Friday, December 2, 2011

X-MEN UNLIMITED #23 - June 1999

Credits: Ben Raab (writer), Al Rio (penciler), Livesay/Holdredge (inks), Kevin Somers (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters)

Summary: In the wake of Magneto’s takeover of Genosha, Professor Xavier reflects on his students and the world they must be prepared for. Marrow, Gambit, Rogue, and Shadowcat are irritated by his zealous attitude. Nightcrawler talks to Xavier, challenging him not to give in to fear. Xavier watches the team train in the Danger Room and is proud to have them as his family.

Continuity Notes: After searching the internet, Shadowcat learns her missing father is in Genosha. This is treated as a shocking revelation, but wasn’t this information revealed years earlier in Excalibur?

“Huh?” Moments: Professor Xavier repeatedly points to a videoscreen image of Genosha while trying to make a dramatic point to Nightcrawler. Unfortunately, someone forgot to actually paste an image into the panel, so he’s just pointing to a gray screen. I also wonder if several panels of a confrontation between Xavier and Shadowcat are accidentally missing word balloons.

Review: Wow, another X-Men story that hinges on Professor Xavier acting like a jerk. And it sees print just a few months before “The Shattering,” an X-crossover that uses Professor Xavier acting like a jerk as the impetus for the entire event. There’s enough material out there now for a Professor Xavier: A-Hole trade paperback, I swear. I will say this about Unlimited #23 and “The Shattering” -- there’s an actual point to the stories and Xavier is redeemed by both of their endings. New Marvel has failed pretty miserably in that regard.

The goal of this issue is to provide some insight into Xavier’s state of mind following the events of the “Magneto War” storyline. Since the main titles went off on an interdimensional/outer space arc directly following the crossover, you could argue that the team’s emotional response to the events was skimped over. Raab explores the idea that Xavier views Magneto gaining control of his own country as the ultimate defeat, while also fleshing out how he feels about returning to the X-Men (another plot development that was glossed over during the days of Uncanny and X-Men’s perpetual crossovers).

The story’s padded a bit with scenes of Xavier’s astral form checking out all of the X-characters starring in spin-offs, but for the most part, Raab has a clear focus. Xavier’s discouraged by a major loss, he’s wary about the future, and he’s paranoid that the latest incarnation of the team isn’t prepared. The X-Men simply see him behaving like an irritable bowel and don’t understand what’s wrong, with the exception of Nightcrawler, who once again proves what a nice guy he is by reaching out to the Professor. Nightcrawler throws some of Xavier’s old pep talks back in his face, and Xavier soon realizes that he should never give up hope in the team. The End.

As an epilogue to “Magneto War,” and a traditional “quiet” issue, this is all right. I know some fans have a problem with Al Rio, but I view him as one of the better Wildstorm artists. His characters look a little more human when compared to ones drawn by other artists who work in this style, and he doesn’t go overboard with needless rendering lines. It is a little ridiculous that apparently no one thought about how this story would relate to “The Shattering,” but I’m not surprised at this point. My fan explanation is that Xavier knew the team was annoyed by his overreaction to “Magneto War,” so he used it to add authenticity to his “drive the team away” scheme in “The Shattering.” If Marvel wanted to, they could’ve removed some of Xavier’s first-person narrative captions and just used this story as a “Shattering” prelude. As it is, I’d like to see this issue reprinted as an epilogue in a “Magneto War” trade paperback.

1 comment:

Harry Sewalski said...

Urgh, I always hate when Professor X is written as an evil character, or to have done morally dubious things. It feels like an incredibly cheap way to add drama and a twist to a story where it's not necessary. What's next? Reveal that Captain America waterboarded Nazis in WWII?

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