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Super Reads Dark Reign & Realm of Kings 6

Written by SuperginraiX on Sunday, April 18 2010 and posted in Features

Just a few comics this time.

Today, we check out Dark X-Men #4, Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #4, and Blast to the Past for Generation X # 1. Enjoy and spread the word!

Spoilers Ahead!

This week we get mutants, mutants, and more mutants.

If this is your first time reading Super Reads, it's been around for a while, now! We've covered everything from Secret Invasion through Dark Reign as well as War of Kings. If you're interested in reading all that back story (and who wouldn't be?), check in the "Features" link at the top of the page, look for the "Super Reads" button and click away for DAYS of reading enjoyment. If that's too many clicks for you, just hit HERE and get there in one shot.

Let's check up on some mutants that look kind of like a Brotherhood.

dxm4.jpgDark X-Men #4
Writer: Paul Cornell
Penciler: Leonard Kirk

Last issue, X-Man started things off with a full-frontal assault on Avengers Tower. Nate was here only to slay the wicked and sent those he deemed "innocent" away to more helpful careers. While the Dark X-Men debated entering battle, X-Man defeated Venom and then found himself facing off against the rest of the Dark Avengers. X-Man tricked Sentry away by telling him a story about their past team-ups. While Iron Patriot ordered for caution, Ares led a charge against Nate Grey. Down below, the Dark X-Men were still stuck in debate when Omega started channeling Nate's powers and went off his rocket. Up above, the only one giving Nate a challenge was Ares but the two were separated by a runaway Omega. This surprise attack stunned Nate and nearly led to him getting taken down by Hawkeye. After being saved by Mimic, X-Man gave Rankin a taste of his future before the battle was continued with Ares. Ares defeated X-Man and, while hovering over Nate's body, Norman was struck by a blast while X-Man's body disintegrates. Norman declared the mutant dead and everyone went about their jobs. Later on, Mystique gave Norman an ultimatum: give her freedom and she won't tell everyone that Nate's taken over his body.

In this issue, Nate Grey admits to taking over Norman Osborn's body but gives Mystique nothing for her attempt at blackmail except a pep talk. Ozzy fights against X-Man's control and starts to affect Nate's attention. The Dark X-Men learn all about Nate's possession and then have to figure out what to do about it. They go back to the HAMMER Psi-Division and hook themselves up to the big brain thing. Entering Norman's mind, they follow all Nate's clues and release none other than Norman's Goblin personality.

Nate Grey is running around in Norman's body and he couldn't be happier. He's gonna change the world from the inside! Literally!

Last issue, Mystique gave him an ultimatum. It amounted to her freedom for not revealing that Norman was no longer in control. Nate's not gonna go for that. Mystique is, after all, a bad guy. Nate lists off her most recent offenses and it becomes very apparent why he wouldn't want to deactivate the bombs keeping her in check.

Nate is pretty free with his words, though. He tells Mystique all the things he's planning on doing. He's going to make contact with Cyclops and let Scott know that there's an ally in the big seat. He's planning on releasing prisoners who he believes shouldn't be incarcerated. After that, it's big decision time. Working on building the bright future. Fixing the Avengers team. Having a psychic attack.

Wait, what? Oh, it turns out that Norman Osborn isn't giving up control of his body without a fight. Nate struggles for control and is finally able to regain his composure but it's pretty easy to see that this is going to be an issue.

Nate might need time to fix it before it gets worse. In the meantime, he sends Raven away, telling her that she can run away if she likes but he's not going to deactivate those bombs. What keeps her from revealing that he's really Nate Grey in an Osborn suit? The fact that no one would probably believe it and that he's an omega-level telepath that could fry her brain... or at least erase very specific memories. It hasn't come to that just yet. He's giving her the option to make her life better. Or something. MUTANT SHAMAN!

Mystique leaves Norman's office and doesn't really know what to do about all this. She wishes that Destiny wasn't dead so that she could get some cryptic advice about the future from her blind friend. Without Destiny's help, all she can do is think on the situation and do what she thinks is the right thing. Since she's pretty much a villain, what she thinks is the "right thing" may vary from your definition. Time will tell.

Mystique takes the information that X-Man is in charge of Norman Osborn straight to her team, the Dark X-Men. They immediately freak the hell out. Omega is probably the most panicked. He absorbs mutant's powers and can't really tune them out effectively. The more power he absorbs, the crazier he acts. With someone like X-Man, who is pretty much power personified, Omega is in a whole lot of trouble.

The only one not bothered by this information is Mimic. X-Man's powers offered Calvin a glimpse of the future. It's something he'd like a better look at and he starts to head upstairs to have a talk with Nate. Mystique stops him and tells Rankin that if he goes upstairs, Nate Grey will just judge him and will only offer up more glimpses of the future as a reward for good behavior or something. It makes Mimic pause and figure out if Mystique has a better plan.

The battle for the mind of Norman Osborn is on. You'd think Nate would have this fight easy. He's an omega-level mutant, after all. Odds are he's the most powerful mutant on earth right now. One of his myriad of abilities is telepathy. Norman, for all his powers and skills, has nothing in the psi-department. Still, he has homefield advantage. It IS his mind.

While the two have an arm wrestling match, Norman gives us a view of how he sees mutants. Super heroes are easy. They are normally just regular guys that GOT super powers. They're constantly trying to prove themselves so it's something that Ozzy can work with and control. Mutants. Different story. Mutants are super heroes with politics. They run by different rules entirely and they have a tendency not to rally behind good and evil concepts but, instead, rally behind their brotherhood as mutants. Norman chased all the powerful ones onto a small island off the coast of California.

And then there was X-Man.

Now there's a new challenge in front of Norman and he can't wait to test himself against it. Let's face it. This is the most together Norman has been during the entire Dark Reign. He's actually enjoying this.

Mystique has a plan but she needs some psychic help. That means going back to the HAMMER Psi-Division and using Alex Jarl's big brain. If you remember, that's a brain-type thing composed of other psychics. Jarl isn't exactly happy to see them. When they last visited, they killed one of those psychics to get a view into what Nate was working on. Dark Beast explains that he only killed the psychic because it was very interesting and since Alex Jarl is pretty much insane, that's all he needs to hear. They're back on good terms with the Psi-Division.

In issue 2, the Psi-Division's big brain was drained of it's power by X-Man. Jarl's reformed the brain using new psychics when necessary but the result is a much more chaotic mix than the last effort. Will it work to project their minds into the astral plane? Oh, sure. They'll just need to become a part of the brain to accomplish this.

The Dark X-Men reluctantly agree except for Dark Beast. Dr. McCoy is absolutely ecstatic to become a part of this thing.

Back at Avengers Tower, Nate is looking over prisoner lists but is having a hard time focusing. That's because Norman Osborn is already having an affect. Ozzy's really enjoying being that inner demon. If it reminds you of his relationship with the Green Goblin, that thought isn't lost on ol' Stormin' Norman. Nate decides to deal with this problem before it gets any worse. He cancels his appointments and gets concentrating.

Meanwhile, the Dark X-Men have taken their positions as part of the brain.
Venom has actually almost swallowed X-Man when Grey finds a way to fight back using his psychic abilities. With that, Sinister Spidey is down for the count. Now, it's time to face the rest of the Dark Avengers.

Nate begins the fight by facing the biggest threat head on: The Sentry. Apparently, Nate and the Sentry have history together. He even says he's telling Bob the truth. Learning that X-Man might have been a friend before his incident, Sentry flies off to be useless. That's one Avenger down. Nate gives the rest a choice: stand with him against Norman or fall with the former Green Goblin.

Just because you took down the biggest hitter in the room doesn't mean that the rest will fall in line. Ares, in particular, is ready to get his scrap on. While Iron Patriot calls for caution, the god of war isn't taking Norman's advice. He leads the charge of Avengers straight up into this fight.

Meanwhile, the Dark X-Men have entered the room if not the fight. They've actually approached from a concealed area and are trying to get close enough for Mimic to copy X-Man's powers. Mimic even starts talking about how he was once a member of the ACTUAL X-Men but I still don't see how that line is relevant. It seems like he's the one that's looking to get close without being seen. Unfortunately, it looks like Omega doesn't have to be as close as Mimic to be affected by X-Man's powers. He gets a full dose and goes to crazy-town.

Those Dark Avengers aren't faring much better than Venom. He shakes off everyone's attack except for Ares, even going so far as to mock Daken for his pheremone powers. Turns out Nate's sampled every chemical. He's built up an immunity. Ah, but Ares... Ares is a challenge and Nate can't figure out how to best the greek god. Omega takes that fight out of the mutant's hands by plowing between the two.

It's an opening that Hawkeye tries to take advantage of. Only a timely optic blast from Mimic stops Lester from slicing into Nate. Calvin shouts that they were supposed to take X-Man alive, but we all know what he really wants. Rankin wants a taste of the future. Nate decides to oblige.

X-Man removes himself and Mimic from time so that he can view everything in a completely different way. It looks like multiple images of people around them and each image represents a different stage in their lives. Calvin asks if their futures can be changed and Nate tells him that it's possible in some cases. Either way, there's always hope. Nate seems to be about to offer a truce with Mimic and his Dark X-Men teammates right before Ares finds him in this aspect of reality.

The fight continues on this plane and that means when X-Man is shoved through Dark Ms. Marvel's form, he affects it in a certain way. Karla loses a memory. That makes this fight super dangerous to anyone around. The repercussions can be felt half a world away where the battle is reflected in the stars.

Nate returns this battle to what passes as reality, addressing a cryptic phrase to Rankin about starting to live again. When they emerge, X-Man has been defeated by Ares. Mimic isn't so happy because he didn't go this far for vague prophecy. He wanted the future, dammit! Still, he's not punished for his part in the battle. Ares even thanks the mutant, though there is heavy sarcasm in the god of war's words.

Nate falls to the ground and Iron Patriot leans in to get a look at the fallen body. Dark Beast warns that Nate isn't exactly made out of anything more than thought at the moment. Norman is about to step away, making mention of possibly loading Nate into the Omega Machine, when X-Man's body explodes. Norman's armor is bathed in light.

They're using Mimic's psi-talents to link them all to the brain. When they're connected, they get a feeling of super bliss. Mystique believes that if they were to get too comfortable in this inbetween place, they'd pass on into the territory of death. They move on and find Norman Osborn's brain. It's looking pretty violent.

Already inside, Norman is duking it out with X-Man and is winning. Ozzy knows that the more he can distract Nate, the less X-Man can do in his body. Norman mocks Nate for not thinking this strategy all the way through but the mutant hasn't run out of plans just yet. He's actually counting on the interference of the Dark X-Men who arrive in Norman's brain just when he wanted them.

While Norman and Nate are fighting in a completely white area, the Dark X-Men look to have landed in the dungeon area of Ozzy's mind. Dark Beast gets a reading on where Nate has confined Norman's personality and they all head off in that direction. This all doesn't make sense to Omega.

Mystique explains again that they're going to free Norman's mind and help him remove Nate from his body. They'll be rewarded for staying loyal. Omega understood all that. He's not a moron, after all. What he doesn't understand is why they're walking around in a dungeon to reach their destination. What does all this walking actually mean? Who's making them walk around a mind, after all?

And why is it a dungeon?

Mystique suggests that Nate might have created it but Omega doesn't buy it. As he puts it: "His strategy against us is SLIGHT FRUSTRATION?" It doesn't make sense. Before they can ponder on that, they've reached the door holding Norman's consciousness.

What Nate has been doing, why's he's been fighting Norman inside Ozzy's mind, was to weaken Osborn's psychic defenses. This is why the only thing stopping the Dark X-Men was what appeared to be walking up to a door in a dungeon. Norman's been the one trying to prevent the Dark X-Men from moving forward but, with his thoughts focused on fighting X-Man, there was really nothing stopping the other mutants. Ozzy is realizing all of this but it's too late to do anything about it.

The Dark X-Men are already at the door. One quick optic blast from Mimic (even while Omega is trying to stop everyone from making a terrible decision) blows up that door.

What's inside will wait a bit longer. We cut back to the Nate/Norman battle royal and we catch fear in Norman's gaze. This isn't exactly strategy on Nate's part. Grey can sometimes see the future and just took the path that lead to this outcome. He doesn't exactly know why the Dark X-Men were sent to the wrong "prison" in Norman's mind. All he knows is that releasing what's inside could ruin Osborn's power.

Omega's realized that they aren't in the right place but it's too late for them to do anything about it. They've already blown out the door. They venture inside to find the Green Goblin. He's happy to be free but not happy enough that he doesn't intend on killing the Dark X-Men where they stand.

rokig4.jpgRealm of Kings: Imperial Guard #4
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Kevin Walker

Last issue, Mentor and Ch'od got to work fixing the Starjammer (the ship) before those parasites could destroy the organic ship they were within. The Imperial Guard was overrun by Enzymes and were only saved by the timely arrival of Starbolt and Flashfire. The Starjammer escaped the ship right before it folded in on itself in a gooey mess of nastiness. Job done, Praetor Mentor collapsed. On Ouar, Kallark and his aids attended a session of the Galactic Council where he dreamt of punching holes in everyone he could before excusing himself. In the Fault, the Starjammer flew into the junk zone where they met up with Quasar and his pursuers: more bio-ships.

In this issue, Kallark attends a military rally and gets a message that the M'Kraan Crystal is going all whack. He arrives at the Crystal, gives it a touch and recieves a psychic call from Oracle. There's trouble in the Fault! Inside the Fault, the Imperial Guard are setting up mines when Smasher runs off to find something... mysterious. Some of the other Imperials enjoy a last drink together and talk about family and roots. Plutonia has a crush on Mentor and it shows! Smasher's teammates confront him for some sort of treasonous act and find him to be carrying Raptor crystals. Smasher is actually Talon! Talon gets swatted around a bit before everyone calms down (a little) and Talon tells everyone that their only chance is to use those crystals to make more Raptors. The Cancerverse X-Men attack. Starbolt is killed. All hope is lost. Then Gladiator shows up and gives them a fighting chance.

On Chandilar, Throneworld for the Shi'ar Imperium, Majestor Kallark is celebrating Feast Day with the Shi'ar. This is basically an opportunity to throw a bunch of ships in the air and display all the power of the Shi'ar Empire to it's people. Of course, Kallark is well aware that they just lost a war to the Kree and their strength isn't as assured as it was in the past.

Gladiator doesn't really want to be here so when a messenger sends him word that there's something odd going on with the M'Kraan Crystal, he takes it as an opportunity to get out of here.

Kallark arrives at the M'Kraan Crystal Chamber and finds the Crystal to be spitting off flares of energy. When he approaches, the Crystal "seems to recognize" him. How? Maybe Kallark has talked to a lot of Crystals in his time and knows their language. In any event, he reaches out and touches the M'Kraan Crystal and, in turn, reaches out and touches someone.

It's Oracle inside the Fault. She's using the Quantum Energies of Quasar to communicate through the Quantum Flow of the M'Kraan Crystal to deliver a message right to Gladiator. It's a warning about the dangers in the Fault. Instead of heeding the warning, Kallark wants to rush to their rescue. His new Chancellor Araki (the new, improved female variant edition) councils against this action. The Imperial Guard sent that warning to save lives. If Gladiator flies in, they just sent it to risk the life of their Emperor.

Let's head into the Fault and get a look at these sacrificial lambs. Right now, they're still alive and their Praetor, Mentor, is going over his battle plans. Some Imperials are setting up barriers with the surrounding space debris, combining bits and pieces to make them more formidable. Another group is setting up a field of mines.

One of the Guardsmen setting up mines is Smasher. The brand new one. They go through a LOT of Smashers. This one flies off to set up a mine but looks to have another purpose in mind all together. Flying into one of the dead ships, Smasher comes upon a glowing light. This trip finally sees some results.

What those results are will have to wait for a bit later.

With defenses set in place, a group of Guardsmen wait out the quiet before the storm with some illegal drink. Aedian Psi-Wine. While they drink what might be their last beverage ever, they talk about home and family. Starbolt talks about how he never expected to die out here in the middle of nowhere. He always expected to retire a hero. Flashfire talks about his failed attempt at a relationship with Oracle. Neutron says that his family never forgave him for siding with Deathbird over Lilandra. They were all pardoned for that but Neutron's family lives by a stricter code. The Imperial Guard is his only family now. Fang's family is also the Guard. He was grown in a vat and doesn't have anyone else. He throws the empty wine container out into dead space.

We follow the wine container as it hits one of the barriers. Something this small isn't going to set off those mines. The huge living monster ship? That's gonna make a dent. It hits the barrier hard and we get our first explosions of the day. Starbolt and Flashfire fly in to check it out.

Aboard the Starjammer, Mentor still hasn't gotten a response from Gladiator or the Shi'ar. It's possible they can't give a call back as easily as they recieved Oracle's telepathic cry. Plutonia flies up to give Mentor a nutrient drink which looks a lot like a juice box. While Mentor drinks down this tasty beverage, Plutonia pours out her heart. Turns out she has been majorly crushing on Mentor and now, at the moment of presumed last stands, she finally lets him know. Well, she would except Mentor isn't really listening. He tries to hand her the empty juice box for disposal but Plutonia has already started fleeing away to write about this in her journal.

More important issues will now draw Mentor's attention. The Captain of the Starjammer, Ch'od, informs him that someone's been breaking stuff on his ship. The Hyperdrive Capacitor has been ripped out. Mentor chides Ch'od on his mistrust of the Imperial Guard before figuring out that it's probably Smasher's fault. He's the new guy, after all and you ALWAYS BLAME THE NEW GUY. It helps your turnover rate skyrocket.

When Smasher eventually returns to the ship, there's a welcome party waiting for him. He's hiding his find behind his back but that doesn't stop Plutonia from stealing them from him. It's then that we find out that Smasher's find are Raptor Crystals and Smasher isn't a Smasher at all. He's the Raptor we all know and love: Talon.

This reveal doesn't make him any friends. Ch'od and Raza immediately attack believing this is the Raptor responsible for the death of Lilandra. Talon defends himself well and then demands the return of the amulets. It's time for talking.

Talon has a pretty good alibi for not being the Raptor that killed Lilandra. He wasn't. That Raptor was Razor AKA Darkhawk. While that was an officially sanctioned Raptor activity, that isn't something that Talon has to admit now. He just tells them that Razor was a rogue agent, not at all like the rest of the Raptor Fraternity. Everyone knows that the Raptors serve the Shi'ar. In fact, with those two Raptor Crystals, they'd have two more Raptors to face this threat with. Everyone knows three Raptors are better than one.

This conversation is going to have to be tabled for a later time. That living ship has breached their first level of defences and has started launching attacks. It's a swarm of Cancerverse X-Men. Out in front, we can make out Storm, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and of course Wolverine. You always need a Wolverine.

With individual combatants, the Imperial Guard will have to get in there and start attacking people. The Guard takes it's first casualty early on.

I actually liked Starbolt in this series even though he came off as a major jerk in the War of Kings: World of Skaar one-shot. Neutron tries to grab his fellow Imperial Guard before he explodes but there's no stopping that now. Warstar is able to rescue Neutron before we lose two Imperials in as many minutes.

The Guard switches up tactics and tries to blast X-Men from a distance.

Inside the Starjammer (ship), Oracle reaches out with her psi-powers and finds out that the Cancerverse version of Professor X is also on the scene. He happens to be the monstrous ship. Oracle's not nearly psi-talented enough to stand up against Monster Professor X. When her psi-presence is noticed, she is attacked telepathically. Ch'od orders someone to slap Oracle to sever her connection.

Outside, things are going even worse than before. The X-Men are exausting their firepower and surrounding the Starjammer. Talon continues his line about how two more Raptors could make the difference but Mentor is too busy to deal with that argument right now.

One of the Monster Ships closes in and dwarfs the Starjammer. It opens it's mouth wide to swallow them up. Before it can commit to that, something flies through it's surface like a bullet.

It's Gladiator. Yeah, you knew he wouldn't abandon his people even if it's an act that a Majestor should stay away from.

gx1.jpgGeneration X #1
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Chris Bachalo

In this issue, we meet all the girl Gen X'ers. Banshee handles M's luggage trucks. Jonothon Starsmore gets on a plane and entertains a young girl. The other boy Gen X'ers train in the Danger Grotto. Banshee and Emma Frost argue. Emplate is introduced. Banshee, Jubilee, and Sync drive off to the airport to meet Chamber. M talks to Gateway and learns that Emplate is back. Emplate walks through the airport unnoticed, seeks out Chamber, and begins to feed. Banshee and his students fight back and are quickly joined by the rest of Gen X. They fight Emplate to a standstill and he retreats with words of returning to finish what he started. Emma Frost blanks their existance out of the norms' memories and the cast returns to the Massachusettes Academy. Emplate goes home to feast on mutant leftovers and finds his meal has escaped. Back at the Academy, Gateway has brought that mutant to be protected and maybe trained.

Generation X! These were pretty much my New Mutants. They came out in the mid-nineties with the intention of being the next mutant class. They weren't going to be a fighting team like New Mutants became. They were actually going to be a school. With bad guys.

OK, they were pretty much a fighting team right out the gate even though they were billed to be a different deal. You can't really have your origin in the Phalanx Covenant crossover event and NOT have some fighting skills to your credit. Gen X DID get involved in X-Men crossovers but they were kept pretty isolated from the main events, usually telling their own story instead of chapter 6 of a 20 part crossover. That makes the series easier to read through on it's own but probably didn't help it's long term success. The Gen X team has suffered more death than the New Mutants and the current living members are pretty much in comic limbo except for M who appears regularly in X-Factor.

Witness, if you will, one of the Generation X'ers who is actually still alive: Husk. Paige Guthrie is the sister of Cannonball who was a founding member of New Mutants, at the time of this comic was the leader of X-Force, and is now back to being the leader of a New Mutants squad. Everything comes full circle. Paige's powers were the ability to remove her skin to reveal different powers underneath. She was an over-achiever who dreamed of surpassing her brother, joining the ranks of the X-Men, and probably running the whole show in a few more years. Instead, she went on to become an X-Men, had some sort of creepy relationship with Archangel, and is now hanging out on the mutant island of Utopia while not doing much of anything. How those dreams fall.

We open this issue with her going through her morning workout. She's gotten up incredibly early in the morning to go for a run all in an effort to prove herself the best of this next generation of mutants.

In the process, she's woken up Jubilation Lee who's code name is... Jubilee. Jubilee is our Kitty Pryde character here, not in terms of powers OR personality but simply by the fact that she's been a the long time teen sidekick of the X-Men who suddenly finds herself surrounded by people her own age. In Kitty's case, she fought for her position on the X-Men and didn't join the cast of the New Mutants. Scott Lobdell thought that weakened the New Mutants so he decided that Jubilee would go a different route and WANT more training. So Jubilee has left the X-Men books and gone back to school. Since her powers are pretty much firecrackers that have much more explosive potential than she's been trained to use properly, this could actually work in her favor.

It doesn't but it could. Jubilee was depowered during M-Day. After Civil War, Jubilee was contacted by the second Night Thrasher and given tech-based super strength to serve as the leader of the worst line-up of New Warriors. In that comic, she changed her brilliant "Jubilee" codename to something equally brilliant: Wondra. Yes, seriously. After New Warriors proved to be a failed idea, Jubilee dropped off the map for a while until appearing in San Francisco where she declined an offer to live on the mutant island of Utopia. Instead, she's off doing her own thing and recently appeared in an X-Men promotion looking pretty vamped out. As in "vampire," not "goth."

Jubilee isn't happy to have been woken up so early and gives Paige a piece of her mind. Paige really doesn't care because she's very focused on her goals and would like to inspire Jubes to be a bit more dedicated to training. After such a workout, Paige decides to shed a layer of skin to get rid of all that dirt, grime, and sweat she's built up. I'm still not sure how she tears off all that skin while still wearing all her clothes but, since this is a comics code approved comic meant to appeal to a younger audience (as well as old dudes but you don't make a mutant school comic without trying to appeal to people who go to school), that's probably the REAL reason. Jubilee complains that Paige has left her skin lying all over the place. Find a trash receptacle, hippie!

And that's the cue for M to show up with some wry humor. Mmmmm...wry. Monet's story always confuses the hell out of me. THIS girl we're seeing right here isn't the ACTUAL Monet St. Croix. This is really Monet's twin sisters joined together. Since one of M's sisters is autistic, this Monet has moments of that to deal with. The real Monet St. Croix will appear later in this issue but we didn't know that until much later. As far as the twins go, they have dropped off the face of the earth.

M is a snobbish rich girl with an assortment of super powers at her command. Telepathy, flight, super strength, the whole package. She first appears in this comic flying around the skies above the Massachusettes Academy and gets chewed out by Jubilee who seems to like yelling at people this morning. Jubes is used to hiding her powers and flying around flaunting your mutant gene isn't something she's used to. M, however, has no intention of hiding anything. She's a mutant and to hide such a thing would not be who she is. Well, since she is, in fact, hiding who she is (twin sisters to the real M) it's kind of funny in retrospect.

But enough of that, it's time to meet one of the two co-headmasters of the Massachusetts Academy, Sean Cassidy: Banshee. Sean started his Marvel Career as a mind-controlled bad guy of the original X-Men, later joining the All-New, All Different team. He's been on again, off again with the roster since that time, usually spending his off again time on Muir Island with his lady love, Moira MacTaggert. He had been the next predicted teacher of young mutants since at LEAST New Mutants Annual #6, where a future version of the New Mutants is summoned into existance by a future version of Franklin Richards. Now? Banshee is dead. He was caught in an aerial explosion in X-Men: Deadly Genesis #2.

Banshee greets his students for their seven AM training session. M tells Sean that she's expecting to have some stuff arriving today and Banshee responds that he'll take care of it personally. It's a bad idea. M's a Richy McRichperson and when she says she's having a few things brought up, she means by the truckload. I'm counting three. That's a lot of stuff.

Jonothon Starsmore! He's the mutant known as Chamber and he's probably the most interesting of the new generation of mutants. That's because the lower half of his face and most of his chest were destroyed in the first use of his mutant abilities. He covers them up with body wraps but when uncovered, he's got a psionic ball of fire in the middle of his body. I always wondered what was holding him together. His bones were pretty much gone, after all. When he was eventually depowered in M-Day, all that was left was a gaping hole in his chest and lower face. It's amazing he was still alive. That was all fixed up when some Apocalpyse Cult people got a hold of him and gave him an apocalyptic make over. He escaped their clutches and eventually joined Jubilee in the New Warriors using tech to give himself solid sonic powers. Since the break-up of that New Warriors team, Jono's been off the map.

He's on his way to the Massachusetts Academy from Jolly Olde Englande, so that would be airline travel. Jono's all wrapped up but finds that a little girl can't keep her eyes off of him. He decides to give her a peek at what's under his face mask and we see the first glow of mutant ability. The girl gets excited and tells her mom but no one ever listens to little girls. She's told to go back to doing her homework.

Back at the school, we're introduced to the Danger Grotto, the Massachusetts Academy's version of a Danger Room. It's supposed to me more safe than the Danger Room but it'll turn just as ugly eventually. If you don't have your variation of the Danger Room/Holodeck go crazy and threaten someone's life, then you just aren't doing your job effectively. Inside this room right now are Everett Thomas and Angelo Espinosa. Synch and Skin.

Let's go over Synch first. Everett was the non-angry black character on the team and his abilities were copying other people's powers. Right now, for instance, he's copying Skin's powers and is able to stretch his epidermis out and use it to wrap around his opponent. He was always one of my favorite members of the team so, naturally, he was the first to die. At least he did it saving lives in Generation X #70. Recently, he was resurrected using the techno-organic virus in the Necrosha storyline. It's possible he's still running around as a techno-zombie somewhere.

Skin lived longer than Everett. Angelo Espinosa was an LA native who used to roll with a gang before escaping that life using the old fake death routine. He survived the whole Generation X run with no real problems. It wasn't until he returned to the X-Mansion that he ended up crucified on the front lawn in Uncanny X-Men #423. Like Synch, he was resurrected by that funky techno-organic virus in the Necrosha storyline and there's always the possibility he survived that deal and is roaming the world right now.

Ev and Angelo are pitting their mutant powers against each other which means that they're both using Skin's powers. Since Angelo isn't fully trained in his abilities, he's not sure how far to push things and is worries about tearing his extended skin. Everett doesn't suffer the same fears and probably uses the skin powers more aggressively in the process. It's not long before there's skin flopping around all over the place and the two mutants are all wrapped up.

Banshee is showing off the Danger Grotto to the three Generation X girls when Skin and Synch smash through the glass, still wrapped up in each other's skin. After the two untangle themselves, Sean gives them a lecture on unsupervised combat sessions only to learn that this is a scheduled event.

Let's introduce Emma Frost to the audience paying attention at home. She's the whole reason we're reading this comic, after all. Emma's recently come out of a coma at this time and is stepping back into the teaching role for Charles Xavier. Not fully trusted, she shares Headmaster duties with Sean, who was to have the job alone before she showed up all awake and stuff. You'll notice that the setting for Generation X is Emma's Massachusetts Academy. The place had been vacant after Emma's disappearance. Previously, the Academy was open to the priveledged and only a small group of mutants who comprised the Hellions. Now, the place is pretty much empty except for the Generation X students.

Sean isn't too happy with Emma's teaching methods and the two dig down deep for a long argument while the Gen X'ers go get some breakfast. Looks like their 7 AM training session isn't going to happen today. While they're walking away, Jubilee catches a glimpse of Gateway, the aboriginee mutant teleporter, hanging out in the Danger Grotto but when she turns to get a good look, Gateway is gone.

Let's journey now to the Logan International Airport to meet our villain of the piece. Emplate. Emplate is Monet's older brother, Marius St. Croix. Of course, we didn't know that at the time. Back then, he was just a freaky gothic-looking villain with wild hair and a respirator on. He did have a sweet looking old black car to drive around in and a demon-like driver/servant, DOA. You might have already guessed that he's here waiting for Chamber to arrive and he says as much to DOA. He doesn't understand why Jono is leaving Great Britain to come to Massachusetts. The dude has no use to anyone but him, after all. DOA stays mainly non-commital.

Emplate isn't the only one who's going to be waiting for Chamber at the airport. There are going to be Generation X students there as well. Jubilee and Synch are all set to go meet their newest classmate and are just waiting for Sean to pull the car around. They see Monet climbing a tree (which is probably a clue that she's not what she seems) and find that M has no interest in meeting anyone today. Sean pulls around in the car and asks her anyway but Monet again states that she's not going out on the meet and greet. The other two students pile in the car and are off.

As soon as they're gone, Gateway shows up again just for M. Monet recognizes the teleporter and calls him her mentor. Clearly, there's more to Gateway than meets the eyes. There always is when you're dealing with someone who never says a damn word. Nowadays, Gateway does a fair bit of talking and he's lost that mysterious edge. Back then: not one word. Still, in not saying a word, he gets the point across to Monet that HE'S returned. We know that this is in reference to Emplate which means there are connections all over the place already being formed.

At the airport, Emplate is walking around the place with ease. You'd think this would be a much harder tasks considering the way Emplate looks but he's able to walk around slightly removed from reality so that no one really notices his presence. The villain talks aloud about eventually killing all these people but that's not on today's agenda. Today is all about getting something to eat.

Emplate notices an old man greeting his family. The old man is a mutant but his powers are weak and nearly nonexistant. Emplate hungers for something a little younger and stronger. That's right. Emplate feeds on mutants.

Sean, Jubilee, and Everett are also walking around the airport and are also not attracting very much attention. That's not because they're slightly disconnected from reality so much as that they are dressed in street clothes and don't look like goth freaks. Everett goes into his ideas on why mutants are hated and feared and it's a hard argument to face if you're a mutant. He mentions that they are basically packing weaponry in an airport that no one would notice or be able to remove from them. No wonder humans treat mutants the way they do. Sean tells Ev that that's one of the reasons Xavier put up a school but that doesn't really change things, does it?

Jonothon has arrived. Emplate notices just how rich Chamber's powers are. The Generation X crew just notice the bandages. They call Jono over but Emplate reaches him first. It's feeding time.

Emplate has to become corporeal in order to feed on Chamber's powers and that leaves the villain open to attack. Sean's sonic scream lays right into him. Unfortunately, it does no good. The attack merely draws his attention. Emplate helpfully explains that one of his powers is the ability to read mutants at a glance. Apparently he gets a good look at their powers and abilities as well as a glimpse at their history and future. And that's just a passive ability. He's also able to take the energy he's absorbed from Chamber and fire it at, say, Banshee.

Synch rushes to the rescue and starts synching Emplate's attack. Or something. He and Jubilee get ready to fire off some energy attacks of their own when Banshee stops them. They're just feeding the guy, not hurting him. Emplate applauds Sean for picking that up so quickly.

Chamber decides that if no one else is going to rescue him, he'll have to do it himself and fires off a blast of psionic energy. This is supposedly impossible to do when Emplate is feeding off someone but Jono doesn't care about impossible. Most of his chest and face are gone to his mutant abilities. It sort of changes your perspective on what you can and can't deal with.

Emplate isn't really swayed away from enjoying this meal. That changes when the rest of Generation X arrives through one of Gateway's portals. M attacks first and Emplate is actually physically hurt in the process. More clues on the secret behind M and Emplate revealed in their first confrontation? Sure! Emplate doesnt' know who M is even though Monet has full knowledge on Emplate. Iiiinteresting.

The battle isn't won just yet. Paige Guthrie, in an effort to prove herself, rushes into the fight without thinking and ends up getting injured as a result. Jubilee's quick thinking saves her. Jube's peals off Husk's skin, leaving Paige with a fresh body underneath. That's like an automatic heal. Pretty cool, actually, even though Jubilee found the whole experience pretty gross.

Generation X get ready to rally against Emplate but Banshee already knows where this is going. Emplate's going to run away. The Villain agrees with that thought but makes sure to place significant warning for future engagements. M tries to pursue but Emma Frost reaches into her mind and stops her. Monet doesn't like anyone entering her mind and makes that well known to us all.

Meanwhile, the rest of the students start noticing that no one is noticing THEM. That's because Emma is also using her powers to mask their presence. They can walk around freely. Now, it's time for them to officially meet the newest member of Generation X.

Oh, that Jubilation Lee...

Emplate heads to whatever passes as his home with that hunger still in his... well, whatever he uses to store all those mutant powers he absorbs. Fortunately, he's got a back up meal waiting for him. It's a mutant he's been feeding on for quite some time and is always a dependable snack.

Until now.

Looks like his meal has escaped and run away.

Back at the Massachusetts Academy, the students and headmasters are enjoying a bit of quiet time. That means Emma and Banshee can discuss their latest battle with Emplate. Emma is unconcerned while Banshee sees just how unprepared they are at defending their students. They're so far away from the X-Men, too. While that removes them from a potential war zone, it also leaves them with few defense options.

Their discussion is broken when Chamber tells them that something's going on outside. Banshee and Emma walk out of the Academy to find Gateway meditating on their lawn. Banshee starts shouting at the aboriginee and demands some answers for just what's going on.

Gateway forms the word on his lips but fumbles throught the first syllable. "Penance." Banshee is so amazed that the teleporter spoke that he doesn't immediately analyze the word. Emma, does. She doesn't think he was using it as a verb so much as a name.

Resting on the lawn, possibly unconscious from her effort to escape Emplate's prison, is Penance, the razor sharp, red mutant who will later on become known as...

Monet St. Croix! Confused? We all were!

I'll leave that little mystery open to those who care to figure it out with a quick google search. ;)

Until next time: Who Do YOU Trust?

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About the Author - SuperginraiX

SuperginraiX is the biggest sap on The Outhousers' payroll (wait, we get paid?). He reads every issue of every crappy Marvel crossover so you don't have to. Whats worse is that he pays for his books, thus condoning Marvel's behavior. If The Outhouse cared for his well being at all, they'd try and get him into some sort of rehab center. But, alas, none of us even know how to say his name. For a good time, ask Super why Captian America jumped off the Helicarrier in Fear Itself. Super lives in the frozen wastland that is Minnesota with 15% of the state's population living under his roof: a wife he makes wear an Optimus Prime mask, two gremlins, and his mother-in-law.


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