Uncanny X-Men #281-286
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #281, Uncanny X-Men #282, Uncanny X-Men #283, Uncanny X-Men #284, Uncanny X-Men #285, Uncanny X-Men #286
Claremont was phased out of Uncanny X-Men during the Muir Island Saga, but this is the first new post-Claremont story. Issue #281 was published the same month as the adjectiveless X-Men #1, and the cover signals that this book was part of the X-Men revamp ("A mutant milestone!", "A new team is born!"). This story is actually meant to take place later (as confirmed in X-Men #5), since the Blue and Gold teams were introduced in the adjectiveless series.
John Byrne's participation as scripter here (and on Adjectiveless) was meant to soften the blow of Claremont's departure, since Byrne was co-writer of this book while it was exploding in popularity. But Byrne was just scripting and didn't have any control over the plots, and his experience working on these titles was not positive, and that's why he is gone by issue #286 (i provided a little more detail on the Adjectiveless issues preceding this entry).
I warn you in advance that this story is a mess. That impression is unavoidable with Whilce Portacio on art because his art is very busy. It makes my eyes tired. But even if we could ignore the art, the plotting is just hyper.
This story starts by running up a gratuitous body count, wiping out all of the Reavers...
...and then the Hellions. The idea is that there is a new "Upstart" group competing to take over the Hellfire Club. Donald Pierce, head of the Reavers, was the Hellfire Club's White Bishop at one point, and of course the Hellions are the teen mutants that Emma Frost, the White Queen, has been training.
The Upstarts in this story are Shinobi Shaw, who we've already seen kill his father, and a new character called Trevor Fitzroy. It was Fitzroy's new model of Sentinels that wiped out the Reavers.
Note the talk of points being awarded for each kill.
We see the attack on the Reavers begin, and then we see the X-Men going to the Hellfire Club. It turns out that they've been asked to go there by Emma Frost, who knows that someone is targeting the Club. In fact, an assassin has already made a move.
After some really pointless fighting between the X-Men and the Hellions, the White Queen tries to suggest that the X-Men have to help the Hellfire Club because otherwise they will be targeted next. Storm doesn't buy that line of reasoning, but is willing to help as long as Frost can prove that there's really something going on (and psychically torturing the would-be assassin isn't what Storm has in mind, hence the fight).
Fitzroy then shows up at the Hellfire Club and begins killing off the Hellions.
Meanwhile, Pierce escapes from the Sentinel attack, leaving Lady Deathstrike behind and having Gateway teleport him to whoever is responsible for the Sentinels. Since that's Fitzroy, he is sent to the Hellfire Club. Deathstrike is saved by Cylla Markham, the new Skullbuster.
Fitzroy at this point has killed off two of the Hellions, and John Byrne is doing his best to keep our interest by comparing Fitzroy to the Super-Skrull.
Pierce's arrival brings the Sentinels with him. They add to the carnage. Pierce is killed, and even the White Queen is thought to be killed.
And then Jean Grey falls, seemingly killed as well.
Hilariously, the next issue has to open with a footnote explaining everything that was left out of the previous one (take our word for it!).
Jean is of course not dead. She's transferred her mind into the White Queen's body.
So, ok. Messy. Heavy on death (it's unclear how many Hellions are dead at this point, but it seems at least Beef and Jetstream; the rest have been taken captive). But it's a fairly straightforward idea. Two guys competing to kill Hellfire Club people. One of them, Fitzroy has some advanced technology. But things get a little more weird when Fitzroy starts hanging out with a little grimly fiendish guy called Bantam and portals start opening around him.
Fitroy later kills Bantam for insubordination, but he'll be back.
Fitzroy turns out to be from the future (which explains the advanced tech.) The portals are attempts from more people in the future to come back (in this case it might have been people coming to try to stop him), but something prevents people from coming through the portal alive.
Fitzroy then begins absorbing the life force of the Hellions that he's captured, starting with Tarot (and hey, there sure are a lot of Hellions in that panel)...
...and using it to successfully bring in allies from the future.
When one of these allies refuses to help him, Fitzroy pretends to offer to send him home, but really closes the portal on him prematurely, killing him. When Fitzroy goes to absorb more Hellions, Jean makes her move.
We've seen telepaths transfer minds before, but i am surprised that Jean is able to access her telekinetic powers. I guess it's a question of whether or not Jean's psychic abilities are part of a physical mutation in her brain or just something that she's learned to do and can do wherever her mind is. I always assumed the former.
The rest of the X-Men show up to rescue Jean and the Hellions.
But Fitzroy absorbs the energy of the rest of the Hellions all at once, and summons a whole horde of mutants from the future.
Note that some are branded with Ms on their faces.
But also coming through the portal is someone named Bishop, accompanied by two more people in X-Men style uniforms. Fitzroy is in fact a "young" Fitzroy; his father is said to be some kind of "lord" in the future.
I'm not saying it wasn't the plan all along, but we've gone from Fitzroy being one of several "Upstarts" trying to take out the Hellfire Club as part of some kind of game to a mutant noble from the future with a horde of mutant friends. He's also already racked up a body count rivaling all past X-villains.
Bishop's companions are named Malcolm & Randall. I used to have an idea that they might really be Banshee and Forge from the future, but that was really just based on their hair colors, i guess.
And what we can read of the patch on their uniforms says Xavier Enforcers. There are surprisingly few clear shots of the patch in these issues, but it eventually comes out that their full group name is the Xavier Security Enforcers, or XSE.
When the XSE try to push Fitzroy's goons back through the portal, they wind up getting torn apart, like we saw with the people that came through the portal earlier. Fitzroy says that his portals are only one way. So Bishop and his companions are now stuck in the past.
Bishop's power is to absorb and return energy.
The other two... i don't really know. They all just use guns, mostly.
When the XSE start killing Fitzroy's mutants, the X-Men jump in to stop him. Bishop shows reverence for the X-Men...
...but can't believe that he's dealing with the real X-Men and assumes its a trick.
I noted in the entry for X-Men #4-7 that John Byrne seemed to be using what little power he had as scripter to build up the original X-Men, and we see the same thing here, at the expense of Storm.
For the most part, these stories are so frantic it's hard for me to even remember to see any of Byrne shining through.
The fight between the X-Men gives Fitzroy a chance to escape, but he winds up getting captured by goons working for Shinobi Shaw. Shaw shows Fitzroy that The "Gamesmaster" rules in his favor.
We later meet the Gamesmaster, who is hanging out with Selene.
Meanwhile, Professor X and Forge facilitate the transfer of Jean's mind back to her own body. In the process, there's an explosion caused by the interference of a third psi-mind, which i assume is our clue that Emma Frost is still alive. Note Iceman, a little later, calling her a "witch"; interesting based on what will eventually be revealed.
There are a couple nods to Jean's recurring resurrections.
An explosion separates the XSE from the other X-Men. When the X-Men get back to the Blackbird with Forge, Xavier, and Jean, Xavier says that the X-Men's "uneasy alliance" with the Hellfire Club put Jean's life at risk, and Storm responds, "I know, Professor. Decisions made in your absence seem to continually haunt us." Should i read that as Byrne putting down Storm again, or is it a kind of knock on Claremont altogether? I'm looking for some meta meaning because it's kind of a weird line on the surface level. As Storm said earlier, the X-Men would have tried to help the Hellfire Club regardless of any alliance; the alliance itself isn't what caused the X-Men to risk their lives.
Anyway, at this point we're really done with a story arc, but the next story begins while the X-Men are flying home. Issue #284 opens with a new costume for Sunfire.
It's said that the new costume will help him focus his powers. It's also said to be very uncomfortable, which will give us an excuse to get him out of it. It's also a very Whilce Portacio design (and god awful, imo). Anyway, Sunfire is helping a joint Japanese/Russian expeditions of scientists do something something, and whatever they are up to, these things come out of the pit.
If Sunfire's new costume is very Whilce Portacio, these things are VERY VERY Whilce Portacio.
The X-Men receive a distress signal during their flight home, and show up to help out.
Despite having such "alien" thought patterns, the creatures in the armor turn out to be essentially human. I wouldn't be surprised if that discrepancy wasn't due to the fact that Byrne was scripting these pages one at a time without knowing what was coming next (not that it couldn't still be true).
The X-Men and Sunfire wind up in a pocket dimension that the armored warriors were coming out of, and there's talk of prophecy and other nonsense, with Colossus getting special attention due to him looking similar to a figure of legend. I'm not going into the ins and outs in details, but the story reminds me of a messy rehash of Judgment War from X-Factor #43-50.
The important thing here is that Colossus' brother Mikhail has been living in this pocket dimension, which is why people thought they recognized him.
We heard about Mikhail Rasputin back in Uncanny X-Men #99, where we were told that he was a cosmonaut that died in an explosion. He hasn't really been brought up much (at all?) since then, so his return here is really out of left field. Obviously instead of dying in the explosion, he was shunted into this dimension.
I should mention that issues #284-285 had extra help on inks. But oddly, it's issue #286, when we're back to just Art Thibert on inks, where the art really changes.
Anyway, the X-Men do their alternate universe regime change thing while the portal that they went through to get to the alternate dimension expands, threatening to overtake the world. Cameo by Nick Fury, Henry Pym, and Mr. Fantastic trying to figure out how to close the portal.
Mikhail is a mutant, but his powers are a little vague. He has "energy wielding talents". He doesn't do much with them, but in the end he does... something to help close the portal at the end.
He is successful and is brought back to Earth with the X-Men.
In subplots, Bishop and his men continue to hunt down Fitzroy's mutants.
Obviously Bishop will turn out to be a relatively important character, and will eventually become an X-Men. It's frankly amazing he survives this horror story of an introduction, though. So much of what else is introduced here - Fitzroy, the Gamesmaster, the Upstarts, even Mikhail - all turn out to be duds really quickly.
Someone writes in to issue #286 to ask what the arrival of Bishop will do to the relationship between Storm and Forge, which seems pretty out of left field to me. But the response isn't, "Why, because they're both black?!"; they actually agree that his arrival might "stew things up a bit". So far Bishop has called Storm a "witch" repeatedly. Storm did say that she thinks that Bishop will be a "formidable force" and that she won't rest until all questions are answered, but i didn't see any hint of romantic interest. Given the circumstances in which these issues were scripted, something could have gotten lost in translation, i guess.
I do like the character of Bishop. Coming from a future that, from what we see so far, seems less dystopian than the Days of Future Past scenario. A future where the X-Men are revered, and therefore a character that can't even believe he's meeting the X-Men of legend. But he's not a starry-eyed fanboy; he's a tough as nails, pragmatic policeman. Granted a very 90s violent policeman, but what will be interesting in the next couple of issues is showing him adjust to a world where lethal force is not accepted. So he's a complex character, and an interesting one.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 460,625. Single issue closest to filing date = 599,300.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: In X-Men #5, Professor X splits the team, sending the Gold team (the Uncanny team) to respond to a request for help from Emma Frost. A footnote there confirms that that is meant to be a lead-in to this story here (even though this story began a few months earlier).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (17): show
I always thought that for a guy from the future, Fitzroy kinda had a very 90s' Brian Austin Green hairstyle, LOL!
Now that I look at it, Bishop is very 90s' too...
But I loved these issues, these were some of the best days for the X-Men in my opinion... just an endless supply of new and groundbreaking ideas though I understand how you say the art is very busy.. I feel those guys, the Image guys, were just overwhelmed and bursting with such ideas and creativity that it just flooded the pages.. we will not see the likes of that group again in modern comics!
Posted by: Brimstone: Wrestler, Celebrity | February 5, 2016 4:08 PM
Portacio's cyberpunk design aesthetics are heavily inspired by 80s anime, particularly the higher budget films and direct-to-video mini-series. I'm a fan of that stuff so I enjoyed Portacio using this look for the Sentinels and new villains during his run.
Claremont eventually brings the Reavers back in an X-treme X-men Annual in 2001. I believe Pierce was resurrected before that in the late 90s during some Cable or X-man storyline.
Posted by: Red Comet | February 5, 2016 4:21 PM
This is probably blasphemy, but I don't really mind the slaughter of the Reavers and the Hellions and, more generally around this time, the disbanding of the original Hellfire Club. As Claremont's run started spinning out of control towards the end all these characters just sort off existed in the background, reminding us of dangling plot threads but not doing anything. A deck clearing exercise was sorely needed.
It's just unfortunate that the story itself was not very good, and the supposedly cool news villains are the rather lame Upstarts.
(Also, I realize I'm writing this with 20/20 hindsight, knowing that Sebastian Shaw and some of the more interesting Hellions will be resurrected, and that the death of the Hellions frees up Emma Frost for cool character development in Generation X and later in New X-Men. At the time I would probably have been furious over the fact that the long established villains are sacrificed to big up stupid characters like Fitzroy and Shinobi)
Posted by: Berend | February 5, 2016 4:24 PM
I love Bishop.
When his story is finally revealed, I think the Gamesmaster's backstory is pretty interesting and makes for a theoretically sympathetic villain; too bad they don't do much with it, IIRC.
Posted by: Thanos6 | February 5, 2016 4:47 PM
This ranks in my list of one of the worst comics ever.
So much to hate here - first, the art is abysmal. Liefeld gets all the grief, but Portacio was by far the worst of the Image hacks, with no sense of anatomy, storytelling ability,horse faces, Archangel wings designed by an 8-year-old, weird eyes rolled in heads and tons and tons of unnecessary lines.
Two - shock death after shock deaths, whether the Reavers, the Hellions, none serve a purpose, other than to build up the new lame, and now forgotten villains of Shinobi and Fitzroy. Granted, I hated the Reavers, but this was just gratuitous. And if they were going to scrap them, couldn't they have at least taken out the insufferable Lady Deathstryke.
And the plot with Jean doesn't make sense. She's dying, so she teleports into the dead White Queen, then they get their minds swapped back and they're both just fine, with no injuries or ill effects.
And then Bishop - aka black Cable - a character designed in committee, with a stupid mullet and a mysterious future/past. And don't forget a wonky eye.
The Image boys could have at least tried to be humble when taking over, but this story takes a dump on all things Claremont.
These guys wanted the keys to kingdom, got them and we got....this. then they abruptly quit for more money at Image,and the books suffered for years from their stunt.
Posted by: Bob | February 5, 2016 4:49 PM
I picked one of these issues up after having not touched an X title since maybe Acts of Vengeance and I was completely lost. Didn't pick up another one until maybe #300 or so, although I think I got some Wolverine and maybe 1 or 2 Adjectiveless during that time.
Posted by: Robert | February 5, 2016 5:12 PM
Ugh! Portacio is the worst! The art is way too busy and outright headache inducing. He doesn't draw attractive female faces at all. Honestly, would he have gotten this gig if not for his being buddies with Jim Lee? I never blamed John Byrne for ditching this mess; how could he make heads or tails of any of this? As a reader, I certainly couldn't!
Most of the Image crew were in need of a strong editorial hand and none was in sight, which shows. This title quickly became a mess and I bailed out around these issues, not to return until "The Age of Apocalypse" story several years down the line from here.
Posted by: Bill | February 5, 2016 6:33 PM
I thought X-Men #4-7 was all sound and fury with no substance.
I still do, but this is even worse and aimless. To think it sold 400K copies or more...
Colossus recalls his brother at least once after #99, in #128 IIRC.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 5, 2016 6:41 PM
"Someone writes in to issue #286 to ask what the arrival of Bishop will do to the relationship between Storm and Forge, which seems pretty out of left field to me. But the response isn't, 'Why, because they're both black?!'; they actually agree that his arrival might 'stew things up a bit'."
Well, Marvel has proven since that "because they're both black" is a good enough reason as any to pair two characters together...
Posted by: Morgan Wick | February 5, 2016 7:15 PM
Hilariously, Tarot is killed twice in this story- once in issue 281, once in issue 282, because Byrne was working with an incomplete plot and didn't know she was supposed to die in issue 282.
Posted by: Michael | February 5, 2016 9:21 PM
I agree that it was nice to clear the deck a little with some of the extraneous side groups in X-Men, but the mass slaughter seemed a bit much. These are decent characters that could have been used in other settings. Hell, the Reavers--non mutant mercenaries who are experts with cyborg stuff--that's a lot of potential for anyone's rogues gallery. More to the point, smashing existing characters just to prove the new bad guys on the block are the best usually isn't the best idea.
I read X-Men #281 a lot, and it still kind of irritates me to this day, not because it's inherently crappy but because I got suckered into thinking a new era of awesomeness was lurking.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | February 5, 2016 11:45 PM
I never thought this story was particularly good, but I am rather fond of Bishop. Randall will turn out to have the ability to sense the presence of other mutants, while Randall has the ability to survive radiation. Surprisingly passive powers for two guys in a badass paramilitary resistance group, so let's hear it for walking through walls and super translation skills.
I interpreted the unusually large number of Hellions present at Fitzroy's little portal-opening shtick, as being heretofore unseen teenage recruits of the HFC. Wouldn’t put it past Emma to stack the deck that way.
Mikhail Rasputin was also referenced at the conclusion of the Proteus storyline, when Kevin used the memory of Mikhail's loss in order to unsettle Peter and defeat him; as we've seen, it didn't work out in Proteus' favour.
Posted by: Mormel | February 6, 2016 1:29 AM
Funnily enough, as I scrolled down and saw Sunfire, I thought he looked much better here than in his old costume. The mask on that thing, especially, was embarrassing.
Posted by: Mortificator: Brimstone fan | February 6, 2016 4:25 AM
Whoops, I meant that MALCOLM has the ability to sense other mutants. Let's not give Randall too much credit.
Posted by: Mormel | February 6, 2016 5:28 AM
I'm not a huge fan of any costume for Sunfire really. Maybe the Age of Apocalypse version?
Posted by: Berend | February 6, 2016 6:07 AM
I think there's a few elements here and there that work but altogether it is a mess, not at all helped by Portacio's bad art.
The first issue you can read and think "oh, well, they're going somewhere" and then 2 issues later they have gone in about 3 different directions since.
This is one of those stories that you're best just read a very brief summary of and imagine something better.
But at least we're rid of Claremont. After this arc, the only way is up.
Posted by: AF | February 6, 2016 7:24 AM
Fitzroy is, again, another of the characters I figured was probably bigger due to the X-Men animated series. He was actually the one who brought about the Age of Apocalypse in a two-parter by killing Xavier. (not Legion) Regardless of his "pointless outside his period" element, he is a cool look I still think, just this idea of him looking like a time-traveling evil swashbuckler.
And of course Bishop...yeah, I was surprised literally nothing was ever explained about Bishop in the 90s animated series so want to see what happens with him.
No, its terrible that a lot of characters had to die for this mess but, like Omega Red, I actually get something out of this due to the animated series. (especially considering that I'm one of the few who actually knew of Fitzroy before more relevant elements like...well, Legion...)
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 6, 2016 7:47 AM
With the addition of Bishop and forthcoming confirmation that Cable, too, is frim an alternate future, we wind up with four concurrent X-characters from four different alternate futures: Rachel Summers, Shatterstar (from a future Mojoverse), Cable (raised in the 31st century), and Bishop.
Claremont seems to have had some input on Bishop's creation before he left; he alluded in a few late interviews to a new X-Man being worked out. I suspect, though, that Trevor Fitzroy's name was Byrne's idea: Fitzroy means "(bastard) son of the king," and that will be relevant years later when we fund out who Fitzroy's family are. The early clues in these issues don't really add up, though. (Note that Fitzroy is meant to have a personal hatred for Emma Frost, but dhe should be long dead by the time of Fitzroy's future. The vendetta is never referenced again anyway.)
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 6, 2016 12:08 PM
Playing devil's advocate here, as I'll concede that X-Books storytelling was in a state of flux which translated into a tangled mess of plotlines, but... this would not mark the first time that certain backstory elements were thrown into the air and ended up leading nowhere, or return in a significantly altered form- especially where the Hellfire Club is concerned.
Even in Claremont's heyday, there was stuff like Warhawk reporting to his employer who manifested as a disembodied head and was described as 'nameless and faceless', but was retroactively supposed to be Sebastian Shaw.
Still, the HFC stories of the 80s were a lot more solid than the Shaw family soap opera we got in the 90s. But they weren't without their little charming inconsistencies!
Posted by: Mormel | February 6, 2016 1:29 PM
There is an overplot in the x-books at this, presumably sketched out by Lee or Harras or both. Selene is going to turn out to be a High Lord/External, like the one's appearing in X-Force at this time. (Apocalypse is implied and later confirmed to be one, too.) When Fenris and other characters in the two X-Men books refer to the prize in the Upstart competition as immortality, that presumably has something to do with the High Lords and the nebulous "ascension" that makes a lucky one of them uber-powerful. In Cable's future timeline, Apocalypse was the High Lord who ascended.
So what's going on is Gideon's group, Cable, and Selene (using the Upstarts) are all playing for power among the High Lords and ascension, and they're all afraid Apocalypse is going to get it: Cable and Stryfe know about this from the future, while Gideon's group have a precog.
This is all put out in dribs and drabs over the next two years, and the olan seems to get mdified as it goes along, especially after Lee leaves. The general idea has to be pieced together by carefully following some truly lousy comics.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 7, 2016 8:48 PM
And actually, you can get a summary of the whole Upstarts/High Lord/Ascension mess, plus some funny quotes from Byrne about scripting x-books at this time, here: http://www.uncannyxmen.net/secrets-behind-the-x-men/upstarts-high-lords-and-armageddon
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 7, 2016 8:55 PM
My opinion on these issues is: they are bad. Not because of Portacio's art (whom I liked in my teens and who, despite his flaws, *is* better than Liefeld, IMHO), but because of the story.
All these bad characters! Shinobi, Fitzroy, Bantam, the Upstarts... and yes, Bishop, too. I just don't like him - did the X-books really need another gun-toting time traveller? And his mutant powers are so generic...
And that whole stuff of Mikhail... ugh.
One specific idiotic thing in these issues: the deaths of Jean and Emma. Their fatal injuries are treated like something from an 80s cartoon... or like Health Points from D&D. Meaning, we seem them attacked and then, dead... but they have *no* real injuries altogether. The only problem seems to be that their minds are gone. But they were attacked with energy weapons, not some psionic gizmos... Why don't they have any wounds? And why transfering Jean back into her own body brings her back to life?
Another nonsense: Jean manifesting TK in Emma's body. Sorry, I don't think it should work this way. Telekinesis is a superpower, not a skill...
Posted by: Piotr W | February 8, 2016 5:54 PM
Emma Frost switched bodies with Storm intentionally back in Uncanny X-Men #153 or so. Both women ended up commanding their host bodies' powers only until the switch was reversed.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 10, 2016 6:43 PM
The difference being one is written by sacred X-cow Claremont and this one isn't. So this is by default seen as awful, hacky and pathetic whereas Claremont's version is that of "a visionary genius who writes strong female characters".
Posted by: AF | February 11, 2016 4:30 AM
Sunfire's ugly old mask, bug-eyed and dehumanising, looks to me like it was inspired by Japan's famous 'Ultraman' productions.
Posted by: Oliver_C | February 11, 2016 4:59 AM
@AF-no the difference is that X-Men 151-152 has standard comic book pseudoscience- a gun that switches personality- while this story has a ridiculous concept where Jean's body is physically killed, she switches her personality into Emma's body and somehow when her mind is returned to her body her body inexplicably heals.
Posted by: Michael | February 11, 2016 8:18 AM
I took Luis' comment to be a data point on the question of whether or not it made sense for Jean to have telekinesis while she was in Emma's body. In the Claremont story, both characters only had access to the powers in their current bodies, which is what i would have expected. There's an argument to be made that a mental power like telekinesis could be taken along with Jean into Emma's mind, but i don't really like it.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 11, 2016 8:39 AM
Magic gun trumps hack material apparently.
Posted by: AF | February 11, 2016 9:05 AM
Shinobi was also the name of a popular video game about a ninja who killed a bunch of other ninja terrorists.
I think the Upstarts and the Gamemaster are a meta-concept, referring to Lee, Portacio and Liefeld (and Harras) as they worked out their plans for the mutant titles. I don't know if it was conscious or not, but that's the impression I've always had.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 12, 2016 9:26 AM
As an 11/12 year old in 1991 and 1992, these were "my X-Men" (sort of -- I had read Dark Phoenix reprints earlier than this) -- but really when I reread these, "Uncanny" 281-287 and "X-Men" 4-13 are just sort of treading water, biding my time until Lobdell and Niceiza take over the two titles.
Really though, these issues are the worst ... we're introduced to Storm's new squad with no footnote, considering last issue ended with a completely different team, the originals still on X-Factor, etc. If you were only reading "Uncanny" at this time and not "X-Factor" or the new "X-Men," you'd have no idea what was happening. At least Claremont OVERused footnotes. Part of this is probably the behind-the-scenes scripting difficulties/shifts. I feel like Lobdell was thrown into the deep end of someone else's plots here.
Also, count me in on team "Portacio's art is terrible." Just ... no. Ugh.
At least when Lobdell is fully in charge with the Morlock story in a few issues, we'll be back to a singular voice, whether you like his run or not.
Posted by: Jeff | February 22, 2016 1:46 PM
I only read this after getting back into comics with X-Cutioner's Song. A year later, looking back at these, the first couple weren't bad, in spite of the slaughter, but the whole "going down a hole" story was just terrible.
What was most disappointing, reading these a year after they came out, was that they still hadn't gone anywhere with the Upstarts. That wouldn't happen for almost another a year after that even, and it still just ended up getting more confusing.
Yeah, complete mess just about sums it up.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 5, 2016 10:18 AM
I have a pet theory about the Rasputin's that involves that involves this plot arch.
I personally like to think that families with multiple mutants should demonstrate some connection in their gifts, even if they don't appear related, because of the supposedly genetic nature of mutants. But the Rasputin's are all over the place: Colossus is a metamorph, Illy is a teleporter, and Mikhail is (vaguely) an energy manipulator.
I actually think that the unifying feature is that they all have a weird, fate based power to become important in far flung places -- like, the further they are from Russia they are, the more likely are to become beings of myth. You see that here with Mikhail, and obviously with Illyana and Limbo, and then, with Colossus, we have the Break-World story arc during Whedon's Astonishing X-Men. (He even played an out sized role in Secret Wars I.)
Posted by: FF3 | March 10, 2016 3:22 PM
Magneto and his children don't share abilities, and the Guthries have very different powers. I'm not sure why random mutations should produce similar results in families. I mean, the Braddocks are twins and one is a mutant while the other isn't.
Posted by: Anne Rogers | May 28, 2016 9:14 AM
It's interesting that in 2016 we've done a complete 180s from the 1980s, Back then, Polaris wasn't Magneto's offspring but the Maximoff twins were. Now it's the other way around.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | May 28, 2016 9:23 AM
Are the Maximoff twins Magneto's offspring? There was a fairly recent PAD "X-Factor" where Wanda drops in on Lorna (or vice-versa, I forget) and they go out and get drunk while trying to figure out their 'sisterly' relationship. Me, I refuse to acknowledge the idea. In fact, I didn't even write this paragraph.
The family thing can work both ways, or all ways. Children having similar powers to each other and/or their parents makes sense on a narrative level. I'm not sure why, but it does. FF3's idea for the Rasputins is actually a pretty cool idea.
In the real world, yes, siblings are different from each other and their parents. Heck, more twins are fraternal than identical, but that's not how the stories go. ["Star Wars" and the Maximoffs being the sole exceptions to this I can think of anywhere in pop culture, although I'm sure someone must have used it somewhere.]
This is going to get on my nerves. Ok, the Braddocks are twins, but only one is a mutant [and what the hell is Jamie?] Fenris are twins and their powers are interconnected. Karma had a twin with the same powers as her. Wanda and Pietro are fraternal twins and mutants with completely different powers.
Cyclops and Havoc are siblings with energy powers and they're immune to each other. Banshee and Black Tom are also immune to each other, and have separate powers, but they're cousins, and Siryn did inherit her father's powers. Colossus and his siblings each had very different powers, no immunity involved. Thunderbird's brother had the same powers. Jean Grey and Cannonball are the only other muties I'm aware of even having biological siblings, and I'm not aware of any of their powers, if any. I don't know what the deal is with Franklin and Valeria Richards.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 28, 2016 9:46 PM
Of the above, I like the Cyclops & Havok way of dealing with mutant siblings best. Related yet distinct powers emphasize the familiar bond, and being unable to hurt each other is a neat consequence of how mutants' powers usually don't damage their own cells.
Posted by: Mortificator | May 29, 2016 12:08 AM
The Maximoff twins aren't Magneto's. They are Maximoffs and the High Evolutionary performed some shenanigans on them. So Lorna is the sole Magneto kid. So Lorna is his only remaining child, hopefully. There's still the Zaladane mystery.
Jamie Braddock seems to be a mutant whose insane. I'm good with Brian being not mutant with the X-Factor. Betsy being a female means she has two XX chromosomes and the second X chromosome could carry the X-Factor gene.
Franklin being the uber mutant of the Marvel Universe sets him apart from comparison with his sister(s?). Valeria is a big question mark.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | May 29, 2016 12:52 AM
Sad end of both the Hellions and Reavers. The Hellions were interesting rivals for the New Mutants. They had friendly rivalry which was not likely to last. A few members were obviously villainous and should grow up to be enemies. Others were probably decent individuals, but who would have wound up as bad guys because of their ties to the Hellfire Club. Some were likely to defect and be heroes.
The Reavers were a group that had potential, and I actually liked their stories. They were good foes I'd like to see continue to fight the X-Men.
Instead, they were destroyed in order to "prove" how badass a brand new group of people were who seemed to have disappeared fairly quickly. The Upstarts simply weren't as interesting as the groups they eliminated.
Posted by: Chris | May 29, 2016 12:56 AM
I wonder how much of this is a simple as the new guys trying to take charge of the franchise with a spectacular deck-clearing exercise. It must have bee rather intimidating coming in to a franchise Claremont had defined over close to two decades, so quickly asserting control and throwing away a bunch of the less significant Claremont running characters might have been one way to deal with that.
In this reading, the real Upstarts are Lee, Portacio, and company; they last about as long at Marvel as the ones in the comic.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | May 29, 2016 4:50 PM
The one thing I liked about this issue [when it was new] was getting rid of the Reavers. They were good villains, but at this point they'd been around too long without accomplishing anything, sitting around in Australia which is where the majority of them first appeared. Not saying they didn't have potential or that what came afterwards was an improvement, but getting rid of them here was about the best thing in the series post-Claremont, at least until I stopped reading.
The Hellions, they had potential, even if the team was wiped out and replaced by newcomers. Even without the New Mutants for contrast, junior evil mutants had the potential to grow up and become senior evil mutants. Never mind how cool some of them were, why would anybody get rid of the team this way? I never read the Banshee/Emma Frost series ["Generation X"?] but the idea just seems rich with potential. Roulette and Tarot are rivals, as are Jetstream and Empath. Thunderbird has left to join X-Force, so there's internal conflict over the new leader. Catseye is the mysterious one. And they're teenagers at a fancy school with a domineering headmistress. The teen sex comedy superhero series would practically write itself even without fighting the good guys.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 29, 2016 10:17 PM
And by the way, in my list above, I thought it was really weird how many of the main mutant characters were only children. Scott, Jean, Sam Guthrie and Shan were the only 'main' mutants who had siblings. Peter had a little sister established by Wein and Cockrum from his first appearance. Betsy (and Jamie) were established early as Brian's siblings, but that was for Marvel UK and also not quite the same thing as the Main Marvel Universe.
I know there have been later additions that I know little/nothing about [does Wolverine have a brother?] but really, the number of single children in the mutant part of the universe is very strange. Step-siblings [Kurt and Amanda, Charles and Marko] are part of pulp fiction. But really...?
Posted by: ChrisW | May 29, 2016 10:46 PM
Wolverine does have a half-brother (via retcon). In addition he does (did?) have children with similar powers (mostly the power of overexposed popularity.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | May 31, 2016 3:08 AM
Franklin being the uber mutant of the Marvel Universe sets him apart from comparison with his sister(s?). Valeria is a big question mark.
Valeria does not have any powers, she's just super-smart. And during Hickman's FF run we saw the future, adult version of Val, who also didn't have powers, so she's not a mutant who'd develop them at teenage either. Unless someone decides to retcon the Hickman story, of course.
To me it makes sense that Valeria would've inherited her dad's intelligence, but not any superpowers. Reed's smarts have been his true power for quite some time, while his stretching has become less significant. Whereas Sue's invisibility fields have become more and more powerful, making her one of the most capable superhumans on Earth (not counting reality-warpers like Scarlet Witch nor cosmic characters like Phoenix or Thor). So this dynamic is now also visible in their kids, only with the genders flipped. It creates an interesting relationship between Val and Franklin, as they're both extremely gifted, but in completely different ways.
Posted by: Tuomas | May 31, 2016 5:31 AM
As for the large number of only-child mutants, I guess you could fanwank it that the radiation or whatever it is that causes parents to have mutant children also makes them more prone to miscarriages? In fact, wasn't this the explicit reason why the second child of Sue and Reed didn't survive during Byrne's run?
Posted by: Tuomas | May 31, 2016 5:40 AM
@Tuomas Hickman's future Valeria contradicts that Claremont's Valeria was supposed to be the same person who experienced a different history and then was returned to being a fetus and was given birth to again. She should have the same powers as Clarmeont's Marvel Girl. I don't understand why she doesn't.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | May 31, 2016 9:02 AM
@Tuomas, I'm pretty sure Byrne said it was the radiation from their recent sojourn to the negative zone that caused the miscarriage, not the original cosmic radiation that gave them their powers.
@Brian, don't get me started on Valeria. Oops, too late. Under Claremont, Valeria was the daughter of Sue Richards and Doctor Doom from an alternate future Earth that had been conquered by the Kree. (Maybe it was Reed in Doom's body; that part's unclear.) So Claremont's version of Valeria had no physical connection to the later Pacheco (or earlier, Byrne) Valeria. The current Valeria was kind of dreamed up by Franklin (and Roma), and has only a vague, spiritual, timey-wimey relation to Claremont or Byrne's version.
Posted by: Andrew | May 31, 2016 8:43 PM
@Andrew Well, I confess, Millar/Hickman's version has me without a clue in terms of relating her to what Pacheco intended, other than the bare visuals. Teen Valeria goes away forever and Sue's pregnancy gets a do-over after a lengthy time-skip. I think Millar got her out of the trap of having the same powers, but at the expense of continuity in terms of relating her to Teen Valeria. The name's the same though....
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 1, 2016 12:47 AM
I'm still not sure how Husk is supposed to fit in. Three of the Guthries can fly, she can't (and another sister apparently manifested growth powers in an alternate reality).
I admit to being underwhelmed at Marvel's revelation that Lorna is Mangeto's child because they both manipulate magnetism.
I wonder if the writers are going to reveal that Xavier fathered Emma Frost since both are telepaths, or that Sunfire and Rusty Collins are secretly distant cousins because of their ability to create fire.
Posted by: Anne Rogers | June 3, 2016 6:17 AM
Or that Lorna Dane is related to Zaladane coz of "Dane"!
Posted by: AF | June 3, 2016 8:12 AM
By the way has anyone else's "HoYay" bepped into overdrive everytime Fitzroy and Shinobi have a scene together ("Why yes, shirtless bedside vigils and luxurious hot tub soaks ARE the best venues for conspiratorial assassination meetings!")
Also I know this is late, but Anne, the Gutherie's actually have another mutant sibling that can't fly either. And to be fair, given that they took the looooooooong route to get there, Marvel seemed reluctant to establish that relationship to Magneto too.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | September 30, 2016 2:12 AM
I bought UXM 281 the day it came out and I enjoyed it. I thought it was a bit of a waste of the Reavers, but such is life. By the time 283 came out, I'd dropped this book completely.
It was all just so nonsensical and random, and filled with characters who appeared to have no real motivation. I dropped Adjectiveless around issue 10 as well - the X-books were simply nothing like they used to be in my eyes.
Portacio's art was something I didn't have much of a problem with back in the day. When he took over on X-Factor, I was just glad to have something different to Bogdanove's dire artwork! With hindsight, I can now see all the horsefaces and Manga inspirations in Whilce's pencils, but I'm also of the opinion that he's a much more capable artist than Liefeld.
Years later, when I came back to the X-books, I picked up all the issues I'd missed (for the sake of completeness) and I honestly hated this stretch of stories. A sad state of affairs for the title that was previously the jewel in the comic world's crown...
Posted by: Simon | November 9, 2016 4:09 AM
For years I didn't know the Sunfire/through-the-portal story existed. I had the single issues of 281-283, and the 'Coming of Bishop' tpb which said it had issues 282-285 and 287-288. But it had nothing with Sunfire or Mikhail in it. And because I never had the following Morlock tunnel issues I never knew anything about Mikhail 'til he came back again in the lead-up to The Twelve.
Posted by: Dave77 | April 7, 2017 9:15 PM
Despite the all-over-the-place portacio art, I enjoyed the first 3 issues. I think things could've been better explained (maybe by telling the same story but taking more issues to do it).
But I do enjoy the fact that a villain is introduced by decimating a previous minor villain group.
I've finished 284 at this point and I can already tell that its a dumb, boring story.
The "alien" predator rip-offs Who look like regular humans and sunfire horrible costume (does everybody has to have a ponytail in the 90s?) are not a good prelude for whats ahead
Posted by: Bibs | January 23, 2018 3:46 AM
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