Uncanny X-Men annual #16
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men annual #16
The villains in this issue are the Death Sponsors. Holy 90s!
This group is actually working for the "rival" that we saw in the shadows last issue.
Jae Lee's art style is good for subtle moody sequences. This is not that. The art here practically gives me a panic attack. And it's a weird fit for Fabian Nicieza's really old school expository character by character introduction, monologued by Mojo's rival. Don't bother memorizing any of that info; none of these characters appear again.
Meanwhile, on Earth, as was the case in the previous annual, the X-Men are introduced with a Danger Room sequence. Except, i mean, Jesus!:
The Danger Room sequence is a "no win" scenario involving Apocalypse.
Bishop gets out of Apocalypse trying to use him as a hostage by threatening to kill himself.
I was going to say that nothing going on here has anything to do with the rest of the story, but maybe Nicieza was trying to show us the way out. Fabian, i've got a gun to my head, and i will pull the trigger if you go any further with this story.
...didn't work. Damn. Called my bluff.
The above is what Jean Grey is seeing as she tries to read Arize's mind. Arize is awake at this point, but he's missing memories.
The Death Sponsors show up. They are going after Arize only for the purpose of embarrassing Mojo for their boss. So the rest of this story is just a messy fight with no long term implications.
Bishop manages to figure out how to zap the Death Sponsors in the middle of a teleportation jump, so they disappear while leaving Arize behind. And then Arize, who seems to have his memories back, just wanders off, and the X-Men let him go.
A back-up story (also by Jae Lee) shows Archangel fighting some guys in stolen Mandroid armor but then getting approached by someone named Amalgam...
...who Angel supposedly met once before, during the Mutant Massacre.
I can't tell you what the point of the story is, because it's incomprehensible.
Another back-up (with art by Herb Trimpe, believe it or not; inks by Tom Palmer), focuses on Bishop.
The story is about Bishop's continued adjustment to being trapped in the past with the X-Men that were legends in his time period. Bishop points to an empty field and talks about a tree that managed to survive to his day and age.
He later falls asleep outside, and wakes to find that Storm has planted a tree there.
All i can think about is how every time the X-Men have a little downtime, we see them outside the mansion pulling up tree stumps. So i hope this tree really does manage to survive until Bishop's future, but it seems unlikely.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part two of Shattershot. Part three is in X-Factor annual #7.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAngel, Arize, Beast, Bishop, Colossus, Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey, Mojo II, Professor X, Storm, Wolverine
The Bishop story also made me think of the Byrne issue where Colossus heroically battles a tree stump for 2 pages.
Posted by: Red Comet | February 23, 2016 2:53 PM
Timeslot had the amazing power to always be depicted in profile
Posted by: Andrew F | February 23, 2016 4:27 PM
"Amalgam" seems like an alternate future amalgamation of Rogue and Mystique. Anything ever come of that?
Posted by: Andrew | February 23, 2016 8:03 PM
Andrew, i'm pretty sure this is her only appearance, so nothing more comes of it.
She also takes the form of Cyclops and Beast during this story, which is explained this way: "This young woman has the ability to permanently absorb not only our powers, but our minds. And with the metamorphic powers she absorbed from... well, it's not important who she got them from... only that she can re-create us, body and soul". This is during the Mutant Massacre scene, and the implication is that she's going to absorb Angel next. But then she uses the power of Destiny to scan the future, and she realizes it's not time for Angel yet.
When she appears in the present during the Mandroid scene, she talks to Angel, who was injured by the Mandroids. But Angel passes out, and when he wakes up, he hears that the leader of the Mandroids, who was a mutant, has died.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 24, 2016 8:03 AM
It's loud and messy and chaotic (and everyone always seems to be arghing), but I kinda like the Jae Lee art in places. That mostly black-and-white page you posted introducing the Death Sponsors stands out (ignoring the subject matter) and I like the intensity Lee brings to the Apocalypse Danger Room fight.
The biggest problem is that everything is always dialed to 11, so there's no contrast, but when the scene calls for 11, it works.
Posted by: Austin Gorton | February 24, 2016 8:49 AM
Okay, this is very early work by Jae Lee. He has obviously improved a great deal in the two decades since this annual was published. Even so, you can see a definite potential in his pencils from the early 1990s.
I had completely forgotten that Herb Trimpe had penciled a back-up story in this annual. To a certain degree his style is overwhelmed by Tom Palmer, who can be a very heavy inker. Still, it is a nice collaboration, and I enjoy seeing their depictions of Storm and Bishop. Certainly there is some very solid layouts & storytelling by Trimpe in his pencils here, and you can see why for over 20 years he was one of Marvel's go-to guys when deadlines hit.
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 24, 2016 1:29 PM
As I recall, Skip Dietz, who wrote the Bishop back-up, was in Marvel's Sales department. Since the imperative for a new black X-Men stated in Sales, could this have been written by the one responsible for Whilce Portacio and John Byrne creating him? Dietz did some other stuff in the early 90's, so I don't think it's a lock, but considering how much influence Sales Dept. would start to exert on Editoral, it's a valid question.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 17, 2016 9:28 PM
@Brian- it's a bit of an overstatement to say that Sales for responsible for Portacio and Byrne creating Bishop. Bishop was originally supposed to be Filipino and Sales changed him to black:
Posted by: Michael | June 17, 2016 11:10 PM
@Michael And that's why I was thinking Bishop was also supposed to being Filipino. Thanks!
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 18, 2016 1:12 PM
The Archangel story is probably the most confusing back-up story I've ever read. At first I thought Amalgam was (an aspect of) Death, which would make sense in a "Warren gets a glimpse of his future as the Horseman of Death" way. Then I noticed she had a Rogue-like costume, then Rogue and Mystique-like powers, then something about Destiny... forget it. I'll just assume Warren ate pizza with pickles and pineapple on it before investigating the Mutant Massacre.
The Bishop story is great, though. I know I'm beating a long dead horse, but Trimpe, Palmer and other "Marvel house style" artists should have been assigned to X-books more often.
Posted by: Nth Wolf | May 29, 2018 8:34 AM
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