Friday, June 13, 2008

UNCANNY X-MEN #320 – January 1995

The Son Rises in the East
Credits: Scott Lobdell (plot), Mark Waid (script), Roger Cruz (penciler), Tim Townsend (inker), Steve Buccellato (colorist), Bill Oakley (letterer)

The X-Men travel to the Israeli desert at the request of Gabrielle Haller. Her son Legion has created an energy field around himself, and is crippling or destroying any military vehicles that approach him. When Storm tries to speak to him, Legion uses his newfound power to take them back in time to the day Storm’s parents were killed. When they go back to the present, Legion tells Storm that he’s created unheard of new chronal energies that will enable him to alter time. When Legion talks about his father’s legacy, Storm figures out that Legion is going back in time to somehow remake Professor Xavier’s dream. Storm orders Psylocke to link herself mentally to Bishop, who has been absorbing Legion’s chronal energy. This sends all of the nearby X-Men back into the past with Legion. Phoenix anchors herself and stays behind. She telepathically calls out to Professor Xavier for help before passing out. Meanwhile, the guardian of the M’Kraan Crystal, Janf, warns Lilandra that the end of reality is coming.

I Love the ‘90s
The editors ask fans to send in any type of feedback, saying “it’ll only cost ya 29 cents” to write in.

This is the start of a brief crossover that sets up the “Age of Apocalypse” storyline. Mark Waid is the guest scripter, a role he’ll occasionally take on for the next few months. He’ll take over X-Men briefly next year, but nothing really comes of it. His script is a little sharper than Lobdell’s typical work, but there’s not that much of a difference. This issue really just serves to build up Legion’s new powers and to send the X-Men back into the past. Legion does come across as a formidable threat, and his dialogue thankfully doesn’t portray him as insane or childishly naïve. Far too many X-villains at this point are just labeled “crazy”, justifying whatever arbitrary action the writer wants them to do. Based on my memories of this story, though, Legion’s sanity is short-lived (maybe no one told Waid that Legion really is supposed to be nuts).

The selection of X-Men sent into the past seems odd. I understand that Bishop needs to go back into the past for upcoming plot reasons (due to his own history as a time traveler), so it makes sense that his team of X-Men would be featured. Of course, at this point, the Blue and Gold divisions have pretty much gone away, but the script explicitly refers to this as the Gold team. If that were the case, why would Psylocke go instead of Archangel? Phoenix is already there, so why would two telepaths go on the same mission? And since the team is confronting his son, why isn’t Professor Xavier with them? I know that some of the characters need to be in different places for future plot reasons, but there’s no in-story justification for any of this so far. We’re just supposed to accept the fact that the characters are where they are.

There’s another awkward scene where the team follows Legion back into the past, yet Phoenix inexplicitly stays behind. The way the scene is written makes it seem as if she isn’t aware of Storm’s plan to follow him, which doesn’t make sense because a) she’s a telepath and b) she was standing right next to Iceman just before he was sucked into the time vortex, too. Maybe the original idea was that Phoenix was supposed to stay behind to tell the other X-Men what happened, but that’s not communicated at all in the story. Aside from these awkward moments, though, it’s a pretty unobjectionable issue. The story mainly accomplishes what it’s supposed to, and Cruz’s art (unoriginal as it may be) doesn’t look so bad.


Jeff said...

This is a decent first issue for a pretty decent crossover. I can't wait for X-Men #40, which really knocks it out of the park. This whole crossover is worth it for the scenes in that issue with Magnus, Charles and Legion interacting in the Israel in the past. (Part 3 in Uncanny drops the ball a little bit though). Anyway, I'll shut up because we're not there just yet.

janna muda said...

i love this blog!
very good

rob said...

Despite the smaller technical flaws you mention, I still think this issue (and the crossover as a whole) provided an exciting, fun lead up to AoA. Maybe I just love some of the flashback scenes, as jeff does, but the battle scenes and set up here are still fun to read. It does help that Legion is portrayed as more than just a raving lunatic. And, for as much as he is blatantly copying Jim Lee, Cruz's art is pretty energetic here.

kerry said...

Janna Muda: spammer?

Teebore said...

Yeah, I also remember being very excited by this crossover. It just has a lot of crazy energy that makes up for some of the smaller flaws.

The flashback stuff is great, and I seem to recall Psylocke's psychic knife being pivotal to some plot point when the X-Men are in the past; if my fuzzy recollection is correct, that could be the (plot mandated) reasons for her inclusion in this team.

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