I’m actually really conflicted about this issue. The art is just as horrendous as ever (seriously, what was Marvel thinking with Jon Bogdanove) but I actually liked the story here. Had anybody else drawn this issue (even Liefeld) it would have been much higher on my list of favorite chapters. As it is, the art really detracts from the story and I have trouble getting past it.
This was actually the very last issue of X-Tinction Agenda I ever got hold of. It was surprisingly hard to find, although didn’t cost very much once I finally managed to get it. This issue also marks the close of the “second act”. This issue is the last part of the heroes’ failure. This is Cloud City in Empire Strikes Back.
This issue picks up fairly soon after New Mutants leaves off. The captured mutants are marched down a hallway. Cable decides to make a break for it, but apparently he’s the only who even gets that sort of idea. Interestingly enough, we find out that for some reason Wipeout’s ability to block mutant abilities renders his arm useless. I have to wonder if Louise Simonson had an idea back then what his power would actually be. As it is, even with the retcon, it makes sense. Cable uses his TK abilities to keep his TO virus in check. Without those abilities, he would not be able to control the virus which had completely overwhelmed his left arm. It’s one of those rare occurrences that even with a retcon, we can still easily explain events years before the retcon. Of course, Cable fails miserably and Hodge pins him to the wall with dozens of spikes (Hodge just loves that spike gun).
Then, Hodge decides to throw Marvel Girl (still without a mask even though she was wearing it in New Mutants) into a cell with an injured and dying Wolverine. Of course they kiss. Never mind that Jean has rarely shown any real interest in him. Looking back, it makes very little sense. They’ve only kissed one other time that I can remember – during Inferno – and Jean wasn’t terribly receptive to it. Wolverine always had an obsession, but she never felt the same way.
And here’s where things pick up. My major complaint of the last chapter was how little time was really devoted to the battle. Here, we get into it just over halfway through the issue. The Genoshan mind reader supposedly found the hiding place of the rest from the minds of the captured. Of course, this was anticipated and the Genoshans show up to an empty warehouse. In a spectacular display, the entire warehouse explodes. Way to go, muties!
Archangel, Banshee, and Cannonball burst into the president’s office but find Hodge there with her. He defeats all three after a short battle. Of course he first demonstrates his insanity before the beatdown. “You assumed, Archangel, that when you sliced off my head, I would necessarily die! But through a deal with a demon and the miracle of right technology… I got better!” Simonson sure knows how to write insane characters!
Then we move to the remaining group as they attempt to infiltrate the pens to free their captured teammates. Beast’s sucker punch of a magistrate is priceless (check out the picture above). The battle, unfortunately, doesn’t go well. Havok shows up and squares off against Cyclops. Of course, Cyclops once again beats Havok and then we get another silly wrestling move. Cyclops demonstrates the power of…hugging? Seriously, first grabbing Havok by the ears last issue and now hugging? Of course, apparently this time it feels so much like when Cyke held Havok when they parachuted to the ground as kids, Havok snaps out of his mind controlled state. Hodge shows up just then and Havok grabs his gun. He blasts Cyclops into unconsciousness. Then we realize that Havok finally remembers who he is.
What’s funny is that because I didn’t have this issue for the longest time, I had no idea that he gained his memories back this early because for awhile I had Uncanny X-Men #272 (in which he gives no indication that his memories have returned) and X-Factor #62. I was missing much of the story for quite a bit. Still, the way he gets his memories back is rather ridiculous.
And so the second act comes to a close. Every single X-Men, X-Factor, and New Mutant on earth, with the sole exception of Rogue who is in the Savage Land, is a captive of the Genoshans. The story has reached its darkest point and all hope seems lost.
This issue definitely isn’t the worst of the series, but it’s close (I think that award goes to X-Factor 60). Simonson is a bit better here, but in no way does that make up for the art. And honestly, that’s my only major complaint. I just can’t get past the art. Sometimes I can move beyond it, but not for Bogdanove. And this is what keeps this cross-over from being truly great: the inconsistent art. We go from the industry best (Lee) to the industry worst (Bogdanove). I get a whiplash every time I read these issues.