Wednesday, March 5, 2008

UNCANNY X-MEN #309 – February 1994

…When the Tigers Come At Night!
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), John Romita, Jr. (penciler), Dan Green & Jon Holdredge (inkers), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Steve Buccellato (colorist)

As Scott and Jean prepare to marry, Xavier reflects on his past, casting Magneto in the role of his subconscious. He recalls meeting Amelia Voght in a hospital in India after having his legs crushed. They begin a relationship and discover that they are both mutants. Voght accompanies Xavier to America where he begins laying the foundation for the X-Men. After a teenage Cyclops spends his first night in the mansion, Voght voices her objections to Xavier’s goals. She thinks that mutants should stay hidden and not draw attention to themselves. As she leaves, Xavier tries to mentally force her to see his point of view. He realizes his error, and Voght slaps him and leaves. Xavier realizes that drawing a line in how to use his powers is what separates him from Magneto.

Continuity Notes
This issue establishes how Xavier and Amelia Voght met, placing her “behind-the-scenes” shortly before the first issue of the series. In her earlier appearance, she implied that she was an early student of Xavier’s, but this issue places them as contemporaries.

Xavier recalls that it was Magneto who saved him in X-Men Unlimited #1. He also implies that Magneto’s arctic base is some sort of living alien. This reference showed up twice within a few months in the X-titles, but I don’t know if Marvel ever went anywhere with the idea.

Creative Differences
The panel where Xavier mentally tries to force Voght to stay has been re-lettered. The dialogue emphasizes that this was only a brief desire of Xavier’s, so maybe this panel was redone to make him more sympathetic.

Miscellaneous Note
According to the Statement of Ownership, sales averaged at 714,675 this year, with the most recent issue at 551,400.

This is one of Lobdell’s strongest issues. After hinting at Xavier’s dark side for months, Lobdell crafts an entire story within his unconscious that ultimately vindicates him and his motives. Having Magneto voice Xavier’s subconscious is an odd choice, given his inconsistent characterization at this time, but Lobdell makes it work for the most part. After Xavier crossed a line he set for himself and erased Magneto’s mind, it makes sense that he would be represented in an issue where Xavier questions the decisions he’s made with his life. Revealing dark secrets from Xavier’s past has been done to death over the years, but this might have been the first time the idea was used. Rather than giving Xavier a horrible shame to live with, he’s shown making a very human mistake that he instantly regrets. Lobdell takes the idea just far enough to keep Xavier sympathetic and relatable. If you had the power to change someone’s mind, to keep a loved one with you, wouldn’t you be tempted to use it? The depiction of Voght’s departure, with Xavier intentionally misremembering it twice before he faces the truth, is smartly done and very memorable.

The impetus of Xavier's self-examination is the wedding of Scott and Jean. On some level, Xavier resents them for finding happiness while he’s sacrificed his own in service of his dream. Again, this is a very human, and real, emotion. It exposes a side of Xavier that isn’t very nice, but it doesn’t cross the line into making him totally heartless. By the end of the issue, he redeems himself by giving his blessings to Jean, after he realizes that he created the X-Men so that mutants could have a chance to find happiness. It’s a good example of showing a character’s flaws, but also staying true to his established characterization.


Chris said...

I've always loved this issue. Say what you will about Lobdell's writing flaws (of which there were many), the man wrote the best Charles Xavier to date.

Teebore said...


This is another one of my favorite "quiet" issues, and man, Jrjr knocks in out of the park.

This should absolutely be included in any "essential reading" type list for Prof. X

Anonymous said...

I recently reread this and it is still absolutely stellar. Easily one of Lobdell's best issues on either book. I completely agree about the dark side of Xavier being presented here - it's very human and it's built off of real human emotions. I'd much rather read about it like this than the recent way it's been done - that he's been holding dark, manipulative secrets from the X-Men for years.

The notion that he is, in some ways, jealous of Scott and Jean's relationship is truly one of the most refreshing and human aspects Lobdell brought to the X-Men period, for me. It is so well-handled here. That's not to take credit away from the flashback scenes, which are also excellent.

I agree that Jrjr does an incredible job too. Yes, the side-ways pages get annoying (but are worse in #310) but the art is beautiful. An excellent issue.

Luke said...

I remember buying this issue, and then not being able to read it for some reason or another. I think I must have just not gotten to it for a while, and this was right at the time I was starting to lose interest in the main X-titles. I am pretty sure I just threw it in a bag and board and never actually read it, as I distinctly remember the cover but recall absolutely nothing about the story. Serves me right, I suppose, for not reading the comic I paid good money for!

Pat! said...

damn, i really loved this issue when it first came out and still love it today

this was a prof. x i could get behind

Anonymous said...

I think this is one of the rare issues I kept after pawning off the whole collection on someone.

Shows how good poor Lobdell could be without execs (as he claims) forcing things down the pipe.

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