Generation X (1st series) #37

Issue Date: 
April 1998
Story Title: 
In Dark Woods, The Right Road Lost

Larry Hama (writer), Andy Smith (penciler), Sean Parsons (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft Liz (letters), Mike Rockwitz (colors), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

In another dimension, M-Plate, D.O.A., Chimera and the Plasma Wraiths take Synch to the Citadel of the Universal Amalgamator, where M-Plate reveals more of his/her plan to Synch. He/She wants to merge all sentient consciousnesses together into one new entity that like M-Plate herself will be more than the sum of their parts. The Amalgamator’s guardian, a young mutant is the only one to activate it with her powers, but if Synch copies her abilities then her cooperation is no longer needed. Banshee, Husk, Penance, and Dirtnap arrive in an arctic part of the dimension, only to find a train surrounded by topiary animals. They board it for the warmth and discover a schedule with several different stops on it. The last stop, destined to arrive at zero o’clock, is the Citadel. They decide that there is where M-Plate must be and head off in that direction. Banshee gets into another fight with Dirtnap, but Paige comes to his defense. Dirtnap’s heart starts to soften as Penance offers him a piece of cheese; the first thing anyone has ever offered to him. The train heads into a tunnel. Elsewhere in the dimension, Jubilee, Chamber, and Elwood the Pooka in the meantime. The Snark nearly eats Jubilee, but Chamber releases a bio-blast that takes off the Snark’s head and torso. The animal however is still alive, and the trio rides it towards the citadel riding on a half Snark. On the way, Jubilee confronts Elwood about his alcoholism. The group fall into a deep chasm as the bridge they were crossing collapses. Their fall is broken by giant mushroom, but they eventually hit bottom, landing on a pair of train tracks. The train that is carrying Banshee and the girls heads straight towards them. Back at home, Chief Authier surprises Emma and Skin that he is aware of Token living in their tree house and that he knows how to get rid of it. They can make a deal with it by offering a bowl of porridge and a pile of silver to it. The plan works and Artie, Leech and Tracy are returned unharmed. The chief catches Dorian and Weasel eavesdropping on his conversation and sanctions them to community service. He takes them to Mr. Timmons‘ diner where they are to work in his storeroom. Mr. Timmons tells them that under no circumstances are they to touch the door marked WC.

Full Summary: 

In a reality adjacent to ours, a menacing T-Rex is chasing Jubilee, Chamber, and Elwood the Pooka. Chambers says to Jubilee that they never should have trusted Elwood because he transported them in the path of the huge beast. Elwood explains to the kids that it isn’t a dinosaur; it is actually a Boojum Snark, the difference is in the tendril-like eyes. Elwood pours a martini as he runs, asking the kids if they want to rescue Synch or not. Surely they couldn’t have thought this would be a Sunday picnic. Chamber tells him that they didn’t expect to be the sandwiches on the picnic. Elwood stops running to drink his martini and complain about today’s youth. A giant foot smashes down on top of him.

Chamber turns around and shoots the Snark in the face with a bio-blast, scorching his eyes away. The Snark screams in pain, but the scream turns into a snicker as four new eyes grow in place of the two that he lost. The Snark grabs Jubilee and lifts her to its mouth to eat her. Jono tells Jubilee to hang on as he turns up the power on his bio-blast and lets loose on the Snark. Jubilee falls to the ground, still with the claws of the Snark around her. She tells Jono that she is envious of the power level of his bio-blasts compared to her pyrotechnics. He replies that it isn’t worth loosing your face over, and marvels at how the Snark is still standing, even with its torso and head missing. Jubilee wonders out loud if the Snark has a healing factor, and receives an answer from Elwood.

Elwood pulls himself out of the ground from the footprint, telling her that at least the Snark doesn’t have a regeneration factor. He tells the kids that time is wasting and Synch is about to disrupt the balance of the universe. Chamber questions his credibility, but Elwood shrugs it off with a quote by Bill Burroughs, “Paranoia is simply knowing the truth”. Elwood opens a secret box hidden in a tee and pulls another cocktail mixer and martini glass from it. He then reaches into his pocket and pulls out a telescope to give to Jono, telling him to look for himself. Chamber looks through the telescope and sees his friend Synch.

Synch is trapped inside of a containment bubble being rolled up by the many steps to the top of the Citadel of the Universal Amalgamator. He continues to talk to his captor, M-Plate, vocalizing his future lack of cooperation. M-Plate doubts that he will resist, but Chimera isn’t as hopeful. She half threatens M-Plate, saying that this endeavor had better not have been for naught. M-Plate tells her to be quite or else she will incinerate her vocal cords. The nefarious being directs its attention back to Everett; his will can be bent if one knows his weaknesses. He/she tells Everett that all of the ego flexing is irrelevant since all of the consciousnesses of the universe will soon be joined into one ruling consciousness forever. Synch futilely tries to talk to the individual beings inside M-Plate, but this only angers him/her. He/she once more tells him that he/she is a separate being from the parts inside of him/her. Synch says that there is a part of Monet that is shining through, but his attention is caught by a young girl lying on an alter and chained to it. He asks M-Plate who the blonde girl is, and he/she explains that the girl is a mutant who is the guardian of the Amalgamator, and also its prisoner. A devilish grin flashes across M-Plates face as she further explains. The girl is the only one who has the power to control the Amalgamator, unless Everett synchs up with her of course.

In a snowy part of the same reality, Husk, Penance, Banshee and Dirtnap step through the dimensional portal that the Lepton imploder opened up for them. Husk tells Sean that if they are going to be traipsing around in the snow they should go back to the academy and get their jackets. As she turns to leave, the portal snaps closed with the realization of everyone that they are trapped. Banshee turns on Dirtnap, asking him if he knew that the portal would close and intentionally lead them into a trap, which he suavely denies. Penance signals to everyone about some smoke that she sees over the trees around them. The group follows the smoke to its origin to find a train surrounded by giant topiary animals. Even though they are unnerved by the situation, they decide to get on the train since it has heat inside.

Inside the engine room, Banshee drops Dirtnap and picks up a shovel to pile coal on the fire. Dirtnap tells the rest that maybe coming after Synch wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe they should just cut their losses and head for the nearest warp chamber. Husk gives the rat a lecture on how team members stick together and if they don’t they are no better than animals. Penance pulls on the whistle to get everyone’s attention to show them what she found. It is some sort of schedule for the train, giving the destinations and times of all the stops, including: Elsewhen, Nonesuch, Laputa, Neverhow, Avalon, Moria, and one last mysterious entry, C.O.T.U.A. with a destination time of zero o’clock. Banshee asks Dirtnap what COTUA is, and he tells Sean that it is the Citadel of the Universal Amalgamator; somewhere that he doesn’t want to go.

Back in Massachusetts, Emma Frost asks Chief Authier if he saw anything suspicious in the Biosphere tree house, any sign of his missing daughter? The chief says that there is no sign of Tracy, but there is definitely something in the tree house. He tells them that they won’t like it when he tells them that there is a Token up there. The chief nonchalantly brushes dust off of his uniform as Skin and Emma stare in surprise. He asks them if they know what a Token is.

Dorian and Weasel eavesdrop on the conversation outside of the door, wondering what a Token is. They surmise that the chief means the Afro-American member, Everett, since he couldn’t have been smart enough to get into the private academy on his own. Skin plays dumb with the chief, but Emma confesses that they do know what a Token is. Now Angelo corrects his story, asking if Tokens are mythical. Chief Authier says just as mythical as China was to the west until Marco Polo. He then jumps into a brief explanation, saying they can hide things very well, but it is rumored that one can make a deal with them if they bring it a bowl of porridge and a pile of silver. The chief asks to be excused while he deals with some vermin. He walks out the door and comes back pinching the ears of Dorian and Weasel. The chief says that the eavesdroppers have just volunteered for six hours of community service cleaning out the “drunk tank” back at the station. Dorian says that he couldn’t have expected them to wait in the car for that long, could he?

On the back of the remaining Snark (sans head and upper extremities), Jubilee, Chamber, and Elwood race toward the citadel. It is uncomfortable, but it sure beats walking, and half a Snark is better than none. Chamber is just happy that they didn’t get the half with the teeth. Elwood pulls out his pocket watch and realizes that they don’t have much time left. Jubilee notices something peculiar and asks Elwood why there is a zero where a twelve should be on his watch. He explains that the zero represents the end of everything. That is what is going to happen if Synch helps M-Plate reverse reality. The Snark races up a steep mountain pass as one of his passengers prepares to forget his woes with another martini. Jubilee confronts Elwood about his drinking, telling him to stop abusing his kidneys and face reality. He needs a twelve-step program, not a drink. With that, she throws his martini shaker off of the cliff.

All of a sudden, all three passengers fly into the air as they come to a quick halt. The Snark has run “head first” into a stone doorway with the word Moria on it. Chamber struggles to recall where he recognizes that name from, while Elwood wishes that he had had a nice “bracer” for his fall. Jono starts to ram to door with his shoulder as the half Snark relentlessly charges the immovable door. Elwood says that neither of them will have much luck and should let Jubilee try instead. She hardly touches her hand to it when the door opens, much to the perplexity of Chamber. He asks Elwood if the door opened because she was pure of heart. No, he replies, it was because the door was built by dwarfs and has a low center of gravity.

They all board back onto the half Snark as Jubilee asks Jono if he really thinks she is pure of heart. He tells her not to push her luck since they are going to need all the luck they can muster. Elwood thinks that they would be better off with an elephant gun and a case of grenades. The travelers enter the door and are surrounded by the skeletal remains of monsters and walls with many spikes sticking from them. Jubilee says that if they were in Orlando they could sell tickets to this place. Jono retorts by saying if this was a ride the bridge that they are going over would collapse. Elwood screams at him not to say that, but it is too late and the bridge falls out from underneath them.

Somewhere between Elsewhen and Neverhow, the train carrying Banshee, Husk, Penance, and Dirtnap speeds on towards the citadel. Banshee has figured out that M-Plate must be holding Everett at the citadel, so he stocks the fire with more coal. Penance rummages through an old lunch box that she found, pulling out a piece of cheese. Dirtnap cannot understand why these people are going to go through so much trouble to rescue their friend when they won’t profit any from it. Banshee tells the rat that they do it for a feeling of honor and self-worth, but that doesn’t seem to be something that a nasty rodent would be familiar with. Paige tells Sean to back off of him; all the people that he has ever known have been low lives. Dirtnap asks them if they would go through all this trouble for someone like him. Paige struggles to find an answer, while Banshee blurts out not a chance. Penance crawls over to Dirtnap offering him the piece of cheese that she found. Dirtnap is touched; no one has offered him anything before. The train speeds into a tunnel marked Moria.

At the Massachusetts Academy, Emma fixes a pot of oatmeal while Skin breaks open a piggy bank for its contents. Emma grabs the pot and Skin grabs the money; they have the porridge and the silver, so to speak, to make the deal with the Token. Skin asks if it is going to work, and Emma says that there is only one way to find out and that is to try. Emma and Skin stealthily place their contents in the door of the tree house, wondering how long it will take to work. On their way down, Emma hears voices from inside of the tree house and climbing up again, she peeks in with Angelo. Tracy, sitting at a table with Artie, Leech, and the Token, beckon Emma and Skin inside. She introduces them to her and the boy’s new friend, the Token.

The chief’s police car pulls up to Mr. Timmons diner. Dorian and Weasel plead with the chief, telling him that they have already worked for three hours at the station and to give them a break. The chief says that they still have three hours of community service left, and Mr. Timmons is just as much community as anyone else. Chief Authier heads inside and hands the boys over to Mr. Timmons to do with them as he pleases. Mr. Timmons says that he has just the job for them and leads them back to the storeroom. They must clean up all the bottles, fix the shelves, and mop the floor. He tells them one more thing before he leaves. No matter what, don’t open that door! He points to the side of the storeroom to a familiar door with the letters WC on it.

In Moria, Elwood, Chamber, and Jubilee continue to fall. Giant, incandescent, mushrooms that they bounce off of slow their plunge to the bottom. Eventually, all of them, including the half Snark hit bottom. Jubilee wonders what they landed on; it feels like a row of timbers. Elwood takes some matches out of his pocket and lights one, telling Jubilee that they landed on railroad tracks. Chamber asks why the flame is flickering. The match blows out. Elwood suggests that it is from the pressure dam of an oncoming train. Just as he finishes his sentence, the light of a train comes into view, headed right towards them.

Characters Involved: 

Chamber, Husk, Jubilee, Penance, Skin, Synch (all Generation X)
Banshee, White Queen (Generation X‘s teachers and tutors)
Leech, Artie Maddicks (wards of Generation X)

Chief Authier
Tracy Authier
Dorian, Weasel
Mr. Timmons, owner of the local diner

Elwood the Pooka
The Token
a Boojum Snark

Plasma Wraiths

Story Notes: 

M-Plate is the amalgamation of Emplate and the M twins, Claudette and Nicole. This happened in Generation X (1st series) #34 when the twins awoke to the sound of their brother’s voice.

Synch was kidnapped when M-Plate and her cohorts stormed the academy in Generation X (1st series) #35.

All of the natural warp chambers in and out of the dimension are doors that are marked by a WC, the British slang for bathroom (one reason why Chamber said he didn’t trust a glowing bathroom last issue). The only other way through is with the aid of a device called a lepton imploder that blows a hole in the fabric between realities.

Dorian mistakes the name Token for the definition of token. He believes that they mean Everett because a token may be, “a person who has been hired, admitted, enrolled, etc. to forestall charges of prejudice or discrimination against a minority." In other words, he got a free ticket into the academy because of his race, not his intelligence.

The Token first appeared and was chased out of the Biosphere in Wolverine #94 and resurfaced in Generation X (1st series) #34 when he kidnapped the police chief’s daughter, Tracy.

William “Bill” Burroughs is a controversial writer from the 50’s whose works blended the topics of science fiction, homosexuality, radical language, and the underbelly of the underworld. His most famous book is Naked Lunch.

The color change of the Snark was never explained. At the beginning of the issue, he was tan, but after his top was blown off he turned purple.

Gaia, the Amalgamator’s guardian, is named next issue. This is her first appearance.

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