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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

X-amining Generation X #5

"Don't Touch That Dial"
July 1995

In a Nutshell
Jubilee, Synch, Skin & Monet visit the city while Chamber comforts Paige.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inker: Mark Buckingham
Titles: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Electricolor: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Changing Channels: Bob Harras

Plot
Gateway visits Chamber, and urges him to reach out to Paige, who is not reacting well to the news of the Legacy Virus. Meanwhile, Jubilee, Synch, Monet & Skin are in New York City, on their way to meet Emma at Frost Enterprises. Suddenly, Monet enters a fugue state, unable to move or respond to her companions. Back at Xavier's School, Banshee tries to communicate with Penance. In New York, unable to reach Emma by phone, Jubilee convinces Synch & Skin to leave Monet in Rockefeller Plaza as they're driven to Frost Enterprises. But when they enter the garage, they discover the security guards violently slaughtered. Back at the school, Chamber consoles a drunk Paige, agreeing, with a look in the mirror, with her declaration that life is unfair. Back at Frost Enterprises, Jubilee, Synch & Skin discover Hemingway of Gene Nation waiting to ambush them in Emma's office. Working together, they fight him off, then discover Artie hiding in the office; his friend Leech was taken by Gene Nation before they arrived, and Jubilee vows to help find him.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue introduces Hemingway, a member of the still-unseen-collectively Gene Nation. He will appear next issue and in the "Gene Nation" story over in Uncanny, and pop up sporadically after that. As a member of Gene Nation, he is, of course, a former Morlock who came of age in the extra-dimensional "Hill" following Mikhail's "execution" of the Morlocks in Uncanny #293 before returning to Earth in order to wreak vengeance on humanity and the X-Men.


Former X-Factor ward Artie (he of the pink skin, large head, and ability to create telepathic "images" to compensate for his inability to speak verbally), returns in this issue. He is said to be someone that Emma Frost was planning to meet (before being attacked by Hemingway). His usual companion, the former Morlock Leech, is also mentioned (and will return next issue), with the pair set to become recurring characters in this series moving forward.


Paige is not taking the news of the Legacy Virus, made public in X-Men Prime, very well (apparently, the X-Men we’re keeping its existence a secret even from the satellite teams), getting drunk (on one beer). This also, technically, probably counts as the start of the Paige/Chamber romantic pairing that will thread its way through the book off-and-on.


She does personally entreats us to check out the next issue, though.


In New York, Skin runs into an old associate of his from LA, and is very worked up at being discovered alive. The circumstances of Skin's departure from California and the threat of Torre, mentioned here, will come up later in the series.


A Work in Progress
Chamber has taken up residence in the basement of the boys’ dorm.


Gateway communicates telepathically with Chamber, urging him to reach out to Paige.


While in New York, the Gen X kids run into the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing.


Monet slips into a fugue state, just as she did during “Phalanx Covenant”, in which she becomes non responsive to external stimuli and, thanks to her powers, unmovable.


Skin has grown weary of Jubilee’s “when I was with the X-Men” stories.


Synch is able to synch his aura to Hemingway, then punch him through the wall and down the elevator shaft with it (as opposed to taking on Hemingway’s physical characteristics along with his power).


The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
Skin's old associate likens finding out Skin us alive to something from Hardcopy or Inside Edition.

They're Students, Not Superheroes
A narrative caption suggests that, given time, Synch & Jubilee could become two of the most powerful mutants (they won’t).


Austin's Analysis
Lobdell & Bachalo pretty much pick up right where they left off with this issue, crafting a character-driven, (relatively) low-stakes story with rich, detailed artwork. Outside of the references to the Legacy Virus becoming public knowledge, there's really nothing in this issue to suggest anything of note happened between last issue and this one (let alone the complete end of reality, a four month excursion to an entirely new reality, the recreation of the previous reality, and a further two weeks of various X-related incidents). Whereas other series used the reality change & two week jump to completely revamp things in (theoretically) exciting new ways (like X-Factor), given how little time Generation X had to establish itself before all the reality upheaval, it's for the best that the book went right back to figuring itself out, exploring different character pairings (like Chamber & Husk or Banshee & Penance) and planting the seeds for future stories (like Skin's quasi-mysterious past, and the reintroduction of Artie & Leech). Generation X was fun, well-crafted & entertaining before "Age of Apocalypse", and it's refreshing to see that very little has changed despite the four month hiatus.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Excalibur #87. Friday, Cable #21. Next week, Uncanny X-Men #323!

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4 comments:

  1. Gosh, this was such a good series early on. I love that AoA did nothing to derail it. You get the impression reading that here, at least, Lobdell was trying to plan things out. Not all of it would pan out even then (see Mondo), but certain things that he mentioned in interviews do make it onto the page here.

    At the time, X-MEN was still my favorite of the X-books I read, with UNCANNY in second and GEN X in third. As an adult re-reading the three side-by-side with your review, GEN X is easily my favorite with UNCANNY in second and X-MEN third. An exact reversal. I think I mentioned it sometime back, but as a teen I loved Fabian Nicieza's writing way more than Scott Lobdell's as an adult, I find Lobdell far more appealing (though I still like Nicieza for the most part).

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  2. I still feel such a thrill reading through this series some 20+ years later. More than any other X-series, reading this brings me right back to being a kid again.

    Former X-Factor ward Artie (he of the pink skin, large head, and ability to create telepathic "images" to compensate for his inability to speak verbally), returns in this issue.

    And reads to be exactly the same age as he was when he debuted in 1986, which is a weird choice on Lobdell and Bachalo's part.


    Monet slips into a fugue state, just as she did during “Phalanx Covenant”, in which she becomes non responsive to external stimuli and, thanks to her powers, unmovable.

    I really thought this was going to have such an amazing payoff in the long run. Boy, was I disappointed.


    Skin has grown weary of Jubilee’s “when I was with the X-Men” stories. [...] A narrative caption suggests that, given time, Synch & Jubilee could become two of the most powerful mutants (they won’t).

    Jubilee left the X-Men because she wasn't ready for this superhero life, but she seems pretty ready to relive it via stories (which admittedly can be chalked up to a kid wanting to look big in front of her friends) and jump back into when confronted with Hemingway here. You'd think she'd be eager to go get Mr. Cassidy instead.


    Synch is able to synch his aura to Hemingway, then punch him through the wall and down the elevator shaft with it (as opposed to taking on Hemingway’s physical characteristics along with his power).

    Is THAT what's happening here?! That's pretty cool. I have never understood this panel at all, and had generally attributed this to Lobdell/Bachalo inconsistency with Synch's powers.

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  3. Most of Generation X issues weren't published here in Brasil, so I'm looking forward for your reviews of them.

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  4. Daniel LichtenbergOctober 19, 2019 at 1:57 PM

    What a wonderful issue. I remember buying this on released and being struck at how good it was. The art, the humor, just such a fun book. For me, this issue also signified a subtle change in Bachalo's artwork; the whole thing started to become much more stylized after this. And teenage me had a crush on Jubilee with her new hair!

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