GENERATION X #1-3 (1994-1995): 1st Chamber

A new group of students assemble at a new school run by Emma Frost and Banshee. These are the bedrock issues: Team formation, introduction of ongoing plot elements, etc.

Let’s start with the team, which is mostly teens who emerged during the Phalanx storyline. The adult castmembers are Banshee and Emma, as well as Gateway. The students consist of Jubilee, Husk…

…Monet St. Croix…

Monet comes from money.

There is also Everett Thomas…


…And Chamber…

…who is new. The above picture is from the end of issue #1, where there are some useful title cards that describe the main characters.

Although we’ve seen these characters before, they’ve been part of a huge ensemble and we don’t really know their powers yet. The book starts with Husk running with handweights…

She meets Jubilee, who has an attitude about as cynical as her hero, Wolverine.

Later, Monet and Emma face-off in a training exercise.

Banshee and Emma have different ideas about what are appropriate learning experiences for the kids.

This is a side of Emma we haven’t seen before. I like it.

We also meet their villain, a guy called Emplate who “senses” mutants and uses them for “gene fodder.”

He attacks Chamber as the team is picking him up at the airport.

Emplate’s powers include knowing stuff about mutants who are near him.

Monet appears to have some kind of connection or knowledge about the enemy.

But he cannot sense her. Interesting.

Emma uses mind control on the entire airport so that nobody sees the team.

I don’t think she’s been this powerful in prior appearances, but I may be wrong.

Again, the differences between her and Banshee are emphasized.

Emplate has a creepy man-servant and Chauffer named DOA.

We also meet another new character, Penance, who was Emplate’s prisoner until she was teleported away by Gateway.

She’s completely bound in her first appearance.

The team takes her into their school, but she immediately distrusts them and tries to escape.

Penance appears to not remember who she really is. This is my first read-through of these issues, so I can’t foreshadow what’s going to happen other than that I *think* she is Monet’s twin. Feel free to drop a comment and explain it to me.

There’s definitely some similarities between Monet and Penance. Emplate could not “read” Monet, and Emma can’t read Penance.

During Penance’s escape, Husk is injured while in her “stone skin” form.

That reminds me of Colossus. I like that we, the readers, know about as much as her powers as she does. It creates a sense of revelation and exploration around this book.

After fighting with them, Chamber is able to connect with her on an emotional level, which calms her down.

Nice to see the problem solved by empathy.

We also have interludes showing that Orphan Maker is still around, and there’s a couple new villains, Mondo and Cordella, but the check-ins are too brief to really learn anything.

The characters and story here are tied to the greater X-Universe, but are distinct. Visually, this book is also distinct, with cartoony (almost “cute”) art, bubbles with characters breaking the fourth wall to tell readers things, editorial cross-references that are incorporated by the panel art, and much more straightforward page design that what we see in the plethora of overmuscled, constantly aggressive other X-books. In short, Generation X is not great but it is good enough and, more importantly, it is an oasis of novelty in a sea of books that all seem the same.

Also, these issues show a sensitivity towards Gateway’s race (he’s aborigine) and generally do a good job portraying these kids as kids–not as adults who are simply young in age for the sake of the story. Good character work, is what I’m saying. It’s also really nice to see a book about kids instead of grown-ups. 1990s comics are decidedly unplayful. But in this one, the kids do play. Specifically, they play Scrabble.

I expected to hate this comic because I am so exhausted by 1990s X-books. This was a very pleasant surprise.

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