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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

X-amining X-Man #26

"Down to Earth"
April 1997

In a Nutshell
Nate seeks Moira's help in the wake of the loss of his telekinetic powers. 

Writer: Terry Kavanagh
Guest Penciler: Pascual Ferry 
Inker: Jamie Mendoz & Howard Shack
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Separations: GCW
Editor: Jaye Gardner
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Stuck in Switzerland without his telekinetic powers, Nate psychically projects himself to his friend, Peter Parker, to ask for help with his lost abilities. While touched Nate would seek him out, Peter admits he's not the best person to ask, and steers Nate in the direction of Moira MacTaggert. Nate physically travels to Muir Island, using his telepathy to sneak aboard cargo vehicles and mask his presence from Excalibur as he heads towards Moira's lab. However, Moira is well aware of his presence thanks to a device she's created. Nate asks for her help contacting Forge, but when Moira reaches Val Cooper, she's told X-Factor is dead. Moira proceeds to run some tests on Nate, and concludes there's nothing physically wrong with him: his own mind is, for some reason, suppressing his telekinesis. Meanwhile, Dark Beast suggests to Havok that he recruit Nate to his Brotherhood, but cautions him to leave Beast's name out of it. Back on Muir Island, Moira attacks Nate, hoping his instincts will kick in and allow his power out, but it doesn't. Later, as Nate ponders his next move, Havok and Fatale teleport onto Muir Island, and tell Nate they can help him. 

Firsts and Other Notables
It's established in X-Man #26 that the absence of Nate's telekinetic abilities following his encounter with Madelyne last issue is the result of a mental inhibition on his part, rather than a physical problem. 

Havok's Brotherhood, which here consists of himself, Fatale, and Dark Beast, turns up in this issue with designs on recruiting Nate (which is seemingly part of some kind of plan-within-a-plan Dark Beast is running).  

A Work in Progress
I know they're trying to underscore how Nate doesn't have TK, but having him barehand climb up to Excalibur's base like he's scaling the Cliffs of Insanity seems a bit excessive. 

Both the events of issue #24, and Nate's recent work as a street performer in Central Park, are referenced by the Daily Bugle staff. 

We're reminded Nate still doesn't trust the X-Men, which is why he's not going to any of them for help. 

Nate is unable to detect the fact that, technically, Amanda Sefton is currently her mother Margali in control of Amanda's body (and the scene between her and Nightcrawler strongly suggests Terry Kavanagh is unaware of this as well). 

Rahne says (via some terrible dialogue) that she and Kitty are working on a surprise, with a caption pointing us to Excalibur #108.

Nate and Moira learn that X-Factor is "dead", a result of them faking their deaths in X-Factor #132

Moira suggests Nate needs to eat a lot to sustain his power. 

The Reference Section
While Nate is psychically projecting himself into the Daily Bugle, we hear that "Deep Throat" is calling for Ben Urich. 

Later Havok does a "I knew Jack Kennedy" riff with Dark Beast. 

Austin's Analysis
Something seems a little off with X-Man #26. Plot-wise, it's fine: in the wake of seemingly losing his telekinetic powers, Nate seeks out the advice of someone he likes (Spider-Man) who directs him to someone with whom he has a shaky but non-adversarial relationship (Moira) for further guidance. It's a good use of the book's relatively limited internal continuity, and Terry Kavanagh even takes a moment to hang a lampshade on Nate's stupid distrust of the X-Men. 

But the majority of the issue is told via first person though bubbles, and his voice seems off throughout the majority of those captions. For one, he speaks with an eloquence inconsistent with his voice as depicted previously in the series. For another, he is entirely too self-reflective (and self-critical), given how bratty he's been presented in the past (by Kavanagh himself, no less). For example, "Can't keep denying the probability that this is just the beginning of the end for me, the first real sign of my bodys surrender t' the fire in my head" simply sounds more like a writer than Nate. 

It's possible Kavanagh is trying to show that Nate's TK loss is causing him to act more mature and be more self-reflective, but if so, the subtlety may be lost (and Nate is still doing dumb things like being unnecessarily suspicious of Excalibur and masking his presence from them). The issue's connections with the series' past is appreciated (Nate's relationship with the AoA Forge is also used as the vehicle to connect Nate to X-Factor and introduce Havok and his Brotherhood), but the sudden shift in Nate's voice that permeates the issue is jarring. 

Next Issue
Frankling Richards deals with loss in X-Men Unlimited #14!

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  1. I just can’t buy Moira clomping around her lab in six-inch platform boots.

    1. She was trying out Frank Quitely fashions before Frank Quitely became a thing.

    2. Are platform boots a trademark of his along with the pursed lips and unfathomable resolve to make superheroes look utterly ridiculous?


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