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ClanDestine Week: The X-Men Special

X-Men and the ClanDestine #1 (October 1996)

A year after the end of the series, Alan was given the opportunity to round up support for his creation – nothing like slapping an ‘X’ on a comic book to increase sales. And Davis had form with the X-Men – apart from his run on Excalibur, he came to prominence drawing New Mutants Annuals #2 and #3, Uncanny X-Men #213 and #215, and Uncanny X-Men Annual #11 back in 1986/87.

The comic is set during the time when Wolverine’s claws were made of bone and were still somehow able to cut things – it was a stupid time.

I do like the busy double cover, with the classic ‘splayed legs’ of Alan Davis’ acrobatic characters and the double fingers. This sets out the stall from the start – old-school, fun superhero comic books with lots of action.

The story is titled: ‘Dreams of Darkest Destiny’ – he loves alliteration more than I do. Xavier, in his youth, comes across Gracie and Cuckoo fighting an ancient evil (a Synraith); he helps them but is made to forget … until now. Back in the present, Davis introduces us to the X-Men by having a quick demo of their powers on Sam ‘Cannonball’ Guthrie – this team is Scott, Jean, Hank, Bobby and Warren (in the post-Apocalypse incarnation).

Meanwhile, in Venezuela, Gracie Gamble is leading a dig. She displays her powers and instantly makes those on her team who witness it forget (quite cavalier about her abilities) and finds the ruins with hieroglyphs that say ‘The end of the world is nigh’.

In Ravenscroft, Rory & Pandora give us a quick recap of who ClanDestine are, and the adults have a discussion about what to do with twins (a continuation of the former story line, ignoring whatever was done in the few issues Davis wasn’t responsible for), followed by a quick display/recap of all the Clan’s powers (remember, he’s introducing the characters to a new audience, and he does a good job in an economical fashion), and the new information that Vincent destroyed the mansion and that this caused the family to scatter across the globe.

Meanwhile, in the Danger Room, Storm and Sam are practising when a hole erupts in space. Which is odd. Back at Ravenscroft, the Destines are still arguing with each other, and Gracie goes into the temple to stop the Synraith, only for the spell to backfire, a trick by the Synraith. At the same time, the X-Men are in the Danger Room, investigating the problem when a dimensional rift opens and tentacles erupt, dragging Xavier back into the rift, with Colossus holding onto him. Simultaneously, Kay goes into a trance and another rift opens, tentacles pouring out (nice bit with Adam, who is so dispassionate about it) which eventually pull Kay in with Adam holding on.

They call in Newton to help – he detects energy pattern and sets his teleport to that location, which appears to be the Danger Room, giving a classic team versus team panel.
X-Men and the ClanDestine #2 cover
X-Men and the ClanDestine #2: The Destine’s Darkest Dreams (Alan Alliteration Davis)

This issue starts with two glorious two-page spreads of the ClanDestine and the X-Men (damn my weak Photoshop-fu), followed by Rory saying, ‘This is one of those clichéd mistaken identity hero versus hero mix-ups’, which stops the fighting.

Dominic, still delirious from the battle, notices that Wolverine is not as he appears, so starts poking him, leading Logan to gut Dom with his claws. Walt starts pounding on him, but Newton knocks him out. Walt is taken away, and Rory & Pandora are taken on a tour of the mansion by Kitty and Sam.

Meanwhile, Xavier and Colossus meet Adam and Kay and Gracie on the Synraith world. Back on Earth, Newton sees to Dom with Storm and Moira, while Gambit puts the moves on Samantha; Rory & Pandora are offered places with the X-Men; Walt is in restraints, which causes him to ‘hulk out’ even more.

Gracie then does the exposition – Cuckoo was Spanish nobleman going to Mexico. Gracie (then only 16) passed as a valet. Somehow, Gracie gets separated from Cuckoo and tries to channel a nexus of cosmic power to stop Cortez massacring Aztecs but ended up showing Synraith way to Earth. They stopped it, but Gracie knew it would return eventually.

While the others realise that something is wrong, Colossus wounds the demon, resulting in agony but he throws a fastball special with Adam; Adam goes through the demon, ending up in the Danger Room. Logan is about to attack but stops because he recognises him from way back (yet another in the little bits of history that Davis throws into the mix; although it’s slightly implausible that Logan would remember everyone he has met after all the meddling with his memory he has suffered). Cyke goes ballistic, making Logan realise that Synraith has got into Danger Room programming (how many times has that happened? Seriously, it seems really easy to do this. Should they think about installing a firewall?), which gives Davis a great excuse to draw loads of old-school X-Men.

Obviously, things work out in the end and they all end up in the Danger Room: Colossus is back to normal, Rory is in his y-fronts, Dom wakes up to tell them the truth, Newton is entwined in a robot that he thought was Storm, Walter is smaller but more relaxed because he has purged his hulking out. More fun with Newton being slapped by the real Storm, the banter between Dom and Newton – the other aspect is the fun of family that Davis does so well. Gracie decides to stay with the family as psychologist.

The book finishes with the hopeful caption: ‘The End?’, as well as the order: ‘Want to see more of the Clandestine? Write to Marvel Comics’ Well, I don’t think that’s the reason why we have ClanDestine.

I think that the scope for stories with this book was limitless, and the basic premise of a super-powered family who don’t fight crime (in fact, the stereotypical crime prevention is what led to the family getting into trouble in the first place) but whose problems are related to who they are. Match this with the perfect Davis art – he draws comic book superheroics the way they should be done, in my opinion – and the delightful sense of humour and you’ve got a winning combination. I always thought that this was going to be another in the long line of ‘gone too soon’ series that have littered the mainstream history (such as Chase or Xero or Quantum and Woody); however, it looked like history was waiting for the right time …

Come back tomorrow when I finally talk about the first issue of the new mini-series of The ClanDestine. I hope these previous posts indicate that this is a good thing.

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