New Mutants #22
The Age of X alternate reality crossover continues in New Mutants during a convenient break between creative teams for the title. For those keeping track, the new creative team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning was announced a few days after this issue was released, ending the speculation on who would take over from long time writer Zeb Wells after Age of X ended. Chapter 2 of the series features a 2-page spread with this universe’s Madison Jeffries.
Legacy, the Age of X version of Rogue, brings a camera she discovered and surreptitiously confiscated in Chapter 1 to an observatory-type lab in Fortress X where the Age of X version of Madison Jeffries is found peering through a telescope. He’s drawn quite similar to his 616 counterpart, but with a crew cut and an odd set of knee pads – a possible dig from penciler Steve Kurth to tease Clay Mann for his bizarre overuse of knee pads in his character designs for the crossover. Two of Jeffries’ creations are shown, the first being his mechanical assistant Matilda, a levitating combo coffee machine/astronomer robot who appears to display some level of artificial intelligence.
It’s a nice touch by writer Mike Carey, who has been occasionally including Jeffries as a character in his regular gig over at X-Men: Legacy, to have noted Jeffries recent addiction to caffeine that we’ve seen before. It also appears that Steve Kurth may have been inspired by the amazing Chopstick-o-matic from X-Men: Curse of the Mutants – Smoke and Blood #1 when designing Matilda’s coffee-serving elements.
Jeffries utilizes a “talking to machines” voice here that we’ve seen before, but unlike the irritating binary-speak used in Uncanny X-Men #505 and #506 and the childish cooing over Karma’s hideous leg prosthesis in X-Men: Second Coming #2, he actually addresses Matilda in a normal manner. Later, when talking to the camera, a far less intelligent device, he reverts to the childish cooing voice again, but this time around it seems more palatable once framed in the context of the relative processing power of the two devices.
As Legacy makes small talk with Jeffries, he drops a fairly big hint that the Age of X world isn’t what it seems to be: he mentions that the starlight measurements are off. In another more subtle hint, Legacy expresses disbelief that the stars could be measured at all, since they are outside the opaque telekinetic force walls surrounding Fortress X. Unfortunately, Jeffries explains it away with a scientifically inaccurate explanation: that he sends Matilda a thousand feet up to get a better view because the refraction index [of the atmosphere] is a lot less up there. In reality, the index of refraction of air at sea level as compared to a thousand feet up, or in the vacuum of space for that matter, is nearly exactly the same, and in any case, index of refraction of the atmosphere is not a relevant factor in optical resolution. Mike Carey typically writes Jeffries as a super-smart character full of technobabble, but come on, at least get the technobabble right!
The other Jeffries creation is the rarely seen Box Armor, which still has not been used in action in the 616 continuity since Jeffries’ return to the X-books. Unfortunately, we aren’t treated to a front-line battle sequence with this armor, which is disappointing with all the combat shown in this series but not inconsistent with the “support staff” role that Jeffries has been playing. He only refers to it to indicate to Legacy that repeated use of the armor can lead to a man/machine fusion. Sound familiar? Go pick up your copy of the Byrne-era Alpha Flight #22 where Roger Bochs faced a similar danger. Of course from 1985 to 2011 the way Jeffries puts it changes a bit:
1985 (ditch digger talking to Roger Bochs): Hadn’t you better pop outta there, before you get too comfy? ‘Member I warned ya of th’ danger of the symbiosis becomin’ permanent.
2011 (scientist talking to Legacy): Every time I get into that armor and plug myself in, I become a bit more of a machine and a bit less of a man.
Anyway, it’s a beautiful rendition of the Box armor by Steve Kurth and a real treat for Alpha Flight fans, even though it’s just a tease. The scene ends with a surprising kiss from Legacy as she temporarily borrows Jeffries’ mutant powers. It’s nice for him to finally get some action from her, but it’s a few issues too late – instead of the glistening massive gigantic beautiful boobs-hanging-out massive cleavage version of Rogue from X-Men: Legacy #244, he’ll have to settle for this modestly dressed and completely covered up alternate version instead.
Note: this issue has a variant cover by Clay Mann, taken from a portion of a promotional poster for the story arc, the right half of which was one of the variant covers for X-Men: Legacy #245 and a second printing variant with interior art by Steve Kurth.
|New Mutants #22 – Clay Mann variant|
|New Mutants #22 – second printing variant|