Uncanny X-Men #280
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #280
After the explosion in X-Factor #69, Professor X and some SHIELD ESPers leave their sub and investigate. They find the equivlent of radioactive fallout, with psychic residue making it too dangerous to walk around without body armor.
They find that the X-Men (and X-Factor, but i'll be calling them all the X-Men going forward) are all still alive, held by the Shadow King in Legion's body.
While the Shadow King begins slaughtering the SHIELD agents, we cut away to Col. Vazhin, a character that seemed so important to the build-up of this story. But aside from this scene (that nothing comes of) and the fact that he stood around in the background of the sub in the X-Factor issue, he really doesn't participate.
Storm chases the Shadow King away with a lightning bolt, giving the X-men a brief respite. Note that only Rogue's costume has failed to remain intact.
The Shadow King sends the mutants still under his control after the X-Men, and then Professor X sends his mind to the Astral Plane so the two of them can duel like old times.
As Xavier is injured on the Astral plane, his real body takes damage.
In the first part of this story, when Moira MacTaggert was making the mutants fight in the arena, it was said that the Morlock Healer was available to fix their wounds after the battle. Presumably he's still around somewhere; it's too bad no one was able to find him and have him keep Xavier's spine from snapping.
Some of the X-Men fight against the mind controlled mutants...
...and the others join Xavier on the Astral plane, thanks to Jean.
Forge is able to use Psylocke's psychic knife on Polaris.
And the Shadow King, now a lame generic villain without Claremont to write him, shouts a lame generic "No!! I was so close!!".
He disperses. Jean says, "I felt it all destroyed. The Shadow King, the Astral plane, everything!". Surely the Astral plane is just a metaphorical concept representing what happens when telepaths use their powers, and isn't actually a phsyical place that can be destroyed right? We'll definitely see something very Astral plane-like in X-Factor #70.
But this is the end of the battle. On a final page that feels very much like a truncation of the plot, we quickly learn that Xavier indeed has been crippled again, and that Polaris has been returned to her former size (and we'll learn in X-Factor #70 that she has her old powers back).
At a time where events of any possible significance are rewarded with splash panels, the six straight boxes that make up the final page seem oddly simplistic, almost like they just ran out of room. But i guess that's why we needed the epilogue in X-Factor #70.
Surely this story doesn't match whatever grand plans Chris Claremont had for the Shadow King. But i don't really care. I haven't thought much of Claremont's Shadow King appearances (beginning in the #250s; the character's earlier appearances were fine as a minor villain), and frankly i'm happy to have a plot neatly wrapped up with no ambiguity and no dangling threads. Good guys fought the bad guy and won. You can definitely see the wheels grinding: X-Men and X-Factor are united, Professor X is crippled again, Polaris is restored to her former self. All set up for the revamp to the X-books. But for now that just adds to feeling that something happened here, and it's over. Post-Claremont, the X-Men books will become a train wreck, of course, but for a brief moment, as the pendulum swings back, we hit something of a sweet spot (if not exactly a masterpiece)(and how many mixed metaphors can i fit into one sentence?).
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is Muir Island Saga part four, following X-Factor #69. An epilogue in X-Factor #70 takes place next.
Crossover: Muir Island Saga
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): showAngel, Banshee, Beast, Colonel Alexei Vazhin, Colossus, Cyclops, Forge, Gambit, Iceman, Jean Grey, Jubilee, Legion, Madrox the Multiple Man, Moira MacTaggert, Mystique, Polaris, Professor X, Psylocke, Rogue, Shadow King, Siryn, Storm, Strong Guy, Wolverine
And so it ends.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 23, 2015 8:09 PM
Note that Colossus was on the ship in X-Factor 69 but he seems to have mysteriously teleported on to Muir Island in this story.
Posted by: Michael | September 23, 2015 9:26 PM
I read these issues in real time, and looking back shortly after (and even now), it felt like an ending. Claremont and the various artists took this book to crazy, wild and fun times. Yet after Inferno (siege perilous specifically) this book became a mess. And here was the storyline that cleaned everything up. The gang was back together and the future seemed bright. There were no huge dangling plots that I can remember after this story.
It felt triumphant. And knowing soon that Claremont would be off the book, it was a great way for him to leave the team for future writers. Claremont created so many details, so many relationships, so much conflict. He filled the x-men with a huge amount of history over all those years of writing.
Alas, future writers (AND EDITORS) would destroy all this greatness relatively quickly.
Posted by: Tabe8 | September 23, 2015 10:04 PM
You immediately can tell Claremont's off the book, because when Forge grabs Psylocke and uses her psychic knife on Polaris, there isn't a paragraph-long speech explaining that it's the "focused totality of her mental powers."
Posted by: Bob | September 23, 2015 11:35 PM
How convenient that Rogue's clothes are blown off to perfectly match her Savage Land costume.
Posted by: Bob | September 24, 2015 12:00 AM
If you do not look at th words, the final page gives me the impression the idea was originally Xavier would be dead. The cover implies it too, with the wailing over their pyrrhic victory. Why can't they ever kill off Xavier? He's as bad as Aunt May at needlessly sticking around.
Gambit and Wolverine's fight looks stupid, why aren't his claws connecting? Why is Remy standing so close when he has a good long distance power? It wants to look epic but now they look like they both can't hit an immediate target.
Posted by: PeterA | September 24, 2015 12:24 AM
Oh my. I read this storyline when I was around 15... back then, I quite liked it. Now, I see how... corny it is. Especially the final issue, with badly-inked Andy Kubert art, Rogue's inexplicably-torn costume, the X-Men aiding Xavier on the Astral Plane with purely physical powers and so on... This isn't a good story by any means. The last good part is X-Men 279... the rest is a mess.
BTW. I have to ask: not that I like post-Claremont X-Men stories, because I often don't. Still, was what came immediately later such a total trainwreck as some of you guys say? When I think of comic book trainwreck, I think Spider-Man's Clone Saga. Or early Image output. Post-Claremont X-Men books were mediocre, but were they truly a catastrophe?
Posted by: Piotr W | September 24, 2015 5:42 PM
I would agree that you couldn’t put post-Claremont X-Men as quite as bad as Clone Saga etc. But for me there’s very little good stuff for the next 10 years. (The Alan Davis X-Men run is probably my favourite of the period, and I should specify that does include the issues Davis did on his own just as much as the ones Claremont helped him with.) I do agree Claremont was probably leaving at about the right time. I think he was still doing good stuff up until about the mid 250s, and after that he got increasingly self-indulgent, though there were still good moments, including the monologues he gives Ororo and Magneto in 273-275 when he realised he was leaving.
Posted by: jonathan | September 25, 2015 11:16 AM
I second what jonathan said that post-Claremont X-men is mostly mediocre rather than bad, bad, BAD like the Clone Saga or the Crossing.
I did really like Joe Madureira's X-men issues. One of the few artists I've seen who could elevate a story by an average talent writer like Scott Lobdell.
Posted by: Red Comet | September 25, 2015 4:05 PM
The two responses above NAIL IT!
Great Job Jonathan on pointing out the coolness factor, and Claremont's willingness to move things forward. (Although, I think he went a little too far post siege perilous. Maybe if he kept the "new team" from #255 going for more than just one issue. Otherwise, his last year or so on xmen felt all over the place.). And bravo for the "all coolness and no soul" line. Post Claremont, xmen was all about flash, but no substance.
And Red Comet, totally agree about maduriera. That was the only bright spot post Claremont for me. Not so much because of the stories (ok AoA was good), but his art really brought a newness to the team. I guess my hate for post Claremont xmen can be summed up in one word - Onslaught. I have not purchased ONE new comic since that crossover, and that is no lie. After almost 15 years of being a comic fan, Onslaught completely wiped away my interest in comics.
I just want to add, after Claremont left, the xmen went from being an art form - stories with characters you cared about - to just being a product for the masses to buy. Marvel just went too far with the brand...
Posted by: Tabe8 | September 25, 2015 4:49 PM
The Lee/Portacio "plotting" that we get for the first post-Claremont year really is a trainwreck. The Omega Red storyline makes no sense, as we'll soon see, and Portacio's story in which the X-Men fall down a hole and meet Colossus's long-lost brother might as well be a bullet-train derailment.
What does work pretty well in the post-Claremont era are some of the crossover events, which are actually better than late-Claremont crossovers like "X-Tinction" and "Future Present." Well, "Executioner's Song" and "Age of Apocalypse" are better, at least, even if things like "Phalanx Covenant" are about as bad as "Future Present."
Posted by: Walter Lawson | September 26, 2015 4:04 AM
X-Cutioner's Song suffered from the nonsensical ending, which even Lobdell recognized.
Posted by: Michael | September 26, 2015 9:01 AM
For guys so determined wrest control of the books, Lee and Portacio had very little of an idea what they wanted to do with the characters or once they pulled off their coup. They were really just flinging poo at a wall with that one.
I hope our poor webmaster can endure the next 4-5 years or so of across-the-board garbage (with the exception of David's Hulk) that he has to review from Marvel.
Posted by: Bob | September 26, 2015 7:40 PM
Argh, the Mikhail plot. I thought it was bad even when I was 15 - both the "hole" story and Mikhail's character in general. Another relative coming back from the grave! And yet another character with ill-defined energy powers!
Posted by: Piotr W | September 27, 2015 12:46 AM
Just wait until we get to the scripting. I think it was Scott Lobdell by that point, but when he has someone (I think it was Iceman) summarize Callisto's life as casual exposition, it's just horrible. Ick, yuck, stop. 'That former Morlock leader who went insane after she stopped being hot.' Or something equally horrible.
I'm looking forward to Fnord summarizing further issues the same way I look at a car wreck.
And Bob, I totally disagree. Peter David also wrote a great "X-Factor" too, so there! :P
Posted by: ChrisW | September 27, 2015 11:25 PM
@Piotr W -
But it depends on who you ask. I really like the first year of the new line-ups, through the end of Executioner's Song. It was clear that Uncanny wasn't nearly as good a book (thus the "fall down a hole" storyline), but they knew that, giving it the less flashy talent and the less popular characters. And I absolutely loathe the Grant Morrison era. As for X-Factor, well David does some great writing, but I couldn't read it because I disliked the art so much.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 10, 2015 11:35 AM
Since I really got into comics, mostly of the X variety, in the mid '90s I think this is THE story I've been waiting to see collected in tpb form - and it STILL never has been! And yet we've had forgettable rubbish like the 'Skinning of Souls' story from a couple of years after this which HAS now been collected. It's bizarre.
Posted by: Dave77 | April 18, 2016 12:43 AM
Nearly all of Claremont's run has been collected in colour...
Posted by: AF | April 18, 2016 5:03 AM
TPBs? Noting that I don't consider hardbacks to be tpbs (and they do usually go by HC instead), I can't see where issues 144-152, 154-158, 160-166, 177-187, 216-223, 227-231, 235-238, 246-247, 249-255, or 259-264 are collected, in addition to the MI saga (there are a couple of issues in those runs that have turned up out of sequence in character/creator focused collections, and I'll admit I also thought most of the 270s were uncollected, but have just found out I missed X-Men:Crossroads when it came out in '98 - I didn't have internet then, and have never seen it in stores).
Posted by: Dave77 | April 19, 2016 10:56 PM
Well, that's just being picky. But even some of that is coming out in paperback soon...
Posted by: AF | April 20, 2016 4:08 AM
Picky in the sense that I could get the issues collected in colour, yes. But TPBs have always been the primary way to do comic collectiions, and the fact that nearly a third of one of the most renowned runs of all time haven't been released this way is surprising. The whole lot should have been available for 20 years now.
Posted by: Dave77 | April 20, 2016 3:26 PM
Comments are now closed.
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