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Jun 28

X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #41

Posted on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 by Paul in Uncategorized

“Birthday Side Quest”
Writer & artist: Jason Loo
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Lauren Amaro

It feels like only yesterday that I reviewed Jason Loo’s last single-issue Unlimited story, the one where Lila Cheney went speed dating. Actually, that was issue #28, and it came out in March…but it took me a while to get around to reviewing it.

This is very much in the same vein. It’s Jubilee’s birthday; she invites her former teammates from Generation X to join her in a fantasy-themed escape room. You might wonder whether Jubilee doesn’t have any other friends than the people she hung out with in a series from more than twenty years ago, who she might want to spend her birthday with… but then again, most of the candidates are currently in Knights of X, so maybe she doesn’t. Anyway, Jubilee wants to do it in full cosplay, and nobody else is really on board with that. And only about half the team show up, though that’s probably a good move given how many characters that would be.

If you remember the Lila Cheney story, you probably know where this is heading. There’s a bit of light comedy. Loo’s art is really good at that kind of thing – one thing this story does really well is make these characters look like old friends hanging out. But it’s got the same basic problem as the Lila story – rather than just commit to making “they hang out and that’s entertaining” into a plot, it randomly throws in a bunch of anti-mutant bigots in the second half so that the heroes can beat them up. That’s all a bit generic, and it doesn’t resolve anything that was set up in the first part of the story.  Once again, it feels like Loo didn’t actually have an ending for the gentle character comedy he had set up, and just reached for the stock X-Men ending of the Krakoan era.

Yes, I get it, it’s satisfying when the bad guys get beaten up. But it’d be even more satisfying if it had something to do with the first half of the issue.

Bring on the comments

  1. Si says:

    Yeah, I’m usually the Jason Loo fan, but this one fell flat.

    I do get why Jubilee would want to hang out with her old classmates. She’s rarely seen with them these days, and a birthday is a time for looking back.

    Actually it’s kind of funny. The New Mutants stick together almost exclusively, you almost never see just one of them (except Magik). But it’s rare to see two Generation Xers in the same place. I suppose a lot of their cast died, but still.

  2. Drew says:

    “Actually it’s kind of funny. The New Mutants stick together almost exclusively, you almost never see just one of them (except Magik). But it’s rare to see two Generation Xers in the same place. I suppose a lot of their cast died, but still.”

    I think that’s it, really. The New Mutants immediately transitioned from their own title to X-Force, which gradually brought back various cast members until it was mostly just the New Mutants again, regardless of the title. And the characters have great chemistry together. But even then, Wolfsbane was in other books for years (X-Factor, Excalibur, X-Force), and Hickman seemed to enjoy having Sam and Bobby over in the Avengers. Cypher and Warlock were on X-Factor for a cup of coffee, and obviously Hickman had them figure prominently in his overarching story as well.

    For Gen X, Jubilee pre-dated the team and was with the X-Men in the cartoon, and with Wolverine in solo adventures, so she almost seems more natural with the X-Men than Gen X. Synch and Skin were dead for two solid decades, it turned out Mondo was never a team member, and Penance didn’t speak or have much of a personality divorced from Monet. So that’s half the team right there, plus Emma getting adopted by Grant Morrison and staying with the X-Men forever after. And Peter David claimed M for X-Factor for a few years there. I guess writers could’ve tried to put Jubes, Paige, And Jono together, but nobody seemed interested in that. So now they’re just kind of the lost generation.

  3. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Lost Generation X is a comic I would read.

  4. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Paige and Jono were in the X-Men together shortly after Gen X, which veered into the weird ‘Jono goes undercover with Weapon X and is maybe killed in Frank Tieri’s concentration camp’ sub-plot.* That later went unresolved until M-Day, when both Jono and Jubilee lost powers, and they ended up together on the Abysmal New Warriors! (Not an official title, but, you know).

    So again, no luck.

    There was Generation X vol 2 by Christina Strain several years ago, which IMO suffered from having its focus split between the new young mutants (well, Morrison/Academy X/Jean Grey School young mutants and one new guy) and being an original Gen X reunion book – Jubilee became a mentor to the group, Jono was there as her romantic interest, and Strain also used Husk – maybe for the first time since her Jason Aaron induced mental breakdown? – and also carved out time to fix Monet post her IvX Empath possesion.

    And the new-ish young mutants were the main protagonists of that book, and it only run for a dozen issues. It had too much going on, but it was fun.

    *- IIRC somebody found the site of the concentration camp after it was dissolved, but whatever happened there was never explained nor mentioned, even by characters who were there, like Chamber or Cecilia Reyes. Which is probably for the best though I remember that at the time I was much more hung up on continuity and it annoyed me to no end. Especially since Tieri wrote the… New Excalibur issues where Chamber was fixed up post M-Day by Clan Akkaba – if ever there was a writer writing a character who should have said something about an ongoing mass murder, that was the time.

    Though maybe not the place, since what any of that had anything to do with whatever New Excalibur was about, I have no idea.

  5. Thom H. says:

    Yeah, Claremont quickly established pairs of besties in the original NM run, so Sam + Bobby, Dani + Rahne, and Doug + Warlock are easy friendships to return to. That leaves Amara, Xi’an, and Illyana, who can easily be tacked on to most other NM combos.

    Illyana had a pretty strong connection with Dani at one point. And a mildly antagonistic relationship with Rahne. Plus, she existed prior to the NM team so can comfortably exist solo within the X-Men milieu. She’s like the Jubilee of the NM that way.

    Xi’an currently has a romantic relationship with Dani, right? And she has history as a teacher with others like Rahne and Amara, IIRC.

    Amara is the most difficult to squeeze in, it seems. She’s most often relegated to love interest for the boys, which is a shame. She could be a great character if she was given some more screen time to bounce off the others.

  6. wwk5d says:

    “Synch and Skin were dead for two solid decades”

    I remember both M and Jubilee had crushes on Synch. Didn’t M date him for a couple of issues?

    “I guess writers could’ve tried to put Jubes, Paige, And Jono together”

    Joe Casey had Jubilee, Paige, and M all working for Sean’s X-Corps back in the early 2000s.

  7. The Other Michael says:

    “Xi’an currently has a romantic relationship with Dani, right?”

    No, Xi’an is dating some winged mutant whose name escapes me, mainly because said girlfriend is essentially a silent background character in New Mutants. I get that she was introduced in 2021’s Pride issue but honestly, she’s been pretty forgettable in the main series.

    Dani remains single, AFAIK, even though she’s given off queer vibes since the ’80s,and would be a great character to confirm as bi/pan/demi/ace/aro — honestly, apart from some mild flirtations with her teammates back in the day, and a brief romance with Nate Grey in the San Francisco era, I can’t recall her ever having a serious relationship of any sort.

    Given that Claremont kind of coded queerness into her from the start (taking the Dani-Rahne connection into consideration), and her traditional lack of romantic entanglements, and the depiction of Dani and Rahne in the New Mutants movie, and so many other things… I’m shocked that Vita Ayala, who’s proven quite assertive in adding queer characters to the background, hasn’t taken the opportunity to make Dani officially queer.

    (As for the rest… well, Sam and Bobby both seem to be pretty straight, Xi’an is of course gay, Illyana seems bi/pan, Doug has always seemed straight, Amara has always seemed straight, Warlock is… Warlock. And if Rahne is anything other than straight, that might just make for an interestingly complicated story taking her upbringing into consideration and how far into the closet she’d probably be.)

  8. Thom H. says:

    Ah, thanks for the correction. I’m only half paying attention to the current storylines, but I couldn’t resist commenting on some of my favorite characters of all time.

    Sam and Dani did get pretty hot and heavy in the Wells series, but that was short-lived due to cancellation.

    Otherwise, Xavier’s did have a very “anything can happen at boarding school” vibe, didn’t it? Kitty, Rachel, Illyana, Dani, and Rahne got paired up in “besties…or something more?” combos in pretty quick succession in the ’80s.

  9. Devin says:

    Roberto literally left mutant paradise to help raise Sam’s child!

    I get the feeling that if Ayala had the power, they would let Dani, Rahne, and Illyana out of the closet. I think it’s Marvel editorial that insists they all stay “canonically straight.”

  10. The Other Michael says:

    Of the three mentioned, it feels like Illyana’s definitely been allowed to stretch her boundaries in recent issues as far as flirting with people/aliens of multiple genders. But even if one argues that in the comics, Rahne is either painfully straight or painfully closeted, the mere fact that we saw Dani/Rahne as an item in the movie (as maligned and forgettable as it is) should have given Ayala some wiggle room.

    Then again, this is the era of “are they or aren’t they, we can’t or won’t confirm, tee hee” what with the questionable Scott/Jean/Logan/Emma dynamic, Kate Pryde kissing a woman, and so on.

  11. MasterMahan says:

    The Grey-Summers open marriage did evaporate rather quickly. We get the Summers house with Jean and Scott in separate rooms, and Jean having a door to Scott’s room and one to Logan’s room. I think Jean and Logan kissed once in X-Force? Then they both go to the Treehouse and are conspicuously sharing a bed again. I wonder if Disney had a few words about not doing things that might harm the marketability of valuable intellectual properties, or if someone just chickened out.

    It seems weird that Marvel would mandate keeping Dani, Rahne, and Illyana straight. Mystique is making out with her wife on panel, and the movies mean she’s a much bigger character. Which doesn’t mean they haven’t, but still, weird.

  12. Allan M says:

    Synch, Jubilee and M had sort of a love triangle going on, which was resolved when Synch and M hooked up in the second arc of Wood’s Generation X run. Which is also the arc in which Synch dies. So much for that. Synch dying also cut off his friendship with Skin, one of the core friendships of the book.

    Synch’s role in the ensemble was to be well-adjusted and normal, contrasting with his more eccentric teammates and also grounding them. Take away that glue binding the team together and the ensemble doesn’t click the same way. And there would be no joy in a reunion because the guy everyone liked is dead. This very story is only able to be a light romp because everyone is alive again.

  13. YLu says:

    This is as good a spot as any to mention that I never understood Skin’s powers. He only stretches his skin, but he’s always depicted stretching whole limbs. Like in the scene this issue where he picks up the key, shouldn’t it be a flesh tendril or whatever snaking down? Instead it’s somehow his whole arm, even though the muscle and bone within should be as solid as anybody else’s?

  14. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    I think the intent is he can’t make tendrils or anything, he just stretches and controls his already shaped skin.

    So his stretchy arm is just skin, all the bones and muscle are back where they should be.

    It’s just drawn a bit wonky a lot of the time.

  15. wwk5d says:

    “I can’t recall her ever having a serious relationship of any sort”

    Didn’t she and James Proudstar have…something going on, but it was all mostly off-panel I believe during the time right before Ellis’s Counter Revolution began (the six month gap)? I know Claremont had them flirting a few times during his run on New Mutants.

  16. Allan M says:

    Skin has a bunch of excess skin, usually hanging around his midsection, which he draws on and that is how he’s able to stretch his skin into elongated pseudo-limbs and whatnot. It’s one of those designs that makes sense when his creator, Bachalo, draws him, and tends to just look like Mr. Fantastic when it’s anyone else on art.

  17. Drew says:

    As I think about it, most of the Gen X members had fairly simple powers with overly complicated explanations (maybe to make them more visually interesting to match Bachalo’s art style).

    “Okay, so he’s a stretchy guy?”
    “No, he has six extra feet of skin. Which lets him stretch.”
    “And this one copies powers?”
    “No, he has a synchronistic field that allows him to get in tune with anyone around him. And copy their powers and attributes.”
    “This one can change her body into different things?”
    “Well, she rips off her skin, under which, yes, she’s turned her body into different materials.”
    “And the one you’re going to kill, she teleports?”
    “Technically she warps and rearranges space to transport things and people.”
    “*sigh* And this one shoots energy?”
    “No, see, he has a nuclear psionic furnace in his chest. It’s filled with energy he can project at enemies.”

  18. YLu says:

    I do appreciate how, in that era, there seemed to be an active effort to give new characters new, distinct powers instead of just saddling them with the latest iteration of laser fists and calling it a day.

  19. sagatwarrior says:

    Well, many of the various Gen Xers have somewhat gone in their own directions where as the NM cast seem to keep ties with each other. The NM cast seems to be more interested in each other lives rather than the Gen X cast. Most of them got more character development in other books rather than their original series (i.e M in X-Factor, Husk in X-Men, etc). I mean, you hardly ever see them interact with their original teachers(Banshee and White Queen) who are off doing their own thing. I would think they would at least try to improve on Skin, but he wasn’t the most popular character in Gen X. Also, has Blink 616 ever been seen with the original cast Gen X?

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