Issue(s): X-Men #1, X-Men #2, X-Men #3
This book was a HUGE deal at the time. Jim Lee was a hot artist and the X-Men were becoming more and more popular. I had drifted away from the X-Men a while prior to this and really was only sporadically buying comics at this time. But the hype around this new launch brought me back in a big way. There were four alternate covers to this issue, plus a special premium edition that combined all four covers into a single gatefold. It seemed very important at the time that i get the gatefold version (and i did, and in the long run i think they are about as common as air molecules).
Despite the hype, and despite Claremont's relative lack of control, this is a good story to go out with. Jim Lee is on the top of his form, artwise, and the story allows Claremont to bring in a lot of the themes that he's been playing with throughout his series. In that regard, at least, the story is a lot more focused than a lot of Claremont's recent work on Uncanny. And this story does give Claremont an opportunity to address the back and forth regarding Magneto (whether he's a villain or not), and put "his" version of the character to rest.
The story starts with a group of mutants being pursued in space by a group of American soldiers. The mutants are seeking Asteroid M, where Magneto is currently residing. Magneto comes out of his asteroid and ends the fight by disabling all the shuttles, and the mutants ask for asylum.
All of these actions alarm the nations of Earth, especially the Russians since Magneto's asteroid is hovering over their country and Magneto has a history of attacking them. The Russians want to initiate the "Magneto Protocols". When Nick Fury disagrees, saying that that could make things worse, he's asked if he's got an alternative, and then we cut away to the X-Men.
The plot kind of pauses there. It's time to introduce the X-Men's new status quo. To do that, we're shown a completely rebuilt X-Mansion. The X-Men are in a Danger Room session, several of them in new costumes (including the floating wheelchair for Xavier).
Everybody gets a little sequence to show themselves off, except for Iceman who is defeated right away.
Jean's telepathy seems to be fully restored at this point.
After the Danger Room sequence, Fury contacts the X-Men. Rogue and Wolverine seem to take Magneto's side, or at least argue for a diplomatic approach.
The group is broken up into Blue and Gold teams, which will loosely define the split between this book and Uncanny going forward (although it often gets blurred, as it does in this first story). Cyclops leads Blue and Storm leads Gold.
Back on Magneto's asteroid, a fight is instigated between Magneto's two sets of prisoner-guests, and the word "flatscan" is introduced.
After that, Magneto heads down to Earth, and when he's detected, Cyclops' Blue team is deployed.
Magneto is found pulling up the nuclear missiles from the sub that he sunk in Uncanny X-Men #150. Despite the possibility of approaching Magneto with diplomacy earlier, and despite the fact that the whole reason the X-Men were called in was to avoid an escalation, the X-Men attack Magneto more or less immediately.
However, they are at least not fighting to kill...
...until Wolverine goes out of control.
I don't know what caused Wolverine to change positions since the earlier debate. I guess once you commit to something you commit all the way.
Rogue, who had developed a relationship with Magneto during Magneto's previous appearance circa Uncanny X-Men #274, tries to reach out to Magneto, calling Cyclops' decision to attack a "mistake" and that he "handled things wrong". Interesting way to set up the new (returning) leader of the team, especially when Storm is waiting in the wings as the leader of another squad. In any event, Magneto is uninterested in talking, and he detonates one of the nukes that he's retrieved in the upper atmosphere, setting off an EMP that disables all electronics in Russia.
Magneto is less upset about Cyclops' attack than Wolverine's, since he and Wolverine worked alongside each other for a while when Magneto was headmaster at Xavier's school. Magneto is also injured, and one of the mutants that have taken asylum in his asteroid, Fabian Cortez, offers to heal him.
Rogue was caught in the EMP blast, and she turns up in a hospital in Genosha. That country is soon attacked by Cortez and the other new Acolytes of Magneto.
One of the Acolytes, Delgado, was one of the pilots that pursued the mutants to Asteroid M, and it's unknown if he was a sleeper agent, or someone that was converted or mind controlled by the Acolytes, or just someone who had the same name, or something else (all of these possibilities are raised). The other Blue X-men show up to help Rogue.
Wolverine senses something familiar about Cortez.
Magneto shows up to rescue his Acolytes after the X-Men have them on the ropes. Cyclops seems somewhat more willing to negotiate this time, suggesting that Magneto could repair the damage that the Acolytes have done, but he doesn't know how Magneto will rectify the loss of life. Magneto's position is that the only people that were killed were Genoshian soldiers, and they deserve it for how the mutates were treated anyway. It's pointed out that this isn't really fair, since the Genoshan government has changed its policies at this time (thanks to the X-Men).
The fight breaks out again. Magneto maintains a high minded attitude during the battle.
We get a hint that Cortez' (or i should say Fabian's, since his sister Anne-Marie Cortez is also on the team) healing power isn't what it seems to be. He hits Psylocke with his power, and it causes her telepathy to get amplified.
But she manages to get that under control and hit Magneto with a super-charged version of her psychic knife. However, it isn't enough to stop him. Another Acolyte named Chrome then covers all the X-Men in, well, chrome, and they are captured and brought back to Asteroid M.
While this is happening, back at the X-Mansion Banshee notices Moira MacTaggert suddenly run away crying. Banshee follows, probably remembering that she'd been possessed by the Shadow King recently. But she has a different revelation coming this time. Fabian, while he's "healing" Magneto, figures it out as well: Magneto's genetic structure has been altered. So Magneto heads to Earth again, and captures Moira and Professor X. Magneto has a suspicion of what happened, or at least when it happened. Magneto was held in Moira's facility when Magneto had been reverted to infancy after the Mutant Alpha incident.
I want to get on my continuity soapbox for a minute. The Mutant Alpha thing is a pretty obscure reference. I'd wager the majority of people reading this comic in 1991 had not read that Defenders issue. But the fact that Magneto had been reduced to infancy is a well known fact about Magneto (it's sometimes used by fans to justify how Magneto could still be so young after having been alive during the Holocaust, for example). This was probably Marvel's most read book to date. And yet as far as i know, no one ran screaming from this book because there was a reference to some old story. It's often said by Marvel representatives and some comics critics that use of "continuity" makes books impenetrable, and that the use of footnotes makes readers feel like they are missing out on something. I think the opposite is true. I think that the dialogue and the footnote give you everything you need to know, but it allows for much bigger, longterm, storytelling and doesn't make you feel like things are coming out of nowhere.
Ok, i'm off the soapbox. Moira admits that she tinkered with Magneto's DNA. It was in pursuit of a cure for her son, Proteus. She saw "instability" in Magneto's central nervous system; it couldn't handle the power that Magneto processed through it. Or, to use Magneto's words, "with great power comes certain madness".
This idea alone, similar to John Byrne's explanation for Namor's mood swings from Namor #1, can explain a lot. When Magneto is not using his power to the fullest, he appears weaker but is more rational, like during his reform period. But when he's tapping the full extent of his power, he's a bad guy. Even in this story, Magneto vacillates between wanting to crush Professor X completely and trying to be a high minded individual that says that mutants shouldn't fight each other.
But on top of that, Magneto sees this as Moira having tinkered with his behavior, and thus his reform period was not the result of free will. And therefore that Magneto's true nature is that of a villain. If we left things there, then Magneto's heel turn circa Acts of Vengeance would be (as John Byrne would say) him returning to the way he should be. But as we'll see, there's another twist coming up.
In the meantime, the Russians push the UN to fully enact the Magneto Protocols. And that means a giant space gun that will shoot Asteroid M out of the sky. Nick Fury contacts the X-Men to tell them that time is running out, so Storm activates the Gold team.
Claremont's characteristic wordiness is in full force by issue #3, because this is his chance to really call out the themes of the X-Men once and for all.
At the same time, there's a very contrived fight between the two teams of X-Men. "Moira's process" suddenly becomes true mind control, and it's used to make the Blue team fight the Gold.
But the resolution to that battle is also the final piece of the Moira revelation. It turns out that using your mutant powers undoes the process. Which explains why Moira never used it on Proteus, and proves that Magneto really has been himself the whole time.
It takes a while for that to come out, though, allowing Magneto and Professor X to argue philosophy first.
But when it does sink in, it's also revealed that Fabian's powers weren't really healing Magneto, just amping up his powers, and that in fact Magneto is dying. Fabian flees, gloating that he's made a martyr of Magneto. And everyone else needs to get off Asteroid M as well, because the Magneto Protocols space gun is about to fire. But Magneto opts to remain on the asteroid, and the rest of the Acolytes, who i guess are more true believers than Fabian, stay behind as well. Professor X has to be dragged off the asteroid since he doesn't want to leave Magneto behind.
With that, Magneto is seemingly killed. Claremont, now that he was leaving, intended it to be the death of a character that he nurtured from a typical arch-villain into a nuanced, complex character. And it's a good send off even though, as i'm sure Claremont knew would happen, Magneto will return.
In the one subplot setting up next issue's plot, Matsuo Tsurayaba of the Hand takes advantage of the power outage in Russia to free something called Omega Red.
Beyond that and the Danger Room scenario in the beginning, everything else in these issues is devoted directly to the Magneto storyline. So it's pretty straightforward as far as that goes. And that does help keep things focused, which is a good thing (it's not perfect; the Acolytes could have used a better introduction and more characterization, for example). And even though it's a straightforward story, there is a lot of history behind it, as i noted with the Defenders reference. In addition to that, the situation in Genosha is a topic of debate, and Professor entrusting his school to Magneto, the pinnacle of Magneto's reform years, is brought up. So it's a good reminder of Claremont's legacy without the issue devolving into a nostalgia trip. So it's a good sendoff for Claremont as well as Magneto. And i guess it had better be, because Marvel was doing nothing to acknowledge Claremont's departure. The only sign that Claremont is leaving is a little line at the end of the issue.
Claremont will be back at Marvel and will be covered in my project again, so i don't want to write his obituary. But even though i've been hard on it at times and even though especially in the past several years his run seemed to lose focus, Claremont's importance can not be overstated. He (obviously with the help of many talented artists and co-writers and editors) took a book that had previously been canceled and that (re-)started on a bi-monthly schedule and turned it into arguably the face of Marvel in the 90s; certainly a major major franchise. Beyond popularizing those characters, though, Claremont was one of the major writers that helped elevate comics, with a focus on deeper characterization, long term subplotting, strong female characters, and relevant themes. He had his flaws, like his overly verbose dialogue, and some of his strengths had associated weaknesses: many subplots dangled indefinitely, and his strong female characters have to be considered alongside his penchant for creepy sexual domination themes. But on a whole he was practically an institution, and while the X-Franchise will live on beyond him, it's entirely thanks to momentum that he established. The quality on the X-books will decline immediately.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after X-Factor #71.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (10): show
Yeah I was sort of holding off on saying anything until now on Claremont due to this being the coda of the grand X-run he had, just like you.
In a way, while the X-books were defined by a lot of things, from the past history of Lee, Kirby, Adams and even obscure stuff like Englehart's Secret Empire arc and the Alpha incident mentioned here to the emergence of the super-franchise it was under hot artists like Jim Lee, Alan Davis and Rob Liefeld (yes, him too), it was Claremont and everything he did that bridged and made the franchise what it became and brought forth the potential it had to the entire Marvel line. The Mutant concept was always something that either was an interesting parallel to all sorts of elements of discrimination (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.)...or on the opposite end, an easy out to create superpowers without any true origin. Claremont used it to get some of what he wanted to across while weaving a huge saga that lasted all the way from being given the series after its "Giant-Sized" revival with the potential that this "all new, all different" team wasn't going to last...all the way to when it was basically the biggest thing at Marvel, the franchise that everyone wanted to write and draw for even with the chaos of the comic bubble and the matters coming like the Image exodus. While some could say even Claremont outstayed his welcome in how overly-complex he made everything, everything that made the X-Men and associated franchise what they are today is mainly his, even if he had help from various others from Cockrum, Byrne and Romita to the Simonseons to ...yes, Lee, Davis and Liefeld. While the franchise was about to go through its own ups and downs of hype and notability (further entreanched with all sorts of things such as the animated series, the Image crisis, and events such as the Age of Apocalypse and Onslaught), I think Claremont at least left at a point where he had done all he could do...yeah it wasn't perfect and not everything he wanted came out the way it did, but that's comic books and the whole factor of joint storytelling. Some of what he wanted probably isn't what was needed; some could have been...we'll never know but I think Chris did what he needed to and left a legacy that's still being felt in the comics and the movies and everything that is mutant-related in the franchise. (so much so that of course its' being split off thanks to the movies and the pushing of the Inhumans now...but that's another story)
Posted by: Ataru320 | November 4, 2015 4:46 PM
No one drew Magneto like Jim Lee. Pretty much every full shot of him is iconic.
These were, I think, the first X-Men comics I ever read, when I was about 8 or 9, and though they were full of characters and complicated discussions and lots of references to things past, because they took care to explain them, I wasn't confused at all. (Contrast with some Spider-Man stories coming up not long after, where they threw a ton of stuff at the reader without trying to fill in any newbies on what they were and I was left befuddled)
Posted by: Thanos6 | November 4, 2015 5:46 PM
Interesting review, Fnord.
I'd like to point out, though, that this story is a bit of mess: Rogue falls from the Soviet airspace to Genosha, there's some awful confusion as to the identities of the acolytes other than Fabian Cortez - and there's this absolutely nonsensical bit where Moira's treatment for mental instability becomes brainwashing (how????). It was a powerful and a great ending for Magneto, still... it has flaws. Maybe because of Jim Lee being a co-plotter...
Posted by: Piotr W | November 4, 2015 6:23 PM
There are definitely several artistic reminders of what decade we're in. Just look at the huge chest on Cyclops in the first scan of the danger room sequence, for instance. I'm also reminded that Linkara borrowed the line "why won't my hips un-sway?!" from Shortpacked when describing the women when he reviewed issue 1. I haven't paid close enough attention to the scans in previous entries to know if Jim Lee has always been like this or if he's trying to be more like Liefeld at this point in time.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | November 4, 2015 7:13 PM
@Morgon Wick, and the less said about Psylocke apparently making the whole world her gynecologist, the better.
But yeah, as a (admittedly naive and easily amused) kid at the time I thought this was "teh awesome!" and a good harbinger of how "kewl" 90s comics would be. Say what you will about Lee, but his work at the time certainly brought about a dynamism one could get enthusiastic about. Yes even with the women "posing" more often then naught.
Also I have to take a moment to say GREAT review/synopsis, Fnord12! I especially loved your little digression about how continuity (and more important, consistency) don't hamper books the way "modern" audiences and critics think. One question though. Do your scans come from the original issues, or they from the trade? I was just asking because on the trade, some of the colors and inking look a bit washed out, making the artwork look like somewhat garish, even more then it probably should? Or maybe that was just in the particular book I read, I dunno.
But despite how psyched I was (and still am a little bit) about this story arc, there are noticeable flaws. Outside of the ones Piotr mentions, there's the annoyance of the "Delgado" stuff. There's the weird notion to cram this all before the revised "Uncanny" when it would have been stronger (IMHO) to have the issues crossover. Like this (and with the blue team seemingly getting the "cooler" members) it made it look like X-Men was the "important" book, when (again, IMHO) Uncanny should have been the flagship, since this was, after all a spin-off. Finally, as another reviewer (The X-Axis, I think) pointed out, the story doesn't make it clear HOW this is Moira's fault. Her running off and crying in remorse certainly brings the melodramatic stinger, but it's hard to tie it to any proof of culpability of the events that started the series or how she "betrayed" the team. This is particularly weird since she continues the guilt trip through the NEXT story arc as well for no real good reason (except, of course to quickly usher her off the set, but there had to have been a less silly way to do that.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | November 4, 2015 9:11 PM
The scans from issue #1 are from the special gatefold cover edition, which is on glossy paper that doesn't scan as well. I imagine it's similar to the paper for your trade. It looks better than the scans here. The scans from issues #2-3 are from regular newsprint.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 4, 2015 9:53 PM
Anyone who wasn't a certain age in 1991 can't understand how big X-men #1 was. Everyone wanted to draw like Jim Lee.
Years later the low quality of 90s Marvel pushed me to buy and read X-title back issues from the 80s, and so I ultimately came to appreciate X-men #1-3 as the swansong for Claremont's run moreso than as a showcase for Jim Lee's art. It's a much better finale than most creators get when they are suddenly taken off a book.
I think the X-titles stay pretty good up until X-Cutioner's Song because that crossover was the point where they finally exhausted the major plotlines from the Claremont/Simonson era and it was up to Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell to come up with new stuff. Neither of them was a Chris Claremont.
The X-titles will never be as good again, not even when Claremont returns around 1999/2000. He'll never be as good of a writer again. That makes this finale even sadder that way, like when you watch a great old movie and realize that's the last great film that director or actor ever made.
Posted by: Red Comet | November 4, 2015 9:56 PM
In addition to the plotholes mentioned, there are others- Magneto seems to be a hologram at the end of issue 1 but he's there in the flesh in issue 2.
Posted by: Michael | November 4, 2015 10:19 PM
One interesting thing to note (and it's been discussed before with Cable's teleporter), but this era of comics seems to rely heavily on advanced technology. The stolen SHIELD shuttles, the spacesuits that seem to operate as battlesuits, Professor Xavier's hoverchair - conventional real world technology is out the window (and without any sort of explanation like it's Shi'ar based etc.). It's not like it's a sticking point for me because why shouldn't the technology be advanced? But it does seem like the predilection towards keeping Marvel universe technology (at least in the hands of the majority) roughly in line with real world technology is totally out the window.
Posted by: Mark Black | November 4, 2015 10:45 PM
Or worse, this is where the characters that you love so much are never going to be seen again. A Bugs Bunny drawn by UB Iwerks and voiced by Mae Questel? That would be an awesome cartoon, but it wouldn't be Bugs Bunny.
This story is the only point where I would really blame Claremont as retreading his previous glories, and he had a perfectly-rational reason for doing so, it was the launch of a new series, and one that didn't really have a reason to exist in the first place.
My first experience at my very first Chicagocon - back when it was called "Chicagocon" - was attending the "X-Men" panel and I literally walked in at the moment Claremont was saying he wouldn't be writing "X-Men" anymore, it would be Whilce Portacio, Jim Lee and John Byrne. And maybe it's because of my youth or inexperience, but when he started taking questions, I asked why the X-Men would split up into different teams. I was thinking on a strategic level. If the Sentinels are memorizing every move you make, then it's in your interest to have as many fighters available as possible. A Rogue "Fastball Special" is different from a Colossus "Fastball Special" as it is from a Storm or Jean Grey or Magneto "Fastball Special."
And Claremont gave the perfectly-sensible response that it generally takes a page to introduce a character, so what are you going to do in a 22-page comic book with thirteen X-Men? His answer was rhetorical, got a big laugh, didn't really satisfy me, but (obviously) I still remember it.
I think his ultimate purpose with this story was to protect his version of Magneto, in a world that had left Magneto (and Claremont) far behind.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 4, 2015 11:12 PM
Interesting that Claremont intended Magneto's death to be real (as real as comic book deaths get, anyway). It felt to me like a case where "there's no body, he'll be back soon."
Posted by: Erik Robbins | November 4, 2015 11:25 PM
Mark Black, that's a sticking point for me. There's a point where you can accept that these superheroes have access to technology [Batman's Utility Belt being the best example,] there's a point where you can accept how cool it all looks regardless of the flaws [Jim Lee's art] and then there's the point where you admit this doesn't make any sense. Fine, mutants keep all the cool stuff for themselves. I can get that. But the X-Men have been flying an SR-71 for years, and lived in a house rebuilt by aliens for years. Clones [Xavier or Maddie,] sidekicks [Lockheed or Jubilee] at some point they need to realize that someone or something's time has passed. And, as with Magneto, they never di.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 4, 2015 11:30 PM
In many ways, it feels like not just an end to Claremont's X-Men, but the swansong for classic Marvel.
The universe created by Lee/Kirby and built upon with tight continuity and character development is replaced with the speculator boom, gimmicks, and horrid shock value 90s writing. It never really recovers from this.
In the course of a year, we've seen so many great runs fall apart, whether by firings or writers losing it: Byrne's Avnegers, Simonson's FF, Gruenwald's Cap, and now Claremont's X-Men.
The MU goes into the 90s dark ages before nu-Marvel takes hold and continuity becomes nonexistent. Busiek's Avengers being the one book that feels like classic Marvel in the next 10 years, with Peter David keeping a few readable titles as well.
Granted, Claremont had overstayed and the book had become unreadable, drifting from superheroics and mutant themes into some kind of weird fetish series, turning the writing chores over to Lee and Portacio was a mistake. Their brief time at the helm (before they run off to Image, even after getting the keys to the kingdom in their coup) features some of the dullest writing the X-Men had ever seen.
- good point on continuity. As a kid, I was never intimidated by it. I saw books like handbook of the MU and it made me want to seek all of this stuff out and learn the history of these characters and see every corner of this world.
- Note panel of shirtless, ponytailed Gambit. One quick change Lee does is to demystify the character. Under Claremont, Gambit was a shadowy, almost Edward Scissorhands-esque type figure, and we rarely got even a clear view of his face. Under Lee, Gambit becomes just another generic alpha male (the next issue even turns him into a lame basketball superstar)
- Lee's costume design skills are pretty abysmal. Jean's outfit is downright ugly, and Rogue's is needlessly complicated a a bizarre choice of colors. The simple green leotard over a black bodysuit was so much better. These looks, however, will be cemented in place by the 90s X-Men cartoon, which kept the books afloat after the X-odus, replacing any lost readers with tons of kids who had no idea how subpar the titles were in the 90s
Posted by: Bob | November 4, 2015 11:58 PM
Also, why does Magneto randomly age into an 80-year-old man in that panel where he says "but I have no cause?"
Posted by: Bob | November 5, 2015 12:03 AM
Wolverine's first guess about Delgado--"Different guy, same name"--is evidently correct. Look at the page where Mags kills Deke. Delgado the SHIELD guy has a moustache but no beard. There's another big guy behind him in one panel who has a beard. When the Acolytes attack Genosha, it's the bearded bald guy who's referred to as Delgado.
Regarding Anne-Marie, who is the dark-haired female Acolyte who's shown wielding guns throughout most of the story--which makes the script line about her not being able to use her powers against Deke on Asteroid M rather odd, since she doesn't seem to have combat powers--she may or may not be Cortez's biological sister; he may have meant "sister" in a comradely sense.
So we have Cortez, Chrome, Delgado II, and Anne-Marie--but what's up with Female Acolyte #2, who appears alongside Cortez when he's "healing" Mags and hovers in the background near Mags or Cortez in a few scenes? She has Moira's hairstyle and color, wears a headband, never gets named, and has just one word of dialogue--she's the Acolyte who says "No" to the X-Men's escape offer at the end. She doesn't join the attack on Genosha and never displays powers, but her proximity to Cortez and Mags suggests she was meant to be playing some kind of role in the story. Did Lee's plot call for her to be the healer, rather than Cortez?
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 5, 2015 10:51 AM
In my opinion the quintessential Magneto panel from any comic is that two-page spread from #1 where he rips apart the shuttles and declares, “I am Magneto. This is my home.” An over-sized image of that from X-Men Poster Magazine #1 hung proudly on a wall in my boyhood bedroom.
By the time Magneto died in #3, I felt he was neither evil nor good. He was a man whose steadfast ideals did not fit with the world on which he lived. He had lost faith in himself and his cause, resigning himself to failure and the only fate that was left to him- the death that would at least give him peace. It was the perfect ending, and a good place to simply stop reading X-Men comics if you had been doing so since Giant Size #1.
Posted by: Jesse | November 5, 2015 11:27 AM
R.I.P. to the greatest run on a mainstream comic. Seventeen years building up the successful franchise the comics industry has ever known and telling the life stories of a eclectic cast of characters.
Posted by: JC | November 5, 2015 12:04 PM
See, Walter, that was what I meant: the Acolytes line-up doesn't make any sense. Who is Delgado the Acolyte - is he a different character from Delgado the SHIELD Agent? Which of the females is Anne-Marie? How many Acolytes were there aboard the shuttle? What happened to the remaining SHIELD agents?
Two points of note: firstly, Delgado of SHIELD is wearing that headpiece that actually covers his chin - so, we don't know if he had a beard of not. Again, if he's not the same guy as Delgado the Acolyte, then what happened to him? And what was the point of introducing two characters with the same name?
You know what Wolverine's guesses about Delgado are? Lampshading. It's Claremont acknowledging that yes, the Acolytes are a mess. And if you ask me, it's not a solution to this situation. When a plot element doesn't make sense, it's not enough to have a character comment on it in story...
BTW. Another possible plot point: if Cortez's power isn't healing, then... how the heck did he bring Anne-Marie back to life? It's pretty clear that she was shot *dead*. He couldn't have fixed it by amping up her powers, whatever they were supposed to be...
Come to think about it, I don't really get how amping up Mag's powers could've stopped him from bleeding out due to being cut with Wolverine's claws...
Posted by: Piotr W | November 5, 2015 4:59 PM
I had assumed that nearly a year or more took place between the end of the Shadow King story in this arc, given how many feet of hair Storm had to grow back in-between.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | November 6, 2015 12:55 AM
Not to mention how long it took Forge to rebuild the X-Mansion. It took several issues for the alien technology to rebuild it the last time it was destroyed, what exactly did he add to the process that would speed it up?
Posted by: ChrisW | November 6, 2015 9:20 PM
@Piotr, I agree the Acolytes are a mess, but the art looks unambiguous to me: the bald guy with the beard who appears behind SHIELD agent Delgado in the opening pages is the same Acolyte referred to as Delgado during the Genosha attack. It seems to me that Claremont and Lee either miscommunicated their plot points to one another or were deliberately working against one another. We've seen this before: in 274-5, Claremont's script seems to be putting a different spin on things than the art alone would indicate, and Claremont's script for X-Factor 68 comes right out and says that Apocalypse isn't behaving in character. (It's a thought-caption of Cyclops's.)
Whether mistakes or creative differences, these are the sorts of thing an editor is supposed to fix, but Harras and Claremont were communicating with each other only by fax at this point, as legend has it.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 6, 2015 11:54 PM
Ever since I stumbled on this site, I've been waiting for this review! The consistent fogeyism in a lot of these comments is off-putting, but to me and many people this was the first comic we ever read and I know it certainly launched my own love of all things X.
I'm surprised you love the art though - I thought the eXtreme lines and shading was a mess. Most shots of Magneto are borderline ridiculous.
Posted by: Jon | November 7, 2015 9:14 AM
As a "fogey", I'll comment Jon. I loved the art in this issue. I looked forward to this coming out. I had two newsstand copies and the deluxe fold out version. My first regular issue of Uncanny was 235 and I was a devoted reader leading up to this. Things kept getting more confusing and complex as the franchise went on and there seemed to be more dangling plot lines. Claremont did a pretty good job of tidying things up as he went, but it took a long time for those things to get resolved. He seemed to genuinely care whether x-characters lived or died and whether they evolved or not.
This issue in particular seemed to have more plot holes and confusing characters than ever before - the Delgado thing has puzzled me since this came out, I read and reread it sooo much trying to get it down who exactly the Acolytes were and what happened to the SHIELD agents. After a while I figured it out; there was no concern for ongoing story, just what looked cool. That's fine and I bought that up like crazy. But when taken to its extreme, coolness over story development is incredibly detrimental to the franchises and characters we love. I couldn't articulate any of that then and I'm not sure I can now, but I kept buying in hopes that things would get better and finally make sense.
It's a fun, solid story, but it doesn't do a lot to further the X-Men in positive ways. The Magneto revelations are interesting, but don't really have a lasting effect. This just seemed to signal the end of what I enjoyed about the X-Men.
I would still rank this very high on my list of X-Men comments, but it's a sad harbinger of what's to come.
Posted by: Mark Black | November 7, 2015 10:30 AM
Jon, there is certainly a generational comic reader split during this era. I knew a lot of kids were just getting into comics at this time and into the nineties the "Wizard Generation" would dominate tastes. However, it seems many of the commenters here got into comics during the Jim Shooter era when there was a much different sensibility, and this begins the era of many of us abandoning Marvel comics to various degrees. After 1992, I'll be commenting very little because I won't have read any of these comics (except Hulk) until after Heroes Return.
Posted by: Chris | November 7, 2015 10:32 AM
There have, of course, been a number of generations of Marvel readers at this point, each with quite different formative experiences and thus taste. I started collecting Uncanny X-Men at issue #118, at which point I'd been collecting comics for about seven years. Those 35c and 40c issues are worth a pretty penny now. I'm pretty much in the same boat with Chris. My enthusiasm for Marvel comics waned significantly, for all sorts of reasons, by the late 80s. I'll keep checking in here from time to time to get more caught up and see whether it seems like I missed anything I'd consider truly worthwhile. But my main focus for a while now has been on replacing my old issues from the 60s to the mid-80s with handy, high-quality TPBs.
This isn't my favorite Jim Lee art. Some of it is the inking. For me, Williams meshed better with Lee later, as in "Hush."
Ah, well, all whippersnappers become fogies in due course.
Posted by: Instantiation | November 7, 2015 1:35 PM
I'm 29 and I didn't get into comics, at least 90s Marvel, because the artwork looked really scary. I think the earliest Marvel comic I got was a Ghostrider issue with a giant green spider. I just remember flashes of 90s Image-team art with giant teeth, guns and everyone looking mean that I got scared. I do remember liking middle 90s Superman. Flashforward to around 2005, high school time and I started reading Spider-Man from the start and loving it along with FF, Hulk and so on. I've been moving up ever since. To me comics were way more mature during the 60s-80s, at least with Marvel, before diving into the wild Image-Team. Everyone started copying just the outside of Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns not what was on the inside.
Posted by: david banes | November 7, 2015 2:10 PM
Yeah, that Acolytes confusion is definitely something that should have at least been smoothed over by the editor. So much time was spent in dialog that ultimately gives no concrete answer.
I suspect "Delgado" was simply the name Lee had come up with for the Acolyte and during issue #1 Claremont had mistakenly used it for the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (they are absolutely two different characters - even if you want to claim that the "Agent Delgado" in issue #1 somehow resembles the Acolyte Delgado from issue #2 enough for them to be the same guy - he doesn't - then you're still stuck with the question of who that is standing behind Agent Delgado in #1. It sure isn't Cortez or Chrome).
Better option would just have been to add either a footnote or a comment on a letters page saying "oops, we mistakenly referred to the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in #1 as 'Agent Delgado.' Delgado is actually the name of the Acolyte. Our bad."
Then there's the question of the other female Acolyte. The official story - long after the fact - is that she's the other Agent and that she was mind-controlled by Anne-Marie to serve as an Acolyte. More likely - she was "created to die" like the others and no one bothered even putting the effort in to give her a name. Or she was given a name, but someone decided it was either too corny or too good to waste on someone who wasn't going to appear again (but I do find the suggestion that she was supposed to be the team's healer to have some merit).
So what REALLY happened to the two remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. agents? Best answer would have been to say that Mags did return them to Earth, even behind the scenes. Or the story should have explicitly had the X-Men take them off Asteroid M at the end. Instead, we just have a complete FUBAR of an explanation for what happened to them. Or more accurately, a FUBAR of a lack of an explanation.
Posted by: Dan H. | November 7, 2015 3:26 PM
Fan theory - There is a mutant hairstylist active in the MU at this time. They has the power to grow somebody's hair. Storm and Rictor have both used this person's services, as did the Punisher for some reason just prior to acquiring Max.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | November 7, 2015 8:14 PM
Agree with you Bob. This was the final turning point in Marvel continuity and quality. I would collect for another year but was losing my enjoyment.
Posted by: Grom | November 7, 2015 8:49 PM
@Erik Robbins: or, maybe, mutants just have an increased hair growth rate :) (hey, IIRC, Marvel once suggested that all mutants have increased healing rate). I mean, look at Storm after X-Tinction Agenda: she was completely bald at the end of that story - and then, after the X-teams returned home, she already had short hair...
Posted by: Piotr W | November 8, 2015 3:33 PM
These were the first X-Men comics I had bought in real time in two years and would be the last for over a year. And I had already made the decision when I started collecting again that if they brought back Magneto from this brilliant conclusion that I would quit, and sure enough, once he came back in late 1993, I was done and I wouldn't buy X-Men again until Whedon's run on Astonishing.
Ironically, for Claremont's departure, they introduce a number of subplots that will drag on for years (Cortez), something that Claremont was notorious for. But he was the best of the X-Men writers and, having read much of what has gone in the last 25 years, I still think he is the best of the X-Men writers.
Aside from the little coda at the end, it does say on the splash page for #3 "Stan Lee proudly presents the last Chris Claremont story", so it wasn't just the little bit at the end signaling his departure.
I know that there are those who don't like Jim Lee, but the art, for me, is one of the great joys of these three issues. 25 years later and I am still so passionate about these that they are the few issues I still own. I still have a number of trade collections, but only a handful of single issues, but I have all three of these.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 27, 2016 7:26 AM
I enjoy Jim Lee's art but I have to say that I find it a bit hard to follow and to fully understand what is happening on panel. I think it's because of the way he does the layouts, the action becomes a bit confusing imo
Posted by: Bibs | January 18, 2018 4:29 AM
Fabian Cortez is a great character. Sneaky, underhanded, treacherous, hypocritical. And he's got the right amount of arrogance for his role in the series. People who wear capes and robes are given to bouts of arrogance, but Cortez handles it better than most because he's a real jerk. Magneto's arrogance often undermines the complexity of his character and the humaneness of his personality. Dr. Doom's arrogance, for instance, is so over the top that actually makes him a caricature, and a tedious one at times. There was a real originality to Cortez, and to the Acolytes as a concept, one far more intriguing than the Mutant Liberation Front. There's something fascinating about a cadre of diehard stalwarts under the leadership of the very man who, unbeknownst to them, betrayed and murdered and yet speaks in the name of their Messiah. It's a great premise for a story, be it in the superhero genre or with a religion-based theme.
Also, Fabian Cortez is such a cool name. There's a great ring to it and it forgoes the need for an alias.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | April 2, 2018 8:46 PM
If Magneto using his powers reverted him to the state he was in before Moira tinkered with his DNA, then how was the tinkering even noticeable by Cortez?
And it's amusing (or not) to see that Claremont leaves Moira as just a normal person there to be taken prisoner and provide exposition. Not like the chick running in with a machine gun to fight a demon that had suddenly appeared that she started out as.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 25, 2018 11:10 PM
Does anyone know why Jubilee was absent from the team in these issues? I know she shows up again after them, and it seems like they would want the whole team represented in the big relaunch.
Posted by: Ghost | June 20, 2018 1:05 AM
Because of all the different story lines that had been rejected resulting in Claremont leaving the titles, Jubliee's role in the titles were adjusted. While she may have been more of an X-Man in at least one rejected pitch, under the Jim Lee era and later, she was more of a supporting character and wasn't used in these first issues because it would have meant clarifying all the issues about a minor working with no longer teen-aged X-Men against Magneto who exploded a nuclear device in X-Men #1. So instead of getting into that, she was back-burnered in these issues and then was used on a case by case basis. Which was most of X-Men #4-11 as it turned out. Plus Uncanny #288.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 20, 2018 4:54 AM
She was appearing as something of a sidekick character over in Wolverine too.
Posted by: AF | June 20, 2018 9:05 AM
Yes, she was in Wolverine as well. Which kind of makes Wolverine off-screen lecture to Jubliee in X-Factor #70 less about breaking up their partnership and more about "You can't be in X-Men #1-3." Maybe she just had a long nap in one of the mansion's bedrooms during those issues? :)
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 20, 2018 10:49 PM
I didn't even realize that she was supposed to be getting demoted from the team there. I mean, I did realize that's what Wolverine told her, because context clues, but I didn't think it actually happened. She threw a fit about it, then she was still in the group picture at the end when Xavier asks what he's going to do with 14 X-Men, which is a number that seems to include her.
Posted by: Ghost | June 23, 2018 2:12 AM
PAD used that line about 14 X-Men to call back to to the end of Giant Size X-Men #1 for a joke. Plus, people like Polaris and Guido obviously didn't end up X-Men as they had once intended to be at the time. If you google promotional art for that era, you can see there were at least two other team configurations being considered prior to publication, one team before there was going to be a new X-Men #1 and a two team config with X-Factor and X-Men split along very different lines. Most of that art was by Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio....
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 23, 2018 10:51 AM
I got that it was a call-back to Giant-Size #1, and I know Guido and Polaris don't count as X-Men... but if you add Jubilee, the team they did come up with for the relaunch does number 14 (Wolverine, Psylocke, Gambit, Rogue, Cyclops, Beast, Jubilee, Banshee, Forge, Storm, Iceman, Archangel, Colossus, Jean Grey). So that's why I just assumed it was planned out. Thanks for clarifying though.
Posted by: Ghost | June 24, 2018 3:24 AM
YW. As for having things planned out.... There were plans and plans going on behind the scenes. X-Factor #70 essentially being his first issue, PAD probably wasn't aware of all them. For instance, with "14 X-Men" it would seem counter-intuitive that another X-Men would need to join in just a couple months, but, of course, this happened since Jubilee's status as a freeloading minor orphan kept her from being a full team member or leaving the cast and the Gold team needed another member. And Jubilee wouldn't have fit on the Gold team without Wolverine to mentor her. It was all a very tangled web, which is what happens when editors and writers don't agree, as was the case circa this era.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 24, 2018 2:03 PM
Comments are now closed.
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