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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #10

"Where Happy Little Bluebirds Fly..."
July 1992

In a Nutshell
Longshot and the X-Men are captured by Mojo.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Jim Lee, Mark Texiera (2nd story)
Inks: Scott Williams with Wiacek, Altstaetter, & Panosian, Mark Texiera (2nd story)
Letterers: Buhalis & Orzechowski
Colorist: Ariane ,Mike Rockwitz (2nd Story)
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Longshot finds himself stuck in a Wizard of Oz parody, along with Cyclops, Rogue, Beast & Wolverine, as a captive Professor X and Mojo watch. Taunting the remaining captured X-Men, Mojo replays the events of their capture: after Dazzler fled to Earth for the X-Men's help, a double agent transported the team to Mojoworld. Weakened by the transport, they were quickly overpowered, though Dazzler managed to escape, at least until she encountered a brainwashed Longshot working as a guard. Surprised, she was blasted out of the citadel, seemingly to her death. With the replay over, Mojo sends Gambit, Jubilee, Psylocke & Lila Cheney into the Wizard of Oz program to attack their teammates. But outside, an unconscious Dazzler is found by a hooded figure, who declares she is their best chance at finally pulling the plug on Mojo TV.

2nd Story: Surrounded by soldiers of a man named Ryking, Maverick drops a grenade, killing them all before tracking down Ryking. But before he can carry out Barrington's orders to kill Ryking, he's struck from behind by someone Ryking was experimenting on. He tells him that if Maverick wants to kill Ryking, Maverick'll have to go through him. Which suits Maverick just fine.

Firsts and Other Notables
This is the start of Jim Lee's final story on the title, and the issue is split between two stories, with the Lee-penciled Longshot/Mojo main story shortened to twenty pages.

The back-up story, featuring art by future Wolverine penciler Mark Texiera, is touted as being the first solo Maverick story. The art is full bleed (meaning it goes all the way out to the edges of the page, without any kind of gutter or panel border), one of the more irritating trends of the 90s.

In the course of the story, we learn that some part of Maverick's real name is "North". The name Ryking, which will factor into issues #12 and #13, is also mentioned, as is the Xavier File (which Xavier was seen reading in an earlier issue and will factor into #12 & 13 as well).


Maverick encoutners Warhawk, the Colossus-esque villain who attacked the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #110, though he is unnamed in the story.


This issue is pretty terrible in terms of footnotes. Two separate footnotes incorrectly cite the earlier issues of this series which featured development of the Longshot/Dazzler/Mojo story, while another erroneously credits Dazzler's entry into the Siege Perilous as happening in Uncanny #252, rather than #251. Most egregiously (and infamously), a footnote in the back-up story referencing Warhawk's encounter with the X-Men simply says "Hmm" with a bunch of question marks. As a young reader, this drove me NUTS, as I had no idea where to go to even find out who this character was, let alone what his past with the X-Men was. Combine that with the fact that his encounter with the X-Men in Uncanny #110 was skipped in the Classic X-Men reprints (presumably because it doesn't feature Cockrum or Byrne on art) and there was no way to, you know, just Google "weird-ass Colossus-looking guy in that Maverick story", and I spent years wondering who the hell this guy was and wondering what issues I was missing, all because Bob Harras couldn't be arsed to do his job and look it up (or at least make someone else look it up).

Collection Recollection
In the heady days of the early 90s, before the bursting of the comic book and sports card bubbles, my moderately-sized suburban town was able to support three separate comic/card/collectible shops (not counting Shinders, the local newsstand/tobacco/books/cards/comics chain, which also had a store in the town next to mine). Of those three stores, this is the only issue I ever bought from one of them, Coins, Cards & Collectibles, which was the first to go down when the various markets it was targeting turned. Aside from its quicker demise, it's breadth of focus turned me against it; the other shops, with one focused more specifically on comics and the other on baseball cards, catered to my two interests more directly and in greater volume. There was little I could get at Coins, Cards & Collectibles that I couldn't get at the other two shops. Except, apparently, this issue.

A Work in Progress
Longshot proclaims "Za's Vid", Shatterstar's oath of choice.


The events of "Shattershot" from the year's annuals are referenced briefly, as Mojo intends to use the ratings generated by Longshot and the X-Men to put down the pirate network once and for all.


In a legitimately funny bit, Jubilee asks why everyone says her name like it means "shut up".


Wolverine, not incorrectly, complains about dealing with Mojo again, citing "The Crunch Conundrum" in his own series, though he technically wasn't in the Mojoverse in that story.


Dazzler says that her time fighting alongside Mojo has restored her memories lost in the Siege Perilous. an appreciated effort to tie up the Siege Perilous that could have easily been skipped over and just ignored (like the X-Men just no longer being invisible to electronic detection without explanation).


We get another look at Mojo II this issue, though the character still has yet to fully appear in a comic.


Austin's Analysis
The start of Jim Lee's last X-Men story, this is clearly something he's wanted to do for a while, having set it up in subplot pages over the previous handful of issues and even teasing it in the "coming attractions" insert in one of the X-Men #1 variants. And despite the somewhat mind-boggling prevalence of Mojo in this era (including this story, the year's annuals, and "The Crunch Conundrum" over in Wolverine), there is some novelty to this story being one of the few direct encounters between Mojo and the X-Men (usually, they're fighting his agents or getting turned into X-Babies or something). But for as much as Lee apparently wanted to do this story, there's no denying a sense that it's being phoned in.

His looming departure (which I believe was fairly common knowledge amongst fans by the time this issue hit the stands) contributes to that, as does the bevy of inkers on this issue and the Maverick back-up story. The in media res opening doesn't help, either, making it feel like an issue was missed between this one and the last, despite the story later filling in the details of the X-Men's capture by Mojo. That, combined with the shorter main story page count, makes the whole thing feel even more unformed and incomplete. There's no denying Longshot was due for a spotlight story, and kudos to Lee for wrapping up a plot he threaded earlier in his run before leaving the series. It would just be nice if the end result felt a little less tossed-off.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Excalibur finally interacts with some actual X-Men, on page, in Excalibur #52. Friday, a painful goodbye in Wolverine #57. Next week, Morlock fun in Uncanny X-Men #291

Collected Editions

7 comments:

  1. Oh man...Shinders. When they fell, they fell hard. An old bandmate of mine used to work at the downtown Shinders and had many a story about F@ncy R@y perusing the portion of the store that was behind saloon doors. And of course various other downtown Mpls weirdos.

    When this era of X-Men/Image was happening I was giving away a vast amount of my money to Twin City Comics in Columbia Heights. That's where most of my back issues of X-Men came from. If I had only ever bought that weird comic with the Barry Windsor-Smith cover that the guy who owned the store tried to interest me in (as he saw I was a big BWS fan). That comic of course was Miracelman #23.

    And now you know...tttttttthhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeee rrrrrrreeeeeest of the story.

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  2. Longshot and the Mojoverse are all more interesting than Mojo himself.

    Longshot was great as the object between Rogue and Dazzler and as the "pure" man during Inferno.

    Spiral is scary when she shows up, was interesting as part of Freedom Force, and has an interesting origin.

    But both aren't nearly as interesting as they could be because Mojo just doesn't work as a villain.

    CR

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  3. I am so glad you brought up the Warhawk thing. It took years before I knew who that was, literally around the early 2000's. He was such a minor character when he first appeared and not giving us any info made me so mad. Even reading his early appearance didn't make me relate him to the guy shown here.

    I didn't have all the back issues at that point in 1991, I was 11 and picking up as much as I could, maybe back to the 190's at best is as far back as I had gotten so I was furious not knowing who this person was. None of the comic shops I went to in middle TN knew who he was either.

    I would seriously hit Bob for not telling us who this guy was. He looked like a Colossus knockoff. I went through all my Marvel cards. I had the Dark Phoenix TPB, nothing.

    Maverick was so cool at this point. Between Lee's and Texiera's art, it was hard not to think this character was amazing. It was sad that the eventual series they made of him didn't have the same type of art and made him more of a normal character that I could care less about. Oh yeah, and I was no longer around 11 so it didn't appeal as much as he did at this time. They really missed a boat of doing a Sabretooth type of series with him with Texiera on it.

    They were much better about getting Deadpool's limited series out which I loved both of those. By the time the limited series came out, the character wasn't the same and I didn't like how he was drawn or written. I didn't pick up the series and I still like the original version of Deadpool vs what he has become.

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    Replies
    1. Wait, you thought Maverick was cool at that point? (Well, I do see you're younger than me, which may account for it..) I think my impression at the time was that he was a character that the creators WANTED us to think was cool, but I just had no interest in him at all. I liked pretty much anything Jim Lee did, but even then, Maverick just kind of came across as yet another hyper-masculine, grimacing, armed-to-the-teeth dude. Just seeing him mentioned in these overviews makes me roll me eyes.

      As for Warhawk, I'd completely forgotten about the character and having no idea who he was at the time. Coincidentally, I only JUST read his first appearance in the X-Men Omnibus vol. 1. Pretty forgettable.

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    2. I agree with your overall point however the creators telling us Maverick was cool worked because the creators WERE cool. That credibility went a long way with ten year olds. We can point out a the flaws in early nineties stuff now (and there were many) but I do applaud Marvel for tapping into that demographic.

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  4. I really hope this is it with Mojo for a while. Or ever; ever would be fine.

    X-Men #110 was one of the last back issues of my run — #94 to #205, not counting later isolated check-ins — I ended up getting. While I’d bought the (utterly awesome) previous issue off the racks, at 7 years old there was a lot that I missed due to lack of funds, opportunity, and such. Not only did Warhawk not register with me here, but I briefly thought it was a very strange depiction of Mister Sinister until context disabused me of that notion.

    Texeira’s art looks pretty good. I was barely glancing at Ghost Rider and whatever else he rose to fame on in this period, but definitely took notice of Black Panther and the Spider-Man: Legacy of Evil one-shot he did with Kurt Busiek a few years later.

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  5. The Warhawk thing bothered me too. This was one of the first issues of X-MEN I owned; I think it came in one of those comic book variety packs from Toys "R" Us. It was probably a year or so later that I finally had occasion to read UNCANNY 110 and I recall getting overly excited that I had finally tracked the guy down in an early appearance!

    (And in fact for years I thought UXM 110 was his first appearance, until I read the original run of IRON FIST for the first time circa 2002-ish and learned he had actually debuted there.)

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