Friday, June 19, 2009

X-MEN #89 & UXM #370, June 1999 – July 1999

X-Men #89

Yesterday’s News

Credits: Alan Davis (plot & pencils), Terry Kavanagh (script), Mark Farmer (inker), Marie Javins (colors), Comicraft (letters)

Summary: Outside of the facsimile New York City, Nightcrawler spots the long-dead Thunderbird. He explores the area with Shadowcat, and they discover more duplicate heroes around the city. Shadowcat abducts her duplicate and has Nightcrawler teleport her to Xavier. She then explores the city’s underground, and is discovered by Thunderbird, Captain Marvel, and Adam Warlock. Meanwhile, Storm and Wolverine are attacked by Human Torch and Thing duplicates while searching for medical supplies for Marrow. Elsewhere, Xavier scans Shadowcat’s duplicate and learns she’s a Skrull. Realizing that they’re on the Skrulls’ planet in the past, the X-Men wonder if Galactus is coming.

Review: I’ve always liked this story arc. It’s not particularly deep, but it has some sharp ideas and the art is fantastic. The story is reminiscent of something Davis would’ve done in Excalibur, as the X-Men find themselves stuck on the Skrull’s planet, running into bad impersonations of Marvel superheroes circa 1981. Meanwhile, Galactus is coming to eat them all. The Skrulls have to monitor Earth’s media reports in order to learn about the heroes, so we end up with a Spider-Man inspired by Daily Bugle articles (“I am en route to perpetrate a meaningless crime even now, fellow outlaws, but I can spare time to assist your own campaign first.”) and a group of X-Men who don’t know where their headquarters is, or even who their leader is supposed to be. Not only are these scenes legitimately funny, but they’re also realistic. How would the Skrulls know which member leads the X-Men? The media reports about the team are so inconsistent, the Skrulls have no idea what to think. I remember people complaining that this wasn’t a “real” X-Men story, but it’s the type of story I wish we’d seen more often.

Uncanny X-Men #370

History Repeats

Credits: Alan Davis (plot), Terry Kavanagh (script), Adam Kubert (penciler), Tim Townsend (inker), Liquid! (colors), Comicraft (letters)

Summary: Gambit heads for the Skrull’s Shi’ar simulation city, hoping to find better medical care for Marrow. Meanwhile, Wolverine learns from Nightcrawler that Shadowcat is missing. Wolverine leaves on his own to search for her. He soon meets his Skrull doppelganger and steals his costume. However, security cameras expose him to the Skrulls. Meanwhile, Xavier attempts to warn the Skrulls about Galactus’ arrival. As the team follows Gambit to the Shi’ar city, the disbelieving Skrulls attack. Gambit manages to place Marrow inside a healing pod, but he’s soon discovered by the Skrulls. In the skies, Galactus’ ship arrives.

Review: It’s more running around in the Skrull world, which is fun. The gimmick doesn’t work quite as well in this issue, because Adam Kubert’s style doesn’t fit in with the look of early ‘80s Marvel, but it has its moments. The Skrull imposters of Thunderbird, Captain Marvel, and Adam Warlock tell Shadowcat that they gave up their true forms to “avoid the pitfalls of detection that have foiled our previous attempts to infiltrate other races”. Because the heroes they impersonate have now died, they live in exile, “our loyalty rewarded with a death-sentence”. It’s another example of Davis actually trying to apply logic to the Skrull’s world, and it’s pretty clever. There’s not a lot of character work here, but everything’s moving at a brisk pace and the story’s hook is strong enough to keep it interesting.


wwk5d said...

I always liked this story too. Fun, and nice art. It wasn't a "true" X-men story, but there have been many great stories where the X-men encountered different people from all over the Marvel Universe (all the stories with Dracula, Arkon & the Badoon, Kulan Gath, etc, weren't "true" stories, but they were great reads. So was this.

Peter said...

I'm curious, what's a true X-Men story? The ones involving Magneto, the Hellfire Club, the Brotherhood, and Sentinels? Because when you look at, for instance, the all-new all-different guys, they fought Count Nefaria, Ngarai, Erik The Red, Firelord, Warhawk, Garokk the Petrified Man, Moses Magnum, the Wendigo, Man-Thing (and many more non-mutant threats) in only their first few years. And those tended to be darn fun romps.

I wish they'd interacted even more with the Marvel Universe proper: using the likes of Kang, Ultron, Bullseye, Doctor Octopus and Thanos in Uncanny X-Men would have been more exciting than the umpteenth retread of a Magneto battle that goes nowhere or new types of Sentinels that are quickly forgotten about.

So I'm not sure why the Dracula, Arkon, Badoon, Kulan Gath and all the other stories mentioned above wouldn't count as true. Especially since before they basically got canceled, they also either fought Magneto/Sentinels, or oddball villains which usually weren't mutants (the Cobalt Man, the Porcupine...). In other words: does a mutant have to be involved to make it an X-Men story? Sabretooth was an Iron Fist character, Mystique was a Ms Marvel character, but are they key to "true" X-stories or is it something else? (this is not a bash because obviously we both like the Alan Davis stuff and the oddities like Kulan Gath, but genuine curiosity :)

As for the issues themselves, this was when I was really enjoying both series because everything seemed fresh and exciting (moreso than the current series, although Carey does his best). The Twelve would put a damper on things because it didn't seem to be very well thought out and contradicted a lot of what was hinted before, which defeats the purpose of doing the storyline in the first place.

Jeff said...

I agree with everyone. If the story is good, who cares who they are fighting? The original Phoenix saga has them fighting the Shi'ar in space and most people consider that classic.

Matt said...

I really liked this story too. Everyone else has already listed the reasons why!

Aqualad said...

I forgot all about this story. This was a good one.

HardtravelingHero said...

No one has mentioned Secret Invasion? Don't any of you other regulars (or the author) read any current stuff?

It seems like a lot of Bendis' ideas, or at least one of the biggest came from this story. Does anyone know if there was a similar story before this Davis arc?

I'm not even sure if Bendis made any references to this arc. I wish I had these issues with me so I could reread them to see how it all fits together, if it does fit together. Have not read these X-issues in ten years and did not read every part of the SI crossovers, so I could be missing stuff.

As for my reading habits, I think I was getting spotty with picking up even the two main X-titles at this point as I seem to recall having to dig through back issue bins only a few months after they came out, but then I may have read these I started buying both titles monthly again... Maybe I did like these Davis stories more than I recall, though I'll always incestuously reread and love the Nicieza and Lobdell stuff from 92-95/96...

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