Issue(s): X-Men/Spider-Man #1
This is a four part mini-series by Christos Gage and Mario Alberti involving a plot by Mr. Sinister that runs through several time periods.
The first has Sinister enlisting the aid of Kraven the Hunter to extract the DNA of the five original X-Men.
Kraven draws out the X-Men through the very non-linear but still plausible method of accusing Spider-Man of being a mutant and claiming that he's going to bring him to justice.
As expected, this causes the X-Men to go looking for Spider-Man. Kraven is an experienced Spider-Man tracker, so he's able to be there when the X-Men and Spider-Man are all in the same place. Kraven brings the Blob along to even the odds.
Ultimately the good guys immobilize the Blob...
...and after a nicely delivered fight...
...they think that they've driven off Kraven, but of course he was really after the X-people's blood.
It's a cool plot, and Gage does a good job writing fun dialogue for the teen characters. He also contrives a cute little scene where Flash Thompson gets a dance with Jean Grey and Bobby and Hank get a dance with Gwen and MJ.
As for the art, i've already commented on Mario Alberti's style on Spider-Man/Fantastic Four #1 (a very similar series). His style is not my thing but i see the appeal. I certainly give props for being able to draw a fight scene that flows and even lets you actually see how Kraven is getting his DNA samples.
So, not bad at all. I do, of course, have a few quibbles!
The first is about the use of J. Jonah Jameson. It was necessary to introduce anti-mutant bigotry in this story, since it's the reason Kraven's accusation about Spider-Man has impact, and it's what motivates the X-Men to go looking for him. But i'm not comfortable with it coming out of JJ's mouth.
Sure, he's got a vendetta against Spider-Man and to a lesser extent all super-heroes. But to my knowledge (i can say confidently through 1985 so far, and to my recollection not beyond that; i know that he opposed the anti-mutant Graydon Creed's campaign for president), he's never been explicitly anti-mutant, which is something we readers have been trained to understand is the equivalent of racist. And JJ has specifically been shown to not be racist on several occasions.
The pro-registration angle softens my complaint, to a degree. He's not calling for exterminations or Sentinels, just registration. And JJ did support the Superhuman Registration Act. But singling out mutants specifically seems to me to be a lot worse than calling for registration of all super-powered people. My god, i'm re-opening all the Civil War forum arguments, aren't i? It's too soon for that.
Tangentially related to my JJ complaint is this sort of trend where's nowadays it's always got to be JJ when we need an editorialist. It can't just be some random new character. So we have to shoehorn this message into JJ's mouth.
There's also the issue of Marvel Girl's telepathy. The last time we saw Professor Xavier conscious, he was still sticking to the story that he had somehow transferred his mental powers to Jean and the Changeling. But in this issue she says "the Professor suppressed my telepathy when I was a kid, to keep all those external thoughts from driving me insane."
Now, that's true. We'll learn that in Bizarre Adventures #27, and the way it's presented there isn't clear when or if Xavier revealed the truth to Jean. But my assumption was that Jean bought into the story that she was using Xavier's transferred telepathy and then at some point she learned the truth off panel. It's certainly the way she's been talking since the fake death of Professor X, and i don't see any reason why she'd lie about it to the other X-Men. So having her say this now i guess means that she's just learned the truth from Xavier. Maybe that's why she's saying all this as pure exposition here; she's coming to grips with it herself.
Also, it's pretty clear Gage hadn't read Byrne's Hidden Years series. The X-Men are worried at this point that if their villains think Spider-Man's a mutant, they'll go after him, and they include Magneto in that list.
But Magneto's supposed to be dead. Sure, he's a bad guy and they always come back (although we shouldn't ask our characters to be as cynical as we are). But it's actually a pretty significant event in Hidden Years when Professor X hears that Magneto is supposed to be dead, and he sends the X-Men back to the Savage Land to check and make sure (p.s., he isn't actually dead). I'm just saying that the X-Men shouldn't be listing Magneto as an active threat at this point. Really true of Sauron, too. As far as they knew at this point, he was a one-and-done.
Also, Iceman was pretty angry over Xavier's faking of his death at the start of Hidden Years, to the point where he quits the team. There's no sign of that anger here.
And Havok and Lorna Dane are just missing. Since they remained a part of the team in Hidden Years, a little throwaway line about them off picking out a wig for Lorna would have been appreciated.
Minor issues, easily glossed over, to be sure. But to me, if you're going to do these continuity inserts, you ought to be meticulous in your research. Although i should count my blessings; compared to a lot of these things (even Gage's Spider-Man/FF) this one fits very neatly.
My final complaint? The Blob is way too fat. C'mon, Alberti! That's ridiculous.
I don't know what to make of this poor guy (he's just a random dude whose television Spidey happened to be looking in at to hear JJ's rant).
I think he's a victim of Marvel's time compression. 70s platform shoes. Bad era Michael Jackson hair and hat. And an awesome eight-ball walking stick that anyone would be proud to rock today.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after Uncanny X-Men #66 but before the start of The Hidden Years (note that the period between those issues is supposed to be "three days"). Xavier is "still too sick" at this point to help or even appear in this issue. Needs to take place during the period where Flash Thompson is on leave from Vietnam (ASM #78-83); Flash is going back to base in two days.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAngel, Beast, Blob, Cyclops, Flash Thompson, Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, Iceman, J. Jonah Jameson, Jean Grey, Kraven the Hunter, Mary Jane Watson, Mr. Sinister, Spider-Man
In Uncanny X-Men 308, Jean recalls how her telepathic powers started to come back as soon as she started to develop feelings for Scott and Xavier explained to her that her feelings for Scott were able to override his supression of her powers. This flashback probably takes place before X-Men 41-42.Of course, if Xavier explained the truth to her before X-Men 41-42, it raises the question of why he didn't just tell the X-Men the truth in Uncanny X-Men 65. Maybe he didn't want to reveal that Jean had mental problems (in more ways than one) as a kid to the other X-Men until she was ready to tell them herself.
Posted by: Michael | February 1, 2013 12:19 AM
Thanks for the info on Jean's telepathy. It seems my problem on this subject is really with UX #308 instead of this issue. But assuming Jean really did want to keep her mental problem a secret, she's revealing it very casually here (or she had done so slightly prior to this issue, but there's not a lot of time between UX #65 and this).
Posted by: fnord12 | February 1, 2013 8:39 AM
Regarding Michael's last point, I believe circa Inferno Sinister boasts about (or maybe the X-Men just speculate about) his making sure Wloverine's senses and other stuff couldn't prove Maddie to be Jean. So even though they look similar, the X-Men might have thought cloning was impossible since they would have picked up on that right away. In short, if Sinister can make everyone stupid enough not to recognize a clone before they've met any other clones, I guess he can fool them even once they know his m.o.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 1, 2013 10:14 PM
Unfortunately, it's not just Maddie- when the X-Men first encounter clones of dead Marauders during Inferno, they can't figure out how it's possible that they're alive, which is weird if they already knew Sinister could clone people.
Posted by: Michael | February 2, 2013 12:12 AM
"Takes place after Uncanny X-Men #66 but before the start of The Hidden Years (note that the period between those issues is supposed to be "three days"). Xavier is "still too sick" at this point to help or even appear in this issue."
It also has to take place before their appearances (and Spider-Man's!) in Fantastic Four World's Greatest Comics Magazine #3-4 & 11-12 because Professor X is up and about there alongside the team (including Havok & Lorna).
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 21, 2013 1:04 AM
So *do* the X-Dudes find out whether or not Spider-Man is a mutant? Because when they meet him as X-Factor (ASM 270-something, IIRC) they're still unclear on the question, so if it's settled here, that's another continuity flaw.
And JJJ hates "masked vigilante" types because he got beat down real bad by some hooded KKK thugs back in his investigative reporter days, as Conway revealed in an issue of SSM. (Or maybe Web; it's all running together.) So the last thing he would think of himself as is a bigot.
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 1, 2014 2:53 AM
The Conway story had Jonah's friend killed by a "hero" cop. The KKK thing was a What If, I think.
Posted by: Michael | August 1, 2014 7:47 AM
The JJJ story you're talking about was a fill-in by Tony Isabella that appeared int he middle of Conway's run on Web of Spider-Man.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 17, 2015 9:43 AM
Fnord posted his review of the JJJ story and he lists Conway, not Isabella, as the writer:
Posted by: Michael | October 17, 2015 9:55 AM
And so it is, as the guy who looked at the actual comic correctly points out. I'm probably getting it confused with Isabella taking over the "Art Attacks" storyline.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 17, 2015 5:48 PM
Dan, that was ASM #282, by DeFalco, Leonardi and Layton.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | August 14, 2016 1:41 PM
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 21, 2016 7:05 AM
Just want to point that the last part of your review doesn't make sense considering the current placement of this issue (Before HY).
You probably placed it after HY at first, I guess.
Posted by: Bibs | April 11, 2017 4:52 AM
Bibs, my point with those lines is that there are incongruities between this and the start of Hidden Years. For example, if Iceman was angry enough at the beginning of Hidden Years to quit the team, then you'd think you'd see a little of that anger building up here. This story was published after Hidden Years so it would have been possible for Gage to add a few lines to help things fit better. Just a small point, noting how continuity inserts often feel isolated from the period they are integrating with. And it's especially noticeable in this period since so many inserts were placed in the same period.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 11, 2017 7:28 AM
oh ok! I interpreted it as if you were pointing incongruities between this and the end of Hidden Years, my bad!
And I agree with you, the problem with most continuity inserts, even if they don't generate placing problems, is the feel of isolation from the period they're supposed to be inserted on.
Posted by: Bibs | April 11, 2017 8:14 AM
I had a lot of problems with the continuity of all 4 parts of this. Usually Gage is on the ball with this but I feel like he didn't care about the context of what was going on in the time periods he cherry picked, just the lineups.
Posted by: Jeff | April 11, 2017 10:37 AM
Comments have been disabled for the summer while i'm not around to moderate.
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