Thursday, November 8, 2007

UNCANNY X-MEN # 296 – January 1993

Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Brandon Peterson (artist), Terry Austin (inks), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Joe Rosas (colors)

Cyclops and Jean Grey fight the Dark Riders during their escape from Styfe’s base. They discover an infant connected to a series of circuitry. Stryfe tells them that the baby is connected to his own consciousness and to the life support system of the complex. He dares them to kill the baby in order to destroy the base and kill him and the Dark Riders. He’s shocked to discover that they reject his offer and fight back against the Dark Riders. The baby is revealed to be a construct, granted a small portion of Stryfe’s consciousness. Cyclops and Jean Grey attempt to escape by blasting through the wall, but are sucked into the vacuum of space. Meanwhile, Apocalypse offers to help cure Xavier in exchange for the X-Men’s help against Stryfe. Wolverine speculates that Stryfe has taken Scott and Jean to Apocalypse’s base on the moon.

This is part nine of the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover. It comes polybagged with a Jean Grey & Cyclops trading card.

Creative Differences
On page 29, most of the narrative captions are by a different letterer. The captions reveal that the baby was really just a construct, as the art shows it being consumed by the technorganic virus. I’m assuming that the original idea was that this was supposed to be a real infant, and that someone decided at the last minute that killing a baby was in bad taste.

I Love the ‘90s
There’s an ad for a Wayne’s World VCR board game. It says “Schwing!!” and everything.

This is one of the weakest chapters of this crossover, mainly because the Dark Riders are just dull villains. Seeing the X-teams finally confront X-Force is payoff for a subplot that had been building for a while, and even the MLF fight at least had all of the heroes together for a big brawl. Cyclops and Jean against the Dark Riders isn’t really the payoff to anything (especially with Apocalypse out of the picture), so the characters are just there as token opposition to the heroes. Stryfe’s hysterical dialogue is also wearing thin at this point.

This issue pretty much screams “Stryfe is Cyclops’ baby!” without coming right out and saying it. Baby Nathan was still around when Cable and Stryfe were introduced, so I have a hard time believing that this was the original plan. Plus, the X-Factor issue that sent Nathan into the future was plotted by Jim Lee, who wasn’t involved with plotting the stories when Cable was introduced. The “Cable is baby Nathan” idea was a fan theory that was pretty popular in the early ‘90s (Wizard even had the baby’s first appearance as a “hot issue” for months before this storyline saw print). It seems like it was such a popular theory that the creators just decided to run with. With this crossover, Stryfe suddenly wants revenge on Apocalypse, Sinister, Cyclops, and Jean Grey. All of these grudges come out of nowhere; before this, he just wanted to kill Cable. If this had been mapped out in advance, I doubt so much information would’ve been revealed at once. The revelations don’t directly contradict what came before, but they don’t make an awful lot of sense either.


Anonymous said...

I always liked how Wolverine discovers that Jean is being held on the moon (he's absent-mindedly scratching on Cable's glass table with his claw, when he realizes it's a picture of the moon). Given his past history with Jean, it makes sense that he can receive a subconscious message from her.

Teebore said...

As you say, in retrospect, it doesn't entirely work for Cable/Stryfe to be baby Nathan, but man, in the early 90s I was CONVINCED that had to be the case.

I completely ate up all that time travel/destiny/clone stuff-I've always loved that Cable is Cyclops' abandoned son grown up, come back in time to fight by his father's side (not that actually happened all that much, per se).

It certainly wasn't the plan all along, but it was a great way to payoff two dangling plot threads: the deal with Cyclop's kid being taken into the future, and Cable/Stryfe's backsotry.

I wonder what the original plan for Nathan was; did Lee have one, when he plotted that issue, or was it just an excuse to write out the kid without killing/abandoning him, a "uh, he's in the future. Just fine. Let's never speak of Cyclops' kid again" kind of deal?

Justin Boatwright said...

One of the more interesting subplots of the cross-over is the Archangel/Apocalypse relationship which takes a bit of a turn in this issue with Warren vouching for Apocalype's ability to save Xavier. I liked how Apocalypse kind of served as Archangel's own little rogues gallery and the tension between them worked pretty well. Even if Warren's blond mullet was atrocious. Keep the skullcap on for crying out loud.

Teebore said...

Yeah, I thought the Archangel/Apocalypse relationship in the later part of the crossover was pretty well done too

Harry Sewalski said...

Wasn't the original plan (or implication, anyway) that Stryfe was Cyke's son, and that Cable was the clone, hence the techno-organic arm? I've never actually read X-Cutioner's Song, so please forgive me if this is what's mentioned in a later issue :)

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