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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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Fatal Attractions Revisited: X-Force #25

Back to Front

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Art: Greg Capullo
Inkers: Wiacek, Green, Ryan, Palmiotti, Hanna, Conrad, Milgrom
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: George Roussos
Editors: Bob Harras, Tom DeFalco
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Dated: August, 1993

Twenty-five issues…big number, huh? Well…maybe not. I’ve seen this title repurposed for awhile, then renamed X-Statix and that ran for a couple years. Then post-Messiah-CompleX another X-Force ran for a couple years, and the current Uncanny X-Force has run about 30 issues. But y’know, back in the day, this was a common anniversary–a whopping 25 issues.

As with X-Factor #92, I re-read this and much of it was like I was reading it for the first time…certainly the first time with much comprehension of who these characters were. This was even before Cable first got his own series, which ran for over 100 issues (followed by Cable & Deadpool that ran about 50 and the more recent Cable series with Hope than ran about 25).

This issue seems to be the introduction of Exodus. A sticker on the bag this copy of the issue was in when I bought it stated “Exodus 1st App.” Back in the day, I didn’t pick up on that, and just thought he was another one of these “Acolytes” and didn’t dig or think any deeper. It’s also the “return” of Cable, apparently the first he’d shown up since the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover few months earlier.

The new mutants–the X-Force–return home from a mission. However, someone else is there–and the battle is quickly joined…though it turns out their mentor–Cable–has returned. Some are glad to see the man, others not so happy–but all listen as Cable explains a bit of where he’s been and what he’s learned since the events that seperated him from his pupils. Exodus arrives, inviting Cannonball and Sunspot to Heaven, but pre-emptively attacks the group for thinking of attacking him. Cannonball eventually agrees, but the team follows, and all find themselves aboard what apparently used to be Cable’s base, known as Graymalkin, with a sentient computer program called “The Professor.” After more fighting, Cable gets his young charges off the ship, and seeks to “rescue” the computer program that’s apparently been a father figure to him–and finds himself confronting an enemy all thought dead. This fight is much shorter, all but disassembling Cable before he escapes (nearly as a corpse) to rejoin X-Force.

As said above, I didn’t really “get” this issue when I first read it, when it came out. I recall (with a bit of deja vu) the ending with Cable, but not much else. I certainly lacked the context of Cannonball and Sunspot being part of the New Mutants prior to Cable’s 1st appearance and that title ending to be replaced with this one. I had not yet read X-Cutioner’s Song–or at least, not more than maybe a couple chapters (it was only about 6 or 7 years ago that I finally tracked the story down and read it all the way through) so I didn’t even have that context of what had happened to Cable, though from what trading card or another or Marvel Handbook/profile special (Stryfe’s Strike Files?) or Wizard or some such, I knew of Stryfe as being Cable’s clone from the future.

I hadn’t realized either, at the time, that Magneto had “died,” though from in-story context I picked up on the characters having thought him dead…but his death/etc was more of a “meta” thing than I was aware of as a 12-year old at the time.

This issue’s story is another that stands alone well enough, though it continues to build foundation for what I consider the “heart” of Fatal Attractions in X-Men #25 and Wolverine #75. The art is good, and somehow extremely familiar to me. This visual rendition of X-Force just is what it is, and I like it.

I’m a bit less impressed with the overall cover of this issue than I was with the X-Factor issue; but in a way the fairly close-up image of Cable with one of those HUUUUGE guns he carried is rather iconic, which makes this a more full cover from the front for me than the X-Factor issue. Of course, this cover (and the hologram) also totally gives away from the get-go that Cable is back, but especially near 20 years later, I’m not bothered by that at all.

I’ve snagged this issue from bargain bins–turns out I actually wound up with 2 copies of this issue for roughly $.75 total in the past month. Well worth getting, if only for the hologram, particularly if you can snag it from a bargain bin. Cover price was $3.50, which again is 50 cents cheaper than cover price of a standard Marvel comic nowadays, and this has a cardstock cover, hologram, and 48-ish pages (some of them ads).

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