Friday, January 23, 2009

UNCANNY X-MEN #337 – October 1996

Know thy Enemy
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Townsend & Russell (inkers), Comicraft (lettering), Steve Buccellato & Team Bucce! (colors)

Summary: Wolverine tries to reassure Professor Xavier, who is distraught in the wake of Onslaught’s destruction. Meanwhile, Bastion watches on as Graydon Creed makes a campaign stop in Central Park, where the heroes sacrificed themselves to stop Onslaught. J. Jonah Jameson is intrigued by Creed’s anger, and decides to look into his past. Bastion returns to his base, where his men are examining the Sentinels controlled by Onslaught. At the mansion, Phoenix comforts Quicksilver, who lost his wife and sister to Onslaught. The team gathers for breakfast, hoping that Xavier will join them. Wolverine enters, telling them that Xavier wants to be alone. The team tries to move on and continues with their meal.

Continuity Notes: A narrative caption says that Bastion remembers, “staring into the eyes of his creator…and knowing fully…his reason for being”. One of Bastion’s aides is a shapechanger named Harper. Bastion slaps him for imitating his appearance and tells him to get back to work. I don’t recall if Harper appears again, or is given any type of an origin.

I Love the ‘90s: Beast offers “a google thank yous” to Cyclops, which had a different meaning in those faraway days. There’s also an ad for the Crash Bandicoot video game that promises you a “free alternative music CD” if you preorder his Playstation game. That’s pretty ‘90s.

Review: This is another quiet, talkative post-crossover issue. Xavier understandably receives much of the focus, as Lobdell pairs him with Wolverine for an extended conversation scene. These two character rarely interacted in this era, which is too bad since Lobdell seems to understand their relationship well. Wolverine’s changed the most since joining the X-Men, which proves that the example Xavier has set has merit (Although, judging by spoilers I’ve read online, it’s been revealed that Xavier mentally coerced Wolverine into changing. They really can’t let go of this, can they?). Lobdell doesn’t go for a pat ending, refusing to confirm if Wolverine’s talk with Xavier had any impact on him. It’s a well-written scene that actually works as a coda to the preceding storyline. Some of these post-crossover chats come across as excuses to kill time, but this is a scene that had to be done after the Onslaught story was over, and Wolverine is a good choice to act as Xavier’s foil and reassure him that his work has meaning.

The remaining character moments are hit or miss. I don’t really care for the slapstick scene between Cyclops, Beast, and Iceman, but Gambit’s jealousy over Magneto’s second chance as Joseph is nicely conveyed. The scene with J. Jonah Jameson is an early attempt on Bob Harras’ part for a more integrated Marvel Universe, but it doesn’t go very far. The Bastion scene reads like the thousand other brief and cryptic subplots that have cropped up over the years, so it’s hard to care too much about it. Overall, this is one of the stronger quiet issues, and Madureira’s art is still nice (although the tiny head he gives Beast in one panel is even more egregious than some of Liefeld’s anatomy blunders).

7 comments:

rob said...

I'm almost positive Harper stick's around as Bastion's aide/punching bag at OZT, but I can't remember if we ever get an origin for him.

wwk5d said...

I liked this issue. One of the better issues from this era, and one of of the better 'quiet' Lobdell issues. It's too bad Marvel couldn't keep it up. Lots of great character moments. I also liked the scene with Jean and Quicksilver, and the breakfast scene at the end made me smile (Jean:"Gambit, don't you dare!" Zapt! Cyclops:"Got it.")

Seangreyson said...

Yeah I always did enjoy this issue. The Wolverine/Xavier scenes were well done, but what I really liked was the undertone that the X-men were able to pick up their lives and keep going no matter what.

Yeah the mansion's destroyed again, yeah we lost friends. But we pick up the pieces and do the best we can.

Also Jameson continues working on the Creed/Bastion story until Zero Tolerance. He pops up in the X-books every now and then over the next 2 years to continue investigating it.

Matt said...

As a big-time Spider-Man fan, I loved the appearances by Jonah Jameson in the X-books at this time!

Wasn't there an issue where Spidey bumps into the X-Men for some reason and has to bluff through knowing them since he (being Ben Reilly at the time) only remembers the original five? I seem to recall he just shows up at the mansion for some reason... Or am I misremebering?

wwk5d said...

the bastion scenes are somewhat bitterweet, actually. while OZT ended being extremely lame (especially the ending!), at least this time Lobdell has the origin of Bastion planned from the beginning - he was Nimrod corrupted by the Mastermold (or the other way around?) who emerged from the Siege Perilous...so at least here, the clues and cryptic hints do make a bit of sense, even though they don't lead to a great story.

G. Kendall said...

Also Jameson continues working on the Creed/Bastion story until Zero Tolerance. He pops up in the X-books every now and then over the next 2 years to continue investigating it.

Two years from this point would be the Seagle/Kelly run. I recall Jameson appearing sporadically until the issue with Spider-Man and Marrow on the cover, which came out in summer 1997.

Wasn't there an issue where Spidey bumps into the X-Men for some reason and has to bluff through knowing them since he (being Ben Reilly at the time) only remembers the original five?

I think that's two issues from now.

ray swift said...

Like everyone else said before me... That was one of the better quite issues I have read. I think it's succeed to deliver the excat feeling of closeness and family nature that the X-men supposed to have and I remembered from the 90's cartoon (for some reason). The word that come to my mind when I'm thinking about this issue is "precise", as almost every dialogue between the X-men, every scene - they are all in the right amount, the right tune. Lobdel writing here is very delicate. He never let the characters explain their feelings and current thoughts to the reader, like he tended to do in, like, a milion other issues, but have them say it like human beings. The way Gambit, for example, asks about where's everybody, while being obvious to everyone in the room, instead of asking straight where is Rogue and Josef - that's an example that came to my head.

Anyway, great issue.

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