Friday, March 30, 2018

X-MEN '92 #5 - #7

Writers: Chad Bowers & Chris Sims | Art: Cory Hamscher (#5) & Alti Frimansyah (#6-7)
Color Art: Matt Milla w/Dono Sánchez Almara (#6) | Lettering: VC's Travis Lanham
Cover Art: David Nakayama | Title Page Design: Nicholas Russell (#5)
Production Design: Carlos Lao | Assistant Editor: Heather Antos | Editor: Jordan D. White
Editor-in-Chief: Axel Alonso | Chief Creative Officer: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley | Executive Producer: Alan Fine

Following the first story arc of their ongoing series, Chad Bowers and Chris Sims give us a one-off story in issue 5 to remind readers that, while they've left the X-Men, Cyclops and Jean Grey are still members of the cast. We pick up with the couple in Alaska, from whence they're plucked to the future by an elderly woman named Rachel. Cylcops and Jean work with Rachel -- a.k.a. Askani -- to infiltrate the lair of Mister Sinister... but in the end it turns out Askani and Sinister are on the same side, working together to create the ultimate weapon against Apocalypse. That weapon proves to be a clone created by Sinister using genetic material grabbed from Cyclops and Jean while Rachel led them through his lair. The story ends with the couple transported back through time just after meeting their clone "son", Cable -- and when next they materialize, they find themselves in the year 2099, confronted by that era's X-Men.

As usual, kudos to Bowers and Sims for integrating the often labyrinthine continuity of the nineties into their story -- though in this case it's not really that difficult. Cable created by Sinister as a weapon against Apocalypse is pretty much the character's mainstream universe origin as well, and Rachel pulling Cyclops and Jean through time to Cable's future was the plot of the ADVENTURES OF CYCLOPS AND PHOENIX mini-series in 1993 (hence the title of issue 5's story). There's a twist here, with Sinister and Rachel in cahoots and Cable created in the future as a clone rather than in the present day as a biological child, but for the most part, this story adheres to existing continuity pretty well, just streamlining it a bit for the X-MEN '92 audience. And the cameo appearance by the X-Men of 2099 on the issue's final page is probably my favorite part of this one! I loved that series when I read it "first run" off the stands, and it's always nice to see it revisited.

Artwork in this installment is provided by Cory Hamscher, who I believe was the regular inker on X-MEN FOREVER. And, as with Scott Koblish on the X-MEN '92 Infinite Comics, we find that an inker from a past X-Men nostalgia project turns out to be a wonderful all-around artist for this current X-Men nostalgia project. Hamscher captures the nineties aesthetic while at the same time turning in a much more polished product than a lot of the artists of that area, just as well as Koblish before him.

And with that segue, I'll take a moment to talk about this series' regular artist, Alti Frimansyah. In general, I find her stuff a bit of a mixed bag. I mentioned as I wrapped up looking at the Infinite Comics that her work didn't quite evoke the nineties aesthetic in the way Scott Koblish's did, and that's kind of true -- but specifically, Koblish pulled off kind of a modern-day Jim Lee thing. Frimansyah, meanwhile, goes more cartoony in the direction of Joe Madureira. She's got a totally different style than Mad, of course, but if we're comparing this series' artists to artists who would've worked on the X-Men twenty to twenty-five years ago, that's the best I can some up with.

Frimansyah's faces are all fun and expressive, which I really like. Her figures, on the other hand, range from really nice to kind of awkward -- and that transition seems to occur when she needs to draw legs. If she's drawing a character from the shoulders/chest/waist up, everything looks fine. But her legs just look off somehow a lot of the time, like they're too short or something. But aside from that, and while I don't especially think she fits this series in the way Koblish and Hamscher do, I really like Frimansyah's style in general. She draws all the characters, from the core X-Men to the expanded cast of young mutants, quite nicely. Though I must admit that I don't like her Beast, who she gives a chin-beard for some reason -- and her Bishop somehow always looks a little off, though I can't quite put my finger on how.

Anyway -- Cyclops and Jean remain lost in the year 2099, not to be heard from again in the next few issues. X-MEN '92 6 and 7 find our heroes providing security services for intergalactic rock sensation Lila Cheney as she visits Earth -- but the show is sabotaged by Fabian Cortez, who jump-starts Lila's long-range teleportation power, sending her and the X-Men -- along with Abigail Brand, agent of SWORD, and alien bounty hunter Death's Head -- into deep space where they encounter a small group of the alien Brood who have mutated and now follow the X-Men's path as... the Ex-Brood. After a brief skirmish, X-Men and Ex-Brood make friends, but their tranquility appears to be short-lived as the Shi'ar Imperial Guard approach the Ex-Brood's planet.

This arc gives us a look at this universe's version of X-Factor -- composed, as they were in the early nineties, of Havok, Polaris, Multiple Man, Strong Guy, Wolfsbane, and Forge -- when they respond to the attack on Lila's concert, and, as noted above, also provides an appearance by "freelance peacekeeping agent" Death's Head, which tickles me pink as a longtime TRANSFORMERS fan. (Death's Head, though owned by Marvel, was created by Simon Furman and Geoff Senior -- but his first appearance was actually drawn by Bryan Hitch from Senior's designs -- for use in the Marvel U.K. TRANSFORMERS series). His appearance here, as a bounty hunter on Lila's tail, is in keeping with his established character, and he provides a fun means for a sort of X-Men/Transformers "crossover", in a way.

Though I've never loved the Brood, I do like the Imperial Guard, so I'm ready and eager to see what happens next. There are only three issues of X-MEN '92 left, and I hope Bowers and Sims are able to wrap things up in some semblance of a satisfactory fashion. At the very least, I'd like to see a resolution to Cyclops' and Jean's predicament!


  1. Death's Head is in this?

    Well, thanks, Matt, now I'm gonna have to get this for my complete set of Death's Head appearances!

    Sarcasm aside, thanks, I was unaware he was in this and I do have most of his appearances, so I will be checking this out.

    1. His appearance sure surprised me! I don't actively seek out Death's Head stories, but I'm always happy to see him pop up in places like this.

  2. X-Men providing security detail for a Lila Cheney diversity concert obviously is the stating point of X-CUTIONER'S SONG. Slightly more obscure allusion is the non-hostile Brood mutants who seem not unlike the Skrull mutants who Xavier runs away with sometime around 1999 or so.

    Gotta appreciate the blink-and-you-miss historically sound change of freelance peacekeeping agent Death's Head from a giant robot to a normal-sized one, yes.

    1. Yeah, these "Ex-Brood" made me think of the Brood mutants too, but the comparison with the Skrull mutants is a good one, and something I hadn't thought of!