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The ’90s Revisited: X-Men Series 1, Cards 19-27

Well, it’s been a couple weeks longer than intended since revisiting these X-Men cards…but here we are, with the next "page" of 9 cards!

xmen_series1_full_019-027

With the exception of Kylun, I’m "familiar" with all of these characters, though some a bit more than others.

Let’s get into these and see what thoughts the cards bring up for me!

019a

This is definitely Cable as I remember him. Huge arms and muscles, giant guns, the scars and glowy-eye thing going on…and for this image, look! Even a random chain thrown in! Totally "the ’90s" visually–or at least, a PART of the ’90s.

019b

Well…this card is certainly "dated." Nathan Summers. Son of Cyclops. But back in ’92, he was just some new-ish unknown, not yet tied tightly into the X-Men mythos and all that. And since this card was published, we’ve learned a whole lot about his origins, the "bionic limbs," etc. Though there was a recent-ish run of Cable and X-Force or such, I’d say by and large his time with X-Force or the New Mutants is more a footnote in the character’s history these days.

020a

This image of Archangel is rather iconic. It’s typical Jim Lee for sure, and I’m pretty sure it was used as the cover for at least one comic, if only one that was highlighting card art in much large scale! Though I was aware of Archangel, this particular version of the character was a bit before my time…this (to me) still carries clear shades of the ’80s; it wasn’t terribly long into my time following these characters that the metal wings disappeared and Warren had actual wings again.

020b

To a certain degree, I don’t think I originally associated Archangel with Angel, as an "original X-Man." It’s sorta interesting to see the changes the character has gone through…as well as the "diluting" of his status as "Death," with seemingly so many other characters having held the role as well.

I’d forgotten the notion of the wings exerting any control over him…probably because that was largely done away with by the time I got into things.

021a

I definitely like this costume, or at least this rendition of it. Yet I’m not certain if I’ve actually read any "new" issues with this version of the character. Offhand I primarily know the character from the cartoon in the ’90s, and for his role with Generation X.

021b

I also did not recall the character being an X-villain, though I do vaguely recall the character’s appearance in Giant-Size X-Men #1. Also seems like a "given" to me his relation to Black Tom Cassidy.

022a

I’ve never been overly keen on any of Kitty’s codenames…to me, the "default" name to the character is her name–Kitty Pryde. I first "met" the character from the animated Pryde of the X-Men, which was itself my first/earliest exposure to the X-Men, several years before my conscious getting into the characters.

022b

This card seems suitably generic and basis…hardly any "contradition" to the last 25+ years, except I’m not sure she’s a teenager anymore (or if she is, she’s incredibly mature for one..!)

023a

Ok, I’d guess here’s a character that may have Once Been A Big Deal, but I wouldn’t have been able to place offhand…though given the theme of these cards and ranking my familiarity with properties, my first guess WOULD have been Excalibur for this character, had I not seen the back of the card already!

023b

Though that sounds distinctly ’90s, it fits the ’80s as well. Nothing really to say except I’m not familiar with the character, and this doesn’t exactly prompt any interest in me…though perhaps part of that is that I don’t know that the character has appeared or had any significance, period, for over two decades…

024a

Typical-ish Jean…another character that I’ve "always" known by her own name more than any codename. And appearing here both very familiar and yet looking a bit more muscled and "older" than a number of other characters. Yet perhaps still a bit on the "young side" for me at my present age.

024b

I was rather oblivious to the whole Scott (Cyclops)/Jean thing at first, their interest in each other being a bit of a "surprise" to me when it manifested in the cartoon; ditto the "triangle" aspect with Wolverine. It’s been interesting to see the various takes on the character over the years, and learn more about her past from before I got into the comics. This also reminds me how much I’d like to have this "original" Jean back, in place of the "teen Jean" taking over in contemporary Marvel comics.

025a

Colossus is a mixed sort of character for me…one I feel like I’ve known quite a bit about, and yet still a bit of a "stranger" to read about. He was largely a "side" character to me at first, with one of my earliest comics with him being Uncanny X-Men #304 when he "defected" to Magneto.

025b

Another early memory for me of Colossus is the cartoon series, coming shortly after the end of the Cold War and whatnot, early in my developing any sort of consciousness for history or world events. Though not mentioned here, one of my favorite portrayals of the character is his friendship with Wolverine and Nightcrawler. I believe he was "stuck" in his "metal form" at the time when I got into the X-stuff; though that obviously didn’t last.

026a

I’m pretty sure I first came across Warpath in X-Force, probably the crossover with Spider-Man where they fought the Juggernaut and Black Tom.

026b

Though I’ve long known Warpath’s relationship to the X-Men via Thunderbird, I often mixed the two names. Seems rather cliché in a way to realize how many active members of the team "started out" as "villains" or at least antagonists. These cards also seem to lowball weights, as it seems almost impossible for characters to be so light given muscle mass and such at least!

027a

I’m not sure when I first found this character. This particular image doesn’t strike me as overly iconic, though the costume basically screams X-Factor to me. I probably did discover the character in that title.

027b

Another "early memory" I have of Polaris is–I think–a reprint of Giant-Size X-Men, perhaps in Classic X-Men/X-Men Classic. I feel like even now, too much of my thoughts on the character center on her being/not-being the daughter of Magneto, or her relationship to Havok.


I guess while familiar with more of these characters, I don’t necessarily have a LOT to say about them…at least not the way I’d want to in a post like this.

Here’s my first post in this series, covering cards #s 1-9

And my second post, covering cards #s 10-18

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: X-Men Chronicles #2

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xmenchronicles002Shattered Dreams

Writer: Howard Mackie
Penciler: Ian Churchill
Inks: Hanna/Vey/Moncuse/Wiacek
Colors: Matt Webb
Color Separations: Digital Chameleon
Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Cover: Churchill
Editors: Kelly Corvese, Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: June 1995
Cover Price: $3.95

We open on Weapon X confronting Magneto. He and Jean are leaving, and Mags will NOT be convincing him otherwise. After the tense standoff, we shift to Wolverine–a huge mutant working for Holocaust. Holocaust, it seems, was once Nemesis–who killed Scarlet Witch in X-Men Chronicles #1, some time before this issue. Magneto doesn’t take Jean and Logan’s leaving all that well and throws himself AND his X-Men into training, none realizing the pending danger of the Wolverine. We also see the deterioration of Gambit’s pursuit of Rogue as we see the blossoming of the Magneto/Rogue relationship…which doesn’t begin to go over well with Gambit. Despite the huge wedge from a heart’s betrayal, Gambit stands with Magneto against Wolverine…though their broken friendship is one of the "key" events to come of the issue.

It may be that the issue is extra-sized and so a bigger single chunk of story, minus issue breaks and fitting into the larger, more complex continuity of multiple titles going on simultaneously, as well as "seeing" a key point in this version of the X-Men’s past (relative to the "present day" waning moments of the Age of Apocalypse unfolding in the main X-books cover dated June 1995). It might be the art, and certainly an enjoyable story. But reading this issue, the thoughts it provoked, and the feeling I had when I got to the end…this is definitely one of my TOP favorite issues of the entirety of the AoA storyline.

There’s only one page in particular (but several, flipping back through the issue) with Magneto specifically, where I feel like I noticed a change in the inking, transforming Churchill‘s work such that I actually paused and looked back to see if there were multiple artists/pencilers on the book, as it just looks quite different from the rest of the book. Otherwise, I really liked the art, and would have to really dig to find anything NOT to like about it. I’m not all that fond of Wolverine’s visual design…but as a generic "evil mutant" he works quite well. I imagine part of that is simply the use of the name in association with someone NOT Logan. (Yet, it makes sense in a world with countless "codenames" if most know "Weapon X" but he’s not using the name…"Wolverine" WOULD be up for grabs!)

Mackie gets a bad rap, I think…or at least, I’ve allowed my opinion to be clouded by his later work, particularly–I think–his Spider-Man stuff of the later ’90s. Here, I just simply enjoyed seeing these characters and the story that we get through the longer segment. Even knowing what was coming, I found it rather authentic seeing Gambit’s naiveté regarding Rogue’s falling for Magneto, and empathized with his hurt and frustration at the unintended "betrayal" of Magneto and Rogue’s developing relationship.

We get some details hinted at previously, and the actual "on-panel" stuff with Logan and Jean leaving and the Magneto/Rogue/Gambit triangle, as well as 44 pages of story plus 5 double-page "historical moments" (basically, "pinups") to round things out. I truly miss–and consider it a "lost art" of late–the inclusion of such "pinups" or quasi-arbitrary art pages in comics. In 2015, these would be an additional 10 variant covers as 5 sets of double-panel interlocking images. In 1995, these were fun bonus pages adding some visual context to the X-Men’s history. If only by labeling, these pages definitely lend credence to the notion of a picture being worth a thousand words.

Given this is essentially a one-shot, simply "a" story of this universe’s X-Men, the issue stands very strongly on its own. Knowing only that this is an alternate reality as well as the general convolutedness of the entirety of X-Men history…one doesn’t have to be following the rest of the Age of Apocalypse to follow this or to take this as "a story." For that matter, one doesn’t truly have to have read X-Men Chronicles #1, even.

For me, at least…the Age of Apocalypse doesn’t get much better than this; and perhaps for its immediate recency as of this typing, if I didn’t before I definitely now hold this as cream of the crop when it comes to Age of Apocalypse stuff.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Factor X #4

aoa_revisited_logo

factorx004Reckonings

Writer: John Francis Moore
Pencilers: Steve Epting w/ Terry Dodson
Inker: Al Milgrom
Lettering: Richard Starkings, Comicraft
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Cover: Steve Epting
Editors: Kelly Corvese, Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: June 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

The order has been given–the pens of humans are to be culled. The newly "promoted" Alex Summers lords it over the others to enforce the order. Meanwhile, Cyclops and Jean are trying to save the humans, help them escape. This leads to the two having to fight through multiple obstacles (though they find unexpected allies). Things ultimately come down to brother vs. brother, and a new leader of the would-be-culled humans. Also meanwhile, Angel’s club is shut down, while Worthington himself ditches the place, essentially laying aside his neutrality in things.

This issue really does not offer any true finality or closure to what’s been set up throughout…more, it’s the fourth chapter of this side-trip following Alex, Scott, and (Dark) Beast and whatnot–our glimpse into things going on within Apocalypse’s ranks with characters we’re familiar with from the "regular" universe. To get finality for these characters and their arc within AoA, one definitely needs to follow this with X-Men: Omega.

The story, though, is good, and AS a story I don’t really have much to say on it; the writing is solid and consistent and not unexpected. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s also something to Cyclops as written here that made me think he’s portrayed as a lot more interesting than I recall his being at the time in the regular Marvel universe. Perhaps the notion of his having served with Sinister and Apocalypse at all, or a number of other potential angles of the character that could be explored to answer "Why is he where and how he is now?"

My surprise with the issue’s creative side is just how much I really like the art. My one actual "problem" with the visuals is Jean’s hair–I’d swear she’s had much shorter hair in prior appearances, where Jean in this issue has the longer hair of her 616-counterpart of the time. I could be annoyed at the inconsistency…but I prefer long-haired Jean as depicted here, so I like it.

I’m not nearly as familiar with Havok in general, and it’s been rather strange seeing him as so thorough a villain in the Age of Apocalypse (same for Beast). Still, there’s a lot more than could be explored between just Alex and Scott’s relationship, that it’s sort of regrettable this four-issue journey is over.

I’ve enjoyed the series, and enjoyed this issue. Were it a self-contained mini-series I’d almost certainly be quite disappointed at the ending. As-is, it leads into X-Men: Omega, and I recall a definite end-point for Jean, Scott, and Alex as well as the fate of the Beast; looking ahead to that, it occurs to me that Omega serves in many ways as a #5 for the various minis, with Alpha having served as a #0.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Weapon X #2

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weaponx002Fire in the Sky!

Script: Larry Hama
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: Dan Green
Colors: Joe Rosas
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Cover: Adam Kubert
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: April 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

On reading the first page of this issue, I felt lost, and actually re-checked the cover. Yep–this IS #2. Not #3 or 4…I didn’t miss an issue. I don’t actually remember the ending to the first issue, but opening on Weapon X wading to shore amidst refugee/survivors, screaming for Jean definitely threw me a bit.

That’s where the issue opens–Logan’s just located Jean, who left to help with the evacuation of the humans from North America. The two reunite, a definite distance/rift between them that neither seems to want to acknowledge. There’s an attack, and the two leap in to help, though it brings things to a head between them and they part ways. Returning to the Human High Council, Logan is stopped by Mariko, and while the two converse another attack commences, and Logan again leaps into action in a way only he can. By the time the attack is over, Jean has left…though Logan is once more able to follow thanks to their psi-link, and the years of partnership between the two reach a tipping point.

This issue definitely feels like a “middle chapter” of a story. We’re thrown in the deep end at the issue’s beginning, and left with an unresolved situation at its end. At its end, we’re halfway through, having been introduced to Logan (Weapon X) and Jean in their status quo, we’ve witnessed their initial mission to completion and then further development of their situation, and things rapidly shifting into place for what I loosely recall of their placement for the far end of the Age of Apocalypse story.

I do like Hama‘s writing, and it’s still interesting to me to look back and realize what he’d done with the Wolverine character (and here, Weapon X) long before I ever recognized his GI Joe work. I touched on the notion covering the previous issue, but saw hints of it again in this issue: while this Weapon X is this reality’s version of Wolverine, there IS a darkness that I suppose I could “accept”–given what I recall of the ending of this Age of Apocalypse epic–morphing into what I considered a ridiculous and stupid thing in more recent years, NEARLY 20 years after the fact.

There’s an authenticity here that I appreciate, and while the story doesn’t leave me chomping at the bit for the next issue, I’m not disappointed to have read this one.

The art is quite good, and I continue to really enjoy Kubert‘s take on things, particularly Weapon X’s hair. That, combined with the burnt-critter version and then seeing the hair growing back over the span of a number of pages was cool–a sort of detail that worked well and conveyed how “tough” the character is physically.

Weapon X may not be my favorite of the Age of Apocalypse titles, but it’s not one I’ve dreaded reading…it falls somewhere in the middle or a neutral place if I were to rank ’em. This was a good issue, and ties in with stuff unfolding in Amazing X-Men, and while this stands alone overall, it’s great to see reference to other chunks of the whole, as this series is not unfolding in a vacuum.

Age of Apocalypse Revisited: Weapon X #1

aoa_revisited_logo

weaponx001Unforgiven Trespasses

Script: Larry Hama
Breakdowns: Adam Kubert
Finishes: Karl Kesel, Dan Green, Chris Warner
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Mike Thomas
Cover: Adam Kubert
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: March 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

After seeing Logan and Jean arrive at the Human High Council in X-Men Alpha, we now find them on a mission while the council decides what to do with the information they’ve been provided. Their mission: to cause trouble for Apocalypse by taking out a structure and allowing a wave of Sentinels in to evacuate what humans can be. Their ride (a sentinel) takes damage, but remains operational; while Logan and Jean fight their way in and ultimately out, even through Havok’s arrival. Once back with the council, the duo learn some shocking news about the humans’ intent moving forward in the face of Apocalypse’s deceit with the Kelly Pact.

This was a good issue, overall. Plenty of action, even if I didn’t comPLETEly follow everything. While I’m sure there are some subtleties I missed in my reading, I take it mostly at surface value. I struggle to see how this Weapon X can be the "villain" I recall from a couple years ago in a more contemporary issue. This seems quite a bit like the Wolverine of the time, but with adamantium (since Magneto never went down his dark path that led to Fatal Attractions and all that entailed). There’s a hint to Logan and Jean’s past, though it’s quick and not something dwelled on by the story. It’ll be interesting to get to the next several issues, and being reminded of the "cool" factor of this title and the character(s).

The visuals were good on the whole…no real complaint. I’m actually a fan of the "big hair" Wolverine rather than the tamed-down Hugh Jackman version of the last decade-plus in contemporary comics. Plenty to "appreciate" here and even as the issue may not be a favorite I still enjoyed it. The only let-down may have come from higher expectations for this than several other recently-read issues.

I do think the cover is one of my favorites–certainly one of the more memorable–of the AoA #1 issues, probably the entire saga. It shows all we really need, with Weapon X front and center and Jean right nearby…two mutants not to be messed with.

The ’90s Revisited: Uncanny X-Men #320

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uncannyxmen320Legion Quest part 1: The Son Rises in the East

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Dialogue: Mark Waid
Penciler: Roger Cruz
Inker: Tim Townsend
Colors: Steve Buccellato
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Editor: Bob Harras
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: January 1995
Cover Price: $1.95

Making me think I missed a chapter, this issue opens on the action, as a squad of X-Men are in the midst of a “battle” with Legion–one in which they’re throwing everything they can at the boy, and the boy’s not even acknowledging them. The issue cycles between this battle and flashbacks to what brought the X-Men to this point–Gabrielle Haller and X-Factor reached out, and so these X-Men came to Israel to see what they could do. Legion finally acknowledges his attackers, jumping back in time with Storm to show her the moments before a jet’s crash that killed her mother. Returning to the present, Storm–despite her hurt and anger–pieces things together, and with the help of Psylocke and Bishop gets the group psychically tethered to Legion just before he makes his main jump back in time. Having used her own powers to anchor herself in the present, Jean is left behind with just enough consciousness to contact Xavier to let him know the X-Men and Legion are gone. Finally, in the depths of space, Lilandra, queen of the Shi’ar, is informed of the beginning of all that is.

This issue had several editions. The X-books at the time were presented in “Deluxe” and “standard” editions–the deluxe having higher quality paper, while the standard was the cheaper paper and (I believe) carried a cheaper cover price. The non-deluxe editions have never been on my radar, and so are being soundly ignored.

With the deluxe edition, there was the regular edition one would buy in comic shops…and there was a “gold edition” that was included in an issue of Wizard magazine. Not just some “ashcan” or “preview” or such, it was the issue in its entirety.

Other than that, there’s nothing (to me) all that remarkable about the cover or anything “iconic” to it. Though I recognize it on sight due to its place in my own life, it doesn’t otherwise stand out in and of itself.

The art is solid, and doesn’t particularly stand out to me, taken by itself. It’s certainly familiar, with the X-Men particularly recognizable, and really the only oddity to me is Iceman’s costume…I don’t recall this costume/appearance, and so at one point I was left wondering who he was while out of his iced-over form. Other than realizing that and wondering who the guy in the unfamiliar costume was, nothing else took me out of the story visually.

The story itself is quite good. I’d noticed Mark Waid‘s involvement with X-Men: Alpha or X-Men: Omega several years ago…and his name again stands out here. Lobdell provides us the plot while Waid supplies the dialogue…yet other than the names in the credits telling me that, I doubt I’d’ve noticed either one of them. For me, going back 20 years, the story just WAS. These were the X-Men, and I took ’em at face value.

Once I realized I had NOT missed a chapter and that we were being presented with some action before the “gap” was bridged with flashbacks, I was ok with the flow of the issue. I doubt this issue’s structure would fly in contemporary comics, as contemporary comics seem primarily written for the trade, and this structure would not play out in a single issue (there’d be an entire issue of action, then an issue of flashback, etc). It’s also sort of odd seeing so few characters involved, despite having appreciated that in the previous issue. But that was part of the premise, I believe–with two X-Men books, each would typically focus on a smaller set of characters from the overall continuity of the whole.

That also poses a bit of a problem here with no explanation given to Bobby’s linking back up with these characters, and where Archangel and Rogue went between the end of #320 and the start of this. However, this opens well given the context of the X-Factor issue, as we go from Legion flying off talking of making things better, and being confronted here with the flashbacks showing that he’s already been setting his plans in motion.

All in all, not a bad opening chapter with plenty of action and context as well as driving the story as a whole forward by the end of the issue. I definitely enjoy that within the pages of a single issue’s pages multiple scenes unfold…that this seems written as a full single issue rather than “just” a chapter of a six-issue arc.

X-Men Series 1 Revisited, Part 3

019_027

It’s amazing the changes these characters have been through in the past 20 years. Outside of Kylun who at first glance I didn’t even recognize, I’m familiar with the others…and they’ve all been through plenty. Cable’s evolved from some mercenary to a full-realized character tied deeply into the history of the X-men universe and has been through a number of significant events–from X-Cutioner’s Song to Messiah Complex/Messiah War/Second Coming to the more recent Marvel Now Cable & X-Force stuff to the upcoming All-New Marvel Now X-Force series..

Archangel’s since gone back to Angel, to Dark Angel to whatever he is at present. Banshee co-led the school in Generation X and has since died and–for all I know–come back. Shadowcat has grown up big-time. Jean Grey’s died and actually stayed dead. Colossus has joined the Acolytes, then Excalibur, back to the X-Men, died, come back, been the host of Cyttorak, a part of the Phoenix Five, etc. Warpath’s been part of Wolverine’s X-Force, Polaris was “lost in space” with Havok and others after Rise & Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire and since come back…

While I don’t care for the aesthetics of the multi-colored X symbols on the cards, I think I’ve recognized that rather than being simply an amateurish inconsistency, these are actually color-coded by “team” or “group” with a gold X for the Gold Team X-men, etc.

Click below for the cards themselves..

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