Issue(s): X-Men #14
I like Andy Kubert's depiction of the Beast as a scientist.
The various X-Men and -Factor teams decide to split into two groups, one to go after X-Force and the other to search for Cyclops and Jean Grey, who were taken by the Horsemen of Apocalypse. What i think is notable here is that the teams are not split along pre-existing lines, and the stories covering each team are not split into respective books. In other words, in a lot of crossovers even of the Part X of Y variety, the story finds ways to contrive to keep teams together and allow each book to focus on their own cast. Which can be jarring when one book ends on a cliffhanger and then you move to the next part and it's about an entirely different team. The downside of this is that the books lose their identity for the duration of the crossover. In my view, the two X-Men books barely have an identity, and this whole crossover is really an X-Force story in disguise (even if most of the actual X-Force characters take a back seat), so it's really Peter David's X-Factor that is affected by this. There's a huge downside to that for people that were following X-Factor and in terms of the book attracting new readers, but there's also a big upside in that the crossover reads with so much more consistency than past crossovers. And, regardless of how much he didn't like doing it, Peter David handles his parts well, and really shows that he's got a great grasp of the larger X-characters, to the point where i wish that Bob Harras had noticed and put him on one of the X-Men books.
But i'm not even on an X-Factor entry, so i don't know how i got to talking about that.
Quicksilver is put on the team that is going after Apocalypse, on the grounds that Apocalypse's last base was on the moon, where the Inhumans live. What's weird about that is that it will in the end turn out that the moon is the place to go, but when it comes up again the characters will talk about it like it's a real stretch.
Before we get to the two groups, we get the enjoyable sight of Safari Gear MLF.
Oddly never made into action figures.
They are in Panama to meet with Mr. Sinister, who is trading Jean Grey and Cyclops for a canister.
We'll find out later that Mr. Sinister is thinking that he's getting Summers family genetic material (i guess a strand that he couldn't just extract from Cyclops), but we'll find out that he's actually receiving the Legacy Virus. It's become apparent that the X-writers didn't really know where they were going with all of this, something that seems to have been common at the time (e.g. Spider-Man's parents). But it's a cool set-up.
Meanwhile, the Dark Riders wake up Apocalypse to tell him that someone has been masquerading as him and using the Horsemen.
I had not read X-Factor #65-68 when i read this crossover in realtime, so i had some problems with this scene. Who is this huge cast of goofy minions, and where is the Alliance of Evil? And since when does Apocalypse need to take a bath in between appearances? Knowing now that Apocalypse was actually thought killed after X-Factor #68, i'm a little less upset about the bath.
Ok, now for our groups. We saw in the last chapter that Havok damaged X-Force's ship so that it could be followed, but that turns out to be moot. Because now that X-Force aren't in their headquarters, they can be tracked with Cerebro.
The conversation on the pursuing ship gets to the question of Xavier's dream, all of which i find weird given the circumstances. Xavier getting shot had nothing to do with his dream of mutant/human integration.
The X-Men catch up with X-Force but their fight doesn't really start this issue. I do like this line about X-Force being soldiers, not children.
Oh, and we can rule out Cable as a suspect, because he's just returning to Earth.
Cable learns that Professor X has been shot and that he's supposedly the shooter.
Bishop, meanwhile, has remained behind to guard the X-Mansion with Jubilee. Mr. Sinister arrives there.
"I do not have time -- to suffer the amenities of hallways!" has got to be the greatest line ever written.
Here's something unrelated to this crossover that i thought was funny. Someone writes in to ask in which issues Psylocke got turned into an Asian ninja.
Note that the response doesn't actually answer the question. The writer of this book, Fabian Nicieza, notoriously also missed those issues, which is why we get Revanche. If only someone had looked up the answer to this letter!
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part three of X-Cutioner's Song. Part four is in X-Force #16. Note that it's supposed to have been 26 days since Cable left. I've left some space between Cable's mini-series and this story, but i'll have to plead "compressed timescale" for the rest of it.
Crossover: X-Cutioner's Song
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAngel, Apocalypse, Beast, Bishop, Boom Boom, Cable (Adult), Cannonball, Colossus, Cyclops, Feral, Forearm, Foxbat, Gambit, Gauntlet (Dark Rider), Hardrive, Havok, Iceman, Jean Grey, Jubilee, Madrox the Multiple Man, Moira MacTaggert, Mr. Sinister, Polaris, Professor, Professor X, Psylocke, Psynapse, Quicksilver, Reaper, Rictor, Rogue, Shatterstar, Siryn, Stevie Hunter, Storm, Strong Guy, Sunspot, Tusk, Valerie Cooper, Warpath, Wolfsbane, Wolverine
"Someone writes in to ask in which issues Psylocke got turned into an Asian ninja. Note that the response doesn't actually answer the question. The writer of this book, Fabian Nicieza, notoriously also missed those issues, which is why we get Revanche. If only someone had looked up the answer to this letter!"
Posted by: clyde | May 6, 2016 11:20 AM
This issue has one of the most nonsensical cliffhangers I've ever seen- Sinister says he's come to bury Xavier and in the next part he reveals he's come to tell them the name of the person who used the technovirus on Xavier.
Posted by: Michael | May 6, 2016 7:57 PM
What was Bob Harras doing when he was approving Fabian's plots? Yeah, Fabian should have done his research, but Harras had a group of editors, why was he too busy to do his job editing (adjectiveless) X-Men and ask Fabian, what's the deal with Revanche(before it gets drawn, ideally)? I'm so glad i stopped reading X-books in realtime after PAD quit.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | May 6, 2016 9:19 PM
Apocalypse's bath reminds me more than a little of Ra's Al Ghul's Lazarus Pit.
Posted by: Andrew | May 6, 2016 10:22 PM
Sinister has worked for decades to get Scott Summers and Jean Grey together, and now he has them together and at his mercy and he... trades them away on the spot. Me, I'd clone them and have them lead the new Marauders, but I'm not an evil supervillain, so what do I know?
This crossover is where I gave up on the mutant titles (except for "X-Factor" and "Excalibur.") The characters and storylines that I'd followed for so long were gone, and they weren't coming back.
With the benefit of (many years of) hindsight, I do like fnord's point about the teams breaking up and reforming during the course of the story. I wasn't able to articulate it at the time - and even once asked Claremont about breaking the teams up - but this is more sensible. Instead of formalizing the X-Men as two teams with these specific members, they should be picking from who's available and most useful for a given mission.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 7, 2016 2:36 AM
Another thing to note- we see for the first time in this issue that as a result of what Gideon did to Bobby, he can shoot energy blasts now.
Posted by: Michael | May 7, 2016 11:43 AM
Agreed one hundred percent with ChrisW's comment above!
Why would Sinister trade Scott Summers himself for a canister that supposedly contains the Summers family DNA? That's like trading five rolls of quarters for a $50 bill and thinking you've come out ahead. Other than the fact that a $50 bill is much easier to carry around that five rolls of quarters, they're worth *exactly* the same amount. Sinister is *supposed* to be this brilliantly mysterious diabolical mastermind, but stuff like this makes him look like an idiot.
I read "X-Cutioner's Song" when it first came out, and I haven't looked at it since. It really underwhelmed me at the time. It was too long, it had too many characters fighting for space, it seemed to go in circles, it derailed PAD's storylines on X-Factor for three months, and it kept teasing at answers without actually offering any. In hindsight, this would be a prelude of what the X-books would be like for the rest of the decade under Bob Harras' editorship.
Posted by: Ben Herman | May 7, 2016 11:43 AM
Just one more thing- the Dark Riders were Inhumans in X-Factor 65-68 but starting with this issue they're mutants.
Posted by: Michael | May 7, 2016 12:08 PM
@Ben, I think the idea is that Stryfe was giving Sinister future Summers' DNA, which is something Sinister couldn't otherwise obtain. I agree with ChrisW, though, that it doesn't seem all that compelling. Sinister' so interest in the Summers family comes and goes over the years and is another point that's only explained poorly, years after everyone has stopped caring.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 7, 2016 12:28 PM
@Walter Lawson... Okay, that actually makes sense. The problem is that this is the first time I've ever heard it explained that way. It's certainly not articulated clearly in the story. Yes, Sinister does comment "I now have a piece of the future" but I always took that to just be an example of his typically grandiose metaphorical speechmaking, i.e. he's indicating that what's in the container will give him the ability to shape the future of humanity. I never read it as Sinister saying that he's just received something from a time traveler.
It would have made things so much more coherent if Nicieza's scripting had actually made it explicit that Sinister knew Stryfe was from almost 2000 years in the future, and that he believed he was getting the DNA for the entire Summers family from the present day up to the year 3800 AD.
Posted by: Ben Herman | May 7, 2016 12:46 PM
"This issue has one of the most nonsensical cliffhangers I've ever seen- Sinister says he's come to bury Xavier and in the next part he reveals he's come to tell them the name of the person who used the technovirus on Xavier."
True! I hate stupid writing like that...
Posted by: Piotr W | May 7, 2016 1:05 PM
I thought the idea was Mr. Sinister was putting on a show in case Stryfe is watching, since he's breaking their alliance in the next part. He drops a piece of paper with Stryfe's name instead of just saying it. On the other hand, what he does say out loud in the next part does kind of give it away, which i would agree could be attributed to bad writing. Maybe he's meant to be whispering!
Posted by: fnord12 | May 7, 2016 1:24 PM
Compared to Stryfe's ranting when he's fighting Apocalypse, Sinister is the epitome of precise articulation.
To the extent that there is any overarching theme/story in the mutant books anymore, it's a time-travel story. That does fit for the characters, but it's already been going on forever, and we still aren't at a point where you can go "Hey! Time travel!" and enjoy it for what it is, whether or not you like time travel stories. This is like Hour Six of the first "Back to the Future," and Marty hasn't even seen the Delorean yet.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 8, 2016 3:22 AM
ChrisW and Ben already picked on the problems with Mr Sinister's plan so that I don't have to reiterate them.
Regarding Apocalypse, is his "baths" any sillier than the "Odinsleep?" (And come to think of it, I wonder if the X-office wasn't "inspired" by Ra's Al-Ghul who has a similar method of prolonging his life.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 21, 2016 4:56 PM
Think I might be the only who can't stand Andy's art. Always looks like he drew a head, and then just phoned in the rest. And everyone's always screaming!
Posted by: Adam Dale | July 13, 2017 11:57 AM
I always wondered how Andy got this gig instead of Adam.
Eventually Andy would turn in some great issues, but at the cost of quite a few fill ins.
Posted by: MindlessOne | July 16, 2017 10:26 AM
Adam was a lot slower than Andy. I like Adam more, but I understand that getting the book out was more important back then.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | July 16, 2017 1:02 PM
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