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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

X-amining Generation X #8

"What Happened to Cassidy Keep?!"
October 1995

In a Nutshell
Generation X investigates the disappearance of Cassidy Keep.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Roger Cruz
Inkers: Mark Buckingham and Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor: Bob Harras

Standing on the edge of a vast canyon, Banshee, alongside Emma and the rest of Generation X, wonders where the heck his ancestral home, Cassidy Keep, has gone, something which interests Black Air agent Scicluna as well. As the adults discuss the situation, Synch discovers he can use his powers to connect to the dimension into which the castle disappeared, which pulls him and the nearby Chamber into that realm. The rest of the group follow them by jumping into a plume of purple mist, and end up scattered in the realm of faerie. Elsewhere, Mondo's friend Cordelia dives into the ocean, and when she fails to emerge, Mondo goes in after her. Back in the faerie land, Chamber & Synch are battling a group of armored knights, while Banshee & Emma wake up in a dungeon alongside Eamon O'Donnell, the leprechaun keeper of Cassidy Keep. The rest of the students are confronted by Grand Dame, a fairy queen, who needs their help to repair the glamour machine, the source of the realm's magical power. Approaching the machine, M once more goes catatonic, then begins working, even as an angry dragon beats down the door, wondering who is messing with the glamour machine.

Firsts and Other Notables
Mondo and his friend Cordelia, who first appeared in issue #3 (despite Mondo being heavily featured in both the pre-release promotional material and the alternate reality Generation Next), pop up in an interlude in this issue. Their story will continue in the series' '95 annual.

Eamon O’Donnell, the leprechaun caretaker of Cassidy Keep who last appeared in X-Men #103, pops up in this issue.

You’d be forgiven for not recognizing him, but we’ll find out that’s Omega Red watching Generation X disappear into the faerie land this issue.

A Work in Progress
Agent Scicluna of Black Air, from Excalibur, is at the site of the missing Cassidy Keep.

Synch is able to synch his power to another world.

Later, Synch is able to Synch his aura to Chamber without consciously doing so.

Harras misses another footnote, as Generation X’s guest appearance in Wolverine #94 is credited to #91.

Emma notes that when she was part of the Hellfire Club, she didn’t have to worry about getting sent to another dimension.

There’s a funny bit where Glamour tries to sell the kids on the idea that they’re destined to save the day, but Skin realizes she had just painted the scroll showing them in action earlier in the day.

M goes catatonic again, like she did in issue #5, before proceeding to fix the glamour machine.

Austin's Analysis
While this isn't a terrible issue, it's hard not to assume it was written under the belief that Chris Bachalo would be on hand to draw it, and in turn, to imagine how much better it would be if he was. After all, dropping Generation X into a faerie-inspired alternate dimension seems like a plot tailor-made for Bachalo's skills. But unfortunately, the biggest problems in this issue are artistic ones, specifically (aside from the fact that Emma, Paige and Agent Scicluna all look like the same figure copy/pasted into panels), the difficulty in establishing where all the characters are relative to one another and within the story. The different clusters of characters' specific circumstances are made clear enough (Chamber & Synch fighting side-by-side, Banshee & Emma trapped in a dungeon, everyone else working to fix a magic computer), but where each of those plotlines is taking place physically relative to the others is muddied. Is the glamour machine just outside of where Banshee & Emma are being held? Are Synch & Chamber doing battle just over a hill, or half the world away? Once the characters enter the fantasy realm, the action became very "zoomed in" at the expense of establishing the setting, which makes the resulting events more difficult to follow than they should be.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, "Dream Nails" concludes in Excalibur #90. Friday, Cable reunites with Jenskot in Cable #24. Next week, X-Force #47.

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  1. Some things inexplicably stick with you forever, and for some reason, that dragon asking "Who's been messing around with the flippin' Glamour Machine?" has been rattling around in my head for the past 25 years.

    Anyway, I agree with you -- there's no way Lobdell imagined anyone other than Bachalo illustrating this story when he wrote it. And while I think in general, Cruz's figures and faces are better drawn here than in the previous issue, which looked especially rushed, I also agree with your criticism of the "zoomed in" nature of all the locations (good way to put it, too). There are no establishing shots to be found, which would've come in really handy.

    Fortunately, next issue Tom Grummett comes aboard on fill-ins, and everything should look a lot better!

    As far as the story itself -- I really liked the original Claremont/Cockrum Cassidy Keep story, and I think it was relatively fresh in my mind at this point, as it hadn't been all that long since I'd first read their run in CLASSIC X-MEN -- so seeing Eamon O'Donnell back was a nice surprise. But I seem to recall being unimpressed with the story's excursion into fairyland. It's a cute idea, and I probably would've liked it more if Bachalo had drawn it, but I think I was hoping for something more traditional, maybe with Black Tom as the villain again.

    Though I was quickly learning that "traditional" was not Lobdell's vision for this series, and eventually I came to embrace it. Though even now, I still find this particular story lackluster, at least at this point. I don't remember how part 2 goes, so we'll see if my mind is changed at some point.

    "Mondo and his friend Cordelia [...] pop up in an interlude in this issue. Their story will continue in the series' '95 annual."

    I remember wondering way back when you looked at issue 3 that I couldn't recall if it was Lobdell or a later writer who established Cordelia as Emma's sister. The fact that she's named here as Cordelia Frost pretty much answers that question for me.

    "You’d be forgiven for not recognizing him, but we’ll find out that’s Omega Red watching Generation X disappear into the faerie land this issue."

    Out of curiosity, how would that not be recognizable as Omega Red? True, he's missing his headband and... uhh, retainer (?), but based on the skin coloring, the hair, and the silhouette of his costume, I don't think I was ever confused as to who it might be.

    1. Out of curiosity, how would that not be recognizable as Omega Red?

      Eh, he's a dude with red eyes and a blonde mullet. Without the headband/omega symbol and the tentacles, I wouldn't blame anyone who didn't immediately recognize him as Omega Red.

  2. Yep, this issue is basically Bachalo or bust. As a teen, this is when Generation X started to get boring for me. Little did I know the absolute dreck it would turn into as soon as OZT was over.

    And has it ever been revealed what the hell happened with Mondo? I'd love to hear Lobdell explain what his plans were and why they were very obviously dropped.


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