Issue(s): X-Men #53
We're really into the "road to" Onslaught now. This is not officially part of the crossover, but Onslaught is now the main villain, not just a guy who pops up to drop nonsensical hints.
The issue starts with Jean going shopping in Salem Center. Mark Waid writes it from Jean's perspective and i guess her ability to filter out thoughts is on an ebb, so we sees what the people she talks to really think of her.
I'm kind of surprised Jean needs directions to anywhere in Salem Center. She's been going there since the 60s.
While in the dress shop, she is pulled to the Astral Plane by Onslaught.
Let me stop and say i love the design for (Phase One) Onslaught. We saw the armor in Excalibur #99, but now that we're seeing the true color scheme, it evokes "out of control Magneto" really well. I'd like to think that the armor was also meant to evoke Professor X's samurai Astral form without being too on-the-nose about it, but that might be a happy coincidence.
We're still teasing the identity of Onslaught, though, so we get exchanges like this:
Onslaught: I am Frustration. Jean: What does that mean?
I feel you, Jean.
Onslaught takes Jean to see Gradon Creed's campaign center. Instead of just highlighting Creed's bigotry (which we saw Xavier express frustration - or should i say Frustration? - about recently), Onslaught points out that one of the staffers is in it for personal ambition, not a commitment to the ideology.
I mean, honestly, who cares? It almost seems to me like that's good news. Give people like that a reason to work for mutant rights and you have a better chance than if they were all just hardcore anti-mutants.
When Jean says she agrees people are trash and that's why she has friends, Onslaught decides to show her that her friends have secrets too. First he says that Cyclops is just a "doting lapdog" of Xavier, with no thoughts of his own. Then he delves into Xavier. What follows is kind of like what was in Road to Onslaught, a little review of Xavier's darker moments which will be used as justification for his transformation into Onslaught. It covers Xavier faking his own death and then a funny one:
This scene is from Uncanny X-Men #3. Basically an aborted idea by Stan Lee, something that was never touched on again until now. I mean, it's in print, it's canon, but so is the idea that Iceman can use his powers to generate ice cream, and we're not having an event where Iceman becomes Mister Frostee and terrorizes the world (although i'm already spinning up a story involving him using the Nova hangout Uncle Fudge as a headquarters).
Jean really doesn't take it well, even though Onslaught tells her it's not like Xavier's been carrying a torch for her all this time.
I guess Jean is also getting a look at Xavier's other repressed thoughts and they're even worse?
Onslaught continues to talk to Jean about how repression is bad and how she should join him. She eventually figures out who he was, but then wakes up in the dress shop having forgotten. She does remember having an encounter with Onslaught, however.
Meanwhile, the Juggernaut shows up at Archangel's house. Weirdly, Psylocke is able to mentally scan him despite the fact that Juggernaut is wearing his anti-telepathy helmet.
I mean, *i* think that's odd. The story doesn't.
Juggernaut tries to tell them a secret about Onslaught, but isn't able to say it. So he leaves, and heads to Westchester instead.
Also, Magneto seemingly shows up and decides to call himself Joseph.
Actually, he was already called Joseph in his last appearance, but whatever.
Like, uh, everything in the X-Books at this time, Joseph is an idea that went nowhere. But at the time he was really meant to be Magneto stripped of his memories and his "evil". He's actually pretty important to understanding a concept in Onslaught. When i (and i think most of us) read X-Men #25, it just seemed like Professor X wiped Magneto's mind. Pretty straightforward idea. But in this event, Magneto's evil is treated like a palpable thing. Xavier has absorbed it into himself, leaving a "good" version of Magneto behind. And Xavier can even be separated from Onslaught, letting Magneto's (Xavier-influenced) evil basically live on as an independent entity. It's a weird, confused idea, and i try not to think about it too much.
Anyway, this is Joseph's third appearance, and yet the above is all that happens here.
The real Beast begins to work out an escape plan this issue. Two full pages are devoted to it, but no real progress is made.
Basically everything in this issue is a tease, not even plodding things slowly forward so much as reminding us that these various states of being exist. Juggernaut has a secret but can't tell us. Beast is a prisoner trying to escape, but doesn't. Magneto is still without his memory and... that's it. Jean learns something about Onslaught, then forgets it. Now *I* am Frustration. We're on the cusp of a crossover, so this sort of thing is somewhat typical (although this issue is a bit extreme even in that regard), but this is basically the way the X-Men books have been going since Claremont left.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: "The events in this issue take place after X-Force #55." Juggernaut appears here in between Uncanny X-Men #333-334 and then appears again next issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAngel, Beast, Graydon Creed, Jean Grey, Joseph, Juggernaut, Onslaught, Professor X, Psylocke
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