Friday, August 2, 2013

X-men Chronicles #2











X-men Chronicles #2 

This issue was actually published toward the end of the Age of Apocalypse event, and seems to be designed to help answer some of the questions people may have had while reading the various series. The main one apparently being "How did Magneto and Rogue end up together?"


The issue begins as Weapon X is telling Magneto that he can take this job and shove it. Jean was sent into Apocalypse's territory on a secret mission of some kind, and Weapon X had to go in and rescue her. In the process, he lost his hand. Tired of dealing with Magneto's methods, the two of them are leaving. This basically sets them up to have their own series together, and we'll read about their continuing adventures in Weapon X. I really wish this issue had actually showed us the preceding conflict rather than this aftermath. But apparently it was more important to show us Magneto brooding instead.

Through various exposition we learn that Gambit and Rogue are a couple at this point, as are Storm and Quicksilver. The former of course has history in the main timeline, but the latter is brand new. In the main timeline Quicksilver is quick tempered, as you would probably expect given his powers, but Storm is calm and collected. However a very brief exchange between Quicksilver and Iceman tells us she's much more cold and distant here. I suppose they balance each other out somehow?


We follow the X-men on a mission to help out some normal humans who are being mistreated by bandits. In this post-apocalyptic world, humans are fighting for their survival and thugs are apparently making food and resources even scarcer. The X-men are their only hope. However this particular conflict doesn't go so well, as one of the bandits is equipped with a non-metal knife and manages to get Magneto in the back. He insists that the X-men continue the battle, but Gambit, his good friend, says no and orders the X-men to return to their headquarters in New Mexico so Magneto can heal. While everyone else agrees that this was the right decision, Magneto is pretty pissed. He insists that the X-men need to keep fighting regardless of his condition, but they are all apparently too devoted to him to do that. It's a good acknowledgement that Magneto is a charismatic leader regardless of what side of the fight he is on. Though it's a shame that the X-men basically left those humans to die just to save him...


The bandits run into a mutant named Wolverine (that large guy on the cover). He has no connection to Logan, nor does he have a correlating character in the main timeline. It's just that apparently there needs to be a Wolverine in every version of the universe, I guess. He's very strong and can heal fast, but most importantly for this issue he can imbue others with strength with a touch. Unfortunately that added strength will eventually burn out and kill them, but since he's doing it to humans, he couldn't care less. He rallies the bandits to his side and leads them to attack the X-men at their home base. Apparently it's quite a journey, because we have plenty of time for angst and romantic drama in between.

Rogue talks to Magneto: 

Magneto and Rogue

Gambit talks to Iceman about Rogue:
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Rogue talks to Quicksilver about Magneto:
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Gambit tells Rogue he's ready for commitment:
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Rogue flies off to see Magneto. In the midst of their talk, Magneto reveals he can put a bio-magnetic shield around himself that will allow him to touch her, and as he touches her face she bursts into tears.
magsandrogue2-Copy

This should be a really sweet moment, but with all the push and pull I just witnessed, I'm afraid I'm not really feeling it. It's made even worse when Gambit jumps in and gets accusatory with Rogue and I don't know who to side with. Was all that stuff earlier just Gambit thinking there was something between them and being wrong? Or was he talking about commitment because she's expressed romantic feelings previously and is only now changing her mind? Despite there being a lot of talking going on in this issue, there's still so much I don't know, particularly when it comes to how Rogue feels.

Finally Wolverine and his bandits show up and attack the X-men. Gambit and Magneto are cornered, and Rogue chooses to rescue Magneto while letting a bunch of bricks fall on Gambit. Ouch. What a horrible way to find out how the girl feels. Though apparently the bricks weren't that heavy because he's just fine a couple pages later.

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This issue then commits a horrible sin when it comes to storytelling - we are told that an epic battle commences with Wolverine and the X-men, but we don't see it. It is actually obscured behind a cloud of dust. I can understand needing to abbreviate things for length, but couldn't you at least show us a little bit of the fight? When the battle is over, Gambit apologizes to Rogue for overreacting and tells her that he saw the look in her eyes when Magneto touched her, and that's all he needs to know. Once again, basically setting up for Gambit's exit so that Gambit and the X-ternals can be its own series. 
 
Gambit and Rogue were a very popular couple at this point. Partially because of some really touching stories told in the comics, and because of the popularity of the X-men cartoon. So I suppose they felt the need to create an issue that would explain why this popular pairing wasn't together. But it's really unnecessary. Cyclops and Jean Grey aren't together in this timeline, and it makes perfect sense given the circumstances. We already saw Scarlet Witch ask Rogue to take care of her father, thereby drawing them together. They could have easily just made it so that the two of them were already together before Gambit even showed up. But instead we got this mess of an issue, with Rogue barely getting to say a word in her own defense and introducing a character with a confusing name that will never appear again in the entire series. 

There's also some art in the back of the issue that signifies some of the more important events of the Age of Apocalypse. One of them being that the man we saw as Nemesis in the previous issue is now Holocaust. I'm not sure how well that ever gets explained in future issues, so I figured it's worth mentioning here.

9 comments:

  1. That cover is so ridiculously representative of mid-90s comics as a whole. Especially the sickle gauntlet. :)

    Okay, so that's Wolverine? I was so confused, thinking this dude was just some unnamed thug (especially given that he's taken out in the end), and when the captions talk about the horde following Wolverine through the woods, I was thinking they were actually on Logan's tail. So yeah... confused.

    And since his power to give strength is pretty much the opposite of Rogue's, I'm surprised they never go the obvious route of squaring them off.

    I agree with you that there's some strong moments that unfortunately play week: Magneto touching Rogue's face after everybody's running around and trying to tell each other how they feel after telling everyone else how they feel about the people they want to tell how they feel about; and then Rogue choosing to save Magneto over Gambit lacks punch because Gambit doesn't really come to harm as a result.

    You say this was a retroactive filler issue done part-way through the event, and it feels like it. I agree it's a huge mess and completely unnecessary, and jumping from X-Men Chronicles #1 to this, they never explain why Sabretooth is suddenly on the team, as that should definitely be creating some level of discomfort for Logan and contributing to his decision to leave, no? Instead, they just have him fill the traditional Wolverine role. And while I've come to like the artist Ian Churchill's grown into over the years, he was just another knockoff of the Image style at the time. His action is adequate, but the scenes of people talking - of which there are sooooo many - are extremely awkward.

    Definitely a stinker.

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    1. As I sat down to write these reviews, so many times I had to erase "Wolverine" and replace it with Logan or Weapon X because I had to remember that wasn't his name in this universe. So yeah, I don't know whose idea this was, but it was a bad one.

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  2. Actually, scratch that compliment on the artist Churchill's grown into, as I momentarily crossed a brain wire between him and Ed Benes. Benes does great stuff. Churchill has improved, but not by very much.

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    1. Yeah, the everyone has mullets and weird jaw lines is not doing anything for me at all. You're right in that it was the typical style of the day, but not one I really enjoyed. Jim Lee has his weaknesses too, but I always preferred his style over this one.

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    2. Having recently read a bit of Lee's original WildCATs run, he definitely was one of the best at that style. There's a subtlety to his stuff which eases up on ridiculous figures and poses, and is capable of pulling off good emotional moments. And he manages to make the "pouches and spikes" costumes work because he doesn't overdo it, and there's a logical individualism to each which fits the characters as opposed to the randomness most designs of the time would toss in. It's definitely made me curious to read his X-Men run. :)

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  3. +JMJ+

    I remember reading this and feeling that Rogue and Gambit were being set up with drama that wasn't really organic to their relationship. There's only so much you can do with the conflict of two people being in love but not being able to touch; so when the problem becomes a non-issue (as per Remy's declaration to Bobby) I guess the only way to keep things spicy is with a totally random love triangle.

    (I've had similar frustrations with some of the stories written for Cyclops and Jean Grey. Those two get along so well that they're boring . . . so all sorts of shenanigans have to be pulled to make sure there's some drama.)

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    1. And those shenanigans usually include making another telepath a temptress to seduce him. Because apparently those are the only type of women Scott is interested in. :P

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    2. I can actually understand that aspect as he's someone who keeps his emotions so bottled up that the only way a love interest can get into his head is if they do it literally.

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    3. +JMJ+

      Noel, that observation blows my non telepathic mind! =D

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