Tuesday, February 24, 2009

X-MEN #61 – February 1997

Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Cedric Nocon (penciler), Hunt & Miller (inkers), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Joe Rosas & GCW (colorist)

Summary: Undercloaks from the Crimson Dawn dimension attack Psylocke in the apartment she shares with Archangel. When he arrives to help, the apartment is empty and Psylocke is meditating. Gomurr appears, telling them that a price must be paid for the Crimson Dawn. Meanwhile, Storm faces Jamil, who is apparently possessed by the Shadow King. After she freezes him in a blizzard, the Juggernaut appears. Storm deduces that this is Jamil changing forms. Soon, Jamil impersonates Cable and blasts Candra with the red gem. Storm decides that Jamil’s forms aren’t coming from her mind or Candra’s. When Candra recovers, Storm reveals that Jamil never existed, and was always a creation of Karima’s mutant power. Storm tosses the ruby gem in the air, as Cyclops arrives to blast it. Candra disappears, and Storm leaves with Karima. Meanwhile, Sebastian Shaw schemes in Hong Kong.

Continuity Notes: The Archangel/Psylocke scene is a tease for their upcoming miniseries, which or may or not make as much sense as what we see here (I only read the first issue).

Storm reveals that Achmed knew that Candra was after his mutant pupil, so he ordered Karima to use her power to give “form and function to desires pulled from the minds of others” to create Jamil. Jamil was created by projecting Candra’s desire to find the gem and Karima’s own desire for companionship.

The opening narration claims that this story takes place on the night Graydon Creed died, even though last issue had a brief scene with Cannonball on the day of his funeral. I guess you could say that only the Archangel/Psylocke scene took place on that night, and the rest of the story happened a few days later.

As Cyclops, Wolverine, and Phoenix arrive to help Storm, Phoenix turns the corner and is suddenly alone. She wonders why Manhattan is abandoned for a few panels, and then everything is back to normal. This is obviously some type of foreshadowing, but it's never resolved.

“Huh?” Moment: Storm decides that Jamil isn’t pulling memories from her mind because “his creations would have been more focused on their goal of destroying me”. I have no idea what this means. If she’s saying that Jamil isn’t trying hard enough to kill her, I’ll give her that much, but that still doesn’t eliminate the possibility that he’s pulling images from her mind. Storm’s odd deduction directly leads her to the revelation that Jamil is actually a creation of Karima. Huh? How does Karima know about the Shadow King, Juggernaut, or Cable?

Creative Differences: Some awkward re-lettering shows up sporadically throughout the issue. It mostly interrupts exposition, such as the explanations that Psylocke is a ninja, Candra is an External, and Sebastian Shaw is a mutant.

Review: What is this? Last issue was a bland story about Storm and Candra fighting over a plot device. Now, the story veers off in an utterly nonsensical direction, revealing that two minor characters from a 1994 X-Men Unlimited issue weren’t who we thought they were. Well, that’s a load off my mind. I’m so glad an entire issue of this series was dedicated to resolving something that no one found confusing in the first place. The revelation that Jamil was always Karima’s projection almost makes sense, but the thought process that Storm goes through to reach this conclusion certainly doesn’t. I’ll give Scott Lobdell the benefit of the doubt and assume that someone somewhere had some last minute rethinking and the final result isn’t the story he set out to tell. Lobdell can be an inconsistent writer, but I don’t think he intentionally set out to produce something this disjointed. The alternating subplots are also frustratingly vague, making this issue an even larger mess.


Jeff said...

I recently started reading Claremont's entire run on Uncanny and I've come to a realization. There are some decent nineties X-comics(especially compared with other nineties stories) but almost everything from X-Men from Jim Lee leaving until Morrison comes on does not compare favorably with Claremont's stuff and I think reading these older issues has really diminshed my enjoyment of the 90s issues. What do you think Glen?

rob said...

On everyone disappearing on the street, uncannyxmen.net claims this could be part of an unresolved plotline of something strange happening with Jean's powers - citing UXM#339 (when she reads Spidey's mind without trying) and XM#65 (when she meets the Heroes Reborn Iron Man) as other incidents, however it's all never really tied together or explained.

On Jeff's post, awhile ago I reread all of Claremont's run. Besides incredibly loving doing it and finally learning to appreciate Cyclops' character, it also diminished my enjoyment of what came after. Some characters just completely go off the rails in the 90s and the plotting can be atrocious.

Matt said...

I agree that Claremont's original run is the gold standard, but I've always felt that it lost something around issue 180 or so (when Storm got a mohawk and Cyclops was written out of the title more-or-less permanently). But it was still recognizable as the X-Men until around the time of the Mutant Massacre. Once Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Kitty were written out, the title (in my opinion) went totally down the drain.

And don't get me started on the post-Fall of the Mutants/Outback era, when there were a billion dfferent ongoing plots (all involving characters I didn't care about), and the Shadow King was always behind everything! Compared with that period, I think most 90s X-Men issues are masterpieces!

wwk5d said...

I loved the post 180 era! Storm with her mohawk was part of the best character arc she got (from around the time she became leader of the Morlocks till Fall of the Mutants). And there were so many great stories and character work from that era...Magneto's reform, Kitty and Peter's break up, Lifedeath I & II, Kulan Gath, Rogue facing up to the consequences of her previous decisions and actions...the Claremont/Romita JR era is probaly my favorite. For me, FOTM is when the title starts it's decline, and post Inferno, is when it goes off in a million different tangents. It's still readable, though, and I'd have to disagree, it's much better than much of the 90s era stuff we got as a whole.

Jeff said...

I agree wwk5d! Fall of the Mutants is a classic in my mind and Genosha comes right after that. And I like almost all of the Jim Lee issues in the post-Siege Perilous era. Even if that was a failed experimental period, it kept a plot moving forward and was different. The 90s just seemed to keep referencing the same old stories over and over. Although I do think AoA and the Joe Kelly and Alan Davis runs are pretty spiffy.

G. Kendall said...

I love the sheer insanity of the later Claremont issues. Tim O'Neil offered a nice defense of them in this post:

Matt said...

Yeah, I see the points in that article. I know that era has fans; I'm just not one of them. The X-Men were missing too much of what made them the X-Men to me (plus, I have an irrational, all-consuming hatred of Longshot, so that doesn't help me appreciate those issues).

I think that's why I'm a fan of the 90s era. For all the flaws (and there were many, as you point out here every day), they kept things consistent and recognizable. For pretty much the entire decade, the X-Men lived in the mansion, and with a few exceptions, all the core members were present (Xavier, Cyclops, Jean, Wolverine, Storm, etc.). The latter Claremont era had too much change for my tastes. I don't like stagnation (which I admit the 90s suffered from), but in a way I kind of prefer it over jettisoning all the familiar trappings for frighteningly different concepts and characters. What can I say? I don't deal with change well!

I have a feeling I'm going to look back on the current "San Francisco" era in much the same way as I look at the post Mutant Massacre/Fall of the Mutants/Outback era. It's just an unnecessary move away from the comfortable, familiar, status quo that I prefer in the X-Universe.

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