X-Men Unlimited #1
Issue(s): X-Men Unlimited #1
This first X-Men issue features the first full story with Siena Blaze. Art is by Chris Bachalo, who had already done an issue of Sandman and a Death mini-series for DC Vertigo, and an issue of Hulk.
The story is pretty bland, with Professor X, Storm, and Cyclops mostly floundering around in a snowstorm.
They got into that situation thanks to an attack from Blaze, who is operating out of a nearby bunker with some scientist that i assume work for the Upstarts. It's said to be only the third time that she's used her powers.
Her powers generate an electro-magnetic blast, which causes the scientists' computer equipment to malfunction. So they can't tell her if she's successfully killed the three X-Men leaders. She rewards them by using her powers for a fourth time, killing them all. The Gamesmaster then shows up to remind her that every time she uses her powers, she runs the risk of destroying the electro-magnetic spectrum, "the most delicate layer of the Earth's eco-system". He also tells her that four, not three, of the world's most powerful mutants are alive out in the Antarctic wasteland. For what it's worth, the X-Men describe Blaze's blast as being "similar in effect if not in origin... to the power of the Phoenix".
Bishop and Psylocke are back at the X-Mansion, trying to locate Xavier and company.
In the meantime, Xavier tries to get Cyclops to not be so stiff and call him Charles instead of Professor.
Storm, meanwhile, is ill, a result of her body overcompensating for the environment. Xavier scolds Cyclops for saying that Storm should be "immune to weather". It's a line that if it were coming from someone like John Byrne i would assume was meant to be some sort of corrective to other writers (like when he tried to define Scarlet Witch's powers). In fact, if this were Byrne (or Roy Thomas, or a few others), i'd half suspect that the entire plot of this issue was so that he could make this point. I don't think of Scott Lobdell as being the sort to have this kind of an axe to grind (and to be clear, i'm not saying that sort of thing is good or bad), so he may just be scripting where the plot takes him.
Storm recovers and they wind up facing Siena Blaze more directly.
They cause Blaze to burn off most of her powers, but she says that all she has to do is teleport away and the resulting vacuum in the E.M. field will kill them. Storm uses her wind power and they ride out the explosion, and are rescued by Bishop and Psylocke.
At one point Xavier was stranded on his own in the blizzard, and he says that he was rescued by someone and woke up in a citadel.
In the end we see their silhouette.
I like Bachalo's art. His faces are sometimes cartoonish, which i enjoy...
...although Professor X winds up looking a little too baby-faced at one point.
Bachalo is known for providing more background detail than the average artist of this time period. In this issue it feels more like he's following the Image approach of putting lines everywhere, but to be fair we are in a snowstorm.
Chronological Placement Considerations: The back-up from X-Men annual #17 takes place prior to this. Cyclops is here, meaning this can't take place between X-Men #20-23 and X-Men #24.
We learn via flashback that Xavier, Storm, and Cyclops were in the Antarctic because they were coming back from the Savage Land to pick up some Vibranium from Ka-Zar and Shanna.
Since that happens relatively soon before the main story, i've included them and their baby as Characters Appearing.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAdam Plunder, Bishop, Cyclops, Gamesmaster, Ka-Zar, Magneto, Psylocke, Shanna the She-Devil, Siena Blaze, Storm
Fnord, Bachalo previously world in Hulk #400 ;)
Posted by: Kaulso | October 19, 2016 12:19 PM
Tsk, thanks, Kaulso.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 19, 2016 12:26 PM
I never read X-Men Unlimited #1 because it sold out literally everywhere I looked. All these years later and fnord's summary is pretty much my first real look at the issue. In hindsight, it doesn't feel like I missed anything. I do admit that there is a slight novelty to Sienna Blaze being so brand new to the whole super-villain game that she naively thinks she might actually have killed three of the most experienced X-Men around with her very first attack.
Back in 1993 it did seem like Marvel was really trying to build up Sienna Blaze to be the next big X-Men villain. The whole "Each time Sienna Blaze uses her powers there's a possibility she might completely devastate the entire world but she just doesn't care" thing kept getting brought up in an attempt to emphasize just how dangerous & evil she was, but I don't think anyone cared, because we all knew Marvel wasn't really going to destroy the world. And in the end, as with so many other characters introduced in the Nineties, she really ended up going nowhere, and eventually faded into obscurity.
Posted by: Ben Herman | October 19, 2016 12:58 PM
FYI, Siena was part of the "exodus" to the Ultraverse with Juggernaut & Reaper.
Posted by: clyde | October 19, 2016 1:42 PM
Yeah "Might destroy the world at random" really doesn't work for a recurring villain in an ongoing story.
Posted by: Berend | October 19, 2016 2:36 PM
I remember liking this issue for character moments. In turn, the fight with Blaze I considered poorly executed...
Posted by: Piotr W | October 19, 2016 3:53 PM
Sienna Blaze almost feels like she should be a poster child for the Anti-Mutant Movement's attempts at shucking off the label of "bigoted hatemongers." A mutant criminal recklessly using her dangerous abilities to murder people, knowing full well that each time she activates those powers she might also accidentally destroy the Earth's eco-system? Sounds to me like a good enough reason to fire up the old Sentinels!
Posted by: Ben Herman | October 19, 2016 4:06 PM
I'm not a fan of Bachalo's early career, but I find that to be true of a lot of artists I like. I feel like we don't really see what people think of as Chris Bachalo work until the late 90s, but then I never read Generation X so maybe he came into his more famous style there. We will see.
Sienna Blaze is another one of those ridiculous 90s characters like Gideon, Gamesmaster, and Shinobi Shaw that were hyped up as powerful and important but ended up not appearing very much or doing anything memorable before fading into obscurity.
Posted by: Red Comet | October 20, 2016 1:36 PM
This is another issue that felt like a BIG DEAL at the time - the intro of Sienna Blaze, a new series of 64 page issues on slick paper (still not the norm across the line), another Magneto tease (and thus another important step in the build up to "Fatal Attractions"). In the end, it's probably the character work between the three X-Men that stands up the best, with Blaze fizzling fast, the Magneto stuff rendered less impactful once he actually returns, and UNLIMITED as a series turning into a dumping ground for annual-esque inventory stories probably by issue 6 or 7 (but definitely by issue #13).
Posted by: Austin Gorton | October 20, 2016 3:09 PM
Scott seems to have voluntary control of his optic blasts in the pictures. Is something happening there?
Posted by: Luis Dantas | October 24, 2016 12:24 AM
On a second look, I notice that he appears to be using his backup ruby lenses, that look a lot like swimmer's glasses. He used a similar set back in Uncanny X-Men #174. But I didn't imagine that he could control his blasts so easily with those. I assumed they were solely a containment device.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | October 24, 2016 6:25 AM
Luis, Scott had found a part of his Ruby quartz glasses among the scattered debris, which allowed him to have limited control over his power (and allowed him to have limited vision for a bit without relying on the Professor's telepathy to "see" fod hom)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 25, 2016 2:15 AM
I think Fnord's summary undersells the character beats here. The main fight against Siena Blaze is generic but there are lovely moments like the Scott/Professor X conversation shown, and Ororo waking up from dreaming about Forge. It really justifies the expanded page count because we get the fight we'd get in a regular X-Men issue but still have room for the downtime that Lobdell is much better at.
Posted by: Greg T | November 8, 2016 10:24 PM
Red Comet: Yes, I think Bachalo comes into his signature style in Generation X. That was the first full series I read in real-time, because it started a year and a half or so after I started reading comics, and I still remember it pretty well to this day (big parts of it, at least). Anyway, Bachalo's early issues of that series (1-4, as well as the AoA counterpart Generation Next 1-4) are highly reminiscent of his work here. I recall a shift in Gen X 5-7 (or whenever it was he took a break from the title for several months) toward what we now think of as Bachalo art, and by the time he comes back in full shortly before Onslaught, that style is in full swing. Personally, I actually like early Bachalo a little better, because I feel the characters look a little more realistic (except that Professor X panel, wow).
Sienna Blaze had so much potential. I really like her being a completely reckless character with no real direction of her own. She could never have been Magneto-level for the X-Men, but I think she could have been a solid villain for Generation X or particularly X-Force, or a really good pawn of someone like Apocalypse. Shame that she just totally fizzled.
Posted by: J-Rod | March 13, 2017 10:43 AM
Despite the good character moments between Cyclops, Storm & Prof. X, I find this issue quite boring.
Also, I'm not very found of Bachalo's art, all of his characters look like fat children. This issue actually has that aspect toned down a bit, maybe because at this point he's still discovering his style. But I remember reading through his UXM run in the mid/late-90s and not enjoying the art at all.
Posted by: Bibs | March 28, 2018 5:54 AM
"A while back it was announced in a lettercol that there would be a new quarterly series called X-Men Chronicles. I assume that became X-Men Unlimited."
It does temporarily become X-Men Chronicles during "Age Of Apocalypse".
Posted by: clyde | March 28, 2018 9:42 AM
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