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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

X-amining Generation Next #1

"From the Top"
March 1995

In a Nutshell
Magneto arrives with a mission for Colossus, Shadowcat and their students.

Creators: Bachalo & Lobdell
Inker: Mark Buckingham
Letterer:Starkings/Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato/Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras

Plot
Following a training session with their students, Colossus & Shadowcat are visited at their Colorado school by Magneto. He has a mission for them and their students: with Gambit & Nightcrawler working to substantiate Bishop's claim of being from an alternate, better, reality, he needs them to find the mutant that will enable him travel back in time to restore it. Shadowcat says that Apocalypse has eliminated all mutants with time manipulating powers, but Magneto counters he's only eliminated the known ones. Know It All suggests their hope may lie with a mutant whose power has not yet manifested, and she begins searching for one who fits their need. After discarding a few candidates, she finds one, currently a "resident" of the Core prison facility in Portland, Colossus' thought-death sister, Illyana.

Firsts and Other Notables
Taking it's name from one of the subtitles of the "Phalanx Covenant" that setup the series, Generation Next is the "Age of Apocalypse" version of Generation X, featuring a group of young mutant students (most of whom are Generation X analogs) training under a married Colossus & Shadowcat instead of Banshee & Emma Frost. It will focus on the team's efforts to rescue Illyana Rasputin from a prison in Portland, so that her latent time traveling abilities can be activated should Magneto determine it's possible to go back in time and prevent the creation of "The Age of Apocalypse".

With Colossus one of the X-Men and his brother Mikhail one of Apocalypse's Horsemen, the younger Illyana was considered dead until this issue.


This is the first appearance of Vincente, one of the students with the ability to alter his molecular density (and become a gas, liquid, etc.). He is another character without an established prime counterpart, but a 616 version of Vincente will appear as a villain in Generation X shortly after the return to the prime reality.


In general, all of the "Age of Apocalypse" books are darker and more violent than their prime counterparts, but this series takes that to a whole other level, with Colossus & Shadowcat in this issue actively urging their students to try to kill one another in training (and admonishing them for failing to do so when they don't). And while Shadowcat makes the point that they need to be as tough on each other as the Sentinels or the humans or everyone else in their dark world will be, actively trying to kill one another in training just seems like a case of cutting off the nose to spite the face. Let's say Chamber is "tough" enough to kill his teammates in some random Thursday training session. Great, now he's tough enough to take on all the evils in the world. But there's also five less mutants to help battle those evils as a result. And if they were, ultimately, going to die because they're not strong enough, maybe they can do some good before doing so (which is more or less what happens by the end of this series). It just seems like a case of Lobdell taking the "this is a darker & more violent world" ethos that permeates the event, and dialing it up to illogical levels.


Through the Looking Glass
Chamber's physical deformity on account of his powers is limited to a hole in his chest; the lower half of his head/jaw remains intact.


Based on a comment Chamber makes about not getting a reference to "Her Majesty's Royal Fleet", Apocalypse presumably did away with the monarchy in England at some point (early enough in his rise to power that the teenaged Chamber isn't familiar with it). Russia no longer exists as a political entity either.

Chamber & Husk are romantically involved, a relationship that will later be echoed in the prime reality.


Mondo, who has made one brief in-continuity appearance in the prime reality, is a member of the team here.


Colossus is notably darker and more intense.


The AoA version of M is called Know-It-All, and she exists as a kind of living computer that runs operations for the team.


The AoA Shadow King is also referenced, as, essentially, the head of security for Apocalypse's information network; he will appear later in the event.

A Work in Progress
Kitty wields a pair of Wolverine-esque claws.


When Magneto appears at the school, it is the first time most of the students have actually seen him in person.


The school is located in a castle (?) in the Rocky Mountains.

Kitty notes that Apocalypse had all mutants with time travel abilities killed, specifically to prevent anyone from going back in time to mess with his rise to power (Illyana's powers having not manifested is Magneto's attempt at creating a loophole in that problem).


The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
AoA Shadowcat is a smoker.


Austin's Analysis
One can only imagine what went through Lobdell & Bachalo's minds when, after putting all the time & effort they did in creating the look and characters of Generation X and coming up with story ideas for the new series, Marvel came back to them a few months later and said "great, now do it all over again!". As a result, this issue, not surprisingly, reads a lot like one of those early Generation X issues, light on plot, heavy on characterization, with plenty of room for Bachalo to do his thing. Plot-wise, not much happens here - the kids (we don't really have a good name for them collectively a la the New Mutants or Generation X) train, then Magneto shows up to reveal that Illyana is still alive and to give this series its specific subgoal for the event.

But as with the early issues of the prime series, Lobdell & Bachalo use the pages to quickly establish the characters, their relationships with each other, and highlight how they're different from their prime counterparts - Chamber is more confident, Husk more aggressive (and more randy), Skin more grotesque, Mondo more present. This is technically & obviously set in another reality - the grimness that pervades the other AoA books is even more apparent here - but at the same time, it's not terribly removed from the work Lobdell & Bachalo were doing in the series before the reality change.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, the AoA Cable debuts in X-Man #1! Next week, Astonishing X-Men #2 and Factor X #2!

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11 comments:

  1. This was my favourite of the AoA books, despite the problems in logic alluded to in the post.

    I thought Bachalo's representation of Mondo's power was a truly one-of-a-kind sort of artwork, and in hindsight, it's easy to see why no one else used Mondo once Bachalo left the book.

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  2. I seem to remember the official line, via letter cols, was that Know-It-All wasn't Monet. Of course they do look similar as drawn by Bachalo, and it's just occurring to me now that Know-It-All would totally work as another name for M.

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    1. I seem to recall something similar re: the disavowal of Know It All as the AoA M, but then I think somewhere down the line Marvel baktracked on that. At least, I've seen her referred to as the AoA M in few places.

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  3. Glen Eyrie is a real castle in the Rocky Mountains.

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  4. I have extreme nostalgia for this series. I still love it, but it did not stick with me after finishing my recent reread of the event the same way that others (especially Factor X) did.

    One can only imagine what went through Lobdell & Bachalo's minds when, after putting all the time & effort they did in creating the look and characters of Generation X and coming up with story ideas for the new series, Marvel came back to them a few months later and said "great, now do it all over again!"

    It may have been a surprise for Bachalo, but Lobdell must have been elated considering AoA was his idea. One would hope that Bachalo got plenty of heads-up, but Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men's recent interview with Nicieza does not give the impression that Harras or Lobdell gave people a heads up about things like this until the very last minute.

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    1. Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men's recent interview with Nicieza does not give the impression that Harras or Lobdell gave people a heads up about things like this until the very last minute.

      Oh man, that interview was great. Heck, he made it sound like Lobdell and Harras didn't even *think* of these ideas themselves until the very last minute, let alone tell anyone about them.

      Nicieza talking about how much he liked to plan out his stories and draw on past continuity for inspiration just endeared me to him further.

      Then hearing him talking about how those plans would crash into the wall of Lobdell & Harras' "make shit up as we go along" approach, and how he just had to resign himself to do the best job he could on the books even while he lost the passion for it because he couldn't tell the kind of stories he wanted to tell, just made me sad for him (though only a bit because, as he pointed out, he still had plenty of big checks to cash).

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    2. Nicieza talking about how much he liked to plan out his stories and draw on past continuity for inspiration just endeared me to him further.

      So much same here.

      That episode was a real treat for me because Nicieza is one of the major X-creators that I have heard from the least over the years. He seems to speak out about his time on these books less frequently than Harras, Lobdell, Lee, etc. -- and much less than Claremont, Byrne and Wheezie. And that's fine! It wasn't a great working experience and he doesn't want to relive it (boy, can I relate to that), and I so love these other creators that I could still listen to them for hours and hours and hours. (How has no one ever gotten Claremont on the record about what was up with the Outback base computer?!) But still, hearing Nicieza go on for an hour like this was a real treat.

      One of the things that stuck with me was that he was really motivated to add to X-Men lore by introducing new villains. He didn't just want to play with Magneto and other classic villains. And I appreciate that he recognized his failings on achieving this goal, which led him to bring in underused villains like Sinister. (It's hard to think of a time when Sinister was UNDERused, but then I realized X-Cutioner's Song was really only the third story in which Sinister had a major role, after Inferno and Peter David's early X-Factor run.)

      Also, hearing his initial plans for Adam X marks the first time I ever wanted to read Adam X.

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    3. Nicieza always struck me as wanting to honor what came before while still attempting to craft new stories. While Lobdell seemed overly focused on the humor.

      And while I (still) love Harras' Avengers run with Steve Epting, he really ran the X-Titles into the ground via his editorship.

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  5. I always found it interesting that the junior team titles (from New Mutants, to the X-Terminators to Generation NeXt) were always psychologically darker than the main titles by a considerable margin.

    The fact that Gen NeXt members were actively trying to murder each other was truly effective (more than any other AoA title) in showing how brutal this new reality was. It was this title that really showed (versus constantly attempting to tell via exposition) the reality being a real hellscape

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  6. I ate up this Gen Next series even more than the Gen X books, if that's possible. This helped define the still barely etched characters in terms of their powers' limits and uses, and I spent the next year waiting for more like this.

    And while I may not like every panel here, when Bachalo is on, he's ON.

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