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This week’s comic pull:  X-Men Gold #8, Astonishing X-Men #1, Secret Empire #6, and Totally Awesome Hulk #21.

Absolutely LOVED X-men Gold and Astonishing this week!

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X-Man #18 (August 1996)

In the Company of Strangers
[Onslaught, Phase 1]

cover

Writer:  Terry Kavanagh
Penciler:  Steve Skroce
Inkers:  Bud LaRosa and Rob Hunter

X-Force has been relegated to babysitters, keeping an eye on Nate Grey.  Some of X-Force is reviewing the security tapes of Onslaught fighting the X-Men, some are just relaxing.  Domino and Nate discuss Nate’s world and how it was completely war torn and Nate watched Domino’s counterpart murder his friends.

In New York City, Threnody (since I haven’t covered earlier X-Man issues, she’s a mutant who was working for Sinister who recently escaped to find Nate) is hiding out at a cathedral, fearing for her life (especially now that Nate is no longer by her side).  Of course, her rest is short lived as the Marauders burst in through a stained glass window (don’t these guys have any respect for art).  Threnody leaps into action, narrowly avoiding Scalphunter’s attacks.  Vertigo tries to incapacitate her, but Threnody dodges, causing Scalphunter to shoot Vertigo instead.  Arclight plants a kick to Threnody’s backside.  Then, Threnody realizes Vertigo is still breathing and the Marauders are not out to kill.  She absorbs Vertigo’s death energy (whatever that is…but it’s her mutant power) and rechannels it at the Marauders, downing them.  Of course, she still can’t escape because Sinister shows up behind her, looking for Nate Grey.

Marauders
I hate it when guests drop in unannounced.

Half an hour later, Sinister appears on the grounds of the X-Mansion.  An alarm trips and X-Force springs into action.  Siryn and Caliban split off on their own (don’t horror movies exist in comics?) and are quickly put to sleep by Sinister, who is intrigued by the former Morlock, Caliban, but he’s not at the mansion for this.

The rest of X-Force (and X-Man) hits up the armory and have just loaded up when the wall explodes and Sinister appears.  Upon seeing Sinister, Nate realizes that it was Sinister who created him.  But before Sinister can even say another word, X-Force attacks.  However, Sinister easily turns their powers against them, throwing Sunspot into both Meltdown and Shatterstar.  With only Domino left standing, Nate steps forward, asking Sinister to leave them alone.  Sinister does what Sinister does best and talks.  He explains how it was Nate’s arrival in this universe that first gave Xavier access to the Onslaught armor and it was his astral battle with Xavier that helped Onslaught on his way.

Of course, Nate doesn’t believe a word and Sinister takes that moment to turn Nate’s powers against him until Nate collapses, unconscious, completely at Sinister’s mercy.

Sinister
Sinister certainly lives up to his name.

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This issue is just Sinister doing what he does best:  being Sinister.  This isn’t a perfect issue, but for fans of Sinister, it’s definitely worth the read.  He’s menacing, manipulative, and in complete and total control the entire time.  Even with all his revelations, it’s impossible to tell if he was telling Nate any part of the truth (he likely was telling only part of the truth).  But to also see Sinister down X-Force so completely and even overpower X-Man, who is one of the most powerful psi’s on the planet, is just great to see.  Like I said…if you like Sinister, this is a great issue.

The art…well…  It depends on if you like Steve Skroce’s artwork.  His art his generally fine.  Nothing to blow you away and I often have a problem with how the faces are drawn, but it’s enjoyable, and some of the spreads are definitely fun to look at.

My only issues with this book are nit-picky at best.  For instance, why did Sinister get Caliban and Siryn without anybody else noticing, especially considering that they left the main hall before X-Man and yet Nate would have had to walk right past them in the hallway.  It makes no sense.  But like I said…nitpicky.

It’s also a nice tie-in for Onslaught.  X-Force pretty much sits out much of Onslaught (in a way, so does X-Man) but the Onslaught menace is still front and center here (unlike Excalibur).

X-Force vs Sinister
Even all of X-Force is no match for Sinister

All in all?  Good book.  Not great, but better than I would have thought (I was never a huge fan of Nate Grey).

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