Monday, November 4, 2013


Premiere Hardcover, 2008
In 2008, twelve years after he had last visited the characters in X-MEN AND THE CLANDESTINE, Alan Davis returned to his creations for a five-issue limited series called CLANDESTINE: BLOOD RELATIVE. Interestingly, Davis treats this story as if is a direct continuation of the last stories from over a decade previous. Now, "Marvel Time" can allow for certain liberties to be taken with timeline compression, but it seems a bit odd to essentially continue a twelve year-old story as if no more than a month had passed between installments. This approach doesn't hurt Davis's efforts, mind you -- it just seems a strange creative decision.

The story is much of the same as the first time around -- in fact, the Destines find themselves battling the very same villain they fought in their first story arc, lo those many years past -- a character of Davis's creation called Griffin. In fact, Griffin's scheme here is a direct sequel to the very first CLANDESTINE issues, wherein he kidnapped the family. We learn now that he cloned them, and he sends those clones to exact revenge for his previous defeat.

Along the way, we visit the parallel Earth inhabited by Newton Destine, and in a fun bit, that world's version of Opal Luna Saturnyne -- called here Satyr-nun -- drops by. There are more clues as to the death of sibling Vincent at the hands of the Destines' father, Adam, and Adam himself is transported to the dimension where the Destines' genie mother resides. Simultaneously, Kay, Samantha, and the kids, Rory, and Pandora are caught up in a little side adventure which eventually circles back to the Griffin plot.

In fact, aside from the gorgeous artwork, the plotting is the strongest thing about this mini-series. The characterizations work, and feel perhaps a bit more fleshed out than the first time around, and the scripting is much, much better than the original CLANDESTINE stories -- but the intricate plot is on par with the early part of Davis's EXCALIBUR run, in its use of multiple storylines and sub-plots, all of which collide in the final issue, where seemingly disparate elements suddenly fall into place.

And speaking of Excalibur and disparate elements, the biggest treat in this series -- for me, anyway -- is the appearance by Captain Britain, Meggan, Shadowcat, Phoenix, Nightcrawler, Lockheed, and Alistaire Stuart, right in the middle of the "Cross-Time Caper". Early in the story, Dominic Destine is sucked into a dimensional warp, which transports him through time and space to Excalibur's dimension-hopping locomotive. This is no brief cameo, either -- Davis spends about three issues with the classic Excalibur line-up, proving that you most certainly can go home again. Davis doesn't miss a beat, and his characterization of the group is spot-on and entertaining as always.

Back in action.
As for what it says that an Excalibur guest-spot is the highlight of another group's limited series -- well, like I said, this story is certainly much better than the original CLANDESTINE stories, but the Destines themselves, aside once more from just a few of them, just don't do much for me. Kay and the kids are entertaining as before. And Samantha's role as the straight woman to party girl Kay is fun as well, so she's growing on me too. But the fact that I felt nothing at the story's end when Adam leaves his family once more, asking them to "be good to one another" before he departs with their mother, possibly never to be seen again, doesn't exactly speak to my investment in the Destine family.

The art though, is tremendous as usual. It's particularly fun to see the Davis of today drawing the Excalibur of yesterday, but really everything in this story looks magnificent.

At the story's end, as Adam departs our plane of existence, Vincent's grave -- glimpsed in the original 1995-96 stories and again here, cracks open and some sort of energy escapes, which means Davis isn't quite done with the Destines yet...

Next: Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, Wolverine, and Doctor Strange!

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