Issue(s): X-Terminators #1
Granted, none of the non-mutant tie-ins are mentioned either, but this book has a bonafide X in the title and seems like it's an important part of the story. All told, it feels like a last minute change of direction. But on the other hand, Jon Bogdanove isn't known as a super fast artist and he was also writing and drawing Power Pack issues that were coming out at the same time as this. So it seems unlikely that he could handle last minute changes, so i could be completely off base about this. Another thing to mention is that this book is not billed as a mini-series on the cover. So maybe the idea was to lead in with these Inferno issues and then get the kids back to the school later, while spinning Artie and Leech off into their own books. If that was the intention, it doesn't happen. Either way, the kids will get folded into the New Mutants title instead.
Possibly not related to any of the above, but there's also the fact that S'ym is talking in that ad about starting Inferno early. Inferno has a slow build. This is the first book to have a logo on it, but it's harder to say when Inferno actually starts. S'ym has been an unmanageable problem for Magik for some time now, and we saw in New Mutants #66 (Aug 88 cover date) and X-Factor #33 (Oct 88, same as this issue) that elements of Limbo have been manifesting in the real world. Outside of X-Terminators #1-2, official Inferno tie-ins don't start until December cover date, which is also when those ads ran.
Anyway, Inferno. I said that this X-Terminators series "seems like" an important part of the crossover, and by that i mean that it features mutant characters opposing the machinations of N'astirh instead of, say, random heroes getting into fights with possessed cars or vacuum cleaners. But it's really not a crucial part of the series. So the ad is probably correct in not listing it. My 900lb Inferno trade paperback doesn't include it either. So i'll introduce Inferno more properly when we get further in. For now, suffice it to say that it provides resolution to a number of longstanding x-plots while providing a nice Casket of Ancient Winters style (actually, its opposite, if you go by temperature) backdrop for the rest of the Marvel universe to get involved with.
This issue does set up Inferno by starting off with a meeting between S'ym and N'astirh. There's clearly a power struggle between them, but S'ym comes out on top and orders N'astirh to go to Earth and capture 13 babies for a ritual.
The contest is over so quickly that you could read it as a rehash of an argument that they've already had, with the scene really just providing exposition for our benefit. I say that because based on my current placement N'astirh has already been searching for babies, but from Limbo while making allies with humans (Cameron Hodge and Doug Carmody), not from Earth, whereas it's clear that N'astirh is only now going to Earth in the above scene.
By the way, for a long time i thought N'astirh was a female because his demon lackeys refer to him as "Mawthtur", which is clearly "master" but i originally read as "mother".
When N'astirh and his lackeys arrive on Earth, they're spotted by an homage of Bill Gaines of EC Horror and Mad magazine fame. Note the gravestone for Fredric Wertham.
Bill is turned into a demon by N'astirh.
Meanwhile, Rusty is turning himself in to the Navy, as we saw him deciding to do in X-Factor #33. He's still defiant about the Mutant Registration Act.
"Several days later", Jean drops off Artie and Leech at a school called St. Simons.
Lurking in the background there is Takeshi Matsuya, Taki for short. Taki considers himself a "freak" because he lost the ability to walk in a car accident that killed his parents.
The older X-Factor wards, meanwhile, are dropped off by Iceman at Phillips Academy in Exeter, NH. This is the school Angel went to before joining the X-Men, and the students there are prep caricatures.
With these scenes we might be getting a sense of what an ongoing series at this school might have been like, but it's overly satirical.
Leech and Artie are doing a better job making friends with Taki, and it becomes clear that Taki's amazing technical abilities are a mutant power, since they keep getting cancelled out when Leech gets close.
That night, Taki wakes up to the sound of demons trying to kidnap Artie and Leech (the demons, led by one called Crotus, have gotten the wrong idea from N'astirh's description of babies as being small with large heads and no hair)...
...and he suddenly finds his powers working in overdrive.
However, he's unable to stop the kidnapping. All the phone lines to New York are down (an early sign of the strangeness to come with Inferno), so he's unable to contact X-Factor. He tries calling the older kids at Phillips Academy, but the preppie girl that answers the phone thinks he's pranking them. So he decides to fly there.
So Taki, who sometimes goes by the code name Wiz Kid, is kind of like a cartoon version of Madison Jeffries. It's commendable that Simonson and Bogdanove decided to create a handicapped Japanese-American super-hero, but he doesn't really take. He's very young, and where Leech and Artie are very cute, Taki can just be annoying. And his powers are both too convenient and not exactly the stuff that makes for mainstream super-heroics. There's also a potential "Asians are good at engineering" stereotype going on, although i think that would have been surmountable. I think it all might have been surmountable if there really was a book called Genetix designed to focus on these younger heroes with more lighthearted stories, but if Marvel wanted that they ought to have gotten their Power Pack series in order first. Instead Taki is thrown in with these older teen heroes and judged by the audience for them i think he was found to be lame.
Anyway, Taki manages to convince the other x-kids to come with him...
...and then they decide to break Rusty out of prison because "he's our leader". Rusty is convinced to break out in a matter of panels.
There's some nice Jon Bogdanove art and some cute moments in the story. I've always felt like the Inferno event, which makes perfect sense for Magik and therefore the New Mutants, and is fine for a line-wide crossover, is an odd fit for the other mutant titles. And in this issue it feels like a straight-up interruption of a carefully planned story. A lot of set-up for Rusty, Artie & Leech, and the other kids, just to derail it all with the demons. It doesn't make it bad, but it's a weird shift.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: It's possible that the intro scene with S'ym takes place prior to N'astirh's appearances in X-Factor #32 and Power Pack #40 (and what may be a flashback in #42). It's also possible that N'astirh already had a plan to use Earth babies (something we've seen Limbo demons have an interest in as early as Power Pack #20) and maybe that's why S'ym called him; it's just N'astirh's area of expertise. Either way, the rest of this issue takes place during X-Factor #34. And the Angel scene from X-Factor #34 is a direct continuation of the Angel scene from X-Factor #33. Additionally, this story is continued pretty much directly in X-Terminators #2, and X-Terminators #2 makes references to events in X-Factor #34 (the Angel/Hodge fight) and Uncanny X-Men #238 (N'astirh contacting Madelyne Pryor) is occurring concurrently with the events of X-Terminators #2. So it's all a tight timeline. I'm putting X-Terminators #2 in a separate entry to deal with the concurrent events, but then after that we're going to have to pause for a while to let the rest of the Marvel universe catch up before continuing with Inferno.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
Am I the only one who thinks this is a cool team?
Posted by: doomsday | August 8, 2014 9:01 PM
No. I won't be giving much in the way of credit for the actual story, but the dregs of the mutant titles getting their own series was a neat idea. Skids, Rusty, sassy, misunderstood Boom-Boom, and the kids made a good combination. Unfortunately they wound up getting drafted into the New Mutants who were palling around with X-Factor, leading us to the horror of X-Force, but the basic idea was fine.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 8, 2014 9:19 PM
I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but one thing that makes comic-book continuity work so well is that you can throw unrelated characters together for a series. [Champions, Defenders, PAD's X-Factor, Giffen-DeMatteis' Justice League] Granted these were all X-Factor/X-Men-related characters, except for Taki the newbie, but none of them worked together beyond pairs [Rusty-Skids, Artie-Leech] and had no reason to be together in the first place, other than circumstances.
It's a strength of the comic-book medium that you can even conceive of such different characters [background characters at that] teaming up in a way that makes even the slightest bit of sense. It's to the medium's weakness that non-creative people in charge will think nothing of shoving these background characters together, using it to 'plus up' an on-going storyline, and presto, a new book on the shelves.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 8, 2014 9:35 PM
I loved the idea of having a buildup to Inferno. However, I found it really difficult to read in a chronological order in real-time. That's why I look forward to re-reading it now.
Posted by: clyde | August 10, 2014 12:04 AM
I've put together a little timeline of the events of Inferno if you're interested. It's not complete yet but I think I've got the majority of the story threaded together. http://jade-dragon.wikidot.com/marvel-s-inferno-crossover
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 14, 2014 1:13 PM
Jay - That's impressive. It's a very detailed run-through. Thanks.
Posted by: clyde | August 14, 2014 2:46 PM
I think the X-termies were radical !!!! (like almost every other X-book in this time was). Why these characters in particular never got a chance after this book is frustrating to me. The build up to X-terminators was enormous through the X-factor ward thing, mainly because they were all characters with a huge and interesting background. Let me recap. Rusty had a lot of screen time when X-factor took off, and sort of made their true goals clear. Together with Artie, who was of course linked to Beast's storyline. Then Skids joined during the Massacre (and because of it), even has some flashbacks to her youth. Leech - who loses his surrogate mother in the Massacre - joins some time after, when Caliban joins the main team, and his siphon powers play a major role in a lot of stories thereafter. Boom Boom started off in Secret Wars with the Beyonder (I think), and leaves for a while with Fallen Angels. All of them together saved Rictor. Throw Taki into the mix with his cool powers, and there you have it, fantastic potential for a new X-team. Which was unfortunately not followed up upon. Rusty and Skids were ditched for no good reason, and forced into really, really lame roles hereafter. Boom Boom and Rictor were totally diminished and destroyed as characters right after X-Force took off, with Boom Boom having nothing to do but be obnoxious and Rictor nothing to do but rehash himself and his trust issues. Taki was likely trashed because his powers virtually added nothing to what Warlock added to the team at the time (and we all know where that ends). And then the great Artie-Leech dynamic... I've no words for it, it is frustrating even now.
Posted by: Mansize | August 15, 2014 9:52 AM
Mansize, I couldn't agree more. I can't understand how this book didn't get more issues and Alpha Flight did. The mind boggles.
Posted by: JSfan | August 15, 2014 12:01 PM
When Claremont was interviewed in Amazing Heroes #134 in early 1988, he referred to Inferno as "Hell On Earth". I wonder if that was indeed the first title, but later changed due to DC's SF graphic novel of the same name.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 8, 2014 4:31 PM
I'm following Jay Demetrick timeline and it's very helpful, especially around XTerminators 3, where the whole pentagram in the sky scene occurs simultaneously in several titles.
I was having difficulties understanding the Reading order
Posted by: Bibs | November 28, 2017 8:30 AM
Fnord mentions in his review that these issues weren't included in the original Inferno TPB.
Posted by: Brian | January 27, 2018 2:03 AM
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