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Friday, January 29, 2021

X-amining X-Man #17

"One Step Forward"
July 1996

In a Nutshell
X-Man battles Holocaust some more

Writer: Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inker: Bud LaRosa & Rob Hunter
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor: Jaye Gardner
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

With Threnody, held hostage by Holocaust, not picking up on his signals, Nate telepathically accesses her power in order to blast Holocaust away and free her. The pair return to helping survivors of Holocaust's attack, though Threndoy is racked with guilt over having fed on one of the survivor's husband's death energy, assuring his death. Meanwhile, Madelyne Pryor, on a mission from Selene, encounters Trevor Fitzroy at a bar in London, and lures him outside. Back in Greece, Holocaust returns and tries to kill Threnody, but Nate intervenes, unleashing his full power and flying the villain high up into the air. In London, Fitzroy approaches Madelyne and kisses her, but is stunned to discover how cold and lifeless she feels. In the skies above Greece, Holocaust once more asks Nate to join him & Onslaught, but Nate refuses before finally managing to crack Holocaust's armor. In London, Fitzroy reveals that he knows who sent Madelyne, and dons his crystalline armor, though Madelyne is able to smash it and send him to his knees, at which point Selene reveals herself. She thanks Madelyne, then leans in to kiss Fitzroy as he screams in terror. In Greece, Holocaust retreats, telling Nate that now that he's been tested, Onslaught will be coming for him himself. Nate returns to Threnody, who insists he needs to find help. With Nate still distrustful of the X-Men, Threnody mentions other heroes located in New York, and he asks her to tell him more about the Avengers...

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue concludes with Nate, convinced he needs help to find and stop Onslaught but still unwilling to meet the X-Men due to their association with Professor X (of whom he remains distrustful), is made aware of the Avengers by Threnody, and he sets out to get their help, setting up his brief appearance at the very end of Avengers #400, which in turn serves to bring the Avengers - and, ironically, Nate - to the X-Mansion in Uncanny X-Men #335. 

Also, what a terrible way for the Avengers to end their big 400th issue, with an appearance by X-Man. This is a rough time for the Avengers, y'all. 

Trevor Fitzroy returns this issue. Last seen seemingly dying after trying to absorb Cable's life energy through his bionic arm only to be forced to draw on his own life force as a result (in X-Force #33), his apparent survival goes uncommented upon here. He'll stick around in the series for a bit, joining Sebastian Shaw's reconstitute Inner Circle.   

Fitzroy's past dealings with Selene (including the fact that he locked her in a skin-shredding tube in Uncanny X-Men #301) are referenced. 

A Work in Progress
Nate talks as though Holocaust is the first person form his reality he’s met, confirming he’s not the only survivor of the Age of Apocalypse, but at this point, he’s already met Dark Beast.

Austin's Analysis
With the A-plot essentially a redux of the previous issue - the brief pause in the Nate/Holocaust finds ends and the two fight some more, before they stop - the more interesting parts of this issue come in the Madelyne Pryor subplots scenes, as she tracks down Fitzroy ahead of a reunion with Selene. The Madelyne subplot at this point is maddeningly decompressed, having passed through the hands of three different writers (in the course of twelve issues), none of which have yet to offer much in the way of explanation for where she came from or what she wants. But bringing Fitzroy into the mix along with Selene makes for a fun reunion of sub-tier X-villains. Certainly, Fitzroy is not on the same level as Madelyne or Selene, but it's still nice to see his past interactions with Selene and her short-lived tenure as the leader/sponsor of the Upstarts referenced (let us never forget Shinobi Shaw's various hot tub-fueled machinations). Plus, Steve Skroce does a heck of a job drawing Fitzroy's cool crystalline armor. Of course, at the end of the day, "the return of Fitzroy" isn't genuinely worth getting that excited about, but any port in the storm of mediocrity that is this series is a welcome one.  

Next Issue
Next week: Onslaught stands revealed in X-Men (vol. 2) #54, Deadpool returns in X-Force #56, and Wolverine makes a friend in Wolverine #103! 

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  1. I love that Fitzroy just hangs out in random bars in London.

  2. "The Madelyne subplot at this point is maddeningly decompressed, having passed through the hands of three different writers (in the course of twelve issues)"

    This sentence makes me think of random third-tier 1970s Marvel books, where you'd have a title started by, say, Gerry Conway, then he'd leave and Steve Englehart might do an issue or two, then Marv Wolfman or somebody would come in and write a few more issues before cancellation -- and each writer would send the sub-plots ping-ponging in various random directions.

    I feel like this happened a lot back then, but maybe my brain has made such occurrence out to be more common than they actually were.

  3. At this point I found Nate's wariness of Xavier more tiresome than anything else. I liked that there was an X-Men character who didn't worship at the Altar of Xavier but I feel like there were less tedious ways of pursuing that.

  4. Reading this only now first time ever, I though the Claremontian character Selene absorbed all Trevor Fitzroy's life force and killed him for good forever. I approved wholeheartedly.


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