Uncanny X-Men annual #17
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men annual #17
Tower is in Central America, raping a young waitress (wut?).
X-Cutioner shows up to stop him, but makes a point of telling the onlookers that he's doing it because he kills mutants who have themselves killed.
X-Cutioner's next target is Mastermind. But Mastermind is already dying of the Legacy virus, and he's being held on Muir Island. Some of the X-Men have gone to see him as a last request and they get trapped in his unconscious illusions. One thing we see during the course of that is Bishop's sister, Shard...
...whose power is "transubbing mass into light".
But the best panel from the illusions is Jean Grey and Cyclops being confronted by their "children".
Jean is really Mastermind's target. But he really is just seeking her forgiveness.
The attempt at a last minute redemption for Mastermind doesn't really work for me. It's like "tell, not show". And i actually like Mastermind as an irredeemable sleaze anyway.
Meanwhile, Archangel, Storm and Colossus detect the arrival of the X-Cutioner. I remember being a little confused about the X-Cutioner's abilities because the trading card that came with this issue said "Federal agent Carl Denti took government records and the weapons of the X-Men's earliest foes" and, er, the Vanisher and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants didn't even use weapons! But the comic clearly states that his tech comes from the Shi'ar, the Z'nnoxx (some extra letters in there), and Sentinels (and a forcefield from Factor Three is mentioned a bit later).
I still think he got his costume from the Assassin in Avengers #145-146, though.
Carl Denti considers the X-Men's former FBI liason Fred Duncan to be a "mentor" but he's now out to "avenge" his death.
The X-Men manage to repel him...
...but not before Colossus is injured.
Between this issue and the death of Mesmero in X-Men #21 it feels like a Scourge-like purge of some older X-villains was going on (on a meta level, not that one character was killing them all), but i guess it doesn't really get any bigger.
Quality Rating: C-
Historical Significance Rating: 4 - death of Mastermind and Tower. First X-Cutioner. First mention of Shard.
Chronological Placement Considerations: Colossus' injury in this issue prevents him from reverting to human form. So any appearances where he's shown to be human, like in X-Men #20, need to go prior to this. The final splash page and end blurb make it seem like Uncanny X-Men #301 continues directly from here, but that's not the case and Colossus' new limitation is really just mentioned in passing.
The Siena Blaze back-up from this annual is covered in a separate entry.
Crossover: 1993 Annuals
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
The Legacy Virus had to be established as a threat, but in practice that meant using it to kill evil mutants who only appeared a few times (Infectia) or hadn't appeared regularly in decades (Mesmero). I think Illyana was probably the most popular character they killed with it.
That said, the best Legacy Virus stories were either that X-men Unlimited issue with the teen mutant where it was treated like AIDS or the issue where Colossus gives his life to stop it. I was reading the books then and it was a legitimately unexpected ending. That pre-Morrison fill-in run by Lobdell during that era was surprisingly high quality.
They may have never actually revealed who the X-Cutioner was. If they did I don't remember it.
Posted by: Red Comet | November 2, 2016 5:01 PM
Red Comet, X-Cutioner is referred to as Carl Denti in this story. We first see him without his costume in a Punisher story.
Posted by: Michael | November 2, 2016 7:56 PM
Have the specifics of Fred Duncan's death ever been revealed? I know I previously asked that when fnord covered X-Men: Odd Men Out #1 but no one seemed to know.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 2, 2016 8:19 PM
For a 90's annual, I like the artwork here.
Posted by: Bill | November 2, 2016 9:53 PM
And i actually like Mastermind as an irredeemable sleaze anyway.
Well he does (apparently) knock a whole bunch if women up (probably in disguise tok) so that counts for something, right?
Posted by: Jon Dubya | November 3, 2016 12:02 AM
X-Cutioner's cowl looks a bit like Nimrod's head/face to me. I doubt that Denti was intended to be a post-Siege Perilous Nimrod--he'd have to be time-displaced for one thing--but I wonder if some connection was contemplated.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 3, 2016 12:17 AM
Whoops! Hit post too soon.
1) The X-cutioner was always suppose to be a Scourge/Punisher sort. To be fair, though, the X-cutioner is a bit more "nuanced" than those two...and mutant hunters in general (notice that he emphasizes that only some mutants are a threat to humanity? As well as the notion that he only kills mutants that murder...although as an antagonist, that will be interpreted rather liberally.)
2) It should also be noted that he's one of the few "new" characters featured in these dumb annuals to be used more than once. Kinda a shame he didn't really "take off" though. It would have been interesting to explore him getting the same status Nimrod did in the 80s.
3) Even if it doesn't bump the HSR up a notch, the injury Colossus suffers is significant. It will ultimately be to blame for his upcoming behavior (outside all the tragedies, of course. But the head trauma does play a part!)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | November 3, 2016 9:06 AM
it feels like a Scourge-like purge of some older X-villains was going on (on a meta level, not that one character was killing them all), but i guess it doesn't really get any bigger.
Infectia definitely falls into this trend, when she dies in X-MEN #27. Arguably Pyro as well, but that gets dragged out forever. But in terms of status, yeah, definitely nobody bigger than Mastermind dies as part of this mini-scourge. of X-villains.
While X-Cutioner is definitely one of the bigger successes of the '93 annuals (clearing a low bar, of course), it's a shame he never quite took off. I like his connection to Fred Duncan and the early days of the X-Men (I'm a sucker for 60s era X-Men references), and his relatively more nuanced approach to targeting mutants (in that he's after the legitimately bad ones, not all of them).
Of course, that more limited focus is probably part of what holds him back: to re-use him, you either need the X-Men to be standing against him in favor of murderers (which is fine, due process and all that, but isn't the kind of thing you want your heroic characters doing a lot), or you have to fudge his motivations into something else, which then takes away an interesting element of his character.
As Bill said above, nice art here too. I didn't like it as a kid, but find it more charming now.
Posted by: Austin Gorton | November 3, 2016 10:27 AM
Yes I think I like Mastermind being sleazy. Though I remember a few tiny bits of him having some standards. I think way back when the Brotherhood recruited Blob even he was horrified that Magneto was willing to blow up the Blob if it meant defeating the X-Men.
Speaking of sleazy I was re-reading the Claremont issues that involved the Brood and it still bugs me they're nicknamed Sleazoid. Sleazoid!? There's nothing sleazy about the Brood, how about Creepzoids? That annoying harpy from the Jessica Jones show that kept calling Jessica a cougar reminded me of that.
Posted by: davidbanes | November 3, 2016 1:04 PM
I thought the X-Cutioner had some real potential, but unfortunately he never really lived up to it. As was pointed out by Austin Gorton, the problem was that Marvel was never going to let the X-Cutioner kill any major mutant villains. The end result was that in most of his appearances he ends up fighting the X-Men because A) they're trying to stop him from killing Emma Frost or B) he's going after characters such as Rogue and Skin on extremely flimsy pretexts.
The best use of the X-Cutioner was actually outside of the X-books, when he teamed up with the Punisher to fight the "New Mutant Liberation Front" who turned out to be a human hate group that was trying to trigger a race war.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 3, 2016 10:10 PM
In retrospect, it's rather odd that, aside from an odd fill-in issue of Excalibur, Mastermind simply didn't appear in between Uncanny X-Men #175 and this story. Given how significant a villain he'd become thought he Dark Phoenix Saga and the Paul Smith era, I'd have figured he'd have been a recurring foe. At the very least, I'd have expected writers to start using him after Claremont left, assuming Claremont was deliberately keeping him sidelined.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 4, 2018 6:41 AM
Omar, it's interesting how your views on the characters can be shaped depending on when you first got into comics. Like a lot of fans my age (35), I first got into comics with the X-Men cartoon and the trading card boom. I always thought Mastermind was a major character because of how he was portrayed in other media but as you pointed out, he wasn't around much.
I thought about this with Toad. Toad misses out on the ENTIRE Claremont run. He appears in random Spider-Man issues, but he doesn't appear in X-Men from the Savage Land story until he starts his own Brotherhood. Video games and trading cards made me believe he was a recurring villain.
Posted by: bigvis497 | April 4, 2018 9:02 AM
Toad's an interesting case, since he arguably wasn't a major villain even before the 1980s. Once the original Brotherhood collapses as of Uncanny X-Men #11, he ends up marginalized,t hen turns on Magneto and becomes an afterthought for a while. Steve Engelhart keeps trying to make him a Scarlet Witch and Vision antagonist in the 1970s and 1980s, but it takes until the 1990s for him to become a relatively significant X-villain again.
More generally, as others have noted elsewhere on this site and on the web, Claremont really has little use for most elements of this comic from before the Roy Thomas/Neal Adams era; and after Claremont left, people kept doing stuff in Claremont's vein, ignoring most of the same characters Claremont ignored.
Even so, Mastermind was a major X-villain for quite a while. Anytime the Brotherhood turns up, he's in it in the 1970s, and he even gets to lead it once. And then he's big deal in two major arcs in the 80s under Claremont. So his 90s absence and sudden death is rather odd. Perhaps no one knew what to do with him after Jean came back, because using him again would mean reopening the whole Phoenix-retcon can of worms. And with the last of the "classic" Hellfire Club members temporarily dead via the Upstarts storyline, perhaps taking out Mastermind was just finishing the job of deck-clearing.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 4, 2018 2:45 PM
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