Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (Part 3)
Credits: Chris Claremont (writer), Rodney Buchemi (pencils), Greg Adams (inks), Sotocolor’s A. Street (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters)
Summary: Jean gives Beast a kiss goodbye and reunites with the X-Men. They leave the space station before it explodes, but are attacked again by Ziggy Trask and her Neo-Sentinels in space. Meanwhile, Tony Stark recovers and shoots Amelia Trask in the chest. He telecommutes with Nick Fury and Beast, giving them information needed to stop the Neo-Sentinels and the Plague-X generator. Cyclops blasts Ziggy into the station as it explodes. The Neo-Sentinels are defeated, but the team receives word that both Beast and Tony died in the explosion.
Continuity Notes: Tony Stark is revealed as Nick Fury’s mole within the Consortium.
Review: We are now very firmly into What If…? territory. Not only is Beast killed, less than a year after Wolverine’s death, but Tony Stark is rather casually whacked as well. There’s absolutely no pretense that this is what would’ve happened if Claremont had continued his original X-Men run, but even judging the story on its own merits, it’s hard to deny that this is rushed and lacking the appropriate sense of drama. Some of the blame lies in the art, which is almost lifeless, but the story also doesn’t seem to be taking these massive events very seriously either. All of the poetry and baroque prose you might expect from a Claremont death story has been replaced with rather matter-of-fact dialogue exchanges. There’s no deeper sentiment than Jean and Beast exchanging a blunt “I love you” shortly before his death. Jean has a very brief monologue that has her questioning why she’s unable to save the men she loves, but other than this one panel, she seems fairly emotionless throughout the issue. Perhaps I’m biased because I always felt the Jean/Beast romance was a bad idea, but at no point in the issue did I get the sense that I’m reading some great tragedy.
Not only does the issue fail as a goodbye to Beast, but you also have to wonder what on earth Tony Stark has been doing in this story. No part of his involvement holds up to any scrutiny: Why did he wait so long to act against the Consortium? Why was Nick Fury unable to do anything against the Consortium, even with Tony acting as his mole? Why did Fury keep Tony’s identity a secret, even when he knew the X-Men were wasting time investigating Tony’s connection to the Consortium? Another annoyance is the casual way heroes are killing of villains this issue, with both Tony Stark and Cyclops offing the Trasks with no moral dilemma whatsoever. There was a “heroes don’t kill” speech as recently as last issue, as I recall, and now that’s been forgotten like it’s nothing. I’m not adamantly opposed to ever having the heroes kill (and I seem to recall both Trasks miraculously pulling through), but the story needs to build up the proper stakes to justify it. Claremont’s obviously trying to craft a story with the ultimate stakes, but the sense of drama never properly develops. Again, it feels as if you’re reading a random issue of What If…? and you’re stuck in one of those “And then…everyone died!” montages.
The Shape of Things to Come
Credits: Chris Claremont (writer), Fernando Blanco (art), Sotocolor (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters)
Summary: The Warskrulls lead a successful attack against a Shi’ar base. The Shi’ar investigate and discover that the Warskrulls gained access to their files because Xavier did not secure the datanets he studied. A Shi’ar admiral declares that Xavier will pay.
Review: This back-up is a prelude to the upcoming Giant Size X-Men Forever special, which will serve as yet another vehicle for writing Xavier out of the book. There’s not enough of a plot here to pass a real judgment, but it’s refreshing to see Claremont back away from modern decompressed storytelling and actually use five pages to his advantage. The pacing here is much closer to what you’d expect from a traditional Claremont story. Fernando Blanco’s art is a noticeable improvement over the pencils and inks in the main story, evoking a slightly darker Clayton Henry, making me wonder why he didn’t do more work for this series.