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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

X-amining Generation X '96

"Everyday People"

In a Nutshell
Generation X foils a plot by Fenris that impacts three different bystanders. 

Writer: Michael Golden 
Artists: Jeff Johnson and Dan Panosian
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Cabrera, Lazellari and GCW 
Editor: Mark Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

In the wake of Onslaught's attack, Banshee takes Mondo, Monet, Jubilee, Skin, Paige and Synch into New York City. Tensions run high inside the van as the group gets stuck in traffic. Meanwhile, the lives of three normal humans begin to intersect with the Generation X kids as well as the actions of Andrea and Andreas Strucker, who lead their Fenris terrorist organization in a plot to steal a mutagenic machine. Throughout the course of the day, the actions of the three people, Fenris, and Generation X are inextricably drawn together, with Generation X ultimately defeating Fenris (though the twins get away), while the lives of  three people are changed as a result of the events. 

Firsts and Other Notables
The big conceit of this issue's story is the way the lives of three "normal" humans are impacted due to their proximity of the eventual superpowered showdown between Fenris and the Gen X kids. The three bystanders go unnamed (which makes recapping the ins and outs of the plot more trouble than it's worth) but consistent of an executive who is preparing to run off with an executive assistant in his office, another woman who works in the office but is habitually late, and a man who is suicidal following the end of a romantic relationship. In the end, the adulterer gets arrested for embezzlement while the late woman and the suicidal man cross paths and end up agreeing to go on a date together. 

The idea for the story is credited to Michael Golden, who writes the issue. Golden is better known as a foundational artist of the 80s (amongst other things, he drew Rogue's first published appearance in Avengers Annual #10 and the first 12 issues of Micronauts). I can't say for sure this is his only writer credit, but it's the only place I've yet to encounter it. He also draws the cover. 

The villains of the story are Fenris, aka Andrea and Andreas Strucker aka the children of Baron Von Strucker aka the Nazi twins whose powers activate when they touch each other. This is their first appearance since their brief appearance in the X-Force/New Warriors crossover "Child's Play". 

Creator Central 
Pencils come from Jeff Johnson, an artist I principally know from his work on the early 90s Wonder Man series (which I mostly know from its "Operation: Galactic Storm" tie-in issues). 

A Work in Progress
Paige's thoughts as the kids get stuck in traffic more or less serve as a mission statement for the book. 

Remember "Onslaught"?
The opening pages recap parts of "Onslaught". 

Austin's Analysis
I'm not gonna lie: I kind of hit a wall with this one. Posts have been delayed* more than usual of late for a variety of reasons, mostly the intrusion of real world stuff into my writing time (not bad stuff, just  greater-than-normal demands-on-my-time stuff) but also the fact that whenever I did find time sit down to hammer out this review, I struggled with what to even say about the issue. And thus, it became far too easy to push it off, to find something else to write/do in that time (and I'm entirely too anal retentive to just skip ahead and write the next review, even as I continued to plow ahead reading stuff). It's not even a bad issue! I see what Golden is going for but don't think it quite works - the actions of the Gen X kids don't really have much of an impact on the three bystanders, even indirectly, so it's less "butterfly effect" and more "a series of stories being told in parallel", but an annual is exactly the kind of place to play around with a different kind of narrative structure like this, and it certainly beats the kind of standard overstuffed fare the annuals usually contain. Yet something about it - probably something about the sheer glut of thoroughly mediocre content being pushed out around this time - pulled me up short, and became something of an albatross around my neck. But, by whining about it here, I've successfully cast it off, and can hopefully get back on schedule quickly. The only other thing I'll say is, for as intriguing as the narrative conceit of the story is, I'd have enjoyed this a heck of a lot more if Michael Golden had drawn it. 

*I fully recognize that kvetching about publication dates and schedules only matters to those of you reading this now and is largely irrelevant to anyone reading it in the future relative to when I post it, but here we are. 

Next Issue
It's all the Rob Liefeld creations you can handle as X-Force meets Youngblood in Youngblood/X-Force #1 and X-Force/Youngblood #1. Then, Franklin Richards mourns in X-Men Unlimited #13.

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  1. Looking at the cover, I couldn't even remember what the story even was. The art is fairly serviceable and the story was rather ho-hum. For some reason, Generation X just never seems to work as well when anyone but Lobdell writes it, which is kind of odd. It seems like it should be fairly easy to get into this world as a writer so I don't know why it rarely works. Perhaps Lobdell was the only one interested enough in the concept to do anything with it while the other writers were just doing it for a paycheck?

  2. Yeah, this one is rough. I do think there's a good idea in here somewhere, but I'm not sure Michael Golden was the best one to write it, given his lack of experience in that area. Better he might have come up with the basic idea and handed it off to an seasoned writer to fully plot and script.

    I found it hard to care much about any of the bystanders (though of course we weren't supposed to care about one of them), and the quick jumps from scene to scene were often confusing.

    The shot of Banshee when he flies in to rescue Skin and Synch was the image attached to his character profile in the MARVEL SUPER HEROES ADVENTURE game in 1998/99. I know I made that observation about Forge in a recent issue of X-FACTOR, too. I imagine there will be more as we move forward, since that game used a great deal of artwork from the era.


  3. // the actions of the Gen X kids don't really have much of an impact on the three bystanders, even indirectly, so it's less "butterfly effect" and more "a series of stories being told in parallel" //

    Yeah. I actually found that kind-of interesting in an odd way, and there’s other stuff to appreciate like the Struckers assuming Banshee’s there to steal this device and/or prevent its theft when he’s just bringing the kids into NYC for, like, a field trip (hardly an original gag, to be sure), but… Oy. While much of the art is decent in something of a Lee Moder / Jason Pearson / Stuart Immonen mold, a school that seems to have spontaneously (?) developed around this time as a counterpoint to the scratchy kewl Image-founder approaches, we get major dropped balls like Sean’s facial hair vanishing between the first two pages and then reappearing, the colorists not knowing that Mondo is Polynesian, even some awfully rough lettering from Comicraft. Not to mention, Jubilee was just painful. I still read the entire thing, however, which is more than I can say for the Black Knight one-shot.

    As for Golden, I was surprised to see him writing solo too, particularly an extra-length story. Beyond some plotter/artist credits he seems to have just one solo writing gig, on a Sgt. Rock special for DC, before this and then a half-dozen or so further scripts in the future.


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