Since I know you guys are SOOOOO concerned with when I release these, follow me on twitter (@psychodadcomics).  Moving right along, into early 1996.  I was off at college during these so many of them I didn’t pick them up until years later and others I could still rarely read right when they came out.  Still, this was before the internet was widespread so spoilers weren’t an issue.

Oh yeah…  **SPOILER ALERT**  because, you know…maybe some people haven’t read these and still want to be surprised (*insert sarcastic eye roll here*)

X-Factor #119 (February 1996)

I guess they can’t all be great.  this issue was a bit boring and featured the return of Sabretooth (I had wished he would stay dead but never really expected it, but it kind of cheapened the Sabretooth one-shot).  Adversary continues his resurgence, Shard and Wild Child have some fun.  and Polaris finally decides to move on from Havok.  All with some decent art from Epting, but nothing mind blowing.

Excalibur #95 (March 1996)

Another one that I can’t tell the whole story because of so many issues of X-Man getting ruined (issue #12).  but this one we get some great new art from Carlos Pacheco as Nate Grey (the aforementioned X-Man) throws a tantrum because he thinks Moira is in league with the evil Xavier.  Ugh.  Anybody else tired of Nate Grey and his hissy fits?

X-Men (vol. 2) #49 (February 1996)

The art here isn’t bad.  and the story is “meh”.  But a couple interesting things happen here.  First of all, remember that one waitress at Harry’s that had been flirting with Bishop since around the end of X-Cutioner’s Song?  Yeah?  I didn’t either first time I read this issue.  But she’s there.  And turns out, she’s Fatale (Dark Beast’s lackey) in disguise.  And second?  the Dark Beast finally sees his regular universe counterpart.

Generation X #12-14 (February 1996 – April 1996)

AUGHHHH!  WHERE IS BACHALO?  I don’t understand…this was supposed to be his title, but I think he’s been gone more than he’s been around.  The art isn’t bad here…better than some of the other issues…but it’s still just kind of “blah”.  But the story is enjoyable as Emplate returns, this time with his anti-Generation X team as well as controlling a number of the team all against M and (later) the X-Men’s Bishop.  Eventually Bishop and M prevail, but one last task awaits them:  stopping Synch, controlled by Emplate.

Cable (vol. 2) #29-31 (March 1996 – May 1996)

Once again…missing issues.  damn flood.  at least my Cable issues survived.  This arc is missing the X-Man portions but oh well…  So with X-Man disrupting the astral plane, Cable goes to confront his clone from another reality and they battle it out with Exodus joining in and X-Man burning himself out and Cable risking his own health and his control over his technoorganic components to stitch X-Man back together.  You know…when you type out a brief synopsis of some of these stories you realize just how &^$%ing confusing they can be.  Still…the art was amazing.  Churchill really outdid himself here.

X-Men:  Brood Day of Wrath #1-2 (September 1996-October 1996)

By John Ostrander, Bryan Hitch, Sal Velluto

The Alien Xenomorphs…I mean the Brood…have returned.  Jean senses it first and reaches out to Professor X who then assembles a team to track the Brood’s resurgence:  Storm, Cannonball, Bishop, Wolverine, Beast, and Iceman.  They are to meet Jean and Cyclops.  Elsewhere, we are reunited with the Reverend William Connover and his wife Hannah (remember them from Uncanny X-Men #232-234).  Of course we find out that behind the scenes of those issues, Hannah was transformed into a Brood queen.  She then began “healing” parishioners (she wasn’t healing, but infecting them with Brood embryos).  We’re then treated to the Brood crashing on earth.  But these are different Brood (called “The firstborn”).  They are armored and do not have alternate forms.  They’re pretty…um…I guess they were going for badass but they kind of disappoint me.  Jean and Cyclops arrive and Jean realizes that Hannah’s personality/mind has asserted itself over the brood queen.  she may be a brood, but Hannah is in control.  The Firstborn then find her and the brood she is with.  The brood rush to defend her but are quickly slaughtered.  When cops try and intervene,  the firstborn attack them as well.  Then Cyclops and Jean show up but are overwhelmed by the firstborn.  Luckily the X-Men drop in from the Blackbird.  After a heated battle, the X-Men only manage to kill a single of the Firstborn and the mutants then flee with Hannah, where it is revealed that while Hannah may be a brood queen, she has done what no sentient being has done before:  maintained her personality over the brood’s.

The story continues with the Reverend Connover hearing the police reports and recognizing the Brood from his encounter with the X-men years ago.  Meanwhile, the X-Men try to decide what to do with Hannah (shockingly, Wolverine wants to kill her), many wanting to find a way to protect her and Beast even wanting to study her to learn how she can subdue the Brood inside her.  Hannah decides to run, sending her Broodlings against the X-Men, but with orders to not kill, only delay.  As the X-Men pursue, Hannah is found by more of her “children” but then the Firstborn arrive and once again, slaughter her followers.  The X-Men catch up and battle the Brood, but the last of Hannah’s followers die as Cannonball flies away with Hannah.  The Firstborn leave (they can’t fly so why follow) to track down the Reverend.  They kidnap him for bait and Hannah (who has a mental link because…who knows) knows of this and she breaks away from her “rescuer”.  Hannah finds them and fights for her husband’s survival as the X-Men show up with a plan.  Iceman will lower Hannah’s core temperature, simulating death and hoping that the Firstborn will think she is dead.  Once done, the Firstborn kill each other (since their mission was done).  Hannah is transported back to the mansion where she is placed in suspended animation until they can figure out a way to remove the brood from her.

You know…I wanted to love this story.  really I did.  I mean come on!  It’s the Brood!  they’ve shown up 3 times in the past and I loved all 3 stories.  So how could you go wrong?

Apparently by having John Ostrander write the story (don’t hate on me, I’m being facetious).
I mean, it’s not absolutely terrible, and I think he was hamstrung by doing a book that was outside the normal publications and was only two issues…but I hated so much about this, except for the core concept:  returning to the Reverend and having his wife be queen of the Brood.  The art was decent, but I generally expect better from Hitch.  The story seemed to follow a generic formula of the firstborn finding Hannah, killing her followers, Hannah escapes, lather, rinse, repeat.
But let’s not forget we also get the Firstborn and the writing is so campy around them and so determined to make us think that these are like the baddest of the bad.  But really, who cares about them?  They’re not really scary (which is what I liked best about the earlier Brood stories).  It’s like wanting and expecting Robert Englund and then getting Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Not a horrible choice, but not what you want in a Brood story.
BUT….I did like returning to the Reverend and his wife.  It felt like a nice attempt at an homage to what is considered a classic story.  I also enjoyed the attempts to explain how Hannah was able to withstand the conversion and Sam’s explanation that maybe it’s a miracle.  Sam’s religion hadn’t really been mentioned since his New Mutant days, so it was good to see it.

Re-reading this issue also made me wonder…  since this issue (long after it) the mansion had been thoroughly destroyed.  I wonder what happened to Hannah since she was being kept in the mansion.  Unfortunately, it’s clear she was forgotten, but I would love to see a story that brings this one to completion.

And lastly, this issue was a &^*%ing pain in the ass to place in the read order.  It was released after the Onslaught issues, but clearly takes place before it (since Xavier has his mental powers and is in the mansion).

On a positive note, I’ve been purchasing some old back issues of Generation X and X-Force to add to my collection and reading order.  These are issues I’ve never read before because I never collected Generation X and I dropped X-Force after Cannonball left.