Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rites of Passage (Marvel comics)
Adventures of the X-Men #7 When: October 1996 Why: Ralph Macchio How: Andy Kuhn

The story so far...
In their last confrontation, Sabretooth and Wolverine battled in the snowy ranges of Alaska, where the X-Man was able to out maneuver his old foe to send him hurtling down an icey ravine.

Having finally clawed his way back to the surface, Sabretooth is madder than ever, and intent on getting revenge on his arch-nemesis.

Stalking his way across America, Sabretooth returns to the X-Mansion he once infiltrated under orders of Magneto. Ironically, the X-Men are abroad in Russia tending to matters concerning the master of magnetism, leaving Professor Xavier and Jubilee alone in the mansion -- with Sabretooth!

Previous Form:
Sabretooth (#326): Suffered a defeat at the hands of Iron Fist and Luke Cage.
Jubilee (#224): Went down to Robin during the inter-universe competition.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Sabretooth 4 (Steroid Popper)
Intelligence: Sabretooth 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Sabretooth 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Sabretooth 5 (Marathon Man)
Agility: Sabretooth 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Sabretooth 7 (Born Fighter)
Energy Powers: Jubilee 3 (Explosives)

PROFESSOR X: Vulnerable to stairs and unintentional flight.From one mansion incursion [Ultimate X-Men #49], to another! Just like last time, Professor Xavier has been taken out before the action could even get started, so we're going to take a look at this one as a one-on-one situation. Which is a little bit ridiculous, because, well, just look at those stats...

By way of the patented Haseloff tape, we see that Sabretooth represents one of the most well rounded fighters in the Marvel universe, moderately ranking in most areas, excelling in the field of combat, appropriate for this particular website.

Jubilee is... Jubilee. Granted, she's got several steps up on Angel, but her powers generally extend to wearing a yellow jacket and surrounding her hands with colourful pops of light. An "omega mutant" she is not.

Jubilee really has no business fighting Sabretooth. Well, okay, maybe we could come with something. I mean, Jubilee is a victim of her perpetual youth. It's reasonable to assume she'll grow up into a plasma-blasting bad ass. Maybe one day we'll find out Boom-Boom, Jubilee and Dazzler are all descended from neanderthal finger-sparky disco queens who invented fire and were mortal enemies of the Sabre-rine species Jeph Loeb introduced recently. But I digress...

Sabretooth almost certainly eviscerates Jubilee in the most horrific of ways, but this book's based in the 1990s cartoon universe, so we know that won't happen. On the integrity of this section, I cannot say Jubilee would win, but...

The Math: Sabretooth (Meta Class)
The Pick: Sabretooth

What went down...
Arriving on the mansion grounds, not even the stealthy Sabretooth can evade the X-Men's hi-tech security systems. With the alarm sounding, Professor Xavier is unable to pin point the intruder telepathically, forced to activate the defenses.
Sabretooth is able to call upon his mutant gifts and years of experience to survive the various nets and pits, making it to the roof of the mansion.

As Sabretooth halts a skylight shield mid-closure, Jubilee convinces a reluctant Professor Xavier to allow her to investigate. Scouring the levels of the mansion, Jubilee reports via contact pin, finding nothing out of place on the first two floors, but a trashed mess in Wolverine's bedroom.

When contact goes dead, Jubilee scrambles to Professor Xavier, piecing together the clues to deduce the identity of their intruder, just as she turns the corner to find Professor Xavier, bruised and in the hands of Sabretooth!

He tosses Xavier aside and makes chase of the fleeing Jubilee. She scrambles through the mansion slamming doors on her way, but the powerful Sabretooth is able to smash his way through with minimal resistance.

She slows the feral villain a little with her mutant generated plasma explosions. The move further provokes the volitile intruder, but buys Jubilee the space to duck into the control room for the danger room, where she had trained earlier.

Tapping a few controls, she smashes through the observation deck window as the looming shadow of Sabretooth is cast over the control room doorway.

Breathing down her neck, Sabretooth suggests Jubilee simply give in to the inevitable. With hand on hip, she wags her finger in mocking satisfaction for the plan she has hatched to use the X-Men's training facility as a weapon.

To Sabretooth's dismay, attack discs fire from the walls, striking him in the behind. The surprise punishment doesn't stop there, jets of flame adding a light toasting to the ill prepared Sabretooth, who suffers the brunt of the attack while Jubilee backflips through the obstacles.

With his mutant healing factor taking care of most of the damage, Sabretooth arrogantly congratulates Jubilee on her improvement since the last time they clashed. Before he can punctuate his sarcasm with a gutting, he finds himself sprayed with a super-adhesive that holds him in place as giant mobile walls begin to move toward him!

Jubilee, also ensnared in the sticky goop, taunts the enraged Sabretooth some more, before using her pyrokinetics to free herself and make a dash from the final press of the giant training trap.

Jubilee quickly returns to the embattered Professor Xavier, helping him to his hover chair. She recounts her triumph over both danger room, and super villain alike, but the wise Professor warns, "Don't assume anything where that maniac is concerned." A decided shift of opinion from the last time Sabretooth clashed with Jubilee, having taken up quarters to receive 'therapy' from the Prof.

Predictably, the Professor's ominous warning marks the charging entrance of Sabretooth, sans half his pants. No longer content with taking it easy on Jubilee, Sabretooth refuses to take chase, instead bringing the fight to his own terms by wrenching a computer console from the War Room floor.

Sabretooth's aim proves off, Jubilee swiftly ducking the incoming projectile.
She shows him how it's done, blasting him with more of her patented multi-coloured plasma bursts. Like red to a bull, the attack serves only to renew Sabretooth's attack.

Jubilee again calls upon her maneuverability. She ducks an unrefined lunge, and does equally well leaping a savage claw slash that misses her by inches, and puts the savage Sabretooth off-balance.
The break, having provided Jubilee another tactical opening, allows her the opportunity to expel her energies at the ceiling, bringing down a hail of computer junk and rubble atop the feral mutant marauder.

Seeming unstoppable, Sabretooth quickly emerges from the tonnes of rubble, finally getting his clawed hands on the wile X-Man. Having caught her ankle in mid-flight, he pins her to the ground, using his massive weight advantage to prevent another plasma blast, and give her nowhere to go.

He savours the moment, suffering a rebellious spit to the eye!
Enraged to the final point, Sabretooth raises his claws to deliver the killer blow, but the recovered Xavier manages to halt his murderours thoughts with a telepathic mind-blast!

With the situation dire, Jubilee gives her blast everything she's got, knocking Sabretooth backward to live wiring exposed by the console he tore up.
Her options becoming limited, she bravely charges full force at Sabretooth, knocking him back into the wiring! He lights up like a smouldering Christmas tree, but doesn't go down before delivering a final scare, reaching out in vein before collapsing unconscious.

The hammer...
Proving her value as an X-Man, the winner, Jubilee!

And who'd have believed it? Two X-Men features in as many weeks.
Features that didn't even contain Wolverine. What can I say? I'm not an Adventures fan, but those kinetic Andy Kuhn pencils lured me in for another dose of mansion mayhem!

I like to think the relaxed schedule has affored us the opportunity to approach these reviews something like a discussion. Even though we've seemingly thrown off the oppresive shackles of scheduled themes, you'll notice they're still weaving their way through the posts. I guess you can consider the empowered young female X-Man being the current topic of interest, but it's not going to stop here.

Certainly there are very specific beats in this story's script that really call back to the classic Uncanny X-Men #143, where Kitty Pryde finds herself alone in the mansion with a renegade demon from the N'Garai!

Like that classic issue the young mutants struggle in a condensened coming-of-age story, pitting them against overwhelming odds that would otherwise be swiftly dismissed by more senior X-Men. Like this issue of Adventures, Pryde used many of the same strategies to compensate for her offensive inadequecies against a much more powerful foe, but we'll talk more about that when we take a look at that famous issue.

Prompting this pseudo-discussion was a cocktail of Sabretooth's recent decapatation in the comics, and late night viewings of the 1990's X-Men cartoon, upon which this particular issue is based. As far as I know this isn't among the transcribed stories from episodes, but it does draw specifically upon the fourth episode of the series, Deadly Reunions, where Sabretooth infiltrates the Mansion on the behalf of Magneto, who more specifically combats Xavier for the first time in years.

In that episode, Jubilee is left alone, tricked into freeing Sabretooth of his shackles, and saved only by the intervention of Wolverine, who had stormed off previously in protest of Xavier's leniency for his old foe, while they battle Magneto on the basis of Xavier's history.

What's shameful about this story is how clearly it highlights Jubilee's lack of development through the nineties. While I wasn't a reader of Generation X, I think it's safe to say any headway made in those issues was minimal, as Jubilee fell by the wayside, a victim of perpetual youth.

Until now, it's perhaps only in the ill-fated M2 comics that anyone has made any attempt to develop Jubilee, those books recasting her as an adult member of a future Avengers. Although, even here, it should be noted that she's still sporting that ridiculous yellow coat, and fairly tame plasma based powers.

It seems a little obscure, but I'm pleased to see that Jubilee is at least appearing in some capacity, albeit under the guise of 'Wondra', in the pages of the new New Warriors book. Not only that, but she's taking on a more senior role within the team, which might be ambitious, but is certainly a positive step.

Maybe I'm too sentimental, but like Rogue [discussed Ultimate X-Men #49], it seems like such an injustice for a character who no doubt ushered many fans into the fold (via the cartoons), would fall so thoroughly from relevance.
I'm not really a fan of the character, so unlike Rogue, any personal connection is marginal, but it just [seemed] like such a typical case of dropping a ball of potential during play.

The utterly ill-conceived and disappointing Blade series, which recently came to an end, feels like another prime example of a failure to capitalize on properties developed prominently outside the existing fanbase.

Still, the clock's just ticked over to the AM, and I'm running late for our Monday appointment because of this, so I might bid you adieu before I get distracted by further tangential topics.

Before I go, I should direct you to the super-index site When Fangirls Attack, which is currently directing traffic to the last mansion-update. As a hub of all the feminist-based niche discussions, it's a very interesting source to visit and explore from time to time. It's a real pleasure to get a mention, as perhaps one of the less overtly intellectual blogs. Hopefully our superhero fisticuffs and interested musings are sufficient for their readers.

Also, I'm hard at work on the second issue of The Kirby Martin Inquest, so if you haven't already, see about picking yourself up a copy of the utterly affordable first issue. You can get link details from Nite Lite Theatre.
Just a day or two ago I got pin-up artwork from Chris Fason [Hero Happy Hour] that's looking super, and I'm very excited about the overall presentation of the book!

With that said, I'm bloody tired, so be kind if I'm a little late.
Also, yes, I have a new avatar. One that isn't a sissy looking Sentry.

The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 4
[Kuhn is one of the unsung heroes of superhero comics. A fast, fun and energetic story, complimentary to the cartoons, but easily handed to anyone uninitiated. A feint reminder of how disappointing it is Sabretooth's off the board!]

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