Wednesday, November 28, 2007

UNCANNY X-MEN #300 – May 1993

Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), John Romita, Jr. (penciler), Dan Green (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Steve Buccellato (colorist)/Scott Lobdell (writer), Brandon Peterson (penciler), Dan Panosian (inker), Richard Starkings (letterer), Glynis Oliver (colorist)

The X-Men travel to France to find the Acolytes and the kidnapped Moira MacTaggert. Forge drops off a device for Nightcrawler that will help Cerebro penetrate a “dead zone” on the northern coast of France. Elsewhere, the Acolytes are using Milan’s mutant abilities to search through Moira MacTaggert’s memories. They want to use the technology she once developed to brainwash the X-Men to create new followers. The young Acolyte Neophyte begins to lose faith in Fabian Cortez after speaking to Moira. When he overhears Cortez bragging to Gamesmaster about killing Magneto, Cortez fries his powers and sends Neophyte flying out of their headquarters. When a young human attempts to help him, Cortez’s personal guards murder her. Nightcrawler joins the X-Men as they infiltrate the Acolytes’ base. The X-Men rescue Moira, and Wolverine slashes Cortez before fellow Acolyte Amelia Voght can teleport him away. After he recuperates in the hospital, Voght teleports him to another secret base. There, the Gamesmaster tells him that his points for murdering Magneto have been revoked, due to “recent complications”. Back at the X-Men’s mansion, Colossus looks after his sick sister while Xavier and Moira discuss the virus that has been killing Genoshan Mutates. Moira MacTaggert questions if pain and suffering is the “legacy” of all mutants. This causes Xavier to recall Stryfe’s continuous use of the word in his files.

This issue has a cardstock, holographic cover.

Continuity Notes
This issue marks the debut of Acolytes members Amelia Voght, Milan, Scanner, Neophyte, Sanyaka, Spoor, Katu, and Seamus Melloncamp.

Xavier says that Amelia Voght was a candidate to join his original students, although later stories place her age closer to his own. She tells Xavier that she lost her family and everyone she loved to “flatscans” (humans).

According to Bishop, no one’s heard of Fabian Cortez in the future.

During a flashback scene, Xavier considers recruiting Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Storm with the original X-Men, but doesn’t because of citizenship issues.

Looking back, I’m surprised to see that this is the fourth self-contained issue of this series in a row. According to a Marvel Age interview at this time, Lobdell was making a point of telling complete stories with each issue in order to make the title more reader friendly. I had totally forgotten about this, but it seems like this was his standard non-crossover format for a few years. Anything’s better than “The Last Morlock Story”, I guess. In the same interview (issue #122), Lobdell makes fun of the X-Cutioner’s Song confusing ending while Nicieza says that the X-books are going to tell clearer stories that don’t drag on for so long. Peter David also seems to be under the impression that he’s going to be writing X-Factor indefinitely. Oh, well.

It seems like this issue wants to be an important anniversary issue, even though nothing significant really happens in the story. Nightcrawler returns for no apparent reason and contributes nothing to the story. Lobdell tries to capture the idealistic dialogue Claremont routinely gave the character, but falls flat with clunkers like “So speak to me Cerebro…point me in the direction of the newest mutant. Tell me he or she may be the one to bridge the gap between humans and mutants. Even if it is not the truth, tell me there is still a reason…to hope.” The end of the story implies that Magneto isn’t dead, but doesn’t offer any more information than that. As typical of the titles during this era, Magneto can’t just return in one issue, his return has to be teased for several months until he can come back in the summer crossover. So, instead of the 300th anniversary issue of The Uncanny X-Men offering the return of the team’s oldest foe, it just hints that he might be coming back while the X-Men fight some of his followers. It’s not very exciting. I do like the idea of the Acolytes using Moira’s scientific knowledge to recruit new followers, but there’s a big flaw in Cortez’s plan. Cortez is trying to cover up from the Acolytes the fact that he killed Magneto. Moira knows that Cortez killed him, but Cortez is still having her memories projected on large screens for all of his followers to see. How does he know that this memory isn’t going to pop up? And since Moira knows about his plan, why doesn’t she concentrate on that memory while her mind is being scanned?

John Romita, Jr. returns for a second stint as artist (he also penciled UXM #200, almost ten years before this issue was published). He does a solid job, but I prefer the work Scott Williams did over his pencils in an earlier fill-in. His art carries a lot of the bland story in this issue. He’s asked to draw a lot big action scenes and pulls them off very well. His versions of Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Wolverine look great and he’s able to make the Acolytes look less ridiculous.


Austin Gorton said...

Huh. Until you pointed it out, I never realized just how many self contained issues Lobdell wrote (between crossovers, of course).

From 298 to 304 (and really, the Fatal Attractions crossover was a far looser crossover than most in those days-304 is almost self-contained as it is) and then a couple more before the X-Men/Avengers Bloodties crossover...then I think there's that two parter that introduced the Phalanx...a few more stand alones before the Phalanx crossover, and then...well, we get Legion Quest and AoA and it all kind of goes downhill, stand alone-wise.

But man, that is a pretty lengthy run of non-crossover issues with "done in one" stories. I'm glad you pointed that out.

Luke said...

I remember distinctly being very excited about this comic when it came out. I had just started reading Uncanny with #298, and this was a big anniversary, as you say. I also remember being very jazzed that my favorite X-Man ever, Nightcrawler, was guest starring over from Excalibur. I liked the ominous nature of the hints about Magneto, and liked the new Acolytes even if once more we didn't learn much about them. But, I also recall having to read it twice in case I missed something about Magneto's supposed return. Still, a better issue from the era, I think.

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Blakeney said...

These one offs actually give the impression that Lobdell can write to an acceptable standard rather than the abysmal emptiness of crossovers such as The X-Cutioners's Song.
Following up on the reasonable offerings of 297 and 299 some respectability is restored to the book.
A decent anniversary issue, the return of JRjr is undoubtedly a big help, and whilst the dialogue struggles with speechifying and sometimes sounds stilted in its efforts to emulate Claremontian rhetoric the issue successfully uses the confrontation with the Acolytes to get to the heart of the X-Men's core themes. There is a genuine sense of character and drama in these issues too which had been absent over the preceding couple of years. The story of the young Acolyte who comes to doubt the dogmas he's been taught which forms the backbone of this story is a potent one. The events are also used to seed a number of storylines and the traditional sense of X-intrigue is woven successfully.

I'm not sure about the complaint that this doesn't 'advance the plot'. Which plot is that? The attack on an enemy base is indeed a pretty run of the mill story and the speechifying is a bit grating at times -Lobdell isn't good at this rhetoric and tends to sound bland and laboured where Claremont would've found something unique and insightful. The issue's strengths lie elsewhere and it's a respectable effort for an anniversary issue. All in all probably the best issue of either of the X-Men books since before the Muir Island saga.

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