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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #273

"Too Many Mutants (Or Whose House Is This, Anyway?)!"
February 1991

In a Nutshell 
The gathered X-teams debate their future. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Pencilers: Whilce Portacio, Klaus Janson, John Byrne, Rick Leonardi, Marc Silvestri, Michael Golden, Larry Stroman, Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
With all three teams gathered at the remains of the X-Mansion, Storm, Cable, Cyclops & Marvel Girl debate their next course of action, with Cable insisting that they need to strike hard and fast at their enemies, while the others counter that Professor Xavier never intended for them to be soldiers. Eventually, Cable storms out, proclaiming that whatever course of action they take, somebody needs to step up, leaving the rest to ponder whether they're still fit caretakers for Xavier's dream. Meanwhile, Banshee contacts Moira MacTaggert while Beast & Forge work on a cure for Wolfsbane and Archangel leads Cannonball in a Danger Room flying lesson. As Storm walks the grounds, Gambit approaches her, eager to return to their former lifestyle as thieves, but Storm insists the team needs her. Later, Psylocke expresses her concerns over her transformed state to Jean, while Gambit and Wolverine spar in the Danger Room, watched by a concerned Jubilee.


Suddenly, a simulation of Lady Deathstrike appears and attacks Wolverine, though Jubilee has no idea who programmed it. Wolverine manages to defeat her, but Gambit takes advantage of the distraction to defeat Wolverine in turn. Meanwhile, Jean tries to use Cerebro to locate some of the missing X-Men, but is attacked on the Astral Plane by the Shadow King. Unable to defend herself without telepathy, Psylocke is forced to save her, but doing so leaves Jean with no memory of her attacker. Later, the newly-attired X-Men gather above ground, having decided to stay together as a group. As Cyclops and Jean Grey bid farewell, Lila Cheney & Guido suddenly drive up, with Lila declaring that Professor Xavier needs their help. Just as Cyclops and Jean fly back to investigate the commotion, Storm tells Lila to take them to Xavier, and Lila complies, teleporting away along with the X-Men.

Firsts and Other Notables
This is an artistic jam issue, as evidenced by the credits above, with a variety of pencillers, some of whom have worked on the X-books, some of whom who will, and some who never have, handing in a handful of pages apiece, with whole thing inked by regular inker Scott Williams. Given the level of talent involved (this isn't a bunch of fill-in artists scambling to get an issue done on deadline), this issue was always presumably meant to be a jam, but I have no idea who decided on it or why.

Notably, this marks John Byrne's first pencil work on Uncanny X-Men since leaving the series with issue #143 (he's made other, albeit brief, contributions to the franchise since then, but this is first Uncanny work since leaving).

This issue marks the formal end to the "Non-Team Era" of the series, as it features a unified team of X-Men for the first time since issue #251, comprised of the various scattered bits coming together to form one team: Storm, Gambit, Banshee, Forge, Wolverine, Psylocke and Jubilee (thus, this is also the issue when Jubilee, Forge and Gambit formally join the X-Men).

Also, everyone adopts the yellow/blue uniform Forge & Banshee have been sporting since the Reavers' attack on Muir Island, thus putting all the X-Men in a unified look for the first time since the 60s (reportedly, something Jim Lee and/or Bob Harras wanted, as part of their desires to bring the book to a more classic, "old school" aesthetic.


In general, it's something of a divisive look amongst fans, as it doesn't make a ton of sense that a group of mostly adult characters, many of whom (like Gambit and Wolverine) have strong personalities that seem unlikely to go along with a "school uniform" approach. On the other hand, the uniforms have been established to work as body armor, so it makes some tactical sense for everyone to wear one, and there is something charming in having a unified team look, in part BECAUSE this group is so much older and features such strong personalities. Ultimately, it's a short-lived look (though as has been mentioned before, this is pretty much Forge and Banshee's default looks for much longer), but I do tend to like it, particularly once the little splashes of individuality get highlighted (like Banshee's wings, Forge's cybernetics, Jubilee's glasses & earrings, and Gambit's coat).

In the dramatis personae on the opening splash, while all the other characters are listed by their codenames, Jean is simply "Jean Grey", instead of Marvel Girl; she will formally drop the "Marvel Girl" codename and simply go by her given name after the upcoming shuffling of the line.

Prior to his appearance in the next two issues, Magneto's status is discussed, with his apparent reversion to villainy via "Acts of Vengeance" and the subsequent Dark Scarlet Witch story in Avengers West Coast referenced. Storm, to her credit, notes that whatever's up with him now, he did his best as Headmaster to the New Mutants (at least for as long as she was around to observe it, of course) and may be worth seeking out in that regard.


This issue features the first direct interaction between the Wolverine of the 80s and the Wolverine of the 90s as Wolverine and Gambit face off in the Danger Room, with Gambit emerging the ultimate winner.

More hints about Gambit are dropped in this issue: Wolverine notes that he fights like Longshot (something pointed to by the "Gambit is Longshot" theorists, despite the fact that Longshot never went through the Siege Perilous), and it's implied that Gambit is responsible for programming the Lady Deathstrike simulation which attacks Wolverine (and ultimately gives Gambit his victory), which was likely meant as a hint towards Gambit's intended nefarious motives that ultimately goes nowhere.


Similarly, Gambit entreats Storm to leave the X-Men with him, which could be read as Gambit trying to get the one member of the team he legitimately likes clear of whatever nefarious schemes he knows are coming, but ultimately is just a plea by him to return to their old life together now that the immediate Genoshan crisis has passed. 

Entering the Astral Plane, Jean encounters and is attacked by the Shadow King. Lacking telepathy, she is saved by Psylocke, but the effects of Psylocke's efforts leave Jean with no memory of the Shadow King's identity, effectively keeping his plotline on the back-burner for a little while longer.


Collection Recollections
For whatever reason (possibly the jam elements) this was always an especially pricey back issue back in the day, especially relative to the subsequent Jim Lee issues of the series, one of the "wall" books kept out of easy reach at the local hobby store that I lusted after for a long time before getting enough money to buy a copy.

A Work in Progress
A holographic globe presents the names and known locations of some of the X-Teams' biggest threats at the moment; notably absent are Apocalypse and Shadow King (whom the X-Men don't know about at this point.

Cyclops insists to Cable that the X-Men weren't brought up to be soldiers, even though Cyclops spent of significant amount of time in Louise Simonson's early X-Factor issues angsting over how all Xavier ever taught him was how to be a soldier.


Storm admits that her idea to fake the X-Men's deaths so as to better strike at their enemies was perhaps wrong, hanging a lampshade on that criticism and formally bringing it to a close.


Similarly, Cable chides the X-Men for being splintered and scattered, a possible acknowledgement of the criticisms surround the "Non Team" nature of the series prior to "X-Tinction Agenda".


Iceman and Boom-Boom spend this issue pranking each other a nice (probably unintentional) nod to their relationship in Boom-Boom's early X-Factor appearances.


Cyclops offers the X-Men a place in Ship, noting that it would be both more spacious and secure than sharing the X-Mansion basement with the New Mutants, but Storms counters that living secluded from humanity, separated from them by a barrier that prevents them from entering Ship, may be antithetical to Xavier's dream, possibly a bit of veiled criticism towards X-Factor's current status quo on Claremont's part (or just a convienant hand-wavy explanation for why the two teams aren't just reintegrating at this point).


This issue includes a now-regular reminder that something is off about Moira, that she's acting wilder and stranger than ever.


It's noted that, thus far, Forge has been unable to find a way to reverse Rahne's Mutate transformation, and that the longer it takes him to find a solution, the more difficult any solution will be.


It's noted that Psylocke has yet to tell her brother she's alive, in part due to her transformation by the Hand and concerns over any lingering effects of their brainwashing.

Lila Cheney, last seen desperate to reach the X-Men in issue #270, pops up at the end of this issue saying Professor X needs their help, and transporting them away, kicking off their next story arc.


Claremontisms
Gambit finishes Wolverine off in the Danger Room by saying, "Bang, you dead."


Artistic Achievements
Per the GCD, the breakdown of which artists drew which pages is as follows: Whilce Portacio (p.1-3); Klaus Janson (p. 4-6); John Byrne (p. 7-9); Rick Leonardi (p. 10-12); Marc Silvestri (p. 13-15); Michael Golden (p. 16-18); Jim Lee (p. 19-22); Larry Stroman (p. 23-24). 

Former series artist Marc Silvestri, appropriately enough given his reputation for sexing up the characters, draws a shower scene between Jean Grey and Psylocke.


The Best There is at What He Does
It's once again noted that Wolverine is not in top form, a condition to which his loss to Gambit is partially credited.


Teebore's Take
In addition to the fun of the artistic jam, which showcases some pretty great artists as well as offers a neat microcosm of X-artists of the past, present and future, this is a fascinating issue in terms of how it represents where the franchise is at this point in time, and where it's heading, especially in light of the then-upcoming (but still, as far as I know, unannounced/unplanned) line-wide reshuffling and launch of a second X-Men series. It is, effectively, the final Classic Claremont Quiet issue written by Chris Claremont (later writers will adopt the style), serving as both an epilogue to the recently-completed "X-Tinction Agenda" and teasing future stories, both immediately (the Lila Cheney/Shi'ar arc) and further out (the final resolution to all this long-simmering Shadow King business). In the same way that the issue both looks back and forward to recently finished and soon to begin stories, it seems to also sit astride both the history and the future of the franchise, a physical representation of the push-and-pull unfolding in the pages between the Claremontian past and the upcoming Claremont-less, artist-driven future.

The conversations between Storm, Cyclops and Jean Grey in the issue's early pages serve as, if not an outright mea culpea, then at least an acknowledgement on Claremont's part that perhaps exiling the X-Men to Australia, leading the world to believe they were dead, and then dismantling the team and focusing on its scattered remnants wasn't, understandably, to everyone's taste - and, as much as has been written about the conflicts between Claremont the Innovator and Classicists Harras and Lee around this time, this admission from Claremont seems genuine; he didn't have to script the dialogue that way, after all. Furthermore, this issue offers a tantalizing hint of what's to come, if not in a full embrace of Cable's "shoot first, ask questions later attitude" (which will shortly overwhelm New Mutants and lead to the creation of X-Force) then at least in a world of reintegrated X-teams, where the various plot- and editorially-driven walls keeping X-Factor and the X-Men apart (keeping Jean's return a secret, distrust of Magneto, faked deaths and outer space adventures) no longer exist.

Yet, while the issue ends with a newly reformed and official looking team of X-Men (wearing matching uniforms for the first time since the early 60s - see Jim Lee: Classicist), thus formally ending the nebulous "Non Team Era", it also ends with X-Factor going their separate ways again, having offered in the course of the issue no good explanation for why the two teams shouldn't stay together at this point (Storm's point about Ship is well made, and the mansion's basement is too small, but, uh, maybe just rebuild the mansion?) aside from the fact that, apparently, the X-Men can see the future and know that true reunification has to wait for just over a half dozen issues.

Thus, this issue presents a glimpse of the future, a future that, reading this issue now, we know will come to pass, but only after it's held at arm's length for a seemingly-arbitrary while. Whether this is a result of Claremont exerting the last of his quickly-dwindling influence to delay the inevitable (as if to say, "fine, you've got your traditional team and your classic uniforms, but we're still keeping the books separate, consarnit!"), or simply the fact that the marketing department hadn't yet stumbled onto the idea of "two X-Men titles = two times the money!", or something else entirely, is unknown. Whatever the reason, the end result is a story that manages to be fascinatingly prescient yet unwilling to step directly into the very future it's predicting, and is thus a microcosm of the entire X-universe at this point, a franchise with a series and a writer at its center which is desperately beating on against the current, being borne ceaselessly not into the past, but to the future.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, a trio of first appearances in New Mutants #98. Friday, a new artist comes aboard in X-Factor #63. Next week, a new Fantastic Four is formed in Fantastic Four #347-349.

Collected Editions

25 comments:

  1. Have Jean and Psylocke even met before X-Tinction Agenda?

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    1. They met during "Inferno". Didn't share a lot of page time together, but Psylocke was in Jean's mind, helping defend it against Mr. Sinister and the lingering presence of Maddie, in issue #243.

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    2. It's terribly cute how they are not fighting of Scott at all.

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    3. Curious that they still have Commander (Cameron) Hodge as a threat there on the holo-globe. Also, I find their lack of Mesmero disturbing, he's been active enough on other titles recently. Well, maybe would've been too old school for Claremont's tastes.

      That Shadow King/Jean Grey peccadillo probably doesn't count as a case of "Like a Phoenix, from the Ashes", but the Shadow Queen thingy eerily reminds me of something and I'm not necessarily talking of the recent EXCALIBUR story.

      Gotta love Storm having her go at Cable: "Where did you come from and what do you know of anything!?" Very meta, and kind of hilarious that it falls on Claremont in very near future to set the table for answering that one.

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  2. This is probably my favorite "quiet" X-Men issue ever. You're spot on about it being like a microcosm/commentary of Claremont's last 50 issues while also teasing the near future. It's really satisfying to see all the teams together again and see them finally interacting. I think Claremont deserves credit because this issue wouldn't be nearly as satisfying if it wasn't coming at the end of a long journey where the characters are scattered apart. I suppose it's easier to see the success of his "splinter the team" idea when you have the ability to look at the run as a whole instead of having to wait years for them to form the X-Men again. It took guts on Claremont's part to plan that. I do think it was wise not to stretch it out further, though.

    I normally don't like art jam issues, but that lineup makes it worthwhile. The inclusion of Byrne and Silvestri only adds to that nostalgia feeling.

    Call me a 90s fanboy, but I even like the Wolverine/Gambit fight.

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  3. "This is an artistic jam issue, as evidenced by the credits above, with a variety of pencillers"

    And one that worked better than most jam issues. As you said, it seemed planned since most of the scenes are handled by one artist, so it makes transitioning from each scene/artist all the much easier. And all of them do some really good work here, and it helps that there is only 1 inker.

    "this marks John Byrne's first pencil work on Uncanny X-Men"

    And not for nothing do his pages feature the stuff about Magneto's reversion back to being a villain...

    "as it features a unified team of X-Men for the first time since issue #251"

    I always liked this team, found it very underrated, and wish we got to see more of it. A good mix of characters and powers.

    "thus putting all the X-Men in a unified look for the first time since the 60s"

    I also liked this, but for different reasons than Lee and Harras. Given how long there hasn't been a real team in the title, and given it is such a random with 1/2 the characters not really knowing each other, it is needed to bring some unity to the team. I'm not saying I would have liked it as a permanent look for the team, but for here and now, it worked for me.

    "which was likely meant as a hint towards Gambit's intended nefarious motives that ultimately goes nowhere."

    Even ignoring hints that go nowhere, I always liked it as a character beat for him. He is willing to cheat to win, which you would never see Nightcrawler or Colossus doing that if they were sparring with Wolverine. It wasn't kewl for the sake of being kewl, and made early Gambit a much more interesting character.

    "Jean encounters and is attacked by the Shadow King"

    Interesting that she recognizes him. Was it ever established that the 2 of them had even met each other prior to this?

    "Storms counters that living secluded from humanity, separated from them by a barrier that prevents them from entering Ship, may be antithetical to Xavier's dream, possibly a bit of veiled criticism towards X-Factor's current status quo on Claremont's part"

    Well, it can't be worse than living and posing as humans in a secret elite secluded mansion in the middle of nowhere...or living in the Australian outback while the world believes you are dead...

    "Claremontisms"

    You forgot Gambit's use of the word "body", and the use of "touche" twice...

    Dropped Plot Line Alert: Forge (or anyone else) trying to restore Wolfsbane back to normal.

    This is just a great issue overall. Practically everyone except Rictor and Sunspot get at least a page or 2 of story, some more than others, but given the large cast featured in this issue, it's a testament to CC that he is able to give us such a great character driven issue while still juggling such a large cast.

    He also gives Cable more depth and complexity is just a few pages than Liefeld gives him in nearly his entire involvement with the character.

    There is also quite a bit of meta commentary and self reflection via Storm's conversation with Cyclops and Jean. Not just about whether or not the outback era was a mistake, but also whether the old guard (CC via Storm/Cyclops) or the new (Liefeld and the new Image guys via Cable) are fit caretakers for moving on with Xavier's dream/teaching the younger mutants (ie, the franchise). Maybe CC saw the writing on the wall much sooner than we realized?

    Overall, not much else I can add to what you have already said. This is probably one of my favorite issues of Uncanny ever, and arguably CC's real final issue on the title, since next month, Uncanny is less his solo title and more being managed by a threesome (CC, Lee, and Harras).

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  4. It's a great big Claremontism again where Wolverine and Gambit are fighting.

    I love Forge and "Hankster", two of the science geniusest X-Men, starting their exchange with trading quips. You can practically smell the burning hair. Like with Banshee on the Muir Island, another great character moment for Forge by Claremont.

    Ditto what wwk5d said about Storm being meta there. Hard to read any other way, hard to read, period. ...Liefeld, of all people.

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  5. I like this issue. It was one of a small stack I picked up at our local convention, WonderCon (which has since moved away to Southern California) when I was first getting into X-Men. I believe I grabbed 273 - 277 and 281 - 288 all at that show.

    I enjoy that the "grown-ups" (Cyclops, Jean, Storm, and Cable) are having a conversation about the future of the "family" while all the "kids" are just off playing. Though I feel like Banshee should've been in that room with them, if only out of seniority.

    John Byrne has a funny anecdote about his participation in this one:

    "An assistant editor called me up one day and asked if I would be interested in doing three pages for an X-Men 'jam' book. I had some time available, so I said yes, and the plot was sent to me. Seemed a bit terse for a Claremont plot, even for just three pages, but I paced it out to the count requested and sent it in. The next thing I knew Bob Harras was calling to tell me the plot was for ONE page. Perhaps I should have guessed -- it was appropriately verbose for Chris writing a single page. However, a single page was not what I'd been asked for -- somewhere along the line they'd changed their minds about how many pages the scene needed to be, but nobody thought to tell me!!"

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  6. Considering I'm planning to sell off my collection at some point in the not-too-distant future, I was surprised to read this issue was more highly valued. Checking out Ebay, though, it seems this is no longer the case.

    I really did like this "uniforms" era of X-Men, though I tend to forget about it with the "2 teams" era just on the horizon. Jim Lee's art, of course, was the big draw. But it's a bit surprising how this also feels like the beginning of the end...certainly not for the series, but for my involvement in it. I stuck around for the 2 teams of course, which seemed like a new golden age....and then within a year or so of that, all of the talent fled or was driven out, and I finally lost interest. By the time of issue 300, I'd already stopped buying regularly, and only bought it due to the fancy cover and some vague, lingering curiosity of what was going on with the team.

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  7. Too bad you didn't stick around post issue 300. Not all of it was good, but there was actually some good stuff in between 300 and Grant Morrison.

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    1. I'm not sure how much I'd agree with you--it's hard to top some of those early favorites when it all seems new--but I did pick up and read the entirety of the "40 Years of X-Men" DVD-ROM back when it was available. FWIW, I have a hard time remember much of anything from the later period, other than Age of Apocalypse.

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    2. The Joe Kelly run was pretty good, even if it has some of the same problems CC's run does (dropped plot points and whatnot). Alan Davis' run was also really good too, even if the ending to The Twelve story was a disappointment. And even Lobdell has some really good and strong issues scattered throughout as well. But, mileage does vary, I suppose.

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  8. This issue features the first direct interaction between the Wolverine of the 80s and the Wolverine of the 90s as Wolverine and Gambit face off

    I'm sorry, but 'Wolverine of the 90s' is Wolverine. We'll discuss more of it when you get to 1993 and the attempt for a character defining miniseries in four parts. Wolverine got more celebrated stories in the friggin' Marvel Comics Presents during the 90s.

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  10. // A holographic globe presents the names and known locations of some of the X-Teams' biggest threats at the moment //

    I do like that scene — nice to see the entirety of the team(s) in one place, together, taking stock, especially with that place being the X-Mansion and despite Excalibur's complete exclusion. Also missing from the threat list, however, are Freedom Force and whatever factions in the US government are still in must-control-mutant mode, in addition to (as someone pointed out in comments on Jason’s post on the issue) Stryfe and the Mutant Liberation Front.

    // everyone adopts the yellow/blue uniform Forge & Banshee have been sporting since the Reavers' attack on Muir Island //

    Ugh. While I can appreciate the idea behind it, there isn’t a character less built to wear the generic X-Men uniform than Wolverine, followed closely by Gambit and perhaps to a lesser extent Forge.

    // or just a convienent hand-wavy explanation for why the two teams aren't just reintegrating at this point //

    Yeah, Storm has a point but, even apart from the exclusivity of the Westchester estate, the only aspect of the X-Mansion that exists at this point its secret underground complex of living quarters, Danger Room, mission control, etc., which isn’t any more welcoming to the public — and which, by the way I cannot believe only has one bathroom.

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    1. Also missing from the threat list, however, are Freedom Force and whatever factions in the US government are still in must-control-mutant mode, in addition to (as someone pointed out in comments on Jason’s post on the issue) Stryfe and the Mutant Liberation Front.

      I think with the Freedom Force there's generally more or less an unofficial&uneasy truce, despite Cable's recent antics with them. Considering the US government, they're discussing proactive countermeasures against their enemies and if they were to add the government to that list, they could as well ask Magneto to lead them or join the feared MILF. Speaking of which, I totally and wholeheartedly allow Claremont omitting them from the list of enemies to be taken seriously at this point. They're Cable's personal problem if anything, even if he's doing his best to get the New Mutants into that mess with him. Ye-es, they may be holding Rusty and Skids, but it's kind of late for Scott & co to pretend being worried over those two.

      secret underground complex of living quarters, Danger Room, mission control, etc., which isn’t any more welcoming to the public — and which, by the way I cannot believe only has one bathroom

      Built when there was the mansion on top of it. I don't think there really was living quarters per se there(?), which is causing the problem now as the ad hoc accommodation is not working for Too Many Mutants, and as for the other stuff, I think Xavier's students were expected to go in their own bathrooms before Danger Room training.

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    2. "While I can appreciate the idea behind it, there isn’t a character less built to wear the generic X-Men uniform than Wolverine, followed closely by Gambit and perhaps to a lesser extent Forge."

      Interesting, Blam -- having come into the X-Men around 1992, this is the look I most associate with Forge and he's never looked right to me in everything else. He wears this outfit, or some variation of it, for pretty much the entire decade of the nineties. They even made an action figure of him wearing it, and it was his look on the X-MEN animated series.

      I'm always fascinated by how one's own "correct" version of somebody is influenced by when they encountered that character!

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    3. Oh, I completely agree, Matt. To me, Forge doesn’t belong in costume at all —just the khaki/olive shirt and short-shorts he wore in “Lifedeath”. Also, Forge doesn’t belong in any other stories than “Lifedeath”. 8^)

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    4. Highly offensive, Blam! Not towards Native Americans, or invalids, but offensive towards us, the Forge fans. Many a man may fight aliens, but only one skips stairs on one leg to go do that. There's people in the world, some very very close to me, who need moustached and ponytailed idols, and Bishop's friend Randall just won't cut it for all.

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  11. It's not that, Matt, ar least in this case. You know I swear by the fashion powerhouse that is JRjr, to the very questionable extent that there's something wrong with Magneto if he's not wearing the big 'M' on his costume (actually validates your point I think), but even for me this look for Forge is right. Of course, for Forge it's either this or the short-shorts. Did he ever actually have any other costume than this here?

    Also, my Wolverine is tan&ochre.

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    1. ... wait. Have we just seen the last of tan&ochre Wolverine? He switches straight to primary colors after being done with the monkey suite, right?

      He's not primary colors material, that's really the point of him. Without the parting gift of John Byrne, would the Claremont&Miller limited series worked as well? Subdued colors for going down and dirty, the era in that costume really made Wolverine to what he came to be.

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    2. He wears the brown costume in X-MEN 1 - 3, though Lee tweaks it slightly to feature an "X" belt buckle. He changes back to his yellow outfit in X-MEN #4.

      Plus I believe WOLVERINE issues concurrent to this UNCANNY run will continue to feature the brown outfit until the yellow returns in X-MEN.

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    3. He changes back to the yellow costume in Wolverine 50.

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  12. This was the very first comic I ever bought. Before this I had never even heard of the X-Men. I was in the fifth grade and my best friend had showed let me flip through his copy. I was instantly hooked. I think it is a testament to Claremont's writing that I was entertained and didn't feel lost even though so many different ongoing plots and characters were involved.
    I absolutely loved Storm and Jean Grey. Immediately after this issue I began reading Uncanny regularly as well as Classic X-Men and a long obsession with all things X followed.

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  13. Oh, how I love this issue. I bought it at a time when I would read scattered issues of X-men, coming back at various times to 'check-in' on things and see how everyone was doing. The quiet character moments make this one stand out as an issue I will never sell.

    The 'art-jam' was also great way to touch base on how John Byrne's style had evolved since he left after #143, *and* we're treated to some rare X-men pages by Michael Golden, the artist who (along with Art Adams) had the biggest hand in influencing Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane and the Image artists that followed them.

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