Posts Tagged ‘Second Coming’

Northstar says Hurkk!

September 27, 2010

X-Men: Hellbound #3
Sep 2010

This issue concludes a three-issue miniseries spin-off from the Second Coming story line. It is one of several “Revelations” issues that accompany the main Second Coming series but are not numbered chapters. Northstar appears significantly as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508.

Illyana Rasputin (Magik) had been transported to Limbo by unknown means in X-Men: Second Coming #1 – a tactical move by Bastion’s forces to take out a teleporter. This miniseries is the self-contained story of how a small X-Men squad led by Cannonball rescues her. Northstar had been selected as part of the team in the first issue and, in the second issue, was transformed into Dark Northstar by a demonic Gambit, who had also transformed Dazzler after a confusing scattering and partial reunion of some team members.

Dark Northstar, Dark Gambit and Dark Dazzler find Cannonball and Anole in Limbo’s lava fields with the intention of attacking them. During the trash talk set-up for the battle, Gambit mentions that Anole’s limbs grow back when severed. Northstar then offers to help:

This disgusting little creature struck me once. I go first. I think I’ll take the arms.

This is of course a reference to the events of X-Men: Divided We Stand #1 (2008), when Anole popped Northstar in the mouth after he made an unsuccessful attempt to reach out to an extremely disaffected former student. That was actually in response to the events of X-Men #190 (2007) when a then-controlled Northstar sucker-elbowed Anole in the head, so technically Dark Northstar’s sense of retribution is misplaced. Either selective amnesia is a side effect of demonic possession or writer Chris Yost decided to put yet another chip on Jean-Paul’s shoulder.

I am about to say Hurkk! I haven't said it yet, but I will say it very soon.

We never get a chance to find out though, because Cannonball and Anole fly off. This brings Dark Northstar, Dark Dazzler and Dark Gambit into a final showdown with N’astirh, Pixie and Magik, only to have Cannonball swoosh down and blast everyone. Northstar is temporarily knocked over by this initial blast and is then completely taken out by Cannonball – a somewhat surprising outcome to a one-on-one battle between the two, except one has to remember that Northstar wasn’t exactly himself at the time.

Note Dark Northstar’s slightly modified costume has a starburst pattern positioned mid-thigh, lower down on his leg from the hip than the usual placement.

Northstar spends the rest of the issue unconscious, only to recover after Dark Gambit is turned back into Cajun Gambit again. Upon waking, Northstar realizes he had been knocked out, but still refuses to give full credit to Cannonball for getting them through the mission alive – another nice touch by Chris Yost to continue the same attitude we first saw in issue #1 when Northstar was arrogantly questioning Sam’s leadership skills.

I want to smack Karma in the mouth!

July 21, 2010

X-Men: Second Coming #2
Sep 2010

The Second Coming story line comes to its second conclusion in the fourteenth and final numbered chapter. The actual conclusion took place in X-Force #28, the thirteenth chapter, with this issue serving as a wrap-up. It could just as easily been titled Second Coming: Aftermath. In fact, this issue was originally solicited generically as Second Coming Finale when the series checklist was first published early 2010. Mister Jeffries appears briefly as a member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

The issue is divided into four vignettes, each written by a main series writer: Zeb Wells from the New Mutants title, Mike Carey from X-Men Legacy, Craig Kyle and Chris Yost from X-Force and Matt Fraction from Uncanny X-Men. In the first vignette by Zeb Wells, the action picks up from the end of X-Force #28 as Hope collapses after the explosive manifestation of her mutant powers. She wakes in the infirmary on Utopia, the new island headquarters of the X-Men, where Jeffries can be seen with a cybernetic prosthetic leg for Karma, who lost her leg in a previous chapter.

This cybernetic leg prosthesis was actually first shown in X-Men: Curse of the Mutants Saga, a free promo comic published in the previous week, to less than favorable reviews. Alpha Flight Collector shares a fairly low opinion of the leg as well, ranking it among the least impressive of Madison Jeffries’ creations. It’s not clear if Leonard Kirk, the artist from the promo piece or Ibriam Roberson, the New Mutants artist is to blame for its design but it sure is awful.

Karma herself isn’t so impressed with the leg, and continues to berate Mister Jeffries for it. This continues from her petulant outburst in Uncanny X-Men #524 (Chapter 6 of Second Coming) where she insulted him in an inappropriate scene as well. Who the hell does this kid think she is? Is she aware that Jeffries once transformed his armor into a frakkin’ Robot Tyrannosaurus Rex and ripped the throat out of a real T-rex? Does she know that he once used his mind to rip apart a Sentinel and used the debris to make a superharpoon to kill another Sentinel? The guy is a legend and here she is, some little girl (who can’t even keep her limbs from getting all severed off) mouthing off to him like a rebellious teenager! I was hoping Zeb Wells would have corrected Matt Fraction’s error, but unfortunately chose to continue it instead.

Bandages from Uncanny X-Men #524

This little appearance does explain what the heck Jeffries was doing in Uncanny X-Men #524. I found that scene to be a rather inscrutable mismatch between his tech-powers and the medical setting. Now we know he was prepping her stump with a cybernetic interface which we can see once the bandages are removed.

What's underneath the bandages

At the time, I even mused:
 
“If [Matt Fraction] absolutely had to have Jeffries in the infirmary with Karma, he ought to have had him use his mutant powers to create some sort of awesome lower leg prosthetic for her.”

Zeb Wells also puts in a strange beat: he has Jeffries talking directly to the cybernetic leg, calling it “sweetie” at one point. This is somewhat different than some of the other times he has been shown to commune with devices, which were odd enough without having him directly speak to the machines. Karma insults him again with “God, you’re weird” in response to this strange behavior.

There is also a large funeral scene in this issue for Cable, who sacrificed his life to return X-Force to the current time and yes, the assembled heroes show up in costume. Even Cyclops is in costume at his own son’s funeral! Why superheroes show up to funerals in costume is still not clear to me. Although it is presumed that Jeffries and Northstar are among the guests, many of the figures are shadowed out in crosshatch and are not recognizable.

Finally, in the very last scene of the fourth vignette, a new mutant signature appears in Vancouver, British Columbia. Could this hint at a new potential character for a future Alpha Flight incarnation or is it just a random location on a globe? You already know which one I’d prefer it to be!

Note: there is a variant cover by David Finch, Matt Banning and Peter Steigerwald.

X-Men: Second Coming #2 – Finch variant

Jeffries cameo in X-Force #28

July 14, 2010

X-Force #28
Sep 2010

The Second Coming storyline continues with Chapter Thirteen as the exciting climax plays out to its powerful conclusion. Although there is a fourteenth chapter, this issue ends the main action sequence taking place on the Golden Gate Bridge. The X-Men, X-Force and Hope converge to defeat Bastion with quite a bang. Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

The entirety of Jeffries’ appearance is a single panel cameo, standing behind Dr. Nemesis as he urges Mr. Fantastic to hurry up with his attempt to get inside the impenetrable big red sphere surrounding San Francisco. This appearance is extremely similar to the “standing around behind Dr. Nemesis” appearance in Chapter Ten of Second Coming (Uncanny X-Men #525).

Trapping the X-Men Science Team outside the red sphere was a rather clever move on the part of Bastion and his mutant-hating team. Their main weapon against the X-Men were Super-Sentinels from the future, and basically, if you attack with an army of Super-Sentinels from the future, Madison Jeffries is just about the last mutant you’d want anywhere near the battle! Remember in Alpha Flight #43 he easily took down not one, but TWO Sentinels single-handedly, so it’s a good thing for the mechanical baddies that he was trapped outside, far from the action.

Note: there is a variant cover by David Finch, Matt Banning and Peter Steigerwald, and a second printing variant with interior art by Michael Choi.

X-Force #28 – Finch variant
X-Force #28 – 2nd printing variant

Jeffries cameo in Uncanny X-Men #525

June 20, 2010

Uncanny X-Men #525
Aug 2010

The Second Coming storyline continues with Chapter Ten as various teams of X-Men try to deal with Bastion’s evil plan to exterminate them. Cyclops and the main team have their hands full inside of a giant red sphere surrounding Utopia, the island headquarters of the X-Men, as they are continually attacked by super-Nimrod mutant hunters from the future. Another team is off in Limbo rescuing Magik (including Northstar, as shown in the Hellbound mini-series), another team is sent to the future to prevent the super-Nimrod mutant hunters from going back in time and the X-Club is stuck outside the giant red sphere. Mister Jeffries appears in a few panels as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in issue #505.

The story picks up shortly after the beach scene in X-Men Legacy #236 when the X-Club and the Avengers (?!) tried to get inside the sphere. At some point, they moved from the beach to the roadway of the Golden Gate Bridge. Perhaps feeling that it wasn’t random enough for just the Avengers to show up, the Fantastic Four decide to join in the fun. Unfortunately, nothing they try works to crack open the barrier. Mister Jeffries can be seen in a few panels standing behind Dr. Nemesis and in another panel, also standing around.

There is a particularly striking two-page splash in this issue showing a giant wall-poster in homage to the cover issue #141, containing head shots of various mutants with “SLAIN” tags across their faces. Though the original image included captions, the Dodsons removed the names, making it somewhat difficult to identify many of the mutant faces that are partially obscured by the tags or by other elements in the foreground. It is possible that some Alphans are included in that image, but without the captions, it’s not possible to get a positive ID on them.

Note: there is a variant cover by David Finch, Matt Banning and Peter Steigerwald and a predicted 2nd printing variant, which will be added once I get it.

Uncanny X-Men #525 – Finch variant

Northstar in X-Men: Hellbound #2

June 17, 2010

X-Men: Hellbound #2
Aug 2010

This issue, the second of a three-issue miniseries spin-off from the Second Coming story line, continues the X-Men’s attempt to rescue Illyana Rasputin from Limbo. It is one of several “Revelations” issues that accompany the main Second Coming series but are not numbered chapters. Northstar appears significantly as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508.

The team finds themselves dispersed after the initial attack of baddies upon entering Limbo, and start gathering up, realizing very disturbing time and space shifts all around. Northstar “whoosh“es in to save Dazzler from some snarly toothed baddies, and appears with her for a few pages. Their association seems to be growing from the embrace in Uncanny X-Men #524, possibly hinting of a friendship developing off-panel.

Northstar doesn’t pull his punches when he explains to Dazzler their situation, contuing his criticism of Cannonball’s leadership from the previous issue:

Dazzler: What happened, Jean-Paul? How did this go to hell so fast?
Northstar: Most likely because our little team here was being led by Samuel the Slack-Jawed Yokel.

Okay, so that’s the token arrogant line from Northstar this issue, not much really there, but at least we get some consistent characterization from Chris Yost.

Gambit shows up, in Death form (he had been one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen) and starts shooting demonic playing cards at Northstar, who deftly dodges them in a cleverly drawn panel showing three superimposed Northstars moving very fast to avoid the attack. Just like in the previous issue, the guys who made this comic really get it – Northstar can move very, very fast and I’m glad to see this panel showing how fast he can move. Unfortunately, Dazzler gets nailed with a demon card, distracting Jean-Paul and giving Gambit the edge to whack him with his staff.

Right before the playing cards, Gambit tosses out a line in French, as he often does, and Northstar, a French-Canadian, picks it up. Christ Yost gets Northstar right yet again with this linguistic beat and I’m glad two French-speaking characters actually have a line in their own language for a change!

Unfortunately, Gambit succeeds in taking him down, transforming him and Dazzler into white-haired minions of death, but not without a very cool demonic look and a slight costume modification with extra pointy starbursts.

Note: Northstar appears on the cover by Marko Djurdjevic, with unfortunately rounded ears. He’s got pointy ears, people!

Inset from lower left corner of the cover

Mister Jeffries in X-Men Legacy #236

June 14, 2010

X-Men Legacy #236
Jul 2010

The Second Coming storyline continues with Chapter Eight as Bastion’s evil plan to exterminate the mutants comes to fruition. Picking up right where the reader left off in Chapter Seven (New Mutants #13), the X-Club narrowly escape from a massive explosion on the oil rig they were sent to investigate. Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

Just prior to the explosion, Jeffries can be seen running inside a corridor inside the rig, along with fellow X-Club members Dr. Kavita Rao and Dr. Nemesis, who insults Jeffries once again, calling him a “toy-maker”. They escape just in the nick of time, and fortunately, three little splashes in the water next to the rig indicate they successfully made it off. Much thanks to the creative team for the little splashes, because it would have been so cheesy to make us think the team had been killed, only to appear safe and sound later in the book.

This issue was released a week before X-Men: Blind Science #1, and has a bit of a continuity problem in that the explosion is portrayed in this issue as being intentional – along with explosions on other rigs in the area – somehow causing the big red sphere to come into existence. However, we learn later that the explosion on this particular rig was actually set off by Dr. Kavita Rao, so the connection between the giant red tower that emerges on top of the rig, the explosion and the giant red sphere becomes confusing to the reader, but only in retrospect.

The team washes up ashore right next to the edge of the big red sphere. Mister Jeffries is unable to communicate with any tech associated with the sphere, showing another [attempted] use of his “talk to machines” power. Then, as randomly as one can get, the Avengers show up, a painfully obvious attempt to cross this issue into the Heroic Age storyline going on in the other half of the Marvel Universe. After a big whack from Thor’s hammer, Jeffries can be seen again from behind next to Spider-Woman as everyone stands around the sphere trying to figure out how to crack it open.

It should be mentioned that about a month before this issue was published, eleven platform workers were killed aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when it exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig would later collapse, leading up to the massive BP oil spill, one of the worst environmental disasters in US history. The imagery of an exploding offshore oil rig, though eerily coincidental, could not have been inspired by real world events, as the written story and finished artwork preceded the real-world explosion by a considerable margin.

Note: there is a variant cover by David Finch, Matt Banning and Peter Steigerwald and a Heroic Age variant by Mike Choi. Additionally, a 2nd printing variant has interior art by Greg Land.

X-Men Legacy #236 – Finch variant
X-Men Legacy #236 – Heroic Age variant
X-Men Legacy #236 – 2nd printing variant

Mister Jeffries in X-Men: Blind Science #1

June 10, 2010

X-Men: Blind Science #1
Jul 2010

This issue is tied in to the Second Coming storyline as a “Revelations” issue and does not get a chapter number. It fits in chronologically between New Mutants #13 and X-Men Legacy #236, which are chapters 7 and 8, so this could be chapter 7.5. This one-shot is so successfully self-contained that it was released after chapter 8 of Second Coming, with no continuity problem. Mister Jeffries appears extensively as a member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

Having previously been assigned to check out Bastion’s towers by Cyclops in Chapter 6 (Uncanny X-Men #524), the X-Club discovers hidden tech on the oil rig before it transforms into a red tower, engaging a countdown timer. This issue picks up at 00:00:13, a minor error since the clock had started at 00:00:06 in New Mutants #13. While Rao frets helplessly, Dr. Nemesis bickers with Jeffries, unleashing a torrent of insults against him which include, but are not limited to: Neurotic-machine-Canuck, Redneck, and later, Insane tech-guy.

Nemesis also calls Mister Jeffries, “La Forge”, encouraging him to “Save it for the balding thesp.” For those of you who were in a coma from 1987 to 1994, he is, of course, referring to Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge, the Chief Engineer of the Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation; the “balding thesp” being Patrick Stewart, a Shakespearan actor (thespian) who played Captain Picard on the same ship. Simon Spurrier should know that he can’t sneak a Star Trek reference past Alpha Flight Collector so easily!

Two interesting panels are shown in this opening sequence. The first is one that shows the oil rig within sight of Utopia Island, the X-Men headquarters. As predicted in the post for New Mutants #13:

“The site of this rig is noted to be 3.5 miles off the coast of San Francisco, and we know from the recently released OHOTMU: A-Z Hardcover entry for the X-Men that Utopia is 4 miles offshore, so this rig must be very close, likely within sight of Utopia.”

Sure enough, it’s right there. The second image sets the comical tone of the book just perfectly. As the countdown timer approaches zero, Dr. Rao frets away, musing what the other X-Club members are thinking, supposing that they too are experiencing their lives flashing before their eyes. The text for what she imagines Jeffries is thinking displays quite a high opinion of him and reads:

“Madison Jeffries, a mechanical telekine. Sort of Rain Main with added diodes–” “Lingering, she figures, on some tech-head moment of cyber-success– just one among many…”

But the mismatched image hysterically shows Jeffries scampering away from a mechanical insect robo-beast creature, clearly something gone very, very wrong!

Note too the Rain Man reference – one Alpha Flight Collector made in the post for Uncanny X-Men #519 when Jeffries counted the nanobots with savant precision.

The X-Club is then apparently teleported to a dystopian future San Francisco where Hope has mutated into the Hub, a sentient collection of mutant energy destroying the Earth. Encountering a human-looking Hank McCoy along the way, the team is fit with collars to hide them from the Hub’s psychic senses. Jeffries is shown in several scenes in this adventure absentmindedly playing with floating bits of metal, including one of the best images of him yet on the painted cover by Gerald Parel.

When he finally uses his powers to create something instead of just floating bits of metal, he creates a nanotech oscillator when the Hub starts attacking. With all the metal and machinery around, he just as easily could have created an awesome-looking gun instead of a miniature spikey gadget. Later, he uses his powers again to create a mighty… mirror? Yes, a mirror, which Dr. Nemesis needed to perform a medical procedure on his own brain. It’s nice for Simon Spurrier to have remembered that Jeffries can also manipulate glass, not just metal, which is a nice touch, but again, it’s a huge underestimation of his powers. It reminds me of the coiled tentacle scene in the Utopia book Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus #1. The guy can transform into a Robot Tyrannosaurus Rex and rip out the throat out of a real T-rex and all we get now is tiny spikey gadgets and hand-held mirrors. He does create a nifty night-vision scope though, a respectable piece of military hardware which saved this from becoming a full-blown rant about his power set.

Simon Spurrier does get one thing very right, and that’s the common man ditch-digger dialogue. One of Jeffries’ lines in response to the silly barbecue kitten scene is:

A-and at least this way the critter’s got a fighting chance, Dr. Rao. That feller was sellin’ ’em with ketchup.

with many other lines peppered with “s’posed”, “typa” instead of “type of”, and other elements of the rough-edged dialect which we would expect him to be using instead of the highbrow technobabble we read in X-Men Legacy Annual #1.

Unfortunately, during one of the action scenes, Jeffries’ protective collar falls off momentarily, allowing the Hub to psychically invade his veins. He’s shown on a rooftop with the X-Club inspecting his own infected arm in a panel which could have used a small bit of explanation. Later, he borrows a page from Witchfire’s book and gets completely flamey-eyed and blows up when the Hub attacks, triggering the psychic infection. It’s not clear if this kills him or not but don’t worry though, it was all a holographic illusion (with another little ST:TNG reference made to the holodeck) set up by Graydon Creed, one of Bastion’s evil henchmen, to trick the X-Club into surrendering a mutant-power neutralizing serum formula.

There have been so many versions of Jeffries now that elements of his personality are chosen a la carte by whoever is writing him in any given month, some getting it right, some not so much. Jeffries’ behavior is flat out comical in this book as he plays against Dr. Nemesis’ persistent sarcasm and Dr. Rao’s cerebral hero. In fact, most of the panels in which he appears just shows him with an astonished look of a country rube on his face. Also, he unfortunately takes the insults from Dr. Nemesis rather passively. Contrast this to another time he got called a “redneck” in Uncanny X-Men #507 when he offered an actual retort. However, as a stand-alone issue to the otherwise over-the-top seriousness of Second Coming, the comical nature of the far-fetched plot is a welcome relief. I do wish Spurrier had toned down the “insane tech-guy” routine a bit, though.

The team ends up escaping from the rig just as Dr. Rao’s deus ex machina discovery of Graydon Creed’s plot results in a massive explosion. They bob up and down in the bay celebrating their harrowing escape as the big red sphere appears, whose radius is just shy of their position.

Drill, Mister Jeffries, drill!

May 26, 2010

New Mutants #13
Jul 2010

Chapter 7 of the Second Coming storyline continues with this issue as Bastion’s forces wreak even more havoc on Utopia Island. For Second Coming fans, it’s an enjoyable issue with a moving plot, but for New Mutants fans, it’s quite thin. For Alpha Flight fans, we’re good: Mister Jeffries appears on two pages as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

Having previously been assigned to check out Bastion’s towers by Cyclops in Chapter 6 (Uncanny X-Men #524), the X-Club lands on an offshore oil rig near Utopia. The site of this rig is noted to be 3.5 miles off the coast of San Francisco, and we know from the recently released OHOTMU: A-Z Hardcover entry for the X-Men that Utopia is 4 miles offshore, so this rig must be very close, likely within sight of Utopia. First seen in Uncanny X-Men #523, the towers’ function have not yet been revealed to the reader, except to remind us of the Human Torches from the Earth X trilogy.

The X-Club, consisting of Dr. Nemesis, Dr. Kavita Rao and Mister Jeffries, arrive in a nifty looking V-TOL X-craft. Jeffries then uses his new psycho-tech powers to try and talk with the machinery, only to wave off some plumbing and discover hidden tech within. This “talks to machines” power had been previously been added into his power set by Matt Fraction (remember the coffee pot conversation from Uncanny X-Men #509?), and its use by Zeb Wells indicates it’s here to stay. The oil rig then transforms into a very scary, very giant, very red tower.

Later, after Dr. Nemesis is able to access the tech software, they discover a countdown clock, which is of course, in true comic book adventure mode, already at 00:00:06 seconds. Understandably, their next course of action is to run, and this portion of the issue ends with an editor’s box instructing the reader to continue the story in X-Men Second Coming Revelations: Blind Science!

Though not credited on the cover, Omega Flight colorist Brian Reber lends his painted style to this issue, and succeeds in overwhelming the so-so pencils. Luckily, we get a real treat from him, as he completely dominated the art in this issue. Glad to see you again, Brian!

Note: there is a variant cover by David Finch, Matt Banning and Peter Steigerwald and a Heroic Age variant by John Tyler Christopher. Additionally, there is a 2nd printing variant with interior art by Ibraim Roberson and Lan Medina, colored by Brian Reber.

New Mutants #13 – Finch variant
New Mutants #13 – Heroic Age variant
New Mutants #13 – 2nd printing variant

Northstar finally goes to Hell!

May 23, 2010

X-Men: Hellbound #1
Jul 2010

This offshoot issue from the Second Coming story line begins a three part miniseries dealing with the X-Men’s attempt to rescue Illyana Rasputin, who was teleported away by unknown means in X-Men : Second Coming #1. It is one of several “Revelations” issues that accompany the main Second Coming series but are not numbered chapters. Northstar appears significantly as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508.

Cyclops assigns Cannonball to put together a team to rescue Magik, who has once again been taken away from the X-Men and sent to Limbo. The team consists of some characters who haven’t been getting too much exposure: Pixie, Anole, Dazzler, Gambit, Trance, and Northstar. Cannonball recruits each with varying degrees of resistance, and Northstar’s little recruitment scene is really on spot. Like many of the other recruitment scenes in this issue, you can tell Chris Yost did his homework and wrote Northstar as the “arrogant hero.” Northstar agrees to go, but not without first rudely interrupting Cannonball’s “I need a speedster” request with:

“A leader would just tell me I was going, Guthrie. Stop asking.”

Ha, perfect! Just what you’d expect Jean-Paul to say. This is really one of the few times since Northstar recently joined up that a writer has nailed the character, and it should be noted. Jean-Paul also mentions a somewhat vague reference to losing teammates, which likely refers to the recent deaths of Diamond Lil and Marrina (possibly Wild Child?) since moving to Utopia, but could refer to any number of lost teammates in the recent or distant past.

For those of you keeping track, in the panel where he’s getting dressed, Northstar’s pants seem to have a starburst pattern on both the left and right sides. In later panels, he’s drawn correctly with just a right-side starburst.

The team teleports into Limbo on top of a 2pg splash panel that shows Harvey Tolibao’s best and worst. Best would be the hellish depiction of Limbo and its countless snarly mindless creatures; worst would be Northstar’s rounded ear. This is really a big error on his part, one made before by several other artists, but still just awful.

Northstar had been chosen for his speed, and Cannonball sends him off to reconnoiter the landscape. Reminiscent of a similar scene in Wolverine: First Class #5 where Aurora speeds around and shortly reports back, Northstar leaves with a Fwwt!! and returns seconds later with his report. This is exactly what Northstar is supposed to be doing on an X-Men mission: flying around very, very fast, and I’m glad he’s finally being used this way. He can do much more than just reconnaissance of course, but at least we’re not getting some blurry fight scene where you can’t even see what he’s doing, or another standing around scene, or a bizarre scene where he’s buckled into a seat on an airplane. The team is shortly overwhelmed by a nasty horde of Limbo-baddies as Northstar appears in a few more panels fending of a mass of tentacles and fangs from all directions.

Note: Despite his accurate portrayal of Northstar in this issue, Christ Yost is still in the official Alpha Flight Collector dog house for unceremoniously killing off Diamond Lil in X-Force #23.

Note: There is a 2nd printing variant for this issue with interior art by Harvey Tolibao, featuring Northstar, shown in excerpt already in the panel above.

X-Men: Hellbound #1 – 2nd printing variant

Cargo pants or Superhero costume… what to wear to a funeral?

May 14, 2010

Uncanny X-Men #524
July 2010

Chapter 6 of the Second Coming storyline continues with this issue, taking place just after Hope’s arrival on Utopia Island and Nightcrawler’s death in Chapter 5 (X-Force #26, not an Alpha Flight appearance). Poor Kurt, we’re going to miss ya. Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in issue #505 and Northstar appears as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in issue #508.

The frenetic pace of the past few chapters of Second Coming comes to a grinding halt as Matt Fraction has the unenviable task of writing a memorial issue to Nightcrawler. He gets a few things wrong in this issue, starting off with a bizarre exchange between Karma, who had part of her leg severed in Chapter 3 (New Mutants #12), and Mister Jeffries, in the infirmary. Jeffries is shown tending to her leg stump as if he were a medical doctor, an inexplicable role for him, unless he’s taken on nursing duties on the side. Matt Fraction just got this wrong – it ought to have been someone else tending to the leg. If he absolutely had to have Jeffries in the infirmary with Karma, he ought to have had him use his mutant powers to create some sort of awesome lower leg prosthetic for her.

As strange as it was having him there, the dialogue between the two was even stranger. Karma, who is certainly a young kid compared to the grizzled, grey-templed Mister Jeffries, berates him in a pissy exchange, calling him a “clumsy ox.” Not the worst insult hurled at an Alpha Flight member, but just inappropriately disrespectful, even for someone going through the trauma of having a limb severed. Jeffries response back is apologetic to the point of humiliating meekness, to which Karma digs in even deeper. It’s out of character for both of them and unfortunately portrays Jeffries as clumsy and supplicantive.

Meanwhile, up on deck, the X-Men gather round Nightcrawler’s corpse. Northstar’s feet and hand can be seen in one panel right behind Dazzler, who he later embraces in support. Don’t read too much into the embrace – he just happened to be the closest X-Man. Northstar is shown in a few more panels, standing around, and again in the Utopia control room with Mister Jeffries nearby, shown very tiny but still resplendent in his cargo pants. Mister Jeffries can be seen more clearly when Cannonball, the leader of the New Mutants squad, suggests to Cyclops that the X-Men investigate some large towering structures that Bastion has been building. Cyclops assigns the X-Club to investigate and take down the towers.

Later on, the X-Men gather on the roof near the blast furnace for Nightcrawler’s night-time funeral, a scene reminiscent of Dr. Takiguchi’s cremation in issue #515. Mister Jeffries is identifiable in shadow by his aforementioned cargo pants, while the rest of the X-Men show up in costume. Why superheroes show up to funerals in costume is still not clear to me. Northstar isn’t shown in that scene but is presumably among several shadowy figures, hopefully not in costume as well.

At the funeral, several X-Men utter pathetically awkward and short eulogies that sound trivial compared to the overwhelming moment at hand. Matt Fraction really missed the opportunity to capture the essence of 35 years of Nightcrawler’s role as an X-Man and the true impact of his death on his friends, his family, his teammates and the Marvel Universe. A simmering Wolverine then utters what is supposed to be an angry dramatic outpouring, but Alpha Flight fans don’t fall for it:

“Kurt was the only guy that ever looked me in the eyes like a man, and spoke to me like one, and treated me like one… he was my best friend and he never treated me like a damn animal.”

Yes, they were close friends, but it was a huge mistake on Matt Fraction’s part to phrase it this way, as if he forgot Mac had ever existed. It should have read, “Kurt was one of the only guys…” and “he was one of my best friends”, which would have made a lot more sense. James MacDonald Hudson would be the man most suitable for these remarks as phrased, not Kurt Wagner, and for lack of any funeral scenes so far for any of the Alpha Flight members killed in New Avengers #16, this little Logan-ism comes off to Alpha Flight fans as perplexing, not furious.

Note: there is a variant cover by David Finch, Matt Banning and Peter Steigerwald and a Heroic Age variant by Stephane Roux. Additionally, there is a 2nd printing variant with interior art by the Dodsons, featuring Northstar’s right arm and left leg in the upper left corner.

Uncanny X-Men #524 – Finch variant
Uncanny X-Men #524 – Heroic Age variant
Uncanny X-Men #524 – 2nd printing variant