Issue(s): X-Men #10, X-Men #11
These are Jim Lee's last issues before leaving as part of the Image exodus. The exodus was actually instigated by Todd McFarlane, who had already left Marvel at this point. His feeling was that if one artist left Marvel in protest of mistreatment (in the form of what the artist considered to be unfair profit sharing), it wouldn't have much of an impact. But if a whole group of artists left at once, it would be a big deal. McFarane had Whilce Portacio, Rob Liefeld, Jim Valentino, and Erik Larsen ready to leave. Jim Lee was the biggest hold out. According to Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story (which you can consider my primary source for what i'm writing here), the final straw was when Marvel wouldn't pay for Lee's wife to travel with him to New York to appear at a comic book auction (this was on top of complaints that he shared with the other artist about the profit sharing for t-shirts and posters and the like using their art). Marc Silvestri was convinced to leave too.
The artists initially met with Marvel and made demands, which were not met. According to Howe's book it's not clear entirely what their demands were (according to Tom DeFalco, they didn't have specific demands). 75% character ownership was apparently discussed, but i don't know if that would have been retroactive. Marvel apparently also offered the artists control of the Epic line. It's also known that McFarlane didn't think much of comic book writers, so it's likely that he wanted a different spread in the page rates between creators. In the end, no agreement was reached, so the artists went to Malibu, a small comic publishing company, and formed their own creator-owned imprint, Image. Image left Malibu and became its own company in 1993. Initially it seemed like some of the Image artists might stay on their Marvel titles for a while, but that didn't last long.
In the run-up to this, the art that Marvel was getting from these artists, many of whom already had deadline issues, became increasingly shoddy. In Howe's book, Nicieza complains about getting "last minute stick-figure" layouts from Liefeld for X-Force. You can see that on these two issues, four inkers were necessary to finish issue #10, and there's a back-up by Mark Texeira to fill out the pages.
Marvel had artists that could replace the Image artists. They had Mark Texeira, they had the Kuberts, they had Ron Garney. These artists might not have reached Image levels of super-stardom but they will qualify as popular artists. The real problem was that Marvel had turned over the general creative direction of the mutant books to the Image artists. Chris Claremont had been forced out. Louise Simonson had been forced out. Jim Lee was essentially plotting both X-Men titles, with Whilce Portacio handling the specifics on Uncanny, and Rob Liefeld was doing the same on X-Force. John Byrne was briefly involved on the X-Men titles, but only as a scripter, and that's the role that Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell had been playing. This is on top of the fact that Marvel had driven away a number of other quality writers, like Roger Stern and Walt Simonson. The majority of people writing books at Marvel at this time were either editors on other books or were formerly assistant editors. As i've said before, there's nothing that says an editor or assistant editor can't be a good writer, but the quality on most of Marvel's books at this time suggests that it's not a guarantee. The general impression is that Marvel wasn't developing a bench of actual writing talent. The short of it is that Marvel traded Chris Claremont for the proto-Image artists, but ended up losing both.
In retrospect, from a "general creative direction", we really aren't losing anything. As the title to the second part of this story jokingly acknowledges...
...we're really already in a rut, with the main appeal of this story being the X-Men getting mind-controlled and fighting amongst themselves for the third time since this series debuted less than a year ago, while fighting a villain that has appeared three times this year (in various X-books).
It's a Mojo story. It starts with the X-Men already captives of Mojo, forced to play out a Wizard of Oz scenario while Mojo taunts a captive Professor X.
Dazzler gets her memories back. She teams up with Mojo's mysterious rival from the annuals, who it turns out is called Mojo II: The Sequel (he insists on that full name being used, so i hope he doesn't look at my character list).
He's a clone of Mojo, discarded supposedly because he contained compassion. The X-Men help him overthrow the original Mojo, who is seemingly killed by Longshot.
In the end, Xavier detects that Dazzler is pregnant with Longshot's baby. They decide to stay together to raise it in Mojoworld. Jubilee suspects that Mojo II: The Sequel is really manipulating them...
...and it's acknowledged that that may be the case but there's nothing to do about it.
Note Jubilee's Homage Pop popcorn bucket. Homage was the name of the studio that Jim Lee shared with Whilce Portacio. Note also the line with Longshot suggesting the name "Shatterstar" to Dazzler. That fits with a line in X-Factor annual #7 suggesting that Shatterstar was meant to be their child, although Fabian Nicieza has said that this wasn't his intention (and the line could be interpreted as a meta joke). Finally, check out Beast's poem. I'm sure Marvel was qustioning its lot after this.
The Maverick back-up comes in two 7 page installments, which makes me wonder if it was originally intended for Marvel Comics Presents. But what's weird is that everything about it seems HUGE: the panels, the panel borders, the linework, and even the lettering.
So i also kind of wonder if the panels were blown up in some way to fill the space. There isn't much of a story, in any event. Maverick is going after a guy named Alexander Ryking, a scientist that is in the middle of trying to help Warhawk when Maverick arrives to capture him (Ryking).
Maverick's boss Barrington wants to know from Ryking how Professor X wound up with "the Xavier File", which we saw in X-Men #5. There's no footnote for that. And Warhawk isn't identified by name, and in fact the footnote explicitly refuses to tell us who he is or what he means about having fought the X-Men.
Marverick apparently likes to dance the mambo.
Thanks to Ryking, Warhawk's body is now made of "omnium". Or maybe it always was and Ryking has just restored him.
Maverick is able to defeat Warhawk by shooting him and then firing bolts into the bullet that cause Warhawk to explode. Ryking swears that he knows nothing about the Xavier File, but Maverick nonetheless allows him (and, seemingly, Warhawk) to die.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after the present day Mojoverse sequences in the Shattershot annual, since this story ends with Mojo II taking over.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAlexander Ryking, Beast, Cyclops, Dazzler, Gambit, Jubilee, Lila Cheney, Longshot, Major Domo, Maverick, Mojo, Mojo II, Professor X, Psylocke, Rogue, Warhawk, Wolverine
Warhawk will turn up alive (of course he will, it's Brevoort's Marvel for you). He shows up for one splash page in Enemy of the State (the Wolverine story) and he'll not appear again after that. Doesn't even get a line.
Posted by: AF | March 7, 2016 3:38 PM
I don't remember if it was in Sean Howe's book or an interview, but I read somewhere that Jim Lee's big ambition was to be a high up at Marvel rather than an indie guy. This is probably true seeing as how he was the last holdout for Image and sold his studio to become a corporate officer at DC.
Posted by: Red Comet | March 7, 2016 4:28 PM
McFarlane gave an interview shortly after Image formed where he said that it wasn't that Marvel wouldn't pay for Jim Lee to attend a convention, it was that they wouldn't pay for Lee's wife, comparing it to the owner of a baseball team that won't pay for a plane ticket for their star hitter's wife. McFarlane said that was the last straw for Lee, which is where I assume Howe got it.
I assume the Dazzler-being-pregnant idea never went anywhere. Ick.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 7, 2016 5:15 PM
Thanks for the perspective on why Marvel's story quality went downhill. I always assumed that they just shared McFarlane's sentiment that writers weren't important, and instead invested all their energy in gimmick covers and whatnot, but it's somehow comforting to realize that there's a little more to it than that.
Posted by: Andrew F | March 7, 2016 6:03 PM
In McFarlane's defense, it's not that writers aren't important, it's that artists have their own ideas as well, and spend a lot more time staring at each page on the drawing board than the writer does. If the writer does his job, he's invisible. The artist(s) are visible whether or not they do their jobs. And this is a visual medium.
I once asked Peter David if Todd was 'like this' when they worked together on "Hulk," and he said Todd was the epitome of professionalism. Marvel was the one saying writers weren't important (or artists) because they could be replaced. Todd was just saying that if he worked for a writer, he'd give the writer what he wanted [To convince Dave Sim to write an issue of "Spawn," he said 'you can have Spawn sitting on the toilet for twenty pages for all I care'] but he'd rather not have to deal with a writer. That's a professional approach which I can respect.
I'd say it worked out worse for Marvel than it did for Todd, and he had his own problems.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 7, 2016 6:27 PM
@ChrisW- years later, in X-Factor, PAD revealed that Ali DID give birth to Shatterstar and Longshot is a clone of Shatterstar. Ew.
Posted by: Michael | March 7, 2016 9:55 PM
They hand wave it away a few years after this book when Dazzler comes back for an X-Babies two-parter.
Posted by: Red Comet | March 7, 2016 10:17 PM
I read the occasional issue of PAD's "X-Factor" when Longshot was a member (the closest he's ever come to being interesting, as far as I'm concerned) but I must have missed that issue.
If Nicieza disavows it, we'll never know what was intended, but to me it looks like this was the closest the Image founders ever came to a coherent storyline, post-Claremont. Along with Cable being Scott and Maddie's son, there seemed to be a deliberate attempt to travel through time and change people around. Bishop and Maverick came from (wherever the hell they came from) and this was an attempt to link all that back to when the stories were good, or at least readable. Cable is Scott and Maddie's son. Shatterstar is Longshot and Dazzler's son.
We'll never know whose idea it was or how this came to happen, but I'm positive these concepts were introduced at the lowest level. If I ever write "Dazzler," I've already worked out how I'll retcon this whole notion out of existence (while leaving a back door for whoever follows me.) Just... ick.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 8, 2016 3:01 AM
I did read parts of the storyline that explained Shatterstar's origin, I just don't remember Dazzler having any role whatsoever, beyond a toss-off comment that Longshot just got a clue about whatever the villain was doing while he was in the middle of sexting Ali. Again, ick.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 8, 2016 3:08 AM
@ChrisW, re: your first comment, Sean Howe's book does say it was a ticket for Jim Lee's wife. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 8, 2016 9:06 AM
Great breakdown of the effect of the Image Exodus on Marvel. I've always thought of it in terms of Marvel scrambling to replace their hot artists, but you're spot on that the problem really lies in the *writer* vacuum left behind by the Image guys.
Posted by: Austin Gorton | March 9, 2016 12:18 PM
I always assumed that the reason for not telling where the X-Men fought Warhawk before is that he appeared in of the very few issues of Uncanny that was not reprinted in Classic X-Men. And (correct me if I'm wrong), a lot of the times at this point they would footnote Classic issues rather than the original Uncanny issues. The whole "Essential" series was still years ahead of us at this point, so the only way to get his previous appearance was to track down the original issue, which was hard to find at this point.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 7, 2016 6:37 AM
Good point, Erik. It's possible Harras himself didn't have a copy of the original book readily at hand to reference.
I wonder, too, if Nicieza didn't make the same mistake here he'd later make with Psylocke: just as he missed Claremont's explanation for her transformation, he may not have realized the Warhawk dangler was resolved by an offhand remark of Sebastian Shaw's in the Dark Phoenix saga.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 8, 2016 12:52 AM
@Walter- it was Lobdell who wrote the backup, not Nicieza, but you're right- he could have made a similar mistake.
Posted by: Michael | April 8, 2016 7:30 AM
Warhawk says the X-Men are responsible for the breakdown of his body, he actually fought against Power Man and Iron Fist twice after his first encounter with the X-Men. He was fine then, so I'm thinking it's very likely the process that gave him his form was breaking down, as it was a sort of test run of Burstein's "Power Man" formula.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | May 26, 2016 2:54 PM
How did Warhawk pierce his ear with impenetrable skin?
Gosh, x-men comics suck. Why would you kill off a cool villain like Warhawk? Sometimes your site depresses me, fnord. Stuff I'd rather not know (no fault of yours of course)
Posted by: kveto | May 26, 2016 3:24 PM
If it helps, Warhawk was rather casually brought back some years later. No one's done anything with him since, though.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | May 27, 2016 5:57 PM
The Maverick back-ups could have been intended for the Drake's comic promotions that ran around this time. You'd find small comics of only a handful of pages stuffed inside boxes of Ring Dings or Devil Dogs. This could account for the odd sized panels and lettering, although I can't imagine why they would chose Maverick to spotlight.
Posted by: Jesse | November 30, 2017 1:34 PM
Keep in mind the era. If there was a sensible way to do something, Marvel could be relied upon to do the opposite. So yeah, promote Warhawk and not Cable or (dare I say it) Wolverine or Spider-Man.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 3, 2017 9:43 AM
Promoting Maverick was probably built on the idea that he could be the next Cable or Wolverine. He's an X-books character with kewl guns and a stoic badass attitude, and he even has ties to Weapon X. After Cable took off, why not gamble on Maverick? It wasn't so long after this that he got an ongoing, so clearly someone thought the character had sales potential.
It didn't work out, of course, and Maverick quietly resumed his career as a senator from Arizona.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | December 3, 2017 4:39 PM
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