UXM # 288 -293 (May - Sep '92)
#289 (Bishop's Acclimation)
Plot - Lee/Portacio
Script - Byrne/Lobdell
Pencils Andy Kubert
There isn't a whole lot going on here plotwise, except that while the X-Men team are taking Bishop to downtown New York (which is he marvelling at), he runs into the last fugitive from his time, Stylgut. They fight and Bishop kills him.
While Bishop is fighting (and killing) Stylgut, he destroys a bunch of property and dangers some civilians. We see this as a major learning teachable moment for Bishop as his teammates, especially Storm, and Colossus are pissed about it.
It's interesting how he talks about in his time he didn't need to worry about civilians because they knew that when they saw the XSE (Xavier's Security Enforcers) to clear out and hide.
Bishop promises to continue learning about this era and at the end of the issue, Xavier tells him that he should be mentored more closely by Storm.
#289-290 (Forge proposes to Storm)
Forge has been getting really sassy with Storm. Here he is getting pissy with Bishop (he sees Bishop as a threat to his relationship with Storm) and throwing shade at Storm saying that he can live a life apart from the X-Men.
Storm is obviously picking up what he's putting down and it causes a bit of a blow up. I am sure everyone else is standing around like...
Forge finally puts a name to it. "I'M PISSED ABOUT US. WHY HAVEN'T ANY OF THE WRITERS LET US BE TOGETHER FOR 50 ISSUES?!"
I know you, Orroro, I'm the only one who does!
Ohhhhhhh snap! He just proposed!
She takes the day to think about it and she's flying around with a big shit eating grin on her face. She's conflicted, but super happy! Giddy like a little girl. In fact, I love seeing my Storm like this!
Meanwhile, Forge and Jean are having a little chat. Remember when these two got close? It was when Claremont wanted us to believe that Jean might legitimately keep tentacle arms forever. Remember!? (If not, I covered it in 67: UXM # 259 - 264 (Genosha in the USA)).
Anywho, Forge makes a backhanded comment about Storm needing fixing and Jean telekenitically slams him in the face with a towel. Woman power!
So this is a HUGE plot point. Forge is basically like "I know! You're a telepath. Read her mind and tell me if she really loves me." Instead of saying no, Jean is vague and Forge interprets that to mean Storm doesn't.
DUDE's being a straight up asshole. You deserve better than this, girl.
Ouch. She was going to say yes. Or at least, Storm couldn't actually leave the X-Men so having her say she was going to say yes but Forge leaves first is a good way to tell an exciting story. You know what though, if she was really going to say yes, she would have just told him right there. Plus, Forge was being such an ass. He ruined it for himself. But if the guy is being verbally abusive now, it will probably get worse after marriage and your friends aren't around. You dodged a bullet Orroro.
See Bishop in the window. Yo! There is a LOT of imagery like this. I don't know how much more I captured in my screenshots, but trust me, there is a lot of Bishop and Storm looking at each other in the distance. I would typically make an assumption that these two are being shipped, but I know there is a lot of creative changes so I'm not confident that Lobdell will be around long enough to see it through. Also, it seems a little square to have the only two black characters date each other. This comic is better than that. Interested to see what happens here because the two characters are both pretty cool so I'm on board either way!
#290 - 291 (Cyburai Attack)
Bobby is taking his girlfriend, Opal, out to dinner to meet his parents. I didn't capture this in my screenshots, but Bobby's dad is clearly a bigot. He's pissed that Bobby is dating an asian girl and he's a complete jerk to Opal. Not cool, but also this tracks with the Iceman limited series (good job Lobdell).
And here comes the Cyberai. If you want to learn more about them, you can read it in 74: X-Factor 63 - 68 (Baby Nathan sent to Future). Who knows why anyone thought these guys were worth getting more screentime, but whatevs.
Iceman and Hiro, one of the cyborg ninja's who had turned back in X-Factor fight against them. They want to kill Bobby's parents because he contributed to their boss dying, Opal's grandfather.
At the end, Iceman takes Opal away and Hiro blows himself up, taking them all down. There's a little weirdness there where Opal and Hiro might have had feelings for each other, so I'm curious if Opal and Bobby's relationship will be in jeopardy.
#291 (Callisto comes a knockin')
Hot Callisto shows up all bloody and beaten. She tells her story of the Morlocks showing up, crazed, and attacking her.
Healer came with Callisto. We typically see him as one of the sane Morlocks, but he doesn't quite seem that way. He "heals" Callisto, but in healing her, he also reverts her back to her original form. (Clear that table, baby).
And now disfigured Callisto is back. Also, Healer looks dead in the background. I hope he isn't, I always liked him.
The X-Men (Gold team) go into the sewers to find the Morlocks before they can attack Callisto and others. They all seem to be out of their mind.
Storm tries to exert control, but they swarm her and her claustrophobia kicks on, pushing her to kill some of them (I think) and blow a whole in the roof to escape.
What's up with Mikhail Rasputin?
While all of this is going on, Mikhail, the brother of Colossus, has been hanging out with the team. They are planning a trip to the Sov (that's Piotr slipping up and almost saying the Soviet Union) Russia to meet Illyana for the first time.
Unfortunately, it appears as though our friend here is a bit disturbed. We see him accidentally turn a pizza boy into a tree.
One example of his madness is shown here. He is constantly visited by those he killed in the other dimension. They have conversations. His guilt is clearly driving him insane.
#292 - 293 (Morlocks, Mikhail, and Madness)
Callisto and Mikhail seem to bond (kindred spirits?) and fight Iceman, the only X-Men left at the mansion to keep an eye on them while the rest go in the sewers after the Morlocks.
One Morlock, someone named "MeMe" is able to pick up people and kill them by absorbing them into his body. Pretty grotesque.
Mikhail uses his powers (which I don't understand and are barely explained) to turn Iceman's entire body into ice, instead of just coating his body in ice. I think this is the start of Bobby experimenting with ways to be more powerful.
It turns out that there is a Morlock in the tunnels who is mostly responsible for putting the Morlocks into a frenzy. Xavier finds him (by crawling) and is able to stop the effect.
Just when things could have calmed down, Mikhail shows up and claims that he is the new Morlock leader.
Mikhail actually decides to kill all of the Morlocks, including himself by flooding them all.
The X-Men escape, but it certainly looks as though Mikhail, Callisto, and all of the Morlocks die here. I looked it up and it appears as though they all stay dead for a few years. In comics, that counts to me. Everyone comes back, but if someone is intended to die and we don't see them for 20 + issues or even longer, then they really have left the series, because if they come back, everything else is different on the team.
Ok! So I usually don't do two of the same title back to back. I usually switch it up between X-Men, Uncanny, X-Force, Excalibur, X-Factor, and something random like an Infinity Story, editorial blog, or Wolverine blog. But not this time. Why, you ask? I'll tell you why. I just got done (2 days ago) publishing the Bishop blog (#281 - 287) and complaining the whole time about how much I was disliking the new Uncanny series. Well, I hadn't read any comics after #287 until last night and now that I have, I loved it! Phew!
The "plot" and villains really aren't fantastic here, but that doesn't matter because there is so much focus on characterization. Lobdell reminds us that there should be something going on between Storm and Forge due to their time spent together in the Adversary's dimension (as covered here). Lobdell actually comments on this in an interview on the Epic Marvel Podcast:
"When I took on Uncanny X-Men, the first issue I got to do myself was a two parter with Forge and Storm breaking up. People were pretty upset that I broke them up and I said ‘look they haven’t even spoken on camera in 20, 30, 40 issues.' But people get this idea that they are a couple. So when I got on the book I was going to either keep them together or have them move on. Some people got upset and said ‘Storm would never cry.’”
Lobdell must have noticed that Archangel is in a weird state and he addresses his emotional issues head on (ever since he got transformed, as covered here). We go into the history books with Iceman's parents (who we first met in his solo series, covered/ mentioned here), and we're reminded that Iceman has a girlfriend (Opal) with a complicated history (as covered here). Jean and Charles have a brilliant 1 on 1 chat and Jean's past relationships/friendships with both Warren and Forge play a pivotal role. We get some fun interactions with the Blue team (at least Scott and Hank). Mystique is hanging out, crossing over from the Wolverine solo comic. Colossus even gets more characterization with his brother Mikhail going postal (continuing where we left off last blog) and his old flame Callisto showing up (and reverting back to type).
We also get an amazing quote from Jean to Warren:
"Warren, please. You're talking to the woman who's been killed, cloned, and kidnapped more times than I can remember."
Another great quote from Storm to Mystique:
"To the best of my knowledge, Mystique, of the few skills you do possess - murdering, stealing, and impersonating other to name a few- a degree in psychology is not among them."
I could see someone who is reading these isolated stories not really liking them for what they offer in a vacuum, but as someone who has been with these characters non-stop, watching them grow and evolve, I thoroughly enjoy paying off themes that have been established over the comic's rich history and playing in that sandbox.
I keep reading (from random interviews and commenters on the internet) that the Scott Lobdell era is bad. I read an interview where Fabian Nicieza was saying that Scott drove him crazy because he (Fabian) would map out his stories for years and Scott wouldn't know what he was doing the next month. I also heard that Scott was only given X-titles because he was the only one willing to script the stories over the weekend with the X artists (Jim Lee and co.) turning in their issues so late. Editor Bob Harras the following to say in "Comic Creators on X-Men:"
Scott was a guy who hung around the X-office a lot. I barely knew him, but I knew he was an up-and-coming, trying to prove himself. When John decided to leave, I needed someone to script an issue fairly quickly. Scott just showed up at my office door one day, so I handed him the pages and said: 'Okay, here's your shot.' To Scott's credit, he turned the script in very quickly, and it wasn't bad."
This made me nervous, knowing that we're about to enter a long Scott Lobdell era ,in both Uncanny and eventually Excalibur (I think), and I've never read any of them. Well, so far, I'm impressed! I said similarly positive things during his mini Excalibur run (covered in 79: Excalibur # 35 - 41 (Lobdell Era 1)). In both of those samples, I notice that he has a grasp of X-Men history that he doesn't hesitate to tap into. For someone (me) doing a chronological reading journey (with this blog coverage) and accumulating knowledge all of the larger context, I totally appreciate this! So needless to say, I'm back on board with Uncanny (again, phew).
I have mixed feelings about the art. This is the transition away from Whilce Portactio (who's art I love) and we get a lump of Tom Raney filling in. His art isn't terrible, but I feel like I'm really going to miss Lee, Portacio, and the whole Image crew.
Archangel has an amazing arc throughout these issues. I love that Lobdell is taking this head on. After he was transformed, he was evil for a while. Then there's been these little spurts where his wings killed people on their own. It's been unclear if he is normal or if something is wrong with him. This addresses that.
It starts with Bobby referencing that "the old Warren" was quite the clothes horse. I also like how close these two are after spending so much time together in X-Men, the Champions, the Defenders, X-Factor, and now in the Gold team.
Mystique shows up in his old form and really messes with him, pushing him to confront an earlier version of himself.
Afterwards, Xavier asks to speak with him and he flies off pouting like a child.
Here Storm is reaming Mystique for messing with Warren. She rightfully calls out that no one seems to notice how depressed he is. Well done, Mystique.
Forge pointing out that no one's been there for Warren, which isn't entirely true, however it might be true of the few people in this panel.
When the rest of the X-Men go into the sewers after the Morlocks, he abandons them and finds the spot where he lost his wings. To be clear, I don't think this is actually where he lost his wings, I think this is where Callisto had tied him up. And I doubt the blood would still be there and be red. Whatever.
Warren is wondering why he even bothered putting his life on the line for the Morlocks, since that set up the chain of events that led him here. Jean shows up and starts putting him in his place.
Warren lashes out.
What a quote: "Warren, please. You're talking to the woman who's been killed, cloned, and kidnapped more times than I can remember." So perfect.
Pwned! Jean's basically like...
Storm is tutoring Bishop. Also, are they being shipped!?
Pretty cool scenes here. There is a little wall shrine here to the team and I love that Magneto gets his own little section. Not only was he a dear friend of Charles, but he led the X-Men and New Mutants at one point, which is crazy! I also love that he is so reverent to Storm.
Finally, after killing Stylgut in the streets, he barges into Storm's room and gives up his command isignia, basically admitting that he has a lot to learn about "this age."
Also, Storm's totally in her lingerie. Nothing happens here, but the shipping vibes are so strong!
In the fight with Me-Me, Jean had to kill the mofo by wiping out his mind. She saw that his absorption of the random humans was about to be permanent (killing them) so she killed him first, and didn't like doing it.
I LOVE this little convo between Jean and Charles. It reminds me that Jean was the focal point of the X-Men for years in the 80's, but she has been really under utilized since coming back to life. It's great to see her interacting with so many other people, and especially Charles here.
Several characters have made mention of him refusing to talk about his recently crushed legs. I kind of like that he's just sucking it up and moving on, especially considering Xavier had been a whiny bitch for 20 years. Is he finally turning things around?
As a favor to Wolverine, Mystique is holding up at the mansion. Apparently she has reformed for the better, but we see she's still a little twisted. She decides to put Warren through a therapy session by changing into his past form and trying to get him to talk to his old self.
This quote alone gives me great hope for Scott Lobdell. I mean, this is good stuff. "To the best of my knowledge, Mystique, of the few skills you do possess - murdering, stealing, and impersonating other to name a few, a degree in psychology is not among them." I added the Oxford comma though, two points off for that Scott.
We also see that Mystique is starting to go mad. This happens kind of quickly, but clearly it's related to her wife passing. She will eventually leave with Forge, bringing Desiny's prophecy that these two's path will be intertwined a reality.
We've slowly seen this thing happening with Scott being attracted to Betsy. Here Bobby is asking Scott if she's as good looking in person as in the training versions (which is ridiculous because we've seen them in the same room together). Scott comments that regarding Psylocke, you might be on to something and Jean overhears. We'll see much more of this in the near future!
My Rating - 7/10
Next up, we'll see what Cable and those edgy X-Force characters have been up to.
Next post - 87: X-Force # 6 - 15 (Externals, Domino, Brotherhood)
Previous Post - 85: UXM 281-287 (Bishop)