Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Not Blog Ex?
We're back with another installment of my seemingly non-existant series focusing on my personal favorite X-Men related comic book series of all time. Now, you want to see a real X-Fan? Go check in with G Kendall over at Not Blog X. That guy is a beast of a blogger, a guy who knows his stuff and has mutie knowledge the likes of which to make your head spin. For sure. (I'm not just blowing smoke here, either. I wish I could leave comments easier -- I'm behind a firewall, its a long story -- because NBX is one of my absolute favorite comic blogs and I so rarely get to leave him feedback. So if you are reading this man, keep up the good work!)
Of Birth, Death And The Confused, Painful Bit In Between
Credits: Alan Davis (Script), Alan Davis (p. 1-9, 14-22); Mark Farmer (p. 10-13) (Pencils), Mark Farmer (Inks), Joe Rosas; Dana Moreshead; Mike Thomas (Colors), Chris Eliopoulos (Letters).
Alistaire Stuart wakes up after being kidnapped last issue, and finds himself in Cloud Nine, the headquarters of the R.C.X -- the Resources Control Executive. He is being held by Nigel Orpington-Smythe (codenamed Peter), the head of the RCX. Peter apologizes for any injury his Seraphim, one of his Warpie groups, may have caused, since he meant no harm; Alistaire is not in the mood to hear it, as it was Peter who framed his sister before her murder by Jamie Braddock. Attacking Peter, Alistaire is then subdued by the Advocate, Peter's personal Warpie bodyguards, each with simple codenames such as Salt and Shrew (when you have 400 parahumans to keep track of, Peter explains, you try to keep things simple). Alistaire says that Peter is going down, as he contacted Excalibur before he was taken, but Peter informs him that contacting Excalibur was part of the plan, as the RCX wants to capture them, too.
Meanwhile, while Phoenix/Rachel drifts in deep space, the only members of Exalibur still in Great Britain (Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Cerise) investigate Alistaire's kidnapping, and are attacked by the Seraphim, who also have simple names. Cerise and Shadowcat are quickly taken out, so Nightcrawler plays possum to gain entry into Cloud Nine.
Briefly we check in with Meggan and Brian on vacation. As Meggan takes an early morning horseback ride on the beach, Brian flies up to her... only to fall into the ocean, unable to fly.
Back at Cloud Nine, Peter informs Alistaire of Excalibur's capture, and leads him on a guided tour of the facility. When they spot Micromax undergoing several "tests," Peter informs Alistaire that both FI6 and WHO have been absorbed into RCX, so they are "on the same team." Right then, a Warpie named Beetroot is being rushed by for medical attention. A psychic, Beetroot makes mental contact with Alistaire, revealing how the RCX took him from his parents, but put him with a new "family" with the other Warpies at Braddock Manor. But when the "nice lady" Betsy and her brother "The Captain" left, the experiments began, and all little Beetroot could do was cry and cry. Alistaire, reeling from Beetroot's death, lashes out and punches Peter, only to be knocked out by one of the Advocate (Aberdeen Angus, a cow-man). Peter orders medical treatment for Alistaire and an autopsy for Beetroot.
Nightcrawler then makes his move, attacking the Seraphim and using his judo skills as well as his agility and cunning to trick them into defeating themselves. During the ruckus, a door is opened releasing the Serpents, a viscious group of Warpies who could not be controlled. Seeing his friends in danger (including a sense of connection to Cerise he hadn't felt previously), Nightcrawler fights furiously, unleashing all of the rage he normally keeps well in check. Peter comes upon Nightcrawler right as he defeats the Serpents, and points out that not only is Nightcrawler trespassing, but all three members of Excalibur are illegal aliens (literally, in Cerise's case), and places them under arrest.
There is an advertisement for an aftermarket NES controller which promises to "breathe new life into your NES," with the anthropomorphized controlled blowing into it's cable, which is connected to the NES. Yeah, it looks really, really bad. You all know I am not one to scream that everything is suggestive, but this just over the top. I may have to scan this one.
The Warpies go all the way back to the Captain Britain Monthly series, having been an after-effect of the machinations of Mad Jim Jaspers. Peter had previously been seen congratulating Excalibur for helping with the train derailment back in issue #42. This is the first true inkling (other than the jokey bits at the party) of Cerise and Nightcrawler's relationship, of which I was always a fan.
I am not sure that this counts, as the pages pencilled by Farmer constitute Beetroot's flashback, and serve a good purpose in the story, so I am guessing this was planned from the start and not a fill-in job.
Another good issue, but typical of the Alan Davis stuff, there is a lot going on in a seemingly simple issue. We have the main Warpie plot, the Phoenix and Brian subplots, the introduction of the Cerise-Nightcrawler plot, the reintroduction of Nightcrawler trying to keep himself in check, the dissolution of WHO and FI6, plus a literal army of bright and crazy looking characters. At least Widget doesn't pop up! Peter and the RCX make for good villians, and Davis gets a chance to flex his creative muscles in coming up with all sorts of weird Warpies to throw in, including the hard and rough-skinned Pumice, the paralyzing Cyanide, the concentration-cancelling Peanut, and of course strong cow-man Aberdeen Angus. Davis' art is his usual smooth and graceful fare, although when Nightcrawler starts to lose it, you can see the energy level start ramping up, which is nice. Farmer's pages are more harsh, with lots of strong reds and purples and blacks in the coloring, giving the flashback a real unearthly tone. Like most of the issues from this period, you are not getting the whole story in this issue, but it gives enough background and has a strong enough cliffhanger (Excalibur, you are under arrest!) that it is satisfying enough as a single. Davis definitely has my interest in the main plot at this point.