Monday, December 1, 2014

X-MEN FOREVER #19 - May 2010


The Ties That Bind - Part 1
Credits:  Chris Claremont (writer), Graham Nolan (pencils), Scott Koblish (inks), Guillem Mari (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters)

Summary:  Cyclops returns to the mansion, but avoids any personal conversations with Beast and Jean.  Rogue and Nightcrawler are examined, and Xavier learns that Nightcrawler can now absorb other mutants’ powers.  Rogue, however, is immune to his touch.  Shadowcat and ‘Ro have discovered that Fury, Daisy, Sabretooth, and Gambit have snuck out of the mansion and invaded a secret Consortium installation underneath the UN.  Fury’s team locates an emaciated Fabian Cortez, shortly before they’re caught by Consortium’s armed guards.  

Continuity Notes:  
  • Beast’s examination of Rogue hints that she might still retain her ability to fly.
  • Shadowcat has been teaching ‘Ro how to use computers and says she’s a natural.
  • ‘Ro’s thoughts indicate she has no memory of Shadowcat and has only read files on her.

Miscellaneous Note:  This title is largely free of “Claremontisms,” but if you’re keeping score at home, three separate characters all use the word “caper” at some point in the story.

Review:  And I really thought the last issue was padded!  We’re treated to FOUR splash pages this issue, and a story that mainly consists of a small cast of characters fighting generic goons while making only one discovery about the villains in the final pages.  Worse, Tom Grummett and Cory Hamscher are gone, so it’s another thin issue that’s not nearly as pretty.  Graham Nolan’s art is fine, but just not on the level of his previous work.  Nolan doesn’t seem to mesh with Scott Koblish that well, or perhaps he ran into deadline troubles.  The colors are also off, since the breakneck schedule of the book has also left it with a fill-in colorist.  Normally this comic has bold, elaborate coloring on every page, but most of these colors seem washed out.  Also, Sabretooth’s new costume is back to that awful yellow/blue color scheme, which is annoying.  

As admittedly thin as the plot is, it isn’t necessarily bad.  I still think having Rogue and Nightcrawler switch powers is a mistake, but Claremont gets a nice characterization moment out of it this issue, when Nightcrawler realizes that appearing normal means he’s lost the unique qualities he’s always used to define himself.  Stoic Cyclops has his own moment, passively-aggressively dismissing Jean and Beast and just getting down to X-Men business because that’s the only thing he can handle.  Fabian Cortez is used in a clever way, when he explains that since his powers prematurely inflict Burnout in mutants, he might also provide a cure for the disease.  Honestly, who ever put this much thought into Fabian Cortez after Claremont left?  Cortez quickly earned a reputation as (literally) the dumbest mutant the X-Men ever faced and achieved little more than that in the ‘90s.  Claremont’s actually extrapolated something interesting from his power set and connected it to the title’s larger plotline.  Little bits like this help to keep the book entertaining, even when the pacing is off and some of the plotlines seem capricious.  The main problem is that we’re talking about material that could easily be covered in eight or nine pages, stretched out over an entire issue.  At $3.99 an issue, that’s indefensible.


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