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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

X-amining Generation X #16

"Out of Sync!"
June 1996

In a Nutshell
Generation X fights to free Synch of Emplate's control

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Todd Dezago
Penciler: Tom Grummett
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Team Buccellato
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor: Bob Harras

Banshee & Emma are flying to Jubilee, Paige, and Monet's aid when Emma abruptly halts Banshee's flight. She tells him if they get any close, Synch can copy their powers, making him even harder to beat; the girls are on their own. In Synch's old high school, he turns Jubilee's power on his classmates, but Paige takes the brunt of the attack as Jubilee urges him to fight Emplate's influence. Torn, he runs off. Back in Massachusetts, Skin decides to take a worsening Chamber to see Professor X. In St. Louis, Synch contemplates killing himself to save his friends, but Paige tracks him down and talks him out of it. He attacks her, causing her to shed her skin before she is ready and trapping her in a mixed form, but she manages to knock him down before collapsing from the pain. Just then, Monet confronts Synch and allows him to fully tap into her aura. When he does, he learns the truth about her, which purges him of Emplate's influence. Meanwhile, Skin & Chamber are on the road when they're attacked by the X-Cutioner, who is targeting Skin for murder. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Synch is freed of Emplate's influence by the end of this issue, after Monet confronts him and allows him to try to synch to her aura (she says that Emplate is unable to feed on her, making her more or less immune to the danger posed by the possessed Synch); when he does, he learns her big secret that's been teased consistently throughout the series (which will turn out to be that she's actually two kids in a Monet-shaped trench coat), which snaps him back to normal. 

With Chamber's powers and general health continuing to spiral out of control following his encounter with Onslaught and their teachers away, Skin prepares to take him to see Professor X

On the way, they are attacked by the X-Cutioner, who is targeting Skin for murdering someone with the same name as Skin (this is all part of the Skin subplot that was last teased in issue #12 and will move into the foreground next issue). 

Just before they leave, someone arrives at the school in response to a job application; this is the first appearance of Chevy, who will eventually become the school's janitor and remain so minor a character that I forgot he existed and doesn't even get his appearances linked together on the Marvel Wikia. 

Creator Central
Joe Madureira provides the (not terribly great) cover to this issue. 

A Work in Progress
Jubilee considers Synch to be her only classmate who puts up with her unconditionally. 

She also takes control of the fight with Synch from a strategic perspective, holding herself and Monet back in order to stop Synch's access to their powers and sending Paige after him because she says his aura has a hard time synching to her power (suggesting his power has some limitations when it comes to copying more physical powers). 

It's said here that Husk's ability requires extreme concentration, and if she "husks" abruptly, she runs the risk of getting stuck between two different forms, as happens here when Synch pulls off her skin before she's ready. 

Austin's Analysis
This issue does one of those comic book things we haven't gotten a lot of in this series, reveal details about characters' powers in the course of big superpowered fights (of course, this is largely because this series doesn't really do a lot of big superpowered fights), as more info about how both Synch and Husk's relatively unique powers work is revealed in the course of their fights together. That aside, it's a fairly straightforward conclusion to the "evil Synch" arc, but while it's well-crafted enough, it's still something of a shame that Synch's first outing in the spotlight has him acting out-of-character for most of the story. Lobdell & Dezago put in the work of illustrating Synch's character via his struggle with the darker urges he was given by Emplate, but at the end of the day, stuff like Jubilee's head for strategy or Paige's determination stand out much more than anything Synch does, relegating him to second tier status even in the story where he's the ostensible star. 

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Excalibur strikes back in Excalibur #98. Friday, Cable & Domino grieve (in their unique way) in Cable #32. Next week, action figures! 

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  1. It's strange; I remember loving this series and I collected the full run but these stories haven't stuck in my memory. I suppose it's safe to say that I have fond feelings for it if not fond memories.

    I don't know if it's the scans or Grummet's art but most of the characters look to be as rubbery as Skin.

  2. Howdy!

    This is a comment from a fan. I have been rereading my X-Men collection, and stumbled on your blog, which is fun, informative, and really helping me make sense of a lot of the Claremontian oddness I am re-discovering. But I started reading your blog circa Uncanny X-Men 185 (and now on 211) so I am at least six years in your past. I was poking around on the blog and somewhat stunned to find that you're still at it. That is serious dedication. Since I may never catch up, I thought I'd just drop you a note here, effectively from your past, and say how happy I am to see that you're still at it and how much I have enjoyed your project so far.

    1. Sir, I have go ask you:

      have you done anything in the past that might have illly affected on our present year of 2020?

      Because, hoo-boy, you will be in for some serious crap!

    2. Thanks? I checked and I think my last Uncanny X-Men is around issue 310. I dropped all comics for about 17 years, then picked them up around 2007, so I think I missed the worst of it. I did go back and buy Hidden Years and a few other bits a pieces, but I'm happily oblivious to a lot of the dreck you guys have commented about in the holograph era.

  3. "she's actually two kids in a Monet-shaped trench coat"

    Thank you for making me snort hot tea through my nose laughing at that perfect description.

  4. Without Chris on this book, it was hard to justify sticking to it when it was coming out. At least Chris gave the comic a vibe and it could compete with Gen 13 but when you start looking at this art vs what Gen 13 was doing, night and day. Skin looks 45 in the image shown above, not a teen. It was basically adults trying to draw and write for teens while they were in their 30/40s while Gen 13 was a guy just out of his teens.

    Is it ever established when Husk returns to her normal skin? Does it just eventually return within an hour or does she have to peal back to it. Can she choose the skin she changes into? Have they ever explained how she husked into a bird in one of her first appearances?

    1. The great Generation X/ Gen 13 debate! By Gar, it's been awhile!

      I'd say its not only the writing (very good point there, Lobdell was in his 30s in New York while Image was in California and Choi and Campbell were much younger), but also Marvel's marketing department. They tried to sell us Generation X for most of the Phalanx storyline (several issues of X-Men), but we only got a few issues of the team before "Age of Apocalypse".

      And then Generation Next, same kids we barely know (nor know how they're different) and Lobdell kills them off. Yeah it's Age of Apocalypse so that happens but we, as READERS, have alternate reality versions of characters we barely know killed off within months of their re-introductions and subsequent shuffling to the sidelines for Onslaught. GREAT story, but it's telling the team's only member (the one who died twice but actually appeared longest and in one of the films) with a fanbase was Blink.

      Gen13 being what it wanted to be helped. Freefall wasn't Grifter's ex-sidekick or anything like that, they were kids who acted like kids.

      The art was a factor too. J. Scott Campbell MADE that team so much that when Jim Lee drew them they looked off.

    2. Well, not everyone can draw their teen characters to look like porn stars. Campbell seemed to do that well.

      Sorry, that was wrong. Campbell drew most of his women to look like porn stars.

    3. I meant more in the stylized look of the characters were unique, but now that you mention it...

      These reviews have given Brett Blevins (among others) a lot of crap for sexualizing Illyana or Kitty and other teen characters, and as much of a Gen13 fan I am I'd be lying if I said Campbell didn't do the exact same thing.

      I think that works, in part, to make Fairchild (not to be confused with Darkchild) so memorable. "Velma from Scooby-Doo wakes up one morning and is suddenly in an Amazonian Porn Star Body." Its a good hook for a character. It was '94, we didnt have the internet yet.

    4. A few more things with Gen 13 vs Gen X:

      Gen 13 came out around the time that The Real World on MTV was super hot. They regular series moved them into a house and they had to figure out how to live together and still go on random missions, party, etc. This felt like a superhero version of The Real World. That show also had extremely attractive people doing random things, just like the comic. Oh, and one of their editors was actually on Real World, you don't think any of that had an influence. Also one of the first books to have an openely lesbian character and the sexual tension between the characters was really fun at the time. The love intersts in Gen X was so bland, basically an old man trying to write how teenagers would have relationships, it didn't work. Also, California beach works a lot better than Gen X's setting.

      Campbell felt like he took Disney characters, sexualized them and gave them those big eyes. Disney was super hot in the early 90's and Fairchild felt like you took Little Mermaid and stacked her up and most teen boys at that time, having just watched the Disney revival would love his art. Also, PS1 was super hot at this time, Tomb Raider was popular because of her perportions, fits his art.

      Gen X art with Chris was basically generic bland Marvel art at the time. There was nothing exciting about it. Characters looked much older than teens. Most artists cannot draw a teen vs a 35 year old porn star build. Look at some of the earlier New X-Men (volume 2) books and it's like, really, that teenage girl is stacked like that. At least Campbell understood that Roxi was not Fairchild and didn't draw them with the same size perportions.

      Chris's art is what really sold Gen X, without him, the art was so bland. They really should have gotten Humberto Ramos to be his replacement, he's about the only artist at the time that I can think of that would have drawn these characters with excitement. If you read Impulse from DC at the time, his art was a blast, would have fit in perfectly here. I dropped this book whenever Chris was not drawing.

      As mentioned earlier, the writing felt more like the characters were cool. The art felt alive. The second issue was actually part of a huge crossover, Gen X got 4 issues before that happened. Sure they picked back up with issue 3, I get that. This was a big reason Peter David didn't like working on X-Factor, he wanted to tell his stories, not the X-Office Marketing Deparment stories.

      The character powers in Gen 13 was so easy to understand. The powers in Gen X is beyond silly. I have no idea how Chamber talks without a mouth or chest, WTF is that anyways? Husk changes into a bird, random skins, etc. How does she change back? Skin .....okay. M has multiple issues. If you had a 20 second elevator pitch, which one wins?

      Gen X killed their best character before the series even began, Blink was great, they removed her to get the series going, fail.

    5. Gen 13 had a connection to the history of the Wildstorm universe and the characters wanted to find out who their dads were. Gen 13's mission statement was....they were have this huge legacy, talk about wanting to be X-Men, talk about the danger, how do you graduate, etc. White Queen wants redemption for the Hellions, this is a huge driving force and should be front and center, love this aspect.

      It was mentioned earlier about Marvel changing to AoA 4 issues into the series and that was a killer. But that 4 issues are amazing in the AoA. It gets back and Chris isn't on it much longer and then, blah. I saw Daniel mentioned around issue 25 that it gets better, but I would guess most of the reading audience had already given up by then and maybe only picked it up for the crossover part. I had this full series for years and I doubt I ever read past this point.

      Thinking about it now, I'd love to pick Gen 13 back up and read it again. I didn't really get into the Gary Frank issues and would love to go through that. I can't say the same thing about this book.

    6. Gen-13 felt like a precursor to Runaways with characters that weren't bogged down by another series mission statement. It also didn't come with a huge amount of continuity baggage.

      On the other hand, the characters in Generation X were a little more defined, even if they read older than they should.

      And Gen 13 did feature in a massive crossover with their second issue (technically eighth if you count the mini-series) but it was a standalone that could be read divorced from the crossover.

      Ultimately, I liked both the series for different reasons.

    7. Scott Church I remember anything Adam Warren did with the characters was fun. "Grunge: The Movie" is perfectly 90s and his running with a subplot from The Authority where Grunge sleeps with Swift (dunno if Gary Frank pencilled or not) is good.

    8. With all that said, I feel like Gen 13 was just kind of dumb, and infantile at times. Like it appealed to the Wizard staff more than anything.

      I think what people remember the most from Gen 13 these days was how the female characters spent most of their time arching their backs while thrusting their tits and ass out as much as possible.

  5. Scott - did you ever read the Gen X / Gen 13 crossover books? It really casts a light on what you're talking about. Even though both teams were about superpowered teens, they really couldn't have been more different, and by this point in Gen X it was clearly outmatched by Gen 13 in both art and the kinds of stories being told. Still, Gen X gets really good again leading up to #25 and I maintain that its Operation Zero Tolerance issues were some of its best stuff. After OZT, it never gets good again IMO.

    1. There are a couple of decent runs after OZT, with some particularly good issues that rival the best of what the title offers us pre-OZT.

    2. I read it at release and probably didn't have as much of it connect as it would reading it now as an adult, I'll have to find those and go through them. I don't remember the OZT issues of Gen X, even the X-Men stuff I don't remember from that time, I was a bit burnt out with the X-Books at that time and haven't gone back to read them.

    3. The Jay Faerber run was pretty good for the most part, as was the Ellis/Wood run (after the initial arc).

      The Hama run, on the other hand, was...not very good.

  6. Some ugly art and boring characters. I lost interest in Gen X around this time.

  7. I'm a couple weeks late with this, but I believe that "Chevy" will later be revealed as one of the participants in the mutant murder in X-Men: Prime. I can't remember whether his name or appearance is consistent with anybody in that issue.


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