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The ’90s Revisited: Uncanny X-Men #321


90srevisited

uncannyxmen321Auld Lang Syne

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Dialogue: Mark Waid
Penciler: Ron Garney
Inkers: Townsend, Green & Ruinstien
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: February 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

Though–like other issues of this story–this issue’s cover doesn’t stand out too much to me, it’s definitely familiar seeing it…and the orange background also reminds me of a couple of key Superman comics of the ’90s as well. Before I even started actually reading the issue, the first page had the credits, and while looking to those, I spotted a small notice: "X-Fans! With This issue You MUST Read Cable #20!"

Given my current reading project–the entirety of Legion Quest–as well as already owning the issues involved and their being quarter-bin fodder and all that, I’m not even phased at a notice inside an issue being my first "official" notification of something being a "key" tie-in (as opposed to the cover blurb listing Legion Quest Part X of 4). Spring something like that on me in a contemporary $4 Marvel comic and I’d be quite put-off. Here, however, I love it! Not yet having moved on to Cable #20, I believe this was where we saw stuff–in this issue–from the time-lost X-Men point of view, while in Cable we get much more detail of his involvement and see things from HIS point of view.

This issue gives what feels to me like a much larger chunk of time spent with Xavier and Erik (Magneto) in the past, when their friendship was fresh and good, before anything had gone sour on them.

The two hang out in a bar, and wind up in a fight with some sailors when Xavier refuses to allow someone to get away with mocking a crippled beggar. He and Erik wind up fighting back to back, emerging quite victorious. In the present, the X-Men (and Cable) wait for the Shi’ar to finish cobbling together a device that will allow Jean, Cable, and Xavier to collectively reach back in time to the X-Men there and set them on their mission. Meanwhile, in the past the X-Men have taken on jobs while seeking to piece together their memories and purpose for being where they are. At the same time, the mysterious young man in the hospital–Legion–awakens and finds his mother. Cable’s psychic projection of sorts makes it to the past and encounters Bishop, while Legion’s woken and stirs trouble.

It seems there’s not an entirely stable creative team on this book at this time, as Garney is the third artist in as many issues. Yet, the visuals largely hold to a "house style" such that I honestly don’t believe I’d’ve really noticed withOUT paying attention to the credits. This is a good thing, as the characters all retain their familiar looks and nothing really seems out of place. I firmly enjoyed reading, and nothing about the art took me out of the story or distracted me–this being a definite success in terms of what I look for in art in any given comic.

The story itself is good, and I REALLY enjoyed the interaction with Xavier and Magneto. I can’t imagine these issues were not integral to why I so enjoy the notion of their friendship and the depth of characterization it provides. There’s one scene that I’m not 100% sure how to interpret—apparently Xavier and Gabby—that works in one way, but is EXTREMELY disturbing taken another. I’d like to think I’m just overthinking on that.

I’d been reading Uncanny X-Men regularly for over a year and X-Men sporadically in that time, as well as watching the Fox Kids animated series–all of which I believe converged in terms of showing the two men as old friends gone different directions, and greatly informed my views on–and interpretation of–the characters.

I feel like I could enjoy a bunch of issues just of Xavier and Eric interacting; slice-of-life sort of stuff. I’ve read plenty of stories of the two as foes, and of the X-Men, etc. so I know where they wind up; seeing more of their meeting and early interactions would flesh that out more.

As I reflect on this, it also puts me in mind of the recent 2011 and 2014 X-Men films involving the younger versions of Xavier and Magneto, and I have to wonder how much these issues may have influenced those; generic as the concept can be.

This is the penultimate chapter of Legion Quest proper…but there are still two more issues to go, with Cable #20 being an important tie-in, and then the final chapter in X-Men #41.

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