124: Generation X # 1 - 4

What’s Covered?

UXM # 138, Generation X # 1 - 4



Roster Watch


Creators

The idea for Generation X started with a pitch to re-boot New Mutants, as outlined by Scott Lobdell in Comics Creators on X-Men:

“Bob (Harras) had originally told me that he wanted to bring back the New Mutants book. I went home that weekend and started to think about it. I decided I didn’t want to put the kids back in the X-Mansion because they had done it before and it just didn’t seem to work.”

In the Epic Marvel Quest podcast, Scott Lobdell was interviewed and expanded on his thinking by saying:

“One of the things I didn’t like about the X-Men in General, there are so many Ken and Barbie mutants. In the sense that everyone is really good looking and if they just didn’t use their powers, they would be fine.”

Back to Comic Creators on X-Men, Lobdell added:

“I had the notion of giving my new generation real hardships and powers that were difficult to control. "

So Generation X was born from these thoughts. Lobdell decided to create a group of teenage mutants who had very serious issues, such as Chamber who had half of his face blown off the first time he used his powers and Skin who suffered from a pigmentation and disfigurement of his skin.


Next Lobdell needed to find an artist and as he tells it, his first and only choice was Chris Bachalo. Lobdell had seen his work in X-Men Unlimited # 1 and felt that he was perfect for the job. Bachalo rejected the offer at first, but later that week his wife told him that he was crazy for passing on the X-Men, so he came back a few days later and accepted the job.


Meet the Team


The team/school is led by Banshee and the White Queen. In Comic Creators on X-Men, Lobdell says:

"Rather than have Professor X in charge of them, I wanted to use Banshee because he was one of my favorite characters and he had a lot of experience with training young mutants.
I remember thinking that the White Queen was available and the Mass Academy was open because her students had been killed."

Lobdell didn't like the idea of the X-Men scurrying off to save the world while the New Mutants shared the home and were expected to brush their teeth before going to bed. Also, let's face it, Xavier didn't really do the greatest job of teaching the New Mutants. When not corrupted by the Brood, he was often distracted and eventually abandoned them to their arch rival's care, Magneto. Placing the team at the Massachusetts Academy and under the tutelage of Banshee and a former villain, the White Queen gave the comic a very different vibe.


Husk (Paige Guthrie)

Paige Guthrie, AKA Husk, is a mutant with the ability to tear away her skin and reveal a new state or shape underneath. She is also the younger sister of Sam Guthrie (Cannonball).


Husk is one of three team members currently vying the leadership role of the team (Jubilee and M being the other two.) She was introduced during the Phalanx Covenant as a high achieving youngster with leadership chops, however those same qualities are being portrayed more as negatives in this series. We see that she is waking up early to stay in shape, constantly studying, and even constantly trying to hide her southern accent to fit in better. We get the impression that she is trying a little too hard and that is contrasted excellently with a character like Monet who seems to have all of those qualities without trying too hard. I'm very curious to see where she goes as a character.


Jubilation Lee (Jubilee)

We already know Jubilee, however she is being re-branded a bit in this comic as a rebel. Uncanny had been trying to play up the rebellious side and Lobdell is leaning into it in this comic. This is on display in # 4 when Jubilee sneaks into a school (hostage situation) against Banshee's orders, but he comments on expecting her to do so.


There is also a running schtick where she can't stop telling everyone about how she was an X-Man. Most of her sentences begin with "Back when I used to live with the X-Men..." In addition, we see some direct confrontation between her and M as Jubilee clearly sees Monet as a threat. Jubilee may not be directly vying for the position of Team leader, but she is clearly trying to set herself up for the most experienced team member.


Monet St. Croix (M)

Monet St. Croix, AKA M, is a beautiful, rich, and intelligent mutant teenager. I'm hesitant to look up her exact powers because there is some sort of secret here that I'm trying not to spoil for myself, but it appears as though she has telepathy, flight, super strength, and hyper intelligence. I mean...she can pretty much do everything, so there has to be a catch.


As mentioned in Paige and Jubilee's sections, she is portrayed as being perfect and her snotty demeanor makes her a lightning rod for her insecure teammates like Jubilee and Paige. It's also hinted at that Emma perceives her as a threat due to her abilities, including, but not limited to, her telepathy.


There was a plot point during Phalanx Covenant where she was completely catatonic. However, she eventually snapped out of it and immediately became the solution to every problem. This was pretty much been dropped and I'm not sure if I missed some sort of explanation for this, if this will be explained later, or if this is just dropped and categorized under a mystery we'll never know the answer to.


Everett Thomas (Synch)

Synch is a mutant with the ability to copy (or synch up) to any other mutant in his vicinity. To be honest, we haven't gotten a lot of characterization out of him so he's on the backburner a bit for now.


Penance

Penance is another character who we know very little about. I'm also scared to look her up out of fear that I will spoil her secret, so for now I'll just say she is a mutant (I'm guessing) that is deformed, making her a formidable fighting machine.


Jonothan Starsmore (Chamber)

Jonothan Starmsmore (Chamber) is a mutant overflowing with so much psionic energy that the first time he used his powers he blew a whole in his chest and face. Artist Chris Bachalo had the following to say about Chamber in Comic Creators on X-Men:


“He started telling me about Chamber and I thought he was completely crazy. Chamber is this guy with a chest that explodes with energy and half his face is blown off. Once I started doing the concept drawings, I began to think he was a really cool character.”

Angelo Espinosa (Skin)

Angelo Espinosa (Skin) has the mutant power to extend his skin in a way that makes him similar to Mr. Fantastic. Whereas Mr. Fantastic can put himself back together, Skin appears to permanently have sagging skin that has a grey pigmentation. This physical deformation seems to play a pivotal role in his characterization, making him a bit pessimistic as a whole.


Synopsis

Uncanny X-men #318: Goodbye, Jubilee

Writer - Scott Lobdell

Pencils - Roger Cruz


Whereas the Phalanx Covenant was the first time many of the Generation X characters were introduced, UXM # 318 serves as a direct introduction to the Generation X comic.

We start with a little side story where Skin decides he wants to leave and Beast is the one who picks him up and offers to drive him to the airport. Beast is a solid choice by Lobdell for this role because he is one of the few X-Men who stands apart physically. This issue sells it as though he really is going to leave, but at the end he comes back. I don't believe we see this behavior or reluctance carrying over to the Generation X comic proper.

We see Jubilee, Monet, Paige, and Everett trying on clothes, which serves as a reminder that these are teenagers and gives Bishop (not sure why Lobdell chose him) the opportunity to psychoanalyze each of them.

Bishop helps to set the stage for the Gen X characters who will get the most screentime. Jubilee, in case you forgot, is going to be a bit of a brat and a rebel. Paige is dying to be team leader and her effort is almost pathetic. Money is perfect, maybe too perfect. And Everett actually doesn't seem too interesting, so he gets a comp to Bishop as a youth, which honestly tells us nothing.

Ouch. This exchange continues the Iceman story arc, but more important reminds us that Emma is amazing.

Holy shit. I love this. Archangel says goodbye to Jubilee and offers her help and she just totally snaps at him basically telling him that he hasn't a said a word to her since she arrived, so don't pretend to care now. This is actually pretty funny since Lobdell is the one who never concocted any reason for these two to chat, so it seems a bit odd that they would throw this out there for any reason other then to show that Jubilee is moody and will continue to be an outspoken rebel.



Generation X # 1: Pilot

Writer - Scott Lobdell

Pencils - Chris Bachalo


The purpose of this issue is to introduce the setting, the stakes, and the characters.


This title is essential New Mutants 2.0, however they will be mentored by Emma Frost (the White Queen) and Sean Cassidy (Banshee) in place of Professor X at the Massachusetts Academy, which has been re-branded as the Xavier Institute. The original Mansion has been re-branded as the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning.


The school will be run by Banshee and Emma (Yes, I will choose to call him by his superhero name and her by her first name...get over it) and Lobdell is quick to show some infighting between then. This establishes the dynamic that Emma is a bit sassy and reckless where Banshee is a bit more conservative and empathetic. These two are shown to do some infighting, however you get the feeling that they will push each other to be better and that their relationship is built on respect.


We also see that the kids are all nit picky with each other, which is a typical way to showcase teenagers, helping to make it more impactful when they put it to rest to come together as a team. Jubilee seems to be the most catty, giving Monet a hard time about her vocabulary and snobby demeanor. It appears that Jubilee (who gets called out for constantly trying to humble brag about being a member of the X-Men) is threatened most by Monet due to her beauty, intelligence, and control of her abilities.


Good 'ole Gateway, from the X-Men Down Under timeline, shows up and seems to have a relationship with M who calls him "Mentor."


The chief antagonist shows up, going by the name Emplate. It appears as though he is a life vampire, feasting on mutants. He also seems to have the ability to shift out of time and move around invisibly. There seems to be some sort of connection between him and M as well. He attacks Paige in an airport, but the full team comes to her rescue.



Generation X # 2 - 3: Penance

Writer - Scott Lobdell

Pencils - Chris Bachalo

A new character/creature named Penance shows up on the front lawn at the end of Gen X # 1, with both issues 2 & 3 primarily focused on her. At one point she pins down both Banshee and Paige, before fleeing into the rain. I'm still a bit confused by Penance's deal and where this is going, so I'll leave it here for now.


We get an interlude and meet a character named Mondo. I recognize him from the bit of HoxPox reading I've done, but he really isn't formally introduced yet.


Generation X # 4: Fill in

Writer - Scott Lobdell

Pencils - Chris Bachalo

This issue is essentially a fill in, leading directly into the Age of Apocalypse. A young deformed boy named Elliot is holding a classroom hostage. Nanny and Orphan Maker show up to claim the boy, but end up being defeated (and escape) by the Gen X team.



My Connections

So here we are, Generation X. I feel I need to disclose that I know NOTHING about this comic. I stopped reading comics by this point growing up and really never even knew it existed until the last few months as I've been immersing myself more and more into X-Men lore. Due to this, I am really trying to avoid spoilers, even though it's 28 years after it originally published. I'm also going to be a bit wet behind the ears when it comes to this comic, so bear with me!


The book "The Ages of X-Men" comments on how the real Generation X readership viewed the world and how Lobdell and Bachalo tried to reach them:

"Everything great or significant for the country and the culture had seemingly either already happened or already failed, 'so all Gen-Xers" grew up in the aftermath of a beautiful but unrealized dream, and this sad fact informs their sensibility.'"

This seems overly bleak, but as a child growing up in the 90's, it is pretty accurate that it seemed like I was growing up without real stakes. I can see the tone of this comic definitely trying to match this perception as the text continues:

"Generation X creators Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo were born on the early end of this spectrum, and are most likely reaching a readership that was born closer to the of this span."

This is something that I want to track as I keep reading. Do I agree with this statement about the tone? Let's read and find out.


If you are a reader of my blog, you'll know that I'm constantly trying to assess whether or not I like Scott Lobdell. As a quick recap, it seemed like most people on the internet hated him, but I was really digging him early on. I've slowed my roll a bit after his character assassination of Magneto during Fatal Attractions.


In Comic Creators on X-Men, Chris Bachalo said:

“Scott’s plots were kind of vague, which I think worked out really well for the book because it left me with plenty of room for invention.”

While Bachalo's comments are meant to be a compliment, it also seems to align with other critiques I've heard from Fabian Nicieza about Lobdell (and Harras) tending to be more spontaneous and less planned. This is another thing I'll be tracking as I continue my Generation X read through.



My Rating - 8/10


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