Friday, April 11, 2008

UNCANNY X-MEN #314 –July 1994

Early Frost
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Lee Weeks (penciler), Bill Sienkewiecz (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Steve Buccellato (colorist)

Emma Frost escapes from the X-Men’s mansion, inside Iceman’s body. Storm and Archangel try to stop her, but she freezes the Hudson River and emerges three miles away. Xavier and Banshee track her in the X-Men’s Blackbird jet. Emma breaks into the offices of Frost Enterprises, and is shot in the chest by the security guards. The hole in her chest doesn’t faze her, as she heads into the records room to find out what happened to her students, the Hellions. She discovers that they were all killed by Fitzroy during the attack that left her in a coma. Overcome with grief, she asks the guards to kill her. Xavier and Banshee appear, and Banshee is able to talk Emma into not giving up. Meanwhile, Bishop has created a hologram replica of his sister, Shard, in the Danger Room. When Jubilee asks him why Shard wasn’t with him when he traveled through time, Bishop replies that he killed her.

Continuity Notes
This is, essentially, the reformation issue for Emma Frost. Her role as a hero continues to this day.

Shard tells Jubilee that no one knows how she got the label “the last X-Man” in the future. She says that “the few details we had of this era were sketchy at best”. As for Bishop killing Shard, I think later stories backed away from that idea. This hologram of Shard will, inexplicably, join X-Factor in a few years.

Emma Frost tells Xavier that she rearranged the Hellion’s “brain engrams” to prevent him, or anyone else, from finding them. This is obviously done to explain why Xavier never recruited the Hellions characters while founding the New Mutants.

“Huh?” Moment
I probably shouldn’t be pointing out anyone else’s typos, but on page two, Emma is described as “loosing herself in the memories of others”.

This is the first issue to explicitly set up the Generation X series. The “Child’s Play” crossover did reintroduce the idea of training young mutants (and debut one of the series’ regulars), but this issue is the first one to directly hint at what the future series will contain. Between “Child’s Play”, this storyline, and the upcoming Phalanx crossovers, Generation X certainly received a lot of buildup. Most of the setup doesn’t feel too awkward, but there’s obviously no reason for Banshee to be in this story, other than the fact that he’s going to be co-starring in the new series with Emma Frost. Having Banshee be the one to talk Emma out of suicide, when the two characters have never even met, is certainly forced. However, the story does do an effective job of showing how Emma’s guilt over the death of her students could lead her to join Xavier’s side. The Hellions were needlessly killed off as shock value a few years earlier, so it’s nice that someone eventually used their deaths as the starting point for new stories. Lee Weeks shows up as the fill-in artist, doing a great job with some impressive inks by Sienkewiecz.

This issue is also notable for showcasing new uses of Iceman’s powers, an idea Lobdell played with earlier in his run. Previously, Mikhail Rasputin used his reality warping powers to alter Iceman’s body, leading him to experiment with his ice powers over the next few issues. I guess Lobdell felt that he didn’t take the idea far enough, as now another character showcases new uses of Iceman’s power. The story acts as if everyone should have known how powerful Iceman could be, but that’s overlooking the fact that the original explanation of his power was that he covered his body in ice, not that he was actually made of ice. There’s a huge difference between the two. The idea that Emma can suddenly take over his body and use it in new ways isn’t necessarily bad, but I think Lobdell takes it too far. If Iceman is really powerful enough to do things like teleport through water, it’s hard to believe that he would’ve stuck to such a limited power set for so long. After years of training as an X-Man, it’s implausible that a stranger could take over his body and suddenly use his powers so much better than he ever could. It’s not that I mind the new powers, I just don’t understand how Emma could have developed them so quickly. I think later there was some explanation that her mental powers allowed her to see Iceman’s potential, but if that’s the case, wouldn’t Xavier have seen this years ago? It’s also worth noting that, as far as I know, Iceman still isn’t using the exaggerated powers exhibited in this issue. This storyline did lead to a permanent redesign of Iceman, though, taking him away from the square ice cube look he had since the mid-‘60s.


Austin Gorton said...

While he perhaps hasn't used some of the specific powers showcased in this issue, I've always been under the impression that from this issue forward, Iceman approached his powers as being capable of more than just generating ice body armor, ice slides and ice projectiles. IIRC Mike Carey, most recently showed that off in some of the pre-Messiah Complex issues.

Then again, my memories of this issue could just be coloring my perceptions.

G. Kendall said...

Yeah, a few writers have varied the uses of his powers over the years, but he I don't think he's ever been shown to be as powerful as he is in this issue. The Age of Apocalypse issues also had some creative uses of his powers that haven't shown up since. One reason might be that Lobdell wrote Iceman out of the books a few years after this issue, and he wasn't really used again until the Joe Casey issues...and I don't think Casey even showed him "iced up".

Anonymous said...

I don't think Iceman did too much with his powers in the immediate years following this story. There's a running subplot of him trying to get Emma to explain what she did and help him have the confidence to do more. But not much comes of it in terms of actual power use.

Regardless, this is a great issue. Yeah, there's no reason for Banshee to be involved besides Gen X, but the story works nonetheless. And Lee Weeks provides great fill-in art.

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