Wednesday, June 10, 2015

X-MEN LEGENDS - June 2000 (Part Two)

Welcome to the X-Men, Madrox
Written by Steve Lyons

Summary:  After arriving at Xavier’s school, Madrox reluctantly leaves his room and meets the X-Men.  Unsure of how to interact with others, Madrox creates duplicates to spend time with the team while he returns to the safety of his room.  While in town with Havok and Polaris, one duplicate is attacked by anti-mutant bigots.  Inside the Danger Room, another duplicate learns that the X-Men spend most of their time fighting other mutants.  A third duplicate explores the grounds and meets a non-descript man.  The mystery man soon reveals himself as the Super-Adaptoid and attacks the team.  Madrox leaves his room and personally witnesses the bravery of his duplicates when facing the Super-Adaptoid.  He develops a plan to give the Super-Adaptoid his abilities, knowing that eventually the Super-Adaptoid will over-tax its system and burn out its powers.  Later, after returning to his room, Madrox decides that life as an X-Man would be even lonelier than his current solitary existence.  

Continuity Notes:  “Welcome to the X-Men, Madrox” takes place in-between Giant Size Fantastic Four #4 (February 1975) and Giant Size X-Men #1 (October 1975).  In the story, the Danger Room uses realistic holographic images, but it’s my understanding that the Danger Room’s holograms (created with Shi’ar technology) didn’t debut until New Mutants #1 (March 1983).

Review:  The “about the authors” piece in the back of the novel indicates that Steve Lyons had wanted to write a Madrox story for a while, and it’s obvious over the course of this piece that he’s a fan of the character.  Madrox’s isolation, and the sense of futility that comes with having every option available, are a part of what makes Madrox unique, and Lyons has clearly put a decent amount of thought behind the concept.  Madrox stories really can go anywhere, and I like Lyons portrayal of Madrox as a recluse, using his duplicates to explore the outside world while he hides in the safety of his bedroom.  The story hinges on Madrox’s initial appearance, which had him living alone in a farmhouse after the loss of his parents.  Madrox, at this point, has had very limited exposure to the outside world and is literally his own best friend.  While the scenes that get inside Madrox’s head are great, I do question why the bulk of the story is concerned with Madrox learning (via his duplicates) that he possesses the makings of a hero.  I’ve never thought of Madrox as being un-heroic, but he’s never been portrayed as a traditional, straight-forward hero figure either, so heroism alone isn’t really a defining trait for the character.  By the end of the story, Madrox decides (after being exposed to human intolerance and learning that even mutants can’t get along with each other) that he isn’t ready for this life, so he goes back into hiding.  As a continuity implant, it works as an explanation for why Madrox didn’t join the “All-New” X-Men team, but it makes for an odd story.  Madrox doesn’t think he can be a hero, proves he can be a hero, then decides he isn’t ready to be a hero, the end.  I realize that the story has to end with Madrox going back into hiding, but I don’t quite understand the route Lyons takes to get there.

Peace Offering
Written by Michael Stewart

Summary:  Following the X-Men’s fight with Iron Fist at Jean Grey and Misty Knight’s apartment, Wolverine secretly enters with a dove as a peace offering.  After initially mistaking Wolverine for an intruder, Misty questions Wolverine on why he doesn’t act on his feelings for Jean.  Hand ninjas suddenly enter, seeking to kill Misty for her investigation into a Japanese crimelord.  Wolverine and Misty stop the first group of attackers, but another emerges shortly after Jean returns home.  Jean is cut by a drugged shuriken and Wolverine leaves to find the ninja who threw it.  After Misty defeats the final ninja, Jean’s powers burn out the poison.  Wolverine returns after failing to locate Jean’s attacker, but can’t bring himself to enter the apartment.

Continuity Notes:  This story is set during the time Jean Grey and Misty Knight were roommates.  It takes place between Uncanny X-Men #108 and #109, and shortly after Iron Fist #15.

Review:  It’s another retcon story about the legendary, forbidden love between Wolverine and Jean Grey.  I’m not a huge fan of the concept, but I have to acknowledge that Michael Stewart does have an excellent grasp on Wolverine’s character.  Too often Wolverine is given his current personality in the flashback stories, but it’s important to remember that he really was a different character when he first joined the X-Men.  Stewart sets the story just as Wolverine was evolving, actually opening himself up to other people and recognizing that he can no longer hide behind the façade that he’s more animal than man.  Stewart does a nice job having Wolverine voice his insecurities over whether or not Jean could ever accept him while staying true to the character and not turning Wolverine into a wuss.  It’s a thin line to walk, but Stewart writes a well-rounded Wolverine that evokes a classic Claremontian feel.  

I do have to gripe about the anthology’s first negative instance of prequel-itis, however.  Stewart heavily implies that the mystery ninja who strikes Jean is none other than Yukio (“Gotcha!”).  I don’t recall it ever being established that Yukio worked with the Hand, and even if the idea can work within continuity, the sheer coincidence of Wolverine’s future lover nearly killing his unrequited love is too hard to swallow.  Also, wouldn’t Wolverine have recognized her scent when they met for the first time in the Wolverine limited series?

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