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Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, fans of the 2099 universe of Marvel Comics, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the X-Men 2099 comic book series by focusing on the 4th issue. Following the single storyline told in the first three issues (including the unexpected death of a certain member in issue #3) which ultimately made clear why the X-Men of 2099 exist and what their place is within an America that is totally different from what it used to be during the time of Charles Xavier and his X-Men. As such, the stage was set for more exploration and new creative directions with Xi’an and his band of nomadic mutants.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men 2099 #4, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by John Francis Moore and drawn by Ron Lim.
The story begins with Bloodhawk exploring a deserted, radioactive facility in the middle of New Mexico. Having a reptilian skin protects him from radiation which only adds to his personal obsession of waging a war against developers and corporate entities that he accuses of defiling the natural environment.
Suddenly, a tough female with white hair and white skin grabs Bloodhawk by the neck and by touching his head with her left hand, she triggers a bolt of agony on him. Bloodhawk then loses consciousness.
Meanwhile in Nevada, Xi’an and his X-Men salvaged whatever equipment they found at the Nueva Sol Arcology which was their haven before Synge’s enforcers invaded and ruined it. In response to Shakti’s comment that it would take months to restore the facility, Xi’an says that the time for gatherings has passed as he believes that their path lies on the road emphasizing travel to new places.
While his teammates are outside, Henri uses a computer inside the facility retrieving messages. He receives a video message from his old friend Jordan Boone who informs him about a major project called Valhalla and he was going to do something outrageous…
When it comes to narrative, I should point out that this comic book serves as a prelude to The Fall of the Hammer 2099 crossover storyline and it does a good job setting key members of the X-Men to get involved.
As an X-Men 2099 story, John Francis Moore further developed the personalities of most of the members (with Timothy Fitzgerald being the center as he slowly becomes Skullfire) and showed more of the culture within the team under Xi’an’s leadership and strict points.
Other than the focus on the mutants, a notable feature of the story is the introduction of the Theater of Pain which includes a radically intriguing masked villain who runs an operation that involves abducting people, using machines to feed on their minds and access the most painful personal memories which in turn is digitally channeled to an existing linked live audience feeding their minds. In essence, mental torture and intrusion of the mind are introduced. I should also state that the Theater of Pain here plays a major part in the story of X-Men 2099 #25. This issue also introduces Luna who eventually gets linked with Skullfire and becomes part of the X-Men.
More on the Theater of Pain concept, I found the painful flashback sequences a clever method used by the writer to emphasize selected moments from the past of Bloodhawk and Skullfire which added to the character development of this comic book.
X-Men 2099 #4 (1993) is well-written and it is a significant part of the 35-issue monthly series. For one thing, it shows the start of the transformation of Skullfire’s personality, the direction Xi’an and his mutants are taking, and the start of a build-up that led to the significant events of X-Men 2099 #25. There is a lot here for X-Men 2099 fans to enjoy from start to finish.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men 2099 #4 (1993), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90.
Overall, X-Men 2099 #4 (1993) is highly recommended!
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