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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

X-amining Generation X #10

"Death Wail Part 1"
December 1995

In a Nutshell
Omega Red attacks Banshee

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Tom Grummett
Inkers: Buckingham, Milgrom, Pennington and Fern
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Paige & Skin arrive at Proudstar Hall for Mondo's welcome party, and are greeted boisterously by their newest classmate. Jubilee, however, is bummed about Penance's relapse into a coma, and Banshee is late to the party. Monet flies off to check on him, and discovers him near death. Emma arrives and enters his mind in order to try and keep him alive, while sending the kids out after his attackers. Elsewhere, Emplate returns to Gayle Edgerton's estate, as their plans will soon be coming to fruition. In Banshee's mind, Emma relives specific memories of Banshee as an Interpol agent, hunting a serial killer with the assistance of a pre-Magneto Erik Lensherr. At the school, Jubilee ponders if the only way to help Penance is to enlist the aid of someone who knew her before she came to the school - like Emplate - while the rest of her classmates, with the help of Synch's aura, track down Banshee's attacker: Omega Red, who grabs Chamber with a tendril and announces he will them just like he killed their headmaster! 

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue marks Mondo's formal introduction to the team, following the events of Generation X '95, though he mostly disappears after the initial party scenes (he stays back with Jubilee while the rest of the team goes off in pursuit of Banshee's assailant). 


That assailant is Omega Red, whose past with Banshee was teased in issue #7, having attacked him off-panel before engaging with Generation X at the end of the issue.


Monet notes that with Mondo's arrival & Penance's condition, no one is asking too many questions regarding her strange behavior of late, to her benefit (what secrets she's keeping will come to ahead - sort of - in the story after this one, beginning in issue #12).


In further setup of the book's next story, Emplate & Gayle Edgerton, last seen forming their alliance in X-Men Prime, are shown to be close to making their move against Generation X (that will also come in issue #12).


This issue reveals that Banshee encountered Magneto before either were costumed superheroes /villains, as he received intel from Magneto about the serial killer he was tracking (who will turn out to be Omega Red, which is technically a spoiler, but also, it's kind of obvious at this point).


The Chronology Corner
Paige references her trip home in Uncanny X-Men '95, setting this issue after that annual (and, of course, Generation X '95 takes place between last issue and this one.

A Work in Progress
Mondo's welcome party takes place in Proudstar Hall (named after Banshee's deceased X-Men teammate, Thunderbird, a nice bit of continuity given that Banshee was the member of the team trying the hardest to save Thunderbird when he died), a heretofore unseen part of campus (at least for Skin). Seems like it might have been a good place to house some of the students displaced by the destruction of the girl's dorm earlier in the series, but whatever.

Skin refers to Mondo's power as "tactile metamorphing".

Jubilee is sad about Penance going back into a coma, as seen in Generation X '95.


They're Students, Not Superheroes
Husk is surprised to learn that Skin has no desire to graduate into the X-Men, and plans to go home as soon as he learns to control his powers, a nice reminder that this iteration of the Xavier School isn't meant to be only a training ground for future superheroes.


Austin's Analysis
Back from the quasi-trippy fantasy adventure that suffered the lack of Chris Bachalo, Lobdell catches up to the '95 annual and finally introduces Mondo to the full team. Though curiously, he then quickly pivots into a story about Banshee's past, essentially benching Mondo, leaving him behind with Jubilee instead of putting him in the group going after Banshee's attacker. In doing so, he sidesteps the chance to showcase the character for any readers who missed the annual (honestly, the setup of this issue makes it seem like it should be Mondo, not Chamber, taking charge and getting caught in Omega Red's coils at the end), which is a curious decision to make for a new-to-the-cast character (it almost seems sometimes like Lobdell doesn't even want Mondo around).

The art, with Tom Grummett filling in again, is quite nice though. Whereas last issue it suffered a bit from covering a story clearly designed to play to Bachalo's strengths, Grummett's work here really compliments the more low-key hangout/character-driven action of the issue. All of the characters look visually & ethnically distinct (Page & Emma, two Caucasian blond women, are, for example, nevertheless easy to tell apart on the page, something Roger Cruz struggled with in his fill-in work), and while it certainly lacks the verve & quirkiness of Bachalo's stuff, it's clean, concise, & easy to follow from a storytelling perspective, which, in late 1995, is something of an accomplishment.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Colossus comes to town in Excalibur #92. Friday, Cable comes back from the future in Cable #26. Next week, X-Force & Cable '95!

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9 comments:

  1. Here in Brasil, most of Generation X issues weren't published, but this and next one were and I bought the original USA issues too. I don't remember if it was somehow explained the return of Omega Red, who died in some Cable story with Acolytes way before AoA.

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    1. Yeah, in hindsight, I probably should have called out Omega Red's appearance in issue #8 (which sets up his appearance here) as representing the character's return from a fairly definitive-looking death in CABLE #11.

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  2. I'm amazed that, after all these years, we still don't really know what was going on with Mondo. I don't believe he was originally supposed to be a traitor or a plant (pun intended); was this plot developed as a way to get rid of him? If so, why? Was the cast just too large to handle? Something about the Cordelia Frost connection that didn't work? I wish we knew. As it stands, Mondo has a seriously odd trajectory: heavily promoted as the ultimate chill guy, introduced in two cameo interludes early in the series, radio silence for a while, finally joins the team well into things and does nothing, then turns out to be a fake created by Black Tom. Oh, and then much much later we meet the real Mondo who has no idea who Generation X is and who basically tells them to go screw themselves. Master plan at work, I tell ya.

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    1. I'm becoming more and more convinced that Mondo was a character Chris Bachalo pushed to include the series, and for whatever reason, Lobdell decided to take a slow burn approach which dovetailed with Bachalo taking a hiatus, so the driving creative force behind the character was absent when he got a proper introduction in the series proper (as opposed to his appearances in AoA's GENERATION NEXT). And it all just kind of snowballed from there, with Lobdell not feeling a connection to the character but keeping him around until Bachalo returned, but by then, the character was just sort of there, and then other creators came along and with so little to work with, just went kind of bonkers with him.

      But that's 100% all speculation on my part.

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  3. Been rereading a lot of Tom Grummett stuff this year (Superboy, Thunderbolts, New Exiles, X-Men Forever), and what he lacks in flare he really makes up for in pacing, clarity, and rhythm. I'm never confused about who is doing what or what happened between panels. It's great.

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    1. I carried a grudge against Grummett's work for years, because I first encountered him in settings like this (where he was filling in for a book's regular artist), so I was always too distracted by the absence of the regular artist to appreciate what he was bringing to the table (I had similar issues with Rick Leonardi's work back in the day).

      But over the years, as both the concept of a "regular artist" became more and more rare and especially as I encountered more of Grummett's work on its own terms, I gained much more of a appreciation for it, and now I'm quite pleased whenever I come across it (and Leonardi went through a similar reappraisal for me as well).

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  4. I've been on a first read of all the Tom Grummett series you just mentioned. Got a bug up my butt to read his Superboy and then started buying back issues of other series. With the pandemic I now have a little more time to actually read them and I have to agree that his work is crystal clear and well paced. A strong story teller, too.

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  5. Count me as a fan of Grummett, too. He may not be a superstar, but he has a rare talent in comics, which is the ability to draw nearly any character “on model”. John Byrne and Alan Davis fall into that camp as well. In fact, a while back when I made a list of my five favorite comic artists for a blog post, Grummett was on it with those other two (and with Mark Bagley and George PĂ©rez).

    Of course I like this issue, focused as it is on Banshee. Lobdell seemed to be a fan of the character, often giving him as much of a starring role in the series as the kids — and, him being one of the older X-Men with a history before joining the team, I like when he gets these Wolverine-esque “I met everyone at some point in the past” stories. Though it’s too bad Emma’s thought about Banshee playing a role in the evolution of Magneto never amounted to anything.

    This cover bugs me. Why spoil the villain when he doesn’t appear until the last page? I suppose we can give it a pass, though, since Bachalo didn’t draw the issue and may not have known the Omega Red reveal came so late.

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    1. Good point on the cover, though I suspect you're right. Lobdell probably gave Bachalo a list of high level issue-by-issue by plots of upcoming issues before he left and Bachalo just knocked them out, with no idea how the actual events in each issue would unfold.

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