Characters Appearing: Beast, Bishop, Cannonball, Cyclops, Elaine Grey, Gailyn Bailey, Hannah Conover, Iceman, Jean Grey, Joey Bailey, John Grey, Josie Thomas, Professor X, Rev. William Conover, Storm, Wolverine
X-Men vs. The Brood #1-2
Issue(s): X-Men vs. The Brood #1, X-Men vs. The Brood #2
This is an interesting miniseries because it addresses a dangling plot left over from the Claremont era. It's a follow-up to the Brood story from Uncanny X-Men #232-234. That story left Hannah Conover, wife of Reverend William Conover, infected with a Brood egg. The thing is, that story was published in 1988, and 1996 is a long time to wait when it comes to people being implanted with eggs. If things had gone according to normal Brood plans, a good portion of Earth would have been overrun by Brood by now.
Instead, the way that the story deals with that is to say that Hannah has been resisting the influence of the egg. But the egg is actually that of a Brood Queen, not just a regular Brood, and she has infected more people during this time. However, they also are not turning into full-fledged Broods, and the story introduces something that as far as i can remember/tell is new: the idea that the Brood have a shapeshifting ability that lets them retain their human form. As i've always understood it, the Brood eggs begin influencing their hosts before they hatch, making them evil while still in human (etc.) form, but once they hatch they fully transform into their Brood shape and that's the end of it. I mean, the template for the Brood was clearly the Xenomorphs from Alien. I could have misunderstood, but for sure the idea that they can shapeshift between Brood and back is a lot more prominent here.
I've been using passive tense ("the story introduces") because i am not sure if John Ostrander was given an editorial remit with some parameters or if he decided to tackle this plot on his own and the changes to the Brood are his idea.
I wonder what other dangling Claremont ideas might have been turned into miniseries. Jean's niece and nephew happen to appear in this story, reminding me that we never got the details on what happened to her sister or why the kids could remember Jean's parents but not Jean herself when they were first found (granted elements of that are actually dangling Louise Simonson plots). Maybe the Storm miniseries, which deals with her underdeveloped leadership of the Morlocks, counts.
The conflict here stems from the introduction of a Brood Empress, higher in rank than the individual Brood Queens, and she's decided that she's not going to tolerate Hannah's resistance anymore. So she sends an elite group of Firstborn Brood - faster, purebred Brood that act as assassins, to kill Hannah. Jean Grey picks up on the telepathic struggle between Hannah and the Brood, alerting the X-Men to the crisis. Of the team involved, Storm and Wolverine were involved in the last story, but Ostrander doesn't make too much of that connection.
The Firstborn are working with Josie Thomas, the paramedic from the end of the last story (note also that Firstborn, at least, don't shapeshift)...
...but they don't think much of her and kill her pretty quickly.
Hannah is protected by some humans that she's infected. They initially aren't even aware that they are infected...
...so it's not just a matter that they were infected years ago and have been maintaining human form. Somehow Hannah's resistance has prevented the eggs she's laid from hatching as well, or maybe they have hatched/transformed but Hannah's resistance is keeping them shapeshifted back into humans, unaware of their state. Either that or her "resistance" hasn't prevented her from laying eggs more recently. When Hannah is threatened, they immediately transform into Brood form, no shock, horror, or even acknowledgement that they previously thought they were human.
It's a bit confusing!
The X-Men show up and fight off the Firstborn, and then it's a debate between killing Hannah (Wolverine's position! And also Hannah's) and somehow helping her fight off her infection (everyone else). They eventually settle on cryogenically freezing Hannah, using Iceman's powers at first and then in a more high tech manner. In the meantime, Wolverine is contented to at least be allowed to kill the Firstborn sleazoids.
As Storm points out at one point, the fact that it is potentially possible to "cure" an infected human completely changes the approach the X-Men have to take towards the Brood for now on.
A cool bit, something that should have been done more, is Cyclops asking Bishop what the future holds in terms of the Brood. Bishop says that the were "reports" of the Brood in the future (which i guess means they weren't a constant problem) but also "legends" that there were more than one kind, and that Hannah is the start of that legend.
The art on this series is fun (early Hitch + Paul Neary = Alan Davis-ness)...
...and the addition of art helpers on the second issue doesn't seem to hurt things. The story is competently done except when dealing with the nature of the Brood, which i think was inevitably difficult due to the length between this story and the previous one. I do appreciate it picking up the old plotline. There's an argument, as Walter Lawson suggests in the comments for that entry, that the original story's ending was just meant as a standard horror movie "The End...?" kind of thing, but you just can't let the possibility of Brood infecting people on Earth go unresolved.
However, at two double-sized issues long, the story definitely feels padded. I am, granted, skipping over the religious doubt that is an element of this story (and the original), but Claremont managed to do that in regular sized action-packed issues while also dealing with subplots. Also, for all that it's addressing old dangling plotlines, it also introduces a new one: as far as i can tell, Hannah never appears again and this idea that the Brood can be cured doesn't become the new standard (Marvel Xenomorphs is much more fun). John Ostrander does seem to use William Conover in his concurrent Punisher run, but i haven't read that.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Per a footnote (and due to the appearance of Professor X) this takes place prior to Onslaught. This is also intended to be the real Beast, placing this prior to X-Men Unlimited #10.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|