web stats

CSBG Archive

Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 129: Generation X #66

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Generation X #66, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated August 2000. Enjoy!

What madness is this?

When I first opened this page, I was surprised to see the splash page. It’s been a few years since I read this comic, and as it’s gotten weirder and weirder to see a splash page on the first page which doesn’t really have anything to do with the story but just serves as an introduction to the characters, even a book released in 2000 seems wildly old-fashioned. But such is the fickle hand of fate!

You’ll notice that Brian Wood, the writer (from Warren Ellis’ plot) doesn’t have much to do on this page. We get the boilerplate introduction to the team, the credits, and the synopsis of what’s been going on – Gen. X has discovered the secret lair of an organization that locks up school kids, and they’re riding to the rescue, with Jubilee as team leader. That’s it, that’s all.

Pugh is a good artist, so let’s consider the splash page. In the back is Chamber, and Pugh makes it clear that he’s a bit … strange. We might not be sure what’s going on with his face, but Pugh gives him a lower jaw with some definition, making it clear that it definitely is his face on fire and not something else. In front of him stands Jubilee, and Pugh makes her Asian, which is hit or miss with her portrayal over the years. The lollipop in her mouth serves as a signifier that she’s a bit iconoclastic – she’s leading a rescue team but she still has time to suck on a lollipop. She points both toward the reader, as if ordering us to stay still and read the damned book, and also to draw our eye to her three teammates, which her fingers point toward. Monet, on the left, also looks like her ethnicity would indicate, something else that has been hit-or-miss over the years. In comics, short hair on females tends to indicate tom-boy-ishness (not always, of course, but often), so Pugh is letting us know that Jubilee is the tomboy of the group while Monet and Husk are more “girly” (they can both kick ass, of course – that’s not what I’m talking about). Husk looks bizarre only because she’s silver – it’s not clear if she’s even human, but she still looks tough. Skin, on the right, doesn’t look Hispanic only because he’s gray, but Pugh gives him menacing horns, which is a nice touch. Pugh makes sure that everyone is looking at the reader, as if daring them to turn the page. For a splash page, he leads the eye fairly well – from Chamber to Jubilee, then from Monet to Husk to Skin, taking us to the edge of where we need to turn the page.

It’s interesting that Wood chose to begin the book this way – “Counter X” was done to stave off cancellation, so perhaps Wood thought people needed to be introduced to the team right away. It’s a nice drawing, certainly, but any tricks Wood, Ellis, and Pugh pulled weren’t enough, as the book didn’t last too long after this. So sad!

Next: STERANKO!!!!!! ‘Nuff said. But that doesn’t mean you should skip looking at the archives, now does it?

11 Comments

Jubilee, I’MA let you finish, but a cigarette is a far cooler oral fixation than a lollipop. And since you’re a mutant, you don’t need to worry about living long enough to face the lung cancer.

I see the ’90s were by no means over in 2000.

Man, I don’t know much about the X-comics, but having been introduced to Jubilee & Monet considerably later when they had/have no discernible ethnicity, I would never have recognized them here. I just assumed that the only one of these people I’d ever seen before was Jono, though I didn’t know his superhero name. But that’s a hard look to mistake, really.

@buttler: Decadent and busy art. Writing skewed too dark and “extreme”, making even the most noble heroes master douches. Hologram covers. Foil covers. Triple gatefolds. Bags. Trading cards. The 90s did a lot of damage to Marvel’s characters and product lines.

Even so, over indulgence of of the 90s pretty much petered out by 2001. Morrison/Quitely’s run killed off the 90s in the X-Men universe . The Heroes Return rebooting of Marvel’s other heroes in `98 course corrected most non-mutants and got them back to basics, putting them closer to their 80s glory days. Kevin Smith’s work cleared out most of Daredevil’s cob webs as early as 98.

Spider-Man was the one that took a little longer to get back on track. There was no real turning point issue that said, “Screw the 90s. Back to basics.” It kind of just settled into a less “extreme” tone as the rest of the 616 changed around it.

IMO, the failings of 90s comics stems one basic misconception. Bigger is better.

Marvel’s publishing end expanded greatly from the 80s to the 90s. Think about it. New Mutants was the first ongoing X-Men spin-off. Wolverine didn’t even have an ongoing until `88. The X-Men line in the 90s was, by and large, just Uncanny, New Mutants, & X-Factor. By the late 90s, the X-Men line had QUADRUPLED. Off the top of my head…. Uncanny, Adjectiveless, X-Factor, Wolverine, Cable, X-Force, Generation X, Unlimited, Bishop, Gambit, Mutant X, and probably a few I’m forgetting.

In the 90s, Marvel didn’t get that less could be more. I’m not just talking about the line sizes. I’m talking about the writing and art.

The post Reagan/Bush climate of the 80s made it easy for writers to be cynical. The political divide was widening. The Gulf War was on the horizon. There economy was bad enough where the middle class was starting to get nudged out of existence. People kind of forget that the 80s were pretty dark. Writers of the 90s capitalized on this. Except…. They didn’t just go for straight up commentary or allegory. No. They did it to excess. Heroes became angrier and deadlier. Villains became less clearly evil. The world they lived in became more complex – to even Rube Goldberg proportions.

The art was just as extreme. If the 80s introduced us to big hair and bright colors. Marvel made the hair even bigger and the colors even brighter. If accessories like leg warmers and bangles were popular in the 80s then every character had to be accessorized in the 90s. Lots of pockets. Crazy boots. Straps. Buttons everywhere. Every 80s fashion fad you could imagine go the Michael Bay treatment in the 90s. After all, comics are supposed to be larger then life. Or are they? Hmmm…

It was this same excess that nearly killed Marvel. Speculators fell off the map. Characters had strayed from their roots. Lines had become too bloated. The nation around them, especially post-9/11, realized that maybe simpler was better.

Unfortunately, and you can see it on the racks now, the 90s look to be making a comeback and in grand fashion. Line expansions. Bloated crossovers. Gimmicks like bagging and special covers returning. A return to a somewhat tone across the board. In a sense, I think that it has to do with the world facing many of the same problems and revisiting many of the same trends that existed in the late 80s.

Marvel has to be careful. It’s walking a fine line and the publishing end isn’t nearly as healthy now as it was 20 years ago. Marvel’s movies are the only saving grace for Marvel’s financials atm.

@Greg: Please. Enlighten us. What’s a Hisapanic person supposed to look like. As a 5th generation American of Puerto Rican descent, I can tell you that there is not typical “latino look”. Only Baskin Robbins has more flavors.

Some people may look more typically Mexican, Dominican, or whatever, but there is no one specific look for Hispanic people. Plus, over the many centuries, we’ve become mixed with all sorts of people. You’re referring to a stereotypical look. Hispanic Americans can look like anything. Take Hollywood for example.

Charlie Sheen…. Carlos Estevez. His dad Martin is Ramon Estevez, Spanish on his father’s side.
Christina Aguilera….Ecuadorian on her father’s side.
Cameron Diaz… Cuban on her father’s side.
Gina Torres…. Cuban
Rosario Dawson…. Puerto Rican/Cuban on mom’s side
Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls)… Argentinian. English isn’t even her first language. It’s Spanish.
Zoe Zaldana… Dominican/Puerto Rican
Reagan Gomez-Preston (Cleveland Show) … Puerto Rican & Black
Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle)… Puerto Rican on his dad’s end.
Tatyana Ali (Fresh Prince)…. Panamanian. Speaks fluent Spanish
Lynda Carter… Mexican/Spanish on her mom’s side
Joanna García (Reba) … Spanish/Cuban
Rita Hayworth… Spanish
Lea Michelle (Glee)… Spanish Sephardic Jew on her dad’s end.
Charline Yi (House)… Spanish/Filipino
Anthony Quinn… Mexican
Lorenzo Lamas… Argentinian on his dad’s end.
Ian Gomez (Cougar Town)… Puerto Rican & Russian Jewish
Selena Gomez… Mexican/Italian
Joanna Kerns (Growing Pains)… Mexican/Irish
Jessica Alba… Mexican dad.

My first cousins are straight up black, with one of them looking like Kanye West. My mother has alabaster skin and is always mistaken for an old Jewish woman. My great grandmother had blonde hair, blue eyes, and was fair skinned. My dad’s olive complexion and gets mistaken for being Arab. I’m white, but sometimes get mistaken for Chinese. My brother’s brown and sometimes gets mistaken for being Indian. My nephew’s half Filipino. You can’t tell what he is in the least.

There is no one specific look. Like I said, Hispanic people can look like anything. even when you’re not mixed. It can vary greatly even in one family.

@Greg:

For argument’s sake, what’s a Hispanic person supposed to look like? TBH, we don’t necessarily look like any one thing, There’s a stereotypical look, but that only covers a small percentage of the reality. In fact, we can be black. We can be white. Our hair can be blonde, brown, black, or red. We can have the classic Taino Indian look, but we can also look very European or Anglo. Some populations have been mixed for many centuries. Others not. There’s still no one definitive look.

Saying that somebody “doesn’t look Hispanic” just sounds pretty uninformed. We don’t all have to look like Jennifer Lopez or Ricky Martin. Hispanics are everywhere and look kinda like everyone.

- Ian Gomez (Cougar Town)…. Puerto Rican & Russian Jew
- Selena Gomez…. Mexican/Italian
- Alexis Bledel… Argentinian. English his her second language. Spanish is her first.
- Martin & Charlie Sheen…. Spanish. Charlie’s real name is Carlos. Martin’s is Ramon. Both of their last names are legally Estevez.
- Lynda Carter… Mexican
- Frankie Muniz… Puerto Rican & Italian/Irish
- Cameron Diaz… Cuban/German
- Joanna Kerns (Growing Pains)… Mexican
- Anthony Quinn… Mexican
- Reagan Gomez-Preston (Parent Hood & Cleveland Show) … Puerto Rican / African American
- Gina Torres (Angel & Matrix 2/3)… Cuban
- Charlene Yi (House)… Spanish/Filipino
- Christina Aguilera…. Ecuadorian/Irish
- Rosario Dawson…. PR/Cuban
- Lea Michele (Glee)… Spanish/Italian

Hispanic people, by and large, are a veritable Mad Libs of characteristics even if there’s nothing in the mix.

I’m a 5th generation American of Puerto Rican descent. My family is kinda living proof of this.

- Me…. Brown hair & brown eyes, but very pale white skin. Very fine, straight hair. I get mistaken for everything from Anglo to Chinese to Hawaiian to Italian. Never Puerto Rican, oddly enough.
- My brother…. Black hair & brown eyes, but very tan. Course, wavy hair. He gets mistake for being Indian.
- My dad… Black hair. Brown eyes. Olive skin. Fine, curly hair. Gets mistaken for being Arab
- My mom… Reddish/brown hair. Brown eyes. Alabaster skin. Often gets mistaken for being Jewish
- My sister…. Same complexion & hair as my dad. She actually looks like Jessica Alba
- My first cousins, my aunt, & my grandmother… Straight up black
- My other grandmother… Just like me (I actually look like the male version of her.)
- My grandfather…. Looks like a little old Italian guy
- My great grandmother… Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Alabaster skin

None of us are directly mixed. All straight up Puerto Rican. Even my cousin who’s half Cuban looks like every other white chick you see in Manhattan.

FTR, not all of us even speak Spanish. I certainly don’t and neither do my siblings or aunts/uncles. My mom does, but my dad’s Spanish is terrible. I was never taught it at home. At prep school, I took 6 years of Latin. In college, I took classic Greek and conversational Italian. I’ve been dying to learn German & Japanese. (No. My academic focus wasn’t languages. It was physics & comp sci.)

We don’t fit onto those little boxes on the page. I can totally forgive when comic artists don’t get he physical thing down. We’re a moving target. The only thing that irks me is when writers make Americans of Hispanic descent speak Spanglish or broken English. It’s insulting to the readers and the community in general.

Rob: Phew! You’re absolutely right, and I didn’t mean to imply that Hispanics are homogeneous. I apologize. I thought that Angelo had been drawn with browner skin in some issues of the series, when they flashed back to his days before his mutation manifested itself, but I could be wrong. I should have known better. Sorry!

I wasn’t offended in the least. I was simply stating that the phrasing didn’t ring true. You’re absolutely right about Angelo. They DID draw him one way in the flashbacks. However, given the nature of his powers, you can forgive him for looking different from issue to issue. He’s malleable enough where artists can have fun and interpret him however they want.

I too find it interesting that few artist can get Jubilee right. They either forget that she’s Chinese American or draw her like something from a manga, which is equally inappropriate. It’s a fine line. Most artists screw it up with characters like ninja Psylocke too. In that recent Otherworld storyline, I had a hard time telling if she was Asian or if she had been reverted back to her original Brit body.

I’ve got something like 15k+ comics in my collection. Almost all Marvel. Monet, for the most part, has been the most consistent. There have been a few times where she didn’t quite look like Monet, but that was more rare than frequent.

Again, I wasn’t offended. I was just being nitpicky. In general, many people have narrow minds when it comes to race and ethnicity. Comics, since they “paint” in broad strokes, make the matter worse. It’s not often that I see a comic character of color that doesn’t lean on the stereotypes and cliches. Marvel, even when they’re being open minded, is still pretty bad in this regard.

Oh…. And about that opening page…. Maybe Pugh’s just not my cup of tea, but I absolutely hate that opening page. It’s just too busy, which is odd considering that the composition is so flat. Characters are layered over one another, but there’s no real depth. You see the characters and kind of get the sense that the artist is trying to tell you something. However, it’s all rather vague. Never in a million years would you guess what Skin, Husk, or Jubilee’s powers are either. It’s not very dynamic.

Rob: Ah, cool. I’m glad. Still, I wrote that poorly, and thanks for pointing it out.

I disagree with you a bit about the page, mainly because I do like Pugh. I do agree that the depth is lacking, but I’m not sure if Pugh was really trying to show what their powers were. I think he was just showing us the characters and figuring we’d figure it out as the book went along. It’s kind of hard to show Monet and Husk’s powers in a splash page, after all.

For a splash page like that should serve the same purpose as an establishing shot, but for characters. Like the old saying goes, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” Imagine that you’re reading a CBR preview and this is your very first exposure to Generation X.

- Chamber’s face is always on fire so, even if you’re wrong about what his power is, Pugh leads you in the right direction.

- Skin, ideally, should be doing stuff that’s more stretchy. If all you’ve got is this splash page as your CBR preview then you might be inclined to believe that Skin’s powers lean more toward the supernatural. After all, he has these horn things.

- Husk’s power is not hard at all to demonstrate. In fact, Bachalo nailed it on the cover to the very first issue. He showed her tearing off a hunk of skin and revealing a new form underneath. Here, as presented by Pugh, one might guess that she’s either a robot or related to Colossus.

- Monet… Telepathy may be tricky to show, but super strength isn’t. All you need is a visual cue. Have her lifting breaking, or otherwise doing something superhumanly strong. She’s giving some major attitude, but that’s about it. Maybe her power is to be a b****. ^_^

- Jubilee’s pyrotechnics, while basically there, aren’t handled that very well by either the inker or colorist.

You yourself suggested that this is supposed to be an introduction to the characters. Pugh, even if you like him, didn’t do that very well.

The problem starts with how he frames the scene. He pulls in tight. What that tells me is that he’s more concerned with giving us short character profiles. In short, but focusing on their faces, he’s outlining their basic personalities. However, as an introduction to the characters, the camera placement is maybe too close. It’s cramped. Pugh doesn’t give the characters enough room to breath and emote, an action which extends beyond the faces.

It’s a decent effort, but it reads a lot more like a rough pass, a thumbnail concept that leads to the finalized product. It doesn’t really feel polished enough to give the reader, who might be a complete GenX newbie, a proper introduction to these characters. If that was indeed Pugh’s goal, I feel that he failed. Pugh is technically competent, but the composition and execution here is off kilter. For the most part, Pugh is just drawing heads here. Skin’s body, down to the disappearing right arm, seems like an afterthought. Jubilee isn’t even lucky enough to have warranted the hint of a body. She’s just a head and a hand.

Pull back the camera a few feet. Reframe the sequence so that each character does their thing. Establish clearer, more dynamic lines of action. Layer the characters with more perspective and in a manner that implies more depth.

FTR, in spite of my academic background, I’m a CG artist by trade. I do a lot of character work. Some still. Some animated. I’m not sure I’d have approved this piece. Then again, I’m not the editor or AD there. =)

Rob: See? This is why I’m doing this, so I can get better at writing about it. This does help quite a bit, so thanks!

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives