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Thursday, September 16, 2021

X-amining X-Man #22

"Falling Up"
December 1996

In a Nutshell
Nate & Threnody start building a life for themselves. 

Writer: Terry Kavanagh
Pencilers: Roger Cruz & Manny Clark
Inkers: LaRosa & Geiger
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Editor: Jaye Gardner
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

After an arsonist sets fire to a tenement, Nate rescues the people trapped inside, then captures the arsonist and telepathically makes him feel the terror he instilled in his victims. Later, he arrives in Washington Square Park, where Threnody is capitalizing on his recent appearances there as a kind of street healer to make some money. As he helps a young mother realize the inner strength to help her son battle cancer, he feels like he's being watched. Elsewhere, Bastion is monitoring the return to Earth of the Silver Surfer as well as the Hellfire Club, while Selene introduces Madelyne to Sebastian Shaw, saying she is the means to deliver the X-Men to the Hellfire Club. Later, Nate & Threnody go shopping, then settle into an apartment, whose owner is away long-term. With his time running out, Nate tells Threnody he wants to know all about her. 

Firsts and Other Notables
For what it's worth, Nate and Threnody find an apartment in which to squat this issue. 

Selene introduces Madelyne Pryor and Fitzroy as the new White and Black Rooks of the Hellfire Club. 

This leads to a plug for a then-recent "Inferno" trade collection, when Sebastian Shaw meets Madelyne and it's remarked that when she died, all the world's telepaths felt it (which isn't actually something you'd see in that "Inferno" trade paperback). 

In a brief Operation: Zero Tolerance check-in, we see Bastion is monitoring the Hellfire Club, and provides a plug for a new direction in Silver Surfer. His aide Daria, from Generation X, is also present. 

A Work in Progress
Nate shows off a few different unique uses of his telepathy in this issue; he reveals that he put a telepathic tracer on an arsonist he encountered last issue, and then uses his power to make the arsonist feel what his victims felt. 

Later, he uses his power to help the mother of a young boy with cancer find the inner strength to help her son fight his disease. 

Selene's execution of her fellow Externals in X-Force #54 is mentioned. 

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
Threnody decides this is the best look for Nate. 

Bullpen Bulletins
There are interviews with Terry Kavanagh and Roger Cruz in this month's X-Facts pages. 

Austin's Analysis
This is a bit like Generation X #21, in that, plot-wise, not a ton happens. Unlike Generation X #21, it doesn't have Chris Bachalo to paper over that fact. But for all that, the sheer novelty of seeing this series put in the work of developing a status quo and presenting its protagonist in a non-grating way still does a lot to carry the day. Nate using his powers to set himself up as a sort of street healer/guru, then go shopping and find an apartment, isn't the most compelling of plot lines, but it is nice for the character to have a purpose beyond "be angsty and get manipulated by people", and the way he actually goes about that business is more interesting than the expected "uses powers to physically heal the sick" routine. Meanwhile, the Selene/Hellfire Club plot continues its slow burn, circling around most of the same ground as last issue (Bastion is bad, the Inner Circle needs to put aside its differences, etc.) with some added cryptic teases of "oh, Madelyne is gonna be a thing" thrown in, but that's the nature of the X-game at this point, I suppose. I'm not entirely sure the series has done enough to show where Nate's newfound confidence/lack of constant angst has come from (some combination of his encounter with Sinister and experiences with Onslaught, presumably), but given the result is a far more entertaining character, I'm not going to complain, even if not a whole lot else is happening at the moment. 

Next Issue
Next week: Hercules pops up in X-Men (vol. 2) #59, and Wolverine's adventure in Japan continues in Wolverine #107.

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  1. I really want to know who thought those backgrounds were a good idea for the interview pages, because those are unreadable.

  2. My first issue of X-MAN! Picking it up followed much the same trend as when I started reading EXCALIBUR with #96 -- I saw a tease about the Hellfire Club on the cover, and it was drawn by an atrist I really, really liked. Roger Cruz was like my second favorite penciler in those days, behind Joe Mad and just ahead of Luke Ross. I was really into that style at the time, and I wasn't particularly discerning about it.

    (While I still love Madureira, I find that Cruz hasn't aged as well -- though he's not awful. And Luke Ross, recent revelations about him personally aside, evolved a bit as the 90s went on to a point where I think his later stuff from the decade -- when he was drawing SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN -- still looks really good to this day.)

    Anyway, I didn't last long. Looks like I dropped the series within six issues. I think I stuck it out to #25, and the cover to 26 sure looks familiar to me, but I certainly didn't go any longer than that, if I even made it that far. I just found the series painfully bland -- much the same experience I had had with Kavanagh on WEB OF SPIDER-MAN years earlier.

  3. The frustrating thing about this series was that virtually every issue shows promise of potential, without ever fully realizing it. It's why I stuck with this series even though I dropped both Excalibur and X-Factor around this time. Based on those two titles ending at the same time I'm guessing a lot of people felt the same way since X-Man would go on for a few more years.

    As for the issue itself, I was entertained but some of the art is rough. That one panel of Selene makes Liefeld much better in comparison.


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