Saturday, 15 October 2011
U1C #6: "The Sky Is Falling"
(The trophies of youth.)
It has been noted more than once that for a man so clearly devoted to (some might say obsessed with) comic books, I seem surprisingly disinterested in anything so tawdry as "artwork". I can see the argument, actually, especially since the Panel Talk podcasts I've done with Chris Brosnahan almost invariably involve him trying to drag me into conversations about pencilling (all I want to do is talk about whether I think a comic is racist or not).
In any event, it's not invariably true, and as proof I'd like to point out that I absolutely adore pages 6 and 7 of this issue, in which Phoenix creates a telekinetic slide in order to save the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. What's already a fairly impressive image is made genuinely special by including a strip filled with terrified S.H.I.E.L.D. agents within the canted frame, which grows in size as the helicarrier hurtles towards us. It's indicative of the small yet wonderful touches that made first X1C and now this title so much fun to read.
This issue confirms what had already been made fairly clear last time around: there are two groups of Hykon Knights, and they've arrived on Earth purely so that they can have ground beneath their feet whilst they beat seven shades of shit out of each other. And if humanity is very lucky, they'll actually notice us whilst they tear the planet apart during their jousting. There's another lovely panel in which Nightcrawler surveys the Knight's trophy room, which is stacked floor-to-ceiling with bodies of races already defeated. Hell, not even defeated, just in the way. Shi'ar and Kree, Brood and... whatever Ch'od is, it's a roll-call of Marvel aliens that brings to mind the famous scene at the end of Predator 2, when Danny Glover (who at this point is not too old for this shit, despite the film being set in the future) stumbles across an array of skulls, including one which is distinctly familiar.
(Nightcrawler also stumbles across head of Charles Xavier, who was decapitated in psionic form and thus remains alive. Apparently, Charles has worked out what's going on, which is pretty impressive since all he's got is a bunch of aliens trying to chop each other up whilst some freaky prepubescent girl looks on.)
Lilandra is kind enough to grace us with some of her alien exposition: these two martial trios have destroyed thousands of worlds over the last twelve millennia, simply by using them as battlegrounds and them exploding them with their extra-dimensional freakiness. Even this dire proclamation is overhsadowed, however, when we learn from Peter Corbeau (aboard what the Knights have left of his precious Starcore Station) that the aliens' battle on the surface of the Sun was responsible for Jean's transformation into Phoenix.
That seems like a fairly major retcon, actually, especially since as far as I know nothing's been done with it at all in the two years since this issue came out. Playing around with X-Men history is one thing, but I would have thought such major changes would be something Gray (like Parker before him) would have been keen to avoid.
Still, it's not like Jean's story ever made all that much sense to begin with (which might be why Gray is so comfortable changing it), and the Knights of Hykon continue to be good fun. And, given that eighty-three point three recurring percent of them seem entirely capable of blasting Phoenix from the sky, I'm certainly interested in seeing where Gray is going with this.
This issue takes place over the course of less than an hour.
Corbeau lets us know that the "Sentinel crisis", which cumulated in Jean's transformation into Phoenix, took place a few weeks earlier. In our current time-line, it's been about six and a half weeks, which seems broadly consistent.
Saturday 20th of February, 1982.
The New York Islanders win a record 15th straight game in the NHL. Presumably this is mainly noteworthy for a hockey team going for fifteen games without being entirely reduced to crippled wrecks feedable only through nil-by-mouth.
"Throwing a metal box stuffed with screaming animals at me? You disappoint me, Cloud Runner. I remember when you had style..."