Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

X-amining X-Force #42

"A Lie of the Mind"
January 1995

In a Nutshell
X-Force visits Generation X as Warpath makes peace with Emma Frost.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Guest Penciler: Terry Dodson
Inker: Kevin Conrad
Letterers: Pat Brosseau & Chris Eliopoulos
Color Art: Marie Javins
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Warpath, Siryn , Boomer & Cannonball visit the Massachusetts Academy. As Warpath meets with his former teacher Emma Frost, Siryn discusses her feelings for Warpath with her father. Emma pushes Warpath on his feelings regarding the death of his brother, and is outraged by his belief that she had anything to do with the massacre at his reservation, equivocally stating she did not. Elsewhere, Cannonball gives his sister a hard time about going to a school where the former White Queen is the principal, but she reminds him that his own stories of his life with the New Mutants contain a fair amount of wild and irresponsible decisions on his part. Just then, Boomer interrupts, inviting them to witness a shop-off between her & Jubilee at the local mall. Elsewhere, a shadowy figure is gunned down after breaking in to the Verschlagen biochemical research facility. When his mask his removed, the intruder turns out to be the husband of Mrs. Verschlagen, and she realizes they need to prepare for a visit from Clan Yashida. Back in Massachusetts, Warpath & Emma's talk comes to an angry close, as he tells her to take better care of her new students, while she insists to him he's closer to an untimely death than he is to Siryn. Joining his teammates outside, Warpath decides to join the others at the mall, telling them it's time to celebrate tomorrow.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue returns to the massacre at the Camp Verde reservation (as seen in New Mutants #99), the event which led Warpath to join the New Mutants (trading his service to Cable in exchange for Cable's help getting revenge on the Hellfire Club & Emma Frost, whom Warpath believed executed the attack). Since Emma Frost is now the co-shepherd of the next generation of mutants, Fabian Nicieza (or someone, at least) wisely realized it probably wouldn't be a good idea to have her complicit to a massacre of civilians, and with that subplot largely unaddressed since it was introduced (as opposed to some of the other villainous acts in her past), this issue sets out to rectify it by making it clear that Emma did not order the massacre and doesn't know who was responsible (the question of who did order the attack is left open; it will later be ultimately attributed to Stryfe).


A caption box at the top of the first page bills this issue as the "unlikeliest of first meetings between X-Force and Generation X".

It's said that Warpath is 19 in this issue, setting a rough general age for the non-Cable/Domino members of the group (ie younger than the X-Men, slightly older than the Gen X kids).

There's a brief two page interlude which features a husband breaking into his wife's research facility and getting shot, which leads her to name drop Clan Yashida; I honestly don't think this ever gets referenced again, a likely victim of Nicieza's departure from the series following "Age of Apocalypse".


The second Deadpool miniseries gets referenced.


Creator Central 
Terry Dodson, fresh off drawing the Adventures of Adam-X (the X-TREME!) in X-Men #39, fills in on this issue.

The Chronology Corner
The various Generation X characters appearing in this issue do so between issues #3 and #4 of their series.

A Work in Progress
Siryn says Warpath helped her realize she didn't need alcohol to deal with her problems, a realization that was like a light bulb lighting in her head; when it's on, she's fine. Banshee rightly suggests addiction doesn't quite work that way.


Emma insists Warpath has always known the Hellfire Club didn't massacre his people, pointing out that it was she who encouraged him to leave the Hellions, so why would she turn around and have his people killed in retaliation for that (the timeline here seems a little off, though. Warpath cites the incident with Xavier - Uncanny X-Men #193 - as the turning point that led him to leave the Hellions, but he continued to appear alongside the Hellions in a chunk of New Mutants issues after that, before ultimately joining the almost-X-Force New Mutants after the massacre, in New Mutants #100).


When she asks him why he's with X-Force, he responds by pointing out all the teachers in his life - including her - did little to prepare him for any kind of life. Emma concedes the point, but stresses that he can become ewhatever he wants in the future.


She also point out that Warpath and Empath are the only Hellions who "managed" to survive, though the management of their survival mostly just resulted in them both not being with the group when Fitzroy attacked the Hellfire Club in Uncanny X-Men #281.


When Warpath presses her, Emma admits that she felt mad at the Hellions after their deaths, for not being good enough to survive, but Warpath counters she's just using the Generation X kids to cover-up for her failure to protect them.


In turn, Emma theorizes (out loud, to no one) that Warpath is terrified by the memory of his dead brother, having recognized how easily it could have been him, and that he continues fighting because he believes he's just a heartbeat away from finding love & life, while refusing to admit he's actually much closer to being a heartbeat away from misery & death.


Cannonball makes a joke about how his mom asked him to see how Paige was doing in "Yankeeland", even though the Massachusetts Academy is Red Sox territory.


After that, Paige rightly calls him on his hypocrisy (and drops a Bird Brain reference to boot).


As good a job as Nicieza does referencing the history between Warpath and Emma in this issue, he misses an opportunity to point out how Siryn's would-be boyfriend once abducted him from Muir Island, savagely beat him, and held him hostage inside a US missile base.

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
Banshee lights up a pipe while talking to Siryn.


The Reference Section
As Boomer & Jubilee prepare for a shop-off at the nearby mall, Boomer compares Jubilee's likely efforts to Bill Buckner letting the ball through his legs, a reference to the infamous play which (eventually) led to the Red Sox losing the 1986 World Series and extending their championship-drought curse (it's okay though, because eventually they would win a World Series, and then become perennial contenders who win a title every couple of years, so maybe let's focus on some cities that aren't drowning in championship trophies across four sports, hmm?).


Young Love
Siryn insists she only loves Warpath as a friend, whereas it's very clear that his feelings for her run deeper (to the point that she's is his main reason for being part of X-Force at this point).


To the EXTREME! 
Emma mocks the mission statement of early X-Force, calling it a childishly useless approach to life.


Austin's Analysis
As much as Uncanny #314 and the "Generation Next" portion of "Phalanx Covenant" laid the groundwork for Emma Frost's less-villainous role in Generation X, there was a fairly significant dangling plot hanging around that painted her in a bad light: her purported role in the massacre of Warpath's reservation. While that particularly plot point has barely been referenced since it was first introduced in the waning days of New Mutants, it is to Nicieza's credit that he makes the effort to disentangle Emma from it (while essentially punting the answer to who the real culprit is down the road). He also uses it as a vehicle to do a light crossover between X-Force and Generation X, a pairing that that makes sense, both in a "passing of the torch" from the previous "young students of Xavier" to the current ones, and for the fact that, as much as "Generation Next" setup Generation X, so, to some extent, did X-Force's earlier "Child's Play" crossover.

And while Nicieza maybe isn't the most qualified psychoanalyst around (the scenes between Emma and Warpath are stronger in the way they reference the characters' shared history than in offering any kind of unique or cutting analysis; I'm not therapist, but Emma seems like a particularly crappy one here), he nevertheless handles this issue well, nailing the various quieter character moments, and knowing when to get out of the way of the art (such as the moment when Emma asks Warpath why he's still hanging out with X-Force, and his response is a wordless look out the window to Siryn). "Quiet character studies" isn't something that usually gets associated with X-Force, but Nicieza turns in a strong one here.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, the Soulsword trilogy concludes in Excalibur #85. Next week, the Rogue miniseries!

Like what you read? Then support us on Patreon!

17 comments:

  1. Emma: "How childishly useless ..."

    I will literally never get tired of in-universe characters dunking on Liefeld-era X-Force.

    ReplyDelete

  2. I didn’t care much for Warpath and the White Queen’s confrontation/conversation as therapy session but appreciated the connections between the sets of characters overall.

    Nicieza uses the erroneous phrase “beggars the question” again.

    Banshee’s outfit looks suspiciously like a Next Generation Starfleet uniform, which is either a clever or terribly racist Miles O’Brien reference.

    Have Wolverine: Scorpio Rising and Rogue swapped places since February’s schedule was posted?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nicieza uses the erroneous phrase “beggars the question” again.

      That stuck out much more egregiously this time. Maybe because you had pointed it out.

      Have Wolverine: Scorpio Rising and Rogue swapped places since February’s schedule was posted?

      D'oh! No, I've just been trusting my memory rather than, you know, the posts I write so I don't have to trust my memory. But it actually works much better for me to review SCORPIO RISING next week rather than a four issue miniseries (there's a reason I scheduled it in the order I did, mostly because I'm going on a legit, out-of-town, no computer vacation next week), so that's what it'll be.

      Thanks for pointing it out, otherwise I may not have ever realized it.

      Delete
  3. "There's a brief two page interlude which features a husband breaking into his wife's research facility and getting shot, which leads her to name drop Clan Yashida"

    I love how she also points out it is the JAPANESE Clan Yashida, like, do they have franchises in other countries?

    "Siryn says Warpath helped her realize she didn't need alcohol to deal with her problems, a realization that was like a light bulb lighting in her head; when it's on, she's fine"

    I do believe Loeb kind of drops her addiction storlyine post AOA, no?

    "Warpath cites the incident with Xavier - Uncanny X-Men #193 - as the turning point that led him to leave the Hellions, but he continued to appear alongside the Hellions in a chunk of New Mutants issues after that, before ultimately joining the almost-X-Force New Mutants after the massacre, in New Mutants #100"

    You know, for every time Nicieza gets it right, there's also a time where he kind of misses the mark with regards to past continuity, though his ratio of right to wrong is better than some other writers.

    "he misses an opportunity to point out how Siryn's would-be boyfriend once abducted him from Muir Island, savagely beat him, and held him hostage inside a US missile base."

    Hey, at least someone remembered he was on Muir Island at the time...

    "Siryn insists she only loves Warpath as a friend, whereas it's very clear that his feelings for her run deeper"

    Loeb will lather/rinse/repeat this to death once he takes over...

    I like this one. It's another Claremont-esque "Spotlight on _______" type of issue we got during his run with JRjr, and which we got during Nicieza's run on this title too. I like how things aren't quite resolved between James and Emma. It doesn't end with the expected hugging-it-out resolution we could have gotten. It's issues like this one which really have me wishing Nicieza had stayed on the title post AOA.

    wwk5d

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do believe Loeb kind of drops her addiction storlyine post AOA, no?

      Yeah, I believe so. Like so many other plotlines he either abandons or takes in an entirely different direction (*cough* Reignfire *cough*).

      Delete
  4. "Siryn says Warpath helped her realize she didn't need alcohol to deal with her problems, a realization that was like a light bulb lighting in her head; when it's on, she's fine. Banshee rightly suggests addiction doesn't quite work that way."

    I'm glad that Nicieza put that in there, since comics has a tendency to portray addiction & recovery as "just go cold turkey or use this magic feather-esque thing and you'll be fine". It still gets done, such as Surge with her magical fix-your-nebulous-drug-addiction-recovery-gloves, even though people should be well aware that recovery doesn't work like that. This also feels like setup for something Nicieza would have addressed if he hadn't left the book.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Cannonball makes a joke about how his mom asked him to see how Paige was doing in "Yankeeland", even though the Massachusetts Academy is Red Sox territory."

    I think southerners historically all northeasterners as Yanks?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think southerners historically all northeasterners as Yanks?

      Yeah, I definitely agree.

      Being Southern, the Guthries view anyone who lives north of the Mason-Dixon Line as a (historical, non-sports version of) Yankee.

      Delete
    2. That's the "joke": Ma Guthrie clearly means "Yankeeland" as "place where all the Northerners live", but Sam is playing dumb, for the sake of "humor", and pretending like she's talking about the sports team.

      Delete
  6. Dodson must have had Jenny McCarthy or Pamela Andersin mind while drawing the White Queen. If you look at Byrne's work and design for her, even with a corset on, she wasn't spilling out over it and not overly curvy. I don't believe even Paul Smith drew her too large. Dodson's and Portacio's verions are complete Barbed Wire version of the character. In a lot of ways it made me feel uncofertable as a kid and still do to this day. If I were a student of a teacher that wore things like this all the time I would think it's really strange and not professional or fitting for the position. I went into a job interview one time and the secretary was spilling out of her dress and I was completely turned off by a company since they viewed that okay as the dress code. Anyways, I dislike Dodson's style and always have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interestingly, the first artist I remember drawing Emma Frost as being really curvy was Mary Whilshire, both in the Firestar mini and on a poster I had on my wall in the mid-80s. She was established as being far more curvy than Byrne's version long before 90s cheesecake art took over.

      Delete
    2. Sorry for the spelling, I was on my phone and in a hurry and SWYPE was not helping.

      Delete
  7. That cover is awesomely over the top. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. And I tell you it was Everyman who massacred Camp Verde.

    ReplyDelete

  9. I had a nagging memory that when the issue was published Cable felt like a likely suspect to me. Sure enough: “The way James comes upon that goon mask sure feels like it’s telegraphing a frame job, and Cable has the most direct benefit in terms of Warpath doing a 180 to join the fold after all, but despite how much of a dick Cable is this issue there’s still a huge leap from that to mass murder, so I’m left with a wide spectrum of questions: Did Liefeld & Nicieza mean for us to take the mask at, um, face value? If not was it simply another one of those ambiguous clues or teases, like with Ahab, just thrown in by the creative team for potential use later? Were Cable’s origins and loyalties still so up in the air at this point that him being responsible was yet a possibility?” Now, I don’t think his character as defined since then is remotely a possibility, but looking at the issue again I concur with my past self.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It wasn't the only suspicion at the time. Rictor was accusing Cable for killing his father. Though obviously too much vague here-or-there evidence stacked against a character narratively always means that he's innocent.

      Delete

Comment. Please. Love it? Hate it? Are mildly indifferent to it? Let us know!