Wednesday, January 7, 2009

UNCANNY X-MEN #336 – September 1996

A Voice As Deep As Thunder
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Townsend, Dell, Russell, & Milgrom (inkers), Comicraft (lettering), Steve Buccellato (colors)

Summary: Inside Onslaught, Franklin Richards tries to speak to a comatose Professor Xavier. Onslaught appears, and tries again to draw Franklin to his side. Elsewhere, the united heroes continue to fight the Sentinels and rescue civilians. Gambit reaches out to comfort Joseph, which surprises Rogue. At the Fantastic Four’s home, Iron Man begins to recover from the damage caused by the electromagnetic pulse. The Thing helps carry him to a lab, where he’ll begin work on a psionic armor. Inside Onslaught, Xavier regains consciousness. As he tries to warn Franklin about Onslaught, Franklin disappears. Onslaught brags that he already has the child. Outside, Joseph attacks Onslaught. Onslaught deflects the attack and opens his chest to reveal a captive Xavier. The combined attack of the various heroes cracks Onslaught’s armor, allowing Thor to free Xavier. Onslaught declares that he is now totally free, as he uses the combined powers of Xavier, Magneto, and Franklin Richards to destroy the immediate area. The Invisible Woman protects everyone with her forcefield. She asks Xavier if he can sense Franklin inside Onslaught, and he responds that his psionic powers are gone. Nearby, the Watcher and Apocalypse discuss the threat Onslaught poses. The Watcher shows Apocalypse an image of Cable, claiming that he is the answer.

Continuity Notes: This is the issue where Xavier loses his telepathic powers. This sticks around until the end of the Seagle/Kelly run, over two years later.

Onslaught’s appearance has now changed to the monstrous form seen on the cover.

The X-Men’s plane crash from X-Men #55 is essentially ignored here. There’s a throwaway line claiming that they saved themselves from the crash (which is reasonable, since most of the X-Men involved can fly), but the idea that the electromagnetic pulse scrambled the Xavier Protocols is overlooked, as Iron Man uses the files to begin work on anti-Onslaught psionic armor.

Review: This is supposed to be an important chapter in the storyline, as Xavier is freed from Onslaught while Franklin Richards is absorbed into him, but it doesn’t feel particularly meaningful. Lobdell spends a lot of time on Xavier and Franklin, building up to the climax, but it’s hard for me to buy into the story when so much of it is illogical. How can Onslaught “absorb” Franklin? If he’s capable of taking people in and stealing their powers, why doesn’t he do this to all of the heroes? Why does Onslaught spend so much time trying to trick Franklin into following him, when he’s able to forcibly absorb him just a few pages later? None of this makes any sense. As for the heroes vs. Sentinels storyline, Lobdell doesn’t seem too interested in it. He instead uses the scenes with the heroes as conversation pieces, as the action mostly occurs off-panel. I can see why he’s chosen to do this, since most of the tie-in comics are covering this angle and there’s only so much you can do with it, but the conversations aren’t particularly engaging. We get a few pages of the Invisible Woman worrying about her son, Cyclops worrying about Xavier, and some brief interactions amongst the various heroes. It does help to maintain the human element, but none of the scenes really sell the drama of what’s going on. Teaming the Watcher and Apocalypse up is actually the best pairing in the issue, as it presents Apocalypse as more than just a psychotic villain and gives him more of a personality. Madureira’s art also helps to liven things up, even if he takes the manga influence a little too far on a few pages.


rob said...

If there's one thing that stands out about this one, it's some beautiful Madureira art, especially on the scenes with Xavier and Franklin. In going over these comics, I don't think the Onslaught story is as bad as its reputation has promoted it. Yes, the lack of planning and conflicting hints in the year leading up to it are embarrassing, but these actual crossover chapters are more dull than offensive.

G. Kendall said...

Yeah, I would say I haven't come across anything truly terrible yet.

wwk5d said...

Read the X-factor chapters ;)

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