Hey! i used my twitter account (@psychodadcomics) for the first time ever! Last week, I picked up X-Men Gold #2, X-Men Blue #2, and Weapon X #2 along with a few back issues of X-Force. Really enjoyed the new reads, although I have some complaints about Weapon X, but it could be worse.
Preparing to move into the new house. Taking boxes over there. Painting my daughter’s room. Fun times! I hate packing, but at least I’m making progress.
Onslaught is getting closer, more and more hints dropped, more and more sightings. The tension is building.
Cable #32 (June 1996)
Artist: Ian Churchill/Scott Hanna; Writer: Jeph Loeb
Cover by: Rick Leonardi
Cable and Domino stand in a darkened hallway, laser sights pointed at them as they converse like nothing’s wrong, talking about Tyler’s death as they beat the crap out of a horde of automated guns. Rather, Domino wants to talk about it, but Cable just wants to kick ass and chew bubble gum. There’s something going on in this place, though, and Cable wants to get to the bottom of it. They are in a facility designed for producing Nimrod sentinels that had been seemingly wiped out with the word “Onslaught” written on the walls. His T-O virus is giving him problems though (thanks to his battle with X-Man, covered here), and Domino notices it. Still, Cable is all business (he never really likes talking about his problems anyways) and he continues on, failing to notice that Post (remember him from X-Men #50) is watching them, observing Cable’s failing battle with his virus.
The battle continues throughout the halls, lots of explosions, laser beams, etc. Cable, of course, wants to figure out what is going on in this facility. but he does have a brief moment to mention to Domino that while Tyler’s death sucks, he accepts that Wolverine had no choice (covered here as well). I loved how all the comics seemed to be connected during this time but damn that must’ve been a pain for the editors. Finally, the two soldiers get a brief respite as they seem to reach their destination. This gives them a chance to talk again, this time about Grizzly’s death. Cable consoles Domino who still felt guilty about killing her friend. Cable does manage to find what he’s looking for: a microchip that would hopefully give him insight into the identity of Onslaught. Unfortunately he finds that the microchip had been magnetized, wiped clean. This entire mission was futile and appears to have been deliberately engineered. Domino and Cable fight their way out and escape through sewage tunnels, but Cable is beyond frustrated at this point.
And in Baltimore harbor, Blaquesmith’s boat (with Blaquesmith on board) is blown up by Onslaught. Cable’s in deep shit now.
This issue was definitely enjoyable. I normally don’t care as much when one artist does the breakdowns and another finishes up, but this works out well. We don’t get some of Ian Churchill’s traditional screams and open mouths, but we still get excellent art. And the story, despite appearing to be just non-stop action, actually focused much more on the personal troubles the two heroes were going through. I have to admit…I always loved the Cable/Domino relationship. They kind of had a reluctant love between them. Almost like they were such close friends and didn’t want to take that last step for fear of ruining what they have. Plus, we get to see them addressing the heartbreak both have had to endure (Domino with the loss of Grizzly and Cable with the loss of his son). We also get to see more of the build-up to Onslaught which was actually more enjoyable than the Onslaught crossover itself. Still, this issue dropped enough little clues that it made me want to keep reading about Onslaught.
Uncanny X-Men #333 (June 1996) & X-Force #55 (June 1996)
“The Other Shoe…”
Artist: Pascual Ferry; Writer: Scott Lobdell
In the home of Senator Robert Kelly, he’s a seemingly a bit unhinged, pointing his gun at everything that moves. Jumping at shadows, he almost shoots Cyclops, standing in the shadows behind him. (seriously…why would Cyclops just sneak around like that…that’s Wolverine’s shtick) Apparently, though, Kelly invited Cyclops there. Cyke isn’t having any of the small talk though. He doesn’t like Kelly (considering the history Kelly has had with the anti-mutant crowd, is it really surprising?).
Elsewhere, Cannonball and Storm are hovering above the pentagon (inside some jet?). Inside the pentagon, Gambit and Phoenix are infiltrating, trying to find out what they can about the enigmatic leader of the anti-mutant faction within the government. They discover a reference to Operation: Zero Tolerance (which will be next year’s somewhat “blah” crossover)
Meanwhile, Archangel and Psylocke are…flirting? training? who can tell the difference when Psylocke is involved. But suddenly, there’s a large shadow behind her and it forms into a giant visage. It disappears, but not before crying out “Help” and causing Psylocke to lose consciousness.
Back at the pentagon, Gambit and Jean come across a gathering of officials where the head of the Operation steps forward and introduces himself as Bastion. The big thing here is that when Jean tries to read him, she gets nothing. No resistance or “wall” but rather just a blank slate. Like he’s not even there. During the briefing, Bastion mentions that despite other problems posed by the mutant community, the most disturbing problem is the worldwide issue posed by the mysterious being known as Onslaught.
At Kelly’s house, he is attempting to warn Cyclops about an international group with an anti-mutant agenda, seemingly poised to move against the mutant community. Unfortunately, Graydon Creed has other ideas. at his command Kelly and Cyclops are both attacked, an explosion ripping through the house.
Back at the pentagon, Bastion continues his briefing, but then reveals he is aware of two mutants spying on them all and he pulls a gun on Gambit and Phoenix, with all the soldiers in the room immediately pointing their weapons. Phoenix discovers that not only is Bastion immune to her telepathy, he seems to even be immune to her telekinesis. Gambit and Jean flee (luckily there were civilians in the room preventing the soldiers from firing). Gambit blows through a wall and on the other side, they find all of the soldiers unconscious… rendered that way by the mysterious psychic entity, Onslaught.
And that shadow that knocked Psylocke out? Well it seems frozen in the room now…but its shape is a bit more recognizable. Looks like a certain evil stepbrother…hint hint.
“Without a Net”
Artist: Adam Mollina; Writer: Jeph Loeb
Meltdown (formerly Boom-Boom aka Boomer aka Tabitha Smith aka I-can’t-makeup-my-mind-about-my-code-name) and Shatterstar work to blow open holes in the SHIELD helicarrier. But even as the leader of SHIELD, Dum-Dum Dugan, attempts an appropriate response, the person in charge of mutant affairs, Bastion, forces him to stand down and Bastion will head the repel of the invaders. After all, this is no doubt to break out the man who is being held on board for the attempted assassination of Senator Kelly. Meanwhile, Meltdown and Shatterstar enter through one hole. Domino and Siryn through another. Sunspot flies around outside, taking out the defenses. Cable and Caliban creep through the halls, but Caliban is scared after almost dying last issue. With his increased strength, it doesn’t happen often. But Cable gives him the “suck it up, buttercup” speech and continues on, even though Cable, himself, is hurting bad.
Meanwhile, Domino and Siryn make their way down their hall. Siryn uses her powers to identify the lasers guarding the hall and Domino jumps through them all and destroys the source for them to both continue. Meltdown and Shatterstar come across a room full of SHIELD guards, but they are all LMD (Life Model Decoys for you slightly less nerdy reading this) and so Shatterstar tears into them while Boom-Boom…er, Meltdown gets into the computer, just curious what SHIELD might have on them. However, she finds out that Sabretooth is actually still alive (seriously, you don’t have to log in?) and flips out, destroying the console. As all groups tear through the helicarrier, they finally converge on a sealed room. Using a fair bit of teamwork and lots of explosions, they open the door to reveal Cyclops, held captive, shirtless, and in spandex shorts (I don’t get that either…the explosion was enough to completely destroy every inch of his uniform except for those shorts). Unfortunately, SHIELd troopers show up and surround the mutants. Cable uses his telekinesis to remove the headpiece keeping Cyke’s optic blasts in check and his eye beams go nuts, guided by Cable, to knock out all the SHIELD troopers. X-Force and Cyclops make their way to the deck where Sunspot and a craft piloted by Jean are waiting.
Elsewhere, Warpath, who is missing, has been shacking up with some young woman named Risque, who had saved him and nursed him back to health. And he doesn’t look like he’s in any hurry to return.
This was an interesting and unexpected little cross-over between the two titles. Unfortunately, the storytelling (especially in Uncanny…shame on you, Scott) leaves a bit to be desired and the art (again, especially in Uncanny which is saying a lot considering I’m not Pollina’s biggest fan) was a bit of a let down. I mean, first of all, you mean to tell me that Cyclops goes to meet the biggest anti-mutant supporter in the government, at the guy’s house, AND DOESN’T BRING FRIGGING BACKUP?!!! For crying out loud…Storm, Beast and Iceman are both just hovering above the Pentagon, not doing anything (Cannonball is there, but he’s piloting the ship, and Xavier is monitoring things so they are the only ones needed). They could have easily taken out Creed’s men and then we wouldn’t have needed X-Force’s involvement. I do like the introduction of Bastion, but let’s face it…he was never my favorite X-Men villain. And Pascual’s pencils just didn’t do it for me (although the use of shadows, which I assume was the inker’s contribution, was awesome…especially seeing Cyclops covered in shadows). Pollina actually hits his mark with X-Force. I don’t like his style, but I can see why some do, and his action scenes are often very energetic and enjoyable…but some of the running scenes just look…boring. Still, he’s definitely the more enjoyable one here. But best of all? The hints to Onslaught in both titles (although more in Uncanny). Say what you want about Onslaught, I loved the build up to it.
Generation X #17 (July 1996)
“The Teeth of Our Skin”
Artist: Chris Bachalo; Writer: Scott Lobdell
Skin and Chamber have both been attacked. Chamber is a bit worse off, so Skin helps him hide in an abandoned amusement park. But as they stumble through the mud pits, trying to find sanctuary, an explosion knocks them both to the ground and a (what I imagine to be) cold, mechanical voice says “Turn around, Skin.” Ruh-roh, Raggy!
In St. Louis, Banshee tries to calm down Everett’s parents (you know him better as Synch). Of course Synch’s father is justifiably upset considering that Banshee allowed (from a certain point of view) Synch to be corrupted by Emplate. Banshee leaves the upset parental units to find Jubilee trying to comfort a noticeably shaken Synch, who feels responsible for trying to kill his friends. How does Jubilee respond? By giving him a hug.
At the amusement park, it’s the X-Cutioner (because anybody with an “ex” as part of their name has to be cute and shorten it to just “X”)! He has come to avenge the murder of one Angelo Espinoza and the evidence points to Skin as being the killer! (wait…wasn’t Skin’s name Angelo Espinoza? now I’m confused) The X-Cutioner explains how Angelo died of gunshots in LA and then 3 months later, Skin turned up at Xavier’s using that name. Skin, of course, isn’t having any of that, so he uses his…skin…to wrap around a tree behind the villain and pull it down on the X-Cutioner’s head.
In St. Louis, while Banshee is dealing with Synch’s parents and Synch and Jubes are having a “moment”, Emma Frost and M sit in a limo, Frost trying to talk M’s secrets out of her. M still not talking? Not a problem for Ms. Frost. She decides to go for a swim inside M’s head. But M isn’t having none of that (I’m noticing a theme with this team) and forces Emma out of her head. But she then agrees to tell Emma what she wants to know.
Back at the park, X-Cutioner attempts to track Skin, finding skin particles that somehow match the deceased Angelo, much to his surprise. For some reason, he doesn’t let this newfound evidence deter him as he follows Skin into an abandoned wax museum. The X-Cutioner starts blowing apart various wax statues but he misses the one that is actually Skin. Skin uses his powers to fling himself away just as X-Cutioner tries blasting him. This time, Skin lands in a hall of mirrors. X-Cutioner follows of course, but now he’s thoroughly confused…because all of the mirrors show Skin. Skin then starts taunting the villain, who is forced to admit that maybe he’s killed other innocents, just as he’s trying to kill Skin. This continues until the X-Cutioner finally fires his energy lance at what he thinks is Skin but it turns out to be another mirror. The blast reflects and reflects and reflects (etc.) until it returns to sender! With X-Cutioner lying defeated on the floor, Skin picks up Chamber and the two hobble off.
My biggest X-perience (see? I can do it too) with Bachalo was when he took over Uncanny X-Men some time later and I absolutely hated his art then…everybody looked like a friggin’ kid. It irritated me soooooo much. So imagine my surprise by finding that not only was I glad that Grummett was finally gone, but that Bachalo actually rocked this issue! His X-Cutioner and Skin were amazing and even the non-action scenes were well drawn. This may be one of Bachalo’s best issues (outside of X-Men Unlimited #1).
Lobdell also hit the mark with this one as well. There was actually a great running gag in this issue with Stan Lee as a ringmaster, narrating the intro to each scene. It was an awesome little bit even if I do normally prefer my comics a bit more serious. And although I’ve never been a fan of Skin, had I read this issue early on, it would’ve made me a fan.
And lastly, can we take a minute to laugh about the X-Cutioner? Seriously? Other than Tower, has this guy been successful at anything he does?