Tuesday, March 24, 2009

X-MEN #65 – June 1997

First Blood
Credits: Scott Lobdell (writer), Carlos Pacheco (penciler), Art Thibert (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (lettering), Lichtner/Lusen/Liquid (colors)

Summary: Phoenix is suddenly transported to an unknown location, where she is greeted by Iron Man. Before he can explain to her that he isn’t an imposter, she’s abruptly sent back to her reality. Her consciousness returns to the skies over Colorado, where the X-Men’s private jet is being attacked by Operation: Zero Tolerance. Cannonball flies towards Zero Tolerance’s ship, and is shocked to discover a new breed of human-sized Sentinels. Footage of the X-Men’s battle airs on television, as Bastion arrives at Xavier’s vacant mansion in New York. He watches a holographic display of the X-Men being detained by his Sentinels before entering the mansion. He sends a holographic message to Xavier, boasting that all of his secrets will be revealed. Elsewhere, Iceman watches footage of the X-Men’s battle on television and makes his exit.

Continuity Notes: Future X-Man Cecilia Reyes makes her first cameo appearance as a doctor watching footage of the X-Men on television. She says that something must be done about mutants, which ties into the upcoming revelation that she’s hiding her powers. One of her coworkers claims that meeting Storm years earlier turned his life around. A footnote points us towards Uncanny X-Men #122, the “Cry for the Children!” issue that had Storm meeting drug addicted teens in Harlem.

Bastion tells Xavier that he learned about the mansion’s location from probing Jubilee’s mind, during their interrogation scenes in Generation X.

Wolverine's back to his normal appearance, with no explanation. I'm pretty sure the "devolved" look never shows up again.

Production Note: The Iron Man cameo was apparently a last-minute idea, as a bonus page presents Carlos Pacheco’s pencils for the original first page of this issue (which has the team reacting to their jet taking a hit). I have no idea what the significance of the Iron Man scene was supposed to be, other than the fact that Lobdell was writing the Heroes Reborn Iron Man series, and someone perhaps wanted to drop a hint that the heroes would be returning to the Marvel Universe.

I Love the ‘90s: The Bullpen Bulletins page claims that the new Alpha Flight series will be the hottest thing to come out of Canada since Alanis Morisette.

Review: If we’re to believe the Bullpen Bulletins’ checklist, this was supposed to be the first post-Onslaught issue if Mark Waid had stayed on the title. Instead, readers had to endure almost a year of filler stories before anyone bothered to advance another plotline. I’m not bitter or anything, but watching something actually happen in this issue just makes the last few months seem even more pointless. This is Pacheco’s best issue yet, so the action scenes are particularly impressive. Some elements don’t make a lot of sense (like the fact that Phoenix is using her telekinesis to keep the jet together, rather than just flying the team safely to the ground), but there’s enough energy for the action to coast on. Watching Bastion invade the X-Men’s headquarters feels a little eerie, and it helps to set him up as a major villain. He never amounted to much, but there is some potential there. We’ve seen Mr. Sinister and the N’Garai disturb the team’s home before, but Bastion’s lofty ambitious actually make this invasion feel like it could have consequences. Overall, it’s a credible start for the storyline.


Josh said...

did the sentinals really have hair at this point in the 90s??

wwk5d said...

if this was supposed to be Mark Waid's first issue, then Zero Tolerance was supposed to take place right after Onslaught, or was he to come back or...? I'm confused...

This is a promising start, sadly, it's the start of a horrible, horrible crossover. Worse than Onslaught. At least that tried to go for an epic feel, and it did; Professor X becomes a extremely powerful being and commands an assualt by hundreds of Sentinels, with the X-men, the FF, Spider-man, the Hulk, and other lesser NYC heroes try to stop him. This just goes nowhere. Only 1/2 the X-men are involved, only Jubilee from Gen X, X-force do their own thing on the side, and I don't even remember what X-factor were doing. It could have been better, with a good set up presented here: with these 5 captured, Iceman, Marrow, and Cecelia go off to rescue them. And it could've been good. Instead, those 3 run around until SHIELD (!) shuts them down off panel, and the others escape in Wolverine's title (!). WTF?

Seangreyson said...

The reason for sentinels with hair: These are Prime Sentinels, they're humans that have been "upgraded" secretly (and generally without their knowledge during other surgery), to contain Sentinel programming and some sort of techno-organic technology.

When they're activated they go from normal people to Sentinels.

Matt said...

I've always loved this cover. It just seemed so much more dynamic than anything we'd seen from the main two X-books in some time.

rob said...

I agree with wwk5d's breakdown of how the crossover goes wrong and that there was more potential. But that doesn't take away from this issue, which I've always really liked. There's an energy, tension, and sense of real danger that the X-books had lacked forever. Bastion's takeover of the mansion actually felt creepy and like it would have consequences. The art is stellar too.

Anonymous said...

i didn't mean to say this issue wasn't good, rob...i guess i should have been more clear lol i just wish they were able to maintain the momentum

wwk5d said...

that last comment was me.

Jeff said...

I actually preferred the more down to earth feel of this crossover than the nonsensical insanity of Onslaught, even if that was more epic. This one, while anticlimactic at least had a lead up that made sense and I actually like the focus on the smaller teams. There's nothing as bad here as "Only non-mutants can enter Onslaught! Oh except for the Scarlet Witch and Namor!" And no Joseph, so that's a plus.

Morgan said...

Ugh.... Zero Tolerance.
My least favorite crossover of the entire 90s.

Like all Marvel Crossovers at the time the story starts out really good. But then like all the other crossovers it has a horrible ending. I never liked the X-Men and Wolverine storylines, it was all just to convienent. Gen X was boring as hell, X-Force was barely involved, the only storyline that was interesting was the Iceman, Marrow, Cecelia and Sabra storyline in Uncanny.

But like someone else said they basically just ran around till SHIELD showed up and saved the day, very anti-climatic.

I dont remember what was going on over in X-Factor and X-Man but I do remember Cable being involved with this. Didnt Bastion break into the mansion over in Cables series and Cable tries to stop him?

G. Kendall said...

Towards the end of Onslaught, the Bullpen Bulletins listed Mark Waid as the writer of X-Men #57, and a plot description that's virtually identical to this issue.
Instead, Scott Lobdell wrote #57, which was the "Xavier says goodbye" issue.

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