Uncanny X-Men #311-313
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #311, Uncanny X-Men #312, Uncanny X-Men #313
In issue #311, Sabretooth gets loose during a power failure triggered while Beast is doing some repairs related to the EMP blast during Fatal Attractions. Bishop and Jubilee recapture Sabretooth.
Someone needs to ask Sabretooth if he wants help or if he wants to go to the Vault. I mean the whole situation got ridiculous immediately.
Also during the repairs, Iceman is caught in a power surge and he falls on the comatose Emma Frost.
Meanwhile, Storm gets a call from Yukio and meets her at a nightclub. They are attacked by techno-organic beings.
Going from JRJR to JoeMad with the above two scans.
Yukio is said to be part of Professor Xavier's "Underground", which is how the statement about her "affiliation with mutants" is explained (as if she didn't affiliate with mutants regardless).
The creatures, Borg-like, refer to themselves in the plural, and call themselves The Phalanx. Storm finds the Phalanx nearly impossible to stop.
A civilian bystander tries to help out (or, rather, take the credit for a mutant's work), but it doesn't go well and he's assimilated.
Gambit shows up to help. Yuriko is surprised to recognize him, and we'll later learn that she doesn't trust him (i guess being a member of the Underground doesn't get you files on the current X-Men).
Gambit's move is to trick the Phalanx into absorbing his motorcyle, and then he uses his power to detonate the gasoline.
After the explosion, Storm, Gambit, and Yukio are met by someone claiming to be an agent of the NSC.
But she's also part of the Phalanx.
Next issue jumps ahead a bit, with an apology of sorts about it.
As the fight continues, the Phalanx continue to prove that their goals are anti-mutant ("to insure the purity of the gene pool"). They are compared to Sentinels several times. And then we see that they are being coordinated by Steven Lang.
Lang has a "Mr. Ramsey" working for him.
Note how explicit Lang is that this "Douglock" is not a resurrected Doug and/or Warlock. That will be taken as true for Douglock's appearances for several years across several writers, but Lang will much later turn out to be lying.
We see Douglock trying to resist Lang's control.
Cameron Hodge is also with Lang.
The Phalanx chasing the X-Men are finally dispersed when Storm drops a giant boat anchor charged by Gambit on them (Yukio helps too, by luring the Phalanx into the trap).
Meanwhile, Iceman comes around. But first we see "him" mumbling about Pierce. And then he starts to ice up uncontrollably. Banshee says it's "almost as if the boy is learning about his body from scratch". And at the very end of the issue, it's confirmed that Emma Frost is in Iceman's body.
The scary situation around Iceman also serves as an opportunity to set up Jubilee's transition to the upcoming Generation X.
I like Madureira's cartoony art style (influenced by Art Adams and manga)...
...although i'm very concerned that Yukio might snap at the waist. I've never been sure if the Phalanx are supposed to look just like Warlock's people and the differences are stylistic or if they really are meant to look different. I guess the fact that Storm doesn't say, "Hey, you look like Warlock!" when they first appear is a clue. On the other hand, when Warlock "returns" in 1999, he'll be drawn in a style similar to the Phalanx. But that's arguably deliberate as well: despite it being said here that Douglock is based on a template of the merged Doug and Warlock, Louise Simonson will reveal that Douglock is in fact Warlock, with his memory having been replaced with a copy of Doug's. The whole thing around Douglock has always seemed overly complicated to me; why not just make him a combined Doug and Warlock instead of going with the more convoluted idea that he's just a copy? I guess Simonson's solution got us Warlock back and also made it possible for Doug to return separately, as he does much later.
But back to JoeMad: i think he's a much better fit for this book than JRJR's current style. His style adds a lot of fun to the book. I'm also glad to see the X-Men back into some action after three (more or less) downtime issues. The Phalanx's ties to Warlock make them intriguing. There does seem to be something a little crass about the plotting, i.e. the motivations are as much about setting up the upcoming Phalanx Covenant crossover and Generation X as they are about telling a story in the moment (it's even true of the Emma Frost subplot). But that's less an aspect of the story itself and more about how more and more everything is an "event". It's actually good to see things developing in a series.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Next issue begins a half hour after this ends. Since they're a collective intelligence, i'm willing to entertain the possibility of tagging any appearance of the Phalanx as a single Character Appearing, but i haven't analyzed enough of their appearances to decide yet. I know that the MCP tags some individuals, like Lang, Hodge, Douglock, and Harvest (who is briefly shown here as a captive of Lang) as independent characters, which seems to be a point against tagging them as a collective.
We're told to "see recent issues of Excalibur" regarding Professor X being "about to devote more o' his time to the Legacy Virus". Yukio says that she has to be back in Tokyo by noon so that she can appear in Wolverine #82.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBanshee, Beast, Bishop, Cameron Hodge, Gambit, Harvest (Phalanx), Iceman, Jubilee, Professor X, Sabretooth, Steven Lang, Storm, Warlock, White Queen (Emma Frost), Yukio
Warlock's race is named Technarchy (or the Technarchy).
I'm going on very rough memory of two decades here, but the Phalanx were an off-shoot of the Technarchy that came to exist on Earth due to the virus' exposure to humans. Specifically, a bunch of mutant-hating types allied with Cameron Hodge and infected themselves with the virus from Warlock's ashes to become a new life-form. That, in a convoluted way, explains Douglock (though I don't know if Douglock being Warlock all along was the original intention or a retcon). This is revealed, eventually, over the course of the Phalanx Covenant story.
The Technarch considered the Phalanax "impure" and were not allies.
I assumed that they looked roughly similar, only with the Phalanx adapted more humanoid shapes, but with varying art styles, it's hard to tell. I don't remember any dialogue explaining the visual similarity one way or another.
It's interesting how one of the more complicated stories/ideas in X-Men mythology originated from a Bill Bill Sienkiewicz doodle.
Posted by: James | October 19, 2017 3:44 PM
I positively hated JRJR on this book (at least in the 90s - his 80s run was much better), but I'm not sure Maduiera is an improvement. Way too cartoony for my tastes...
Posted by: Piotr W | October 19, 2017 4:52 PM
Douglock, I thought, was a great way to give us both them back. So I hated the Warlock retcon and wasn't ever thrilled they straight away went out of their way to say it definitely wasn't Doug (or Warlock, but the latter conveniently less definitively).
Posted by: AF | October 19, 2017 6:46 PM
Well, this is a good way to make me appreciate Claremont's skill with genre. Yukio does not belong in any story where a chick calls another chick to meet at a nightclub because she's being followed and they get attacked by the techno-organic monsters following her. Yukio's previous appearance also featured Jubilee, Gambit, Sunfire, Cylla and HYDRA, but they were valid as Wolverine's supporting cast at the time, and the story did end the Wolverine-Markio relationship. She does not belong in any story that includes Steven Lang, Cameron Hodge and Douglock. Yukio deserves better than that.
Although for some reason, I do like putting Lang, Hodge and Douglock together like this. Just not in a story with Yukio.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 19, 2017 8:54 PM
John Romita Jr was originally only supposed to be taking a short break from Uncanny X-Men so that he could work on the Punisher/Batman crossover special. Joe Maduriera was only supposed to draw a couple of issues, which is why on issue #s 312-313 he's credited as a guest penciler. Bob Harras, however, was so impressed with these two issues that he decided to make Maduriera the new regular penciler. So when JR Jr was done with the Punisher/Batman and ready to get back to penciling Uncanny X-Men he unfortunately learned that Harras wasn't going to let him back on the book.
Posted by: Ben Herman | October 19, 2017 11:07 PM
On the whole thing of whether the Phalanx are supposed to look like Warlock & Magus or not, it's interesting that the JRJR art does look quite a bit like previous art of Warlock, but the JoeMad art looks very very different.
Posted by: Stevie G | October 20, 2017 2:48 AM
Phalanx continuity makes my head hurt. Joe Mad drew them different from JRJR. Then Joe Mad completely changes them again in the Shi'ar arc leading up to #350. Then they disappear for years until Annihilation: Conquest where again, they look completely different. It's very confusing trying to figure out the difference between Earth Phalanx/Pure Phalanx/Technarchy offshoot/Space Phalanx....
Posted by: bigvis497 | October 20, 2017 12:25 PM
I really liked these Joe Mad issues at the time. In fact it might be my favourite little story from Uncanny in the 1990s. Mainly because after this it descends into crossover nonsense. Speaking of which I thought the Phalanx were interest villains until the year's crossover which was atrocious.
Posted by: generic username | October 20, 2017 12:51 PM
Phalanx is a collective, they've absorbed entire races - that'd be why there's loads of variations of appearance.
Posted by: AF | October 20, 2017 3:11 PM
I actually like Joe Madueira's art, but this is a story that would have been so much better if JRJR didn't stayed on board
Posted by: Mquinn1976 | November 1, 2017 2:09 PM
I meant stayed on board
Posted by: Mquinn1976 | November 1, 2017 2:10 PM
The Excalibur issues reference doesn't make sense imo.
Prof. X appears in the Douglock Chronicles (issues #78-80) + #81. In that arc, Douglock is found by Zero. While in in the very issue which references Excalibur (#313) we see Douglock still integrated with the Phalanx, so, unless I'm missing something, that reference is impossible.
Posted by: Bibs | April 30, 2018 3:59 AM
Hmm, re-reading what Banshee actually says "What with Charles about to devote more of his time to the Legacy Virus over on Muir Island" actually makes more sense, because it's something that hasn't happened yet.
Posted by: Bibs | April 30, 2018 4:04 AM
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