Thursday, March 27, 2008

UNCANNY X-MEN #311 – April 1994

Putting the Cat Out
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), John Romita, Jr. (penciler), Dan Green/Al Vey (inkers), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Steve Buccelato/Marie Javins (colorists)

While working on the mansion’s Shi’ar energy core, Beast accidentally causes a power surge that cuts off the mansion’s power, allowing Sabretooth to escape his cell. He quickly captures Jubilee, but Bishop is able to stop him before he does any serious harm. Bishop chases Sabretooth through the underground tunnels beneath the mansion, where they fight to a standstill. Jubilee finds a taser in an emergency locker and attacks Sabretooth from behind, knocking him unconscious. During the power surge, Iceman was caught in the feedback while trying to protect Emma Frost. Beast asks Bishop and Jubilee to check on him because he isn’t responding. Meanwhile, Storm meets Yukio at a New York nightclub. The Phalanx have been trailing Yukio, who has accidentally lead them to Storm.

Continuity Notes
Beast claims that he developed large feet and hands at age thirteen, while previous issues show that he was born with the large appendages.
Yukio is Storm’s friend from the Claremont/Smith issues.

This is a mostly self-contained issue that sets the stage for two upcoming storylines. I like the way Lobdell structured this story, as the main story actually gets resolved but there are still plot threads to keep you interested in the next issue. It’s well suited for Romita, who does a great job with the big explosions and action. He does one of the best renditions of Sabretooth ever, and even makes Bishop’s crazy mullet look less embarrassing. I also like Romita’s version of Beast a lot; I wish he could’ve done more with the character. This turns out to be Romita’s last issue of the book, as Joe Madureira takes over with the next issue. I vaguely remember Romita claiming in a Wizard issue that he took time off from UXM to draw the Punisher/Batman crossover. When he was finished, someone else had his job. I know that he turned up on the Spider-Man books during the end of the Clone Saga, but don’t know what he drew in the months in-between (maybe he finished the Man Without Fear mini?).

Jubilee and Bishop, two of the most ridiculed X-Men, are handled pretty well in this issue. I like the fact that the X-Men had a member too young to drive who pestered the other team members to take her to the movies. Lobdell treats Jubilee’s reaction to Sabretooth’s attack, sheer terror, very realistically, which also helps to make her more sympathetic. Romita’s probably the first artist to make Bishop not look so ridiculous, but it’s hard to say how he pulled it off. He doesn’t give him pupils for the entire issue, and bulks up his frame a decent amount. These are two clichéd ‘90s elements that looked terrible when other artists tried them, but for some reason Romita pulls it off with Bishop. Lobdell makes Bishop more likable in this issue, by having him mourn his lost sister, comfort Jubilee, and abide by the X-Men’s no-killing stance, even if it goes against his own training. It seems like Lobdell wanted to take Bishop away from the stereotypical “gun toting psychopath” characterization early on, and I can some potential as a character here. Unfortunately, it just seems as if Bishop lost anything resembling a personality as the ‘90s wore on.


Pat! said...

oh kick ass, this is one of my favorite issues when i was a kid

for the first time, i saw why sabretooth was scary

it was like a suspense movie made into a comic

Teebore said...

"it was like a suspense movie made into a comic"

It really was. I too remember this as the first time I thought of Sabretooth as SCARY. Sure, he had always been crazy and evil, but this issue really sold the scary aspect of him.

Paul said...

This was a great issue. Scott Lobdell doesn't get enough credit for his work on Uncanny. I think he gets automatically panned since this stuff was in the '90s. He was far from bad, and there have been far worse writers on the book (Austen).

rob said...

This appealled to all the cool things a kid reading the X-Men would love - it was actually scary, the whole power outage thing was effectively suspenseful, Bishop charging down the hall was great. But it holds up on other levels now as well. I love the way the subplots are being built up, and Jubilee's fear after being left by Wolverine is a really genuine aspect.

I agree that Lobdell sometimes gets a bad rep solely because he wrote a top selling comic in the 90s. I guess the point of this blog is to show that labelling such 90s comics as bad right off the bat isn't always right. At least he brought some sort of direction and feeling to the books, considering how badly Uncanny especially has floundered in the 2000s.

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