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Friday, November 13, 2020

X-amining X-Man #15

"Turning Point"
May 1996

In a Nutshell


Co-Plotter: John Ostrander
Co-Plotter/Script: Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inks: Bud LaRosa & Rob Hunter
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Separations: Graphic Colorworks
Editor: Jaye Garnder
Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Nate dreams he is back in his home reality, and talks with Forge. His dream shifts and suddenly he is with Madelyne, who gives way to Threnody as he wakes up. They are in a Red Cross shelter setup in the wake of the avalanche caused by his fight with Exodus. Still unsure if he can trust Threnody, he enters her mind, and realizes the tremendous pain and mental anguish she carries with her. Hoping to help, he removes one of the mental inhibitors from her forehead, which causes her powers to trigger an explosion. Meanwhile, in Paris, the real Madelyne discovers her recent knife wound has already healed. Back in Switzerland, Threnody wakes up to find Nate still unconscious: he protected her and the rest of the refugees from her blast, but knocked himself out in the process. She briefly considers abandoning him, then relents. Elsewhere, Shaw meets with Holocaust, but the two are interrupted by Onslaught, who tasks Holocaust with capturing Nate for him. A week later, Nate is lounging on a beach in Greece, where Threnody has brought him to recover. Unbeknownst to him, Holocaust, who has been shielded from mental detection by Onslaught, looms over him, preparing to strike. 

Firsts and Other Notables
As teased on the cover, Onslaught appears in this issue, making his most concrete appearance yet: he remains in shadow, but the outline matches what his standard look will be when it is fully revealed, whereas prior to this he's only been portrayed as a disembodied voice/amorphous psychic entity. He tasks Holocaust with capturing Nate for him, setting up the next couple issues of this series and Nate's involvement in the larger "Onslaught" story.  


This is John Ostrander's final issue of the series (and at that, he only shares plotting credit with incoming series writer Terry Kavanagh, who scripts this issue), bringing his short run to an end. Which means we're on the verge of Terry Kavangh's solo run. Brace yourselves. 

A Work in Progress
Even Nate’s subconscious is dunking on him, with Dream Forge calling Nate “thickheaded and thin-skinned.”


Madelyne’s sliced hand has miraculously healed since she injured it last issue, continuing that subplot. 


Shaw returns from his meeting with Agent Scratch of Black Air in Excalibur #96 this issue.


In the closing panels of the issue, Nate tells himself he's going to start thinking more before he acts. We'll see about that. 


Austin's Analysis
Like Excalibur #95, this is another issue which succeeds (or, is at least more enjoyable to read than most issues of this series) by acknowledging that the title character is kind of the worst. From being belittled by his subconscious in the form of his dead mentor for being thickheaded and impetuous to Nate himself finally accepting that maybe he should try to be less of a jerk by the end of the issue, these little touches make the character slightly more bearable by at least suggesting the creators are aware of how Nate has been presented of late/his entire existence. Actually following through on that and making the character less impulsive and thickheaded is, of course, the necessary next step, and much of that work will soon get pushed off as the series is pulled into "Onslaught" and becomes much more plot-focused, but hey, any port in the storm that is X-Man

Next Issue
Next week: all your favorite superheroes (of the 90s) battle it out in the company crossover event Marvel vs. DC #1-4!

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