Thursday, 19 February 2015

X-Men #4-#7: Omega Red

X-Men's second arc, from #4 to #7 is a story immediately following up the business of Team X introduced in Wolverine #48-#50.  After a first issue with some characterisation of the team (including an attempt by Gambit to kiss Rogue... Oh, god, that's gone beyond creepy into assaulty please stop), we get some fighting with a Mysterious Enemy from Wolverine's Past story.

But it turns out that the Weapon X and Team X stuff has given some emotional weight to this.  Not very much, admittedly, but it's there.  There's a connection, not just to some braggart's past of the sort that featured in his solo, but to something that actually mattered to his life, that time when he teamed up with his archenemy and his dead lover.

They fought Omega Red back in the day, we're told, and he's back.  Omega Red is a post-Cold War creation, one of the first to be retroactively created as a legacy of that.  We've had a rather more prominent example of that lately - the Winter Soldier.  While the Cold War was active, Marvel Comics seem to have steered away from telling straight red vs blue spy stories, instead choosing to dress them up in allegory.  But now, with it over, it's free to tell to the types of stories it thinks ought to have existed, while blatantly foregrounding the fact that it is a relic (a line about "United Germany" here.  The contemporaneous story in Uncanny X-Men also deals with a retconned Cold War legacy hero of sorts, Mikhail Rasputin, who has a line about how strange American/Russian/Japanese cooperation is.)  Curiously, it asserts that Omega Red "was to be the world's first super soldier", despite his cold war (and thus post-Captain America) origins.  For that matter, isn't Wolverine himself a prior example?  Eh.

Omega Red kidnaps Wolverine, to extract from him the location of something called a "carbonadium synthesizer", which makes a sort of Waitrose Essentials adamantium without with Omega Red will die, and so plots to torture the world's most torture-proof man until he gives it up.  That works out about as well as you might expect.  (Most of the arc is much as you might expect.)  We get a fairly entertaining action sequence right at the end with Logan and Besty kicking ass, which is only mildly less objectifying of Psylocke than the gratuitous swimsuit panels in #4 ("I was in the pool", my arse).

I stopped here for a while.  I can see why.  It is only grim determination that has made me resume.

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