Friday, July 10, 2009

UXM #377 & X-MEN #97 – February 2000

Uncanny X-Men #377
The End of the World As We Know It – Part One

Credits: Alan Davis (plot), Terry Kavanagh (script), Tom Raney (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), Brian Haberlin (colors), Comicraft (letters)

Summary: The X-Men meet Xavier and Magneto in Egypt, outside of Apocalypse’s headquarters. They’re attacked by Skrulls and Living Monolith cultists. The Skrulls use their shapeshifting powers to distract the members of the Twelve and teleport them away. Apocalypse uses technology to pull Bishop out of the future, where he’s soon abducted by Deathbird. The Twelve are all assembled inside Apocalypse’s chamber, where he’ll use their combined powers to reshape reality. Meanwhile, Wolverine and the remaining X-Men receive word that Xavier’s files are being hacked.

Continuity Notes: Caliban is now serving as the Horseman Pestilence. I’m assuming he’s brainwashed like Deathbird. (Caliban was being used during Rob Liefeld’s brief stint on Cable, which I’ve never read).

A Skrull asks Apocalypse why he didn’t have Deathbird bring him Bishop when she delivered the Living Monolith earlier. Apocalypse doesn’t give much of a reason (apparently, he wanted him charged with temporal energy, but the script isn’t clear), but he says that he had him “bio-tagged” before he went into the future so that he could be called back at any time. The real reason is that Bishop had to be free for his solo series (which sent him to the far future), which was reaching its eighth issue at this point.

The team of X-Men from the end of X-Men #96 rescued Wolverine in his solo series. The story about files being hacked has nothing to do with Apocalypse. It’s a setup for their appearance in the X-51, Machine Man series, which I guess really needed a boost.

Review: The opening chapters of the crossover worked pretty well, but this one is a disappointment. There is some novelty to seeing the X-Men fight Skrulls and Monolith cultists (who dress like King Tut’s henchmen from the old Batman TV show), but that’s really it. The dialogue is stiff as a board, and Raney’s art doesn’t bring a lot of excitement to the action scenes. The story establishes that Phoenix is able to telepathically locate the Skrulls, and Beast has developed a gas that forces them to revert to their natural state, yet it’s filled with scene after scene of heroes being tricked by Skrulls. Not only do none of the detection methods work when they’re needed, but apparently Magneto is dumb enough to believe that Astra has suddenly emerged in the desert, and Polaris is so dense she falls for a Skrull imposter of Havok.

The tacked-on final page is a bigger mess. Moira claims that someone’s hacked into the Xavier Protocols, and Wolverine (after conveniently reminding everyone that they’re Xavier’s files on how to defeat the X-Men) comments that he thought Xavier erased them. Moira replies, “He did. But whoever’s on the other end…is dredging through the garbage even as we speak.” What does that mean? The characters also comment that they should be in Egypt helping the rest of the team, but they go on the “detour” anyway. Oh, well. At least their guest shot in X-51 enabled the book to find a new audience and survive on its own for several years, right?

X-Men #97

The End of the World As We Know It – Part Two

Credits: Alan Davis (plot, pencils), Terry Kavanagh (script), Mark Farmer (inker), Steve Oliff (colors), Comicraft (lettering)

Summary: Fiz asks another Skrull mutant, Zcann, to use his telepathy to expose the truth about Apocalypse to their fellow Skrulls. The Skrulls turn against the cultists, allowing the X-Men to enter Apocalypse’s chambers. Inside, Apocalypse is preparing to overtake X-Man’s body, which will enable him to wield the energy of the Twelve. Magneto’s powers burn out, interrupting the energy flow. Living Monolith breaks free and goes on a rampage. Bishop absorbs the energy fueling the Monolith and both disappear. Meanwhile, Mikhail Rasputin aides the X-Men by teleporting away with War, Pestilence, and Famine. Cable damages the energy field surrounding Apocalypse, enabling Phoenix to attack. Her blast reveals that inside Apocalypse’s shell is a frail body. Before he can overtake X-Man, Cyclops jumps in the way. Apocalypse merges with Cyclops’ body and is rejuvenated.

Continuity Notes: Deathbird is now going by “War”, which I don’t think was made clear in the previous issues. Phoenix recognizes Famine as Ahab, which is presumably another clue that he’s supposed to be Rory Campbell (he spoke with a British accent last issue). I don’t know if this was ever confirmed, though (or what the point of choosing him as a Horseman in the first place was supposed to be).

Apocalypse was shown as a body snatcher back in the Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix miniseries, which was set in the future. I think this was the first time he was shown stealing bodies in the current continuity. He wants X-Man’s body because it’s already capable of wielding so much power. X-Man claims at the end that Cyclops’ body will work just as well for Apocalypse since they’re genetically related.

Review: This isn’t particularly good, but seeing Alan Davis draw such a wide range of characters at least makes it fun to look at. Steve Oliff’s colors are also great, making this a very pretty comic. Davis has a huge cast to work with, which unfortunately leads to some quick exits (Mikhail Rasputin, War, Pestilence, and Famine are all dispatched in one page) and a rushed ending that doesn’t convey the emotion the creators seemed to be going for. If this story was always supposed to be about Cyclops accepting his role as an X-Man and making the ultimate sacrifice, the previous chapters did very little to set up the idea. The plot also spends a lot of time on Apocalypse bragging about his brilliant plan and how great all of the disparate energy he’s collecting is going to be. With all of the goodwill in the world, I don’t see how Apocalypse putting various mutants in bubbles and draining energy from them is that interesting of a plan. The characters were already where they needed to be in the last issue, so it’s odd that so much time is wasted with Apocalypse recapping the last chapter and barely doing anything. For the most part, I like the way Davis brought the various elements together to get to this point, but it’s not much of a climax.

1 comment:

ray swift said...

On UXM 377#: Oh, man, this is so bad... The dialogue... It's like a full issue made entirely of exposition. None of the character here feels like an actual... something.
The fight scene also fleshs out something I already obsreved in most of the 90s issues, especialy whenever there is a crouded fight: None of the characters, be it small fry like Toad or giant fishs like Storm or even Magneto, matters. None of their powers is considerated. The battles are orchestrated in a fixed way: Character 1# kicks adverasry 1# with any use of it's power. Then adversary 2# surprise said character and take it down with it's own set of powers...
There are no strong characters and weak characters (unless they are the "big bad boss guy which need to be defeated by all the X-men together). There is only a giant melee which show that everybody helps in the battle and everybody doing something, yet it feels like none of them is actually fighting since the fight is fixed and the action is shallow...

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