Phalanx Covenant, Generation Next, part 1
When this issue first came out, I was absolutely amazed. Unfortunately, that didn’t last. This marked the start of a slew of cross-overs that I think ultimately ruined the X-Men universe, at least until the 2000’s. The end of 1994 to the beginning of 1995 saw the Phalanx Covenant, Legion Quest, and Age of Apocalypse…I mean seriously, Marvel, what were you thinking? (that’s a rhetorical question…I’m pretty sure they were thinking “ooh, dollar signs!”)
The story opens with a teenage girl riding in a limo with an older, robust woman. This is our first introduction to Monet and we find out that she hasn’t said a word in a month. The older woman tries to get Monet to talk but to no avail. Suddenly, the limo is forced off the road by an explosion, killing the driver. the culprit: the Phalanx (remember them?) The older woman turns out to be some sort of bodyguard as she quickly pushes Monet out of the limo, hoping that the girl will run. Meanwhile, the bodyguard opens fire on the Phalanx, but it does no good and the Phalanx easily kills her. The Phalanx picks up Monet and teleports away with her.
The scene changes to the medical center at the X-Mansion where Banshee is paying a visit to Emma Frost who is restrained and screaming about how the X-Men are trying to kill her. Banshee, of course, dismisses her ramblings, but he is concerned about how the two X-Men watching her are two X-Men that Emma has psychically manipulated in the past: Storm and Iceman. Banshee is quickly ushered out of the room Banshee wanders aimlessly through the halls until he reaches the communication room. He pickes up an incoming video-call from Cyclops and Jean with urgent information for the Professor (If you read the Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, you may have an idea what I’m talking about). Unfortunately, Xavier is in England (in Excalibur issues at the time – I loved it when all the x-titles felt connected). Banshee passes this info along and Cyke and Jean sign off. Suddenly, Archangel (now in his classic Angel costume) shows up and quickly berates Banshee on passing along information to “unauthorized personnel”. Banshee slinks back and leaves.
So instead, Banshee decides it’d be good to have a workout in the Danger Room. He finds that the room is locked and Jubilee is undergoing a training lesson…alone…unsupervised. Banshee decides to discuss this with others but as he walks through the halls, he spots Psylocke exiting the Professor’s Ready Room. Inside, he finds Gambit and Bishop tinkering (which is especially unusual as no one is ever allowed inside that room). Now, he knows something is wrong. He runs towards the nearest computer access and attempts to locate some of the senior members. However, the computer indicates that Storm, Archangel, Bishop, etc. are not on the campus grounds – they are nowhere to be found. The only people the computer can identify are Banshee, Jubilee, White Queen, and Sabretooth (who is in the security level). He heads to the communication room only to find that it has been completely dissected by Beast.
Banshee then heads down to the security level to find Rogue guarding Sabretooth. When Banshee goes to let Sabretooth out for his nightly walk, she grabs his arm. Banshee responds by unleashing his scream at her, disrupting her form and revealing her to be one of the Phalanx. Banshee runs to the incapacitated Sabretooth who is muzzled with gloves meant to render him relatively harmless. The Rogue/Phalanx attacks again, but this time Sabretooth snaps out of it and tears into her, completely obliterating her.
Moments later, Gambit/Phalanx and Bishop/Phalanx are alerted to the destruction of Rogue/Phalanx. In their discussion, we learn that the X-Men are captives, not actually assimilated by the Phalanx. Banshee, too, hears this conversation and blasts through the floor, firing at them with a gun. In the med bay, Emma Frost (who is now freed), tears apart Iceman/Phalanx and Storm/Phalanx with her psychic abilities. Sabretooth, who is carrying an unconscious Jubilee, grabs Emma and they quickly high-tail it out of the mansion. Banshee makes one last stop to check out Cerebro and make note of the locations of several new mutants. The remaining X-Men/Phalanx attack and Banshee quickly flees, allowing the self-destruct of the ready room to completely destroy the Phalanx (along with a good chunk of the mansion).
I’m extremely conflicted when it comes to these issues. Overall, the Phalanx Covenant as a whole was a pretty poor cross-over and ranks among my least favorite of the 90’s. It’s mostly because although they may have a similar theme (the attack of the Phalanx) they really had very little to do with each other. They were divided into three separate storylines: Generation Next, Life Signs and Final Sanction. Each one referenced the other, but really, there was no coherent storyline and it never really felt like some major threat. The art among all the issues involved is probably some of the most inconsistent (the art over in Excalibur was downright horrible). On top of that, as I mentioned earlier, this was the first of three cross-overs that happened in late 1994-early 1995. It was just too much.
That being said, I did admit to being conflicted, because the Generation Next cross-over, and this issue in particular, was fantastic and really gave an opportunity for some other characters to grab some of the spotlight. We hadn’t seen Banshee in action since X-Men #3 (over 2 years ago) and I can’t even remember the last time he’d been the main character. Instead, we get a lot of insight into his character and his feelings about the X-Men. I loved watching him realize something was wrong with the X-Men and then as he slowly begins to piece things together – almost like he was a detective. And then to see the witty repartee between him and Sabretooth as well as the banter as he takes on the Phalanx.
This cross-over also introduces several characters who would become favorites for years: Synch, Skin, M, and Blink (of course only M appears in this issue). It had been quite some time that so many new mutants appeared so quickly.
And of course the art is fantastic. Joe Maduriera was definitely one of the best artists to come out of the 90’s and is up there with Jim Lee for one of the best X-artists of the 90’s. I also shudder to think how much time or how difficult it was to put so much detail into the Phalanx’s liquid metal look (some took a short-cut – just look at the Excalibur issue).
Ultimately? Give this portion of the cross-over a shot. I loved Generation Next. but don’t worry about the rest of the Phalanx Covenant. They really don’t add anything to the story and I usually don’t look forward to reading the rest.
Iceman/Phalanx: “Sonic Disrupter field, Sean. Unlike you, we’ve been hearing her freak for the past three hours.”
Storm/Phalanx: “Yes. We could all use a break.”
Rogue/Phalanx: “Banshee? Are you listening to me?”
Banshee: “That I am, darling – Now ye listen to Me!”
Emma Frost: “How can I be certain I can trust you, Sabretooth?”
Sabretooth: “Trust me?! Ha! That’s a hoot.”