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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

X-amining Generation X #2

"Searching"
December 1994

In a Nutshell
Penance escapes and Generation X gives chase.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inker: Mark Buckingham
Letterer: Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As Jubilee confronts a silent Gateway on the roof of the school, Monet shares her deductions about Penance with Emma & Banshee, stating she believes Penance to be connected to Emplate in some way. As Paige & Skin play scrabble, an alarm sounds: Penance has slashed her way out of the infirmary. Banshee & Emma split up the students and lead search parties after her into the surrounding woods. Elsewhere, an armored figure attempts to assassinate Cartier St. Croix, only to have his armor start to fall apart. Back at the school, Banshee & Husk close in on Penance, only to fall into a trap laid by her, which results in Penance placing one of her razor-sharp fingers in Banshee's mouth.

Firsts and Other Notables
This is the first appearance of Cartier St. Croix, the father of Monet (and Emplate & Penance). He is being targeted by an (unnamed) Orphan Maker (of "Inferno"-era "Nanny and the" fame), who gets distracted when his armor starts falling apart. This is setting up a new look for the character and the return of Nanny over the next few issues.


When Monet suggests she may have some answers about Penance, Banshee asks how that’s possible, unless she has mental powers she hasn’t revealed; she will, in fact, eventually be revealed to have mental powers. For now, she's simply using deductive reasoning to theorize a connection between Emplate & Penance, but that will turn out to be true as well.


Similarly, while a narrative caption suggests Penance is from another land (where the word freedom is unknown), that doesn’t really feel with the later revelations involving Penanace, M and the St. Croix family.


Skin asks to hang back when the team goes off in search of Penance, and Emma backs him up after Banshee objects; it will turn out he's worried about Penance cutting his (excess) skin, something Emma picks up on telepathically, prompting her to back him up so he doesn't have to admit his fear to the rest of the group.


A Work in Progress
Jubilee says she’s starting to wonder if Gateway deliberated delivered her to the X-Men back in her first appearance.


Emma is unable to telepathically read anything from Penance.


Austin's Analysis
Picking up more or less where the previous issue left off, this one suffers a bit from decompression: the plot is basically "Generation X chases Penance through the woods", and even that isn't entirely completed in the course of the issue, as it ends mid-chase, on a cliffhanger. That said, Lobdell manages to sprinkle in some character bits along the way, highlighting Paige's continued efforts to reinvent herself and suppress her more rustic roots, as well as Monet's annoying exceptionalism. He also starts to develop the Banshee/White Queen relationship that will become a highlight of the series, carrying on from their interactions in "Generation Next", with Banshee as the seasoned, somewhat humorless but warmhearted professional whom Emma enjoys needling via expressions of either her more overt sexuality or her willingness to operate on the margins of acceptable power usage (or both). And Bachalo continues to shine, using a massive rainstorm to accentuate the undercurrent of visual grotesquery that permeates the series through the design of characters like Chamber, Skin & Penance, lending a sort of claustrophobic gothic mood to the whole issue. So while there isn't a whole lot going on here in terms of plot, Lobdell & Bachalo at least continue to develop the characters and do some interesting stuff with the art to keep things entertaining.

Next Issue
Storm returns to Egypt in X-Men Unlimited #7, then Cable goes there too in Cable #18. Next week, Uncanny X-Men #320!

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9 comments:

  1. I checked the site earlier today and the last post was the Excalibur one, then tonight there are 3 new posts, anyone have any idea why it doesn't show them when they released instead of mass dropping on me?

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    1. It's mostly because I'd fallen behind on posts this week, but I backdated everything I missed (because I'm anal-retentive like that). :P

      So this post went up earlier today (dated at noon today) because I figured the Star Wars post was already late and I'd rather get the Gen X one up sooner rather than later. Then I had some time to put the finishing touches on the latest Star Wars post this evening, so that went up a little while later, but I backdated it to noon on Saturday. And then I remembered that while I'd published the X-Men 2099 post on Patreon, I hadn't done the teaser post here, so I threw that up shortly after the Star Wars one.

      So it's not you, it's me. :)

      Delete
    2. Either your own computer is showing you a cached version instead of (re-)loading the page anew, or there has been an incident at the server end where the mirrored servers fall out of sync with each other, and the user gets randomly shown a version of the page that either is or isn't up to date. The latter one is fun especially on discussion forum; newer content randomly appears and again disappears on every refresh, and the off-synced versions of the discussion on different servers get a life of their own.

      Delete
    3. Damn you, Austin, I had you covered! :D

      Delete
  2. "When Monet suggests she may have some answers about Penance, Banshee asks how that’s possible, unless she has mental powers she hasn’t revealed; she will, in fact, eventually be revealed to have mental powers. For now, she's simply using deductive reasoning to theorize a connection between Emplate & Penance, but that will turn out to be true as well."

    Lobdell making it up as he went along, or just having Monet be slightly less than truthful here?

    "Similarly, while a narrative caption suggests Penance is from another land (where the word freedom is unknown), that doesn’t really feel with the later revelations involving Penanace, M and the St. Croix family."

    IIRC, that does track with Lobdell's original plans for the character. She was supposed to be from Serbia, and unrelated to the St. Criox's. And deaf too.

    "Jubilee says she’s starting to wonder if Gateway deliberated delivered her to the X-Men back in her first appearance."

    Which wasn't exactly how that played out, but whatever.

    "Skin asks to hang back when the team goes off in search of Penance"

    And is seen smoking too, which I'm surprised was allowed to be depicted, even back then.

    Pretty good issue overall. Bachalo's artwork was at it's best during this era (or at least, when I enjoyed it the most), and Lobdell does make each character distinct enough to make things interesting.

    wwk5d

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    1. Maybe they felt that associating smoking with saggy skin was guerilla PSA enough, to build on the already existing preachings.

      A couple of years later the adventure game Grim Fandango would have most of the calaca characters smoking as is fitting in the 50's Central America film noir setting. The manual makes a point to underline on the prevalent smoking that everyone in the game is dead and invites the player to do the math.

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  3. // the father of Monet (and Emplate & Penance) //

    Huh.

    // And Bachalo continues to shine … , lending a sort of claustrophobic gothic mood to the whole issue //

    100% all of this, nicely said. We don’t get quite as much foliage as last issue* but the setting of autumn in New England doesn’t hurt, either. (*Now that I’ve checked, there wasn’t even all that much in #1; the leaves really made an impression on me.) I can see why I picked these up despite my general X-Men aversion, just to enjoy at my leisure and vote with my wallet for what Bachalo & Buckingham — & Buccellato, to be sure, although some of the color effects are overdone per my taste — were turning in, on a monthly mainstream title no less.

    Meanwhile, our vocabulary travails continue, as the proper “to wit” is spelled “to whit” and “security perimeter” is replaced by “security parameter”. The latter is a grammatically possible construct but clearly not the more familiar phrase intended.

    Silent Gateway is my new band name. First album: Deductions about Penance.

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  4. It was also nice to see some humor in one of the X-Comics again.

    The sniping between Skin & Husk or Jubilee & Synch - and Emma's interactions with EVERYone were pretty funny (IMO).

    Excalibur previously had comedy bits (with hit or miss results) since its inception and as did X-Factor during its Peter David's run - but both had already shifted away from it by this point.

    I had adored the X-Properties for it's mix of high stakes drama and humor/comedy.

    And after having a period where things were dour 24/7, it was a welcome relief to have it again via this titlem.

    /rant

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  5. I'm a sucker for a good "dark and stormy night" story, so I like this issue. Of course, it doesn't hurt that we get to see seasoned veteran Banshee in action, and the interactions between the characters are, as always, great. I hate to suggest anyone was "phoning it in" on certain titles, but I do feel like Lobdell put a lot more effort into GENERATION X than into UNCANNY around this time.

    Also, why is it that the group splits up here and communicates via comlinks? Can't Emma just psi-link all of them? Unless she just wants poor Skin to feel useful...

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