Monday, 9 February 2009

X-MEN #168

X-MEN #168
“Golgotha Part 3: The Crazy Gang”

Featuring: Havok, Rogue, Polaris, Emma Frost, Gambit, Wolverine and Iceman.

In one of the best opening sequences in X-Men history, Emma unconsciously activates Cerebra even while lying on the floor, sending it several orders as she wakes up from being knocked out by Golgotha’s telepathy. What did she ask Cerebra to do? Make her a delicious cup of Lapsang Souchong. Thus satiated by her brew, she contacts Rogue to warn her that there is more than one Golgotha creature out there, but Rogue… well, she’s already found this out, because it’s attacking her team. Havok and Wolverine kill the thing, as Emma notes that some mutants in Los Angeles are still affected by Golgotha’s madness, and will need to be stopped before they kill any more people.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned mad mutants take a much-needed break after their killing-spree in LA, and Boy tells them that it’s time to set up a political manifesto. This idea promptly goes nowhere, as instead a brawl breaks out and a mutant called Frankie kills one of the other members of the group. Boy pulls him off, and tells Frankie not to be so sensitive all the time. Obviously they’re still all mental, then.

Speaking of, the X-Jet reaches LA (they must’ve beaten Golgotha off-panel, then) and Wolverine gives his orders to Havok. He wants some backup and he wants to be picked up by the X-Men once the mission is over. He then makes the customary joke that all X-Men writers make Wolverine say, when he frets about the hassle of getting his claws through airport security. Gambit and Polaris are chosen to go, but Iceman – who last issue mocked Rogue/Gambit, remember – offers to go instead. Havok isn’t happy, and Wolverine grumpily notes that Havok must still have something for Lorna. He then jumps out of the plane before he has to hear Havok complain. Smart move.

Los Angeles is a wreck. More so than usual, even, and the trio make their way through; Wolverine leading. Iceman is a lot nervous at the bad neighbourhood, but Lorna is concerned by the zombified state of many of the citizens. A man comes up to her with a flyer for the local church, but Iceman mistakes the man for an attacker, and freezes him. Polaris sighs at her choice in men, and tells Iceman off. She wanders away, and Wolverine tries to sort out the Lorna/Alex/Bobby triangle all on his own. Iceman protests that he doesn’t owe an explanation to anyone, and that all he wants is to keep Lorna same from everything. “From everything?” Logan says. “In this business? Good luck, Bub.”

On the Boy-front, his army go and attack a movie studio because the producers cancelled a TV show they really liked. One of the victims tries to talk his way out by saying that he’s a comedian, so Frankie asks the comedian to tell a joke. The feller stutters, and then comes out with his best effort: “There’s this Jewish guy, an Arab and a mutant…”

We emerge a short while later, after Frankie has dramatically killed the guy, and Boy asks them what they want to do next. Before they get anywhere, however, Wolverine appears. Brilliantly, the mutants are star-struck to finally meet the great Wolverine, but that doesn’t stop Frankie from attacking, proclaiming “he looks so short in real life!” Wolvie counters, “I think you’re confusing me with Tom Cruise,” and cuts Frankie’s razor-hand thing to pieces. The rest of Boy’s army attack, with Boy himself firing some nifty eye-lasers through Wolverine’s heart. Iceman wastes time icing up this wound, and Wolverine swears at him for being so useless. Luckily, Lorna takes out all the mutants in one swoop, and Iceman praises her ability as if she were a pet. She ignores him, as the X-Jet pulls up above them, and asks if she can have a window seat on the way home.

Back at the institute Emma admires the two Golgotha creatures they’ve captured and killed, which are now in giant tanks of some kind. Havok does not share her admiration. Their conversation is cut short when Wolverine and the team lead in Boy to the room, who is wearing one of Cyclops’ old protective helmets so that he can’t attack anyone with his eyebeams. Havok asks where the rest of the army is, and Lorna starts worrying about them - they’re in cells within the institute, all of them having gone mad. Boy laughs. He tells them that much worse will happen soon, once Golgotha gets into their minds. “In the land of the insane, the somewhat disturbed but not entirely fruitcake is king!” he proclaims, and Wolverine goes to shut him up. Yet Boy starts laughing at Logan, calling him an old man who hangs around with kids as a sad attempt to be relevant. This strikes a nerve, and Wolverine kicks his face in. That was not one of Boy’s wisest tactics.

Gambit pulls Wolverine away but Logan is in a berserker, and pulls his claws on the guy, saying “don’t you ever put your filthy Cajun hands on me again.” This makes Rogue mad, and she breaks up the fight and sends Wolverine away. Because she is fierce. Wolverine goes back to his room to calm down, but can’t stop going over his actions with Gambit. He self-examines himself, and wonders if Boy was right. Is he really just an old guy hoping that the X-Men’s optimism and youth will rub off on him? As ever, he stops his soul-searching to go down the pub for a beer, and heads for the door – but as he stands by the door, Cerebra suddenly hails him and says that the institute is going into lockdown for twenty-four hours. Emma appears behind him, and tells him that she’s issued a quarantine on everyone – so they can “swat this craziness out”. Crikey!

To Be Continued!


This was easily Milligan’s best issue to date – from the fun characterisation which includes a new angle on Logan (and it can’t be easy to find one of those) right through to the pacing, which is FAR less confusing and bizarre. Emma and Wolverine especially come out well, while Polaris and Rogue also get small moments to shine. The setup is fun, and the sense of tension is slowly mounting. Larocca’s artwork is gaining expression, too. All in all, things are rapidly improving during this arc.

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