In a Nutshell
Adam-X (the X-TREME!!!) saves the life of Cyclops' grandfather.
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Guest Penciler: Terry Dodson
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Color Art: Somers/Javins/Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Traveling through the Canadian wilderness, Adam-X spots a crashing plane and pulls Philip Summers from the wreckage. At the X-Mansion, Cyclops receives a call that his grandfather has gone missing, prompting him & Jean to head to Alaska to help search for him. In the wilderness, Adam-X builds a shelter, determined to keep the injured Philip alive. In the Israeli desert, Legion experiences a vision of Destiny, and continues his efforts to set things right. In New Orleans, Gambit's ex-wife Bella Donna is appointed the leader of the Assassins Guild following the death of her father. In the wilderness, Adam-X tells Philip of traveling through space, then uses his power to help keep Philip alive by igniting the electrolytes in his blood to generate heat. The next morning, they are found by a search party and taken to a local hospital, though Adam-X slips away, rather be identified. Later, he slips into Philip's hotel room. Jean senses his presences, and uses her power to help Adam share his experiences of space travel with Philip. He then slips out again, as a pair of mysterious figures watch Cyclops & Jean at Philip's bedside.
Firsts and Other Notables
This issue is mostly remembered for representing Fabian Nicieza's most concerted effort to setup Adam-X (the X-TREME!!!) as the Third Summers brother, an effort that doesn't really go any further than this issue before Nicieza leaves the series (and the line), leaving it to later writers to resolve the mystery many years later and with an entirely different solution. As such this is pretty Adam-X (the X-TREME!!!)'s last appearance for awhile (he'll pop up in the 00s-era Captain Marvel book and then later in Matt Fraction X-Men era).
Perhaps under the belief that Adam-X (the X-TREME!!!) was going to become a huge character find, this issue calls out his creators in the credits, crediting Nicieza, Greg Capullo and Jeff Johnson (Johnson is an odd inclusion, as he didn't work at all on the introductory annual).
Jean acknowledges the death of her sister, saying she’d always hoped to find her own day. Of course, instead of hoping, Jean always could have tried, you know, actually looking for her.
The crystal motif from Destiny’s death in Uncanny #255 returns as Legion travels across the desert; it will continue to be a visual theme throughout “Legion Quest”, culminating in the crystallization of all reality.
The issue ends with an homage to Uncanny #97, as Scott & Jean are watched by the arm of a mysterious figure, who in turn is being watched by the arm of another mysterious figure (the second is clearly Mr. Sinister; I have no idea who the first is meant to be).
A Work in Progress
One of the hints that Adam-X is at least part Shi’ar is that he refers to his people as having lost the ability to fly, something that’s been said of the birdlike Shi’ar before.
Also, after being rescued, Adam asks Jean to use her telepathy to enable Phillip to experience Adam’s experiences flying Shi’ar craft through space.
Beast plugs the Rogue miniseries in the form of gossip.
It’s mentioned that upon learning Mr. Sinister had been posing as his grandparent's neighbor (in issue #23), Cyclops prevailed on them to move away, to no avail.
In more setup for the Rogue miniseries, Belladonna’s father is revealed to have died, making her the head of the Assassins Guild.
Maybe it’s just because of the weather right now, with the polar vortex pummeling large swathes of the country, but it’s funny to hear Phillip talk about it being forty below while he and Adam sit in the snow with exposed hands (it’s not clear where Adam got the material he later uses to build a teepee to shelter them from the storm).
To say that this represents Nicieza's most concerted effort to setup the idea that Adam-X (the X-TREME!!!) is the Third Summers brother hinted at in issue #23 is to suggest other efforts were made. In reality, Nicieza never really got the chance to develop this subplot as he wanted, which makes this issue something of a curiosity. On it's own merits, without knowing what Nicieza's plans are, or at least recognizing the hints but not knowing they'll go nowhere, it's a fine, if somewhat dated, survival tale in which Cyclops & Havok's grandfather gets caught up in a survival story with a sentient backwards ballcap with a soul patch. Moreso than his (potential but ultimately averted) imminent death, the loss of Phillip's eyesight is haunting, and the shared longing for what the other has (Phillip envies Adam having flown the stars, while Adam envies the feeling of kith and kin that has fulfilled Phillip's life) gives the characters an emotional connection. Nicieza also deserves credit for coming up with a new use for Adam-X (the X-TREME!!!)'s ludicrously-specific & ridiculous power. And while Terry Dodson's art will develop into a more traditionally cheesecake style, its already an odd fit here (there are times where the figures seem less a part of the panels as pasted on top of them, colorform-style), but it's still clear enough in its storytelling to not detract from the plot or be distracting.
But there is nevertheless not much *there* here, and the issue only really becomes interesting when the larger context of the failed "Adam-X (the X-TREME!!!) is the Third Summers Brothers" reveal is considered. And even then, it's really just interesting as an instance where the bulk of an issue is devoted to moving forward a subplot that ultimately dies on the vine after that issue (at least as regards Nicieza's original intent for it). The end result is an issue that is harmless, but mostly pointless, and if it's remembered at all, it is remembered for leading a plotline into a narrative dead-end, for what it doesn't do moreso than for anything it does do.
Tomorrow, Feral's past is revealed in X-Force #41. Friday, Soulsword shenanigans in Excalibur #85. Next week, Generation X #2!
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