91: X-Men # 12 - 13 (Lead up to X-Cutioner's Song)

What’s Covered?

X-Factor, Volume 1 # 79 - 81, 82 - 83

Avengers # 350 - 351

X-Men, Volume 2 # 12-13


Roster Watch





Synopsis


X-Factor, Volume 1 # 79 - 81

Writer - Peter David

Pencils - Jim Fern (79), David Stroman (80 - 81)

I need to start by talking about how terrible this art is. This David Fern guy (who drew 79) is really bad and I still hate Stroman's work. Maybe I've just been spoiled, but it really makes it harder to get into the comics. Also, the writing is pretty bad here too.


There are two stories playing out here simultaneously over these 3 issues. The first involves Jamie Madrox and Quicksilver teaming up in a small town. I feel like these two characters bring out the best in each other. Pietro is usually wound too tight and you can see Jamie pulling at his threads. And then Jamie plays things a bit too fast and loose and QS is there to slap him around. To make a long story short (or a bad story, brief), a blue skinned mutant named Rhapsody has killed an old man in a small town. She uses music to brainwash people and Jamie falls into her web. Eventually, with the help of QS, he snaps out of it and puts her away.


The other story involves Cyber, a super villain who appeared first in a Wolverine story as part of Marvel Comics Presents. These particular issues are on Marvel Unlimited so I haven't had a chance to read them and don't feel compelled enough to track them down and buy them. I recall seeing Cyber on super hero cards in my youth and I always thought he looked super cool, but had never read any comics with him in it. Let's just say it was better letting my mind assume he was cool.


A former mutant gang member, Shrew, goes to X-Factor for protection from her former group of mutant cronies, the Helle's Bells, of which Cyber is their leader. At the beginning Cyber punches Lorna in the face, breaking her jaw (she'll have a wired jaw for many issues afterward). We'll learn later that Cyber did this because his arms are made of Adamantium and he feared Lorna's control of magnetism. Guido is poisoned by Cyber and the whole team's wits are pushed to the edge, but of course they win out in the end.


X-Factor, Volume 1 # 82 - 83

Writer - Peter David

Pencils - Rurik Tyler (82), Mark Pacella (83)

This arc first introduces us to the XPatriots, a group of mutant regufees fleeing Genosha (who haven't yet learned that Genosha is free). X-Factor is called in by the government to deal with their expatriation when Toad and the New Brotherhood of Evil Mutants show up, trying to win this group over to their cause. A big battle breaks out (a pretty fun one, actually) and of course the Brotherhood is defeated and the XPatriots reluctantly side with X-Factor, for now.


One interesting component of this story is that Toad talks about the irony of the team name Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. I actually love that this is addressed head on. I mean, who would openly call themselves evil. Toad goes into this long diatribe about how they aren't truly evil, but since society assumes they are evil, they might as well play into it...ironically. It's a thin story, but I appreciate it nonetheless.


I also enjoyed seeing Quicksilver talking to Toad and it being addressed that they both used to be Magneto's lackeys during the original incarnation. That was a fun little acknowledgement for me, which I had actually forgotten about until it was brought up.


There's also one more member of the Chalker family, this time Rick Chalker, who finds a way to accidentally get himself killed before getting revenge on mutants. This bit is getting a little old and I need to see if it's going somewhere. Fast.



Avengers # 350 - 351

This is a fun little two part Avengers story featuring the Starjammers and includes an X-Men cameo. Raza, the cyborn alien ninja of the group, is blackmailed into killing the Black Knight to help him find his missing child. Raza almost succeeds (he stabs him, but not fatally) resulting in a giant fight between the Starjammers and the Avengers. That story itself probably doesn't sound super interesting, but there are a lot of FUN tidbits along the way.


Apparently there had been an interstellar war between the Shi'ar and the Kree. From what I understand, the Avengers interfered on behalf of the Shi'ar by killing the Supreme Intelligence (featured in the Captain Marvel movie). The final blow was specifically delivered by Dane Whitman, the Black Knight, leading the Kree to coerce Raza to kill him. I/we learned that Lilandra had put her sister Deathbird as regent over the Kree.


We also hear a bit about Magneto's Acolyte's being back (minus Magneto) and this sets up a big recurring of them in the main X-Books. I haven't encountered them yet, but I vaguely recall them being a big part of the upcoming Fatal Attractions storyline.


Another fun tidbit involved Carol Danvers, who had been making peace with the Avengers, but breaks with them to defend the Starjammers who she had spent so much time with.


Finally, there are super fun scenes with Scott breaking to his dad about Maddie and Nathan, plus telling Lilandra about Charles' legs being broken again.


X-Men, Volume 2 # 12-13

Writer - Fabian Nicieza

Pencils - Art Thibert

Jim Lee is out, Fabian Nicieza and Art Thibert are in. Thibert does his best Jim Lee impression and it was enough to fool me at 10 years old. It still works for me now too. The story though, leaves much to be desired.


We see Betsy take off here and later pop up in Excalibur (as covered in 90: Excalibur #51 - 58 (Sat-Yr-9)). An insane, yet powerful mutant named Carter Ryking (goes by Hazard) kidnaps Charles. We learn that their dad's were involved in some shady shit and it's hinted at Charles's dad being a bit nefarious and potentially connected to the Weapon X project, although I don't believe this ends up going anywhere. The X-Men fight with Hazard and defeat him in a pretty weak two story arc.


My Connections

A bunch of not so hot filler issues leading directly into the X-Cutioner's Song event. X-Factor meets a forgettable mutant villain (Rhapsody), an up and coming big shot (Cyber) and an hold hat (the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants).


We get a fun little Avengers story featuring the Starjammers. The story itself is the best of the 3 series I feature here, but it's actually the fun little interactions involving Lilandra and Corsair being updated on tragic events that's most memorable for me.


The X-Men also fight against a forgettable villain named Hazard as the series true villain is the absence of Jim Lee. Don't worry though, the X-Office got their shit together after this for a pretty good X-Cutioner's Song event.

Creators

X-Men # 12 is the first comic after Jim Lee's departure, with Fabian Nicieza taking over both plotting and scripting duties. At this point, the keys to the X-Men were given to Nicieza (with Lobdell on Uncanny X-Men). When asked about the overall theme of X-Men, Nicieze had the following to say during an interview on a podcast of Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men:

"I wanted to tell more propulsive, action driven, high stakes stories. Of a group of people, who are no longer teenagers anymore, who are trying to fight the good fight for those who don’t them to be fighting for them."

I can definitely tell that Nicieza set out to make the series more propulsive and action driven. You get a sense that he was slightly less interested in deep characterization and more interested in making big things happen. This doesn't mean that he was writing bad comics, but just that I think it's clear action and plot were his biggest priorities.


He goes on in the interview, talking about his goals for the comic:

“I was really trying to find my path to getting the same feel out of the book that I had as a reader, reading XM 100 - 135. Getting that same sense of family, purpose, danger, and drama. I thought the books had that to a perfectly paced and pitched degree back then.”

When asked about whether he was intimidated taking over for Claremont with Issue # 12, he says:

“I actually felt more uncomfortable taking over for Claremont during the Muir Island Saga than when I did taking over with X-Men # 12. By that point, Claremont had already been gone and I was taking over for Jim (Lee) and John (Byrne). "


My Rating - 6/10


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