Generation X Holiday Special by Joe Harris and Adam Pollina
Title: Generation X Holiday Special – “Yes, Jubilee, there IS a Santa Claus,” a.k.a. “The Nanny & Orphan-Maker Christmas Kidnapping Extravaganza”
Writer: Joseph “Joe” Harris
Penciller: Adam Pollina
Inkers: Morales, Faber, Leigh, Wong and Wiacek
Colorist: Paul Tutrone
Editor: Frank Pittarese
Editor-In-Chief: Bob Harras (Boooooooooo! Boooooo on you sir!)
A mutant boy named Matthew has trouble with bullies, who torment him until he uses his powers to repell them and they call him even more of a freak than before. You may say he’s “special,” but he’d probably disagree.
Matthew thinks kidnapping Santa Claus will solve all his problems, but the truth is his real problem is with Orphan-Maker and Nanny, who want to celebrate their Christmas tradition of making a mutant child into an orphan. Luckily, Generation X and Santa put a stop to their plans.
For the holiday season it’s time to talk about one of my favorite X-Men teams created by one of my least favorite writers of all time.
Before Marvel sold the movie rights to the X-Men and ended up ruining everything with “House of M” and “Decimation,” they developed at least one teen X-Men group for each decade. Starting in the 1980s, there were the New Mutants, the 90s had Generation X, and the early 2000s started off with Academy X until Marvel stupidly depowered 98% of their mutant characters. From the mid 2000s to this year they burned through several different young X-Men groups that were lucky if they ever managed to make it to double digit issues before getting cancelled. Hopefully, Jonathan Hickman’s “Dawn of X” titles will finally fix the damage.
Generation X was created during the Phalanx Covenant arc that ran through “X-Men” and “Uncanny X-Men” when a group of young mutants were kidnapped by the alien Phalanx. In their ongoing series, the mutants were officially turned into the newest X-Men in training team. The Gen X mentors were veteran X-Man Sean Cassidy, a.k.a. Banshee, and the semi-reformed Emma Frost of the Hellfire Club.
Generation X’s line-up initially consisted of:
- Jubilee, whom most people remember from the 90s X-Men cartoon. Wolverine’s second kid sister after Shadowcat. Could create miniature explosions resembling fireworks, and if she concentrated hard enough she could’ve create blasts on par with a nuclear explosion.
- Husk, a.k.a. Paige Guthrie, one of Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie’s many siblings. She had the power to tear her skin off to reveal a differently empowered form underneath (metal skin, fire skin, etc.).
- Chamber, a.k.a. Jonothon “Jono” Starsmore. A British mutant with telepathy and the power to channel destructive psionic energy out of his chest. When his power first emerged, the resulting blast destroyed most of his chest and lower jaw.
- Synch, a.k.a. Everett Thomas. Could generate a rainbow-colored aura allowing him to synch up with any nearby mutants and copy their abilities.
- Skin, a.k.a. Angelo Espinosa. Grey skinned with about six feet of extra skin he could manipulate and expand like Plastic Man or Mr. Fantastic.
- Mondo, a.k.a. …Mondo. Could absorb the qualities and textures of whatever he touched, and is also a straight-up hottie.
- Monet, a.k.a. Monet Yvette Clarisse Maria Therese St. Croix. Super strength, flight, telepathy, telekinesis, intellect, whatever.
- Penance, a.k.a. ???: A mysterious mutant rescued from the clutches of the grotesque Emplate, the silent Penance had diamond-hard skin and claws.
- Artie and Leech: Two young mutant boys who used to belong with the Morlocks, Artie can broadcast his thoughts and Leech can dampen mutant abilities. They aren’t really members of the team, and merely lived in the Massachusetts Academy with the others. No one seems bothered by the fact that the two haven’t aged since the 1980s, even a little.
The team was originally conceptualized by, SIGH, that creep Scott Lobdell who wrote the original Phalanx Covenant storyline. He remained the writer on the original “Generation X” volume’s first 25 or so issues, mostly working alongside artists Chris Bachalo and Mark Buckingham. Lobdell actually wrote an earlier issue that took place during Christmas but I-I do not have the strength to recap anything he’s written because he’s a sexual harasser and a complete shithead.
The series ended rather depressingly after 75 issues with the death of Synch at the hands of Emma’s evil sister Adrienne (Emma immediately returned the favor). Oh, and its last writer was Brian Wood who was ALSO eventually revealed to be a sexual harasser as well. Skin and Banshee were killed sometime later in different books, Chamber and Jubilee both lost their powers after M-Day, Jubilee was turned into a vampire, Husk briefly had a nervous breakdown because her shedding was getting out of control, and Emma took advantage of Cyclops in an attempt to piss off Jean Grey.
The title was used for a more recent X-Men book with Jubilee as one of the main characters, but due to the prominence of Quentin Quire who happens to be one of my least favorite X-characters ever I just couldn’t stay invested in the book.
Despite all that negative shit, Gen X is honestly one of my favorite X-teams due to its line-up and before Grant Morrison’s gross portrayal of Emma in “New X-Men.” Though I admit I’ve never watched their TV movie. Mainly, I’dd admit, because Mondo and Banshee are fucking gorgeous because damn.
Thankfully Jonathan Hickman seems to be making a genuine effort to undo the damage over the last couple of decades in the current “New Mutants” title.
Anyway, this holiday issue took place after Lobdell’s run ended so a couple of the original members like Mondo and Penance do not appear in this story. It does, however, feature the return of the villains from the last Christmas issue, Nanny and the Orphan-Maker.
Created during the original run of “X-Factor,” Nanny was a mutant scientist driven insane when her superiors trapped her inside one of her own inventions after she learned about their anti-mutant agenda. She “rescued” a young mutant boy named Peter and put him inside an advanced suit of armor that bolstered his abilities, dubbing him Orphan-Maker. The two desire to save mutants by “orphaning” them, as they believe human parents cannot take care of mutant children and will most likely abuse or kill them. Honestly Nanny’s not exactly wrong, since a lot of the human parents of the X-Men and other mutant characters are shitheads. Unfortunately, Nanny raises her “Lost Boys and Girls” to become her soldiers in the war on human parents.
To my surprise and disappointment as I was getting ready to recap this issue, Marvel revealed Nanny and Orphan-Maker are coming back next year as main characters in a new X-title. Unfortunately it looks to be rip-off of DC’s “Suicide Squad” AND one of the other main characters is Empath, who essentially has mutant date rape powers.
It’s Christmastime, and there are at least two people who are not so holly and not quite jolly this holiday season.
First there’s Jubilation Lee, but her friends call her Jubilee. She hates Christmas, can you imagine?
Then there’s poor young Matthew, getting picked on by that bully Stephen and his minions in the schoolyard on Christmas Eve, of all days! Stephen’s not thrilled Matthew only has $1.60 on him, and he’s especially not happy when him and his friends learn Matthew’s little secret. See, Matthew’s a mutant like Jubilee. He uses his power to give Stephen’s friends a little push but it’s a hollow victory. Left alone in the playground, Matthew is only reminded that he’s different. Weird. A freak.
Walking home from school like he always does, Matthew is unhappier than usual because now the other kids KNOW. They thought he was weird before, but now they have a reason to shun him. Not even Mailman John reminding him Christmas is coming, and the weatherman says it’ll be a white Christmas for sure, can cheer Matthew up. Yet when Matthew sees Mailman John delivering to his house first, and then to Stephen’s house, Matthew gets an idea…
While Jubilee and Matthew are both unhappy, at the same time there were two people who were definitely excited for Christmas’s arrival.
In their hideout designed to look like a gingerbread house of all things, Nanny and Peter, her Orphan-Maker, were decking the halls for their new addition. Wound up on sugary treats, the armored assassin was still working on his Christmas list for Santa because he’s been very, VERY good this year. And he was definitely gonna ask Santa to bring stuff for Nanny as well.
Nanny reminds her very special boy they have to take care of their very special holiday tradition. They’ve got a mutant out there they need to orphan! Peter’s a big boy now and he must take his big boy responsibilities seriously. So many poor little mutant children out there need rescuing from their cruel, loathsome, unworthy flatscan parents. Nanny points out Peter was the same way until she saved him and made him into the Orphan-Maker. Peter understands, but he’s scared Nanny will start loving some other kid more than she loves him. Nanny assures Peter he’ll always be her special, SPECIAL boy.
I swear to God if somebody decides to reveal Nanny’s first name was actually “Pamela” or her last name was “Voorhees” I’m gonna lose it.
Meanwhile elsewhere, Gen X is currently shopping mentor-free at the local mall. Monet pretends not to know Angelo and Everett since Angelo insists on waiting in line to see Santa. Paige has the holiday blues because she wasn’t able to spend the holidays with her family in Kentucky due to the weather. Jono’s attempt to console Paige kind of… backfires, to say the least, leaving Paige even grumpier and Jono deciding to throw away the gift he had behind his back. Jubilee’s especially in a sour mood. Christmas can be a frustrating time for a lot of people, but it has an extra level of anxiety for those without a family. And, well, seeing all those happy parents and kids together bitterly reminds Jubilee her own parents are dead.
MEANWHILE ELSEWHERE BEYOND (man there’s a lot of scene shifting in this one), Matthew’s parents are getting ready for bed. Mrs. Matthew’s Mom is worried because of how unhappy he seems, but Mr. Dad thinks it’s nothing. It’s Christmas, and what kid isn’t happy the night before Christmas? SIGH.
Matthew’s sure he can keep his parents sleeping like babies so they don’t interrupt his plan, just by doing, well, what he can do. Getting out the tray of cookies and glass of milk, Matthew leaves the annual holiday offering and is prepared to wait. He’ll wait all night if need be.
High in the sky, Peter’s thrilled to test out the neat rocket boosters in his armor. Bragging about the cool tricks he can perform, Nanny reminds him via communicator he has a job to do. While hovering above the mall, Peter’s mutant detector goes haywire and SOMETHING big and red zooms right past him! Peter almost follows after the mysterious blur, but thinks the beeping going on below is more important. More beeps probably means more potential orphans!
Guess who’s turn it is to sit on Santa’s lap? Not Angelo or Everett, but lovable lil’ Stephen who clearly isn’t thrilled when “Santa” calls him Simon. Stephen yanks on the mall Santa’s beard when it looks like Angelo’s up next. Just as Angelo says it might not be so bad how they got stuck in town for the holiday, Peter comes crashing through the roof to rebuke his claim.
Peter goes full Orphan-Maker and tells the “flatscans” they’re lucky he doesn’t open fire on them cuz it’s Christmas. He recognizes Angelo and Everett from the last time they met back in “Generation X” #4. Figuring these two are the reason his detector’s blinking, Peter kindly offers to murder their parents so they can hurry back for some of Nanny’s special hot cocoa. Angelo and Everett gently decline, saying they don’t need no stinkin’ Nanny. Peter is aghast anyone could NOT need Nanny when Angelo distracts him.
Monet rushes in and decks Peter clear across the hall. Jono and Paige join the three and try to stop the rest of the mall’s roof from caving in and killing the shoppers, including Stephen. Stephen’s not exactly grateful to be saved from certain doom by a buncha dirty mutants. Peter manages to get out of the rubble from his crash course, and Everett’s shocked he can’t synch up with Peter’s mutant abilities. Oh that Nanny, she thought of everything when she beefed up Peter’s armor. She also whipped up an extra strong batch of her special “Pixie Dust,” guaranteed to knock out the most troublesome of unwilling orphans. As most of Generation X succumbs to the dust, Peter rambles for a bit about him and Nanny before he ties them up with a nearby banner.
Ugh, but Nanny is the WORST type of person to shop for. Even though Peter gift wrapped her FIVE new additions for her to spoil and brainwash, she still wants the one she TOLD him to get. Think of the children, Peter! Look at them! So innocent! So carefree! So drugged! That’s why Peter simply MUST, he MUST go out there and orphan that one little mutant boy and make this the happiest Christmas ever.
We get people like Nanny at the comic store and on the eBay page all the time, they are the WORST.
While Peter heads out to find Nanny that special orphan variant she needs for her collection, Matthew’s still waiting for a certain someone to arrive. Hearing a thump on his roof, Matthew’s visitor suddenly makes himself known and Matthew’s power turns on. The man in the red suit does point out he can’t stay the entire night, because what kind of Christmas would that be?
Poor Jubilee missed out on all the fun at the mall and has to lug her stuff home in the cold on foot. Muttering about what a crappy Christmas this is and how her friends SUCK, she nearly gets taken out as Peter crashes in the snow. He remembers Jubilee too and is about to snatch her up but recalls Nanny will be terribly upset if he didn’t follow the prime directive. Now getting a good idea of what trashed the mall and why her friends ghosted her, Jubilee runs after Peter as the night gets more bizarre.
Since Peter had a head start, he reaches a couple of familiar looking houses. Yet this mutant must be particularly powerful because Peter’s detector’s still haywire and can’t narrow down which house he has to enter. Leaving it to chance, Peter guesses which abode to ransack when Jubilee catches up with him. Just as Peter delivers his snazzy catchphrase:
“Hi. I’m Orphan-Maker. I make orphans. Merry Christmas.”
Jubilee crashes the party and blinds Peter before he makes kindling out of the very confused parents in their bed. Ordered to back away, Peter angrily tells Jubilee flatscans like the two hiding under the covers don’t deserve to have mutant kids and mutant kids deserve better. Jubilee gets hit by a dose of Pixie Dust that disorients, but doesn’t knock her out completely. The ‘rents, on the other hand, are out like a light and thus unable to stop Peter from getting to… STEPHEN?!
Peter figures even IF he didn’t orphan Stephen, it’s Christmas so he gets a break. Jubilee barges in and ain’t letting anybody make orphans on Christmas. St. Patrick’s Day and May Day fine, but NOT Christmas. Peter’s big honking gun begs to differ and Jubilee is SLIGHTLY deterred, but refuses to do nothing and grabs Peter’s leg as he flies away with Stephen. Annoyed Jubilee won’t take a hint, Peter shakes her off and she plummets onto the roof of the house next door.
Geez, can you believe some people park their reindeer on the roof while the rest of us have to keep them chained up by the sidewalk?!
Startled, Jubilee backs up from the eight familiar reindeer and the red sleigh and falls down the chimney where she finds Matthew hosting company. The sight of You-Know-Who in the flesh turns out to be the breaking point for poor Jubes and she faints.
Nanny, on the other hand, is wide awake and about to have a conniption fit since Peter brought home the wrong kid AGAIN. Stephen’s no more endeared to Gen X then he was earlier at the mall while Nanny tells Peter he won’t argue his way out of this one! He WILL go back out there, he WILL kill Matthew’s parents, he WILL bring Matthew back here, and it’s gonna be the BEST FUCKING CHRISTMAS THEY EVER HAD!
Okay she doesn’t use those exact syllables and pronouns but you get the gist. Stephen can’t believe the weird egg lady is after his mutie neighbor and apparently spills his guts, though sadly not in the literal sense because he’s a bigoted little fucker.
Jubilee wakes up in Matthew’s house and thinks she’s hallucinating from a concussion brought on by the fall. She has seen a LOT of weird shit in her life, but she cannot be looking at Santa Claus. Santa says he’d like to help Jubilee, but Matthew’s powers have the big man stuck in the recliner. Matthew tries to make Jubilee stop, but his powers surprisingly don’t work on her. Santa offers to shed some light on the situation by reading the letter he received from Matthew.
“Dear Santa… I don’t want you to bring me anything for Christmas this year. Like I didn’t want anything last year. All I want is to stop changing. I want to be like the other kids and not change because the other kids can tell I’m different. And I want it to stop… even if they won’t. Sincerely yours… Matthew.”
After that heartbreaking scene, we cut to Nanny wondering how she’ll be able to house all those lovely new additions to her Lost Boys and Girls. I guess they’ll have to knock down a few walls, add a wing, when Stephen asks if he can go. I mean, since he’s not a mutant OR an orphan, maybe she can let Stephen slide right?
Surprisingly, even Nanny has standards because if she made an exception for Stephen it wouldn’t be fair to all the OTHER children. Slightly dejected, Stephen asks how long it’ll take for that Pixie Dust to wear off. Nanny assures Stephen his new brothers and sisters will be fine in a while, not knowing they’re right behind her and ready to play Tag.
While Jubilee’s teammates deal with Dr. Not-Egghead, Matthew says he didn’t mean to be naughty or anything. But he figured because of the way the mail is delivered, first Matthew’s house then Stephen’s, he had a chance to get back at his tormentor. He’d stop Santa from delivering Stephen’s gifts (like he’d get any from the Man in Red).
Jubilee’s slightly impressed by how bold Matthew was to try and kidnap Santa to get back at a schoolyard bully, and is shocked when Santa reveals he knows she’s a mutant too. But like why shouldn’t he, since he’s-
Oh hai Peter.
Yeah, Orphan-Maker’s got his armor in a bunch. He’s sick of going out and he is gonna bring Matthew back whatever the…
EHRMAGURD, SANTUR CLURS!!!!
Santa can only sigh and tells Peter they need to have a chat when Peter gleefully whips out his unfinished Christmas list and is ready to tell Santa everything he wants. Jubilee tries to shield Matthew during all this. However, Santa reminds Peter of something rather important.
Have you been naughty or nice, Peter?
Taken aback, Peter’s startled when his communicator starts squawking as Nanny begs for help. Santa gently tells Peter he doesn’t have to go back to Nanny if he doesn’t want to, saying Peter’s been a bad boy for a while now but he has time to stop and change. It’s not too late.
It looks like Peter is seriously thinking about what Santa’s telling him, that, well, maybe he HAS been bad. He’s not sure what to do, but Nanny’s incessant badgering and yelling proves too much and Peter awkwardly leaves to go help his kidnapper.
Santa’s disappointed of course, but he has to get back to his route before the night’s over. That’s when Jubilee’s noticing Santa got up out of the chair, despite Matthew never said he could. Does, does that mean Santa’s a…
Of course Santa adds he’ll leave if Matthew wants him to, but Matthew’s fallen asleep.
Peter returns to find Nanny wrapped up in bows and Gen X gone.
Everett uses his mutant aura to track down Jubilee at Matthew’s house. Stephen mutters something about Matthew being a mutie-freak when Everett’s got some bad news for him. Seems there’s one more mutant presence nearby. Like, right next to Everett. No not Angelo. This presence is a bit… shorter.
As Stephen runs down the block screaming in despair, Angelo can’t believe how well Everett trolled the little brat.
Up on Matthew’s roof, Santa thanks Jubilee for her help as he gets his sleigh together. Jubilee hesitates before mentioning the one letter SHE wrote to Santa many years ago. He remembers it too.
“Dear Santa Claus, in school they said I should write to you… I don’t need for you to bring me anything, and I know you’re really, really busy… but I was hoping you could bring my mommy and daddy back… my teacher says that they’re in heaven now… but I miss them very, very much…”
Santa apologizes, but he unfortunately can’t do something of that caliber. Jubilee doesn’t hold it against him, since she’s not the only kid out there with problems. Asking if he really had to stay down there, Santa tells Jubilee it was probably better for Matthew that he had indeed stayed for him. He evades Jubilee almost asking directly if he’s a mutant, wishing her a Merry Christmas.
Down below, Everett picks up another big mutant presence when a familiar red blur zooms away. Trying to figure out what that was, Everett and Angelo then notice Jubilee on the roof, wistfully looking up at the sky.
Come Christmas morning, and as everyone in Generation X exchanges their gifts, Jubilee can only “Humbug” just once. Yeah, she’s got reasons to not like Christmas. Lots of people do. But she has plenty of reasons to like the holiday as well, ever since she wore an “X” on her clothes.
(SEAN WHERE THE FUCK WERE YOU, YOUNG MAN? Oh and Emma’s there too)
Finishing this was a pick-me-up I needed because fuck have the last few days dragged.
If it wasn’t obvious, despite my love for Gen X I’m clearly hear for Nanny and Orphan-Maker. That shit near the end with Santa was truly kind of distressing and I honestly feel sorry for how the kid’s been warped by Nanny. Though Santa trying to talk Peter down was a little refreshing because Peter doesn’t go flying off the handle when Santa tells him he’s been bad. That little glimmer of the kid trying to think for himself shows, despite the armor and the willingness to murder, there’s a kid underneath who’s been turned into a murderer by a woman who was also turned into a monster against her will.
Adam Pollina’s definitely got a very unique art style which evolved into something much more refined and distinctive in the works he created afterwards. You should see the “Marvel Knights: Angel” miniseries he helped illustrate.
Unfortunately, Matthew doesn’t reappear in other X-Men comics (to my knowledge). And if he has, chances are he either got depowered thanks to M-Day or was one of the Decimation causalities (fuck Bendis and Quesada for “House of M”)
But here’s to Generation X for puttin’ the X in X-Mas.