.  Daisy’s ship is shot down by a mystery opponent, however.  As Ziggy escapes, the situation is monitored by the Consortium, which includes her mother.  In the jungle, Ziggy discovers her Sentinels have created an army of newer models.

Continuity Notes:  
  • This version of the Sentinels follows their last Silver Age appearance, when the robots declared that all humans and mutants must be killed.  This new model, however, is now able to assimilate raw material.
  • According to the opening narration, Dr. Dietrich Trask was a noble man whose work was co-opted by the Nazis.  Dietrich created a method that allows DNA to be sampled remotely.
  • Ziggy reveals that she is Bolivar Trask’s daughter from his second marriage, and that Larry Trask is her half-brother.  Ziggy also appears to be the exception to the Sentinel’s “kill everyone” rule.

Review:  Wow, this is really going to last three issues?  I guess there’s some significance to this storyline as the only Claremont story dealing with the Trasks (unless there’s one I’ve forgotten), but I can’t imagine why anyone thought there was enough material here to fill three issues.  This issue is possibly the strongest of the arc, since Ziggy is given a somewhat defensible point of view and there are two twists at the end that could lead to some interesting stories later.  (I also like the sudden appearance on the final pages of Peter Vale, whose work has a Brent Anderson quality, as the fill-in’s fill-in artist.  Future issues will not have fill-in art of this caliber.)  But the Sentinels remain so utterly boring it’s hard to get too excited about any scene they’re in.  They’re not even portrayed as real threats to the team, as Jean casually wipes them out in a scene designed to hint, yet again, that the Phoenix has returned.

Storylines with weak villains like this one are made even more annoying when you remember the original premise of this series.  Had Claremont continued with his X-Men run into 1992, would we really be seeing an extended Sentinel arc?  It seems unlikely.  Think back to the opening of Uncanny X-Men #273, when the united leaders of the X-teams looked at a globe marked with all potential threats to mutants across the planet.  I want to see the X-Men rescuing Gateway from the Reavers in Australia, or discovering what exactly Shinobi Shaw and Fenris are up to, or learning the true story behind Zaladane’s connection to Polaris.  Sentinels?  Unless there’s a great twist on the concept, it’s hard to care too much about them.  If Claremont ultimately wants to use the Sentinels as enforcers for the Consortium, as he’s used them in the past for Sebastian Shaw, that’s a reasonable move.  But dedicating so many issues to their return is an odd choice, and emphasizing that these Sentinels just want to kill everyone makes the Consortium seem either crazy or dumb.


wwk5d said...

I have to wonder if CC would have addressed the villain list presented in # 273 had he stayed on the title. We do know from various interviews that the Reavers would have been possessed/teamed up with the Shadow King, but as for the rest of that list, Zala Dane would be resolved by CC himself a few issue later, and Whilce Portacio got rid of Sebatian Shaw and the rest of the Hellfire Club. Not sure why Cameron Hodge and the Genoshans were still listed as a threat, but oh well.

That just leaves the Reavers, the Hand, the Morlocks, and Fenris that should still be operating as villains at this point in X-men Forever continuity, more or less.

Matt said...

Last week I began to wonder how much of Claremont's direction on this title was really his own, and how much of it came from editorial. Yes, the series was promoted as featuring the continuation of his run, but even at the time, Claremont said that the smaller cast (and, reading between the lines, possibly even members of that cast) was dicated by editorial to make the book work for a modern audience. I wish I could find the quote; I think it was in his long X-MEN FOREVER thread on Comix-Fan, but my searches have turned up nothing.

Anyway, adding credence to this idea is that Bob Layton very publicly called Marvel out over his and David Michelinie's IRON MAN FOREVER, and that quote I could find:

Layton: "To confess, in no way, shape or form does this last Iron Man mini-series resemble what David Michelinie and I had intended it to be. Christ, we went through two editorial teams and it took over a year just to get the four measly issues to be the mess that it currently is. The story was edited and approved by a faceless committee, then run past the sales department for its approval."

I wonder if Claremont experienced similar issues? It seems totally in keeping with the ridiculous corporate/editorial mentality that Marvel would hire Claremont to "continue" his run, then explicitly tell him not to pick up decades-old plot threads because they would confuse readers. In a way, X-MEN FOREVER feels like a continuation strictly of X-MEN 1 - 3, and nothing prior to that.

Anonymous said...

In a way, X-MEN FOREVER feels like a continuation strictly of X-MEN 1 - 3, and nothing prior to that.

But it is full of contradictions and really doesn't even fit with where he left off. So we've got a series that's in the 90s but blatantly contradicts the established continuity of the time with no explanation. Just what kind of a series are we left with, then? What do you even call this thing?

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