Friday, December 28, 2007

UNCANNY X-MEN #301 – June 1993

: Scott Lobdell (writer), John Romita, Jr. (penciler), Dan Green (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Steve Buccellato (colorist)

Fitzroy tortures Selene to gain the attention of the Gamesmaster. He agrees to a meeting of the Upstarts and declares Forge as their next target. Meanwhile, Storm and Bishop travel to meet Forge and give him info on the Legacy Virus. Fitzroy attacks Forge and Mystique in their home, gutting Mystique and destroying Forge’s mechanical leg and hand. Fitzroy’s armor reaches “full neutron charge” and the building explodes.

Continuity Notes
Selene says that she founded the Upstarts in order to shape them into “the next generation of mutant leaders”. It’s the only real origin the Upstarts have received at this point.

Fitzroy says that his mother was killed by Bishop’s sister in their timeline.
Gamesmaster claims that Forge’s actions during the next twenty-four hours “will directly affect the fate of every homo superior on this planet”. I assume that this is connected to the info he’s receiving on the Legacy Virus (Shi’ar data that Xavier doesn’t fully comprehend), but the story isn’t clear.

Creative Differences 
The original solicitation of this issue (or the abridged version reprinted in Wizard) reads “Mystique gives Forge over to Fitzroy. Lee Forrester, Magneto's ex-lover, shows up at the X-Men's place.”  Clearly not what happens here.

Approved By The Comics Code Authority
Selene’s body is being “ripped to shreds one instant, back to form the next” by Fitzroy’s future technology. I wasn’t even slightly disturbed by this scene when I first read it, but it apparently offended quite a few people. Years later, it was still being referenced as an example of the horrible treatment of women in comics (I remember people bringing this up again when the “Women in Refrigerators” list came out). Looking back on it, it still seems pretty tame to me. There’s no blood, and Romita’s art makes the concept seem more like science fiction than realistic physical torture.

It’s another one of Lobdell’s more straightforward, action-heavy issues. In comparison to the continuity muddle going on UXM’s sister title at this time, it’s a nice break. The heavy action is a good fit for Romita, especially during this stage when he was drawing everything as large as he possibly could. If you compare Forge’s first appearance (also drawn by Romita), to the bulky he-man in this issue, the difference is staggering. If this were one of Lobdell’s slow, chatty issues, this style wouldn’t fit at all, but it works for an issue mainly devoted to explosions and punching.

While reading this issue, it occurred to me for the first time that the Upstarts might have had potential as real adversaries. Their motivation is no worse than Arcade’s, I guess, and their competition provides the impetus for the X-Men to get involved with the action, rather than just hanging around their nice house. If their debut in the early Lee/Portacio issues weren’t such a train wreck, I might have been more open to the concept. Of course, the creators themselves seemed to be losing interest in the idea at this point, as the Upstarts are forgotten about few months after this storyline.

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