Tuesday, January 27, 2009

X-MEN #57 – October 1996

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Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Art Thibert (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Joe Rosas & Malibu (colors)

Summary: Professor Xavier confirms with Cerebro that his powers are gone, and erases his records from the database. As Beast and Trish Tilby reconcile in Greenwich Village, Val Cooper arrives at the mansion. Cyclops, Bishop, and Wolverine assume that she’s there to arrest the Professor, and declare that it won’t happen. Storm, Phoenix, and Quicksilver argue that placing Xavier into custody is necessary to make sure that Onslaught never surfaces again. Professor Xaver emerges, and voluntarily agrees to go with Val. He tells the X-Men that he must be held accountable for his actions and says goodbye. Meanwhile, Bastion tries to intimidate J. Jonah Jameson into leaving Graydon Creed alone, but Jameson refuses to back down. Inside Archangel’s apartment, Psylocke discovers a feather on the floor.

Production Note: The last three pages of this issue are clearly not drawn by Kubert, but no other credit is listed. It looks like Val Semeiks, or maybe Anthony Wynn's work (both were doing Wolverine issues around this time).

Continuity Notes: The Psylocke scene is a precursor to next month’s Uncanny, which restores Archangel’s original wings.

One brief scene amused me, as Cyclops asks Val if there’s information on his missing brother, Havok. A few years from now, when X-Factor is cancelled and Havok is believed dead, Cyclops never even notices it. It’s interesting that there’s at least some acknowledgment of the characters’ relationships with one another at this point, because the organic connections between characters will soon be neglected.

Review: It’s another quiet, post-Onslaught issue. This issue tries to present a reasonable aftermath to the storyline, as Xavier is taken away by the government as a response to Onslaught’s attack. He’s not explicitly placed under arrest or handcuffed, which is another way Marvel tried to maintain the character’s dignity even during the Onslaught affair. Lobdell doesn’t go for any cheap fight scenes, as the characters get to act like grownups and just present their case to one another. In the end, Xavier makes a reasonable decision and agrees to leave. Looking back, Xavier’s departure is a little too understated, as this is the first time he’s been written out of the books since rejoining the team in 1991. Knowing now that he stays gone for over two years, with only a few sporadic appearances, it seems like this should’ve been a bigger deal (I suspect that Lobdell didn’t intend for him to be gone for so long). Over the years, writers have struggled with Xavier’s place in the titles, and it seems like a new justification is given every few years to write him out. The more recent efforts have pitted him against the team itself, which always struck me as forced and unnatural. This story isn’t particularly exciting, but it’s internally logical and leaves the character free to be used in future stories with little baggage. This isn’t a great issue, but the characters remain true to themselves and the story essentially accomplishes what it was supposed to do.

4 comments:

Matt said...

Looking back, Xavier’s departure is a little too understated, as this is the first time he’s been written out of the books since rejoining the team in 1991. Knowing now that he stays gone for over two years, with only a few sporadic appearances, it seems like this should’ve been a bigger deal.

I have a one-shot called Onslaught: Epilogue, which came out a couple of months later and was written by Larry Hama. I figured that Lobdell knew Xavier's story would be continued (or maybe concluded) there, so he didn't focus as much on it in this issue. However, I have absolutely no recollection of what Epilogue was about, or if it was any good!

rob said...

I have a vague recollection that it had some good moments, but wasn't great. And it introduced the godawful Nina.

As for this issue, it does the job, but isn't excellent. There's really a sense that the X-Men are moving on without their mentor, in contrast to the recent portrayals where they can't wait to get rid of him. And there's a funny moment where Kubert must have drawn Val with curly hair (contrary to most of her appearances), so Lobdell inserts some line in about how she didn't have time to dry it.

wwk5d said...

yeah, it's amazing how Xavier is being portrayed now and then. back then, there was a sense of loss and that hsi departure affected the X-men...now, as Rob said, it seems like the characters and creators don't seem to mind kicking him to the curb every now and then, and for him to reappear as a punching bag for the characters. maybe i'm being harsh, but i prefer his portrayel back in the day - a good man, flawed, but at the end of the day, good. now, they seem to enjoying retconning xavier into an utter bastard, which was originally interesting, but now seems to be damaging the character. part of me likes how carey is writing him, but not what he is doing with him, you know what i mean?

as for this issue...decent, but as quiet issues go, i'd say that month's uncanny was def superior.

ray swift said...

I like this issue very much. The argument was so real, Lobdel didn't give discount for any of the character, and with so many characters it couldn't fill less then a full issue.
I want more X-men comics to be like this. I mean, sure, I like action as much as the other guy, but when there is a need for talking, make it real and don't be cheap, not like Ellis had done in Excalibur.

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