The Phalanx Covenant
Took Place In: Uncanny X-Men 316-317, X-Men 36-37, X-Factor 106, X-Force 38, Excalibur 82, Wolverine 85, Cable 16
Written By: Larry Hama (Cable, Wolverine), Scott Lobdell (X-Factor, Uncanny X-Men, Excalibur), Todd Dezago (X-Factor, Excalibur), Fabian Nicieza (X-Men, X-Force)
Art By: Steve Skroce (Cable), Ken Lashley/Steve Epting (Excalibur), Joe Madureira (Uncanny X-Men), Adam Kubert (Wolverine), Jan Duursema/Roger Cruz (X-Factor), Tony Daniel (X-Force), Andy Kubert (X-Men)
Characters Involved: Banshee, Emma Frost, Jubilee, Sabretooth, M, Husk, Skin, Blink (Generation Next), Professor X, Moira Mactaggert, Wolfsbane, Douglock, Cannonball, Forge, Nightcrawler, Polaris, Siryn (Life Signs), Cyclops, Phoenix, Wolverine, Cable (Final Sanction)
Story: The Phalanx Covenant is a bit of a break from the normal X-Men crossover of this time, both format-wise and content-wise. The format is a little strange, with 3 crossovers happening simultaneously under the “Phalanx Covenant” banner. Uncanny X-Men and X-Men crossover for 2 issues each in “Generation Next”, which is basically just an origin story and staging ground for the “Generation X” book, which launched shortly after. X-Force, X-Factor and Excalibur crossed over for “Life Signs”, which was the most forgettable of the 3 stories, and Cable and Wolverine crossed over for the 2 part “Final Sanction”.
Content-wise, the Phalanx are such an odd choice for X-Men villains. They really work much better in cosmic stories, such as the horribly underrated “Annihilation: Conquest”. The Phalanx are an alien ‘techo-organic’ race from far as hell away. Essentially they are living technology, and they convert organic matter to more techno-organic matter, thereby expanding their race and quickly conquering planets. On Earth, the X-Men have run up against an off-shoot strain of the Phalanx (almost mutants themselves, in a way), and are forced to fight their war on three fronts. However, the Phalanx are kind of boring. They can convert humans, but for some reason cannot convert mutants into their hive mind. So they are trying to round up any mutants they can so they can figure out what makes them special.
In “Generation Next”, Banshee notices that the X-Men are all acting very strangely. They are out of character, and none of them catch anything off about the things Banshee tests them with, like “sure is strange to see Charles on his feet again” (Professor X was wheelchair bound at that point). He catches a few dismantling Cerebro. He has the computer run a scan of the grounds, and finds that despite there being a half dozen X-Men in the next room, that the only people that show up on the scan are himself, Jubilee, the comatose Emma Frost, and the prisoner Sabretooth. Wasting no time and not wanting the X-Men’s secrets to fall into someone else’s hands, he sets the whole thing to self-destruct, and after grabbing Jubilee, Frost, and Sabretooth, gets out just in time. Before leaving the mansion, he sees that there are a number of new mutants in danger from the Phalanx, and since the rest of the X-Men are either occupied or not answering his communications, it’s up to them to save them.
We then meet most of the cast of Generation X as they are rounded up by the Phalanx, including Blink, M, Skin, and Husk. They kind of just sit around until Banshee and the others show up to save the day, and ultimately it’s the newcomer Blink that saves everyone by blinking herself and one of the most powerful Phalanx out of existence. The rest of the kids would follow Frost, Jubilee, and Banshee to the Xavier Massachusetts Academy to start yet another X-book.
Over in “Life Signs”, everyone else is dealing with a huge group of Phalanx that are trying to set up what they call a Babel Spire, which will send a signal to the legit, real-deal Phalanx out in space letting them know that Earth is ready for Phalanx conquest. This chapter in the crossover is utterly forgettable, with the exception of the introduction of DougLock, a techno-organic fusion of two dead members of the New Mutants (Cypher and Warlock). This explains the lamest code name this side of “Jean Grey”. It’s a fusion of DOUG Ramsey and WarLOCK. Also it features the ridiculous 90’s version of Captain Britain: Britannic (complete with long ass mullet hair!).
Anyway, the good guys win, snore, the end.
Finally, over in “Final Sanction”, Cyclops, Phoenix, Cable, and Wolverine storm the Phalanx central command spire to stop the threat at its source and to free the captive X-Men. Really this story is all about showing the effects of the “Cyclops and Phoenix” mini-series on the Scott/Jean/Cable relationship, and a way to get Wolverine involved with the X-Men again (he had been running solo since “Fatal Attractions” ).
Other than that, there really isn’t much of note here. The four X-Men storm the tower, free the captive X-Men, and win the day.
All in all, the “Phalanx Covenant” is fondly remembered for the “Generation Next” chapter, and not much else. The first part with Banshee discovering fake X-Men is particularly well done. Other than that, it’s entirely skipable, unless you’re a big “Generation X” fan.