Wednesday, April 29, 2009

X-MEN #72 & UXM #352 – February 1998

X-Men #72

Life Lessons

Credits: Joe Kelly (writer), Carlos Pacheco (penciler), Art Thibert (inker), Comicraft (lettering), Liquid! (colors)

Summary: Wolverine spars with Marrow, testing her to see if she’s truly willing to become an X-Man. When he thinks that she’s willing to submit, Marrow sucker punches him and stabs him in the throat. Wolverine goes into a rage, and is subdued by Cannonball. Marrow runs away, back to the secret place where Callisto is recovering. Meanwhile, Sabra informs Gabrielle Haller that Erik Lensherr was a false identity created for Magneto. They track down Georg Odekirk, the man who created the counterfeit identity, shortly after he's killed by Magneto.

Continuity Notes: Gabrielle Haller is trying to use her influence as an ambassador to free Xavier from federal custody. It’s amusing that she’s more concerned about this than the X-Men seem to be (although Phoenix does briefly search for him mentally in this month's UXM).

Storm tells Cannonball that Marrow “attempt(ed) to kill hundreds to further her goals”, which seems to be a quiet retconning of any actual murders on her part.

According to Magneto, he changed his name to Erik Lensherr after he went into hiding, following his lethal attack on his daughter’s killers. He kills Georg Odekirk because the identity he created doesn’t stand up to scrutiny in the modern age.

Review: This issue is almost entirely dedicated to justifying Marrow’s place on the team, which isn’t an easy thing to pull off. There is at least a little retconning going on, but Kelly really doesn’t go for any cheap outs. Marrow doesn’t break down and cry, Storm doesn’t decide to forgive and move on, and Wolverine doesn’t get to intimidate Marrow into falling in line. Marrow remains nasty and mean, with the only indication that she’s willing to change coming from Wolverine’s speculation that “somewhere in that mess you call a brain, part of you wants something better”. Having Marrow stab Wolverine just when he seems to be getting through to her is a nice twist. It might come across as Kelly selling Marrow a little too hard, but I think it works within the context of the story. Cannonball also has a strong portrayal, as he tries to convince the others to follow Xavier's example and give Marrow a second chance, even when there’s no compelling reason for the team to do so. I still think adding Marrow to the team was a dumb move, but Kelly gets a lot of material out of the idea in this issue.

The Magneto subplot, on the other hand, is just ridiculous. I assume it was motivated by Marvel retroactively deciding that too much of Magneto’s past had been revealed, which might be a legitimate concern. Casually revealing that Erik Lensherr was a fake name, and having Magneto callously kill the man who created it, doesn’t work at all. It brings Magneto back into cartoonish supervillainy, which undermines most of the interesting things you can do with the character.

Uncanny X-Men #352

In Sin Air

Credits: Steve Seagle (writer), Hamner/Edwards/Banks/Dodson/Williams/Cassaday (pencilers), Martin/Edwards/Holdredge/Dodson/Gray/Cassaday (inkers), Comicraft (lettering), Steve Oliff (colors)

Summary: While flying to their new home in Alaska, Cyclops and Phoenix encounter an otherworldly entity that AIM is attempting to steal from another group of scientists. At first, the entity lashes out at the passengers, forcing them to relive their darkest moments. When the plane goes out of control, Phoenix convinces the entity to find the good in humanity and calm the passengers, allowing the pilot to land the plane. Meanwhile, Archangel returns to the X-Men’s mansion, but receives a cold reception from teammates who feel that he isn’t taking his responsibilities seriously.

Review: This is another issue that reads like filler, although it’s enjoyable enough. It’s probably most notable for containing six pencilers and six inkers, which makes me wonder just how far off-schedule this title was at the time. I think this is John Cassady’s first time drawing the X-Men, although his style is so different than his Astonishing X-Men work, it might as well be a different artist. None of the pencilers in this issue are incompetent, but their styles are all over the place, and pages seem to have been assigned at random. A three-page scene that has Archangel getting told off by the X-Men somehow ends up with two different artists with totally incompatible styles, making the issue seem like even more of a rush job. I don’t care for the Archangel subplot, which goes out of its way to make him a self-centered goof, but the main story has its moments. I like the psychological angle Seagle adds to the story, and introducing normal, human neighbors for the Summers is a good idea (which, unfortunately, was quickly dismissed).


rob said...

I've always thought #72 was stellar. It's pure character drama and soap between Storm, Wolverine, Cannonball, and Marrow, and it works really well. The whole sequence of events at the end, with Marrow stabbing Wolverine and running off, Cannonball lashing out at the team, and Storm fruitlessly trying to stop him works really well. The Magneto subplot at least seemed like an interesting idea, even if it's completely dropped. And Pacheco's art has never looked better.

#352 is a bit less successful. The whole story with the entity on the plane feels like an extended commercial for Seagle's Alpha Flight or total filler, or both. There's some good character moments, and I do feel the X-Men would be resentful towards Warren given the situation they've faced since returning home. But the art is a mess and the story screams filler. Seagle's run doesn't properly start until Bachalo's arrival next issue.

Matt said...

Heh, I forgot about that blurb on the cover of Uncanny #352. At least they were having fun with it...!

"The whole story with the entity on the plane feels like an extended commercial for Seagle's Alpha Flight..."

Isn't there also a two-part crossover with Alpha Flight coming up soon, too? He was really trying to sell that book!

Jeff said...

I've always really liked #72. I think Kelly's run is better than anything we've seen in the last two years fo x-titles. And Pacheco's artwork is phenomenal.

Aqualad said...

#72 was one of my favorite comics of this era as well.

I'm really looking forward to your coverage of the Seagle run, when Rogue tries to get her powers removed and Wolverine acts all fatherly towards the younger X-Men.

Teebore said...

I always liked #72, though I remember being really upset by the retcon of the Erik Lensherr identity, for all the reasons you listed.

HardtravelingHero said...

So where does Magneto: Testament fit into keeping the character mysterious?

I've only read the first issue, but this past decade has been all about giving away the secrets of characters like Wolverine and Magneto. Who else, who else...

Getting direct to these two issues, or at least the Magneto subplot one, I hated this idea that Magneto had made up the ID, etc, etc...

Make mine Marvel...last decade.

ray swift said...

This was a quite a good drama, but you right about Marrow. She seems out of place in the team. Like all the new characters, she doesn't has a solid reason to dragging her presence in the X-mansion. She clarify to everyone that she doesn't like it here, so why stay?
But the one who seems to get the most stupid of them all is actually Sam, as there is no reason at all defending Marrow. The fight with Wolverine only proved it farther. He act like Boomers when she defeneded Sabertooth, yet Bommers at least had a motivation (Sabertooth reverting to his "kitten" decieving self). Marrow doesn't even try to conceal her murderous personality.

Anonymous said...

#352 is, by far, visually-wise, the worst X-Comic I've seen! What a mess...The Angel scene is horrible.

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