Wednesday, August 20, 2008

X-MEN #44 – September 1995

Lost and Found

Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Kevin Somers & Digital Chamelon (colors)


Summary

Professor Xavier continues to search for Cyclops and Phoenix, but can’t find them due to a disruption in the psionic plane. Bishop sends a message, saying that Phoenix and Skids have landed in Madagascar and that Psylocke is taking them home. In the Australian Outback, Cyclops is guiding the surviving Acolytes to safety. Most of the Acolytes fall in line with Cyclops, realizing that Avalon is destroyed and Exodus is probably dead. After days of searching, Cyclops leads the Acolytes to a ghost town, which once served as home to the X-Men. Phoenix arrives at the mansion and is also unable to locate Cyclops. Xavier asks Amelia Voght to turn his body into mist so that he can become pure psionic energy. She reluctantly agrees, but a powerful force pulls Xavier out of the psionic plane soon after his search begins. Using the communication systems inside the Australian town, Cyclops contacts Xavier and gives him their location. Xavier asks Voght not to leave, but she refuses. Meanwhile, Colossus lands in Antarctica, but Magneto is nowhere to be found. He’s rescued by a woman in an armored suit, who reveals herself to be Callisto.


Continuity Notes

The surviving Acolytes are Voght, Cargill, Scanner, Unuscione, and the Kleinstock brothers. The group was later resurrected with more members, but I don’t think a definite death tally for Holocaust’s attack was ever given. What exactly happened to Magneto after Avalon’s destruction isn’t fully resolved until years later in 1999’s “Magneto War” storyline.


Colossus was understandably wearing his Acolyte uniform in the previous two issues, but he emerges from the escape pod wearing his classic X-Men uniform (complete with a giant "X" belt buckle).


Xavier reveals that Amelia Voght’s natural form is her mist state, and that she has to concentrate to stay solid. He says that her fear of losing her humanity is what lead Voght to avoid her mutant responsibilities.


Callisto tells Colossus that she’s aged “give or take a decade”, which is a reference to the way time moves in the dimension the Morlocks were sent to (this is elaborated on in future issues of Uncanny). The story mentions that they were once lovers, which happened when Colossus had amnesia and Callisto was transformed into a beautiful model by Masque in the later Claremont years.


The powerful force interfering with the psionic plane is supposed to be Onslaught. Cyclops says that the Australian base has been used recently, which is supposed to be another Onslaught hint. The ghost town in the Outback is the former home of the Reavers, which was taken over by the X-Men after the “Fall of the Mutants” storyline.


“Huh?” Moment

While searching for Cyclops and Phoenix early in the issue, Xavier says that he can’t use Cerebro because it was destroyed during the Phalanx’s attack. A few pages later, Phoenix is searching for Cyclops with…Cerebro. She mentions that its “datacore” is down, but that’s obviously not stopping her from using it.


Review

I remember mostly enjoying this storyline when I first read it, and it holds up pretty well. This issue’s story is a cheap resolution to last issue’s cliffhanger, which had Cyclops possibly burning up in re-entry (“cheap” as in, totally ignores it), but I was willing to forgive that back then, and I'm willing to live with it today. Cyclops is allowed to be a competent, brave leader who does more than mope around, which is a nice change of pace. I’m trying to think of instances of Cyclops acting as a truly capable leader in the previous Nicieza issues, and I honestly can’t come up with any. It seems like Nicieza mostly focused on giving him character-driven subplots while rarely showing him out in the field with the X-Men. It’s also nice to see the Acolytes showing hints of a personality and being portrayed as more than just mindless fanatics.


I’ve always enjoyed stories that split the cast up in different areas of the globe (probably because some of the earliest UXM issues I read were after the X-Men were separated in the later Claremont/Silvestri issues), and reviving the Australian base is a nice nod to an era of the X-Men’s history that’s often ignored. The idea that Xavier could somehow turn into “pure psionic energy” with Voght’s powers is silly pseudo-science that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I do like Nicieza’s portrayal of Voght in this issue. It makes sense that many mutants would choose to divorce themselves from any hero/villain conflicts, and he’s able to give Voght a reasonable justification for her lack of commitment to any cause. Andy Kubert returns as artist, which thrilled me as a teen since I was becoming a huge fan of his work and wasn’t willing to give Smith a chance. It’s probably his best-looking issue, with admirable “color art” that still holds up today.

4 comments:

Jeff said...

Yeah, this is just a fun little issue. Some of the little stuff doesn't work if you think about it too hard, but it's full of moments that are just about right. The X-Men are proactive, optimistic and their characterization reminds me of the old days. It's fun to see the X-Men all over the globe getting into adventures as opposed to just moping about soap opera crap around New York. Even Callisto seems to be more chipper than her usual self. And Kubert's artwork is really good.

wwk5d said...

Too bad Nicieza left just as he was hitting his stride. His work on X-men, imo, wasn't as good as he was doing on X-force, especially the post # 25 issues of X-force.

rob said...

There are some cheap resolutions here (Jean and Skids' dramatic cliffhanger leads into an off-panel rescue), but the issue is still good. Vought is a character with huge potential that I would love to see have a bigger role in the X-books, and it's always nice to see her get the spotlight.I love Kubert's art too, especially in the Antarctic scenes. But the dangling plot threads begin. It's never definitively stated who was at the Australian base, and it becomes one of many ignored plot threads.

Scott Church said...

I remember when Wizard first announced that Paul Smith was coming back to X-Men after doing it in the 80's and such. I was really happy cause at the time I only had one or two of his issues, I was not impressed at this time seeing it in the newer issues though. Lookign back I love his art, but was glad to have the Kubert back

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