UXM # 278 - 280, X-Factor 69 - 70
UXM #278: A gathering on Muir Island
Writer - Claremont
Pencils - Paul Smith
All plotlines must revert to the norm so we start off with Charles stealing back the Blackbird from Excalibur. The X-Men need to have the Blackbird, of course! I imagine they could have had it back if they just picked up the phone and called Nightcrawler, but I guess this is just more exciting.
Rogue and Guido are having a duel on Muir Island. I'm not clear if these two are controlled by the Shadow King at this point, but they are just trying to show us that basically everyone has converged on this island. Rogue has made her way from the Savage Land to Muir Island.
You may not know Guido well as he only made a few appearances as Lila Cheney's bodyguard, but you'll get to know him quite well in the re-launched X-Factor. I like him a lot so far. He's pretty funny!
Legion, Madrox, and Siryn are all hanging out at Muir Island too.
The X-Men are infiltrating the island, with Jubilee having a heck of a time.
Legion, controlled by the Shadow King, attacks Storm.
Siryn, controlled by the Shadow King, attacks her pops.
Jamie Madrox, AKA The Multiple Man, takes on Gambit.
The Shadow King shows Xavier that his puppets have defeated the X-Men. Ummm, why is Sunder being shown here. Not only did the guy get his leg cut off in the Mutant Massacre and have it back next time we saw him, but he totally died during the Reaver invasion. (covered here).
At the end we find that the Shadow King had found poor painter Colossus and corrupted him. He's now being sent after Charles.
UXM #279: Tag, you're it!
Writers - Claremont and Fabian Nicieza
Pencils - Andy Kubert
This entire issue is kind of a waste. It's literally a game of hide and seek with Colossus trying to smash Charles and Stevie. Eventually Colossus is about to kill them so Charles unlocks his mind, freeing Peter both from the SK but also of his naivety that allowed him to be a harmless painter after emerging from the Siege Perilous.
Guess what? This puts Colossus back to the norm and ready for an X-Men re-launch.
Wolverine, Gambit, and Jubilee are still under their own free will and on the prowl. We also start to see some fun interaction between Gambit and Jubilee. They are both quite snarky to each other.
XF # 69: Bring in the experts
Writer - Fabian Nicieza
Pencils - Whilce Portacio
The art sucked in the last two issues so it's a relief to see some sweet, sweet art here by Portacio.
Charles thinks that the X-Men have been defeated, so he takes his newly freed Colossus and asks his former students for help.
Awwwww, love the reunion.
This is some pretty good reunion stuff, but I feel like it could have been even better. Holy shit, Jean you're alive!? What the fuck!? Charles, where have you been for 80 issues?
Charles, Jacob Reisz (the FBI agent secretly the avatar of the Shadow King), Val Cooper, the Russian guy who has been working with Val (forgot his name), and X-Factor are planning a secret attack from a submarine as they believe the SK can't find them through all that water pressure (or something).
X-Factor makes landfall and by this point pretty much the entire team is controlled by the SK.
Reisz finally makes his move to kill Xavier and doom the plan.
But, what's this!? Val Cooper was actually Mystique! And she kills him. Mystique will explain what was up with this later so I'll hold the explanation for now.
With Reisz dying, all of the controlled beings are temporarily freed and X-Factor has a small window to finish him off.
They find Lorna at Muir Island serving as the Nexus of the SK's power. In a cool moment of continuity (which I keep finding Nicieza to be good at and he is earning my respect for), it's noted that Iceman used to have a thing for Lorna (even though she clearly preferred Havok right from the jump).
They take too long to act and the SK takes on a new Avatar, this time it's Legion. Pretty interesting because I watched the Legion TV show where the Shadow King takes over Legion so cool to see it happen in the comics.
The issue ends with Legion using his pyrotic power to blow up the island!
UXM # 280: Peace out Shadow King
Writer - Fabian Nicieza
Pencils - Adam Kubert and Steven Butler
We gear up for the final battle. Xavier shows up in a special suit which supposedly helps him to fight off the Shadow King's mental attacks. We see that Legion/Shadow King has all of the X-Men and X-Factor caught in his web.
The final battle is fought on the Astral Plane. This time around though the Shadow King is much stronger as he no longer has a physical body and the Astral Plane is his domain.
Charles is getting his ass kicked.
And this is how it happens. Kind of like the Matrix. What happens in the Astral Plane is made real in the physical world. His legs are crippled once more. Sad day in the X Universe.
Scott, Jean, Peter, Orroro, and Warren join Charles in the Astral Plane.
The 6 on 1 effort is enough to destroy the Shadow King!
Everyone is freed from his control. The professor's legs are broken. Muir Island is destroyed (and surprisingly no one is hurt).
XF # 70: What's next?
Writer - Peter David
Pencils - Kirk Jarvenin
Charles is in his son's mind, but nobody is home.
There was a long exchange here where Wolverine was basically being a jerk on purpose and everyone but Scott caught on that he was doing it tongue in cheek. This is setting up that Scott and Logan will continue to be rivals into the re-boot. (Why does Moira look like Maddie?)
Just a cool shot of Warren flying and the decimated island.
So there you have it. The convoluted explanation for what happened with Mystique.
There is a little scene here where Wolverine talks to Jubilee about something and then she freaks out. I think he told her that she's not going to be part of the team moving forward. She doesn't show up in Uncanny X-Men or X-Men # 1 - 3 and nothing is mentioned of it. However I think they must have received some angry fan letters or something because she appeared in X-Men # 4 without any mention of her absence and she stayed in that title from that point on. Obviously Jubilee made the cut for the animated series so that more than anything has cemented her as a primary X-Men team member forever.
Val propositions Lorna and Guido to join a new incarnation of Freedom Force. Of course, they will be founding members of the new and improved, government sponsored X-Factor.
Legion seemingly dies this issue.
What do you do with 14 X-Men?
Well, you create a bunch of brand new titles and do a linewide re-launch. That's what.
Well, this is the last story before the linewide re-launch. After this, we get the brand new X-Men # 1 run by Jim Lee (and Claremont for the first 3 issues), a shaken up Uncanny X-Men run by Whilce Portacio (with occasional support by Jim Lee, John Byrne, Scott Lobdell, and others), and a completely different X-Factor written by Peter David.
A quick mini story. I remember walking into the theater of Star Wars Episode 3 and it suddenly hit me that Mace Windu was not in any of the original movies, so he was definitely going to die in this movie. The same thing happened to me as I opened up this series. It suddenly hit me that Xavier is in a Wheelchair for X-Men # 1, so he will absolutely be getting crippled again at some point in this series and that realization made me a bit sick to my stomach. Poor guy. That's one plot point that I think was handled very well. Another example of quickly reverting all plot lines to the norm, but still handled well. Ok, let's get into it!
This particular story is lacking Jim Lee altogether as he steps away to start working on his brand new X-Men title. Chis Claremont kicks it off, but then Fabian Nicieza brings it home. It's hard not to notice a distinct table clearing as numerous dangling plot threads are tidied up, leaving everything in a nice tidy place for the re-launch. The art isn't great and the Shadow King story kind of goes out with a whimper.
In a way, the Muir Island Saga makes me a bit sad. Claremont had been setting up to have a giant Shadow King-centric story in Issue # 300, however his disagreements with Jim Lee and Bob Harris caused him to leave Marvel. This was the rushed story we got instead. Lee wanted to go back to the status quo and bring back Xavier, the mansion, the original 5, Magneto, Sentinels, etc but Claremont had been there before and wanted to try new things. Editor Bob Harris sided with Jim Lee as the dynamic artists (Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, Todd McFarlane, Rob Leifeld, etc) were revered at the time, thus pushing Claremont to leave Marvel.
Ironically, Charlotte Jones was originally intended to be the one to take down the Shadow King, Claremont is advised in a fax from Bob Harras, dated 4/9/91, that
“while I appreciate the notes on the plot to X-Men #280, I have doubts about Charlotte Jones being the cause of the S.K.’s defeat. I think we’ll pump it up here.”
In an episode of the Podcast "Jay and Miles Explain the X-Men, Fabian Nicieza comments on this awkwardness:
“I was the first person to get a writing credit that wasn’t Chris Claremont in 17 years when I had finished up the Muir Island Storyline. I thought it was because Chris was on vacation but couldn’t make the script on time. I found out later that it wasn’t because of that, it was because the editor and him were having problems. I had to wrap up #280 without knowing how Chris wanted to wrap it up. That was much less comfortable for me than taking over X-Men on # 12.”
My Rating - 7/10
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