Wednesday, July 8, 2015

ADVENTURES OF THE X-MEN #2 - May 1996



The Great Divide - The Green Revolution Part 2
Credits:  Ralph Macchio (writer), Mike Miller (penciler), Dan Panosian (inks), Adam Wallenta (colors), Ul Higgins (letters)

Summary:  The Leader’s Humanoids fight off Wolverine and remove Hulk from his restraints.  They escape, shortly before the X-Men arrive in the Blackbird.  X-Factor agrees to team up with the X-Men to find the Hulk.  At the Leader’s base, the Leader uses his Cognitive Dream Inducer to create a fantasy world for Bruce Banner within the Hulk’s mind.  When the Hulk calms down, Banner reemerges, and is promptly brainwashed by the Leader.   The Leader wants Banner’s expertise for his plot to expose major population centers to Gamma radiation.  Following the tracking device hidden on the Hulk, the X-Men and X-Factor find the Leader’s base.  Banner is freed from the Leader’s control and attempts to stop the Leader’s satellites, but his stress causes him to revert into the Hulk.  The Hulk escapes in the confusion, but Beast is able to finish Banner’s work.  X-Factor tries to pursue the Hulk, but the X-Men convince them not to, arguing that he should be left alone.

Continuity Notes:  
  • The X-Men this issue consist of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, and Wolverine.
  • Wolverine’s claws are unable to penetrate the Humanoid’s rubbery skin.
  • For perhaps the first time in Adventures continuity, Wolverine smokes a cigar, something he could never do on the animated series.

“Um, Actually…”:  The X-Men are repeatedly referred to as an “outlaw” team of mutants, but the X-Men are actually friends with the President in the cartoon’s continuity.  The opening episodes did feature the X-Men breaking into the Mutant Control Center, but by the end of the first season, their status as outlaws was resolved.

How Did This Get Published?:  Beast’s inexplicable entrance line as the X-Men break into the Leader’s lair: “Well, well, well.  What have we here?  The Congressional Budget Committee looking for loopholes?  Or a clandestine confab of the Hair Club for Men?”  Later, during the climactic battle against the Humanoids, Beast unleashes this gem: “Pedal Power, gentlemen.  Remember that phrase as you lick your rubbery wounds on the morrow.”  (I guess this is because he’s supposed to be bicycle-kicking them at the moment, although it’s not clear.)  Wild Child’s line is even worse: “Even if you don’t need them to see -- I want to rip out your eyes!

Review:  I knew that Macchio’s greatest weakness was dialogue, but the first issue gave me some hope that he could occasionally move past exposition-speak for at least a few pages.  This issue makes me much less hopeful.  Almost every page of this comic feels like someone is impulsively breaking into an origin recap, or a summary of the previous chapter, or a mind-numbingly obvious breakdown of what’s currently happening.  I understand that this series is supposed to be friendly towards younger readers, but that’s no excuse for writing the cast as robots.  And if younger readers are the target audience for this book, I question if they’re going to remain engaged for the rather dense plot Macchio’s constructed.  Some elements of the previous chapter aren’t even resolved (like the Leader’s mental command of Thunderbolt Ross), because Macchio has so much to cram into this issue.  Origin recaps for the Hulk and Leader, an elaborate fantasy sequence for Bruce Banner (very similar to the one seen in the Batman:TAS episode “Perchance to Dream”), details on the Leader’s scheme to irradiate the population just enough and not kill them, a philosophical debate between the X-Men and X-Factor, and an opening and closing fight scene.  In a way, it’s admirable that Macchio’s not padding the story, but it’s obvious that twenty-two pages is not enough space for this much material.  One moment that could’ve been a highlight of the issue -- Jean’s anguish over ending Bruce Banner’s fantasy world -- is rushed through in just a few panels, killing any impact.  

As for the art, who knew that this book would debut with two Savage Dragon spinoff artists in a row?  Mike Miller continues in the vaguely manga style of the first issue, with mixed results.  The Leader’s Humanoid soldiers do have a funky, alien design that I like, and there are a few scenes with the main cast that look okay.  For the majority of the issue, however, the art is overly reminiscent of Jeff Matsuda’s divisive X-Factor work.  If you have a low tolerance for exaggerated cartooning, stay away from this comic.  Looking back, it’s amazing to see that this arc actually predates Jeff Matsuda’s debut on X-Factor.  (Matsuda debuted on X-Factor with the May 1996 issue, meaning it was released simultaneously with this issue.) Did someone look at the manga-esque designs of X-Factor in the first issue and decide to bring them into the mainstream Marvel Universe?

No comments: