Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Green/Pennington/Ryan/Milgrom (inkers), Steve Buccellato & Digital Chameleon (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering)
Archangel is called by Charlotte Jones to witness a crime scene. After facing resistance from some of the other police officers, he’s lead into a nightclub where mutants have slaughtered a group of innocent people. At the mansion, Siryn receives word from Archangel and finds Storm, who is trying to talk to Wolverine outside. Upstate, Phoenix breaks the news to her father that her sister was absorbed by the Phalanx and killed. As she leaves with Cyclops, a mystery man spies on them. In New Jersey, Bishop and Beast are leaving a movie theater when the Juggernaut suddenly crash lands into the street. He appears to be dead, but suddenly regains consciousness and attacks. Psylocke arrives and stabs him with her psychic knife, which reveals that he’s terrified. Bishop absorbs energy from the city’s power supply and knocks the disoriented Juggernaut down. He finally tells the team who attacked him, claiming that he was knocked from Canada to New Jersey by someone called Onslaught.
Onslaught is referenced for the first time. Juggernaut claims that he was in Canada, on his way to warn the X-Men, when he was “slugged” by him. He’s convinced that landing next to the X-Men wasn’t a coincidence. Bishop refers to Juggernaut as Xavier’s half-brother, but they’re actually stepbrothers. Not only have I seen writers screw that up with Xavier/Juggernaut, but with Thor and Loki as well. Is there some alternate meaning of “half-brother” that I’m not aware of?
Since Siryn is still in the mansion, I assume this issue takes place before she went missing in this month’s issues of Cable and X-Force. I still don’t know why I placed this issue after the recent issues of Generation X when I was a teenager.
Charlotte Jones casually dumps Archangel in this issue as punishment for not contacting her in months. Their relationship played a fairly large role in X-Factor, but was mostly ignored once Archangel joined the cast of Uncanny.
The man spying on Phoenix and Cyclops is Senator Kelly’s aide from Uncanny X-Men #299 (meaning this mystery has been totally ignored for over two years). He turns out to be an agent of Landau, Luckman, and Lake, and ties in somehow to the Onslaught story.
I Love the ‘90s
Beast and Bishop go to see Pulp Fiction at the movies.
The Statement of Ownership lists sales at 552,975 for the yearly average, with the most recent issue selling 478,900 copies.
After making a brief cameo in X-Men Prime (which was retroactively revealed not to even be him), Onslaught is referred to by name for the first time in this issue. Since the payoff to this storyline is something fans still complain about, it’s hard to get too worked up by any of this. I do remember reading this issue for the first time and being intrigued, but I had already been burned by so many dropped storylines I wasn’t holding out a lot of hope for the mystery’s resolution. Introducing your new villain by having him knock out the X-Men’s strongest physical foe makes a dramatic statement, but even at fifteen it seemed like lazy writing to me. Not only is Juggernaut, whose physical prowess had been firmly established since the mid-60s, cheapened by this stunt, but you’re also setting up expectations for the new villain so high it’s virtually impossible to meet them. Plus, Onslaught’s actions are already pretty nonsensical. Juggernaut was traveling to America to warn the X-Men about Onslaught…so Onslaught punched him so hard he landed right next to them outside of a movie theater in New Jersey? What part of that makes any sense?
Looking at the rest of the issue, it actually has its moments. I like seeing Jean Grey’s father again, even if she’s certainly waited a long time to confirm her sister’s death (another story that didn’t make a lot of sense). Lobdell does handle the emotional aspect of the scene pretty well, though. The X-Men spend way too much time just interacting with one another, so it’s nice to see one of their family members again. Intercutting the quiet moments with the Juggernaut’s fight scene is a nice way to balance the issue. It provides a break from the strictly talkative issues, creating a mix of action and characterization. Tom Grummett also does a very good job with this issue, handling the conversation scenes and the action equally well. I wish he had been used on the books more than most of the other routine fill-in guys. Really, it’s the stink of Onslaught that drags the whole thing down. The issue would’ve been perfectly okay without it.