There are no bounds to how far hatred can go to justify unspeakable actions. X-Men comics have shown this time and time again via humans who will stop at nothing to extinguish mutants once and for all. It’s a common theme in the series and that hate grows so ferocious humans actually become inhuman in the process of trying to destroy every mutant. In the 1994 crossover event Phalanx Covenant, Scott Lobdell, Chris Cooper, Fabian Nicieza, Todd Dezago, and Larry Hama introduce the techno-organic Phalanx which is a threat that turns humans into shape-shifting monstrosities. They used the alien Warlock’s techno-organic virus to turn themselves into weapons and ironically into super-beings much less human than any mutant. It’s a series known for pulling off a crossover that spans over 480 pages without using many X-Men at all and by its end helped form the iconic Generation X series. It’s a series that is admittedly hard to read thanks to its overly verbose and convoluted nature, but a series that has three shining elements to make it worth a look.
#1: It’s told in three chapters
Well, four chapters if you count the first 175 or so pages that set up the event. Much of the first third of this book is devoted to fleshing out the Phalanx, getting to know how dangerous this threat is, and leading us into the start of our story. It starts with “Generation Next” opening with Banshee discovering most of the X-Men are missing from Xavier’s school even though he was just chilling with a bunch of them. Instead, they were replaced by the Phalanx and soon he’s teaming up with Emma Frost, Jubilee and Sabretooth to take down the threat. In the second chapter, “Life Signs,” X-Men series X-Factor, X-Force, and Excalibur explore how the Phalanx is losing its identity and becoming a threat that could end all life as we know it. Finally, in “Final Sanction,” Cable, Wolverine, Cyclops, and Phoenix team up to save the remaining X-Men from the Phalanx at their home base, which is an impressively rendered spire. This chunk of the story features a slightly different Cyclops and Pheonix as they just got back from their honeymoon taking care of Cable and a Wolverine who has been separated from the X-Men for some time since losing his adamantium. What’s interesting about this approach is it gives the event three distinct stories that drive home different plots and character lineups. It’s a cool way to make an event have multiple goals, agendas, and endings.
#2: Moira is featured quite a bit
Moira is one of the most interesting mutants right now in X-Men storytelling thanks to Jonathan Hickman revealing she is a mutant of great importance. In this series, she’s still a human, or I suppose more accurately, she doesn’t yet know she’s a mutant herself. She’s a scientist and with the help of Xavier, they discover the Phalanx isn’t just a mutant threat, but a threat to humans too. This section of the story is interesting in part because it shows she had a romantic relationship with Xavier. Reading this sheds a bit light on who Moira is and while most of what is here may not matter in the current stories, it’s nice to get Moira stories as we wait to see what Hickman and company have planned for her.
#3: Harnesses some great character moments
Without a doubt, this book is a bit of a mess, but it still offered intriguing twists in the story that made us want more from its characters. Blink is possibly the most interesting character who saves Banshee but in doing so kills herself (in a not-so-clear way, I might add). Wolverine popping in at the end reminded us how great he was after a hiatus from the books and the rendering of Forge is quite enticing here too. Banshee is a strong leader and a great character at the outset of the book. Again, the three-chapter structure makes it hard to love any one character all the way through, but it’s hard to deny this series set our expectations and made us love characters, and love to see more from them, going forward.
— David Brooke (@Nosocialize) December 22, 2019
This isn’t the most iconic of X-Men events and it becomes obvious why once you reach the end. The chapter structure offered a chance to tell three chunks of the story, all of which fight the same enemy but with different groups and missions. This logically made the event more enticing, but it also made it feel chaotic and schizophrenic. This event also occurred at a time when the iconic X-Men lineup was reduced to lesser-known characters. That’s partially why they ended up becoming favorites as characters like Banshee and Forge had to take center stage. This is a book well worth a look for the three reasons above though I caution you should be wide awake, for fear of dozing off when things get overly convoluted.
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