Friday, March 7, 2008

X-MEN #29 – February 1994

Return to Hellfire!
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Joe Rosas (colorist)

Psylocke and Sabretooth spar in the Danger Room as the Professor examines Sabretooth’s physiological response to combat. Archangel receives an invitation to a Hellfire Club party. Psylocke’s father was a Hellfire member, and she asks to accompany Archangel. At the party, the pair is abducted by Shinobi Shaw. Shaw offers Archangel the role of White King in the Hellfire Club. Archangel refuses and a fight breaks out. Psylocke stabs Shaw with her psychic knife, releasing his memories of childhood abuse. The fight stops, and Shaw realizes that following in his father’s footsteps isn’t bringing him happiness.

Continuity Notes
Archangel and Shinobi Shaw knew each other as children. Shinobi’s father considered him to be a disappointment but always admired Archangel.

Archangel meets Dwayne Taylor, Night Thrasher, inside the Hellfire Club, in a scene that occurs simultaneously with X-Force #32.

Approved By The Comics Code Authority
Psylocke’s breasts are literally larger than her head on page eleven. There’s occasional cheesecake in these comics, but this goes a lot farther than usual (and I'd like to extend a warm welcome to everyone Googling "Psylocke breasts").

Jubilee tells Iceman it’s time to become the “master of your domain” when giving him his copy of National Geographic.

Creative Differences
After Psylocke tells Beast not to call her “Betsy”, the rest of their conversation is re-lettered. This ties into the needlessly confusing Kwannon storyline, but I’m not sure why parts of the conversation were changed.

“Huh?” Moment
When Sabretooth tells Psylocke that she’s his kind of woman, her response is “I know, Creed. And that worries me to no end.” Archangel is incensed that she’s flirting with Sabretooth. How is she flirting?

Miscellaneous Note
According to the Statement of Ownership, average sales for the year were 672,175 with the most recent issue at 579,300.

I’m not sure what the point of this issue is. Ever since the X-line was revamped in 1991, Archangel didn’t receive a lot of attention, which is surprising given his prominent role in X-Factor. The conflict involving the use of his wings was dismissed early on after the revamp, and his characterization seemed to alternate between lighthearted and grim over the next two years. There’ some attempt to develop his character with this issue, as Archangel considers the fact that he’s expelled the darkness Apocalypse forced onto him, but hasn’t replaced it with anything. This is apparently resolved at the end of the issue, when he gives a speech to Shaw about having friends that helped him to determine his own destiny. I’m assuming that Shaw is supposed to represent someone who can’t get out of the shadow of someone else and be his own man, so he’s now emulating the abusive father he despises. Actually, these aren’t bad ideas, but the execution is weak. If Shaw's issues with his father are supposed to parallel Archangel's relationship with Apocalypse, the idea doesn't really come across well. Shaw doesn’t even meet up with Archangel until the story’s halfway over, and most of their scenes together are just spent fighting.

The beginnings of the Psylocke/Archangel romance start with this issue. I never understood the appeal of the relationship, but Marvel stuck with it for around seven years, even giving them a miniseries together. The justification for putting the two of them together in this story seems to be the fact that both of them come from rich families. Later on, the idea that both of them have undergone physical changes is used to bring them together. This never worked for me, when you consider how many other X-characters have gone through physical transformations. Is this really the basis of a relationship? It’s interesting that Psylocke doesn’t seem interested in Archangel at all in this issue. He implies that he’s physically attracted to her (in what seems like a meta-commentary on the tradition Jim Lee began of sexing up the female characters), but she barely says a word to him throughout the issue. Their relationship really begins when the Kwannon storyline is finally over, so I’ll take another look at it when I get to those issues.


Anonymous said...

I think I liked this issue as a kid only because it did finally give some screen time to Archangel. And I liked the continued mixing of BGold/Blue team members with the Warren/Betsy pairing. Yes, the relationship is kind of flat, but the prospect of it was exciting to me as a kid.

Other than that, the issue is a mishmash. There's some decent scenes. But Warren's lookout out the window to wedding preparations makes it feel like the title's just biding time until the big wedding issue. And Uncanny X-Men had just gotten much better mileage out of that in #309.

The Shinobi angle has promise, but, as you mentioned, him not appearing until halfway through the issue really hampers it.

Anonymous said...

I always thought that this issue was kind of Nicieza's way of semi-wrapping up the Shinobi plotline before the Upstarts got kicked over to New Mutants and X-Force to resolved. We get a little bit of closure in regards to the character. It does seem a little throw-away for a character who had such a big introduction, but the X-Titles at this time were awful about letting plotlines peter out without having a dynamite resolution.

Scott Church said...

Man I think this Blog X blog is amazing. Do you know of anyone else that has gone and done this with any other books, I've gone through most of the links on the right hand side but I haven't found anything as in depth as yours, people do issues here or there.

I'd love to see something like this for Spider-man as I was just sorting out my collection and forgot how many of those issues just sucked in the 90's.

G. Kendall said...

I've don't if you've heard of Life of Reilly, but it takes an in-depth look at the Clone Saga issues of Spider-Man.

I'd like to see someone look at the other franchise books of the '90s, like Batman or Superman.

Chris said...

To Scott Church: I actually run a similarly-minded review site for Ghost Rider, linked through my name above. I admit, I'm a sucker for review sites, and I agree that Not Blog X is doing a fantastic job.

Scott Church said...

Thanks for the two posts guys, I've read all of the Life of Reilly and I'll have to check out the Ghost Rider pages. Never really been a GR fan though, but it should be fun to read anyways.

Yeah, I would love to see a lot more blogs that have these same sort of things with other 90's books or any other sort of books.

There is a guy on Newsarama that is going through and reading an issue of X-Men every day and posting his thoughts starting with X-Men 1. It's been interesting so far.

Chris said...

I can't seem to find the link for it at the moment, but there's a blog out there that reviews all of the Spider-Man books starting with Amazing Fantasy in the 60s. Really good stuff, I just can't remember the address.

Fnord Serious said...

I think it would make more sense for Betsy and Warren to bond over the similar psychic trauma they both suffered, rather than their physical transformations. They were both abducted and transformed into weapons to be used against the X-Men. Seems like some pretty deep psychic scars would result from such a process.

Your comment regarding Psylocke's oversized chest makes me think of the awful cover with Storm on it where her breasts are at least a half a size bigger than her head. And I think Silvestri was sexing up the X-Ladies before Lee, and readers have been treated to Storm flying naked trough rainstorms since the Cockrum era, right?

As to other good history review blogs, Paul O'Brien at the X Axis has a deep catalog of X-Men reviews written in his ascerbic wit, and at Geoff Klock's Blog there are issue by issue reviews of the Morrison New X-Men run and a current series reviewing the Claremont run in the form of the Classic X-Men, back-ups included.

Trotsky said...

This was also the height of the bad girls era in 90s comics as I recall with all the independent pinup stuff like Shi, Dawn, and Lady Death flying off shelves and everyone but DC making swimsuit or lingerie pinup specials every few months (something Image loved to do). I can probably bet there was an edict from on high that wanted to include Psylocke in this kind of thing. Rogue went from kind of frumpy to sex bomb in this era. I'm actually kind of shocked that Marvel never had an X-girls pinup special.

I remember page 11 having quite an impression on me as a young teenager, to the point where I can actually remember what you're talking about. Most of the time when you refer to particular panels or pages I don't remember at all...


Trotsky said...

Oh yeah and the "master of your domain" comment also qualifies as an I Love the 90s thingy, since it's a reference to the famous Seinfeld episode...

wwk5d said...

"I think it would make more sense for Betsy and Warren to bond over the similar psychic trauma they both suffered, rather than their physical transformations."

That's one thing that she and Wolverine bonded over during the end of the Claremont run. They discuss it a few times, the one that sticks out is during the X-tinction Agenda. It never did make Logan and Warren better friends, however. Maybe if Nicieza was a slash fan? ;)

And did Warren ever dump Charlotte on-screen? Or was she just forgotten about?

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