Tuesday, October 7, 2008

UNCANNY X-MEN #328 – January 1996

Precipice

Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Tim Townsend (inker), Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)


Summary

Phoenix performs a psi-scan on Sabretooth and learns that he mentally interpreted the holographic forest in the Danger Room as graphic depictions of animals killing each other. Professor Xavier confronts Sabretooth and sees that his old personality has emerged. Feeling that he’s done everything he can, Xavier contacts Valerie Cooper and arranges for him to be taken into federal custody. After he leaves, Boomer confronts Sabretooth about lying to her. He taunts her until she launches her time bombs at him. The explosion inadvertently frees him from his shackles. Psylocke rushes to save her, but learns that Sabretooth’s brain damage has erased the effect of her psychic “glow”. He nearly eviscerates Psylocke and then escapes.


Continuity Notes

Bishop is still struggling with his memories of the Age of Apocalypse. Cyclops theorizes that he and Phoenix had an easier time dealing with “time compression” after their time in future because of their psychic bond with one another. This is treated as if it’s going to be an important storyline, but it’s soon forgotten about.


Sabretooth claims that Cannonball wouldn’t love Boomer if he knew “what you used to be”. This ties in to issues of X-Force from around this time that imply that she might've been a prostitute, if I recall correctly.


Review

Now, over two years after it began, the “Sabretooth lives with the X-Men” storyline ends. I remember really liking Madureira’s art when I first read this issue, but hating the story because it was such a cheat. After months of acting like a wounded animal, the real Sabretooth is back with no explanation. I would have an easier time buying this issue’s assertion that he was faking the whole time, if there hadn’t been a recent issue of Wolverine which showed that he really had been lobotomized, and if the third-person narrative captions in several other issues hadn’t claimed that he was truly changed. It’s possible that his healing factor healed his brain damage and that his personality began to secretly reemerge over the weeks, and that might even be what the creators intended, but it’s not clear at all here. It reads like someone at Marvel just decided that they liked Sabretooth better the other way, so he suddenly changes back in this issue. Outside of the aforementioned Wolverine issue, which briefly played up the irony that Sabretooth was now a domesticated housecat while Wolverine was growing nastier and alienating his friends, I really have no idea what the point of the “tame Sabretooth” arc was even supposed to be. It seems like it was an idea thrown out as shock value after the books returned from the AoA that just stuck around for a few months because no one knew where to go with it. Judged on its own, this issue does have a few decent moments. Lobdell is able to portray Xavier’s disappointment over his failure effectively, and he handles Sabretooth’s malicious dialogue pretty well. Like I mentioned earlier, Madureira’s artwork is very impressive for most of the issue, even though the first half of the story is packed with so many splash pages and giant panels, the Psyclocke fight gets cramped into a lot of tiny panels towards the end. As the conclusion to a long-running storyline, though, it’s an awkward finale that doesn’t even mesh with the issues published just a few weeks earlier. Unfortunately, this type of scattershot storytelling will continue throughout the post-AoA era.

5 comments:

Arvin Bautista said...

The thing that bugged me about this issue was that the cover insisted that I looked forward to a Psylocke-Sabretooth showdown most of all, when there hadn't been too many scenes with the two of them that would justify Psylocke versus Sabretooth versus any of the other team members (including Gambit or Jean, or, of course, Boomer herself). I did, however, like the eventual carnage Sabertooth did, because it seemed somewhat permanent, including Warren's wings getting shattered.

wwk5d said...

I think it was supposed to hark back to the issue where Psylocke joined the X-men, in # 213, where she held off Sabretooth until the rest of the X-men were able to arrive. It is a week link, though, and it seems it was just a set-up the Crimson Dawn story, which also ended up ruining her character.

Plus, there was a chance for a good story for Psylocke that they botched. Earlier, especially in the late Claremont era, he had some stuff where Betsy was questioning herself with regards to how she fought her opponents. She questioned why, after her transformation into a ninja, she would engage her opponents directly when she could fight them at a much safer distance using her telepathy. This issue was just written badly. Why would she engage Sabretooth? Why didn't she use her telepathy to cut off Boomer's powers or knock her out? Why didn't she call out to the rest of the X-men that something was wrong? It's just bad, sloppy writing, to ensure we get from point A to point B.

In hindsight, this was a really bad issue. Had they followed up on Psylocke dealing with her bad decisons would have been a good link to some of the stuff Claremont did earlier, and also dealt with Betsy's possible insecurities (being a telepath on a team with a much more skilled telepath who is also a powerful telekinetic as well). But with no follow-up or mention, it was just a bad issue overall, and the beginning of some crap stories for Psylocke...

rob said...

Part of my disappointment as a kid was that X-Men#47 ended with this really ominous hook, of Xavier calling Boomer in to discuss his solution to the Sabretooth problem ... then it ends here with possibly the most bland solution, just carting him off to the government. And him reverting to his old personality out of nowhere was equally disappointing. Joe Mad's art is excellent here and I agree that Xavier's portrayal is good, but it's a flawed story besides that.

Seangreyson said...

I do agree with all the comments here. This issue was weak. However I do still enjoy the one-shot follow up to this story (the Sabretooth one shot).

So as a set up for that one...no this one still sucks.

sixhoursoflucy said...

This issue proves that Psylocke was always cooler as an uptight British telepath than she ever was as a baditude-infused ninja lady.

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