Tuesday, October 9, 2007

UNCANNY X-MEN #288 – May 1992

Time and Place
Credits: Jim Lee & Whilce Portacio (plot), John Byrne & Scott Lobdell (script), Andy Kubert (pencils), Bill Sienkiewicz (inks), Joe Rosas (colors), Richard Starkings (letters)

When the X-Men take Bishop out to New York, he recognizes Styglut, another escaped criminal from the future. Bishop fights Styglut until his apparent death, and then realizes that the fight has caused collateral damage and injured several civilians. Humbled, Bishop later gives Storm his command insignia to show that he is no longer a leader but a student.

This is a rare self-contained story from an era known for never-ending storylines. The purpose is to transition Bishop into the X-Men, and it accomplishes that much at least. It’s not a very interesting story, especially since it’s probably the fifth time we’ve seen Bishop fight these future fugitives, but the characters are at least heroic and the story actually goes against the early ‘90s “kill ‘em all” ethic. Andy Kubert used to show up as the fill-in artist during this time, and he’s inked by Bill Sienkiewicz for this issue. It’s not exactly a great pairing; a lot of the art is murky, some of the action is confusing, and the male characters all have the same faces. Iceman also looks like he's sixty years old on the first page. Kubert’s art would greatly improve in the coming years, including another issue with Sienkiewicz that looks a lot better, but this isn’t a great effort.

Showing that Bishop is able to be humbled and willing to learn from the team is an important characterization shift. He’s already more likable than Cable at this point. Bishop actually opens the door for a number of potentially interesting storylines. Bishop idolizes the X-Men but the X-Men are appalled by his actions, leading Bishop to adjust to a new moral code. The X-Men can question if their method is working if the future is so bleak (although admittedly Phoenix II already raised that question). Are Bishop's parents alive yet? Is he curious about his family? The introduction of Bishop could've lead to any number of stories. Unfortunately, Bishop never developed much of a personality beyond this issue and his popularity has continued to wane since the early ‘90s. There have been various attempts to revive interest in him, but he’s been going to character limbo and back for ten years now. I follow some of the x-books today and actually have no idea if he’s currently being used.


Insane Reviewer said...

Bishop has not been a regular in any X-Team since Claremont's departure from Uncanny more than a year ago.

But he's still around, appearing in all the minis where the XSE subplot was advanced (most proeminently, CIVIL WAR: X-MEN). ISTR interviews mentionning he had a part in the upcoming Messiah Complex.

He's last been seen a few weeks ago in an Endangered Species backup strip.

Luke said...

The similarities between Bishop and Cable struck me as odd even as a kid. I liked Bishop better, relatively speaking since I prefer characters like Nightcrawler or Havok, but it really seemed to me that they were similar characters just from different points in the timeline. I think they touched on that in the "X-Men" cartoon at some point, didn't they?

Also funny was that in the second X-Men game for the Sega Game Gear (man, I played the heck out of it as a kid!), you can find Cable as a hidden character. This is funny for two reasons. 1, he is essentially a pallete-swap of Bishop. And 2, his "mutant power" is to fire his gun. That cracked me up to no end even then.

I may have to break out some Excalibur from this period and do a themed week thanks to you! This blog is great fun for those of us who were young enough to be enthusiastic about this stuff the first time.

Fnord Serious said...

Bishop also appeared in the short lived District X series. They made a logical use of his past by making him a cop in the mutant town neighborhood in NYC.

PeterCSM said...

Well, just to update on the comments posted in '07, Bishop is still in use as the guy who shoots Prof X in the head and then goes on a time-jumping cat & mouse chase with Cable so that he can kill the mutant baby Hope. I think Cable eventually "kills" him. Not sure, I couldn't endure long enough to see the conclusion. It's good to see the X-writers still honoring the age-old tradition of ignoring past character personality in favor of telling the story they want to tell.

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