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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

X-amining X-Man #19

"Shades of Grey"
September 1996

In a Nutshell
Onslaught captures Nate Grey

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

Mister Sinister tells the captive Nate Grey how he instructed Threnody to get close to Nate, and used her neuro-locks to map Nate's brain, giving him control over his abilities. Meanwhile, Threnody is in New York, a captive of Marauders Scalphunter & Arclight. Elsewhere, Onslaught compels the captive Franklin Richards to call out to Nate for help. Back at Sinister's lair, Nate hears the cry, faintly, and Sinister urges him to ignore it. In New York, Threnody is able to capture a rat, and absorbs the energy released when she snaps its neck. Elsewhere, Nate realizes that Sinister's control over his power was temporary, and turns on Sinister. In New York, the escaped Threnody runs from the Marauders, who are attacked from behind by a hulking, shadowy figure. At Sinister's lair, Nate is distracted by the opening of a portal, through which he can see Franklin, asking for help. Nate reaches out as Sinister cries out that it's a trap; as Franklin's hand becomes Onslaught's, he tells Sinister that it was indeed a trap, then disappears with Nate in tow. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Nate is captured by Onslaught in this issue, effectively pulling him into the main arc of the crossover for the rest of its run (though that all unfolds in other series; this is the last issue of the series to tie-in with "Onslaught"), which is enough to earn it a "Phase 2" label over an "Impact" one. 

When Arclight & Scalphunter taunt Threnody that no one escapes from Mister Sinister, she responds that "the Cajun" is still out there, a reference to the still-unresolved mystery surrounding Gambit & Sinister's past interactions.

Threnody is rescued from the Marauders by a large shadowy figure (whom she recognizes); this will be revealed next issue to be the Hulk villain Abomination (who had taken to living in the tunnels under New York City around this time). 

What's the Plan, Stan? 
Onslaught is forcing Franklin to call out to Nate, in order to lure Nate into a position where Onslaught can grab him, for...reasons. 

A Work in Progress
Sinister's throne in this issue is reminiscent of the one he used during "Inferno"

It's revealed in this issue that Sinister used Threnody's interactions with Nate to create a psychic backdoor into his mind. 

Onslaught is depicted here still in his original, Magneto-esque armor and not his evolved form. 

Nate is able to visually manifest mental memories our of psionic energy. 

Young Love
In light of the danger posed by Onslaught, Arclight & Scalphunter seemingly have sex with each other. 

Austin's Analysis
This series is at its most entertaining when Nate find himself at a power disadvantage relative to his foe. Unfortunately, given how supremely powerful he's been made out to be, he rarely finds himself in that situation - arguably, the only time it's happened was in the series' initial "Age of Apocalypse" issues (not coincidentally, also its best issues), when his powers were developing and he wasn't sure how to use them (even his fight against Holocaust in issues #16-17 were more of a stalemate than Nate being purely overpowered). As in those early AoA issues, Nate is once again dominated by (a version of) Sinister here, and the end result is an issue that is far more entertaining than it has any right to be, considering it's basically two characters talking for most of its pages. But Kavanagh, rarely the strongest of scripters, gives Sinister enough flair & mustache-twirling panache to keep his taunting & prodding of Nate entertaining, while peppering in some legitimate fear on Sinister's part as Onslaught prowls around the edges of his plans for Nate. And Steve Skroce, still the series' greatest asset, finds enough ways to present staid dialogue scenes in a dramatic & entertaining fashion. Certainly, it's never a good long term sign when the more supplicate the title character is, the better the book is, but for this issue, at least, its refreshingly entertaining. 

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Banshee hunts for Emma & the kids in Generation X #19. Friday, Wolverine meets Stick in Wolverine #105. Next week, X-Men (vol. 2) #56! 

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  1. Onslaught seems to have the same MO as early Apocalypse. Just do things and claim later that it was part of your plan. That's pretty much the same way I do it.

  2. A true classic issue for all the Arclight/Scalphunter shippers out there.

  3. "In light of the danger posed by Onslaught, Arclight & Scalphunter seemingly have sex with each other."

    Forgive me because I haven't actually read the issue, but -- are they doing it right in front of a chained-up Threnody??


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