Wednesday, 13 February 2013

XHY #19: "Broken Promises"

(Because "no tubes" means "no tubes".)


Well, this isn't going to be fun for me.  We open with Beast lost inside some kind of jungle, being chased by a gigantic beetle. 

I hate insects.  I'm scared to death of them.  And that's almost the literal truth, in that if you locked me in a room with a loaded gun and started pushing cockroaches under the door, they wouldn't have enough friends to put together a football team before I shot myself in the head.

So, you know, admit your biases: I'm not just looking through my "dislike Byrne" glasses, but my "fucking hell kill that thing" binoculars, as well.

Fortunately for both Beast and myself, Cyclops quickly shows up to help, soon followed by Marvel Girl and Iceman (of Havok and Angel, there is no sign).  After some brief exploration, it becomes clear that a) they're in a forest that's gigantic, as opposed to having been shrunk, and b) said forest has been built within or on top of some kind of non-human structure.  It's likely the former, not just because Xavier finds his psionic link with the team cut off, but because we learn the Mole Man is watching our heroes on his monitors.  Still smarting from his encounter with them "many months ago" (or, if you prefer, UXM #34), he seems pretty keen on turfing them out of wherever they've been dumped.

And dumped they have been; Tobias Messenger sends his astral self to inform them that they're being kept in the uber-copse indefinitely, presumably to keep them out of trouble (as well as flesh out his back story for no good reason, which adds nothing to the story[1] but still make for a few extra entries for a Things Past post, I guess).  He makes some token effort in trying to appeal to their rational sides, but it doesn't get very far, mainly because he's convinced it's only because of their indoctrination at the hands of Xavier that Iceman would have any reason to object to Lorna being kidnapped.  I mean, there's bad arguments, and then there's just offensively stupid.  Like, "I'm offended you thought that was even worth trying as an argument".  Still, I guess the team will have plenty of time to get over it, assuming they're not squished by a beetle the size of a bungalow.

Unless, of course, they can all escape.  Iceman provides the answer, filling dents Cyclops has made with his blasts with ice, and using the resulting expansion to force larger holes ("Remember, ice expands as it freezes!" he announces happily, which is no more true than claiming corpses stop breathing as they die, but then Bobby is exactly the kind of person to make that mistake, and to be honest, that' quite an elegant solution), and allowing them to descend into a network of tunnels beneath the forest.  Things start of bad when Iceman finds there's insufficient humidity for him to remain iced up ("nothing for you to freeze but your own bodily fluids", Hank points out, which is an image I'd suggest not spending too much time mulling over), and get worse when the team encounter a giant fan that almost sucks them to their doom.  They're saved in the nick of time when netting clicks into place to guard the fan blades, but when the fan stops working (apparently, and amusingly, because of Cyclops attempts to blast it to pieces a few moments earlier), the suction cuts out and our heroes end up plummeting one hundred stories down.  Jean erects a TK bubble to prevent them all from being splattered, but it can only do so much, and none save Beast manage to remain conscious, a state he enjoys for a few seconds before Mole Man arrives and knocks him out anyway.

But where has Angel been in all of this?  We know Alex and Lorna have been shoved into stasis pods as "new recruits", but what about Warren?  Turns out he's been put on ice as well, presumably so the women folk have someone to coo over in the radiation-scarred bone-yard The Promise seem convinced lies in their future. But Messenger has made a fatal mistake in allowing his womenfolk some post-apocalyptic beefcake, because one of them has a plan (I think her name might be Lucy?  I haven't been keeping track; it's like naming lobsters in seafood restaurants, it'll just bum you out when they're pointlessly killed).  She's managed to fiddle with her pod's timer to release her just after the others have fallen asleep, and she frees Angel too, in the hopes that he can help her gain revenge on Messenger for stealing her life.

Will she succeed?  Will the Mole Man seem any less arbitrary in his conclusion next time?  Will that hideous beetle show up again and scare SpaceSquid witless? Why exactly is Messenger so convinced that abducting women and sticking them in tubes is the only true path to enlightenment? These and other questions may or may not be revealed whenever I can bear to return to this Godawful series.

At least I get to do some Secret Wars now.

[1] OK, that's not completely true.  There's an interesting idea buried in here, albeit one done before, regarding how someone deaf and mute since birth would process being suddenly able to receive and transmit thought waves.  Would they process other people's thoughts in the same way?  Would the thoughts they send "sound" like the voice in one's head telepathy is commonly likened to in fiction?  Or would it be more akin to receiving an email inside your brain?  Indeed, could a deaf person even interpret the thoughts of a hearing person?

That, I think, is an idea with some genuine mileage.  Byrne's idea is that Messenger will just always sound like he's shouting, because telepathy wielded by a deaf person is just like when my late grandfather used to demand beer at full volume because his hearing aid had run out of batteries.


There's no indication of how long it takes the X-Men to awaken and regroup following their kidnapping, but I think we can assume it occurs on the same night.  After the X-Men recover, the story takes place over the course of several minutes.


Monday 14th July, 1980.



Contemporary Events

Standout Line

"That enclosed central core will most likely contain vertical mass relocation units."
"You mean elevators?" - Hank and Bobby

I'm mainly highlighting this because of how horribly terrible it is.  Hank wouldn't call an elevator a "vertical mass relocation unit".  He'd call it an "elevator", because he's not pointlessly over-descriptive unless there's an odd poetry to it.  I'd call this evidence that Beast is one more character Byrne clearly doesn't really get, but last issue proved that so conclusively that further indications seem entirely superfluous.

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