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

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

X-amining Amazing X-Men #1

"The Crossing Guards"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men arrive in Maine to assist in the Sentinel-led evacuation of human refugees.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Kevin Somers
Separation: Digital Chameleon
En Sabah Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
In Maine, a mutant named Vanessa mingles with a group of humans heading north, then reports back to the Madri, confirming their suspicions that an evacuation is imminent. Meanwhile, on the grounds of the X-Mansion, Bishop watches the remaining X-Men training to assist in the evacuation. Magneto then gives the team a disc encoded with their mutagenic signatures; inserting it into one of the Sentinels will thereby mask from the robots' sensors. He then guides Exodus, the newest X-Man, in how to use his powers to teleport the team to Maine. Later, as the X-Men ingratiate themselves into the humans gathered at the coast, Storm takes out one of the stations in Apocalypse's seawall, paving the way for the arrival of the Sentinels. The X-Men succeed in reprogramming the Sentinels, but once the program takes effect, they continue to target the X-Men. Just then, Apocalypse's Brotherhood emerges from the woods, explaining they've scrambled the programming to mark themselves as non-threats instead of the X-Men, and Quicksilver realizes Apocalypse's forces have been on to them the whole time.

Firsts and Other Notables
Amazing X-Men is the Age of Apocalypse counterpart to Adjectiveless X-Men, and like Astonishing, the title will later be used again for another series (set in the prime reality). It follows the adventures of a group of X-Men, comprised of Quicksilver, Banshee, Storm, Iceman, Dazzler & Exodus, as they fight Apocalypse's forces while trying to aid in the evacuation of human refugees from North America to Europe via Sentinel (as established in Weapon X #1). As with the group starring in Astonishing X-Men, the idea is that this assortment of characters is more of an ad hoc team, and doesn't represent a standing division of the larger X-Men into two squads (a la the Blue/Gold distinction).

Exodus' name is given as Paris Bennet in this issue; this will later be referenced in the prime reality as well, making this the issue where Exodus' real name is revealed (for what that's worth).

Through the Looking Glass
This issue introduces the AoA versions of Dazzler, Banshee & Exodus.


Exodus is said to be the newest member of the X-Men (Magneto rescued him from an asylum of some sort).


Quicksilver is referred to as the X-Men's team leader in this issue, with Banshee as his second-in-command.

This issue also marks the first appearance of the Madri (mentioned in X-Men: Alpha), a group of priest-like figures which later stories will reveal to be clones of Madrox).


An alternate version of the Brotherhood (of Evil Mutants) also debuts here, comprised of AoA versions of Vanessa/Copycat (Deadpool's girlfriend who posed as Domino), Spyne (one of the newer Dark Riders, introduced in Cable), Yeti (from Weapon: Prime), Madison Jeffries (Box from Alpha Flight) and new character named Arclight (who doesn't have a prime counterpart, as far as I know, and is of no relation to the Marauder with the same name).


A Work in Progress
Humans - at least the refugees trying to escape to Europe - subsist on some kind of soy-based paste.


Quicksilver reminds Bishop of Cyclops (though Bishop doesn’t quite remember it in those terms).


Banshee mentions having come out of retirement to rejoin the team, one of those little details that help make the world feel more lived in, with a history of its own.


We get another scene of Magneto laying out the various plot threads being covered in other series.


Iceman apparently has the ability to perform some kind of rudimentary teleportation via “moisture inversion”. 


It's an uncomfortable way to travel, apparently, so Magneto helps Exodus taps into his latent teleportation abilities to get the team to main.


The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
Hey kids, smoking makes your breath bad!


Austin's Analysis
One of the more interesting, albeit subtle, ideas in "Age of Apocalypse" comes to light in this issue: the notion that Magneto might just be a better teacher than Xavier, at least when it comes to developing his students' powers (and, specifically, developing them for offensive combat). In this issue, we have Dazzler creating sophisticated hard light holograms, while both Iceman & Exodus reference teleportation abilities neither possess in the prime reality. Obviously, the "only the strong survive" ethos of this reality likely motivated the characters to push themselves harder than in the prime reality, but it is nevertheless interesting to consider Magneto may be better suited for coaxing out this kind of development, and it's something that will run as an undercurrent throughout the event.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, the X-Ternals head into space in Gambit and the X-Ternals #1. Friday, Nightcrawler goes south in X-Calibre #1. Next week, school is in session in Generation Next #1!

Like what you read? Support us on Patreon!

9 comments:

  1. Quicksilver is referred to as the X-Men's team leader

    Nepotism!

    On which though, despite my previous notions on Holocaust, Apocalypse having his own son as a horseman did raise my eyebrows a bit back in the day. On the first glimpse, it's very against the supposed "survival of the fittest" ethos that Apo's boy has seemingly been gifted a horseman position.

    I'll be on the lookout on what's the deal and if he earned it, or is Apo bastardizing Darwinism by thinking in the lines that his son surely must've inherited Apo's fittestness.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Despite my deep love for Joe Mad, this has always been favorite of the two "main" AoA titles. Kubert is at the top of their game, Nicieza really sells the angst and drama of the story, Quicksilver-as-Cyclops smartly mirrors the father-son relationship between the X-Men's founder and leader as the team had in the 616, and this particular assortment of X-Men seems random at first, but ends up working so well. The roster reminds me of Generation X in a way, as if they intentionally selected a cast of characters who shrugged off expectations -- no big strong guy, no Wolverine-like loner or claws-and-teeth animalistic character, no mysterious antihero, no 90s kewl.


    We get another scene of Magneto laying out the various plot threads being covered in other series.

    This ... doesn't really work for me, tbh.

    Magneto's faith in Bishop extends far enough that he'll endanger the lives of teenagers to rescue Illyana, potentially strand Gambit and his team in space, and lose Nightcrawler, but not far enough that he'll commit the resources of his X-Men at large?

    There is a dynamic set up in the other titles -- in Gambit and the X-Ternals and X-Man especially -- that Magneto and the X-Men are the big heavies of the good guys, and everyone else is just nipping at the bad guys' heels. Yet Magneto commits exactly one person on his team to the mission of rebooting reality itself.

    I can almost buy his reasoning that until he's certain of Bishop's claims they "must continue to carry out the fight" against Apocalypse, but I feel like one of the various team leaders -- Gambit, Colossus, Kitty, Nightcrawler or, heck, even Banshee! -- needed a scene in one of the books where they really dig into Magneto's logic here. "You're saying all of this is wrong? That all of our lives will be erased and replaced with something better, but you won't commit your X-Men to do it? They have to same humans who won't even exist if I/my team succeed? How does that make sense? You think this Bishop guy is for real, then you go do this crazy thing you want me to do!"


    As with the group starring in Astonishing X-Men, the idea is that this assortment of characters is more of an ad hoc team, and doesn't represent a standing division of the larger X-Men into two squads (a la the Blue/Gold distinction). [...]

    Quicksilver is referred to as the X-Men's team leader in this issue, with Banshee as his second-in-command.


    Is Quicksilver supposed to be the leader and Banshee the deputy of this ad hoc team, or of the larger team?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Magneto's faith in Bishop extends far enough that he'll endanger the lives of teenagers to rescue Illyana, potentially strand Gambit and his team in space, and lose Nightcrawler, but not far enough that he'll commit the resources of his X-Men at large?

      This is where the short-term nature of the event works against it, I think (which is a strange thing to say about a story that runs about 40 issues over 10 months...). Theoretically, it could like this: Magneto meets Bishop, is hopeful enough to want to believe in his mad rantings about a better reality. So he sends Nightcrawler to Destiny to corroborate the story, and in the meantime, the X-Men go about their two missions (help the evacuation and stop the Chicago culling) because, hey, Bishop might be looney tunes.

      But then Destiny confirms Bishop's story, so Magneto dispatches Gambit to get the crystal (because he's a thief) and, reluctantly, Generation Next to get Illyana (because at this point, the rest of the X-Men are otherwise engaged).

      But because the creators only have four months to tell the story, and they need to churn out four issues of all series in that time, they're forced to have all those plot points happening more or less at once, at the expense of some logic.

      Is Quicksilver supposed to be the leader and Banshee the deputy of this ad hoc team, or of the larger team?

      The larger team, I've always assumed. Rogue is the de facto leader of the Astonishing group, and I think that's mostly down to her role as the "First Lady", essentially.

      Delete
  3. Dazzler's smoking is a bit too pointed to not feel like a callback to that time in UNCANNY when Dazzler "as a singer" chided the smoke of Logan's cigar. AoA Alison seem to have other worries than the tug-of-war between being a singer, lawyer or superhero.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice catch on the Dazzler/cigar callback. Coming from Nicieza, I buy it.

      Delete
  4. Has there ever been a story/series acknowledging how useful Banshee would be teaming up with Dazzler (as a duo or within a larger group)?

    ReplyDelete

  5. The idea of Magneto doing a better job at helping mutants develop their powers than Xavier, by some inherent trait or through ruthless dedication, is an interesting one — but it makes me wonder if that’s supposed to be something carried over from the main reality or something that came to the fore by dint of necessity in this alternate timeline, as I don’t recall reference to him training the Brotherhood or any other proteges the way the Professor did with his X-Men.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. but it makes me wonder if that’s supposed to be something carried over from the main reality or something that came to the fore by dint of necessity in this alternate timeline

      A little bit of both, I think, in that, had Magneto not "broke bad" in the prime reality, he probably would have been a good teacher when it came to power usage (we didn't see much of it during his stint as the New Mutants headmaster, but he definitely seemed more hands on with their training).

      But of course, in the prime reality, he was too busy maniacally hurling Toad around by his metal belt to offer any proper training to Quicksilver & Scarlet Witch. And, of course, the incentive to train harder due to the increased stakes wouldn't be there in the prime reality.

      Delete

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