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The ’90s Revisited: Uncanny X-Men #303

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uncanny_xmen_0303Going Through the Motions

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Special Guest Artist: Richard Bennett
Inks Pgs. 8, 14-18: Dan Green
Editor: Bob Harras
Cover Date: August 1993
Cover Price: $1.25

My first issue of Uncanny X-Men that I got off the shelf was #300…partly BECAUSE it was #300. Big, round number…shiny, foil sparkly cover…a group shot of a bunch of characters I recognized from the animated series…it was a great attention-grabber. (Even if right now, I wouldn’t be able to tell you 27 years later what that issue was ABOUT/what its plot was).

I then missed several issues, picking back up with #304 (Fatal Attractions) and found a newsstand copy of #303 (at least as I recall offhand).

And it was #303 that really stuck with me. I always remembered that it was an issue that actually moved me to tears…it hit hard. And it was a character death that then informed several key things going forward for a few years into 1999’s The Twelve and onward.

When I decided to re-read it as a random "grab an issue from a stack of recent quarter-bin hauls" I recalled the emotional impact…but figured since I knew what was coming, knew where things had gone, character arcs and returns…SURELY this time through would be a clinical thing for me to analyze and consider the issue in terms of reading as an almost-40-year-old versus having read at age 12 or so.

But wow, was I wrong on that front!

The issue opens on Jean Grey entering Professor X’s ready room to check on Jubilee, to see how she’s doing after what just happened. Jubilee puts on a tough front, but as she and Jean talk–and we as readers see the flashbacks–that front cracks, as we see Jubilee open up and begin to accept the enormity of what she’s just seen unfold. Namely, that despite the Professor and Moira doing everything they could…they were unable to SAVE Illyana. Meanwhile a squad of X-Men including Colossus–Illyana’s older brother–was on their way back. Jubilee had bonded a bit with the visiting Kitty Pryde, and through Kitty’s translating, found out that she–Jubilee–had actually been having a positive impact on the dying young girl. But then things ‘blew up’ as Illyana went into respiratory failure, and though they eventually were able to stabilize her physically…she was left comatose, unlikely to regain consciousness. Leaving consideration to be had of what the young girl would (have) want(ed). We get this from Jubilee’s self-deprecating point of view as she considers herself and how dumb it was to say, place Illyana’s Bamf doll in her arms, while "the adults" argued over what to do going forward.

And then she recounts Peter’s arrival after–his getting off the X-jet and asking why no one was looking after his sister and if they couldn’t be trusted to look after her, should he ever leave. Only for Xavier to break down, having to tell Peter that his sister was gone, that they did everything they could. She was alive when he left, and alive when the group had last communicated, but now, arriving home, his beloved little sister was gone (and he hadn’t gotten to say goodbye…he wasn’t there in time, he wasn’t able to save her, etc.)

Which is–there–some of my projecting. And I actually laid the comic down and pushed it away, failing to hold my own tears in check.

Because this one hit close to home. Really close to my heart. Easy to project, easy to put myself into the situation. To see from Jubilee’s side, her coping mechanism. To see the anguish in the others–in Xavier and Moira. To imagine being in Peter’s position, being told of the passing of a loved one when–even if it was expected as a chance coming up, wasn’t prepared for FOR THAT PARTICULAR MOMENT.

The writing is quite good. It carried a strong authenticity to it–from Jean going after Jubilee and just being there for her, to Jubilee and her reactions to events as they’d unfolded (in flashback) as well as her after-it-all tough front and eventually breaking down. While I don’t relish the death of a child or anyone…this left an impact on me 27 years ago and it ripped into my heart again this time. This is the sort of issue that made me a fan of the franchise. Not some big globetrotting adventure or 6-issue battle with or for Magneto, not some culmination of years of subplots and rumors of a legendary group destined to rise up and defeat a villain, nor the identity revealed of some secret traitor.

Just a (relatively) "quiet" issue involving the characters just being PEOPLE, being a family, being…"normal." Being RELATABLE.

And there was certainly some impact from the bulk of the issue being flashbacks. There’s a sense of trepidation as the issue opens, and as Jean and Jubilee begin to talk and it becomes obvious that something really important has happened. To become increasingly aware of what it was, and that it has already happened–there’s not that "will they or won’t they" wondering, and not even that "hope" of some last-second save. Just the details unfolding and dealing with the loss this family–immediate and extended–has suffered.

The art is good, but in a way, it’s almost forgettable. Not in a bad way, mind you–but in that it has no particular problems or such to distract from the story itself, and so the story is just experienced. For me, it’s also that the dialogue and the fact of what’s happened that drives the issue…the artwork is there because it’s a comic book, a visual medium. But it’s the characters’ interactions, what they have to say to each other about stuff that matters more. And there’s nothing for some big double-paged splash scenes missing dialogue. That the art "disappears" into the "story" makes it a strong positive to me.

The events of this issue come out of then-recent plot elements in the X-titles, particularly out of the crossover event The X-Cutioner’s Song. If I’m recalling correctly, Illyana’s death was the first from the Legacy Virus…before the virus had even been named. It heavily influenced immediate changes such as Colossus first defecting to Magneto for a time and then eventually spending some time overseas with Excalibur before ultimately returning to the X-Men and then dying himself to activate a cure for the Legacy virus…and later both brother and sister resurrected and so on to where-ever the X-books and all the characters are in 2020 preset-day.

The issue stands along pretty well the way it’s written. And as the cover proclaims–"If you read only ONE X-Title this month–this issue MUST be it!" If you find this issue in a bargain-bin: 25-cent, 50-cent, even $1 or so…it’s well worth the read, and without even really NEEDING much context. But having read it will lend contextual value to most anything else X-related to be read that was published from 1993-2000/2001 or so in particular…including the (in?)famous Age of Apocalypse.

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Showing Off the Shelves: Kotobukiya X-Men ’92

Earlier in the year, I discovered the Kotobukiya line of X-Men ’92 figures/models/statues.Where I’d originally only intended to get Rogue and Gambit, that quickly expanded until finally, I wound up with the entire line (that I’m presently aware of)!

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Professor X and Phoenix/Jean Grey were the only figures to come as single-characters, all the rest came in packs of 2. Jubilee came with Wolverine, and Storm came with Bishop.

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Gambit and Rogue came together, which is what set me off on this entire line. Cyclops and Beast make up the final pair.

The Bishop/Storm set was the most expensive for me, and I paid more than I’d have preferred–still a bit of buyer’s remorse there–but after missing one heckuva sale price at Black Friday, I decided to splurge and order them from BigBadToyStore just to HAVE them and not have to worry about them becoming even MORE extremely-exspensive if they’re "out of print" or such.

Despite that/leaving the cost off to the side…I really dig the set, and would certainly prefer to see more releases for it.

Most immediately, a "regular" Jean Grey, perhaps paired with a Morph (possibly with an "extra" head for "Dark Morph"); and then of course, some villains.

Magneto and Mr. Sinister would be definites for me, along with Apocalypse, perhaps Mystique, Blob, Pyro, and Avalanche. Perhaps swap Juggernaut for Mr. Sinister if we’d keep to the first season, though Jean in her Phoenix form is from beyond the 2nd season, even, so…yeah.

It’d even be great to see a sentinel, perhaps…though for the price of these-sized figures, I hate to consider what a Sentinel would cost from Kotobukiya!

Despite wanting more…this present set pretty much perfectly fits on two "floating" wall shelves I bought on Amazon; it wasn’t until I was mounting the shelves to the wall that I realized they’d be good for these figures.

I may look into getting some more of these shelves in the new year when I do some re-arranging of the basement space; I have a number of ideas there (plus thoughts toward some alternate shelving as most of my shelves have bowed significantly, and I reconfigure the overall space a bit to accommodate the last couple of years).

Time will definitely tell, though…as always!

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The Weekly Haul: Week of October 16, 2019

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This week’s an interesting week in terms of the weekly haul. Along with comics, it includes the single most expensive "leisure item" I think I have EVER bought!

Let’s get into ’em…

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When the Tales From the Dark Multiverse things were announced, they were very appealing to me. Re-imaginings of key stories such as Knightfall and The Death of Superman particularly, as key stories that really largely "defined" comics for me as a kid. Stuff to be sort of Elseworlds without the name, slotted into modern stuff. I was keen to get this Knightfall issue…though on reading it, did not enjoy it the way I’d thought I would. I’ll save that for further thought and a possible review.

DC really screwed up the DC Dollar Comics Batman #497–printing pages out of order, so you have pages 19, 21, 20, then 22. It’s particularly egregious as it’s a reprint, and not even "just" some new comic having an issue. It’s been published correctly in the past, repeatedly! How it gets screwed up now in 2019 is beyond me.

And perhaps appropriate in a Batman-heavy week is the latest chapter of City of Bane as we near the end of King‘s run on this main title. Particularly appropriate as this arc–if not the entire series–is a sort of "modern riff" on the original Knightfall arc.

It’s equally an X-Men heavy week, with the first issue of Hickman‘s ongoing X-Men title. I’m not keen on it being "legacy numbered" 645 or whatever–taking up the Uncanny numbering withOUT the Uncanny part of the title. Seems just MORE of Marvel‘s wanting to have its cake and eat it, playing fast and loose and ARBITRARILY with numbering. Additionally, while a small part of the issue, an exchange with "Kid-Cable" and Jean realllly put me off, as well as continued use of insert/whitespace pages. I’m also not keen on the apparent villain, and the apparent characterizations of several characters including Storm. As if HoX/PoX hadn’t already given me plenty of clues, I wonder what I am–or will be–subjecting myself to if I try to go all-in on the X-books or any of the titles at all. Especially as the next few weeks are just a "first wave" with MORE titles to follow, and the feeling I myself (reasonably or NOT) get of unpredictability/lack of clarity of publishing frequency coupled with Marvel‘s propensity to do random-seeming $5+ issues and/or the multiple-$4-issues-per-month for a single title.

The True Believers issues give us the first appearances of Rictor and Jubilee. Again, issues I’m glad to support for the $1 price point and NOT being "new" issues, but appreciating the quality and personal preference for the past.

We also have the finale (3rd issue of 3) of Superman: Year One from DC‘s massively over-pushed Black Label. I still need to read the second issue and then this; I recall not being AS put off by the first issue as a lot of folks did…we’ll see how I feel once I’d read a couple more issues and have the story in its entirety. I also feel like DC is really shoving Black Label as a "THING" and it’s a complete turn-off to me; all the MORE after their stuff with Batman: Damned that seemed like they neutered the entire purpose of this thing.

Finally, for the heckuvit and it being available for the price, I picked up a back-issue copy of Spider-Man Unlimited #1. This is the original series–and the issue that kicked off Maximum Carnage, which I remember getting each chapter as it came out across the several months; all 14 or so chapters! (Back when 14 chapters was a LOT for any given crossover, rather than just the number of variant covers on the first issue of an event mini that includes umpteen tie-in minis at inflated prices). I’d much rather pay $5 for a back issue with the nostalgia factor that I’ll enjoy seeing/owning/re-reading/etc over some blasé generic one-of-umpteen-covers reads-in-5-minutes-and-not-even-designed-to-stand-alone chapters of a current "event" comic.

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And then there’s the Arcade1Up edition of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / TMNT: Turtles in Time arcade cabinet.

This cost me only slightly less than my Nintendo Switch (with two games); but it’s a fixed unit capable of playing only two games. (without "modding"). BUT this is TMNT, which has long been my "exception" to normal stuff–be it variant covers, price I’ll pay per issue, etc. And the nostalgia factor for me of the original arcade game AT arcades/the mall…to own this 3/4-scale edition with its various features (no coins needed, all 4 controllers for up to 4 players at once [previous home console versions only allowed 2 players at a time, to best of my knowledge offhand–and specifically thinking of the Nintendo TMNT II: The Arcade Game] is very appealing.

"Online research" and YouTube folks have made it clear the opening song is changed–something to do with copyright issues–but I don’t know if I would’ve truly noticed had "everyone" not been "talking about it." I may have noticed something "off" but likely would have chalked it up to memory, and assuming that the game always HAD been slightly different from the cartoon.

A lot of people dislike the lack of a light-up marquee; but that really doesn’t bother me. I love the idea of these "mini" arcade cabinets; having such a thing in my home for playing at my own leisure and all that. The artwork is at least largely what I remember from the original machine, and enough of the "experience" of the unit itself is there to satisfy my arcade-nostalgia and such; I don’t need a 3/4-scale unit to be 100% accurate to the full-size original.

I don’t know how much "play" the unit will get long-term, but it’s definitely a major "piece" in my "collection," and one I’m glad to have. 9-year-old me is ecstatic at owning such a thing; while pushing-40-me finds it a very cool item.


Partly the purchase of the arcade machine; partly recent general expenses entertainment/leisure-wise…I’ve found even my "interest" in certain other expenses tamped down a bit. At least comic-wise.

I’ve also splurged a bit on some gaming stuff (partly on principle because I could) as well as a couple things I’d pre-ordered months ago on Amazon came up; and a couple Kickstarter things wrapped up.

I’m leaning more and more toward trying to cut back on comics, as I find less and less of interest, get turned off to stuff I feel like I "should" be liking; prices keep going up, variants piss me off, and rumors of gestating upcoming "initiatives" and so on percolate.

One more week down, and we’ll see what the coming one brings.

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The ’90s Revisited: X-Men Series 1, Cards 28-36

Looks like my "schedule" with covering this card set is slipping! As it’s been several months since I last touched on this, I’ll "lead" with the links to the previous posts in the series!


Cards 1-9  |  Cards 10-18  |  Cards 19-27


xmen_series1_full_028-036

This is another page of mostly characters I’m at least familiar with, if not entirely informed on. Jubilee, of course, catches my attention as having been one of the primary characters in the ’90s Fox animated series, as does Rogue! Forge I always remember from the same animated series, despite being placed in a different time for that.

On with the individual cards…

028a

I think I’m actually most aware of Boom Boom from Nextwave by Warren Ellis. Here she has the "typical" look, and I think I might slightly recognize her by the bubblegum-bubble, but overall would likely not have recognized her without the name prominent on the card!

028b

And right here on the card-back is more information than I could have told you myself off the top of my head. I’d’ve thought she was a character introduced at the end of New Mutants if not X-Force #1. And I knew she could blow stuff up, but would not have recalled the "time bomb" aspect.

029a

Jubilee was a "point of view" character in the ’90s X-Men cartoon series…she was the inexperienced one, the one who could ask the same questions the viewers would have, and have stuff explained without talking down to said viewers. My first introduction to her was the cartoon, and it wasn’t until later that I first "met" her in the comics. I was aware of her earliest-on in the comics in an issue of Wolverine as well as the Uncanny X-Men issue that saw a "death" of Illyana Rasputin (Colossus’ sister) at the time.

029b

Jubilee is another character that was still very new when I came in, despite now being close to 30 years old! Nothing much new for me information-wise on this card outside of the term "plasmoids"…perhaps a way of making something sound scientific regarding her powers? I always forget if her first appearance was #242 or #244 of Uncanny X-Men, so there’s a handy reference to have.

030a

Shatterstar is a character who epitomizes "the ’90s" for me, as a character, and as a part of X-Force, and the actual X-Force title as it stood in the early-’90s. I mainly only knew the character for awhile from the Spider-Man/X-Force crossover that was collected in a tiny 3-issue volume back in the day.

030b

Reading the back of this card gives me more information than I ever could have given specifically about the character off the top of my head. It’s interesting that there are so many time/dimensional refugees that multiple characters up and down the timestream of an alternate reality found their way into the "main" one. Part of the convoluted nature of ’90s X-stuff, I guess. Also interesting to consider how relatively cliché it is that a character travels back in time to get help and simply joins the group they went back to interact with…or even some other group! Readily-assimilating (-ish) into a time not their own seems relatively common (Shatterstar, Bishop, Cable, Rachel Summers, etc to name just several!).

031a

Strong Guy I’m most familiar with from the then-current iteration of X-Factor, around the 30th anniversary of the X-Men and the whole Fatal Attractions crossover; though he became more of a standout to me due to the cliffhanger leading into the original Age of Apocalypse saga.

031b

There’s not a lot of depth to my knowledge of Strong Guy, and this card doesn’t really change that. It’s handy to see the first appearance…that’s a factoid I did not know off the top of my head. I did know he used to be a bodyguard.

032a

Captain Britain is a character I feel like I’ve been "familiar with" in terms of the character existing much more than I am with the character himself. He’s got a distinct look, and I’ve long associated the character with Excalibur–at least early issues that I’d been aware of.

032b

I’ve known about (but forgotten til reminded here) that stuff with Captain Britain is where we got the "616" designation of the "main" Marvel Universe. I can’t say this card really tells me much, but it’s such a little block of text for a fairly complex character, even back in 1992!

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I first "met" Forge in the X-Men animated series; though in that he was a character whose present seemed to be "The Future." Not long after that I learned a bit more about him, at least in his existing in the present-day in the comics, and there having been something between him and Storm.

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…and there we go: another character I’ve learned more about from a card than I might’ve been able to easily convey myself off the top of my head. I did not remember (if I even knew) of the character’s involvement with the Vietnam war (something that dates the character a bit).

034a

I don’t remember for certain when I first became aware of Multiple Man (Jamie Madrox), though it was probably somewhere around X-Factor‘s 100th issue when the character had "died" at the time. I think I’d gotten the issue as part of one of those department-store 3-packs or "boxed set" of a couple issues leading into/including the 100th issue.

034b

The main thing I learn from this card in 2018 is the first appearance of the character…I would have assumed he first appeared in an X-book. But Giant-Size Fantastic Four? Ok.

This mutant power is one of my go-to "super-powers" in answer to the question "If you could have one character’s power, which would you want?" (and excluding the likes of Superman with multiple powers).

035a

I can’t remember when I first became aware of Quicksilver…it was probably around 1993’s X-Men #25 (part of the Fatal Attractions crossover). I recall a bit of ‘hype’ around "that" issue of X-Factor where Peter David left a huge mark on the character: giving a great analogy from the character’s point of view as to why he’s always seeming like a jerk. (Something about standing in line behind someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing, and to imagine being surrounded by people who don’t know what they’re doing, every moment of every day).

035b

I’d forgotten Quicksilver started as part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants with his sister, the Scarlet Witch. I also forgot (or hadn’t realized) that he had a stint as an Avenger. Same for how early he first appeared in the X-Men series…

036a

Ah…Rogue. One of my favorite X-characters, largely thanks to her depiction in the X-Men animated series. It’s safe to say that as fictional characters go, she was a definite "crush" as a kid. This is my favorite design of the character (matching the cartoon series); and though I don’t mind some of her other costumes, this one’s the one I most think of for her.

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I learned of Rogue’s backstory from the animated series, as well as elements from the mini-series in the earlier ’90s. I’m pretty sure I "discovered" Ms. Marvel from the animated series before any appearances in the comics. It’s interesting to see that a major part of Rogue’s character is basically non-existent in the present; same for the impact on Ms. Marvel (now Captain Marvel). While one of my "grail" comics is Uncanny X-Men #266 (the only issue I’m missing from having a run from #240ish to 500 or so), I’d also be quite interested in getting Avengers Annual #10 for Rogue’s first appearance.

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X-Men Series 1 Revisited, Part 4

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Jubilee was the first of the X-Men I was really introduced to–as the focal character for the audience in the 1990s cartoon. I was also introduced to Rogue in that same first episode, and Rogue at least has remained one of my favorite characters since.

I’ve more recently gotten to know more about several of these other characters–Captain Britain and Forge in particular. I’ve enjoyed Multiple Man and Quicksilver thanks to PAD‘s X-Factor.

In recent years, I’ve found that when I think about the age-old question of “what super-power would you want if you could have any power?” I have tended toward the idea of Multiple Man’s. That perhaps comes from the most recent (pre-All-New Marvel Now) X-Factor run…and moreso, the Madrox mini that immediately preceded it.

Boom Boom was used quite well in Nextwave several years back, and I can’t say I’ve ever cared much for Shatterstar…though the earliest memory I have of Shatterstar is the X-Force/Spider-Man crossover–one of my first-ever collected volumes..

This bunch of cards is fairly mediocre to me…nothing all that special and I didn’t learn anything new, really…

 

Click below to see the cards themselves.

Continue reading

Wolverine and Jubilee #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

 

Story: 2/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5

X-Men #1 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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