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94: XM 17 - 19 (Harvest of the Innocent)

What’s Covered?

X-Men, Volume 2: # 17 - 19 (February 1993 - April 1993), New Warriors # 31 (January 1993)

Roster Watch


Russia and the Soul Skinner

XM # 17 - 19 (February - April '93)

Writer - Fabian Nicieza

Pencils - Andy Kubert

The bulk of this story takes place in Russia. We are first taken there by checking in on some Russian mutants, with Darkstar in particular getting some attention. I think I've seen these mutants once before, back when Magneto first started to go bad during Avengers vs. X-Men (as covered in 46: UXM 215 - 219 (Longshot, Havok, Dazzler)).

We are shown that these mutants, along with the most of a Russian town, seem to be taken down by some mental force. We'll soon learn, that force is the mutant known as the Soul Skinner.

Illyana, my love! Still sitting in the # 3 spots in my favorite characters ranking (through 1990). Illyana, now de-aged after Inferno, is happy to see her brother Colossus as him and the Russian X-Men away team arrive at Piotr's family collective.

Hmmm, we're in Russia. Let's see here, who else is Russian? We showed the random Russian mutants. We of course went with young Illyana. We even got that guy with the weird two tone glasses. Anyone else Russian? Oh, I know, Omega Red!

Omega Red is sent after the Soul Skinner (the cause of the weird psychic things happening n Russia) by the government, but he is pretty easily overrun.

It appears as though the Soul Skinner uses people's misery against them to control them. Neat.

The Russian government catches wind that the X-Men are in town, so they ask if they can help investigate the weirdness with the Soul Skinner.

The Soul Skinner is attacking Scott. I actually like this because Scott is coming off of X-Cutioner's Song (covered here) and all the drama with him and Stryfe and the guilt he's feeling about his son.

Also, at this point in time, the X Office is sticking with the insinuation that Sytrfe is the real Nathan. It does become Cable at some point, right?

Of course Wolverine has a little skirmish with his buddy.

Cyclops is trying to stop them because Omega Red is just brainwashed by the Soul Skinner. I get that Cyclops is trying to be that true, pure hero, but who cares!? Whether Omega Red is brainwashed or not, he's an asshole.

Tough scene here. A faction of the Russian government breaks into Colossus's house, kills his parents, and captures Illyana.

At this point, Colossus only knows about his sister being captured. Two tone glasses guy (don't recall his name, don't care either) reveals that Magik might be the only way to stop the Soul Skinner, by having her teleport him to another dimension.

This seems like a rather thin justification to bring Magik back, however I actually got very excited about this. I know that Magik comes back at some point, so I thought this might be it. It doesn't happen here though, so I don't know why they even toyed with me! You bastards!

The Soul Skinner is torturing the various team members.

Cyclops being tempted with a Psylocke sex scene!? Wow, I didn't notice that when I first read it nor when I copied this image into the block, lol. Wow, that must have been a lot of a bunch of 13 year old boys around the world. Ok, moving on.

Jubilee reminded of her parents death. F you, Soul Skinner. That's terrible.

Iceman being forced to think of Opal. Woah, is she holding some sort of heat knife or something? Or a blender? Wow, that's messed up! I wonder if this was Kubert or Nicizea's idea.

Wolverine reminded of Mariko. Again, that's cold S.S.

At first I wasn't sure why Scott making out with Jean. That would cheer me up (Jean's my mature love). But yea...talking about how he messed up with Maddie and will probably mess up Jean's life. Yea, that's brutal too.

Ok, now Colossus finds out that his parents are dead. Poor guy. Man, this is a dark story arc! Yikes. Will Illyana go back with Colossus after this? Her oldest brother and parents are dead and she's still 7 (or 8?)

So Colossus comes up with an alternative solution to re-aging his sister (Boo, I wanted her back). Since the Soul Skinner feasts on misery, Colossus brings all the kids together (who are happy little pups) and has Psylocke knife the younglings and then take that pure happiness and shiv it into the Soul Skinner. It works. At least long enough for two tone glasses guy (Nikoleivitch?) to shoot him in the head when he reverts back to his human look.

Tales from Nova Roma

Writer - Fabian Nicieza

Pencils - Darick Robertson

So Warpath and Cannonball (X-Force minus Cable and Domino still with the X-Men after X-Cutioner's Song) tell Storm and Professor X that they need to put the Hellions to rest. I LOVE that they are picking this story back up here. As a reminder, the Hellions were all (minus Empath and Warpath) murdered by Trevor Fitzroy, as covered in 85: UXM 281-287 (Bishop).

They don't necessarily want to "put them to rest" though, they are more focused on making sure that everyone who loves them knows what happened.

Sam mentions that Firestar A.K.A. Angelica Jones (another member of the Massachusetts Academy who never officially joined the Hellions, but is currently part of The New Warriors), would want to go with. Lol, Charles is like "You can't take my ship, but I'm pretty sure the New Warriors are loaded."

FYI, Firestar got her own miniseries which I covered here.

Sam, Angelica, and James set out to Nova Roma to tell Amara (Magma) and Manuel (Empath, former member of Hellions) that the rest of the Hellions have been killed.

Nova Roma was first introduced in the early Claremont New Mutants run as covered in 20: New Mutants 4 - 12 (Nova Roma)

After a quick battle with Nova Roma warriors, Empath and Magma find them.

For an unknown reason, Empath begins controlling everyone (Magma, Sam, James, random soldiers) and has them attack Angelica.

So this is a major retcon, which I don't believe ends up sticking.

To make a long story short, we were told during New Mutants that Nova Roma had been around since Roman times, as a little time capsule, never knowing about the outside world. Empath is claiming that he learned the truth, which is that Nova Roma has not been around since Roman Times, only for about 20 years (or less) with Selene brainwashing everyone into thinking they are Roman soldiers.

Apparently, with Selene gone (she's been with the Hellfire Club but hasn't been seen much lately, except maybe with that Gamesmaster guy), the psychic control is wearing off. However, Empath was truly happy in Nova Roma (I think he loves Amara) and didn't want it to end, so he's been psychical keeping up the ruse.

Nova Roma has been pretty boring to me over the years, but I'm curious if Amara or Empath will show up more often after this. I'm guessing not. (I looked it up and she'll next pop up in UXM #303 in August of '93, so not far from this.

My Connections and Creators

Fabian Nicieza and Andy Kubert are still running point on the X-Men series and I'm happy to see some consistency here. I really like Kubert's art and Nicieza earns some extra respect from me here with this story. A sub-plot involving Cannonball and Warpath actually continues in New Warriors # 31 (which I'll cover here). I didn't make the connection that Nicieza is also writing New Warriors. That means he has NW, XM, and XF. Wow, I wonder if he'll step back from one soon.

I'm also noticing a blurring of the lines here between the Gold (UXM squad) and Blue (Adjectiveless X-Men title). I made the decision at the re-launch to put the titles "Blue" and "Gold" in the tiles of my Roster graphic and now I'm starting to regret that. I really am entering unknown territory here as I have never really read anything past this point and this is a slightly less infamous time period, so my anecdotal knowledge is less as well. For the time being, I am going to depict the team's as I see them, here with Colossus and Iceman (typically part of the Gold team) part of the main storyline and Storm (part of the Gold team) showing up hanging out with the Blue team at the mansion. I'm very interested to see where this goes.

We're also starting to see the introduction of Kwannon, a character who looks like Psylocke. I recall seeing a super hero trading card of a character named "Revanche" who looked like Psylocke and not understanding what happened here. I think we're about to find out. I've also read 2020's Fallen Angels series which focuses on Kwannon (the character named here), but in that series Kwannon talked about Psylocke taking over her body and her not having an existence for a number of years. Sooooooo I'm really not sure what's up with this and I am VERY interested to learn more. On this topic, I've always been fascinated by what happened to British Psylocke. She always had a vicious, fighting spirit, and when she came out of the Siege Perilous (which typically re-set people's lives and gives them their wish), she was suddenly in a ninja's body (however it's worth mentioning that technically Matsuo and Mojo did that to her, I think). So in a way, this body swap thing was actually part of a larger Claremontian goal of letting each character have what they want (Piotr became a painter, Dazzler became a singer, Rogue stayed right where she was, etc.)

There's also a tease here when Illyana almost got aged up again and became Magik. I have a lot to say about this. Personally, I was disappointed because I loved that character. In fact, why even tease us if you're not gonna do it?! What the hell, people!? This does bring up a big question though. One thing that made the character Magik lovable was due to all the terrible shit she had been through in Limbo, so even if you aged up Illyana, it wouldn't be the same character. I do believe that one day she comes back, but I'm really not sure how it will be handled and I'm dying to find out. These are the types of things that keep me interested in reading!

Speaking of things that keep me reading, the X office is really shitting on Colossus lately. He is constantly depressed and for good reason. His brother tragically pulled a murder-suicide with the Morlocks after turning a bit evil himself. He no longer finds joy in painting (which is a big red flag, and now his fricken parents were just killed. This all leads to the following quote by him to Wolverine:

"Sometimes I wonder if leaving here to follow another man's dream, no matter how noble, was not the single worst choice of my life."

This is not good. I vaguely recall that Colossus went bad at one point. I remember him being listed as a super villain and seeing him in an Acolyte uniform on a super hero card and not knowing what was up with that, so I feel like that might be where we're going, but I'm not sure. We've been starting to see little clues that the Acolytes are active again too and I know I only collected super hero cards in the early 90's, so I think my detective skills here are on point.

We also see a bit more of Rogue and Gambit growing closer, but Charles Xavier is reminding the audience that we should be wary. I think this is pretty good storytelling. It's easy to love the idea of these two getting together. But Xavier helps remind us that Gambit is a bit of a wild card (he had a flipping wife and no one knew) so he could be playing a dangerous game getting Rogue to love him. As the audience, this reminds us that his intentions might not be completely genuine. Also, even if they are, Rogue's inability to touch another human could make falling in love hard for Rogue. And will Gambit truly be able to spend his life with a woman he can't touch. He seems macho, so will his love really overrule his masculine impulses? This is a good thing for us to track.

These different character beats are THE REASON why I am excited to keep reading and also the reason why I mentioned that Fabian Nicieza is growing on me. I'm very invested in Gambit and Rogue's relationship, the Scott/Psylocke/Jean love triangle (4 way if you include Logan), Colossus potentially going bad, the future of Illyana/Magik, The Kwannon/Revanche/Psylocke story, etc.

Character Moments at the Mansion

Alright, so a few things to discuss here.

First, Psylocke is totally flirting with Scott. She's such a bad girl!

Second, Psylocke brings up that when Scott said he needed to get away for a while, he really means that he needs to get away from his girlfriend who is a telepath and is constantly in his mind.

Third, Psylocke is also a telepath, so this is a subtle way for her to let him know that she knows he's dreaming of banging her (who's on first?)

Fourth, this is a fun way to remind us that Scott is still struggling with the events of the X-Cutioner's Song event.

Lol, that look. Psylocke's like "I know what you're thinking" and Scott's like "Yea, I am. Damn you being so beautiful!"

Second time in a row (Iceman at the grocery store last time) that someone tries to offer Piotr an ear. I love that Wolverine doesn't push though, he's just like "cool dude. I usually break stuff when I'm pissed too. Want me to break some stuff with you then."

This is the first trace of that great Claremontian "Philosopher Logan" that I loved so much, but we haven't seen since he left.

"Sometimes I wonder if leaving here to follow another man's dream, no matter how noble, was not the single worst choice of my life."

Holy shit. That's a strong statement. This can't be ignored. Nicieza is definitely going somewhere with this.

Rogue is still blind from her spat with Strobe. Picking up off the UXM epilogue, Gambit is really getting serious about his feelings for her. We see Xavier questioning how wise this is, for both of them.

Alright, so there's a bunch here to dive into.

First, it appears as though Beast is struggling with turning 30. I appreciate that Nicieza is trying hard to give everyone character development. This isn't...super compelling though. You're a fricken hero, man, suck it up! Plus you were a teenager in 1975 so the fact you're somehow not 30 yet 18 years later is nothing short of a miracle!

Second, Jean is prying in people's heads again! I do like that she seems to be everyone's mother figure and therapist. This era really makes her and Cyclops the leading family and power couple of the X-Men world.

Ok, a bunch here too. This is clearly setting up a future story arc. This is a copy (or clone, or something) of Psylocke.

As a quick reminder, when Psylocke came out of the Siege Perilous, she was captured by Matsuo Tsurayaba and Mojo had transformed her from a white British girl into a Japanese ninja sex kitten. I covered this in 64: UXM 251 - 258 (X-Men Disbanded) but the comic really hand-waved this and it was confusing what happened.

I recall seeing a super hero trading card of a character named "Revanche" who looked like Psylocke and not understanding what happened here. I think I'm about to find out. I've also read 2020's Fallen Angels series which focuses on Kwannon (the character named here), but in that series Kwannon talked about Psylocke taking over her body and her not having an existence for a number of years. Sooooooo I'm really not sure what's up with this and I am VERY interested to learn more. You can learn along with me.

My Rating - 6/10

Scott and Betsy - 10/10


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