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BLINK

The long-missing mutant finally returns in a brand new mini-series.

By James Busbee     December 27, 2000

She's the greatest X-Man who never existed. Clarice Ferguson, a.k.a. Blink, lived for but a few issues in regular continuity before getting wiped out during the 'Phalanx Covenant' crossover a few years back. But then the 'Age of Apocalypse' crossover hit, sending every single X-title into a continuity where the supervillain Apocalypse reigned supreme. That reality's version of Blink not only survived, but prospered, quickly becoming a fan favorite for the four months of the AoA run.

Since then, readers haven't seen Blink, except for a few scattered 'What-Ifs' and flashbacks here and there. But her enduring popularity ensured a comeback. Engineered by her creator, writer Scott Lobdell, and artist Trevor McCarthy, Blink returns this week in a four-issue mini-series that mixes both traditional X-Men action and Lobdell's trademark off-center plotlines.

'It may be the most bizarre love story ever told in the Marvel Universe,' says Lobdell. 'It takes place between Blink and a heretofore-unseen denizen of the Negative Zone, the fate of which hangs on whether or not these two can come together despite all odds.'

Blink and You'd Miss Her

Clarice Ferguson first appeared in mainstream Marvel reality in Uncanny X-Men #317. Just two weeks later, in X-Men #37, she sacrificed herself to protect her teammates from the techno-organic Phalanx Covenant. And that would have been thatwere it not for the Age of Apocalypse.

One of the X-Men's true landmark crossovers, the Age of Apocalypse took place in an alternate reality where Charles Xavier had been assassinated decades before he would have formed the X-Men, and an unchecked Apocalypse rose to global domination. All of the X-Men still existed, just in wildly different forms. Magneto and Rogue were married, Jean Grey and Wolverine were romantically involved, and Cyclops served Apocalypse himself. In this reality, Blink served as a vital member of Magneto's rebellion and readers got a sense of her true powerpossessed of teleportational skills, she could send anyone (or anything) to the moon and back.

Blink played an integral part in the Age of Apocalypse's dramatic conclusion, teleporting the X-Men into a final assault on Apocalypse just before bombs leveled the planet. Several of the AoA denizens, including Nate Grey, a.k.a. X-Man, escaped into the M'Krann Crystal, a mysterious portal to 'our' world. Blink, much to fans' surprise, was not among the apparent survivors. But between Blink's teleportational powers and the one hard-and-fast rule of comicsno body, no deaththe stage always seemed set for her return.

Back Again for the First Time

Lobdell, Blink's creator along with artist Joe Madureira, had lobbied in various online venues for years for Marvel to bring back Blink. Earlier this year, he got the ball rolling himself. 'I pitched the mini-series idea to them because my feeling was, somebody was going to do the return of Blink,' says Lobdell. 'So I figured, why not do it myself?'

The Blink mini-series takes place several years ago, during a time when the Age of Apocalypse still existed. As the series begins, Blink has just joined Magneto's X-Men, a band of outlaws dedicated to bringing down the tyrannical Apocalypse. In considering Blink's powers, Lobdell realized that she might not be able to teleport only within one reality, but between realities as well. He took his cue from the Fantastic Four, bringing into play the Negative Zone, an otherworldly dimension discovered by Reed Richards.

'Anybody who followed the Age of Apocalypse knows that the end of the age itself, and the [exploding] crystal, would have had no effect whatsoever on the Negative Zone,' says Lobdell. 'In essence, the Age of Apocalypse's Negative Zone and 'our' Negative Zone are the same place.' Asked if that means the obviousthat Blink could somehow make the jump to 'our' reality, Lobdell's response is only a mock-surprised 'Hmmmm....'

Before Blink makes it here, however, she'll have to survive things there. Blink is a coming-of-age story, as she learns more about her powers and her role in the fight against Apocalypse. She also falls in love with Lobdell's mysterious Negative Zone resident, and ends up running afoul of both Apocalypse and Blastaar, a fearsome Fantastic Four villain from the Negative Zone.

Eye on the Future

Will she survive? Here's a hint: Next spring, Marvel will roll out a new series tentatively titled Blink and the X-iles, written by Judd Winick (Green Lantern, Barry Ween). The series would star Blink as the leader of a group of mutants plucked from dozens of various realities, including 'Days of Future Past,' Earth X, Mutant X and the recent X-Men: Millennial Visions book. Blink's powers will take the group skipping across realities on a crosstime treasure hunt, giving readers a chance to visit familiar alternate worlds and investigate new ones. Blink and the X-iles will replace a number of others scheduled for cancellation, including X-Man, Generation X, Bishop and Mutant X.

Blink will lead the team since she's been something of a cause celebre among X-fans for years now. She's inspired Websites, action figures, fan fiction and virtually obsessive cataloguing of anything that might possibly hint at her return to the Marvel universe. Lobdell has some idea why.

'I think she came off the page fully realized, without thirty years of continuity dragging on her ankles like cement shoes,' he says. 'I think fans embraced her because she was kind of like the new X-Man for a new generation. Plus, there's the idea that you like something even more because you don't see it every month in five different issues.'

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