Friday, June 19, 2015

X-MEN LEGENDS - June 2000 (Part Six)

Ice Prince
Written by K. A. Kindya

Summary:  Jubilee is stunned to discover Rogue and Jean Grey are fans of professional figure skating.  She refuses to watch, until she catches a glimpse of teenage skater Christopher Kim.  Her crush on Chris inspires her to try figure skating.  She travels with Rogue and Jean Grey to see Chris compete, but his act is cut short by the Friends of Humanity.  They reveal that Chris is actually a mutant who’s used his powers to aid his performance.  The crowd erupts in a panic and Chris is lead offstage.  Jubilee sneaks backstage and rescues Chris from two FoH members.  In the melee, Chris realizes he has levitation skills.  Jubilee invites Chris to stay at Xavier’s school, and in the ensuing weeks, he discovers his skating career is over.  Jubilee encourages Chris to find other interests, and soon Chris leaves the country to explore his passion for art.  Jubilee tries to tell herself she’s over Chris but she knows it isn’t true.

Continuity Notes:  According to the Continuity Guide, this story is set shortly after X-Men (vol. 2) #3 (December 1991).  Jubilee’s references to Magneto, the Legacy Virus, and the team recently returning from Genosha lead me to believe that it’s intended to be set after the “Bloodties”crossover, which places it post-X-Men (vol. 2) #26.

I Love the ‘90s:  Rogue says the commotion at the rink is worse than what happened with Nancy and Tonya.

Review:  I’m also not the target audience for this story, and unfortunately I can’t claim this one is “mercifully short.”  Twenty-four pages isn’t a totally unreasonable length for a short story, but twenty-four pages dedicated to Jubilee discovering the joys of professional figure skating is borderline torture.  Even if I were to ignore my inherent apathy towards figure skating, it’s hard to find anything of merit here.  The heroes are simpletons (it’s painfully obvious from the second page that Chris is a mutant, but the X-Men don’t realize this until the FoH announce the fact to the world), the plot has no real stakes for any of the established characters, and Jubilee’s acerbic, bratty personality is tossed out the window so that she can fall in love with the author’s idealized fantasy of a sensitive, young skating prodigy.  We’re also to believe that Rogue, of all the female X-Men, is a diehard fan of competitive figure skating.  Jean Grey I could buy, but Rogue?  Almost every member of the team K. A. Kindya uses in the story is twisted out-of-character in order to fulfill a preordained role in what turns out to be some sort of sports/superhero fan-fiction mash-up.  I had no idea the genre even existed, although I guess there probably is a Livejournal page out there dedicated to Wolverine and Cyclops settling their differences on the ballroom floor.  

Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made Of
Written by Robin Wayne Bailey

Summary:  Phoenix dreams that she is Army nurse Jane Somerset, engaged to Captain Stephen Maxwell.  In her visions, she repeatedly witnesses Stephen die at Pearl Harbor.  Cyclops and Phoenix attempt to discover the source of these dreams, and Cyclops’ research reveals that a Jane Somerset has been admitted to a nearby VA hospital.  While driving through Salem Center, Cyclops and Phoenix meet the pastor of the church Jane’s sister Margaret attends.  After meeting and befriending Margaret, Cyclops and Phoenix visit Jane in her hospital room.  Realizing that Jane is a mutant with only hours to live, Jean telepathically gives her the wedding she was robbed of in 1941.

Continuity Notes:  This story, intended as a continuation of Scott and Jean’s honeymoon, is set after the initial Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix miniseries (May-August 1994).

Review:  Hypothetically, I should like this one.  The premise is unique, the mystery is intriguing, and I tend to enjoy stories that have normal people interacting with telepathy in some way.  The execution, however, is so dry it’s hard to feel any real connection to the events.  The first half of the story is squandered with repetitive sequences of the mysterious Stephen Maxwell dying over and over again.  The author could’ve established in a few lines that Jean has been having this dream repeatedly for the past few days, but instead the reader has to endure the same death scene of a character we know or care nothing about for several pages.  It undermines the initial hook of the story, which is actually quite strong.  Robin Wayne Bailey also has a writing tic that personally bothers me – too much detail.  I mean, detail to the point that we’re told the name brand of the radio in Jean’s bedroom and Martha Somerset’s preferred teapot style.  The excessive verbiage kills the momentum of the story and eats up room that could’ve been used to flesh out Jane’s character.  The final pages of the story hint at some fantastic ideas – Jane becoming mute following Pearl Harbor (perhaps because she lost her hearing in the bombing, or more likely due to the trauma), Jean as a sympathetic mind that Jane’s reached out to, and Jean’s realization that Professor X saved her from Jane’s fate following her friend Annie’s death – but there’s no space for any of these concepts to have life.  There’s great potential here, but the story never manages to make Jane Somerset a fully realized character.  And without a genuine connection to Jane, the story falls apart.

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