Wednesday, February 25, 2009

UNCANNY X-MEN #341 – February 1997

When Strikes A Gladiator!
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Tim Townsend (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Steve Buccellato & Team Bucce! (colors)

Summary: Cannonball, Gambit, Bishop, Joseph, Rogue, Beast, and Trish Tilby gather in New York on Christmas Eve. Joseph leaves with Rogue and shows her a device he’s constructed from Xavier’s “Z’noxx (sic) Chamber”. The large construct protects him from Rogue’s powers, enabling him to kiss her on the forehead. Meanwhile, Cannonball is suddenly attacked by Gladiator while Christmas shopping. The other X-Men in the city notice the spectacle and arrive, just as Cannonball fights him to a standstill. Gladiator admits that he staged the fight in order to gain the X-Men’s attention. He reveals that the Shi’ar Empire needs help, and he’s been ordered not to interfere. He sends transit spheres to teleport the group away.

Continuity Notes: Cannonball manages to channel the kinetic energy from Gladiator’s punch and direct it towards his forcefield, which is the first time he’s had that level of power. A footnote says that the Imperial Guard miniseries explains why Gladiator isn’t able to help the Shi’ar.

The “Z’nox Chamber” is the psi-shielded chamber Xavier used to prepare for the arrival of the alien Z’nox way back in UXM #65. It also showed up during the buildup to the Onslaught crossover. It’s odd that a long-forgotten area of continuity would show up twice in six months after being forgotten for almost thirty years. The explanation for how it blocks Rogue’s powers is that it can filter powers in either direction (Joseph claims it “clothes” the mind she touches, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me).

I Love the ‘90s: Marvel debuts its second official website, (it redirects to today). Also, Joseph and Rogue’s kiss takes place on top of the World Trade Center.

“Huh?” Moment: Gladiator refuses to send Cannonball with the rest of the team, because it would be dishonorable to send a young person “into such danger”. Aside from the fact that Gladiator just spent ten pages fighting him, he also sent non-powered civilian Trish Tilby into the alleged danger.

We Get Letters: A letter writer correctly points out that Colossus and Gambit have never had a scene together, and the editor’s response just acknowledges that it’s true without offering much of a defense. Come to think of it, I can’t even remember a dialogue exchange between the characters at this point.

Review: This is another issue that’s light on plot, but is saved by Madureira’s energetic artwork. The majority of the issue is dedicated to a gratuitous Cannonball/Gladiator fight that ends up having no story significance at all. I guess having Cannonball defeat a Superman analogue was supposed to finish the long-running “Cannonball feels insecure about being an X-Men” subplot, but the idea’s not really emphasized in this issue, and it seems like it had already been dropped by this point anyway. The small character moments, such as Cannonball trying to shop on Christmas Eve, and Joseph and Rogue floating over the city in a horse-drawn carriage, are nice enough, but don’t have a lot of depth. It’s still enjoyable in an almost mindless way, but most of the issue would’ve been pretty dull with another artist.


Anonymous said...

At this point I think Gambit and Colossus only interacted during the AOA storyline where Gambit ends up killing Colossus.

I do remember during the "Hunt for Xavier" storyline that they do infact interact with one another, but those issues are a year and a half later from this issue.

wwk5d said...

The AOA continues with this issue...with regards to Joseph and Rogue. Remember, during AOA, we had a long-haired, younger drawn Magento being able to touch Rogue. And I always thought Cannonball beating Gladiatior didn't make Sam look good, it just made Gladiator look lame.

Seangreyson said...

One of the weird aspects of this issue is that this is one of the most reprinted stories (probably the most reprinted issue for the era).

It's a christmas issue of course so it gets reprinted with a lot of the X-mas issues, but Marvel still seems to like the Cannonball vs Gladiator fight as well.

Also I spent years after this issue being a little confused over what precisely the X-men ended up fighting with the Shi'ar, there'd been at least 3 major threats to the shi'ar set up in the last 2 years. This one, however came completely out of left field.

wwk5d said...

In hindsight, it was a bit easier for Claremont, as the cast was smaller during his tenure. And they *did* try to recreate the family feel (playing baseball in Uncanny # 325, poker in X-men 48 or 49, Gambit helping Cyclops move into the boathouse in the post Pahalanx Uncanny issue, the breakfast scene in the first post Onslaught Uncanny issue), but these events were too few and far between. And even when characters did become friends, people seemed to forget later that they were. Does anyone remember that Rogue and Iceman became friends (sometime after Phalanx till after AOA) the point that she accompanied him on a visit to his home, or that he accompanied her on a roadtrip? And yet, why wasn't she there for him in the hospital when his dad was attacked, but Gambit was?

Matt said...

I liked this issue well enough. I recall really enjoying the Imperial Guard limited series. Not too sure how well it holds up today, though. I think mainly I liked that it finally (after about two decades) fleshed out some of the main Guardsmen! Any plans to review it?

Also, wasn't the first page of this issue sort of an homage to the first page of Uncanny X-Men #98? I'm pretty sure it was, but I might be thinking of a different issue.

wwk5d said...

i think the first few pages were, not just the first one...

G. Kendall said...

Yes, this is actually the second time Lobdell referenced that issue. The first time was in one of those Marvel Holiday specials. I think Dave Cockrum even drew the story.

I haven't read the Imperial Guard mini (I've never even seen a physical copy of it), so it's one of the many one-shots and minis I'll have to skip from this era.

Matt said...

I remember really looking forward to getting this issue when I bought the Joe Mad Visionaries trade. Not only was I a hardcore Mad fan at that point, but Cannonball is my favorite X-Men character ever, if not my #1 comic character, plus I've always thought Gladiator was cool.

It actually turned out better than I expected, the action scenes feel very DBZ-like, and the manga style of Mad fits them well. Throw in some strong character moments with Sam's christmas shopping and Joseph (who's grown on me quite a bit since I've discovered him) and Rogue's date, and it's no surprise it's quickly become one of my favorite UXM issues.

Also, I think this may be THE most scanned comic of all time, specifically that page where Sam very menacingly taunts Gladiator. Back when I was a regular poster on the Marvel forums, I used to constantly see people post scans of this for their fav Cannonball moments, their favorite fight scene, their favorite X-Men moment,fav bad-ass moment, etc.

Anonymous said...

There's a Punisher cameo before Cannonball goes shopping

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