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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #281

"Fresh Upstart"
October 1991

In a Nutshell
Whilce Portacio comes aboard as a new era begins.

Plot: Jim Lee & Whilce Portacio
Script: John Byrne
Pencils: Whilce Portacio
Inks: Art Thibert
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In Australia, the Reavers are suddenly attacked by Sentinels, while in New York, the X-Men are attending a party at the Hellfire Club, by invitation from Emma Frost. Just then, Emma herself emerges, having fought off an assassination attempt. Meanwhile, Trevor Fitzroy meets with Shinobi Shaw, showing him footage of his Sentinels wiping out the Reavers, before leaving for the Hellfire Club himself. At the Club, Frost brutally interrogates her would-be assassin, increasing tensions between the X-Men and the Hellions, just as Fitzroy enters, killing Jetstream and chiding the assassin for her failure. In Australia, Pierce, running from the Sentinels, orders Gateway to send him to whomever ordered the attack, intending to surprise whoever it is. Back at the Hellfire Club, the X-Men and Hellions are attacking Fitzroy, doing little in the face of his advanced armor, when a portal opens and Pierce stumbles out, followed closely by the Sentinels. They destroy Piece and seemingly kill Frost, then attack Jean Grey. Later, in the aftermath of the attack, Senator Kelly arrives on the scene and berates the X-Men for the damage they've caused, but they step aside, showing him the body of Jean, saying they've already paid the most precious price of all.

Firsts and Other Notables
The linewide relaunch has arrived! This issue marks the debut of a new direction for the X-Men, along with the release of X-Men (vol. 2) #1 (and the retooling of X-Factor with issue #71). Chris Claremont is (mostly) out, future Image founders are in, as editor Bob Harras gives them the keys to the kingdom and tells them to go nuts, plotting as well as drawing both series. In time, that will prove to have been a less-than-wise decision, but for now, things are rosy as the series undergoes its most significant change since the launch of the "All New X-Men" in issue #94.

As such, this marks the debut of a new team of X-Men, as the roster of a dozen or so X-Men gets split into two groups, a Blue team and a Gold team. Uncanny will chronicle the adventures of the Gold Team, featuring Storm, Archangel, Iceman, Colossus and Jean Grey (and, eventually, Bishop), while X-Men (vol. 2) gets the Blue Team. As a result, this era is sometimes referred to as the Blue/Gold era (and I'll be tagging each entry as such), which lasts roughly up to "The X-Cutioner's Song" crossover, after which, with the Image guys gone, new writers Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell start passing characters between the two books more fluidly.

Though this particular assortment of characters is fairly arbitrary, and there's no denying Jim Lee got more of the "cooler" X-Men for his book, this is also the era of the franchise that was in place when I first got into comics, and as such, these particular groupings of characters have always carried a certain "rightness" for me.

With Jim Lee over on the new book, this marks the debut of Whilce Portacio as the series' new regular artist (he is also co-plotting with Lee), sliding over from X-Factor. He will stick around (with a couple fill-ins, of course) through issue #290.

With Claremont gone, John Byrne steps in this issue to script the series over Lee & Portacio's plot. He'll eventually take over scripting on the other X-Men book as well, after Claremont's final issue there, but won't last long on either title (I believe at this point Claremont is long gone even though he's got three more credited issues coming out, so he and Byrne aren't technically working on the X-Men together again in any meaningful way).

This issue marks the first appearance of Trevor Fitzroy, a green haired mutant who will shortly be revealed to be from the future, possessing the ability to create one-way portals through time (powered by life energy), and the archenemy of future X-Man Bishop. He will be a fairly significant recurring antagonist for the X-Men over the next of couple years, before eventually settling in as a minor villain with a strong connection to Bishop.


Via Fitzroy, this issue kicks the Upstarts plotline, previously teased in X-Men #268 and X-Factor #67, into high gear. Fitzroy first appears meeting with Shinobi Shaw (who killed his dad Sebastian in his first appearance in X-Factor #67), and they vaguely discuss their ambitions and some kind of contest between them. This plotline will serve as a closest thing to a narrative spine the Blue/Gold Era gets, though Lee and Portacio will both leave their series before resolving it, allowing it to sputter on in their absence and get ultimately wrapped up by Fabian Nicieza in an X-Force/New Warriors crossover. As a result, the storyline mostly consists of lots of vague motivations and hints that don't really add up and ultimately contradict each other, so, the 90s in a nutshell.


One specific detail from this issue that goes nowhere: Fitzroy is said to have a great hatred for the White Queen, though we never find out why, and little about what we later learn of Fitzroy's background suggests an explanation. Later developments in the Upstarts plotline (which turns out to be a sort of contest for young, up-and-coming villains, though the ultimate goal/prize of the contest will change several times) reveal that Fitzroy is targeting the White Queen and the Hellions here simply because they're high-value targets in the Upstart competition.


This issue marks the debut of the new Jim Lee-designed costumes in Uncanny X-Men, though in the case of this title, that mostly just amounts to Jean's new orange-and-blue attire that becomes her default 90s look, along with Storm's costume (which is basically her previous one, but with white replacing the black). Jean is also referred to as "Marvel Girl" once in this issue, but it'll be the last time we hear that name for awhile, as this is the era where Jean simply goes by her given name and eschews a codename entirely (which was also the case on the animated series), until she returns to the name Phoenix during the brief Seagle/Kelly run post-"Onslaught".

The Reavers, essentially the most significant recurring X-Men antagonists post-"Inferno", are effectively wiped out this issue, including Donald Pierce. Lady Deathstrike and Cylla (the pilot whom Pierce transformed into the new Skullbuster, last seen in issue #269) both survive and will continue to appear sporadically (usually in Wolverine) going forward, and the rest of the Reavers (including Pierce) will eventually return in one form or another, but this is pretty much the end of them for a good long while.


Similarly, this issue marks the end of the Hellions as a thing, with three of their number (Beef, Jetstream and Tarot) killed on panel, with the rest slated to die at Fitzroy's hands next issue. Most will return as zombies in "Necrosha-X", but with the White Queen shortly to be appointed the Headmistress of Generation X, the concept of a rival group of mutant students essentially ends here, unfortunately.


One Hellion who does escape is Empath. He is singled out in this issue as being present and appears to die with the rest of the Hellions in the next one, but officially, his appearance here is considered an error; last seen in Nova Roma with Magma, he'll next pop up in New Warriors (and later X-Force) still with Magma and perfectly alive, retconning out his presence in this issue.

The two biggest apparent deaths in this issue, however, those of the White Queen and Jean Grey, will quickly be reversed, as the next couple issues reveal neither is as dead as they appear at the end of this issue (though this issue does mark the beginning of a protracted period in which White Queen is in a coma and off the board, which lasts pretty much until just before the launch of Generation X a couple years down the road. For that matter, this effectively marks the end of her reign as White Queen, since Shinobi will eventually start a new Inner Circle, and her affiliations stay pretty true to the X-Men in one form or another from this point forward; however, she gets referred to as "the White Queen" pretty regularly, regardless). As result, while this issue often gets pointed to as another example of Jean dying (whenever anyone wants to make a point about Jean being the poster child for the revolving door of death in comics), it doesn't really stand as an example of such, as her death is clearly meant to be little more than issue-ending cliffhanger, common for many characters in comics, and not a serious status quo change.


Between the previous death of Sebsastian Shaw, the death of Pierce and the incapacitation of the White Queen here, this issue marks the end of the classic iteration of the Hellfire Club (as only Selene is left standing, and we'll see where she's at shortly). They haven't exactly done much since Magneto briefly proclaimed himself Grey King in New Mutants #75, but it's another example of how this issue is all about sweeping out the old to make way for the new.

Gateway pops up briefly, to essentially teleport Pierce to his death. We'll see him a few more times in upcoming Wolverine issues, but this is pretty much the end of any regular occurrences for the guy (infrequent as they'd become) until the beginning of Generation X. This is also the last we'll see of the X-Men's former Australian base of operations for even longer.

Senator Kelly also appears briefly, on the closing page of the issue, mostly just to rail against mutants and all the destruction they cause. Maybe Lee & Portacio were trying to recall the last time the X-Men fought in New York and Kelly's wife died (in X-Men #246-247), but her death goes unmentioned, and whatever Kelly's purpose here, he disappears after this issue, not returning until #298.


This issue features a wraparound cover, but is otherwise lacking in typical 90s cover gimmicks. Like every other notable issue from around this time, this issue received a second printing (denoted by the silver ink used on the cover).

The Chronology Corner
This issue takes place after X-Men (vol. 2) #5, specifically the opening pages of that issue, which shows the combined squads preparing their respective next courses of action, with the Gold squad, in their party best, preparing to leave for the party which opens this issue.

The Marvel Chronology Project lists Lady Deathstrike's appearance here as occurring after her recent stint in Wolverine, though it probably makes more sense for her to appear there after this issue (with the Reavers and Pierce all gone). However, that mucks up Wolverine's chronology, since his appearance in those issues takes place before X-Men (vol. 2) #1, which takes place before this issue.

A Work in Progress
Before Fitzroy's arrival, White Queen is attacked by a woman wearing strange armor; she's later shown to be known by Fitzroy, but no explanation is ever given as to who she is, and why she was attacking the White Queen at this point.


Beef & Bevatron, the two Hellions who first appeared in Nicieza's New Warriors, show up here, their only other appearance before their deaths. Kudos to someone for doing their homework and remembering these two.

Catseye, however, doesn't get the same treatment, as her dialogue is written normally, and not in her usual dialect.


Structurally, this issue is a bit of mess, but the ending moreso than anything, as Fitzroy's Sentinels score a major (apparent) victory by killing Jean Grey, after which Fitzroy and the Sentinels just disappear. As in, not teleport away, they just...stop appearing in the comic.

For Sale
Ads for mail order services selling back issues have been common in comics for decades, but with the rise of the speculator market and the boom of the early 90s, they become even more common in issues around this time, and more overt in hocking their wares. This issue features an ad from Entertaintment This Month, which among other things, shills for the Jim Lee X-Men trading card set (I didn't realize that set was already on sale at this point) and tries really hard to convince you that random issues of Marvel Comics Presents are big time collectors items.


John Byrne On Returning to Script
"The X-Men are going to pay my mortgage."

Howe, Sean. Marvel Comics - The Untold Story. New York: HarperCollins, 2012. p329

Austin's Analysis
While it tends to get overshadowed by X-Men #1 (which features Chris Claremont and Jim Lee, five variant covers, and is the best-selling comic of all time), this issue nevertheless marks a significant departure from what's come before, and is just as significant an introduction of the new status quo as the launch of adjectiveless X-Men. Even though it's only been a month since the previous issue, the end of the "Muir Island Saga" and the formal conclusion to Chris Claremont's tenure on the title (even though he technically left an issue before that), this reads like a lot more time has passed between issues. In part, this is because it begins somewhat in media res, with the X-Men already at the Hellfire Club, the new main characters of this title already broken into the (unnamed here) Gold Squad, with all that setup held for a future issues of Adjectiveless. And, of course, that feeling of this issue indicating the start of something new and bold is helped by the presence of Whilce Portacio on art; it's only been a few issues since Jim Lee left the book, but Portacio's work is still, in good ways and bad ways, unlike anything the series has seen thus far.

Of course, even beyond all that, this issue is designed to be looking forward, moving forward, at as much of a breakneck pace as possible (which is partially why its such a structural mess). In the absence of Claremont, his longtime X-Men collaborator John Byrne is brought in to script, but his sensibilities are easily overshadowed by the future Image founders' plotting. This issue is often derided by some fans for the way it seems to so casually sneer at the recent past, specifically, two of Claremont's more notable villain teams: the Reavers and the Hellions, both of whom are mostly wiped out (a few of each ultimately survive) with ease by the kewl new bad guy and his kewl new Sentinels. That reading isn't necessarily wrong, but it's less an indication of Lee & Portacio's disdain for Claremont (Lee, in particular, has never given any indication of possessing anything but respect for Claremont's work) and more of their relative inexperience. These are two young guys who broke in as artists and have been handed the keys to a sizeable, profitable, kingdom. They understandably want to go their own way and tell their own stories, and while pumping up your new villain at the expense of old villains isn't the best way to accomplish that, it is the easiest way.

Unlike X-Men #1, with Claremont at the helm and a general air of "back to basics" to leaven out the 90s-ness of it, this issue is a deep plunge into the 90s, of new costumes and cybernetic Sentinels and green-haired villains with vague, mysteries motivations and possible connections to things we already know. To go from issue #280 to #281 is almost as jarring as the transition from reprints featuring the original X-Men in issue #93 to the "All New" X-Men popping up in issue #94, maybe even moreso, and as such, it takes a lot of the criticism for the new look and direction of the franchise across the board on its shoulders. But it's important to remember that what we now consider flaws (and certainly what some fans did then as well) were considered by the creators to be assets. This book was supposed to suddenly get loud and extreme and different. And it is. It isn't to everyone's taste, and it hasn't aged well, but it is incredibly good at being exactly what Portacio and Lee wanted it to be.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, X-Force fights the Juggernaut in X-Force #3. Friday, a new look in X-Factor #71. Next week, X-Men (vol. 2) #1!

Collected Editions

77 comments:


  1. // after which Fitzroy and the Sentinels just ... stop appearing in the comic //

    Wow.

    I'm pretty sure this was the first issue of the series I bought since checking back in during Inferno. As with the new adjectiveless title, I only hung around for a few months. Doing just a quick Google, I'm disappointed to find that #281 and, especially, #282 with Bishop's intro aren’t going for more these days, unslabbed.

    Beef’s name makes Bevatron’s sound positively Shakespearean. Which doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have a bit of perverse respect for someone who wrote a Strong Guys! The Adventures of Guido and Beef miniseries.

    I don’t understand how a force field stops Emma’s mental blasts, nor why she wouldn’t be able to attack what she can’t see given that she can reach out to connect with others’ minds — and right after Fitzroy supposedly vanishes it’s revealed that he’s still there. (Here are the relevant panels.) Nothing suggests that Fitzroy’s armor is psychic energy manifested like Psylocke’s “focused totality” psychic knife. Also, Emma just stands there boasting that she’ll fry his brains when she could actually be frying his brains before getting distracted, but that’s a standard comics trope — one that has sadly made the jump to live-action superhero TV.

    Orz’s lettering sure looks nice, and for me it’s the most “X-Men” thing about the issue.

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    1. Wow.

      Yeah. I mean, to be fair, it's just the last page he goes missing from, but still. It's like a moment of triumph for him, with the clearly indication that he's going in for the (next) kill, and then just...aftermath-y stuff, with no Fitzroy.

      I don’t understand how a force field stops Emma’s mental blasts, nor why she wouldn’t be able to attack what she can’t see given that she can reach out to connect with others’ minds

      The only No-Prizey explanation I can offer is that his super-advanced, futuristic armor blocks psychic attacks as well. Heck, maybe even that gets established somewhere else down the line (this isn't the last we'll see of his armor) and I'm thinking of that.

      Which isn't to excuse the fact that no explanation is given in *this* issue as to why Emma can't just mindfry the guy.

      Orz’s lettering sure looks nice, and for me it’s the most “X-Men” thing about the issue.

      I continue to be terrible about acknowledging and calling out stuff like that, but you're absolutely right. Orz is the true hero of this issue.

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    2. Austin: The only No-Prizey explanation I can offer is that his super-advanced, futuristic armor blocks psychic attacks as well.

      They've melted Juggernaut's helmet for the purpose in the future.

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    3. 'Orz’s lettering sure looks nice, and for me it’s the most “X-Men” thing about the issue.'

      Ditto. Second only to Claremont's departure, once Orz leaves the books it's just not the same X-Men to me.

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    4. @Teebore: // I mean, to be fair, it's just the last page he goes missing from, but still. //

      Ahh…
      I read the issue. When you said “comic” I thought you were talking about the series — like, after this they just disappear with no reason or resolution given for the attack, which confused me a little because Fitzroy can’t be gone for too long if he becomes a recurring antagonist in this era but it’s not like we’re totally unfamiliar with plots getting dropped and the players showing up again later in different contexts without immediate explanation.

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    5. Should I stop referring to you as Teebore here, by the way? I notice you've been gradually phasing it out to where it's only in your Twitter plug and Teebore's Take now.

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    6. Should I stop referring to you as Teebore here, by the way? I notice you've been gradually phasing it out to where it's only in your Twitter plug and Teebore's Take now.

      I'm phasing out "Teebore's Take" now, too, in favor of "Austin's Analysis" (which I use over on PopOptiq), so as to be more unified across platforms.

      But I really have no problem with you (or anyone) continuing to refer to me as Teebore. It's a functional change, but it's not like I hate the name or anything. If nothing else, it's a way for you long-time readers to show up newer readers who arrived after I shed the identity. :)

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  2. > One Hellion who does escape is Empath.

    Tarot, also, managed to, somehow, survive the bloodbath (despite a, clear, on panel death). You may recall, she resurfaced a few years later in the pages of X-FORCE during the John Francis Moore/Jim Cheung run.

    > This issue features an ad from Entertaintment This Month

    Which is, pretty much, all you need to know about the '90s speculator boom. I did buy a few books from them, though...most notably, my sets of all five versions of X-FORCE #1 and X-MEN #1 (I have no shame). These things will pay for my kid's college tuition, someday, right?

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    1. Tarot survives here to the bloodbath in next issue, the very least. Technically she merely gets blasted and goes "AIEEEE!", so she necessarily isn't quite terminated despite the Sentinels saying so.

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    2. Ah, yeah, Tarot, the Hellion who gets killed TWICE in this story but still comes back later. I had forgotten her later X-FORCE appearance until you mentioned it.

      These things will pay for my kid's college tuition, someday, right?

      Absolutely!

      But only if your kid wants to go to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College (h/t to SIMPSONS). :)

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    3. I can't knock ENTERTAINMENT THIS MONTH too much, as they're what finally got me into X-Men as a regular reader a year or so after this, with their hype for "X-Cutioner's Song". I was a fringe observer of the X-Men up to that point, but their blurbs and headlines playing up Cable's assassination of Professor X got me to try the crossover and, more or less, I just kept on reading right after that. (Following a brief break -- I skipped issues 17 - 19 for whatever reason, but became an official monthly reader with #20 and didn't stop for close to a hundred more issues until Grant Morrison finally drove me away.)

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    4. Actually the later X-Force story made it clear that Tarot DID die here. She was just (somehow) resurrected by her boyfriend at tbe time, King Bedlam (my own No-prize-y explanation is that she was "kept alive" by King Bedlam's powers, which explains why when they were both hit with the M-day pulse,Tarot was back to being "dead" again.)

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  3. I remember having no access to PREVIEWS or any fanzines, so those Entertainment This Month ads were my spoilers for upcoming comic events. I learned about Image through those things.

    Without Orz, I wonder how this issue would look. It already reads as something of a mess, but the lettering is so slick and professional, and of course "classic" X-Men, that on a surface look, you might not notice all of the craziness.

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    1. I don't know if it was specifically an Entertainment This Month ad, or one of the others like it, but I too first learned about Image through one of those ads.

      I'd start reading WIZARD a little while after that, and that became my source for industry info, but before that, those ads were all I had, sadly.

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    2. I didn't learn much about Image though, outside of the idea that thier books were HOT COLLECTOR'S ITEMS. (But then again, what book wasn't a "hot must-buy" in these ads? "Superpro #1 has a gold foil, die-cut holographic cover! Better buy 12!")

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  4. "Though this particular assortment of characters is fairly arbitrary, and there's no denying Jim Lee got more of the "cooler" X-Men for his book, this is also the era of the franchise that was in place when I first got into comics, and as such, these particular groupings of characters have always carried a certain "rightness" for me."

    Yeah, Jim Lee got to pick his team first and took the "cool/new" characters while Portacio got the "old" characters. I was never much a fan of the Gold Squad, even though I dig Storm, Colossus, and especially Archangel. The team was just missing something without characters like Cyclops or Wolverine. And Storm, the resident badass strong female character, has to play co-pilot with Jean in that department. In my opinion I'd have switched out Iceman for Beast and Jean for Psylocke.

    (And as a nitpicky artist, I don't like the color schemes of the characters together. Too much white and light blue. It's weird when Jean's blue and orange, which are pretty muted for a superhero costume, stands out the most in group shots.)

    Speaking of art, this issue was a huge influence on my artistic development when I got it for my 10th birthday in 1996. The art's kind of weird in places, but Portacio was obviously having FUN when he drew it and it translated to the pages. This was the point where I discovered hatching and tiny details and would incorporate Portacio's influence in my doodles for years to come.

    But yeah, this is MY X-Men, as well, since I first discovered them in kindergarten around 1992 and voraciously watched the cartoon. But as I got older I valued the original Claremont stories so much for what they did to superhero comic books. It's been so long since I read anything from the 90's that I'm anxious to see if the new writers can stand up to the standard he set and if these stories hold up as well as I remember them.

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  5. Oh yeah, one other thing that always baffled me about this issue: Where did Storm's long hair come from? She was bald as a mutate on Genosha, then had short hair for a few issues after that. Suddenly she has long hair down her back again.

    Something similar happened in the late 90's where she had a shoulder-length bob and then suddenly it was down to her knees. I vaguely recall a letter column saying that it's because her wind powers were able to blow it in a certain short style and it wasn't cut or something.

    Comic books, go figure.

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    1. I don't believe we're even given a specific amount of time, but there's clearly meant to be the passing of SOME time between the end of "Muir Island" and X-MEN #1 (and then time passes between that issue and this one, though Storm's hair is long is X-MEN #1) - if nothing else, the mansion gets rebuilt, and even with Shi'ar tech and mutant powers, that had to take some time. Presumably enough for Storm's hair to grow out.

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    2. Either that, or she knows how to rock a nice weave/hair extensions. Goddess be praised, indeed.

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    3. @Austin - I'll give you that some time has passed, but it can't be any more than a few months. I'm guessing it's just artistic license - Since this was a back to basics approach then why not return her to how she looked when she debuted?

      Or maybe her hair just grows fast. It went from short mohawk around issue #175 to full and long again by Fall of the Mutants ~50 issues later. As someone who has long hair I know it's a bitch to grow, and that kind of growth will take several years at least.

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    4. Well, it became full during Fall of the Mutants due to Storm and Forge being trapped on that fake world the Adversary created for them for a year, their time...though other artists post-Smith did make the mowhawk itself longer than when Smith drew it.

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    5. We could rely on the "she was wearing a wig!" excuse they successfully used when Kitty was mistakenly seen shorthaired on UNCANNY chronologically prior to her actually getting shorthaired during the events of KITTY PRYDE AND WOLVERINE.

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    6. "If nothing else, the mansion gets rebuilt, and even with Shi'ar tech and mutant powers, that had to take some time."

      In fairness, in a few issues we'll see Beast and Archangel rebuild Harry's Hideaway by themselves OVERNIGHT.

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    7. I think this was one of those "six-month gaps" that became as interlocked in X-book lore as the obligatory baseball game. Not to mention that long hair becomes quite a phenomenon in comics around this time...and not just among the women. We'll discover that next issue when our "very special guest" makes an appearance.

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  6. In the absence of Claremont, his longtime X-Men collaborator John Byrne is brought in to script, but his sensibilities are easily overshadowed by the future Image founders' plotting.

    Oh I don't know. The X-Men going in their civvies to a gathering at the Hellfire Club and Senator Kelly appearing in the end to gastigate feels like Byrne pretty much is picking up where he left on UNCANNY. Or at least someone is.

    I absolutely love Storm's out-of-nowhere comparison of super-strong, invisible Fitzroy to "Super-Skrull, that old FF villain", but probably for all the wrong reasons.

    I always felt this was the point where UNCANNY was instantaneously relegated a the 2nd tier X-Men book, with Lee getting to pick all his favorite characters for his Adjectiveless. Scott and Jean on different teams feels like unbelievable nonsense.

    Now what the hell is Cylla wearing? From these couple of panels it looks like Portachio was set to really show off by adopting the infamously hard to draw Jack of Hearts costume for Cylla, but we don't see her the next time before appearing on WOLVERINE wearing something completely else?

    I don't know. Maybe where Marvel went wrong in the early 90's was the disrespect for history, namely the 60's to 80's of Marvel. The Distinguished Competitor had done their massive Crisis revamp recently for a fresh-ish start, yes, but for Marvel the glorious past was still manageable and an asset really rather than burden. Give them kids getting free reins to do everything Faster, Harder, Scooter with little regard on what had been and you end up with this sort of killfest of established characters by a complete nobody on his first appearance and Peter Parker's parents appearing suddenly alive.

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    1. So I went to look up the first WOLVERINE appearance of Cylla, and it looks strongly like Hama was completely ignoring Cylla's appearance here and even contradicting it, not only in looks but in all counts.

      They don't actually name Cylla on panel here I think though; there's just Reese and Macon commenting on Cylla (and Lady D) being witches, and then a previously unknown female Reaver appears and I guess is assumed to be Cylla. Technically she could be someone else.

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    2. Oh I don't know. The X-Men going in their civvies to a gathering at the Hellfire Club and Senator Kelly appearing in the end to gastigate feels like Byrne pretty much is picking up where he left on UNCANNY. Or at least someone is.

      I'm pretty sure that's all plot stuff - so not Byrne. Though Lee, an avowed fan of the Claremont/Byrne stuff, may very well have written it consciously to evoke the classic Byrne-era.

      I absolutely love Storm's out-of-nowhere comparison of super-strong, invisible Fitzroy to "Super-Skrull, that old FF villain", but probably for all the wrong reasons.

      Not THAT is definitely Byrne at work. :)

      I always felt this was the point where UNCANNY was instantaneously relegated a the 2nd tier X-Men book, with Lee getting to pick all his favorite characters for his Adjectiveless. Scott and Jean on different teams feels like unbelievable nonsense.

      I agree that UNCANNY almost immediately gets relegated to second-class status (which is a shame, since it's, you know, the original). Adjectiveless has the cool characters, it gets Magneto for its introductory arc (UNCANNY gets...Fitzroy), and after that, it gets to do a "Wolverine's past" story with Sabretooth (which, all questions of quality aside - and there are many - is infinitely kewler than UNCANNY's contemporaneous "X-Men fall down a hole, meet Colossus' dopey brother" story).

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    3. Oh, and I actually don't mind Scott and Jean being on different squads, despite being the fervent Scott/Jean shipper that I am. I think of it kind of like a couple going to off to similar jobs in different places during the day, then coming home and being together. They get to have similar experiences, but not shared to the point where they are together 24/7.

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    4. Well, yes. And of course they got two field telepaths that they need to divvy up, and of course it is the Blue team that needs the limber ninja assassin one more badly, what with having only Wolverine and Gambit and Beast and... ;)

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    5. Through much of the nineties I considered X-MEN the flagship series and UNCANNY the secondary. The events and characters in X-MEN just felt more important somehow. I think it was when Joe Mad came on board UNCANNY, roughly coinciding with the departure of Fabian Nicieza from X-MEN, that UNCANNY began to feel like the "main" book again.

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    6. The adjectiveless book taking, or seeming like it takes, primacy is kind-of a Byrne influence too, albeit nothing to do with him scripting here. I know Marvel had done it with Spider-Man shortly before X-Men, but it was Byrne’s post-Crisis relaunch that gave us a new Superman title and renamed the original Adventures of Superman while its numbering remained. Uncanny X-Men had previously been just X-Men and everyone called Amazing Spider-Man just plain Spider-Man as often as not at least until Spectacular Spider-Man came along, yeah; even if the mechanics of the nomenclature differ a bit, though, I feel like the gist of it’s the same, in starting up a new title with just the team/character name unencumbered by descriptor that can’t avoid being perceived as the main title because of that.

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    7. I just remembered that Byrne’s Superman is predated by the so-called “hardcover/softcover” experiment that led to DC launching new, direct-market-only, Baxter-paper Legion of Super-Heroes and New Teen Titans series while renaming the extant newsstand titles Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes and Tales of the Teen Titans, which in terms of a split in publishing format is closer to Marvel’s Adjectiveless launches but differs in DC’s reprinting of the newer series’ material in the older series after a year’s buffer.

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    8. Matter of fact, whereas the Baxter Titans’ stories from the first issue took place after the whole of the year’s worth of new stories that continued to appear in the newsstand title before reprints kicked in, the Legion titles split teams up between the two series for that one buffer year. And I apologize if nobody else cares. 8^)

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    9. I agree with you on most of those, Blam, though I'm not sure I ever considered SPIDER-MAN the flagship of that line. Maybe it's my bias against McFarlane, though. Heck, I was a huge Spider-Man fan, but I pretty much never touched SPIDER-MAN for its first fifty or so issues.

      In any case, AMAZING always felt like the "main" Spider-book to me, at least up to the Clone Saga. When David Michelinie left and all the spider-titles went into a state of perpetual crossover for a year or so, I'm not sure I could've picked out a flagship book.

      Then when Ben Reilly took over as Spider-Man, Marvel launched SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN, which they really seemed to be pushing as the new flagship under Dan Jurgens. But Jurgens quickly departed and by that point, if you'd asked me, I would've finally looked at SPIDER-MAN (soon to be retitled PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN) by Howard Mackie and John Romita Jr. as the core title. I think, for me at least, having the Romita name attached gave it some clout and made it feel more important than the others.

      Anyway, just a little friendly neighborhood Spider-rambling to start the day.

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    10. I second your feeling on AMAZING, Matt. Adjectiveless SPIDER-MAN was a vanity book for MacFarlane, while the Spider-Manniest Spider-Man carried on on AMAZING like since always, and the deal was altogether different than between XM and UXM.

      It's still a good point by Blam on everyone opting for the adjectiveless names at the time, anyway. I had never realized that.

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    11. I also wonder if there isn't some kind of self-conscious effort to make comics more serious - like, thinking that putting an adjective in front of the title is goofy Silver Age stuff, and comics are so much more serious and adult than that now, man, so it's just SUPERMAN and SPIDER-MAN and X-MEN, none of that goofy stuff?

      This is the era (post-WATCHMEN & DKR), where I really think you start to see more and more self-conscious readers (and creators) desperate to prove comics are more sophisticated than Batman '66, and I wonder if the rise of adjectiveless titles ties into that?

      (Of course, we're STILL seeing the effect of those self-conscious readers/creators, people who feel like superhero comics need to desperately (and always) prove they're not for kids in the most obvious ways possible. Heck, sometimes its seems like DC's entire publishing model for the last decade is driven by that mentality...).

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    12. You may well be onto something there, Austin, though we might be on the "So I took Wolverine out of the ugly brown&tan costume, Mr. Byrne" ground here, because X-MEN (vol 1) only got the adjective during the Claremont/Byrne era. The covers certainly make no fuss over it; so smoothly goes the transition from "The All-New, All-Different X-Men" through "Now on sale monthly! X-Men" to settle with "The Uncanny X-Men".

      But then again, SPIDER-WOMAN and MS. MARVEL were adjectiveless from the get-go, as were the X-Men spin-offs THE NEW MUTANTS, THE X-FACTOR and WOLVERINE. The adjective rather feels like a honorific acknowledging the long existence of a book. I for one love my Thor as MIGHTY.

      On that not the mid-80's launched WEB OF SPIDER-MAN gets to be a curious case, I think had they had a pretension to make it merely SPIDER-MAN at time would've been universally decried move and maybe dubbed "A what Spider-Man" by the reading populace. I fear to even think how it would have gone in the Spider-Man office at the time when things were enough turbulent already.

      I have perverse love for PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN as a book title btw. I'd just love when the older boys in the letter columns referred to it as PPTSSM, if not the most anal retentives going for PPtSSM. It's a crime and shame that Marvel Unlimited has so poorly selection of the 80's issues of it, the very ones our Spidey book was printing during and just prior my formative years.

      Their officially shortening it to THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN is just so 90's move in the bad way.

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    13. The best way to blow the air out of your own or anyone's WATCHMEN/DKR pretensions btw is to remind that they're the bitch that borne to the world the Comic Sans font.

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    14. I’m not saying that Adjectiveless Spider-Man was the premier series in any qualitative way, Matt. Launching it with McFarlane at the helm, though, as Marvel then did on the new X-Men with (Claremont &) Lee driving — plus better-quality paper (and higher prices) — sure appears to have been the company saying that these titles were the flagships of their franchises and indeed Marvel’s whole publishing slate. Otherwise we’d likely have gotten The Sensational Spider-Man and Astonishing X-Men back then.

      While the idea Teebore floats of the dispensation of adjectives being a move towards perceived sophistication is an intriguing one, I doubt it in fact. It’s not like the older titles were dumped or renamed.

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    15. That is a point, Blam, but I wish to argue against it on basis of SM having isolated & numbered five-parter, then two-parter, and again five-parter story arcs for starters, while AMAZING went on with business as usual. It makes it hard to see SM as little more than a pumped-up, one character Marvel Comics Presents installment.

      X-MEN and UNCANNY X-MEN on the other hand were very similar books with each other except one of them was generally considered much better. And had more than one same guy named for the writer&artist credits.

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    16. I know you weren't making an assessment of the quality, Blam, but for me, SPIDER-MAN simply never felt like the flagship in any way. Not saying that wasn't the case or that Marvel didn't intend it to be the case, but due to the self-contained stories and high price point, it didn't feel like a real comic to me. I can't quite explain it, but that was simply my take on it at the time.

      (Though again, this could've been due to my dislike for McFarlane, as I'm sure that back then I would've thought: "A Spider-book with no connection to the real ones, where McFarlane can be completely ignored? Count me in! For not buying it, I mean.")

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    17. @Teemu: The best way to blow the air out of your own or anyone's WATCHMEN/DKR pretensions btw is to remind that they're the bitch that borne to the world the Comic Sans font.

      Ha! Good point.

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  7. "The linewide relaunch has arrived!"

    Um...yay?

    "Though this particular assortment of characters is fairly arbitrary, and there's no denying Jim Lee got more of the "cooler" X-Men for his book"

    As per CC (http://secretsbehindthexmen.blogspot.com/2012/05/x-men-and-x-factor-united.html) the splitting of the team line-ups changed throughout the planning process:

    "According to Amazing Heroes #188, early plans consisted of Cyclops, Rogue, Psylocke and Iceman starring in Uncanny X-Men, and Marvel Girl, Storm, Beast, Wolverine and Gambit starring in X-Men vol.2. Professor X would lead both teams with assistance from Forge."

    "“The X-Men team currently, I believe, is Cyclops, Wolverine, Rogue, Psylocke, Beast, and Gambit,” Claremont told Amazing Heroes #192. “The Uncanny team is Storm, Jean Grey, Archangel, Iceman, Colossus, and a sixth character that we’re in the process of designing.”"

    As per CC, the line-up was chosen to shake up certain expections people might have as to who ended up together on the same team, ie, Cyclops and Jean on the same team, Storm and Wolverine on the same team, etc. Funny enough, CC would use the original proposed line-up for Vol. 2 when he returns in 2000, with Wolverine swapped out for Cable.

    "He will be a fairly significant recurring antagonist for the X-Men"

    That's a mighty embiggening use of the word 'significant' there ;)

    "This issue features an ad from Entertaintment This Month"

    Even though it doesn't get brought up much, companies like ETM certainly contributed to the speculator boom and bust, with their hyping of Hot Hot! HOT! products. In some cases they were, in others the items were, to put it delicately, pieces of crap. And sadly, I fell for some of their shilling...And the ad here is rather toned down compared to the ads that will be appearing once Image debuts.

    Well...we're at the "Image" era and...it doesn't hold up well at all. The art is a mess. I can see why some people might look back on it fondly, and it does have a certain energy. But the pacing and storyboarding is just an utter mess, the facial expressions are horrible, and the characters have limited poses. Portacio loves his characters recycling certain poses, like the one Jean and the Sentinel on the cover strike. Truthfully, Thibert's inking, Rosas's coloring, and the improved paper quality go a long way to making the art work much better than it has any right to be.

    Artwork aside, the story is...a mess. Ignoring Lee and Poratcio steam-rolling over CC's characters (whether to prop up their own new ones and/or to show you that anything can happen, the story itself) is kind of wonky. It seems Byrne's scripting is trying to cover up some of the holes we see in Portacio and Lee's plots, but even then, some of it is still very non-sensical (since when does a telepath need to see someone else to read their mind?).

    Yes, this succeeds as something that is different, something that is bold and new, etc. But is it any good? Mileage varies, but if seen without nostalgia goggles, I would say, no, it isn't. Contrary to the stereotype that all early 90s X-men titles weren't good, there is good stuff that is produced, and we will get to it. It just isn't here.

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    1. Um...yay?

      Heh. If nothing else, it's been building up for so long, it's nice to get it over and done with.

      Funny enough, CC would use the original proposed line-up for Vol. 2 when he returns in 2000, with Wolverine swapped out for Cable.

      Huh. I never noticed that. Then again, I do my best to block that run from my memory...

      That's a mighty embiggening use of the word 'significant' there ;)

      I did say that after burning bright for a bit, he quickly becomes little more than a bit player. He gets some play here and looms large over Bishop's origin in #287 and then hangs around circa "Fatal Attractions". Heck, he's the closest thing UNCANNY has to a recurring villain in the Blue/Gold, pre-Image era. But after THAT, he becomes an afterthought.

      Truthfully, Thibert's inking, Rosas's coloring, and the improved paper quality go a long way to making the art work much better than it has any right to be.

      I'd forgotten about the improved paper (probably because I re-read this issue for the post digitally) but you're right, that definitely makes a difference.

      Artwork aside, the story is...a mess.

      Definitely. And really, it's hard not to view UNCANNY as the least of the relaunched titles, unfortunately, at least for awhile.

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  8. Though this particular assortment of characters is fairly arbitrary, and there's no denying Jim Lee got more of the "cooler" X-Men for his book, this is also the era of the franchise that was in place when I first got into comics, and as such, these particular groupings of characters have always carried a certain "rightness" for me.

    I started reading at this time as well, so I agree completely that the Blue/Gold era feels right, even if it's mostly a mess -- especially Uncanny.

    Uncanny is clearly a weaker title after the relaunch, and many fans unfairly blame its cast for this. I won't deny that Adjectiveless got more of the 90s kewl characters, but Adjectiveless's strength in the Blue/Gold era has more to do with its stories than its characters.

    The three-part Magneto story that launched Adjectiveless dug deep into the themes of the franchise. Uncanny's Fitzroy story is just a slugfest -- except, this time, a bunch of classic 80s villains die to make it feel more "extreme." Adjectiveless then jumps into a Wolverine story that builds on the then-recent success of BWS's Weapon X. Uncanny tries desperately to make Bishop cool -- appearing on the covers of five of the book's first 10 post-relaunch covers -- while largely ignoring Storm, one of the most complex and popular characters in the franchise.

    Post-relaunch Uncanny could have been an amazing title, even with the imbalance of kewl.

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  9. I have to first admit that I haven't read this issue in more than a decade. That said, and going mainly off memories, I really liked it when I was younger. I loved Portacio's artwork and mostly still do. Byrne's scripting, while filled with his own tics, is a breath of fresh air following Claremont's long spiral into near non-stop Claremontisms.

    I love the classic-ish costumes and the bright colors, too. X-MEN had had a pretty drab palette for years at this point, thanks to the majority of the team members wearing black and/or secondary colors like purple and tan. Here we have some blue, some red, some yellow, and they look like superheroes again. It all feels new and exciting, but in a retro way. Unfortunately it will be a few more years before the X-books lift the generally depressing air of melancholy which seems to permeate every story, but at least they look like they're having fun.

    I've never understood why anyone felt the Reavers and Pierce needed to return. They were lame and the books weren't exactly hurting to have them back in the rotation; they should've stayed dead. The Hellions, on the other hand, while I didn't mourn them at the time, I've come to appreciate from reading the NEW MUTANTS CLASSIC trades a couple years ago, and I find their slaughter here a waste. And I definitely hate the way Lee and Portacio off the Inner Cirlce in these issues. Yeah, they aren't anything near the level of their prior influence at this point, but killing Shaw, sending Frost into a coma, etc., in order to replace them with pet characters who would never amount to anything is both shortsighted creatively and kind of a dick move.

    As a kid, I already had a trade collecting X-MEN 1 - 10 when I picked up a run of UNCANNY 281 - 288 at our local convention, WonderCon (long, long before it abandoned the Bay Area to move to Southern California), and I found that I liked these issues a lot better than the X-MEN ones, even though I preferred Lee's art to Portacio's. I can't quite explain why; this stuff just feels bright and flashy and fun and exciting -- or at least it did when I was 13 or 14 years old (and again when I re-read it in my twenties). Someday I'll read it all again and see if I still feel that way.

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    1. I've never understood why anyone felt the Reavers and Pierce needed to return.

      Pierce is a different story, but I'm pretty sure the only person who wanted the Reavers back was Claremont - they don't really return until he brings them back in X-TREME X-MEN.

      That said, their deaths in this issue never bothered me. They'd had their big moment in UNCANNY #253-#255, and hadn't really done much prior to this. Besides, they were all, effectively, robots, which means they could be brought back pretty easily, if need be.

      The Hellions' deaths bother me more, just because there's so much more untapped potential there that goes to waste. I get that the new direction of the franchise didn't have a "students in training" book, so the Hellions were useless thematically, but how cool would it have been if more of them survived, then ended up joining Generation X, while a couple of the others became outright villains? Or, with Emma in charge of Xavier's School, someone like Tarot or Roulette could have founded a new school with a new group of Hellions to rival Generation X? There's just so many story ideas there, it's a shame they got squandered here for so little gain.

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    2. One thing you can Liefeld credit for was taking Thunderbird away and adding him to X-force. Much like with Siryn, while Liefeld didn't do much with him, later writers did, so I guess we can at least thank Liefeld for that.

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    3. There will be no Liefeld crediting here. I've been told Claremont was planning for the return of a Thunderbird for bookends thing for his planned Grande Finale around UXM #300 (or maybe #293, not unlike the 100th issue of the All-New had had in #193) so maybe that's where the name of Jimmy Proudstar had surfaced recently for the editorial, and he then got reshuffled to Liefeld for the team muscle which Thunderbird had never been.

      Just Say No to the Rob.

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    4. Austin: Or, with Emma in charge of Xavier's School, someone like Tarot or Roulette could have founded a new school with a new group of Hellions to rival Generation X?

      You're like the judge who presided over the Gaiman/MacFarlane court case over the creative ownership of the Medieval Spawn character and who put all the participants in shame with her plethora of creative offhand suggestions for alternative historic Spawn characters the kind that MacFarlane could have opted to use instead of the allegedly too Gaiman-like medieval one. Just beautiful. :D

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    5. "No, I've heard your suggestions, but my mind is made, and I'm afraid Tarot must fry, twice."

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    6. I've never seen any mention that CC wanted a new Thunderbird in that time during all of the various interviews he did about that era (and there were plenty). It sounds like a fan theory that just circulated into people accepting it as truth.

      Granted, CC did seem to like the name Thunderbird, as we did get a new character named Thunderbird when CC returned to the X-men in 2000.

      Given how much power Liefeld and co. had during this era, I doubt he would have the character put on the team without his consent or approval. He (or Nicieza) needed a strong guy for their team, saw Thunderbird wasn't being used, and added him. Why? Who knows. Of course, he was given a more EXTREME! name like Warpath.

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    7. The fan theory theory is possible, only source I have is Nathan Adler on X-amination of EXCALIBUR #21 saying that Claremont would've said on a Comixfan interview that his run started and was going to end with Thunderbird. The suggestion of #293 for the return seem to have been my very own hype I have myself bought and it's bit awkward now all in all for me. Thunderbird getting to be something else than the classic Thunderbird, in name and all to me mayhap suggests that the initiative for using the character could've come from the editor. The initial (pitch?) art pieces for X-Force that have Warlock, Magma, Magia and Shatterstar(!) at least are missing Thunderbird/Warpath.

      Claremont's opting for his third Thunderbird to be Indian for a change would be oh so ripped apart in today's world. :)

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    8. John Byrne says Claremont was obsessed with the name Thunderbird. He reportedly wanted Kitty Pryde's codename to be Thunderbird even though it would've had nothing to do with her powers.

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    9. Wasn't that initial pitch a pin-up of the New Mutants, though, while Simonson was still on the title? It seems like once she left, Liefeld threw all that out the window, and did his own vision. I mean, at one point, we were also supposed to get Cougar...

      That interview with CC may or may not have happened. It's just odd that there isn't any reference to that online, while you can find just about everything else he said.

      Of course, #293 was about a year or so away, so even if CC had that in mind, there probably isn't any link to Liefeld using James, especially as James joining X-force was planned even further ahead. So anywhere from a year and a half to two years before #293.

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  10. Since Lee is plotting both it's weird that Uncanny seems like a real deck clearing exercise (X-ercise? Sorry.) of previous plots, while vol. 2 really seems like a continuation of Claremont's run. Lee actually spends almost his whole run wrapping up some Claremont dangling plots in adjectiveless. We end Magneto's arc, which in fairness I guess is kind of clearing him off the table, but then we get a follow up to #268 and then he takes the time to wrap up Dazzler and Longshot's plots. Whereas here it seems like "Everybody's dead, move on."

    A lot of the problems you list definitely feel like issues with writing the Marvel way. Wasn't Byrne getting pages to script with only overnight deadlines? I believe that's why he only lasts 6 issues.

    I liked this issue as a kid, although I'm not as big a fan these days. Portacio's art is really hit or miss on a panel to panel basis. I will say as a teenager I really liked his version of the White Queen for, um, a couple of reasons.

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    1. Yeah, I have a quote from Byrne I'll run in an upcoming post about the nature of his role as scripter, and what a pain in the ass it was (which is indeed why he didn't stick around very long).

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  11. I swear, just seeing that cover brings back the feeling of excitement I felt back in 1991. I loved Portacio's art, and this issue was packed with action. I didn't start reading then-current X-books until Uncanny 273, so I didn't have a sense of history. Does it hold up? Doubt it, but my nostalgia goggles override my critical faculties.

    - Mike Loughlin

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  12. The Jim Lee X-Men Series I cards wouldn't come out until spring 92. The cards that are being schilled in that ad are for one of the Comic Images sets that were ubiquitous in the late 80s and early 90s. Also, Portacio has always struck me as a rich mans Liefeld. Even if the characters look "prettier", the storytelling is equally confusing.

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    1. Ah, yeah, I know the sets you're talking about. They always bugged me as a kid since they featured repurposed, and not original, art.

      Spring of 1992 fits more with my recollection of when I'd have been buying the X-Men Series I cards.

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  13. “Welcome to the X-Men relaunch, Hellions… Sorry you didn’t survive the experience!”

    I find the weird clash of Lee and friends’ twin desires kind-of fascinating. At once he/they wanted to return to a status quo with Xavier and the team at the mansion, reviving certain antagonists from the classic era, undoing much of what Claremont had done to propel the whole gestalt of the X-Men forward like it or not, yet also had the urge and green light to kewl everything up with newer characters and the elimination of anything old they didn’t care to keep around.

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    1. If it was the Byrne era they particularly were after here, they didn't have the New Mutants back then and thusly they can go be proactive with Cable all they want. Kind of makes you wonder if someone, anyone, in-house was suggesting that some of the Hellions could graduate as feared MILF villains a bit like Austin is suggesting in his April 7th 3:58 PM comment, but no one of them was cool enough for the Rob, except maybe Beef and Bevatron were showing a little bit of promise.

      It's like they're soft-eradicating the whole post-Byrne timeline here and the X-Force (and Cable) are but X-iles from it. That sort of thing takes lots of energy so they're using the Hellions' and Reavers' life force for it.

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    2. I must say though that Rob Liefeld's Beef and the Bevatron does sound like Luke and the Fist for a generation.

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    3. I too am fascinated by the push-and-pull between the future Image guys wanting to do classic status quo stuff at the same time they're aggressively pushing for bold new directions and blowing up trappings of the past.

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    4. Blam, we don't do "upvote" thing here, but if we did, I'd be presing it like crazy after your opening line.

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  14. Note that Gateway was able to transport Pierce to the person who sent the Sentinels without knowing anything about them. If that's the case, then why didn't the X-Men just ask Gateway to, for example, send them to Leong and Nga's kidnappers? Then again, considering that Pierce teleporting gets the Hellions killed, maybe the X-Men consider teleporting blind to be dangerous to any possible civilian bystanders.

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    1. He was able to send Lady Deathstrike to the 1930's Spain because that's what Wolverine was "seeing" at the time, so maybe it's not totally out of nowhere, but sure makes Gateway quite an overkill.

      Gotta love Pierce overacting his surprise upon seeing the White Queen and shock-realizing only at this point the Sentinels might be coming from Shaw Industries. Already with the Super Skrull bit I was thinking if Byrne was intentionally over-the-topping it with these 90's Swiss cheese holed plot mongers like Nicieza is suggested to have done with Liefeld on the other X-amination's comments.

      I'll be waiting if his comments on his UNCANNY return will reveal anything of any possible antipathy felt towards the new kids getting given everything. Back in his day he had to spend years practicing co-plotting with Claremont before finally getting his own go with the somewhat ailing FF book, and here be guys dancing into the flagship books only after a little bit of forgettable ALPHA FLIGHT and whatnot.

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  15. This whole thing here makes James Proudstar's vaunted mission of revenge to Emma Frost and Hellfire Club that made him join the X-Force in the first place quite redundant. I'll be in lookout for Liefeld addressing it on-panel on his book.

    He said snidely, pondering if the notorious and numerous "Claremont's danglers" are a thing mainly on the strenght of the fact that you could yet actually notice and register a plot point of his going unaddressed/lost, which gets next to impossible now with the kewl drawers(-plotters) taking over and the editorial insinsting things to just be thrown in to see if anything sticks.

    Or maybe it was the mask of the Every-Man, that old Mr. Fantastic villain, that was found at the massacred reservate.

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    1. I'll be in lookout for Liefeld addressing it on-panel on his book.

      Don't look too hard. :)

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    2. Yeah, it doesn't get dealt with until New Warriors 31.

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    3. Ha, January 1993 coverdate. They don't much do this contacting thing in Massachusetts Academy either.

      And I see the main thrust even then is to go and drive that one more nail into Claremont's New Mutants' legacy by undoing Nova Roma. Why don't they go and whack Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander while they're at... oh.

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    4. And I see the main thrust even then is to go and drive that one more nail into Claremont's New Mutants' legacy by undoing Nova Roma.

      Well, Nova Roma is one of Claremont's weaker concepts, so I can understand the desire to tweak it. That said, the undoing is pretty terrible too, which is why it was, eventually, officially un-undone and we went back to the initial, still-weak-but-not-as-bad, status quo. :P

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  16. For some reason, I have vivid memories of this issue but never actually owned it. It's worth noting that this came out around the time the show premiered, and odds are it was on the stands at the iffy newsstand I had to use at the time, so I leafed through it and left thoroughly confused. Try and imagine the disconnect between the relatively clean designs on the show and this, where everyone has weird random lines and are always screaming. I have a lot of issues with this story - icing established characters to build up new ones who ultimately prove to be non-starters, confusing sequences of events, bad dialogue to cover up the art's poor plotting & random mistakes - but they've been better covered by others.

    "I don't know if it was specifically an Entertainment This Month ad, or one of the others like it, but I too first learned about Image through one of those ads."

    Same here. I didn't pick up Wizard until around the 30s-40s (not entirely sure, but I know G. Kendall covered one of the earliest issues I read in his column), so I relied on these for info on new storylines. Was it ETM who let you buy bundles? There was a service who did that, and it was the only way I managed to get all of the Age of Apocalypse books.

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    1. I don't believe the animated series debuted until Fall of 1992 - so a little more than a year after this issue would have been out (it's cover dated 10/91, so on sale in August).

      Which isn't to say it couldn't have still been on shelves, especially given the huge sales of Adjectiveless.

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    2. Given the overall sketchiness of the newsstand I used at the time, it probably did have stuff going back a year or more just because they didn't feel like removing things from the shelves.

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    3. Since Im the "when things came out guy", the animated series debuted with a special showing of the pilot in October of 92. The full show didn't start until January 93, which was an awfully long wait for a 13 year old ready to see his beloved nerd comics get to experiance the light of day of mainstream society on its deserving face. Of course, in the time between uncanny 281 and October 92, quite a bit had changed in the x-world, and I was mostly out at that point.

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  17. Gateway pops up briefly, to essentially teleport Pierce to his death.

    Rats, I didn't register this little tidbit. Now if you have to write Gateway off the book, and I really never was a fan to begin with, that's kind of cool. We never really got down to it what was the deal between the Reavers and Gateway and the exact nature of the geas G supposedly was under, but one has to assume this one time Gateway was quite glad to do exactly as he was told. Pierce would have done well to listen himself all his warnings to Lady Deathstrike in WOLVERINE #35.

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