Uncanny X-Men #287
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #287
This issue focuses on Bishop, and ends with him joining the X-Men. We start with Bishop and his XSE companions Malcom and Randall wiping out a large contingent of mutants from the future in a nightclub. The X-Men, responding to the news reports, head there to investigate.
I noted last issue that Malcom and Randall didn't seem to have mutant powers. We learn this issue that Malcom has the ability to detect normal humans, which obviously isn't useful in a fight which is why he relies on guns.
That's followed up with a clarification of Bishop's powers. He can absorb the power of energy blasts, but apparently projectiles (e.g. bullets) would hurt him.
Malcom and Randall are then blasted to death by the future mutants (who are also all using guns).
Bishop says that he's going to kill the mutants, but that's when the X-Men show up.
When Bishop seems to resist, Colossus punches him into a mess of debris, and Bishop receives multiple puncture wounds.
Ironic that fighting over whether or not to kill resulted in delivering injuries that would have killed an ordinary person. But Bishop manages to get away, stubbornly pursuing the last remaining mutant, whose name is Styglut.
The story then flashes back to the future (gotta love time travel), showing Bishop, Randall, and Malcom pursuing Trevor Fiztroy. In this way, we belatedly learn that Randall's super-power was immunity to radiation.
The XSE pursued Fitzroy down a secret tunnel. They manage to capture him, but in the process trigger a video of Jean Grey. This video kicks off a long running, or maybe it's better to say long neglected, plot about a traitor among the X-Men.
Bishop then went to "LeBeau", who we know as Gambit. In this future, Gambit is still alive and being held in a maximum security prison. He's said to be the last person that saw the X-Men alive. Bishop wants to tell him about the video, but he's already aware.
Bishop wakes up from his flashback to find that the X-Men have captured and bandaged him.
Professor X interviews him privately and then announces that he's joining the X-Men.
Romita's art is cleaner than Portacio's, so this feels like an uptick, and the background on Bishop seems interesting. We have seen so many alternate realities at this point that the whole X-Traitor plot seems irrelevant to start with, because who knows if it has any bearing on the 'real' world, and that's actually a point that will be made over in the adjectiveless series. I'm trying to not judge any of this based on how little actually comes of it in the long run. I can definitely see how someone reading in realtime would find a lot here. The death of Randall and Malcom feels like a big deal (even though they're really ciphers), and the whole idea of Bishop coming from a future where the X-Men were revered is interesting, as are little tidbits like Fitzroy using exclamations like "By Magnus!". On the other hand there are no subplots in this issue and no focus on any kind of character development aside from Bishop. So it's like a lot of what we're seeing in the X-books at this point. It's a story that gets by on momentum from an influx of new characters, but isn't building up anything for the long term.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Colossus' brother Mikhail is said to still be on his sick bed, which is why he isn't seen here. This takes place before X-Men #8, when Bishop is already a member of the team.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
Doesn't the traitor end up being Onslaught?
Posted by: Enchlore | February 16, 2016 4:35 PM
Jr Jr doing an impression of the much inferior Portacio. Harras ordered this drek to be the house style.
Posted by: Bob | February 16, 2016 4:40 PM
Yes, we get to see Jean Grey record the message in 'Onslaught: X-Men'. With the blanks filled in, the message is pretty different. It's a fun moment.
Posted by: Andrew F | February 16, 2016 7:06 PM
And so, the nightmare begins... the nightmare of Bishop on the X-Men.
Also, the nightmare of Romita Jr.. I know he's a talented artist, but I hate his 90s X-Men work. Way too blocky...
BTW. Where did these future mutants get all these sci-fi guns..?
Posted by: Piotr W | February 16, 2016 7:16 PM
Not bumping significance for Bishop joining the team?
Posted by: AF | February 16, 2016 8:13 PM
The fact that Gambit is still alive in this far-flung future--though just how far-flung it is I don't think they say; something like 2287?--is perhaps a suggestion that Gambit was still being considered a clone of the long-lived Mr. Sinister at this point.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 16, 2016 10:29 PM
It's a little rough here (mostly due to the bevy of inkers, most likely), but I really love JRjr's blockier style. I love his older work as well, but the blockier style, once he becomes the book's regular artist w/issue #300, seems like the perfect blend of the stylization and energy of the Image guys with basic fundamentals of how to tell a story, lay out a page, construct a figure, etc. It's far from realistic, but it is grounded in solid technique.
Posted by: Austin Gorton | February 17, 2016 9:17 AM
Too early for a "Witness" tag, right? Since he's only seen in the future?
Posted by: Max_Spider | February 17, 2016 2:11 PM
AF - i think the points for Bishop are wrapped into his first appearance, since it's the entry right before this one and the immediate reason Bishop is significant is because he became an X-Men.
Max_Spider - correct. I don't count characters in flashbacks (even flashbacks from the future!).
Posted by: fnord12 | February 17, 2016 3:23 PM
The Bishop/X-Traitor storyline had a lot of exposure thanks to the 90s X-men cartoon. Bishop was a recurring character and his first appearance was a hybrid storyline that combined elements of the X-Traitor plot and Days of Future Past.
Posted by: Red Comet | February 17, 2016 11:45 PM
Comics Should Be Good did a feature on the Witness today, and Brian Cronin points out that the Witness was eventually implied not to be Gambit:
Posted by: Michael | February 28, 2016 9:03 AM
Glad to hear I'm not the only one who didn't like JR jr's work on X-Men, although I must admit, his style of drawing everybody to be four feet wide does work well with Colossus.
As for the writing - well they bring Prof X back into the fold and he's immediately doing what he always did - running over the people actually leading the team. The end of this feels just like when he decided to put Rogue on the team. For a telepath, he's terrible at communication.
And the plot, well, I bought this almost a year later, when I started collecting again during X-Cutioner's Song and I kept collecting through the return of Magneto in 1993 and the resolution to this video only just has its germination in that story. Talk about dropping the ball on your storyline.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 14, 2016 7:07 AM
When Bishop comes to the present and meets Gambit in 1992’s X-Men #8, also known as Remy LeBeau, he presumes that Gambit is the X-Traitor… where it’s also revealed the Witness raised Bishop. That links back to here where it's implied Bishop used to be a part of Witness's group, Shackle mentioning Bishop abandoning him and Witness further commenting on the "Pup returning to the litter." With Gambit being dubbed "the Witness" though, this would seem to suggest he wasn't the X-Traitor but had seen it and was protecting whoever they were. The most likely suspect is Rogue if that relationship was intended as genuine going forward.
However, the bigger question that arose for me from the whole start of this plot is Trevor Fitroy's reference/ ties to the Hellfire Club in a story that has its two main characters Bishop and Gambit named after a chess piece and chess move respectively.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | March 14, 2016 7:57 AM
The ultimate irony of the "X-traitor" storyline is that in the end the "traitor" turned out to be Bishop.
That being said, It's been reported quite a bit that Claremont's original plan had Gambit betraying the team anyway, so the "X-traitor stuff wasn't as far-fetched as we might have imagined (and indeed that might have been where this creative team got the seedling of an idea.)
Another clue that "Witness" may not be "Future Gambit" is the lack cheesy "Pepe Le Pew" accent. (Incidentally, if "Witness" is suppose to be in federal prison, why is left pantless, reclining like that? That image is really gross-looking is what I'm saying.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | May 4, 2016 3:43 AM
Well the "X-Traitor" he was referred to was actually Professor X (boo).
Posted by: AF | May 4, 2016 6:23 AM
For this subplot, sure. But the funny thing is that Bishop himself ends up betraying the team later on
Posted by: Jon Dubya | May 4, 2016 10:41 PM
Although I earlier thought that Gambit's/Witness's longevity might be a clue that he was a clone from Claremont's intended origin of Sinister as a slow-aging kid, I now think Lee might have had something else in mind. The Upstarts in the Lee-plotted books are being manipulated by Selene as they play a game whose prize is immortality (and maybe extra power, too). Lee explores a bit of Gambit's past in the adjectiveless X-Men, where Assassin's Guild members are unexpectedly manifesting powers, which we'll later learn are connected to the High Lord (Lady?) Candra.
It's interesting that Candra and Selene are both manipulating X-Men enemies at this point. (I even wonder if Lee might not have intended that Selene, rather than a new character like Candra, be behind the Assassin's Guild stuff as well as the Upstarts).
What does this have to do with Witness Gambit's longevity? Maybe he won the Upstarts competition, and maybe joining the Upstarts would be the basis for a story teasing Gambit as the X-traitor. This would neatly wrap together several Lee-era plot threads.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 11, 2016 11:57 PM
And to give the theory one more boost: what does it take to win the Upstarts competition? Killing mutants who count for points--and a traitor who killed all the X-Men would get a lot of points indeed.
(I don't think Gambit would have been the traitor, only that this is how the story might have played as a fake-out, with the X-Men not really being dead and Gambit turning on the Upstarts.)
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 12, 2016 12:05 AM
@Walter: Recall a "Gambit" in Chess is an opening move in which a player makes a sacrifice, typically a pawn (or a Bishop), for the sake of a compensating advantage. And recall that here several generations have passed since the X-Men were betrayed and killed, yet "LeBeau" still lives. So was his still being alive this far into the future proof that he had claimed the immortality of the Upstart "prize"?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | May 14, 2016 5:11 AM
Possibly. The fact that future Gambit is old might count against the theory, except that immortality and eternal youth aren't the same thing, which is an old ironic twist in mythology. (Future Gambit should be about 120 by my math: Bishop is said to have been born 70 years from the present. Add Gambit's present age and The future years that have passed since Bishop was born -- I estimate they might both be 25 or so, possibly older -- and that makes the Witness about 120.
I have wondered if there's some Hellfire Club significance to Bishop's name. Fitzroy's name means "bastard offspring of the King," and much later we'll find out he's the illegitimate son of one Anthony Shaw, who may be a Hellfire Club Black King, just as his grandfather or great-grandfather Sebastian Shaw was.
Was it the plan that the Hellfire Club would be the ruling power in Bishop's future? The Upstarts were of course trying to kill and replace the Hellfire leadership in the present: but just where Lee might have been going with this, I doubt we'll ever know.
Posted by: Walter Lawsob | May 14, 2016 5:25 AM
@fnord: why isnt this issue grouped with 281-286? Just wondering
Also, in the 2000/2001 Sons of the Atom LS I believe that both gambit and bishop meet this witness character in the present -day.
Apparently he's supposed to be omnipresent or something like that.
Posted by: Bibs | January 24, 2018 10:36 AM
My reading, especially from the dialogue on page 3, is that some time has past since the last arc. "Too bad Mikey isn't off his sick bed yet. -- We could use his help on this mission." Did you see anything that contradicts that?
Posted by: fnord12 | January 24, 2018 10:51 AM
Not, not really seen anything contradicting your placement. I just asked because I think this issue still feels part of the previous arc, with the conclusion of the whole Bishop & co. hunt down criminals from their era that ran as a sub-plot during the void 3-parter.
Posted by: Bibs | January 24, 2018 12:54 PM
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