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Wednesday, January 12, 2022

X-amining Generation X #23

January 1997

In a Nutshell
Generation X celebrates Thanksgiving.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Mitch Byrd 
Inker: Jason Martin and Karl Story 
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Enhancements: GCW
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Banshee ruminates on his strained relationship with his daughter as he prepares to take Monet to a doctor to discuss her autism, but Monet insists she is not going. Meanwhile, Paige and Chamber are in Kentucky celebrating Thanksgiving with Paige's family. At the school, Monet admits that when her mutant powers first manifested, her father took her to see lots of doctors, and she doesn't want to experience that again. In Kentucky, Paige and Chamber arrive at her home to find her family away for the afternoon, which Chamber takes as an insult, but Paige reminds him there are plenty of "freaks" in her family already, so Chamber doesn't bother them. Elsewhere, Bastion and Daria continue to look into Emma Frost. In the Biosphere, Howard the Duck and his friend Beverly meet Artie, Leech and Franklin, and discover the boys are trying to help a sick Tana Nile. At the Guthrie Farm, Paige and Chamber discuss their feelings for each other, with Paige skewering some of Chamber's perceptions of her expectations about their relationship, angry at his ignorance of her own feelings. Later, Emma and Banshee discuss Monet and the possible threat she represents to the school, while being unknowingly watched by a hidden figure with wooden appendages. Back in Kentucky, Chamber tells Paige he's leaving, and Paige quietly calls him a jerk as he departs. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Following on from the previous issue, this one is set during Thanksgiving, with Paige and Chamber visiting her family for the holiday (of course, with the sliding timeline, there's no way an actual month of time has passed since the last issue, but it's best not to think of these things when not necessary). 

A brief check-in with the Operation: Zero Tolerance crew keeps that looming crossover on readers' minds and shows that Bastian is getting closer to discovering the truth about Emma Frost (with the continued help of Daria). 

Howard the Duck's lady friend Beverly Switzler has stopped by, and the kids show them an injured Tana Nile (a Rigellian who first appeared in Thor) they are helping care for in the Biosphere, all of which is setup for the upcoming Daydreamers miniseries. 

A shadowy figure watches Banshee and Emma at the end of the issue; this is the (heavily mutated) Black Tom, who will menace the school in issue #25.

A Work in Progress

Monet mentions having been poked and prodded by doctors when her mutant powers manifested as her rationale for not wanting to go to the doctor, but presumably, she is trying to avoid the truth about her current condition (ie being two kids in a Monet-shaped trenchcoat) from being exposed. 

Young Love
Paige and Chamber have a row over their feelings for each other, with Chamber doing his usual sad sack "woe is me, I can't be the kind of man you want me to be" routine, prompting Paige to angrily tell him to stop making her feelings for him what he needs to them to be instead of what they are. 

It's In The Mail
It's noted in the letters page that Chamber has been featured on the covers of the series quite often lately (including this one). 

Austin's Analysis
A quiet, calm-before-the-storm character-centric issue, this is the kind of thing which I would usually laud as a welcome respite from the usual sturm-und-drang of loud action beats and intricate plotting. The problem is, all this series has been doing lately is this kind of quiet, character-focused stuff, and while the art here is a suitable match to the tone of the story, it lacks the energy and creativity of Chris Bachalo, which has done a lot to liven up some otherwise "quiet" stories. The end result is thus nothing special (relative to what we've come to expect from the series), and technically a step down from the now-usual fare due to the absence of Bachalo. Do I prefer this kind of thing over the lackadaisical plotting of X-Man, or the nonsensical noise of X-Factor? Of course. But it's also hard to deny it's less special when it's happening all the time, and that tonal variety is as important when the baseline is "quiet", as it is when the baseline is "loud". 

Next Issue
Tomorrow, some old friends return in X-Force #62. Next week, the Merc with a Mouth gets his own series in Deadpool #1!

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  1. There's a subtle clue about Monet's true nature at one point in this issue: when Banshee and Synch are discussing that she isn't particularly close to anyone at the school, Banshee comments that she's like "her own best friend." I thought that was clever, assuming it was intentional.

    Anyway, I like how Byrd draws Banshee emanating soundwaves the entire time he's in the air, even as he's talking. Not sure how that works, but then I've never understood how he can talk while flying. I also like they way Byrd has him take off, crouching low to the ground and then launching himself into the sky. Looks like something from a movie.

    But overall, I agree. This series excels at quiet character issues, but too many of them make them feel less special. Lobdell had a good formula on UNCANNY and X-MEN, going back nearly to the beginning of his run -- while there were certainly plenty of traditonal quiet issues, there were also many issues that were mostly quiet with a smidge of action, even if only a skirmish between teammates, to keep things from getting boring. He should've applied that philosophy to GENERATION X as well.


    1. // but then I've never understood how [Banshee] can talk while flying //

      I actually have less of an issue with that — see: glider wings — than with images of him talking while in action, his mouth wide open and the standard “burst” visual affect deployed. Of course most comics panels are not strictly speaking just a single frozen moment, especially where dialogue is present. Perhaps his power operates like some variety of “throat singing” — in which practitioners seem to simultaneously produce more than one note — and he can generate a sonic frequency apart from his speech.

    2. That makes a lot of sense, Blam! I think would have to be a trick he developed after he got his powers back, though there's certainly no problem with him doing so. But I'm pretty sure Claremont made a point not to show him talking whenever he was using his scream to fly -- and in fact Polaris even comments on that limitation when he rescues her in UNCANNY #253.

  2. I'm wondering if the conceit that this was about students, not superheroes was applied a little too liberally? After all, New Mutants quickly became a super-hero book despite Xavier's assertation that they were not superheroes. It's a fine line to walk, I suppose and Lobdell was seemed to be more cautious about it than Claremont and, later, Simonson had been.

    Though, all things being considered, I prefer what's going on in Gen X than whatever nonsense Mackie was attempting in X-Factor.

  3. I think this was the first issue of Gen X that I read. I remember not being impressed by the art, then falling in love with the series when I found Bachalo's art in the first few issues. This art is serviceable, but Paige looks like a dude in that first image above.


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