X-Men annual #1
Issue(s): X-Men annual #1
Unfortunately, this is the beginning of an event in this year's X-book annuals focused on Mojoverse related stuff, and given my opinion of Mojo, i intend to breeze through these reviews with little commentary. Mojo is used to a surprising extent in 1992. In addition to the four part story here, he appears as a villain in Wolverine, and in the adjectiveless X-Men book. So that is three separate, unrelated, stories, which is a lot for any villain in one year. And the problem with Mojo is that he is, by design, a satirical character. He's a "spineless" television executive, pursuing crass commercialism with little self-awareness. He's a joke. He's not a bad joke - once - but repeated use dilutes the joke, and a worse sin is taking the character seriously. Chris Claremont understood this, which is why Mojo's initial return appearance involved the X-Babies. But with his appearances this year, and definitely in this crossover, his value as an Ann Nocenti walking symbol of media criticism takes a back seat to an earnest exploration of his dimension and cosmology, especially focusing on the character of Arize, who is the creator of the Spineless One's exoskeletons and the genetic engineer of the slave race that Longshot and Shatterstar come from.
I think we have Rob Liefeld to blame for all of this, even though he's not involved in this event. Liefeld introduced Shatterstar, a violent gladiator from a future timeline of the Mojoverse, and the arrival of a character with no satirical or symbolic elements (as opposed to Longshot, whose pure innocence was a contrast to the corrupt Mojo) just invited us to start taking this stuff seriously, wondering about Shatterstar's origins, whether or not he was related to Longshot, etc.. And that's what this event is about (hence the title, Shattershot).
So not only is it about Mojo, who i don't love to begin with, and not only does it take Mojo seriously, but it's a story that plays off an alternate future timeline. So it couldn't have worked out worse for me. On top of that, the story is a mess. This issue's "jam" format doesn't help with providing an easy to follow story, and the remaining parts have similarly messy art. And the structure of the story is extremely contrived, with the various teams getting swapped in and out as we get to their part of the crossover. So all i really say about this story is "garbage, garbage, garbage!" but i will try to behave myself.
I do wish it was clearer which artist drew which pages. I like the very Kirby influenced bottom panel in the scan below. Assuming the artists appear in the order listed, it's probably P. Craig Russell (it doesn't really look like what i think of as Russell's work, but i guess it could be).
The story begins with Mojo's forces chasing Arize. Arize escapes to Earth. Mojo is unable to follow because Spiral is also on Earth. It's said that without the time dancing magicks of Spiral, Arize's mind likely won't survive the trip to Earth, and he'll wind up "with no mind at all". Mojo has Spiral summoned. She's been on Earth on Mojo's orders, "to return the messiah to us", but Mojo now thinks that's silly because "the messiah was here all along".
The X-Men Blue Team are in the middle of a Danger Room session. I'll put up a few scans and maybe people will be able to identify who drew what.
Professor X interrupts the session when he detects Arize arriving in Afghanistan. So the X-Men get to fight the Muhajedin (who are just like the X-Men!).
The X-Men eventually end their fight with the Afghani tribesman thanks to the Beast's lingual skills, and it turns out that they've been holding a comatose Arize, and were fighting to protect him. As that situation is being cleared up, a group of forces sent by Mojo arrive. This includes Quark and other former rebels that have been "adjusted".
Psylocke learns a little about the Mojoverse and the rebellion from Arize's mind, and the X-Men step up to defend Arize.
Note that Gambit is an X-Men "more by default than desire". Hey, buddy, what's keeping you here? Feel free to leave, and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
Here come the rest of the X-Men.
Wolverine seems to be using his claws lethally, and even when some of the attacking group say that they're being coerced, Psylocke doesn't seem too sympathetic.
Mojo's forces decide to withdraw. They mention something about Longshot, piquing the X-Men's interest...
...but Cyclops prevents them from following, saying that he's not letting the X-Men go off on a "cross-dimensional suicide stunt". The X-Men that were actually on the team with Longshot don't have a high opinion of that decision, but it's too late.
Dealing with the failure to retrieve Arize, Mojo says that he'll create life without him. We also see someone declaring himself a rival observing Mojo. I believe that is the first appearance of Mojo II: The Sequel, although he never really fully comes out of the shadows during this event.
This issue also has a bunch of diagrams and pin-ups, and a back-up story that is really just a review of the X-Men's past villains (which i'm not treating as a "real" story for placement purposes, although it would just mean that Jubilee would get tagged as a Character Appearing).
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part one of Shattershot. Part two is in Uncanny X-Men annual #16. As always where time travel is a consideration, this isn't necessarily the next chronological appearance of characters like Quark. I'll also note that Arize formerly only appeared in flashback in the Longshot series, so this is the first time i'm tagging him as a Character Appearing. There's nothing here dictating placement of the X-Men, but since Bishop is on the team in the Uncanny annual, this takes place after X-Men #8 (and therefore X-Men #9).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showArize, Beast, Cyclops, Forge, Gambit, Gog (Mojoverse), Magog (Mojoverse), Major Domo, Mojo, Mojo II, Professor X, Psylocke, Quark, Rogue, Wolverine
"He's a 'spineless' television executive"
oooooooooooooh. Thanks Fnord
Posted by: gfsdf gfbd | February 23, 2016 3:47 PM
Interesting that Fabian's run as writer on this title officially begins in an annual (after scripting a few issues in both X-Men titles here and there the last few months). Not just an annual -- but a pretty disposable one at that. Also, of note, Fabian's first two "real" X-Men stories are crossovers -- this and "X-Cutioner's Song."
Sad thing is, we really don't see his X-Men "voice" until issue 17 because of the crossovers. As a kid I preferred what Lobdell and David were doing on "Uncanny" and "X-Factor" at this time ... but re-reading it, during the issues Fabian is uninterrupted by crossovers, there is some decent stuff.
Not here though. This story is garbage. But wait for it.
Posted by: Jeff | February 23, 2016 4:45 PM
Hey, some cool art in some of the scans!
BTW. It's interesting that you say you only like Mojo as a satirical character. I prefer him as a horror character - some of his stories are quite dark and creepy...
Posted by: Piotr W | February 23, 2016 7:06 PM
Jeff, this wasn't the "official" beginning of Fabian's run- this story was done before the Image crew left. (And Fabian didn't script either X-Man title at this point- that was Lobdell. He did do the Muir Island Saga though.)
Posted by: Michael | February 23, 2016 8:20 PM
Some of the scans seem to appear an image later than the text would indicate, namely from "Gambit is an X-Man 'more by default than desire'" (which, for example, seems to refer to the image that follows "here come the rest of the X-Men", which in turn makes more sense referring to the image after that) through Cyclops preventing the team from going to the Mojoverse. Yeah, yeah, I should probably post this on the forum, but this happens sometimes and it's never quite clear how intentional it is; I only bring it up here because it's fairly blatant and extended.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | February 23, 2016 9:02 PM
Fixed it. Thanks. (I do prefer that you raise this sort of thing in the forum, but i recognize the ambiguity.)
Posted by: fnord12 | February 23, 2016 9:14 PM
The depiction of the X-Men's arrival in Afghanistan could only be Adam Hughes, a guy who loves a good facial expression (and a knack for pretty, well-drawn women), as seen in Justice League.
Posted by: Cecil Disharoon | February 23, 2016 10:01 PM
It's been a long time since I've looked at this annual, but I recall that Jim Lee was credited as providing "layouts" for the entire book. They were probably very loose breakdowns, since there doesn't seem to be much of his style on display, other than some of the poses and the positioning of characters in certain action sequences.
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 23, 2016 11:32 PM
Ben, you're right. I've added that credit. Thanks. I guess that means he's responsible for that panel that i think is very old school Kirby-esque.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 24, 2016 8:31 AM
I go all the way back to the Longshot miniseries, and Mojo's finest moment was on the cartoon ("I'm making money just thinking about it!") It was the only time I ever found him funny -I never found him even faintly scary- and you could just tell they had an indecent amount of fun making that episode...
Posted by: BU | February 24, 2016 10:47 AM
Since I see Forge there shouln't it be moved prior to UXM 290?
Posted by: fragsel | January 14, 2018 9:26 AM
Forge winds up back with the X-Men for Infinity War, so i think it's ok for him to be back with the team (briefly/for whatever reason) during the same time period for this issue.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 14, 2018 7:01 PM
The Beast/Psylocke/Wolvie images in the second batch are Brian Stelfreeze.
The Quark and company panel and the next two are Capullo. Then the unmistakable Tex. I agree that the very top is Craig Russell. So the artists do appear to be in order.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | January 15, 2018 2:29 AM
But If Forge is with the X-men during Infinity War wouldn't it make more sense to move UXM 290 to after that event? that would fix the problem I mentioned.
Instead of looking for a reason why is he listed If he is gone, why not just remove the source of the porblem?
As You said Yourself in UXM 299 "Forge himself does not consider himself an X-Man anymore"
Posted by: fragsel | January 26, 2018 9:16 AM
To be clear, there's nothing "just" about moving issues after i've settled on placement, especially when breaking with the MCP and moving stuff past a line wide crossover. But i agree that the placement would be better and there don't seem to be any cascading effects. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 30, 2018 12:42 PM
Comments are now closed.
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