Tuesday, 30 August 2011
X1C (v2) #10: "Frederick"
There is, or at least there should be, a rule in fiction writing that states "if your story starts at the end of some other story, make damn sure no-one wishes they were reading that story instead." I mention this because this issue takes place soon after the team returns from searching for El Chupacabra (the legendary Mexican goat-sucker, as if you didn't know). This might initially seem like a violation of the above law, but Parker gets away with it, I think, as the team a) doesn't find a monster that interacts with goats in any way, and b) they all drink the local water and get the shits.
Except Cyclops, of course. Poor ol' Scott gets a fair amount of ribbing in this issue about being so tightly-wound and boring, but if "never drops his guard" translates to "doesn't drink the local water that turns bowels into riot-hoses", I'd say he deserves to be let off.
Either way, this unfortunate turn of events colon-wise leaves Cyclops the only X-Man available when he goes searching for a group of missing people.
I can't decide if this story's refusal to suddenly reveal hidden depths to Cyclops is a comment on how competence is more important than flashiness, or just makes the story a little bit flat. Nice to see the X-Men (well, one of them) doing their thing of searching out/dealing with new mutants, without a bevy of cameos trying to steal the show.
Also in the plus column, there's a nice layer of ambiguity lightly dusted over Frederick's actions. Sure, he's abducted several people, but at least some of them genuinely are at least partially responsible for making him a mutant and making his father a corpse. Their (horribly overstated) argument whilst Cyclops tries to free them makes clear that, even having been kidnapped for the damage they've done, they still have no intention of taking responsibility for the lives they've ruined. On the other hand, Frederick's definition of "responsible" for his situation is fairly expansive, which means he can't really be cast as a wronged vigilante either (though be honest, who amongst us hasn't thought about taking those who teased us at school and shoving down a disused radiation-soaked mine-shaft?)
That's not to say I don't feel sorry for him, buried alive by a cave-in Cyclops starts as he's leading the prisoners to freedom. Frederick seems pretty clearly to be mentally ill, and whilst that doesn't excuse his multiple abductions, I'm not sure Cyclops is really sufficiently upset about the first fatality his actions have caused.
Who knows, though? Maybe there'll be more on this next issue. Hell, he might spend the whole of the rest of the series agonising over what he had to do. It's not like we'd know, is it?
This story takes place over a single day, but we need to include another day for the mission to Mexico. The foliage tells us that we're out of winter again, so we'll set this story two days after X1C (v2) #8.
Sunday 16th April, 1979.
The aftermath of a 7.0 earthquake which hit Montenegro and Albania.
"What's got four arms, twenty toes, and one personality? Cyclops and ANYbody else!" - Bobby