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X-Terminators #1 (1988, October)

August 29, 2016

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). October is the month that never ends. OK. So, by Simonson, Bogdanove, Williamson, Milgrom, Wellington and Rosen, “Invasion of the Baby-Snatchers.”

Invasion of the Baby-Snatchers

Am I crazy in thinking this might be a mild homage to the X-Factor #1 cover?

N’astirh and his N’asteris – new band name! – have been summoned by S’ym, who plans on conquering Limbo and Earth. There’s clearly no love lost between the two, as they briefly fight. N’astirh mentions his magic protects him from S’ym’s transmode virus. S’ym orders him to go to Earth and capture 13 babies to be sacrificed. N’astirh and his demons teleport to Earth, and a graveyard. The cemetery’s keeper goes to investigate, and gets demoned.

X-Terminators #1

Meet Bill the Demon.

The demons aren’t sure how to find the Infants of Power, so N’astirh describes them as small humans with large heads, no hair and round, innocent eyes. Which is a pretty fair description of babies. You know who else it describes? Artie and Leech! Who are watching Rusty and Skids say goodbye, since Rusty’s turning himself into the Navy for his jail time. It’s very dramatic, with one panel even coming straight from a romance comic.

X-Terminators #1

“Why Must I Be A Mutant In Love?”

Anyway, Rusty goes on to explain that he hopes he can use his trial to draw attention to the Mutant Registration Act and push public opinion against it. Good luck, guy, that ain’t happening.

A few days later, Jean brings Artie and Leech to St. Simons school. They meet the headmaster, Dr. Gloria Johnson, and her assistant, Lynne Huntington. Neither will be all that important to the story, but they are kind of a part of this adorable moment:

X-Terminators #1

D’awww.

In New Hampshire, Bobby’s bringing Skids, Rictor and Boom-Boom to Phillips Academy, Exeter, Warren’s old prep school. And, oh man, we meet the best prep school kids ever.

X-Terminators #1

ONE OF THEM IS NAMED MUFFY.

That’s great. They are the ultimate rich kid stereotypes. You can even hear their condescending voices. The X-Factor kids decide to teach them a lesson, because obviously.

X-Terminators #1

Shut up, Bobby, that’s funny and you know it.

Back at St. Simons, Artie isn’t sure why he needs to learn how to write when he can use his pictures. One of the other kids agrees with him!

X-Terminators #1

That is a bitchin’ chair.

Leech gets too close and Taki’s wheelchair falls apart, and Taki yells at him and says he screws up everything he’s around. Taki appeared briefly earlier in the issue, but this is our real introduction to the character. And it’s an interesting way of doing it. He’s introduced as, to use the headmaster’s words, “an arrogant little beast.” It’s an interesting approach. A reader’s first instinct will be to dislike the character, and that can be hard to overcome. But at the same time, he’s a disabled kid of colour whose parents are dead. No shit he’s got a chip on his shoulder. And I actually kinda dislike the headmaster for saying it, because, again, no shit. His parents are dead. He’s stuck in a wheelchair. He’s dyslexic and aphasic, which makes it difficult for him to learn. And he gets the added joys of being a person of colour in the US. He’s got a rough situation. He’s allowed to be bitter and resentful. And you know what? He’s allowed to be damned arrogant about his knack for making things. It’s something he’s good at, something that makes him feel like he’s not useless. So let him be arrogant. He’s young, he has time to outgrow it. He’s a really good character, because he’s allowed to be awful in ways that are 100% understandable, given just how awful life has been to him.

Anyway, Exeter! Muffy is showing Boom-Boom and Skids to their room. She calls Boom-Boom “Tabby,” which pisses her off. She shows them the hideous school uniform they have to wear, and is just generally condescending. Boom-Boom tries to blow her up, because Boom-Boom reacts to everything in one of two ways, and they’re both her name.

X-Terminators #1

Oh, Boom-Boom. Truly, you are the best.

A week later, Taki is building something in his room, with Artie’s help. Leech is off in the corner, but wants to be closer.

X-Terminators #1

*shuffle shuffle shuffle*

Taki, you’re so tsundere. Er, I’m not saying that because he’s Asian-American (I’m assuming Japanese-American, given his name), I’m saying that because he literally said “it’s not that I like you or anything.” Of course, including the disclaimer just makes me look worse. If you have to say you’re not being racist, you’re probably being racist. I should probably move on. Anyway, he yells at Leech again, and says he feels weird whenever Leech gets near him. I wonder what that could mean! Artie gives him a big raspberry and goes to join Leech. Then Taki’s machine explodes and knocks him over, and Artie and Leech help him back up, because they’re good kids.

That night, demons scratch at Leech and Artie’s window. Taki hears and wakes up and goes to their room to try to chase the demons off. One of the demons, Crotus, grabs at him, then gets blasted back by a gun that magically appeared on Taki’s chair. He goes to the attack, but gets too close to Leech, and the chair returns to normal and he falls flat on his face. Leech tells Taki he’s a mutant, before Taki gets knocked out.

He wakes up to a couple teachers checking on him, and one teacher notices effigies on the pillow, and says leaving effigies in place of stolen children was classic goblin behaviour. Wow, it’s a good thing this teacher loves old myths, I guess. Taki tries to call the kids at Exeter, but Muffy’s the one who answered the phone, and she thinks it’s a prank call. So, he turns his wheelchair into a helicopter and flies there, where he picks up Skids, Boom-Boom and Rictor. Rictor asks his roommate to take notes for him in class, because apparently, Rictor actually cares about his education. Good work, Rictor. The roommate offers to go along, too. He’s a nice guy, I like him. “Oh, this kid in a tiny helicopter is shouting something about demons? Want me to come along?”

They all head over to the prison Rusty’s in. Taki points out that breaking him out of jail is against the law, but Boom-Boom has a perfectly logical counter-argument:

X-Terminators #1

We all know she would do it for the simple joy of exploding.

They find Rusty, and he points out that what they’re doing is a federal offence, which makes Taki feel vindicated. Rusty has a very inspiring speech about taking responsibility, and about mutants being treated like humans, but the speech is missing something crucial.

X-Terminators #1

Boom-Boom is on fire with the counter-arguments!

I really enjoy this issue. It’s great. Lots of fun. Taki is a cool new character, with a really interesting power, and a lot of depth. I wish we’d see more of him. He showed up as a background character in Avengers Academy, but he deserves to be part of a main cast in an X-title. He’s a disabled character of colour with a power that’s both visually interesting and narratively useful. He deserves so much better than he’s gotten. Bring back Wiz-Kid!

The X-Factor kids are all great throughout the issue. Artie and Leech are adorable best friends, and it’s sweet. Rictor doesn’t get much to do, but he’s fun when he’s around. And Boom-Boom, of course, is Boom-Boom. Which means she constantly steals the scene and is the best part of the book. She’s just so much fun.

The art is great. Bogdanove draws great demons. His art style’s cute and kid-friendly, which tends to make for the best scary stuff. There’s a lot of expressiveness, and the cartoony style exaggerates a lot of things to comedic degrees. The Exeter kids are so perfectly punchable. The whole thing is loads of fun. Great issue.

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