Wednesday, October 17, 2007

UNCANNY X-MEN #290 – July 1992

Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Whilce Portacio (pencils), Scott Williams (inks), L. Lois Buhalis (letters), Kevin Tinsley (colors)

Iceman and Hiro fight the Cyburai while his parents escape. When Iceman leaves to get Opal to safety, Hiro activates the self-destruct sequence in his armor and apparently kills himself and the Cyburai. Meanwhile, Mikhail Rasputin, now suffering from intense headaches, uses his powers to transform a clumsy pizza boy into a tree. Forge interrupts a confrontation between Mystique and Bishop and realizes that Mystique is growing insane. He retracts his proposal to Storm and leaves with Mystique. As he leaves, Storm says that she was going to accept his proposal.

Another messy issue. I don’t even know where to start. The Iceman plot is sequel to an X-Factor storyline I’ve never read. There’s no effort to clearly introduce the Cyburai at all, or explain their connection to Opal. From what I can pick up, they’re related to Opal, they blame Iceman for breaking up their family for some reason, and they want to kill his parents as retaliation (I should point out that Iceman’s parents leave on the very first page and these guys don’t seem to notice). This Hiro character is also a member, I think, but he’s protecting Iceman’s family from them. Opal is also his cousin and he’s apparently in love with her. Hiro then blows himself up, because of “honor”. How much of this makes any sense? And who on Earth thought it was a good idea to attach all of this cybernetic ninja crap to Opal, who was introduced as an average, frumpy girl who fell for a superhero?

Mikhail Rasputin returns this issue, and now he’s insane. I don’t really know where this characterization is coming from. In his initial appearances, he was a hermit who isolated himself because of his guilt over accidentally killing his friends. I didn’t pick up on him being insane in those issues; he was certainly melodramatic, but that doesn’t equal crazy (especially in X-Men comics). Now, his grief has apparently driven him insane, his insanity being expressed by doing something horrible to a teenager who bumps into him. If Lobdell didn’t have any good ideas for this character, he could’ve just ignored him. Re-introducing him just to have him suddenly turn crazy doesn’t make sense. Showing that he’s still haunted by accidentally killing his friends also undermines his character arc from his initial appearances. This is a really bad idea that won’t play out well.

The soap opera between Forge and Storm continues, not making any sense either. Forge is upset that Storm wanted time to think about his proposal, even though he told her in the last issue that he didn’t expect an answer immediately. Forge acts like such an idiot in this arc that you can’t relate to anything that he’s going through. Storm doesn’t receive a lot of characterization, there’s actually only one page devoted to her considering Forge’s proposal. When Forge tells her that she’ll never have a life outside of the X-Men, she just cries and mumbles as he walks away. This isn’t exactly compelling drama.

Continuing this issue’s theme of nonsense and insanity, Mystique is suddenly crazy, too. Why exactly? She’s grieving for Destiny, a character that had been killed off almost four years earlier and hardly referenced since. She goes from taunting Bishop about his dead friend to speaking in baby talk to Forge over the course of two pages. It’s really one of the most bizarre and abrupt characterization shifts I’ve ever seen. How exactly did this nonsense come about? “So, what do we do with Mystique?” “Uh…let’s make her crazy!” “You mean develop a storyline that chronicles her slow descent into madness, using her shapeshifting powers to parallel her identity issues?” “No! I mean, let’s make her crazy! Right now, with this issue!”


Paul said...

They did at least retcon Mystique's sudden crazy turn later on, but Forge still didn't come out of it well.

I don't know why they felt they needed to make Destiny's prophecy come true except maybe to rule a line under it.

percy blakeney said...

I had the 'pleasure' of reading this the otherday and my impression was that Mystique goes crazy from one panel to the next. On the one hand she's being provocative and doing the metamorph therapy she'd been doing in the previous ish and then when Bishop's fed up Forge says 'can't you see this is a symptom of her falling apart' and in the next frame she's batshit insane and acting like she's at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.

DB said...

Yikes, that bug-eyed dancing Mystique is easily the stupidest part of the relaunch since Storm's unhinged jaw on 281.

I vaguely remember being sort of touched by this and the next issue, actually, way back in the early 90s when I was 13. I hadn't read either Lifedeath story then.

DB said...

Oh, and I have to say I like the covers of a few of these issues. Especially 286, with Archangel soaring across at an angle, and the most cheesy melodramatic 290 featuring Storm crying in the rain. At the same time I hate most of the others with the heat of a thousand suns.

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