Monday, March 31, 2008

THE ADVENTURES OF CYCLOPS & PHOENIX #1 –May 1994


“Wish You Were Here!”
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Gene Ha (penciler), Al Vey (inker), Kevin Somers (colorist), Starkings/Comicraft (lettering)


Summary
Two thousand years in the future, Cyclops and Jean Grey awaken in human bodies, inside the “Askani Cloisters”, the headquarters of the future religious order. Apocalypse’s soldiers are destroying the monastery, when they’re attacked by Mother Askani, Rachel Summers. Ch’vayre, one of Apocalypse’s men, places the weakened Rachel inside a psionic cocoon. Jean tries to rescue her but realizes that she doesn’t have any mutant powers. Cyclops uses a gun taken from the body of a soldier to blast Ch’vayre. While escaping, Rachel explains that Apocalypse has been burning through the bodies he inhabits at an increasing rate in recent years. He ordered an attack on the Askani, hoping to kidnap Nathan Summers and use his powerful mutant body as his new shell. The healthy clone of Nathan was kidnapped by Apocalypse’s men, while the synthetic robot Boak escaped with the infected Nathan. Rachel tells Cyclops and Jean that she arranged to have their consciousnesses sent into the future to raise Nathan and overthrow Apocalypse. Using remnants of the Phoenix Force, Rachel gives their human bodies (cloned from DNA remains of their descendents) powers that closely resemble the ones they had in their original bodies. Ch’vayre reappears with more soldiers, claiming that Apocalypse’s men have taken Nathan from Boak. They offer Rachel in exchange for baby Nathan. Cyclops and Jean use their powers to flood the chamber and escape with Nathan. They reach safety, but discover that Rachel is in a coma.


Gimmicks
Every issue of this miniseries has a cardstock cover and glossy paper.


Continuity Notes
The events of this story take place shortly after the future scenes in Cable #8. Young Nathan Summers was infected with the transmode virus and sent to the future in X-Factor #68, a story that was referenced endlessly after Cable was revealed to be a grown-up Nathan.


Despite the title of the mini, Jean doesn't take the codename "Phoenix" in this issue.


I believe that the idea that Apocalypse inhabits different bodies is introduced for the first time in this issue. There are some diehard X-fans who have always hated this idea, thinking that it cheapens the character somehow. Rachel explains that Apocalypse is currently residing in a woman’s body.


Rachel arrived in this timeline “almost a hundred years ago” after taking Captain Britain’s place in the timestream in Excalibur #75. How exactly Rachel ended up in a specific time period when Captain Britain seemed to be in-between all time isn’t explained. Rachel says that the Phoenix Force left her eighty years ago to presumably search for a younger host, although she claims that she still has a residue of the force. Since Rachel was in her late teens/early twenties when she arrived in this time a hundred years ago, and the Phoenix Force left eighty years ago, that means that Rachel was only in her forties when it considered her body too “old and fragile” (the Phoenix Force must be the Donald Trump of cosmic entities). Alan Davis established in Excalibur #64 that the Phoenix Force was no longer inside of Rachel’s body, but that Rachel was tapping into its power (I’m still not entirely sure what difference this makes, and it’s hard to say if this issue contradicts that story).


Apocalypse has taken over in this time period, broadening the term “human” to mean anyone weaker than the strongest mutant caste. A century before Apocalypse took over, Rachel says that the world experienced racial harmony during the “Age of Xavier”. Apocalypse took advantage of the long period of peacetime to begin his war. Rachel formed Clan Askani, which means “family of outsiders”, to oppose him. Later, Ch’vayre brags that the Askani have fallen, just like the “Xavier Collective”, “The Scions of Genetics”, and the “X.S.E.” before them. The X.S.E. are the future mutant police force Bishop belonged to. This is the first indication that Bishop and Cable might be from the same timeline, or very similar ones.


Review
This is the start of a special format miniseries, presumably designed to fill in some of the gaps in Cable’s history and give him a stronger connection to Scott and Jean. It cost twice what Marvel’s standard line cost at the time, without any extra content, just better paper quality. Imagine Marvel selling a comic with twenty-two pages of content for $6.00 an issue today (I haven’t seen an Ultimate comic in years, but if they still have cardstock covers, they have the same production values as this series). I resented having to pay such an inflated cover price as a kid, but what was I supposed to do? The cover clearly says “An X-Men Book”, so I was obligated by my internal completist to buy this thing (“An X-Men Book” is probably the dullest description of a comic ever, by the way. It’s not even “An X-Men Event”; it’s just “An X-Men Book”). I wonder if similar branding would have helped short-lived spinoffs like District X and Jubilee in recent years.


I’ve never really liked it when the X-books go deep into science fiction territory, and that’s what we have here. All of the Starjammers and Shi’ar material can be fun in a “what if the X-Men starred in Star Wars?” way, but it gets old quickly. The sci-fi setting presented here, however, isn’t any fun at all and just comes across as “Days of Future Past” set so far in the future, it might as well take place on an alien planet. A character goes from being called “Rachel Summers” to the ridiculous “Mother Askani”, and the villains have unpronounceable names I hate typing out like “Ch’vayre”. Gene Ha designs a future landscape that doesn’t do much for me, but I can live with it. The future clothing and technology, however, are really just ugly. There’s a lot of bulky body armor, giant shoulder pads, and overly complicated weapons that just look awful. Ha seems to be basing the future gear on the weapons and clothing Liefeld gave Cable, which means we’re getting a mix of Ha and Liefeld, something I know I never wanted to see (check out that gun on the cover for an example of what I’m talking about).


The main appeal of this mini for longtime fans is seeing Scott and Jean in their own series for the first time. Lobdell does handle their characterizations well enough, but so far it doesn’t feel like a story that’s actually about the characters. Connecting Scott and Jean to their two time-displaced children isn’t a bad idea, but placing the characters so far into the future and in different bodies takes them too far away from how the audience is used to seeing them. It seems like the story has to go though all of these hoops to reunite the pair with Nathan only because Cable’s backstory was just made up as the creators went along. There’s more time spent on establishing the location of the story than on focusing on the title characters, which feels wrong. Knowing that the events of this miniseries were just ignored as soon as it was over probably prejudices me towards viewing all of it as pointless cash grab. I think the first slump after the ‘90s speculation boom came in summer 1994, which means this miniseries was lucky to slip in while the money was still around.

UNCANNY X-MEN #312 – May 1994


Romp
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Green/Candelario (inkers), Chris Eliopoulos (letterers), Steve Buccellato (colorist)


Summary
The Phalanx chases Storm and Yukio through Manhattan, seriously injuring Yukio in Times Square. After Storm fails to save an interfering civilian from the Phalanx, she tries freezing it, causing parts of it to shatter. Gambit arrives on his motorcycle, crashing it into the Phalanx. It tries to assimilate the motorcycle to gain more mass, but Gambit throws a charged playing card at it, igniting the motorcycle’s gasoline. Storm, Gambit, and Yukio escape the explosion, but Storm can barely continue. While recovering at the Sea, Air, and Space museum, a woman claiming to be from the National Security Council arrives. The X-Men soon learn that she is also a part of the Phalanx, as more reinforcements arrive. Meanwhile, Beast revives Iceman at the mansion, but Xavier suspects that Emma Frost might be involved with his condition.


Continuity Notes
This is the first full appearance of the Phalanx, techno-organic villains inspired by the Warlock and Magnus characters from New Mutants.


Yukio reveals that she’s a member of Xavier’s Mutant Underground, his group of humans secretly working to help mutants. She also reveals that she knows Gambit from a past encounter in Milan and suspects that he will betray the X-Men. The Phalanx claims that Gambit is wanted by Interpol.


Review
Joe Madureira debuts as the new artist with this issue (although the letters page only lists him as a guest artist). Madureira’s run on UXM will lead off the 1990’s second wave of cartoonish style art in superhero comics, culminating in the abortive Cliffhanger line. By the time the new decade began, guys like Ed McGuinnes and Mike Wieringo were drawing the Superman books. It wouldn’t last, though, as most editors embraced a more photorealistic look as the decade went on (and, for some reason, DC editors became enamored with Image’s look circa 1996). Madureira has a more blatant anime/manga influence than the popular artists before him, which will only get stronger as his run progresses. I liked his stuff as a teenager, and most of it still holds up. There’s a lot of energy on the pages, without a lot of the ugly crosshatching and scowling faces that were popular at the time. He’s one of the few artists who can pull off the Sienkiewicz-inspired Phalanx look, which is impressive when you consider that this is one of his first comics jobs (I think he was only twenty when he drew this).


This is an all-action issue, as Lobdell tries his best to sell the Phalanx as a major villain. It (or they) seems impressive in this issue, but by the time the Phalanx show up in the next crossover, I was already sick of it (them?). Lobdell captures the feeling of a non-stop action movie pretty well, and Madureira’s art makes it seem as if this an X-Men anime that should’ve been made but wasn’t. Lobdell’s characterizations for Storm and Gambit work, but for some reason he seems to think that Yukio is some sort of valley girl. After a string of mostly quiet issues, and one issue based mainly on suspense but not action, this is a nice change of pace.

Friday, March 28, 2008

X-MEN #32 – May 1994


Soul Possessions Part Two: The Leopards and the Cats
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Kevin Somers/Digital Chameleon (colorist)


Summary
Psylocke attacks Spiral, demanding that she explain her connection to Kwannon. The other X-Men join the attack, but Spiral isn’t interested in fighting. As she teleports away, she tells Psylocke to use “all of the eyes” she’s been given to see the truth. Psylocke reveals to the X-Men the bionic eyes Mojo implanted into her original body. Beast and Banshee set up a means to view the transmissions from her eyes. Going back to the day Matsuo discovered her original body, they witness Matsuo making a deal with the Mandarin to use The Hand's science and the power of his rings to place Kwannon’s mind in Psylocke’s amnesiac body, in exchange for Mandarin receiving Kwannon’s body as a telepathic assassin. Spiral was hired to heal Kwannon’s body in preparation for the transfer. In order to make “the game” more interesting, Spiral tells Nyoirin that Kwannon’s soul is inside Psylocke’s original body, causing him to steal her away. Back in the present, Psylocke travels to Japan to learn more from Nyoirin, but discovers that Matsuo has already killed him. Matsuo tells her that Nyoirin lied to Revanche about her past in order to mold her into what he always wanted. Nyoirin sent Revanche to join the X-Men in order to kill Wolverine and Psylocke for foiling the plans of his ally, the Mandarin, months earlier. Revanche came to respect the X-Men and wouldn’t go through with it. Matsuo uses the “imprinted telepathic energy” Revanche left him before she died to take back any trace of Kwannon’s memories from Psylocke’s soul. He then attempts to kill himself in order to join Kwannon, but Psylocke talks him out of it. Back home, Psylocke tosses her bionic eyes into a lake and walks away with Archangel.


Continuity Notes
The Mandarin, as you probably know, is Iron Man’s archenemy and the foe Wolverine faced in the “Lady Mandarin” storyline (Uncanny X-Men’s part in the “Acts of Vengeance” crossover). I’m no expert on Iron Man continuity, so I’m not sure how Mandarin’s rings could help to transfer one person’s consciousness to another’s body.


According to Beast, Psylocke’s first trip through the Siege Perilous (which left the X-Men invisible to electronic equipment), prevented the transmission from her bionic eyes from going through to Mojo, but the optic sensors still kept recording.


Kwannon and Psylocke have “crossed-biological traits” because Spiral manipulated their genetic coding, according to Beast. This is meant to explain why Psylocke was still able to use her original powers in her new body, and why she possessed some elements of Kwannon’s memory and personality. Matuso says in the flashback that Kwannon has “low-level telepathic abilities” that will enable her mind to survive the body transfer.


Matsuo tells Psylocke that Revanche was a “confused creature of anger, discomfited in the use of her newfound telepathic powers”, causing her to project her confusion and anger on to the X-Men, leading them to react in kind. I assume that this is meant to explain why the X-Men never noticed the contradictions in her story, and why they were so quick to suspect Psylocke in X-Men #21.


In this issue’s flashback, Matsuo knows from the beginning that Kwannon’s mind will be placed in Psylocke’s body. In the previous issue, he told Revanche that he didn’t realize at first that Kwannon was in a different body. Psylocke’s role in Matsuo’s plan in the last issue was to use her telepathic powers to heal Kwannon’s brain damage. Also in the last issue, Matsuo says that Spiral switched their minds as a cruel prank, but in this issue the mind swap was always a part of his plan.


This issue reveals that Nyoirin was allies with the Mandarin, and that he sent Revanche to kill Wolverine and Psylocke for defeating him during the “Lady Mandarin” storyline. Mandarin was aligned with The Hand during that story. Shortly before Kwannon’s mind was placed in Psylocke’s body, The Hand wanted Nyoirin dead for coming into conflict with their interests, as revealed last issue. So…Mandarin is aligned with both The Hand and Nyoirin, yet The Hand wanted Nyoirin dead. I can only assume that The Hand’s feud with Nyoirin ended at some point (maybe Matsuo dropped the feud after Nyoirin gave him Kwannon’s body?).


“Huh?” Moments
Even after Beast watches the Mandarin tell Matsuo “you wish to use the power of my rings, in conjunction with your sciences” to put Kwannon’s mind into Psylocke’s body, he still says “Spiral more than switched (Psylocke and Kwannon's) minds…”. It's as if he's reacting to a different explanation for the mind swap (more on this later).

Beast theorizes that Spiral agreed to Matsuo’s request because her master Mojo wouldn’t have received any “entertainment value” from the amnesiac Psylocke who emerged from the Siege Perilous. Since, as Beast has already pointed out, Psylocke and the X-Men were invisible to electronic scanners and her bionic eyes weren’t transmitting anything to Mojo anyway, this explanation doesn’t really make sense.


Commercial Break
There’s an eight-page insert on glossy paper for the “Marvel Mart”, which looks like an early attempt by Marvel to skip retailers and sell directly to fans (it didn’t exactly work out very well). A lot of it looks like Marvel’s trying to dump unsold 2099 and Midnight Sons comics at cover price.


Review
This is the second part of the Kwannon/Revanche continuity patch, designed to give the final answers and resolve any remaining contradictions from the previous Psylocke storylines. Unfortunately, it creates a few more errors, contradicting the events of just the previous issue. I wonder if there were multiple drafts of this storyline, and conflicting elements from different drafts ended up being published without anyone noticing. It seems like the original idea (as stated last issue) was that Matsuo used Psylocke’s telepathic powers to heal Kwannon’s brain damage, but Spiral switched their minds (without Matsuo’s knowledge) while healing Kwannon’s body. In this issue, Matsuo wants the body swap from the beginning in order to save Kwannon’s mind from her dying body and place it inside Psylocke’s “empty shell” (he doesn’t mention Kwannon’s brain damage at all, although I guess it’s possible that Psylocke was already coerced into fixing it). This introduces another element that doesn’t work -- if Kwannon’s body can be repaired enough to become the Mandarin’s assassin, why is Matsuo swapping bodies in the first place? If the idea is that placing Kwannon’s mind inside Psylocke’s body is actually Matsuo’s plan to heal her brain damage, that’s not explained clearly at all. All that’s been said previously was that Psylocke’s telepathic powers would be used to cure the brain damage; if this implied actually putting Kwannon’s consciousness inside Psylocke’s telepathic body to heal the brain damage, I never picked up on that. The story also alternates between Spiral’s role in the body swap, as some scenes just say that she healed Kwannon’s body and that The Hand with Mandarin did the body swap, while other scenes give her credit for both. There must be some curse on these issues that keeps them from making any real sense. I’m not trying to be unnecessarily harsh, because I usually do like Nicieza’s work, but plowing through all of this is really a chore.


One element where this issue exceeds the previous one is the emotional drama, which Nicieza handles well. Last issue, Matsuo’s relationship with Kwannon seemed extremely unnatural due to their ridiculous dialogue, but his feelings for her seem more real and believable here. The final scene between Psylocke and Matsuo isn’t bad, even if Psylocke telling him that she senses something good inside of him, after discovering the body he just killed, is a little much (and yeah, I know Nyoirin was an evil crimelord who probably deserved it, but it still struck me as funny). The Archangel/Psylocke relationship continues to advance, with Archangel telling Psylocke that he came out of his experience with Apocalypse as a better person, just as she’s growing now. The relationship still doesn’t really work for me, as it seems as if their connection to each another is defined by the things that other people have done to them, rather than any real affection for one another. Although, really, I guess their relationship isn’t more of a stretch than most of the others we see in superhero comics. It’s also a well-drawn issue, with improved acting by Kubert and some cool compositions (although he gives Psylocke an inhumanly small waist for most of the issue). The digital coloring is also improving, losing a lot of the garish effects from last issue.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

UNCANNY X-MEN #311 – April 1994


Putting the Cat Out
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), John Romita, Jr. (penciler), Dan Green/Al Vey (inkers), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Steve Buccelato/Marie Javins (colorists)

Summary
While working on the mansion’s Shi’ar energy core, Beast accidentally causes a power surge that cuts off the mansion’s power, allowing Sabretooth to escape his cell. He quickly captures Jubilee, but Bishop is able to stop him before he does any serious harm. Bishop chases Sabretooth through the underground tunnels beneath the mansion, where they fight to a standstill. Jubilee finds a taser in an emergency locker and attacks Sabretooth from behind, knocking him unconscious. During the power surge, Iceman was caught in the feedback while trying to protect Emma Frost. Beast asks Bishop and Jubilee to check on him because he isn’t responding. Meanwhile, Storm meets Yukio at a New York nightclub. The Phalanx have been trailing Yukio, who has accidentally lead them to Storm.

Continuity Notes
Beast claims that he developed large feet and hands at age thirteen, while previous issues show that he was born with the large appendages.
Yukio is Storm’s friend from the Claremont/Smith issues.

Review
This is a mostly self-contained issue that sets the stage for two upcoming storylines. I like the way Lobdell structured this story, as the main story actually gets resolved but there are still plot threads to keep you interested in the next issue. It’s well suited for Romita, who does a great job with the big explosions and action. He does one of the best renditions of Sabretooth ever, and even makes Bishop’s crazy mullet look less embarrassing. I also like Romita’s version of Beast a lot; I wish he could’ve done more with the character. This turns out to be Romita’s last issue of the book, as Joe Madureira takes over with the next issue. I vaguely remember Romita claiming in a Wizard issue that he took time off from UXM to draw the Punisher/Batman crossover. When he was finished, someone else had his job. I know that he turned up on the Spider-Man books during the end of the Clone Saga, but don’t know what he drew in the months in-between (maybe he finished the Man Without Fear mini?).

Jubilee and Bishop, two of the most ridiculed X-Men, are handled pretty well in this issue. I like the fact that the X-Men had a member too young to drive who pestered the other team members to take her to the movies. Lobdell treats Jubilee’s reaction to Sabretooth’s attack, sheer terror, very realistically, which also helps to make her more sympathetic. Romita’s probably the first artist to make Bishop not look so ridiculous, but it’s hard to say how he pulled it off. He doesn’t give him pupils for the entire issue, and bulks up his frame a decent amount. These are two clichéd ‘90s elements that looked terrible when other artists tried them, but for some reason Romita pulls it off with Bishop. Lobdell makes Bishop more likable in this issue, by having him mourn his lost sister, comfort Jubilee, and abide by the X-Men’s no-killing stance, even if it goes against his own training. It seems like Lobdell wanted to take Bishop away from the stereotypical “gun toting psychopath” characterization early on, and I can some potential as a character here. Unfortunately, it just seems as if Bishop lost anything resembling a personality as the ‘90s wore on.

WOLVERINE #80 – April 1994


…In the Forest of the Night!
Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Ian Churchill (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Pat Brosseau (letters) Kevin Somers (colors)

Summary
Cyber escapes from an ambulance and continues to chase Wolverine. Wolverine, still recovering from his fight with Cyber, tries to ease the pain with whiskey at a pub. When that doesn’t work, he accepts Zoe Culloden’s offer to help. While on their way to Muir Island, Culloden shows Wolverine a video of Dr. Jaime Munoz, a molecular biologist who has been studying tissue samples of Wolverine left over from the Weapon X project. Munoz thinks that it’s possible to replicate Wolverine’s self-regenerating tissue and develop an adamantium bonding process. He asks the “Logan X” subject to come forward because he’s found a harmful defect in his DNA. Cyber finds Wolverine, and the two fight on the highway. After burning Cyber with gasoline and a light flare, Wolverine and Culloden catch the ferry to Muir Island. Meanwhile in Canada, Bloodscream revives himself and drains life away from two tourists.

Continuity Notes
Dr. Munoz’s reference to a defect in Wolverine’s DNA might be a reference to the upcoming “feral Wolverine” storyline (which unfortunately led to the “Scooby Doo Wolverine” era).

Review
It’s another fight issue with Cyber, which isn’t even through yet as it goes into the next issue. It’s a more interesting read than the last issue, but it suffers from Adam Kubert’s absence. Hama’s interpretation of Cyber is at least more interesting now, as he seems to just embrace the character’s insanity (“I can see miles and miles down that Electric Highway, Wolverine…my eyes are like lasers and I can see your thought waves like phosphorescent fish on a neon ocean!”). Wolverine’s characterization continues to emphasize how weak and broken he’s supposed to be during this time, which is surprising to me. I had forgotten how far Hama had taken this. I wonder if Marvel today would be willing to show their perennial tough guy character in such a state for so many issues. The conversation between Zoe Culloden and a frail Wolverine at the pub is nice, but I wish it wasn’t so short.

Hama again tries to apply some realism to the book by introducing Dr. Jaime Munoz to offer a scientific justification for the adamantium bonding process. Realistically, the experiments done on Wolverine probably wouldn’t be hidden forever, and the process of bonding metal to bone would be of great interest to scientists. It seems strange to see the idea brought up in a superhero comic, though, because I don’t see the story really going anywhere (is Marvel really going to do a story about adamantium being used to cure osteoporosis?). I guess it does help to bring the X-books back to something closer to the real world, which the books started to abandon once the X-Men embraced holograms and Shi’ar technology.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

X-MEN #31 – April 1994


Soul Possessions Part One: The Butterfly and the Hawk
Credits: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Matt Ryan (inker), Lovern/Digital Chameleon (colors), Bill Oakley (letterer)


Summary
Matsuo Tsurayaba reflects on his past relationship with Kwannon. He served The Hand, while she served crime boss Nyoirin. When Nyoirin came into conflict with The Hand, Matsuo was sent to kill him. Kwannon tried to stop him, but fell from the high cliffs around Nyoirin’s estate into the sea during their battle. Nyoirin, also in love with Kwannon, gave permission to Matsuo to take her away and have The Hand heal her. The Hand, with Spiral’s help, healed her body, but her brain was damaged due to oxygen deprivation. In the present day at the X-Men’s mansion, Revanche removes her bionic eyes and leaves a letter to Professor Xavier. The Legacy Virus has increased her telepathic powers, enabling her to learn the truth about her past. She leaves the eyes with Psylocke and goes to Japan. She soon confronts Matsuo, her former lover when she was in Kwannon’s body. She wants him to explain the mind-switch between her and Psylocke. Matsuo reveals that after he discovered an amnesiac Psylocke, he planned to use her telepathic powers to repair Kwannon’s mind. However, he later discovered that Spiral switched Psylocke’s mind for Kwannon’s as a cruel joke. Matsuo hoped to mold Kwannon’s body into what Kwannon used to be, as Nyoirin took Psylocke’s original body. Revanche reveals to Matsuo that she has the Legacy Virus, and asks him for a clean death. Meanwhile, Psylocke reveals to Archangel that her original body had bionic eyes created by Mojo. As Revanche dies, Psylocke and Archangel feel her psychic pain, causing their car to crash. Suddenly, they’re confronted by Spiral.


Continuity Notes
I don’t even know where to start on this one. Psylocke’s eyes were originally gouged out by Slaymaster in the Marvel UK Captain Britain series. In her first American appearance, Mojo and Spiral replaced her eyes with bionic ones, in order to broadcast the X-Men’s adventures in Mojoverse. Mojo’s servant Spiral alters human bodies with her “Body Shoppe”.


Matsuo Tsurayaba discovered an amnesiac Psylocke in his first appearance. All of the X-Men who went through the Siege Perilous emerged nude with no memory of their previous life.


This issue confirms that Psylocke is now in Kwannon’s body, while Revanche is actually Kwannon in Psylocke’s original body.


Nyoirin’s diary, which claimed that Psylocke and Kwannon were both a mixture of one another, is revealed as a fake. Revanche claims that he created the lie to keep Matsuo away from her.


Professor Xavier asks Beast to replace Cyclops as leader of the X-Men’s blue team during his honeymoon, and to take over daily operations of the mansion. Xavier claims that he’s going to “make amends” for the actions he’s recently taken and can’t commit to the X-Men at this time. I can’t remember this going anywhere. Xavier also reveals that Emma Frost left her Massachusetts Academy to him in the event that she ever became incapacitated.


Rogue is beginning to behave in ways that remind Gambit of Bella Donna. Rogue absorbed her memories in the Gambit miniseries.


Creative Differences
Xavier’s revelation that Frost left the Massachusetts Academy to him has been re-lettered, leading me to believe that there might’ve been a different justification for Xavier taking over the school.


Production Note
This is the first issue of X-Men colored by Digital Chameleon, which drastically alters the look of the title. They show up on the X-books after doing computer coloring for Image in its infancy. I don’t know if this is significant or not, but Digital Chameleon is credited before the letterer, even though letterers were generally credited first during this time.


Review
Does anyone else have a headache now? Fabian Nicieza falls on his sword, sacrificing his intended storyline about the nature of identity in order to set right the continuity he unknowingly disrupted. Bringing back Spiral from Psylocke’s past at least helps to sell the illusion that all of this nonsense was planned all along, but it also adds more layers of continuity to an already confusing storyline. Referencing Psylocke’s bionic eyes (for probably the first time since 1986) is either an attempt to remind the reader of her repeated physical violations, or a way for Nicieza to show cynical readers that he’s done his homework and that this story won’t screw everything up again. I can’t begin to imagine this storyline being published by Marvel today. Marvel’s not as continuity-lax as they were during the early Quesada years (didn’t Leonard Sampson show up as an arms dealer or something?), but there’s still the attitude that continuity shouldn’t get in the way of a “good story”. So if Nicieza’s editor today felt that his original plans for Psylocke and Revanche were worth doing, the continuity issues would just be ignored. I’m still curious to know how this two-issue continuity patch came about. Did Bob Harras know that Nicieza’s original plans contradicted the details of the “Lady Mandarin” storyline (which he also edited)? Did he simply not care (which would go against executive editor Mark Gruenwald’s hard line pro-continuity stance)? Was it negative fan reaction that led to this “correction” storyline?


I tried to look at this issue as a story and not just a continuity patch, but it’s virtually impossible. Nicieza does try to tie all of the events to Matsuo’s love for Kwannon, but their ridiculous dialogue gets in the way (“Are you so elusive in spirit and form that you can’t allow yourself to be trapped in a portrait of who you are?”). Most of the story is made up of Matsuo’s flashbacks, which mainly serve to reconcile Nicieza’s previous story with the original storyline about Psylocke’s transformation. Unless you’re already fluent in late ‘80s X-Men continuity, I can’t imagine you’ll find this stuff really that interesting. Just like in Cable’s “Fathers and Sons” arc, Nicieza’s unwilling to give a straightforward flashback to set things right. The story jumps around between Matsuo remembering Kwannon, Spiral bragging about what she’s done, Revanche leaving the mansion, more flashbacks from Matsuo, unrelated subplot pages with other X-Men, Revanche confronting Matsuo, even more Matsuo flashbacks, Psylocke and Archangel developing their relationship, and a cliffhanger with Spiral. Not exactly the best way to resolve an already cluttered storyline. I will say that most of this didn’t bother me as a kid, mainly because I was so excited to get the “real answers” about Psylocke, the execution didn’t really matter.


I mentioned earlier the debut of Digital Chameleon at Marvel. When Image began, I didn’t understand why their production values were so much better than Marvel’s. Shouldn’t Spider-man and the X-Men look as good as this Spawn book? When a friend of mine bought this issue, he excitedly called me and said, “I got the new X-Men…and it looks like an Image comic!” The colors really impressed me as a kid, but they haven’t aged well. The flashback pages have a blurry filter, which is somewhat understandable, but even the present day scenes look out of focus. Way too many black lines are knocked out for no reason (including the detail lines on the inside of an apple), which gets distracting quickly. The earlier issues may have looked a little bland, but at least the colors weren’t so off-putting. These hyperactive computer effects thrilled me as a kid, though.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

X-FACTOR ANNUAL #9 – 1994


Contact
Credits: J. M. DeMatteis (writer), Matt Broome (penciler), Steve Moncuse & Terry Austin (inkers), Janice Chiang (letterer), Glynis Oliver (colorist)


Summary
Professor Xavier has a mental conversation with Haven. She tells him the story of her childhood, growing up privileged in India, sheltered from the poverty around her. Once she learned of other people’s suffering, she dedicated her life to helping the poor. She briefly lost track of her dream when she became involved with a strange man. Their short affair abruptly ended, reaffirming her commitment to her mission. Meanwhile, X-Factor is escorting a large canister, with Random along as hired help. The canister is revealed to Professor Power, who uses androids to free him and reunite his consciousness with his body. Professor Power blames Xavier for the death of his son, and wants to kill every mutant associated with Xavier so that he can feel the same pain. When he faces capture, Power uses the last of his energy and disappears. Haven continues to explain her motives to Xavier, but goes back into “oblivion” when he tries to probe her mind. In the “non-being”, Haven realizes that Xavier was able to reach the secret inside of her mind. Her affair left her pregnant, and the source of her powers, and the inner voice that guides her, is her fetus. The fetus is a conscious, powerful symbiote that will never be born. Realizing that Xavier poses the greatest threat to her cause, she reluctantly arranged for Professor Power’s release earlier that evening.


Continuity Notes
Professor Power previously appeared in Marvel Team-Up and Spectacular Spider-Man before finally showing up in an X-comic with this issue. Driven by his hatred of Xavier, Power’s consciousness inhabits the body of his dead mutant son. It’s not hard to figure out that he was created by J. M. DeMatteis.


This story takes place in-between the final pages of X-Factor #102.


I Love the ‘90s
Guido compares a hypothetical Hitler’s brain and Kennedy’s clone to “Shannon Doherty’s press agent”.


Commercial Break
There’s an ad for the kiddie film 3 Ninja Kick Back. I never actually watched any of the 3 Ninjas movies, but their mere existence angered me as a young teenager.


Review
It’s nice to read an annual that's more than just filler. DeMatteis, writing Haven for I believe the final time, finally establishes her origin. It was less than a year before her "mysterious origin" was resolved, which is admirable when you look at the other X-books of the era. The revelation that Haven was powered by symbiotic mutant fetus blew my mind as a kid, and it still stands out as bizarre. It’s Morrison-freaky years before Morrison came anywhere near the franchise. DeMatteis continues to focus on Haven’s sincere motives, and her reluctance to do what she thinks must be done. It’s a nice hook for a villain, and it’s a shame that she was just forgotten over the years (I vaguely remember her coming back in later X-Factor issues, but I purposely erased those memories years ago).


In order to introduce some action, DeMatteis revives his Professor Power character (who must’ve forgotten about his blood feud against Xavier over the years). I like the way the two storylines intersect at the end; after several pages of Haven expressing her admiration for Xavier and trying to win him over to her side, we see that she’s still willing to have him killed. I’ve mentioned before that Haven’s “burn the world in order to save it” philosophy is similar to Ra’s al Ghoul’s, and her admiration for Xavier in this issue reminds me of the relationship between Ra’s and Batman. You could view DeMatteis’ pairing of Haven with Xavier as a crass attempt to give his new character more cache, but I think that the two play off each other well, and their scenes together reinforce my belief that Haven had a lot of wasted potential. This issue also continually emphasizes the idea that Xavier is a deeply compassionate, caring man; an interpretation that I can’t reconcile with the more cynical take on the character we see today.


If anything holds this issue back, it’s Matt (or Mat?) Broome’s art. It’s not nearly as bad as his earlier X-Force fill-ins, but it’s still pretty awkward and crammed with That ‘90s Look. This is his last work for Marvel before going to Image. Terry Austin inks some of the pages, bringing up the quality a bit, reminding me of the work he did with another ‘90s guy, Brandon Peterson. Broome recently returned to comics with a totally different look, so I’ll give him credit for growing over the years.

Cleaning House
Credits: Matthew Friedman; Amy Meyer (Script), Kerry Gammill (Pencils), Hilary Barta (Inks), Ashley Posella (Colors), Richard Starkings (Letters)

Summary
Guido cleans up Madrox's room and reflects on the opportunities he had to help him in his final days.

Review
It's another story designed to sell the importance of Madrox's death. It's your typical annual back-up,and you've got to wonder why it took two people to write it. I like Gammill's art, and wish he had been used more often during this era. Why not have have Gammill draw the main story and give the new guy the short back-up?


Monday, March 24, 2008

X-FACTOR #102 – May 1994


The Polaris Plot!
Credits: J. M. DeMatteis (writer), Jan Duursema (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Richard Starkings (letterer), Mat Webb (colorist)


Summary
Wolfsbane and Guido spend time with Charles Xavier, Storm, and Moira McTaggert following Madrox’s funeral. Random arrives at X-Factor’s headquarters to lead Polaris to the government agency that hired him to kill her. He takes Forge and Polaris to their office where they find Crimson Commando, Avalanche, and the head of the agency, Colonel Malone. Forge decides that Malone won’t act in secrecy anymore and X-Factor attacks. When Forge captures Colonel Malone and threatens to expose him, he commits suicide. Another government official, Beatrice Conners, arrives. She orders Avalanche and Crimson Commando to stop fighting and explains “Project Polaris” to the team. The government wanted to use Polaris as a weapon against Magneto, but rather than recruiting her, Malone’s plan was to kidnap and brainwash her into service. Conners apologizes to Polaris and promises to cooperate in the Congressional investigation. Later, when Polaris boards a plane to find Havok, Conners is watching her. Conners is wearing the Malice choker.


Continuity Notes
Polaris was once possessed by Malice. Her victims always have a choker around their neck when they’re being possessed.


According to Polaris, Random has only killed three times, and only to save innocent lives. Later, Crimson Commando claims that Random’s powers only work against mutants.


Production Note
This is another issue of X-Factor that seems to alternate between hand lettering and computer lettering.


Review
Almost a year after it was introduced, the “shadowy government agency trying to kill Polaris” storyline is resolved. There’s not a lot of payoff, as it’s revealed that they never wanted to kill her in the first place -- they only wanted to use her as a weapon against a villain that had already been dispatched when most of the storyline was going on. There definitely seems to be some backtracking going on, as Random’s own thought balloons indicated that he was being hired to kill Polaris, plus the government agents sent after her implied the same thing. The inference that none of these people could actually kill her (or that Random wouldn’t actually pull the final trigger) is there, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why tell the agents to kill her in the first place if they only wanted to capture her? What if someone got lucky?


There’s also some backtracking going on with Random, as Polaris reveals that he’s only had three kills, and that all of them have been justified. It’s not hard to see that this is done to make him a more palatable member of the team. This issue also keeps pushing the idea that Random’s “tough guy” attitude is an act, with Polaris inviting him to join the team at the end of the issue. This is really a lot of effort going into a character originally intended just to be a parody. It’s especially odd to read these scenes and know that Random never even joined the team. This is an awkward issue in retrospect, since it doesn’t offer a satisfying conclusion to one storyline and develops another one that doesn’t go anywhere.

Friday, March 21, 2008

WOLVERINE #79 – March 1994


Cyber! Cyber! Burning Bright!
Credits: Larry Hama (writer), Adam Kubert (penciler), Mark Farmer & Mike Sellers (inkers), Pat Brosseau (lettering), Steve Buccellato (coloring)


Summary
At a Scottish bank, the Special Air Service attempts to arrest Wolverine. His identity has been assumed by Cyber, who has already robbed the bank. Landau, Luckman, and Lake agent Zoe Culloden prevents the authorities from arresting him. At Edinburgh University, Cyber demands to see a skeleton called the “William Burke relic”. Meanwhile, Zoe Culloden takes Wolverine upstairs where she suddenly attacks him. Culloden thinks that Wolverine killed her mentor, Mr. Chang, in Madripoor. Chang’s real murderer is Bloodscream, whose blood is still on Wolverine’s sword. He tells Culloden to examine the blood on his sword to vindicate him. Cyber suddenly appears, attacking Wolverine. In the course of the fight, Wolverine slashes Cyber’s face, and Cyber breaks the claws on Wolverine’s right hand. Wolverine is saved by Culloden when she drops a filing cabinet on Cyber. The two escape to Muir Island.


Miscellaneous Notes
Zoe Culloden says she was named after an “empress and a battle”. Zoe was the empress of the Byzantine Empire in the early 1000s. The Battle of Culloden occurred in Scotland in 1746.


William Burke was a serial killer in 19th century Scotland who murdered people and sold their bodies to scientific research.


The title of this issue, I guess only because it rhymes with “Cyber”, is a reference to William Blake’s poem “The Tyger”.


Review
When Wolverine’s bone claws were first introduced, one of the first questions asked by fans (after, “how could he possibly have bone claws?”) was “what happens if they break?” Hama gets the obvious out of the way and does that story just four issues later. Marvel’s obviously married to the idea of Wolverine having claws, so it’s not long before they grow back. Cyber is introduced into this series after several appearances in Marvel Comics Presents. There’s no background given on the character, which is a problem for anyone who didn’t read his initial appearances (like me). From what I can gather, he has metal arms and is crazy. I’m sure his MCP appearances had more depth than this, but that’s all we see in this issue.


There’s not a lot going for this issue outside of the fight between Wolverine and Cyber. Kubert experiments with quite a few page layouts that keep the fight interesting, and Hama gives Wolverine a few good lines. Zoe Culloden is given a pretty big introduction, but I don’t remember much coming from it. There’s a confusing sequence where Cyber demands to see a skeleton archived by a university. In Cyber’s fantasy, the skeleton is made of adamantium and wearing Wolverine’s costume. The skeleton only appears in one panel outside of Cyber’s delusion, and the art doesn’t make it clear if it’s supposed to be metal or not. I vaguely remember another storyline about Wolverine’s skeleton involving Elsie Dee and Albert, so this might be a tie-in to that. This scene, combined with Cyber’s nonexistent introduction, made me one confused kid.

X-FACTOR #101 – April 1994


Afterlives
Credits: J. M. DeMatteis (writer), Jan Duursema (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Richard Starkings & Jon Babcock (letterers), Glynis Oliver (colorist)


Summary
The members of X-Factor mourn the loss of Madrox. Havok, blaming himself for allowing Haven to “kill” Madrox, is the hardest hit. He skips the memorial service and goes to a diner. When the diner is robbed, he explodes in anger at the thief and blows out the building’s windows. Later that day, he finally visits Madrox’s grave. He asks Madrox to forgive him because he’ll never forgive himself. He tosses away his X-Factor membership card as he walks away.


Review
It’s yet another “quiet” issue, but unlike most of the others from this era, it does have a very brief action scene. It’s a nice character issue, as DeMatteis has the cast reflect on death and loss, while developing a character arc for Havok. Some of the scenes are a little cliché, but most of it works. It’s interesting that both Madrox and Illyana were considered expendable enough to be killed, but important enough to have entire issues dedicated to mourning their memory. That’s got to be an odd level of popularity.


Aside from building up the Legacy Virus storyline, DeMatteis uses Madrox’s death to turn the focus on Havok. He’s been the least developed since the David/Stroman relaunch began, mainly serving as the straight man for jokes or the generic team leader. David played with his insecurities about living up to his brother’s reputation briefly, but left before the storyline went anywhere. Now that one of his teammates is dead, Havok is given a credible reason to doubt himself, opening the door for the first storyline to really focus on his character. I don’t even remember how exactly Havok rejoined the team (I think Polaris just talked him into it), but at least there was an effort to go beyond shock value and explore the avenues created by Madrox's death.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

X-MEN UNLIMITED #4 – March 1994


Theories of Relativity
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Richard Bennett (penciler), Steve Moncuse (inker), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Glynis Oliver (colorist)


Summary
Mystique murders a General who has been providing support to the Friends of Humanity. Graydon Creed learns about the death on the same day a private detective confirms that Mystique is his mother, and that he has a half-brother. Forge asks Rogue and Nightcrawler to investigate the murder. They discover Mystique at the funeral, posing as a minister. She tries to detonate a bomb but Rogue and Nightcrawler stop her. Mystique tells Nightcrawler to “come home” and he’ll finally learn the answers about his parents. Nightcrawler travels with Rogue to the home where Mystique raised her. Graydon Creed is there and he reveals to Nightcrawler that Mystique is their mother. He then tries to kill Nightcrawler, saying that he’ll be the first member of the family to be killed by the “prodigal son”. Not far away at a waterfall, Mystique affirms her love for Rogue when Creed appears. Mystique proudly tells him that years ago in Europe, she disguised herself as a villager and tossed a newborn Nightcrawler off a waterfall in order to save herself. She shoots at Creed, who teleports away, revealing himself to be Nightcrawler in disguise. The real Graydon Creed orders a helicopter to wipe out all of the mutants. Rogue captures Creed, but has to abandon him when she sees that Mystique and a barely conscious Nightcrawler are about to fall down the waterfall. Mystique claims that she’ll take the decision of who to save out of Rogue’s hands and falls to her seeming death. Rogue flies away with Nightcrawler as Creed escapes.


Continuity Notes
This is the issue that reveals that Mystique is Nightcrawler’s mother. A few hints were dropped during the Claremont run in the ‘80s, but it wasn’t confirmed until this issue. Mystique’s story about throwing Nightcrawler from the top of a waterfall seems to contradict the story of how Margali Szardos discovered him in Uncanny X-Men Annual #4.

Rogue tells Nightcrawler the story of meeting Mystique after her mutant powers surfaced as a child. Earlier appearances had Rogue saying that Mystique raised her before she even knew that she was a mutant.

Forge says that Mystique spent her time in his home secretly researching the Friends of Humanity, implying that her insanity was faked.


“Huh?” Moments
I’m no geography expert, but Mississippi isn’t really known for its waterfalls, is it? Especially a large waterfall that’s just “down the road” from a residential area. The idea that Rogue couldn’t carry both Nightcrawler and Mystique at the same time is also ridiculous.


Review
Yeah, this one’s terrible. If you do a Google Groups search on this issue, you can find even Scott Lobdell (posting as “Kid York”, I believe) mocking it in the late ‘90s. As the solution to a long-running mystery, it doesn’t work because it gets so much of the continuity wrong. Judged only as a stand-alone story, it’s still awful. The story mainly consists of Mystique, now acting murderously insane instead of regular old insane, behaving erratically while Rogue and Nightcrawler follow her. In the span of a few pages, she goes from tearfully telling Rogue how much she loves her to bragging about dropping Nightcrawler to his death as an infant. Of all of the characters who suffered in the post-Claremont era, Mystique has to be towards the top of the list. Who could care anything about this loon? The ending is especially ridiculous, with Rogue apparently forgetting that she has two arms and anguishing over whether to save Mystique or Nightcrawler. There’s an extremely long review of this issue, cutting it to pieces, that used to go around the internet. If you search posts in Google Groups by David R. Henry from 1994 you should find it. It’s worth reading.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

EXCALIBUR #75 – March 1994


Hello, I Must Be Going
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Ken Lashley (penciler), Randy Elliott (inker), Pat Brosseau (letterer), Garrahy & Matthys (colorists)


Summary
Excalibur returns from Scott and Jean’s wedding. Rachel Summers, Phoenix II, is excited because now that her parents are married in this timeline, she has a chance of actually being born here. She’s confronted by Meggan, who knows that Rachel has been preventing Captain Britain from coming back into this timeline. When Nightcrawler’s sorceress friend Amanda Sefton arrives to help retrieve Captain Britain, Rachel angrily storms away. Kitty Pryde talks to Rachel and the two mentally go back to her days as a Hound for Ahab. She shows Kitty the day she turned off her emotions and focused only on surviving. Kitty talks her into letting go of the past and asks her to help Captain Britain return. Sefton uses magic to connect Rachel to Meggan, who is acting as Captain Britain’s anchor to this time. While inside the timestream, Rachel realizes that she can’t just pull him back, she has to trade places with him. She asks Kitty to say hello to her when she’s born and trade places with Captain Britain. When the team returns home, they discover that Captain Britain’s personality has been radically altered and that he’s now calling himself “Britanic”.


Gimmicks
This issue has a cardstock, holographic cover.


Production Note
This is the first issue I’ve reviewed that has very obvious computer color separations. Almost every page has at least a few black lines knocked out and replaced with a color effect.


Continuity Notes
Amanda Sefton, Nightcrawler’s sometime girlfriend returns. She gives herself the name “Daytripper”, which lasts for a little while.


Rory sees his future self as Ahab while the team is inside the timestream.


Captain Britain appears as Britanic for the first time, claiming that he needs to apply what he’s learned if “this world is to survive”. Sefton speculates that being lost in the timestream could have driven him mad.


Review
There’s a lot of “what were they thinking?” in this issue. For some reason, Marvel felt the need to remove Rachel Summers from the titles at this time, a decision that lasts until the start of the next decade. I don’t really know why exactly they wanted her gone, but Marvel seemed dedicated to the idea. It’s an especially odd decision in light of Marvel’s attempts to make Excalibur more in line with the other X-books. Rachel was a former X-Man, and the current holder of the “Phoenix” title at the time. Her parents are Scott Summers and Jean Grey, who just got married. She actually has stronger ties to the main X-books than any other member of the team does. The only justification I can think of for abandoning the character is to give Jean Grey the “Phoenix” name back. This does happen just a month or so later when the Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix miniseries debuts. I can understand why Marvel wanted to give Jean Grey a more marketable name, but I don’t understand why an established character had to be tossed out just for the use of a name. The idea of Jean having the Phoenix title again was just ignored in the books for years, until Steven Seagal briefly tried to go somewhere with it.


The other strange decision in this issue is Captain Britain’s reintroduction as “Britanic”. Taking a human, relatable protagonist and turning him into an Old English speaking mystery man with a bad 1987 Bon Jovi perm is just unforgivable. Warren Ellis drops this storyline very quickly in a few months, and you can’t blame him.


Even though this issue is mostly remembered for the bad ideas it introduces, I was surprised to see how well Lobdell handles the execution. His portrayal of Rachel is very sympathetic, and her closing words to Kitty are moving. It’s not really the train wreck you might expect it to be (until Britanic shows up, that is). Ken Lashley debuts as artist, with a fairly generic ‘90s look. He’s less cartoonish than some of the other X-artists of the time, going for more of a Jim Lee “realistic” look. He’s the first artist since Davis to actually have a lengthy run on the book.


A Demon Went to Church on Tuesday
Credits: Jim Kreuger (writer), Tim Sale (artist), Richard Starkings (letterer), Greg Wright (colorist)


Summary
After a woman he saves from a burning building calls him a demon, Nightcrawler visits a church. He asks the priest for forgiveness for being born a mutant, and the priest asks forgiveness for just being human. He reminds Nightcrawler that everyone has a cross to bear, which seems to comfort him.


Review
It’s filler, but it looks nice. Having a mutant deal with prejudice certainly isn’t new, but I guess the cliché needs to be brought up once in a while to keep the idea alive. There’s barely any plot, but the creators only have eight pages to deal with so it’s understandable. It is nice to see a human character, particularly a religious one, not portrayed as a bigot for a change.

X-MEN: THE WEDDING ALBUM - 1994


Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue & Gold
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Ian Churchill (penciler), Minor/Elliott/Candelario (inkers), Dave Sharpe & Jon Babcock (letterers), Chris Matthys (colorist)


Summary
While going through her old clothes, Jubilee tells Jean that she doesn’t understand the appeal of marriage. When Jean leaves to pick up her wedding dress, Jubilee finds her old diary and begins reading it. Jubilee reads about Jean’s early days with Xavier, and the evolution of her relationship with Cyclops. When she sees Jean again, Jubilee confesses to reading her diary and apologizes. She tells Jean that after learning about her history with Cyclops, she takes back what she said about marriage, and Jean invites her to look at the dress.


Production Note
This is a magazine-format special released at the same time as the wedding. The first half is a story about Jubilee that takes place before the wedding, and the second half is a series of pinups that take place after the wedding. As a kid, this bothered me because I didn’t know whether to file this book before or after X-Men #30.


Review
Wow, not only did the Marvel of 1994 not have a problem with two of their “grown-up” teenage characters getting married, but they also published a special edition magazine to promote the event. Imagine that. There’s not an awful lot of content here, but the Jubilee story isn’t that bad. I like the fact that Jubilee is still bratty enough to read someone else’s diary, even if she does suddenly feel remorseful later. Jubilee’s sudden guilt doesn’t really make a lot of sense given her earlier eagerness to read the diary, but I like Lobdell’s premise that Jubilee never learned about relationships from her parents so she looks to the X-Men for guidance. Most of the flashback scenes are well chosen, and help to sell the idea that Scott and Jean were “meant” to be together. For some reason, the final flashback scene is Jean meeting Wolverine for the first time, which is an odd choice for a story meant to build up her relationship to someone else. Churchill’s art is inconsistent, but he pulls off an okay cartoony look on a few pages. The rest of the issue consists of pinups of the X-Men in tuxedoes hanging out at the wedding reception. This type of stuff would have been better suited as annual filler, really.