Rise -- to the Challenge! - Into That Good Night (Part 2)
Credits: Chris Claremont (writer), Daniel HDR (pencils), Greg Adams (inks), Wilfredo Quintana (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters)
Summary: The X-Men invade the Consortium’s orbital platform and face Ziggy Trask and the Neo-Sentinels. Jean Grey and Beast leave the fight to find the energy projector that will unleash Plague-X. Tony Stark turns on the Consortium and allows Jean and Beast access to the projector, but Stark is soon ambushed by the Neo-Sentinels. Amelia Trask orders the projector to fire, just as Jean and Beast finish planting charges around its energy source. Beast informs Jean that if the beam is fired after the charges go off, the blast will sterilize the planet. He must stay behind and dismantle the firing system.
- Shadowcat is now wearing that awful leather jacket and miniskirt combo, although her hair never matches the design from the cover of issue #4.
- The X-Men fly into orbit in a new “X-Plane” constructed by Forge with the aid of Nightcrawler.
- The Neo-Sentinels move like spiders, slightly reminiscent of the new Sentinel designs from the Morrison/Quitely New X-Men run. According to Amelia Trask, the Trasks and Sentinels can communicate telepathically.
- Tony Stark is referred to as an “organic/bionic hybrid” by one of the Neo-Sentinels. Amelia Trask is intrigued and says she’ll investigate later. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, unless Claremont’s referencing Tony Stark’s “heart of steel.”
Production Note: For the first time in this series, the opening page of the comic is actually the first page of the story; the recap page is moved to page two.
Review: The first page of the issue is an homage to the famous “Professor Xavier is a Jerk!” splash page, which probably explains why the recap page has been moved to the second page, since comics didn’t greet you with a page of text back in 1983. It’s a cute gag, but it would’ve worked much better had Paul Smith been available to do another fill-in. The audience doesn’t need yet another reminder that Daniel HDR is no Paul Smith. HDR’s rendition of the Beast isn’t so bad, and his Sentinel renditions are passable, but his normal human figures are the definition of mediocre. There’s no real personality in the work here; HDR doesn’t seem to be interested in either caricature or realism. Consequently, you’re left with one dull drawing after another of the X-Men that doesn’t have the unique touch of a strong artist’s style, or any recognizable human reference. I can’t even guess at how he handles an action scene, because even though the plot might lead you to believe this will be a knockdown drag-out fight between the X-Men and Sentinels, the action is restricted to around four pages. The bulk of the issue is spent on having the X-Men plot out their attack (a Claremont Quirk that's emerged in recent years), and once the plan is executed, the attention shifts to Jean and Beast planting charges around the Consortium’s giant gun. The only visual element of the story that’s potentially exciting is relegated to the background.
The lone scene that elicits any real emotion is the confirmation that Tony Stark isn’t a villain after all, which serves as a welcome affirmation that there is a line Claremont won’t cross. However, the idea that Tony Stark has been working undercover to stop the Consortium all along and is only now kicking himself for letting things “go this far” is insane. Tony Stark, Iron Man, had no opportunity whatsoever to stop the Consortium as they built this massive operation? He couldn’t do anything about the giant mutant death-ray that’s been constructed in space? He’s only acting now to stop this? That’s ridiculous. It reads as if Claremont became enamored with the dramatic reveal of Stark as the head of the Consortium, but didn’t exactly think through the consequences.