Uncanny X-Men #278-279
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #278, Uncanny X-Men #279
These issues begin showing an astral projection of the Shadow King and his slave, Lian Shen. The Shadow King is instigating intolerance that will, it seems, lead to the Days of Future Past dystopia.
Meanwhile, Professor X, in a special armored suit, steals the X-Men's Blackbird out of storage.
It was being held by the British army for Excalibur, who took the plane in Excalibur #8 while the X-Men were thought dead. The army is not able to contact Excalibur due to radio interference (that may be generated by Professor X's costume, but it's also said that the Shadow King is causing mental static that limits Xavier's telepathy). Storm later says that she tried to reach Excalibur but they were not home.
Also at this time, Moira MacTaggert is running gladiator contests on Muir Island between the various mutants that have felt pulled there.
Rogue is resisting the impulses of the island, but that ends when the Shadow King approaches her in a shower scene.
The X-Men begin their assault on Muir Island (whee!).
And it doesn't go well.
Professor X, meanwhile, goes back to (the remains of) the X-Mansion, but finds Stevie Hunter on the run from a Colossus that is possessed by the Shadow King.
All of the above art was drawn by Paul Smith, who was referred to a guest penciler. Issue #279 also has guest art, this time by Andy Kubert (who previously had drawn X-Factor #57 for Marvel). This is also the issue where Claremont is joined (so to speak) by Nicieza and Lee on writing, and the book was apparently running late enough that the letterer credit goes to "Team Append-X".
While Paul Smith's art is looking wonky in a number of places above, Kubert seems to have improved dramatically since his X-Factor issue, or the inks of Scott Williams are more complimentary than Al Milgrom's.
Xavier and Hunter flee Colossus, getting into the X-Men's basement where Xavier can use the Danger Room against him. But that only lasts so long and Xavier is forced to get physical!
Xavier manages to purge the Shadow King from Colossus' mind. Back in Washington DC, Lian Shen advises the Shadow King that he'd better get a new physical body, because the one that he's currently occupying is beginning to rot.
Meanwhile, the X-Men on Muir Island struggle to not turn to the dark side, with varying degrees of success.
If Gambit says "Bang, you dead!" one more time i will murder him myself.
Forge shows up with a gun and some circuitry that restores Wolverine to his senses, and then he does the same for Rogue.
Meanwhile, Xavier decides he needs more help, so it's finally time to get X-Factor involved in this crossover.
Despite the better looking art, the amount of content in issue #279 could be fit into a Marvel Comics Presents story (or summarized in four scans). Still, it's nice to see movement on the Shadow King story, which had been dragging on for a while. And it may not be "Mutant Wars", but between the Muir Island mutants and the X-Men, there are a lot of fights going on. So it's a fun little adventure and, so far, Claremont's absence isn't felt.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: It was "barely a day ago" that Professor X was a prisoner of the Warskrulls in the last arc.
Crossover: Muir Island Saga
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showAlysande Stuart, Amanda Sefton, Banshee, Colossus, Forge, Gambit, Healer, Jubilee, Legion, Lian Shen, Madrox the Multiple Man, Moira MacTaggert, Professor X, Psylocke, Rogue, Shadow King, Sharon Friedlander, Siryn, Stevie Hunter, Storm, Strong Guy, Tom Corsi, Wolverine
Claremont had basically been ousted by Bob Harras in favor of the Image crew at this point. I think he has said that page 8 of issue #279 was the end of his run on Uncanny. Since he left literally mid-way through the issue I suppose this means he had already written X-men #1-3 for Jim Lee to draw, probably right after they got done with the Shi'ar story.
It wouldn't be long before he did that "Cog in the Machine" interview with Comics Journal. Comics Scene and Comics Interview also ran stories with Claremont talking about how his X-men #1 line-up was going to be somewhat different with Guido/Strong Guy on the team and Forge remaining as a main team member instead of becoming mostly a supporting character. One of those stories (Interview I think) ran so close to the drama that it included a blurb at the end talking about how Claremont had suddenly left and these plans were now up in the air.
As for the Muir Island Saga: the Shadow King story was actually intended to last a bit longer, culminating in Xavier's death and the "Dark Wolverine Saga."
Pretty interesting stuff and Claremont has gone over it in interviews. CBR compiled a lot of the info in a Comic Legends Revealed from a few years ago:
Fun fact: Claremont ghost wrote several issues of Alan Davis' X-men run before he came back for issue #100 and sorta kinda got to do Dark Wolverine by having him be a Horseman of Apocalypse rather than a Hand zombie.
Posted by: Red Comet | September 23, 2015 6:58 PM
And so it ends. I don't recall what page specifically Claremont left on, but I believe it was during the 'Xavier rescues Peter' scene. The following scene is with Gambit, Jubilee and Wolverine on Muir Isle, and reeks of Nicieza scripting. "Girls are girls and guys are goobers"?
I'm am convinced that "Bang, you dead" is exactly what was supposed to happen, as a conclusion to the plotline which had been built up since #251 and the start of the Dark Wolverine Saga. Had it actually happened, it would have been... I won't say "awesome" because the Dark Wolverine Saga actually sounds kind of stupid, but Gambit's constantly defeating Wolvie would have made sense.
I don't think Claremont had written #1-3 of the new series yet. My understanding was that it was agreed with him and Harras that scripting those issues would be his 'farewell bonus' or something similar. Lee had probably just started drawing them at the time, hence all the guest-artists.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 23, 2015 7:45 PM
The Dark Wolverine Saga more or less played out in Mark Millar's Enemy of the State story, complete with the Hand resurrection angle and an ally (Millar used Elektra instead of Jean Grey) going undercover to stop him.
Brian Cronin claims Millar knew nothing about Claremont's story in the Comic Legends Revealed article I linked. Could be true I guess, but then I also don't completely believe the Hunger Games writer about having never heard of Battle Royale.
Posted by: Red Comet | September 23, 2015 8:16 PM
Claremont left on the page where the Shadow King says "Why settle for the Earth when I can claim the stars?"- the Muir Island scenes follow.
Posted by: Michael | September 23, 2015 8:48 PM
Yeah, but did it include the parts about him and Jean? Don't answer that, I don't want to know.
There's a legal reason to profess ignorance about this stuff. If you say you were influenced by such-and-such [like if Brad Bird said he really liked "Watchmen" and the Fantastic Four while talking about The Incredibles] then you're open for a nonsense suit which nonetheless costs money to defend against. Seriously. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were constantly fighting off nuisance lawsuits, like a guy who drew George Washington in a space suit and met either of them once, and was convinced that they stole his idea to create the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Incredibly stupid, especially given that their influences on the early Turtles were obvious, but they had to pay a lawyer and waste time giving depositions and all that.
I think the Dark Wolverine Saga is a stupid idea in the first place. I can't imagined I would have liked it even if Claremont had remained in control. This is the point where I become so distant from the mutant titles that I don't even want to know what happens to these characters, much less care who stole what idea or if they came up with it on their own. [Alan Davis, Peter David and Larry Hama's runs which are currently on-going notwithstanding.]
Posted by: ChrisW | September 23, 2015 8:49 PM
Can't blame you there. I read until Uncanny X-men #500 and tried it again for a year when Bendis took over. Mostly dreck, all of it, with a few entertaining spots here and there.
Claremont's run was the defining run on X-men and everything that came after is basically a riff on it. Even Grant Morrison's acclaimed run is mostly him trying to do away with Claremont's influence and make the X-men fresh...but at the end of the day that still makes his run all about Claremont's X-men.
Daredevil post-Frank Miller has the same problem. I think they should have just ended both titles, but unfortunately that doesn't fly when it's a franchise or intellectual property the company wants to make money off of.
Posted by: Red Comet | September 23, 2015 8:58 PM
Michael, is there a reference in "Kings of Pain" to messing with the mansion's defenses? Cable and the New Mutants lived there and would have made modifications. Forge and Banshee were there for a while. Kitty was active there before the Cross-Time Caper. Who knows what changes Magneto made during his time as headmaster, or what changes the X-Men made after the Mutant Massacre. Or even what Mr. Sinister did around "Inferno."
This is just an idle question. Maybe there was a specific reference to the New Warriors and I really don't remember "Kings of Pain" - I barely looked at the issues when Fnord placed them - but even now my first reaction is 'what about all the other people who've been in and out of the underground mansion?' and that feeling is familiar. There might well be a footnote that says something about the New Warriors, it's just... Really? How can you be so sure that they did it?
Like I say, just an idle question.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 23, 2015 8:58 PM
Xavier notes when Colossus breaks in that the defenses should have triggered automatically but that they've been substantially disengaged. Sam, Nova, Namorita , Boom Boom and Feral disengaged the defenses in New Warriors Annual 1. And no, there's no footnote, but that's par for the course for Marvel at this time.
Posted by: Michael | September 23, 2015 9:18 PM
Red Comet, I more-or-less agree. Claremont defined the X-Men (and Miller defined Daredevil) so perfectly that it's almost impossible to see what could be done with them.
I gave up on "X-Men" just before #300. I did buy the first Grant Morrison issue, but could not recognize any of these people anymore. I liked one exchange of dialogue. "We have work to do in El Salvador." "That's more than the people of El Salvador have." Once in a great while I go on Wikipedia or TVtropes or whatever website I find, and read about the X-Men's adventures afterwards, and literally cannot recognize anything of the characters who once meant so much to me.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 23, 2015 9:22 PM
For a being that supposedly represents all that is dark, the Shadow King accomplishes very little in the way of actual evil, and seems limited mostly to giving Claremont an excuse to make the female characters act slutty.
Posted by: Bob | September 23, 2015 11:30 PM
Although what followed from Lee and his successors was godawful, this book needed an intervention. Claremont wanted to keep the Shadow King plot going through #300, and give us a rehash of Dark Phoenix in the form of Dark Wolverine and a fake-out S&M Jean.
Posted by: Bob | September 23, 2015 11:32 PM
Fun Fact: As Byrne, Louise Simonson and Claremont will tell you, "Fabian Nicieza" is Latin for "Company man who will gladly take your job after you get screwed over by editorial."
Posted by: Bob | September 23, 2015 11:57 PM
A bit unfair to Nicieza really. Byrne had once referred to himself as a "company man" and was happy to testify against other comics professionals: http://ohdannyboy.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/when-i-am-working-for-marvel-i-am-loyal.html. I think Lobdell took over Byrne's scripting, rather than Nicieza. I did like Nicieza's writing on Psi-Force, which was kind of a New Universe version of New Mutants, but I didn't particularly like him on New Warriors or actual New Mutants (maybe the latter because Liefeld was plotting).
Posted by: Jonathan | September 25, 2015 8:38 AM
I must say that I'll be interested in hearing your opinion on Nicieza's scripting / writing in the coming X-Men issues. I think that Nicieza won some sort of respect for himself over the years, didnt' he? He's usually liked by Thunderbolts fans...
Posted by: Piotr W | September 25, 2015 8:56 AM
I sort of feel sorry for Nicieza as well from what I've seen on here. With his works on New Warriors and some of what he does in the near future (notably the early developments for Deadpool), he is a decent enough writer and does make a name for himself in some ways. His only problem is that he's sort of just lumped in with all the pre-Image stuff due to coming into prominence as a writer at the same time as the Image crowd emerges on art.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 25, 2015 9:15 AM
In Byrne's case, I was referring to Avengers, rather than X-Men.
Posted by: Bob | September 25, 2015 6:25 PM
But Nicieza's stint on Avengers was always supposed to be temporary.
Posted by: Michael | September 25, 2015 7:31 PM
It's never made explicit because Claremont doesn't get to finsh the story, but I think the idea is that the riots Shadow King is causing are being triggered by his use of the captive Polaris's new "negative emotions" powers.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | September 26, 2015 3:31 AM
It's a sign of how chaotic and sudden the switch from Claremont to Nicieza is that Amanda Sefton simply vanishes from the story after her appearance in 278 and isn't seen again until she starts appearing years later in Excalibur.
Commenters elsewhere have noted that it's kind of apt that one of the last scenes Claremont writes in the series, in 279, involves Xavier literally erasing a student's character development and turning Colossus back into a regular X-Man.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | September 26, 2015 3:37 AM
In Comics Journal #152, Claremont stated that he planned to kill off Xavier and replace him with Gateway in order to broaden the X-Men's base of operations. He also confirmed that he wrote the first 11 pages of #279 and Nicieza wrote the other 11.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 10, 2015 4:11 PM
I personally would have been all good with killing off Xavier. I didn't mind them going back to the Mansion. But going back under the hand of Xavier in a wheelchair? That I could have done without.
I do like Kubert's work here - looks kind of like Jim Lee with a little bit of influence from his dad's fantastic work (Kubert's dad that is). If you Marvel only types aren't that familiar with him, check out his Hawkman and Tarzan work. He was one of the true greats of the Silver Age.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 10, 2015 7:39 AM
FWIW the funky armor Xavier wears in #278 is, I believe, the same armor worn by his Skrull doppelganger as the Shi'ar Warlord. Or some small Shi-ar variation on it, at least.
Posted by: Austin Gorton | February 10, 2016 2:19 PM
It's odd how much better Kubert looks here than in his early X Men run. Go Scott Williams.
Posted by: MindlessOne | June 17, 2017 10:53 PM
This is listed as Lian Shen's last appearance. Did her story arc ever get resolved? Was she killed or her mind freed? Or was she simply forgotten about.
Claremont was never at his best resolving things to a conclusion and moving on, and lots of things were dropped to the wayside as the new creative teams played musical chairs in the next few years. But I'm curious as to what happened to her.
Posted by: Chris | December 15, 2017 5:57 PM
Lien Shen got arrested by Rogue and the X-Treme team in X-Treme X-Men 2001.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | December 15, 2017 7:11 PM
So forgotten until ten years later. Thanks.
Posted by: Chris | December 15, 2017 7:29 PM
That exact explanation is given to the riots in the next part of this crossover, x.factor 69
Posted by: Bibs | January 11, 2018 4:27 AM
Comments are now closed.
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