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