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Thursday, July 22, 2021

X-amining X-Man #20

"The Mourning After"
October 1996

In a Nutshell
Nate battles the Abomination to rescue Threnody

Writer: Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Steve Skroce
Inker: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Dana Morehead
Editor: Bob Harras

Telepathically searching New York City for Threnody, Nate Grey discovers her a captive of the Abomination, leader of the Forgotten, a group of sewer-dwelling people no longer welcomed by society, to which she formerly belonged. Nate intervenes, getting into a fight with the hulking Abomination. Reading the Abomination's mind, he realizes that he and the Abomination view Threnody differently, and proceeds to create a telepathic illusion in Abomination's mind of successfully beating Nate rather than fight him. As Abomination walks off, Nate explains to Threnody what he did, saying he's learning not to fight the fights he doesn't have to. Meanwhile, Selene is flying back to Manhattan, accompanied by Trevor Fitzroy & Madelyne Pryor, with her sights set on Sebastian Shaw. 

Firsts and Other Notables
This is artist Steve Skroce's last issue as the series' regular penciller; he moves on to Amazing Spider-Man, but will return to the X-Books later in the decade (after working on the storyboards for The Matrix) as the initial series artist on the solo Gambit series, as well as a brief run on Wolverine. With his departure, this book loses the one consistently good thing about it which all too often kept it from being complete dreck. 

This issue occurs during the brief period of time in which Hulk villain Abomination is living out of the sewers in New York, leading a group of social outcasts named the Forgotten (appearing here for the first time); they're basically non-mutant (or, at least, not-exclusively mutant) Morlocks. Abomination and the Forgotten will pop up a few more times in this book. 

It's revealed here that the Abomination took in Threnody when her powers first manifested and tried to help her get them under control (which led to the deaths of a pair of Forgotten), which seems a weird bit of timeline business; at best, it has to have been at least five years between then and now, and I don't think the Abomination was leading the Forgotten for that long (to say nothing of the fact that in the Sliding Timeline, that doesn't really leave him enough time for all his chronicled activities before coming to live under the city). 

The issue concludes with a one-page check-in with Selene, Maddy and Fitzroy, as the trio head back to New York, seeking out Shaw. 

A Work in Progress
Nate smartly uses his power to just make the Abomination think he's won. 

Austin's Analysis
All too often in this series, Nate Grey has been a passive protagonist, someone to whom events happen and he responds to those events, rather than driving the action himself. And when he does drive the action, he usually does it in the most annoying & abrasive way possible. All of which is to say, this issue might feature the most appealing depiction of Nate in the series yet (building on a similarly-strong showing in the previous issue). Continuity issues involving the timing of a sewer-dwelling Abomination serving as a Fagin figure to a young Threnody aside, this a pretty straightforward issue that serves to reunite Nate and Threnody after their "Onslaught"-driven separation and setup a new status quo for the series (basing the pair out of New York), but in the process, Nate shows himself to be a driven & smart character. He has a goal, he sets out to achieve it, adjusts his approach when he encounters resistance, and ultimately wins the day (and achieves his goal) by using his powers smartly, instead of just telekinetically smashing stuff up until his nose bleeds. With the departure of Steve Skroce, this series needs all the help it can get to remain even moderately entertaining; presenting the main character as something other than a reactive, whiny, sulky brat with tremendous power is a good start. 

Next Issue
Next week: Generation X #20 and Wolverine #106. 

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  1. "This is artist Steve Skroce's last issue as the series' regular penciller; he moves on to Amazing Spider-Man..."

    ...where comes aboard with much fanfare, draws eight issues in twelve months, and then abruptly vanishes with no comment!

    1. I could be wrong, but I think there was mention of Skroce leaving to do The Matrix in either a letter's page blurb or in Wizard magazine. At least my memory insists there was.

  2. I believe I was the perfect audience for this series at the time it was released (which might explain why I bought the entire run as it was coming out). Especially since there was a lot going on in my life at the time that made me feel like a passive observer in my own life. As such, I do have fond feelings for Nate's early days.

    That said, revisiting these now is like looking at old stories I've written. They were great at the time, but now come off as the self-absorbed whining that they probably always were.

    Terry Kavanagh seems to fit into the same mold as Mackie and Raab in that they are on the books not because they are great writers but because they were willing to work within the confines of Harras's dictates and roll with his (and Lobdell's) flights of fancy.


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