Wednesday, November 7, 2007

UNCANNY X-MEN #295 – December 1992


Familiar Refrain
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Brandon Peterson (pencils), Terry Austin (inks), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Joe Rosas (colorist)


Summary
The X-Men confront Apocalypse at one of his old bases. He doesn’t know anything about the kidnapping, and teleports away after defeating the team. Sinister has pointed the combined X-teams in the direction of Stryfe, but no one has any information on how to find him. If Cannonball agrees to help locate him, X-Force (now being held prisoner in the Danger Room) will be allowed to join the fight. Meanwhile, Wolverine and Bishop invade Canada’s Department K to find information on Stryfe. Cable appears, looking for the same info.


Gimmicks
This is part five of the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover. It comes polybagged with a Wolverine & Bishop trading card.


Continuity Note
Apocalypse understands “very little” about the alien technology that powers him, according to the narrative captions. This is actually the first time the X-Men (and not “X-Factor”) fight Apocalypse.


“Huh?” Moment
War is now knocked out with Famine and Caliban, even though he wasn’t with them in the last chapter.


Review
It’s another issue that mainly serves to set up future events for the storyline. The X-Men face Apocalypse, which should seem like a big deal, but the story goes out of its way to point out that he’s weak and still building his strength. He also doesn’t know anything about what’s going on in the story so far, so dedicating almost a full issue to a fight scene with him doesn’t really work. Wolverine and Bishop also make the odd decision that the mysterious Department K in Canada might have info on Stryfe. Unless this is a reference to some New Mutants issue I’ve missed, I don’t know why they would jump to this conclusion. Cable joins them at Department K, keeping up the crossover tradition of pairing the most popular characters off together.


I wasn’t able to find this issue until a year after its release, when I finally broke down and mail-ordered it from East Coast Comics. This is one of the very few issues of Uncanny I had missed from the newsstand since 1988, and not being able to find it drove me nuts. For months, I wondered why this specific issue was so hard to find. Then it dawned on me – this was the issue on the stands when the X-Men animated series debuted. (Of course, which specific issue was on sale depended on where you lived and if you were buying from comic shops or newsstands). I bet there were probably thousands of kids who started buying X-comics with this issue. The schedule of the cartoon was a little weird in the first season (it debuted a month late with only two episodes, and then began airing weekly in early 1993), so I don’t think Marvel actually intended to introduce a generation of kids to the X-Men during a twelve part crossover. This was before Marvel was on its “accessibility” kick, so I don’t think that they viewed this as a problem, either.


I can see the advantages and disadvantages to introducing new readers to a book during a lengthy crossover. The most common complaint is that crossovers last too long, focus on too many characters, and are too confusing for new readers. If you’re a kid paying $1.50 for your first issue of Uncanny X-Men in 1992, do you want to get part five of a twelve-part story? Do you want a comic that features over a dozen characters that haven’t appeared on the TV show yet? The conventional wisdom is that these readers would want a straightforward story focusing on the characters they recognize from the show. On the other hand, if you like the show and you’re buying an X-Men comic, doesn’t that mean you want more X-Men? Maybe these new readers were intrigued by all of these new characters. What better way to show off Marvel’s line of X-titles than by putting every character together for one massive story? I did have friends who got into comics through the X-Men cartoon, and all of them were into this storyline.

4 comments:

Justin Boatwright said...

The cartoon angle would make sense of why Jubilee was featured quite a bit in this issue and would continue to be a rather prominent x-character for some time since she was one of the featured characers in the cartoon. My wife also discovered the X-Men through the cartoon with Jubilee being a particular favorite of hers, being a pre-teen girl and all.

Psylocke's scene where she is contemplating putting Xavier out of his misery always seemed a little strange to me. Maybe they were just looking to get her a little more face time but I can't think killing Xavier would have gone over very well with her teammates who were working hard to save his life.

Finally, of the four artists on this cross-over I would have to say that Brandon Peterson is probably my least favorite of the bunch. Each of the other artists has a pretty good style of their own but Peterson's work come across as a little bland. Even though I remember liking this early work of his when I was a kid the scene of Polaris crying on page 9 always looked silly to me. He did do a pretty good job with Apocalypse though.

Teebore said...

The whole "X-Men comics are too complicated for new readers" argument has always bugged me. Like I said before, my first regular issues of any comic books were X-Men 8 and Uncanny 289, and I had absolutely no freaking idea what the heck was going on.

Why did I keep reading? To find out what was going on. That was the fun-seeing what was coming next while digging into the past, adding new meaning to the characters with each new back issue I read.

Cory said...

I agree, jumping in in the middle of a story really makes things seem so exciting.

As for the TV Show thing, I say, as long as the characters the fans are looking for are THERE, it shouldn't mater who else is there...

Then when the "extra" people show up in the TV show, they'll be happy to see someone they recognize from the comics in the show.

For example, while not TV show related... The Secret Wars. The first time I read it, I only read Spider Man at the time, and read Secret Wars just to see Spidey in it. Then I started reading the Avengers, as I did, I re-read Secret Wars again, and understood things better, then after X-Men I read it a third time... each time knowing more about the characters in it...

So yeah, as long as you have someone to point to and say "ohh I know them!" You're ok.

Joseph Paul said...

It's funny that you should speculate on the notion that many kids began buying X-Men comics with this issue. That was exactly my situtation. I remember being six, seeing the TV show, being totally blown away (it all seemed to gritty and darky back then). So I picked up this issue a couple days later at an airport during a Summer vacation with my family. This issue got me going on X-Men.

As a kid, the crossover idea actually fascinated me. I remember noticing the "Part 5" up in the top, thinking, "Wow, this must be the last part." Haha, of course it wasn't! What I perceived as the immensity and drama of it all really drew me in. A couple of days later I was able to pick up UXM 296 and X-Factor 86, but it took me a long time to collect the whole thing. One of the things that really took me in back then was the idea of multiple X-tems. I remember looking up in the corner boxes where they displayed the teams in mini drawings, and feeling perplexed and thrilled by all these cool characters who I only knew by their angry faces. Oddly enough, I think the very density of the crossover is what really fascinated my six-year-old mind. To a small child, this was as epic as Homer or Virgil, and the X-cutioner's Song issues to this day remain my favorite comic books... probably for nostalgic reasons!

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