Monday, November 5, 2007

UNCANNY X-MEN #294 – November 1992


Overture
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Brandon Peterson (penciler), Terry Austin (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Mike Thomas (colorist)


Summary
Professor Xavier gives a speech about tolerance at a Lila Cheney concert in Central Park. Meanwhile, Famine, War, and Caliban (now calling himself “Death”) attack Cyclops, Jean Grey, Colossus, and Iceman. Caliban kidnaps Cyclops and Jean while the other X-Men are distracted. In Central Park, someone appearing to be Cable shoots Xavier during his speech and teleports away.


Gimmicks
This is part one of the “X-Cutioner’s Song” crossover. It comes polybagged with a Professor Xavier trading card. All of these cards have copy written from Styfe’s point of view on the back. Almost every one is Stryfe melodramatically explaining how much he hates the featured character.


Continuity Notes
Caliban claims that Callisto gave him the name “Caliban” and that it’s not his real name. He’s also powered up and no longer speaking in the third person.


Review
The first crossover of the post-Claremont, post-Image era begins. At this point, the crossover stretched out over four titles, ignoring Wolverine and Excalibur. In terms of quality, I don’t doubt that not participating helped those two titles immensely. Unfortunately, I think it also created the idea in many fans’ minds that these books “didn’t matter”. Marvel editorial probably realized this, because in 1993 Wolverine and Excalibur would begin participating in all of the crossovers. The tradeoff is that the crossovers began to feel more unwieldy, and even more ongoing storylines were derailed for months at a time. For the moment, though, “X-Cutioner’s Song” helps some of the X-books find a focus, and gives fans the confrontation between teams that they were waiting for.


This isn’t a bad start for the storyline. Lobdell finds a nice mix between action and characterization by pairing off the X-Men and having them interact with one another while other teammates handle the action. It’s certainly his best issue of the series so far. When Lobdell was killing time waiting for this crossover he didn’t seem to know what to do, but now that there are specific events he has to pull off, his work seems more focused. Brandon Peterson debuts as penciler; he was supposed to be the regular artist but was gone by #300 (guess which company he migrated to?). His work here has a little bit of that “early ‘90s” style, but most of it looks fine. He’s a lot better than many of the other artists of this era. Terry Austin returns as inker and brings an interesting look to Peterson’s pencils.


Beginning with this issue, the X-books begin to draw upon more of the continuity established in early X-Factor issues. There had been some attention paid to the romantic subplots of Archangel and Iceman, but major characters from X-Factor like Caliban, Apocalypse, and his Four Horsemen hadn’t been brought up yet. This storyline ties in characters from other spinoffs into the old X-Factor continuity, and I think it’s successful in creating a sense of cohesiveness between the titles. The original X-Men members didn’t seem to have much to do during the Lee/Portacio issues, making you wonder why Marvel took them away from X-Factor in the first place. By bringing back X-Factor’s rouges gallery and putting Scott and Jean at the center of the story, this storyline creates a nice mix between old and new continuity.

5 comments:

Justin Boatwright said...

Ahh... X-Cutioner's Song. I've been waiting for this for a while. Of all the x-stories I read in my youth this was my favorite and really got me hooked on the entire franchise. It's been probably 5 or 6 years since I read it so going through it again will be fun.

A couple things to note that stood out to me right off the bat. Because I hadn't read any previous X-Force stories and was only vaguely familiar with Cable I remember wondering why everyone automatically assumed he was responsible for shooting Xavier, even though it looked like was him. Hell, Archangel used an image inducer in this very issue so you would think Cable would get the benefit of the doubt as a "good guy" to explain things. However, given your history of X-Force and Cable up until this point he has pretty much been a gun-toting psycho so maybe shooting Xavier really wouldn't have been that far out of character. Given that context the issues to follow will probably make more sense then they did when I was younger.

Something else that I found interesting was the name of the cross-over: X-Cutioner's Song. It seemed like a bit of a strecth and even with my fondness for the story a little bit silly. But today I just so happened to be looking for a novel to read and was looking up previous Pulitzer Prize winners and came across The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer. I had never heard of the book before today and I'm not even sure if it has any relevance to the story but at the very least I have to imagine someone in the x-office read it and was a fan. Relevant or not I thought that was interesting.

OK, this post has gone on long enough, still have 11 more parts to go, better pace myself...

Great stuff G. Keep it up.

Luke said...

Marvel, in their way of not letting anything go to waste, would later create a character named the X-Cutioner. If I made a character named that, I would have him carrying around a demo tape just for the pun.

Amazingly enough, when I got into the mutant books in the wake of this crossover, I tried to purchase all the issues of it but were never successful because they were too expensive. Hard to imagine that nowadays!

Jack Norris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Norris said...

I think this was the last straw for me with the x-books for a while. The only one I was still reading at this point was x-factor (I hadn't touched uncanny since the mid-200s), and this crossover was the last straw even for that.
I only mention that because when I first read this post I would have said that I had no issues of any book in this crossover, but last night one of those cards fell out of a book I happened to pull from my bookcase that I hadn't touched in years.
Stryfe's narration, about Havok and Polaris in this case, were even cheesier and more purple than I'd anticipated. Yikes.

Agent 2112 said...

I remember having to buy two of these when they came out. I needed to keep one of each sealed because they would be paying my way through college. My mom probably bought these for me at a grocery store back in these days. I had her convinced that these would be worth thousands someday.

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