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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

X-amining X-Man #27

May 1997

In a Nutshell
Nate probes the true intentions of Havok's Brotherhood

Writer: Terry Kavanagh
Penciler: Roger Cruz 
Inker: Bud LaRosa
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Editor: Jaye Gardner 
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Nate joins Havok and his Brotherhood on a mission to rescue Aurora from aboard a Department H train. Hanging back, due both to his diminished powers and his uncertainty about the Brotherhood's true intents, Nate only intervenes in the conflict to stop one of Department H's soldiers from killing everyone. Claiming the soldier's weapon-laden gauntlet for himself, Nate returns with the Brotherhood and the rescued Aurora to their base below Manhattan. There, Havok shows Nate to a meditation chamber containing a device which will help Nate access his locked away abilities. Shortly thereafter, Nate is able to levitate himself. Exploring the base further, he discovers a stash of deadly gas cannisters that were traveling with Aurora. Realizing getting the gas was the true objective of the mission, not rescuing a fellow endangered mutant, Nate confronts Havok. Reading his mind, Nate confirms Havok isn't brainwashed and truly believes in the Brotherhood's mission. But he also discovers the Brotherhood's secret member, his world's Dark Beast. 

Firsts and Other Notables
This is the issue which takes great pains to sell readers on the idea that Havok's heel turn is legit and not the result of brainwashing/telepathic control/etc., with Nate reading his mind and confirming for readers that he is free of such things. Earlier in the issue, Havok also declares that he is "now and forever" part of the Brotherhood. All of this is made much more hilarious in hindsight. 

A brief cutaway to Nate's loft sets up a mystery involving something stirring there; I legitimately don't remember to what that is leading.  

A Work in Progress
Nate's powers have diminished to the point where's essentially just Mastermind, creating telepathic illusions, including showing himself standing in a different spot than he actually physically is for safety's sake. 

By the end of the issue, after a session in the Brotherhood's "meditation chamber", he's able to levitate himself. 

Nate appreciates that the Brotherhood seems more proactive than "Xavier's clowns". 

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
After being rescued by the Brotherhood, Aurora stumbles out into Nate's arms boobs first. 

Human/Mutant Relations
Aurora's transfer in this issue is driven in part by the mounting influence of Operation: Zero Tolerance. 

Austin's Analysis
X-Man #27 is an almost perfect time capsule of 1997. With ties to "Operation: Zero Tolerance", a very specific status quo for its title character (with Nate suppressing his powers, making it one of the rare times he's not stupid powerful), and pains being taken to sell a heel turn for Havok as a permanent change (that ultimately turns out to be very not permanent), there's almost no other point in time in which this issue could have been published. All told, it's competent enough. Shameless cheesecake aside, Roger Cruz has a strong enough grasp on fundamentals to make the storytelling at least readable. Nate's continued weird dislike of the X-Men aside, being stripped of his power makes him a vastly more sympathetic (and thus tolerable) character than when he's amped up and thus has to be his own worst enemy. But in hindsight, the extreme specificity of all this makes it hard to care too much about any of it. It won't be long before Nate's back to his old superpowered (and irritating) self, before Havok's not a bad guy anymore despite all the assurances sprinkled throughout this issue. That's always the case to some extent whenever you go back and read old stories like this, but usually, the temporal touchstones are broad enough to not weight down the story. Here, they're so specific, it's hard to care about much else. 

Next Issue
The Hong Kong trilogy concludes in X-Men (vol. 2) #64!

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  1. The mention that Department H’s guards wore “armor stolen straight from Mac Hudson’s super-powered Guardian suit designs” stuck out to me as I’ve just read Iron Man’s “Armor Wars” arc in its entirety for the first time. I don’t recall Tony Stark’s list of even potential infringers upon his work including Hudson, although the Vindicator/Guardian suit is so skintight that it doesn’t really register as armor per se (making its circuitry and weaponry all the more impressive). The grunts’ armor seen here as extrapolated from Mac’s work is another story and it’s nice to see his status as a Marvel Universe super-genius referenced.

  2. "X-Man #27 is an almost perfect time capsule of 1997"

    A good representation of how bland and blah the x-line as whole was overall at the time, I guess.

  3. Is it wrong to say that I envy Nate in that second to last pic? ;)


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