Monday, April 27, 2009

X-MEN #71 & UXM #351 – January 1998

X-Men #71

A House in Order

Credits: Joe Kelly (writer), Carlos Pacheco (penciler), Art Thibert (inker), Comicraft (lettering), Chris Lichtner/Aron Lusen/Liquid! (colors)

Summary: Cyclops and Phoenix prepare to leave the mansion, as the new members adjust to the team. Wolverine and Storm are skeptical about allowing Marrow to stay, but Cyclops is adamant that the team continue to follow Xavier’s example. Later, Wolverine meets Marrow alone, declaring that school has begun.

Continuity Notes: Sebastian Shaw receives a mysterious package from a mystical bird. I’m almost positive this is one of the numerous unresolved subplots from this era. There are also subplot scenes that involve a package being desperately mailed to Storm from Cairo, and ominous foreshadowing that Maggott’s slugs are up to no good. These stories are actually resolved.

Review: This is a slow, talkative issue that mainly serves to set up a few subplots, write Cyclops and Phoenix out, and give the new members more attention. Marrow’s past as a hardened terrorist is treated rather oddly here, as Wolverine acknowledges that she is a killer, but no one actually brings up taking her into custody. I know the X-Men weren’t there when she killed a homeless man in her first appearance, and she apparently didn’t kill anyone during Gene Nation’s nightclub attack (it seems as if Sack and Vassal were responsible), but that still leaves UXM #325. It’s implied that she killed the man attached to the sewer wall (at the very least, she was present when it happened), and she was more than willing to bomb a group of civilians just a few pages later. There’s no real reason for the X-Men to keep her out of custody, so the story has to play fast and loose with continuity by making vague references to some of the events of UXM #325, but not others. The fact that Marrow remains unrepentant and outright hostile towards the X-Men also makes this harder to swallow. Magneto at least showed remorse for his actions and was willing to stand trial, and Sabretooth was kept as a prisoner with the permission of the government. Marrow’s just free to hang out with the X-Men, even though she clearly hates them, and only a few of them seem to have any real problem with it. Kelly’s able to write some clever interactions between the characters, but this isn’t an idea that stands up to a lot of scrutiny.

Uncanny X-Men #351

Hours & Minutes

Credits: Steve Seagle (writer), Ed Benes (penciler), Comicraft (lettering), Chris Sotomayor (colors)

Summary: Cecilia Reyes leaves the team, hoping to return to her normal life. She faces discrimination during her day at the hospital, and is assigned to treat Pryo, whose Legacy Virus infection is out of control. Daredevil later appears, asking Reyes to treat an infected gunshot wound. He tries to talk her into embracing her powers and using them for good. After Reyes checks on Pyro and accidentally lets him escape, she’s fired. She returns to the X-Men, telling Storm that she thinks she can do good work with the team.

Continuity Note: Pyro is in the hospital after getting shot while robbing a bank. He claims he did it to pay a doctor who claims he can remove mutant genes, which is a setup for a future storyline. The story seems to be confused about Pyro’s powers. He correctly says that he can only control flames and not create them, which doesn’t explain where the fire surrounding his body is coming from.

Review: I believe this is one of the issues Seagle wrote quickly after unexpectedly getting the job, which would probably explain why it focuses on a character that was appearing in the sister title and only offers hints about future storylines. It’s not a bad issue, though, as it manages to create a nice character study of Cecilia Reyes without coming across as a too obvious time-killer. The discrimination she faces during the day is rather predictable, but Seagle still manages to give a few members of the hospital staff fairly well-rounded personalities. Since Reyes spends most of her time complaining about her new life as an X-Man, it’s only logical that someone do a story where she tries to return to her old life, so at least it was gotten out of the way quickly. Benes’ art, however, is an awkward fit. All of the bodies look any generic character from a ‘90s action comic, so the doctors look like superheroes and the nurses look like strippers. A lot of the poses are also stiff, and all of the excessive detail lines have aged badly.


rob said...

I do think these issue's deserve a little bit more credit, especially #71. There are problems with integrating Marrow into the team, but I think Kelly does a lot of good here. The entire business of Jean and Scott leaving and the heroes returning is handled very well. And there's a great team dynamic being established with the new group. I love the sense that Storm and Wolverine are taking over the X-Men and there is decent material in the character interactions. And Pacheco's art is beautiful.

#351 is a bit more problematic. I remember a Wizard X-Men Special in '99 that had the ten greatest stories - 9 Claremont ones and this. I wouldn't agree. It's a stark portrayal of human bigotry towards mutants with a strong portrayal of Cecilia, but it's a bit disjointed for me and Benes' art is completely out of place.

Matt said...

Wait, so Seagle wrote the Daredevil guest appearance?!? I'm sure I realized that at the time, but over the years, I've always come to assume it was Kelly, since he was also writing Daredevil at the time.


Jeff said...

I have to agree with Rob. The Marrow plot is a little problematic, but overall X-Men #71 is filled with better characterization and more of a sense of the X-Men being a family than we have had in a LONG time. I really like it. Uncanny #351 really is a fill in with some bad art, but it's not a bad issue, either.

Ostrakos said...

It's good to know Ed Benes' art hasn't gotten any better since then.

wwk5d said...

"I love the sense that Storm and Wolverine are taking over the X-Men"

Again, one reason I felt we had seen it all before this run...

"I’m almost positive this is one of the numerous unresolved subplots from this era."

I'm almost positive you will be writing this, or some variation of this, for almost every review of the Kelly/Seagle era. I know the X-office wasn't too thrilled with their run (and I can't still can't say it's an undiscovered classic, I'd give it a B average overall), but you'd think they'd have tried to resolve a few of the dangling plot lines with the next creative team. oh well.

Aqualad said...

When this issue came out I hadn't been reading X-Men comics for very long. I found the cover copy somewhat off-putting since I did not actually "know the rest."

Other than that a really solid issue. Kelly wrote great dialogue but I preferred Seagle's book at the time.

ray swift said...

Cecilia's issue is, as you said, the most logical and needed story for her, but since her character is kinda blend on the first place, it doesn't really excist me much.
And the art also doesn't help to make this story more appealing.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...