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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

X-amining Astonishing X-Men #2

"No Exit"
April 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men assist with the evacuation of Chicago while Sabretooth faces Holocaust alone.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Dan Green & Tim Townsend
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Color Art: Steve Buccellato & Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
As the X-Men attempt to help humans escape Chicago ahead of Holocaust's culling, Sunfire loses control and begins blasting Apocalypse's probes, which does little beyond panic the already-panicked crowd further, prompting Rogue to use her power to absorb his and settle him down. At the X-Mansion, Magneto visits with his son, prompting Bishop to chide him for hanging back while his X-Men endanger their lives; Magneto reminds him that if the X-Men are successful in rewriting reality, his son will cease to exist. In Manhattan, Rex manages to triangulate the Blink's teleportation trajectory to locate the X-Men's base, much to Apocalypse's pleasure. In Chicago, Sabretooth convinces Blink to teleport him and Wild Child to Holocaust, in order to delay his arrival as much as possible, even if it means Sabretooth's death. Blink reluctantly does so, and after Sabretooth taunts Holocaust into revealing valuable intel, he sends Wild Child running back to the rest of the team with the info. He then proceeds to attack Holocaust, slipping into a berserker rage that enables him to crack Holocaust's life support armor before collapsing, but Holocaust is ultimately unfazed.

Firsts and Other Notables
Apocalypse learns the X-Men are operating out of Xavier's old mansion in this issue; he references it having belonged to a dead man named Charles Xavier, but it's not clear if he's aware of Xavier's personal significance to Magneto.


It’s established that Magneto is responsible for Holocaust’s need to wear armor, the result of an attack Magneto made in retaliation for Nemesis (as he was then known) killing Scarlet Witch (as seen in X-Men Chronicles #1), which is also said to have been Nemesis’ first kill.


A Work in Progress
I never noticed it before, but the guy in the top left corner of the opening splash page has a dragon tattoo on his shoulder not unlike the symbol of Iron Fist.


When Rogue is forced absorb Sunfire’s powers, something she says she rarely does, she experiences Sunfire’s memories of Apocalypse and Holocaust new Nemesis destroying Japan (in which Sunfire is wearing his original costume from the prime reality).


Depowered, Sunfire’s burnt flesh is more apparent.


For the first time, Magneto points out that should he and his X-Men be successful in restoring the prime reality, it means his son will cease to exist.


Apocalypse is shown reacting to events in Amazing X-Men #1, and mentions that Abyss should have stopped the X-Men; we’ll see Abyss arrive on the scene in Amazing X-Men #2.


It’s revealed that Sabretooth rescued Blink from Abyss, forming the foundation of their bond (which of course echoes the prime reality Wolverine/Kitty and Wolverine/Jubilee relationships).


Sabretooth’s method for waking up Wild Child isn’t the gentlest.


Austin's Analysis
Plotwise, this is kind of a mess: Sunfire has a freakout early in the issue and then disappears from the issue, it seems like Holocaust's attack is imminent but then it turns out he's in Indianapolis (so that Sabretooth can fight him alone), and Apocalypse learns the whereabouts of the X-Men base, which seems like the kind of thing that should happen towards the end of the story and not at the start of its second chapter. It all reads very much like Lobdell needed to kill some pages before moving into the Sabretooth/Holocaust fight.

But Lobdell really nails the characterization here, believably selling the bond between Sabretooth & Blink in the span of few panels and making the antagonism between Sabretooth & Holocaust read almost like a sibling rivalry, with Big Brother Sabretooth getting under the skin of Little Brother Holocaust, with the added detail that Sabretooth defected from Apocalypse's side quietly informing much of their interactions. Also, the art is gorgeous, with the bright colors popping off the page, juxtaposed against the grimness of the setting, while Madureira's anime influence imbues the characters with personality at a glance. So while the plot may be a little messy, much like with contemporaneous issues of Generation X, the scripting and the art more than make up for it.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, AoA Polaris debuts in Factor X #2. Friday, Weapon X battles the Brotherhood in Weapon X #2. Next week, Amazing X-Men #2!

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7 comments:

  1. Guy in the lower right of the Rogue crowd panel has total Quesada-face.

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  2. As much I disliked at Sabertooth seeking out help and trying to be a regular guy in the 616, I really like hero Sabertooth in the 616 and his Logan/Kitty relationship with Blink really works for me.

    Apocalypse is shown reacting to events in Amazing X-Men #1, and mentions that Abyss should have stopped the X-Men; we’ll see Abyss arrive on the scene in Amazing X-Men #2.

    It appears that Apocalypse is blasting the X-Men holograms straight from his hands. Is this the first time we've seen "energy blasts" added to his power set outside of the cartoon?

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    1. Negative. He was blasting X-Factor circa X-Factor #68

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    2. @Michael: As much I disliked at Sabertooth seeking out help and trying to be a regular guy in the 616, I really like hero Sabertooth in the 616 and his Logan/Kitty relationship with Blink really works for me.

      Ditto. And I really appreciate that "living in the mansion, trying to be reformed" Sabretooth is pretty much done after this; after AoA we get "brain-damaged, maybe faking it" Sabretooth, then "totally faking it, busts out of the mansion" Sabretooth. Even when he gets pressed into service with X-Factor, the idea of possible reformation for the character is pretty much gone.

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  3. I'm injecting these sweet, sweet Joe Mad scans straight into my veins

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  4. // the guy in the top left corner of the opening splash page has a dragon tattoo on his shoulder not unlike the symbol of Iron Fist //

    Huh. I expect that kind of thing from, say, Alex Ross or Carlos Pacheco (assuming it was an intentional nod to / usage of that symbol with some kind of backstory in mind even if that never comes to light) but don’t know whether it’s typical of Madureira.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think it is...which is why I largely suspect it's a coincidence and not intentional. But I could be wrong.

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