UXM # 322, X-Men Annual '95, X-Men V2 # 42 - 44, X-Factor # 110 - 111
Hello my faithful followers! I'm going to do this blog and the next one a little differently. There are a bunch of little character stories going on across UXM # 322 - 325 (only covering # 322 in this one), X-Men # 42 - 45 (only covering # 42-44 in this one), X-Men Annual '95, X-Men Unlimited # 8 (covered in the next one) Wolverine # 91 (covered in the next one), and Wolverine Annual '96 (covered in the next one).
The main story that I will cover in this blog is the Fall of Avalon story featuring Colossus. I will also cover a Mr. Sinister prequel tale, a Juggernaut encounter, and a sad X-Factor story featuring Strong Guy and Lila Cheney.
The next blog's main story will be Gene Nation. I will also provide coverage of Wolverine, who is pretty feral and living in the woods outside of the mansion throughout all of these issues after realizing that he almost killed Sabretooth. I'll cover Sabretooth himself, who has regressed to a childlike state after being stabbed through the brain by Wolverine. We'll follow Iceman, Rogue, and Gambit as Gambit wakes up from his pre AoA kiss with Rogue to find her running from her life (with Iceman) as she lives out Gambit's memories. We'll also cover a Legacy Virus storyline and I'll finish it off with a little update on Graydon Creed.
One special editor's note. While X-Factor Volume 1 officially runs through Issue # 149, I have decided that I will stop reading and covering the series from this point on (ending with # 111). I've made this tough choice for a few reasons. First, these issues are not included in Marvel Unlimited and I would need to purchase each of them individually. Second, the team comes back from Age of Apocalypse very different. Quicksilver and Multiple Man had already been either written out or killed off. Strong Guy will be out of action (potentially dead), and Wolfsbane will be joining Excalibur. Havok and Polaris will slowly meander off the team and Mystique, Wild Child, and soon a holographic version of Shard will join the team. Third, while I have no problem with team shakeups and new characters, I decided to ask the community (via Reddit, Twitter, and friends) if this run is worth reading and 100% of the responses I received were negative. So X-Factor will be added to a list (alongside Dazzler, Alpha Flight, Ultimate X-Men, Wolverine, Classic X-Men, and X-Men 2099) of series that I will come back to at some point in the future, but for now I am putting them on the side and charging forward.
Since I won't be covering the stories issue by issue, I'll lay out all of the creative teams here.
UXM # 322: Scott Lobdell & Tom Grummet
X-Men Annual '95: Ralph Macchio and Terry Dodson
X-Men V2 # 42 - 44: Fabian Nicieza and Paul Smith (42 - 43), Andy Kubert (44)
X-Factor # 110 - 111: John Francis Moore and Jan Duursema
I've read that Lobdell had no idea who Onslaught was when the Juggernaut issue was written, but he knew he planned to introduce a new baddie. Surprisingly, even though this was a pretty impactful introduction, the comics haven't jumped into Onslaught stuff for a while after this so even though I'm ahead in my reading, I know nothing about him.
Here is a Scott Lobdell quote from Comic Creators on X-Men related to the lack of fore thinking about Juggernaut and Onslaught:
“Some guys work out every last detail up front, but I tend to unwind my ideas slowly and just follow a character or a storyline. I feel like I’m somebody who has a clothesline that’s all knotted up and I follow line until I get to the end. Hopefully, a story or a character will reveal itself by the time I get there. I don’t have any problem with finding a story instead of telling a story. ”
Juggernaut & Onslaught
This one is pretty straight forward. Beast and Bishop find that Juggernaut crashed into New York city. They fight him, alongside Psylocke and discover that for the first time ever, Juggernaut is scared of someone called...Onslaught.
There is a nice moment where Scott and Jean are talking to Jean's dad about Jean's sister Sara who died at the hands of the Phalanx. I'm glad this got some attention here, but this was such a waste. She went missing at the same time that Karma's siblings went missing (who still haven't been found), which was many years ago, and she found out she died in a throwaway line during the Phalanx Covenant. So at least this gets a little attention, but it makes me wonder more why Jean didn't do more to find her than make me feel sad about it.
The Fall of Avalon
This is a 3 part story that unfolds from X-Men # 42 - 44 and focuses entirely on the Acolytes and the Fall of Avalon. We begin on Avalon where Exodus is still running the show, pretending to be speaking as the voice of Magneto. Following in the wake of Age of Apocalypse, we saw in X-Men Prime that Holocaust made it to the prime reality and was discovered by the Acolytes.
Exodus suspects how powerful and dangerous Holocaust is, so he sends different Acolytes to him to be slaughtered. The first is a mutant we barely know named Milan. The second though, is Rusty Collins. I actually felt genuine sadness when Holocast kills Rusty Collins. Rusty, who has been with us since X-Factor # 1 in 1986, has met his fate. Even though he didn't get much page time and had spent just as much time with villains as he did heroes, it seems like he's one of the core members and this stung a little. Poor skids, who I was also concerned would die, but so far has not.
Holocaust and Exodus have a conversation before everything goes to shit. Holocaust refers to Exodus as Paris Bennet (we learned his real name in AoA) and Exodus is appalled that someone knows his real name. He then goes further and refers to him and Magneto as X-Men and the two of them start going nuclear, eventually bringing Avalon crumbling to earth.
Voght tries to teleport to Charles Xavier, but in the process teleports Scott and Jean aboard Avalon as it's breaking apart. Skids looks like she's about to bite the dust too, but Jean risks her life to save her. Scott and Jean also spend a bit of time eulogizing the lost of Rusty, which I really enjoyed considering the two of them took in Rusty and Skids as their wards in the early X-Factor days. One of the Acolytes, Uniscione, saves Cyclops and a number of other Acolytes with a psi shield as they are hurtling to the ground.
Jean and Skids land safely and re-unite with the X-Men, but Cyclops and the Acolytes (Cargill, Scanner, Uniscione, Kleinstock(s)) are stranded in Australia, near where the X-Men hid out during the Outback era. For the most part, the Acolytes set aside their differences and realize Cyclops' amazing leadership gives them the best chance of survival.
Meanwhile, we get some cute scenes between Voght and Charles. We learned that these two had a past quite some time ago but never go to see them together. We got a little of that here and even learn that Voght's natural state is mist, which really seems like an unnecessary detail. At one point Charles pushes his pschic powers to the max trying to find Scott and it appears as though he was ripped apart.
Mr. Sinister's Origin
The original 5 X-Men, minus Bobby (I think because he's off with Rogue) are off at a vacation spot together. Meanwhile, Nemesis (Cable's son Tyler) is leading the Dark Riders these days and confronts Sinister. This leads into a much appreciated Mr. Sinister backstory.
We learn that he was a socialite in 1930. It appears that he was rich and powerful by day, but a deranged scientist by night. He uses his masculine appeal to lure a woman named Faye into his house and keeps her hidden for a long time due to her having the X Gene, then eventually releases her. We learn that he has visited her in the hospital for years and may have truly loved her, however that's no fucking excuse for what he did to her and I don't care how he thinks he feels about her.
Oh and the Dark Riders kidnap Jean but it's pretty much inconsequential.
The end of X-Factor (For me, at least)
Directly following the Age of Apocalypse, the team is teleported to Madripoor and immediately begin fighting this random giant alien named Urg. Lila Cheney shows up and admits that she's looking for a music box, which was stolen by some Dr. Seuss looking alien who claims to have sold it. These majestic aliens show up and threaten to blow up the earth or something (this was a dumb plot) if Lila doesn't bring back the music box.
Strong Guy, Lila, and Polaris teleport off to go find the music box. Forge, Rahne, and Alex go looking to stop these crystal bombs from going off. The bombs do eventually go off but Guido saves the day by absorbing it all as kinetic energy, however the straight is too much and he has a heart attack. That's pretty much it. I think he's dead? There wasn't much attention drawn to it and it was clear in the next issue that there was a reboot with new characters and he wasn't even mentioned. This was the event that pissed me off and sent me searching the internet for opinions, 100% of people told me the rest of the series was crap and I made the decision to stop reading it.
My Rating - 7/10
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