Thursday, February 26, 2015

X-MEN FOREVER 2 #7 - November 2010


Luck -- Runs Out!
Credits:  Chris Claremont (writer), Ron Lim (pencils), Cory Hamscher (inks), Wilfredo Quintana (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters)
Summary:  Corsair joins the X-Men as they teleport to Summers Cove, Alaska.  The X-Men and Starjammers team up against the Marauders, but are unaware Robyn Hanover has reached the airfield with Nate.  Cyclops also doesn’t realize that Hepzibah, who he’s sent to check on his grandmother, has been possessed by Malice.  During the battle, Sabretooth is brutalized by his clone and has to be rescued by Shadowcat.  They’re both shocked when Wolverine suddenly appears and stabs Shadowcat through her stomach.  Meanwhile, Mariko Yashida declares vengeance against Jean Grey in Japan.  In Wakanda, Storm announces plans to annex Genosha.
Continuity Notes:
  • The X-Men have persuaded Corsair to trust the original Sabretooth in-between issues.
  • The cloned version of Wolverine has bone claws, which is another indication that Claremont accepts the idea (even if he perhaps didn’t originate it) that Wolverine was born with the bone claws.
  • The X-Men treat it as a given now that the Marauders are clones.
  • Ron Lim draws Shadowcat with those insanely long fingernails seen on the cover of X-Men Forever 2 #1.
  • The new Mr. Sinister design makes it full debut as armor that young Nathan wears to intimidate the Marauders into listening to him.  It looks like an amalgam of Sinister’s standard look and the original Mysterio design.
Review:  Even though Ron Lim was everywhere in the ‘90s, I’ve yet to review any comic penciled by him on this site.  True, he did do breakdowns for a few pages of Cable #4, and the chapter titles for The Venom Factor, but thus far I haven’t reviewed a full comic penciled by Mr. Lim.  And it turns out to be a comic not even published in the ‘90s, oddly enough.  Even if you weren’t actively pursuing his art, Lim was always just there in the ‘90s.  If you’re a Marvel fan of a certain era, it’s hard not to have some nostalgia for Lim’s art.  A part of me will always think Lim draws the definitive Captain America and Silver Surfer.  Even when his career at Marvel cooled, he always seemed to be popping up somewhere up until the dawn of the new millennium.  Ron Lim effectively became the ‘90s Sal Buscema; the guy editors could count on to do professional work regardless of the deadline.
“Professional work” doesn’t actually mean great work, of course.  Ron Lim’s art as a quickie fill-in artist doesn’t compare to what he’s truly capable of when given a reasonable deadline, but I think at some point he became known more for the rush work than his real work.  X-Men Forever, by its nature as a bi-weekly, is a book that requires rush work fairly often.  I suppose it was only a matter of time before this alternate version of ‘90s X-continuity crossed paths with Ron Lim.  The results this issue aren’t quite on the level of what I remember from Lim’s Captain America days, but for the most part, his storytelling is very clear, the page layouts are energetic, and the cast is on-model.  Lim has to juggle over two dozen characters this issue, which would be a challenge under any circumstance, let alone the deadline I’m sure he was given.  Cory Hamscher’s inks help the transition from Grummett to Lim a lot, and I have to wonder now why Hamscher wasn’t inking all of the fill-in art in this book.
The story continues the Starjammers/Marauders fight, which mashes together the two disparate areas of Cyclops continuity that Claremont’s never featured in the same story before.  The fact that Cyclops’ backstory involves both his space pirate father and the mad scientist who ran his childhood orphanage (not to mention both characters’ teams of confidants/henchmen) is either a testament to the unlimited bounds of superhero comics or the sheer inanity of the concept.  Claremont’s just having fun with the characters at the moment, and there is a basic thrill in experiencing a three-way fight between the X-Men, Starjammers, and Marauders (with Sabretooth, Mystique, Havok, and Polaris thrown in) that we didn’t get to see when we were kids.  It’s like you dumped all of your X-Men action figures on the floor and just decided to go nuts.  Leaving Cyclops’ grandmother and son in danger also ups the stakes of the fight, adding some tension for the next issue.  Not adding any tension is that Wolverine cliffhanger, since it should be obvious to anyone reading what the resolution is going to be.  Since cloning is Sinister's gimmick, I'm not too bothered by the plot development at this moment; I just think it's a silly cliffhanger. The most annoying aspects of the issue are mercifully brief -- Sinister quickly appears in a redesign that’s just as ill-advised as everyone else’s in this book, and the Mariko subplot isn’t promising at all.  Thankfully, they’re easy to ignore at this point.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Mariko as a villain was a terrible, terrible idea. And I had completely forgotten about this ugly Mr. Sinister look. Yuck!

As for Ron Lim -- I really like him. I was first exposed to him in INFINITY WAR #1 when I was around 13 years old, and I thought it was great (in fact, I had an INFINITY WAR poster by Lim on my bedroom wall for over a decade and it moved with me to my own place where it resided on the "den" wall for another ten years or so; it's only recently finally gone into storage when my wife and I moved again). I didn't follow many creators when I was younger, but Lim was a name that would get me to buy nearly any comic. When I was in middle school I didn't understand why he hadn't exploded like Lee, Liefeld, etc.

It seems odd now; he's very much what you might call a journeyman penciler. But I think I know why I liked him so much back then -- he drew everyone completely on model. He took no artistic liberties. If Ron Lim drew a costume, it looked exactly like the costume should look. Also, for whatever reason, no inkers ever overpowered him. A Ron Lim inked by Al Milgrom looked exactly like a Ron Lim inked by Terry Austin.

Beyond that, no one draws Thanos better than Lim. Not even Jim Starlin. Lim refined Starlin's design without deviating from it, and the character looks absolutely perfect coming from Lim's pencil. He also draws the best Adam Warlock this side of Starlin -- and you're right; his Silver Surfer is absolutely definitive.

I've met Lim a couple times over the years -- he lives up in Sacramento, I think, which is not far from the Bay Area where I reside -- and, though I usually consider most commissions far too pricey, I have two pencil sketches from him -- Moon Knight and Adam Warlock & Gamora -- as well as a Sharpie head sketch of Captain America and one of Thanos.

Honestly, though his work is rarely especially flashy, it's usually solid and reliable. I believe Marvel needs far more Ron Lims and Tom Grummetts these days than any other type of artist.