Friday, 25 September 2009

Revisiting the "Phalanx Covenant", and why it rocked!

So recently I’ve been re-reading my old x-men comics in chronological order, and just last night I read the Phalanx Covenant, specifically the ‘Generation Next’ story featured in Uncanny X-Men #316 – 317 & X-Men #36-37 (I’ll be reading the concluding parts of the Phalanx in the other x-titles next). I haven’t read these in a while, but basically I thought they rocked. Here’s why:

1. This story line introduces 'Generation Next' to the Marvel U.

Basically this storyline was set up for that exact reason. A new title was being born called Generation Next by Scott Lobdell & Chris Bachalo. These characters were the next generation of mutants, and were a real sorry looking and weird bunch, but that was also their appeal. I have the first 15 or so issues of that series and from what I remember they were pretty good (they’ll be re-read soon also.) The Phalanx Covenant introduces most of the young mutants that will feature in the new title and they were; Skin, Synch, Husk, M & Blink (who didn’t actually make it to ‘Generation Next', but more on her later).

2. A change in writing style.

This was the first few issues where I could generally sense that style in which comics were written were beginning to change. Especially X-Men comics. From the late 80’s through to the early 90s there was a lot of inner monologue from each character and a lot of over explaining everything. For instance it seemed in every issue every time a mutant/ X-Man was seen on page we had to have 3-4 captions explaining their mutant powers and their back story. I can understand this is helpful for new readers, but reading virtually the same text issue after issue got a bit tiresome. In these few issues though I started to get the fell that the writer was moving away from this, dialogue was more realistic and the feel of the book was moving more towards how today’s comics read.

3. Joe Madureira on pencils.

Well, on Uncanny at least, and it really is stunning work. He had already done a couple of issues for uncanny but this is where he started hitting his peak. The forms of characters are much better than they were before this and are later in his career (Ultimates 3!). But overall I adored his work on Uncanny X-Men and Age of Apocalypse. His slight manga style mixed with traditional American superhero work look fantastic, and really influenced other artists (both good and bad). Andy Kubert a few months later noticeably adjusted his style on ‘X-Men’ to look more ‘Jo Mad’, and I think it looked awesome . Check out the images for Uncanny I have posted here for an idea of Joe's work then.

4. Foil Covers.

These issues had a card stock cover with a foil/ metallic strip down the front of them to resemble the robots of the Phalanx. I am a sucker for foil covers for some reason (and the x-titles in the 90’s had quite a few). I think its probably just a total 90’s nostalgia trip, I would never pay full wack for a new comic with a foil cover when I can have the same new issue at normal price, but for back issues that you can pick up cheap... why not?.

5. Blink’s sacrifice.

The character that just got introduced, sacrifices her life to save the rest of the next generation of mutants. It’s a great moment. We do see her again a few months later in the parallel universe of Age of Apocalypse, where she becomes one of the most popular characters in the AOA universe amongst fans.

6. Banshee becomes a Bad Ass!

Seriously, in this comic, he is really cool. I never cared for him before, but this is a great way of re-introducing the character to a new generation of readers and making fans care about him again before him becomes the new mentor and lead character in Generation X.

7. Villains do good.

Sabertooth is a major player and helps Banshee battle the Phalanx, and Emma Frost AKA The White Queen, begins her path to redemption. She ends up becoming the second mentor for Generation Next which basically sets her on the path for the character she is today.

So thanks for bearing with me on my trip down memory lane. I would say if you’re a fan of the x-titles today or just like great artwork these issues are definitely worth a look.

Those of you who have read these (X-Man75 i know you must have) hit me back and let me know what YOU thought of these issues.

Hex Out


  1. Yeah man, you're right, of course I read these issues! I guess I'm that predictable! :)

    Being totally honest, this x-over really didn't impress me all that much, especially when you look at some of the other x-title x-overs from around the same time. I enjoyed X-Cutioner's Song, Fatal Attractions, Legion Quest, and of course AOA more than the Phalanx Covenant.

    While there was a lot of good that came out of PC(Banshee becoming relevant again, and of course Gen X, which I enjoyed so much I managed to snag the entire series), there was a lot of things I didn't really like. I've NEVER liked the idea of trying to reform Sabretooth, I didn't like it in the 90's and I didn't like it when Marvel did it again recently. Sabretooth is a force of pure evil! Whenever I see him on the X-Men I cringe. I also just didn't like the Phalanx, I could never get into them, they've always bored me.

    With all that said though, the Phalanx Covenant will always hold a special place in my heart for leading into the much missed Gen X.

  2. I actually thought that while this wasnt as epic as say executioners song or fatal attractions, I felt the execution was slightly better.
    AOA just kills everything. Legeion quest and then aoa will be read over the coming weeks.
    I gotta say I like them trying to reform sabertooth, trying to reign him in, I like that angle.
    Gen X were really cool, and for some reason I love jubilee, I think shes the comic relief that is really needed in x-books and I think she is missed at the mo in the main titles.

  3. Nah, I like my Sabretooth evil. Leave Wolverine on the side of the angels, Tooth is evil, he's killed like what, a couple of hundered(maybe thousands)of people, not even Prof. X can believe Tooth is redeemable.

    Yeah, I'm also a fan of Jubes. I miss her in the X-titles. Chamber and Husk are another two characters I wish would turn up somewhere.

  4. Don't know how big a fan of Chamber you are/were(he was probably my favorite member of Gen X), but there was a Weapon X series a few years back in which Chamber was a part of the team, Sabretooth was there as well. If you haven't already, you might want to give that series a look.

  5. That sounds interesting, I'd not heard of that series before. I'll look into that, thanks mate.

  6. I'm not really surprised you never heard of Weapon X, it only lasted about 28 issues or so and was never a top seller. The premise was pretty good though, the Weapon X program reformed and took in a bunch of supper-villain types(Sabretooth, Marrow, Sauron, Wildchild)and had them do things for the betterment of the Program. It ran in the early 2000's and was written by Frank Tieri. With you being a fan of the x-comics like myself, I figured you might be interested.