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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

X-amining Generation X '95

"Of Leather and Lace" / "The Very Personal and Very Private Journal of Monet St Croix"

In a Nutshell
Generation X rescues Mondo from the mysterious Barrington

Story: Scott Lobdell & Jeph Loeb, Scott Lobdell (2nd Story)
Breakdowns: Wood and McManus
Pencils: Jeff Matsuda (2nd Story)
Finishes: Lightle, McManus, Sienkiewicz, Panosian, V.Russel & Chaloner
Inkers: Vince Russel and Rurik Taylor (2nd Story)
Letters: Rich and Dave at Comicraft,  J.T Babcock  (2nd Story)
Colors: Moreshead and Kalisz, Dana Moreshead (2nd Story)
Editor: Mark Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Cordelia Frost brings Mondo to Shinobi Shaw, hoping her control over the powerful mutant will lead Shaw to grant her the title of White Queen within the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle. He declines, however, and the pair are then attacked by agents of Barrington, who kidnap Mondo. With her leverage gone, Cordelia reluctantly turns to her sister, Emma Frost, for help retrieving him. Unable to determine Cordelia's true intentions, Emma agrees to help her, and leads Generation X to battle Barrington's men and rescue Mondo. Meanwhile, Penance suffers a seizure, and Banshee turns to Moira for help, leading the pair to finally discuss Moira's infection with the Legacy Virus. Later, after returning to the school, Mondo decides to stay with Generation X and enroll, much to Cordelia's dismay. She vows to one day get even with her sister.

2nd Story
Skin helps Monet move some of her stuff out of the damaged girl's dorm. In the process, he discovers her diary, though upon opening it, he finds only crayon drawings, as if made by a child, chronicling Monet's early days at the school. When Monet returns, he awkwardly makes excuses and leaves, while Monet wonders if he is clever enough to have figured out her secret. 

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue picks up the Mondo/Cordelia thread that had appeared in subplot form over a few of the series' previous issues (we last saw Mondo searching for Cordelia underwater after she disappeared in Generation X #8).

Mondo effectively joins the team in this issue, fulfilling a prophecy laid out in the various bits of promotional material some ten-ish months prior. His addition to the roster kicks into gear the competition between him and Monet over which one has the most convoluted and unnecessarily-complex backstory, as technically, it will eventually be revealed (circa issue #60) that this Mondo is a plant duplicate created by Black Tom, who has captured the real Mondo and is feeding him lies about Banshee and the Frost family in order to turn him against the team.

Black Tom, then, will also be revealed to be the mysterious Barrington whose men capture Mondo in this issue (the idea being Mondo is the real Mondo up to the point he is kidnapped, and then the duplicate gets rescued by Generation X and enrolls at the school). The Black Tom Barrington is not, however, the same unseen Barrington who gave Maverick orders in early issues of Adjectiveless X-Men.

Monet, sensing a threat to her title in Mondo, furthers her own mysterious past subplot in the issue's second story, in which Skin finds her child-like diary (because, of course, she is actually the merged form of Monet's younger school age twin sisters) and she openly wonders if he'll figure out what's going on (spoiler alert: he won't).

This issue also reveals that Cordelia is Emma's sister (her name was previously given as Frost; this just confirms the relationship and that the shared last names aren't a coincidence/non-factor). Her powers (and even if she has them) are unclear, here, aside from a general immunity to Emma's telepathy (she'll later turn out to be an empath, with her immunity chalked up to a "sibling immunity" not unlike Cyclops & Havok's inability to be harmed by the other's power).

The wraparound cover is drawn by Michael Golden, and is probably the best thing about this issue. 

The Chronology Corner
This takes place between issues #9 and #10 of the regular series; #10 features Mondo's orientation to the school.

A Work in Progress
It’s noted that Cordelia is 17, which makes the fact that she spends the early pages prancing about in lingerie before the adult Shinobi Shaw...uncomfortable.

Cordelia lives on a trust set up for her by her sister.

It’s established that Emma can’t read Cordelia’s mind.

Emma leads the kids in defense of Mondo in one of her more classic bustier looks.

In the second story, the girls, still displaced by the destruction of their dormitory in issue #6, are moving into the science building.

Artistic Achievements
This panel of Jubilee looks like the artist gave up drawing her 3/4 of the way through (or expected the inker to finish off more of it than he actually did).

Young Love
Sean & Moira have a heart-to-heart video call regarding Moira's Legacy Virus infection, and the pair are presented as a long-distance couple trying to make it work, but this is the last time we'll see them interacting with each other for awhile.

Austin's Analysis
While a notable issue for giving Mondo - billed as an integral member of the team in pre-release promotions but relegated to teasing subplot scenes thus far -  and Emma's sister Cordelia a proper introduction to Generation X, in practice the effort is fairly lackluster. Whereas the series proper has, thus far, been a fairly character-driven endeavor, with superhero action by and large taking a backseat to character development and interpersonal dynamics, this issue is a much more traditional affair, with Emma essentially leading a contingent of the team in battle against some generic armored goons. At the same time, things like the reveal of Cordelia as Emma's sister to the students, the kind of thing that almost demands a strong reaction from the students, goes by mostly unremarked upon, accepted as a matter of fact. Toss in the fact that Cordelia's desire to join the Hellfire Club, in addition to coming out of nowhere (relative to her previous appearances as a easy-breezy shorts-clad companion to Mondo), goes largely unresolved, and the fact that the art throughout the issue, with its bevy of inkers, is wildly inconsistent, and the end result is an issue which feels like both a half story and a missed opportunity, despite it's extra length and notable happenings.

Next Issue
Next week: Uncanny X-Men #326, X-Factor #116 and X-Man #10!

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  1. Moira says “long before we were lovers, we were best friends,” which really isn’t true... she met Banshee in UNCANNY #96, and they were a couple two issues later, in #98!

    I recall reading that scene with the two of them and wondering if I’d missed something. It read like they had broken up at some point, though in truth I think they just sort of drifted apart. In retrospect, I’m not sure I recall many (or any) instances of them being shown as a couple after Banshee returned to the mansion in X-MEN 24.

    Weirdly, I have, like, no memory whatsoever of Mondo’s time with Gen X. In my head, it just goes from his debut here immediately to his betrayal in issue 25. I’m interested to see what I’ve forgotten over the upcoming sixteen issues!

    And I’m sure we can talk about it more when we get to #25, but this whole thing with Mondo being a bad guy can’t have been Lodbell’s original intention, right? He was hyped too much to be a red herring. Plus, I can’t imagine Lobdell planned for Barrington to be Black Tom. “Barrington” is too distinctive a name; Lobdell must have intended that he be the same character as in those early X-MEN issues at this point. Lurking in shadowy control rooms and giving orders to armored soldiers with teleporters has never really been Black Tom’s thing, after all!

    In short, I feel like something got really screwy behind the scenes with regards to Mondo, Barrington, etc., and Lobdell was forced to make up a solution in a hurry.

    Lastly, I failed to notice this in the past few issues you’ve looked at, but the credits lately indicate we’ve entered that weird era where Marvel split into five separate “imprints”, each with its own editor-in-chief. My recollection is that Bob Harras had the X-Books, Bob Budiansky had the Spider-books, Mark Gruenwald had the Avengers books, Bobbie Chase had all the other Marvel Universe stuff like Hulk, Daredevil, etc., and Carl Potts had the licensed books.

    I’ve always found it interesting that even though Harras was the editor-in-chief of the X-line, he remained editor of the two core X-books as well. I think he finally gave them up to Mark Powers when he was promoted to EiC of the reunified Marvel line a year or so later.

    1. @Matt — Don’t forget “Marvel Edge”! Actually, I believe that's what Bobbie Chase oversaw, and Mark Gruenwald had more of the mainstream heroes than just the Avengers group… “Marvel Heroes” and “Cosmic Powers”?

  2. I need to bleach my eyes after seeing that art - woof!

    1. Sean McManus had a terrific reputation in the late-80s/early-90s, thanks to some notable work on Dr Fate and Sandman. Though I'm not a fan of his style, his fundamentals (layouts, pacing, facial expressions) are all generally pretty strong. Here, however, he seems to have been either supremely rushed or completely steamrolled by his collaborators.

    2. McManus drew a Spider-Man annual a couple years after this issue and I really liked his work there at the time. This... looks nothing like that annual.

  3. "The wraparound cover is drawn by Michael Golden, and is probably the best thing about this issue."

    Most of it is, yes. His depiction of Mondo, though, is as painful as anything else in the issue.

  4. New band name: Black Tom Barrington and the Plant Duplicates.


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