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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #294

"Overture"
November 1992

In a Nutshell
Xavier is shot by Cable.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Brandon Peterson
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Mike Thomas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As various X-Men gather in Central Park ahead of a Lila Cheney concert at which Professor X intends to deliver a plea for human/mutant tolerance, a pair of terrorists intending to set off a bomb are killed, seemingly by Cable, who calls dibs on killing Xavier. Meanwhile, Scott & Jean are at Harry's Hideaway while Iceman & Colossus grocery shop across the street. Suddenly, Scott & Jean are attacked by Caliban, and as Lila brings Xavier onto the stage, Caliban's fellow Horsemen of Apocalypse, War & Famine, attack Iceman & Colossus. Xavier delivers his speech amidst boos & catcalls from the crowd, and when he finishes, Cable shoots him, declaring himself the man who saved tomorrow. Back at Harry's, the Horsemen are defeated, but manage to teleport away along with a captive Scott & Jean. At Central Park, Archangel tries to capture Cable, but he blasts one of Archangel's wings and bodyslides away. At X-Force's temporary home in New Mexico, Siryn manages to get one of their monitors to show Lila's concert, just in time to see the news of Cable's attack on Xavier.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue marks the beginning of "X-Cutioner's Song", 1992's linewide crossover, which will run through all four of the "main" X-books (Uncanny. X-Factor, X-Men and X-Force) for three months (a total of twelve issues, plus some epilogues). Like "X-Tinction Agenda" before it, this is a formally-constructed crossover, with each chapter numbered and the sequence of books remaining the same from month to month. Though the annual crossover will remain a going concern for some time, this is really the last formally-structured one for awhile; "Fatal Attractions" is much more loose (with each chapter much more able to stand on its own) while "Phalanx Covenant" breaks the assorted titles into smaller sub-stories under a larger narrative, not unlike "Fall of the Mutants".

Brandon Petersen takes over as the new regular penciler of the series with this issue, though he'll only last until issue #299, so I'm not sure if he was intended to be the new artist and just left early, or if he was always scheduled to just do six issues before John Romita Jr.'s return (for what it's worth, at one point, Joe Quesada was announced as the new Uncanny artist; he will instead take over X-Factor, immediately after "X-Cutioner's Song").

Petersen is joined by John Byrne's old inking partner Terry Austin, returning to the series.

This issue (along with all the other chapters of the story) comes packaged in a polybag containing a trading card (one specific to each issue). This issue's card is Professor X. Probably due to the inclusion of that card, the price of the comic goes from $1.25 to $1.50 for the duration of this crossover.


Xavier is shot, seemingly by Cable (but we'll soon find out it's actually Stryfe, and that he infected him with a techno-organic virus in the process) towards the end of this issue, kicking off the storyline. He'll survive, of course, but he is effectively sidelined for the duration of the story.


Similarly, Cyclops and Jean Grey are captured by Apocalypse's Horsemen, and though they'll continue to appear in the story, particularly in the latter half as the narrative pivots to reveal the true motivations behind the events in this issue, they'll remain fairly separate from the rest of the X-characters until the very end.

Caliban, last seen battling Sabretooth in New Mutants #91, appears here, working once more as one of Apocalype's Horsemen (specifically Death). He says he is powered by fear, and is shown at one point struggling not to speak in the third person. He also says that Caliban is the name Callisto gave him, and never during his time with X-Factor (during Louise Simonson's run) did anyone ask what his real name was. This marks the beginning of something of a resurgence for Caliban, as he'll start appearing slightly more regularly after this, before eventually joining X-Force for a time.


Along with Caliban, both War and Famine, the remaining two original members of Apocalypse Horsemen, appear in this issue. Both were last seen in X-Factor #27, in the wake of "Fall of Mutants", and neither will appear much after "X-Cutioner's Song" (War makes one additional appearance in Wolverine a few years later, but that's it).


Harry's Hideaway, the local watering hole frequented by students of Xavier's, last seen in Uncanny X-Men #270 (the beginning of the last linewide crossover, "X-Tinction Agenda"), appears here, the setting of the Horseman's attack and the abduction of Scott & Jean.

Lila Cheney, last seen teleporting the X-Men to and from Mojoworld over in X-Men, makes an appearance, throwing a concert in Central Park at which Xavier gives a speech.

Charlotte Jones, not seen since X-Factor #68, pops up in this issue, as Archangel takes her as his date to Lila Cheney's concert.


Continuing the parade of old X-Factor girlfriends, Trish Tilby appears to report on Xavier's shooting.

X-Factor (or at least, Guido, Madrox and Quicksilver), in New York already due to events in their series, appear briefly in advance of the next chapter of the story.


The book's logo also gets a slight alteration, with "uncanny" slid into a vertical box ahead of "X-Men", to make room for the crossover title across the top.

Collection Recollection
This was the first crossover I got to experience in real-time, as it unfolded month-to-month, instead of via back issues collected in fits and starts. At a time when my fandom was still new and I still believed the marketing when they told me something would be a game-changing big deal, I remember rushing over to a friend's house after swim team practice to breathlessly read this issue, and being completely flabbergasted by Xavier getting shot, by Cable of all people (whom, as a reader of X-Force, I of course assumed was actually Stryfe). I also remember being really excited by the return of characters like Charlotte Jones & Caliban, whom I'd encountered in back issues but had yet to see in any new stories.

As such, while this crossover is fairly maligned these days online, I have a great deal of nostalgic affection for it, and I do believe it has some objectively-good qualities to recommend as well, which I'll try to elucidate as we go along.

That said, "X-Cutioner's Song" is a terrible title.

A Work in Progress
Archangel uses an image inducer to appear as his old white self while on his date with Charlotte.

Rogue is wearing...some kind of outfit in this issue. She and Bishop also reference the "pie incident" from X-Men #8 (when Gambit & Bishop's fight ruined Rogue's pie), the first of several interactions in this issue that show members of the two X-Men squads interacting in the same book, something which hasn't happened much since relaunch, outside of Uncanny #288 and X-Men #8.


Mariko's death in Wolverine #57 is referenced here, it's first acknowledgement in one of the X-Men books.


Similarly, Colossus is shown to still be mourning his brother's recent death (a lampshade is also hung on the idea that Iceman and Colossus don't know one another terribly well, despite being on the same squad).


Gambit & Storm share a scene together, more or less for the first time since the relaunch, despite how close the two were prior to that, something which Lobdell lampshades in their dialogue.


Cyclops reminds Caliban (and readers) that Apocalypse is dead as of X-Factor #68, and indeed, we have yet to see him again following that issue.


Because Colossus doesn't need food while in his armored form, when Famine uses her power on him, it backfires and affects her.


After the Horsemen teleport away with Scott & Jean, Iceman jokes that it feels like the X-Men are the only team without a transporter beam.


When an enraged Archangel shouts Cable's name, the dialogue is lettered to resemble the logo of Cable's limited series.


As Archangel attempts to stop "Cable", Cable shoots his wing, leaving a hole in one of them that will take some time to heal.

Claremontisms
In a bit of phonetic spelling beyond even Claremont's worst excesses, Cannonball says he is "eaguh" to see Lila again as X-Force attempts to pick up the broadcast of her concert.


Human/Mutant Relations
When Lila asks if the time is right for Xavier's plea for tolerance, he tells her there's never a "right time" for such change, something that is, sadly, as true today as it was then.


Xavier proceeds to give a speech preaching the importance of acceptance of mutants, using the old "say racial slurs to get peoples attention" approach at the beginning, thus tossing out a bunch of the made-up slurs for mutants (used by humans) and humans (used by mutants like Magneto's Acolytes).


Young Love
Cyclops briefly fantasizes about Psylocke, and Jean calls him on it. He explains that while yes, Psylocke is very attractive, he remains very much in love with Jean. Unfortunately, that's not the end of the Cyclops/Psylocke flirtation subplot.


Iceman mentions that Opal wants some space after their disastrous date in issues #289-290, and believes it marks the end of their relationship.


Boom-Boom is jealous of Cannonball's excitement about seeing Lila, the first reference to the old Sam/Lila relationship since Lila was believed killed just before "Inferno".

Bob Harras on "X-Cutioner's Song" 
"It's basically a story about revenge, and 'revenge' has repercussions. Tom DeFalco came into my office one day and told me to do a major fall crossover. Actually, readers familiar with any of the X-Books know that, since Cable's debut in the final cataclysmic issues of The New Mutants, the mysteries surrounding him have increased and progressed in such manner as to lead logically into a major storyline involving all the X-Books...The character of Stryfe presented itself as the character Suzanne [Harras' assistant editor] and I felt could be pivotal to this whole storyline, because he is the new kid on the X-Force block. Stryfe's been in the background since the beginning and, although he hasn't done all that much, we know that he is planning something big. So we decided to bring Stryfe out onto center stage as the big menace that would bring together all the X-Teams and place X-Force into closer continuity with the other X-Titles....Through 'X-Cutioner's Song', the readers will get to finally know about these characters [Cable & Stryfe], and the effects of these revelations on those particular X-Men who are connected to Cable and Stryfe."

"X-Men: X-Cutioner's Song." Marvel Age #116 September 1992: p9-10

Austin's Analysis
"X-Cutioner's Song" kicks off here, a crossover unique in that it occurs at a time of massive upheaval for the franchise (three of the four series in this crossover feature artists who hadn't drawn any previous issues of their respective series, and the one "veteran" artist, Greg Capullo, had only drawn one previous issue of X-Force) and thus not only functions as the now-annual blockbuster popcorn crossover story for the line, but also a mission statement for the new, post-Image Exodus, direction of the franchise. As a result, it both looks back, tying up some lingering plots from the now-departed shepherds of the linewide relaunch a year prior (especially as related to Cable and X-Force; this crossover finishes the job already begun by Fabian Nicieza of essentially destroying whatever vision Rob Liefeld had for that series), and looks forward, introducing at least one significant plotline (the Legacy Virus) that will come to dominate the subsequent year or so of stories (and then continue to drag on for years afterwards) while slightly re-altering the relationships between the various series: while not as scattered as the series were pre-"X-Tinction Agenda", most of the titles in this crossover had remained fairly independent from one another in the previous year, something which changes as a result of "X-Cutioner's Song", notably the effective demise of the Blue/Gold division in the two X-Men books.

To that end, this issue does a decent job of looking back while bringing everyone together for the story. Characters from each of the four titles make at least a brief appearance here, while the dialogue is filled with callbacks to pre-relaunch and nearly-forgotten relationships (like Storm & Gambit's) and appearances from pre-relaunch, nearly-forgotten supporting characters (like Charlotte Jones). Which makes this read almost like Lobdell, now fully freed from the desires and dictates of the Image guys, is consciously trying to bring back some of that Claremont magic by highlighting the same pre-relaunch past the Image guys were so eager to leave behind (there's so much jammed into this issue, both in terms of historical references and story setup, that I screencapped something from pretty much every page of this issue). Characterization will, by necessity, take something of a backseat in the course of this story, but "X-Cutioner's Song" will remain a much more intimate and character-driven story than, say, "X-Tinction Agenda", and that starts right here at the beginning.

And, of course, the whole crossover starts with a killer hook: in the midst of a speech about human/mutant relations, Professor X is seemingly assassinated by Cable. Anyone reading X-Force knows this probably isn't Cable (though the story shrewdly holds off on confirming that immediately), but the characters in the story don't (and most don't even know that Cable & Stryfe look the same). So not only is it an entertaining (and, yes, exceedingly marketable) hook for the story, it also brings to the surface the lingering tensions between the X-Men and X-Force, who exist beyond even the X-Men's rudimentary relationship with official authorities, and are viewed by some of the X-Men as a corruption of the New Mutants specifically and Xavier's dream in general. That in-universe tension, and, really, the tension between the franchise's immediate and pre-relaunch pasts, will drive the first act of this story, before the real villain is fully revealed and the whole thing takes a more personal (and less engaging) turn. Those tensions are really what makes this crossover feel at least a little like the logical culmination of the previous year's worth of stories, even though the whole thing was constructed on the fly, in some cases by creators who had barely worked on the series, and those tensions help make it an engaging read even when other elements falter. For now though, this is simply an engaging beginning, a chance to look back just as that big hook kicks off the storyline.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, things get worse for Xavier as X-Factor battles X-Force in X-Factor #84. Friday, Wolverine continues his deep dive into his past in Wolverine #63. And next week, the X-Men join the hunt for X-Force in X-Men #14.

Collected Editions

 


31 comments:

  1. Ahh, UNCANNY #294 -- we meet again, at last.

    This was the very first issue of an X-title I ever bought. I know I've noted a few times before that I had a friend who was heavy into the X-Men, so I had seen some of his Outback era issues (notably "Inferno") and some of his CLASSIC X-MEN stuff (notably the Claremont/Byrne Arcade story and UNCANNY #150). As a result I had some passing familiarity with the X-Men of two different timeframes, but I had remained primarily a Spider-Man guy up to the point when I read an Entertainment This Month ad in some comic or another hyping the heck out of "X-Cutioner's Song". I figured this would be a good jumping-on point, and if I didn't like what I saw, I could jump right back off when the crossover was finished.

    Well, I did wind up jumping off two of the four series entirely. I never picked up X-FORCE or X-FACTOR again as a regular reader, only grabbing them for their portions of subsequent crossovers or other major "event" issues. I stuck with UNCANNY until Brandon Peterson left, but John Romita, Jr.'s blockiness turned me off of reading it beyond that (again, save for special events such as "Fatal Attractions"). I finally began reading it regularly circa "Phalanx Covenant" thanks to Joe Madureira. But X-MEN, I stuck with for the long haul -- though I inexplicably skipped issues 17 - 19 before becoming a regular reader with issue 20, beginning a streak that only snapped when Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely came aboard, turning the X-Men into something I had no interest in following.

    Anyway -- as a first issue, I loved this one. It was so steeped in the past, with all the things you referenced above -- Charlotte, Lila, the references to Apocalypse, the mystery of Cable, and even the "pie incident" -- there would be so much for me to learn about going forward! Honestly, I was more excited over the continuity than the actual story, though the plot did intrigue me as well.

    So yeah, this issue is very important to me -- it's the one that made me a fan of the X-Men!


    "Similarly, Cyclops and Jean Grey are captured by Apocalypse's Horsemen, and though they'll continue to appear in the story, particularly in the latter half as the narrative pivots to reveal the true motivations behind the events in this issue, they'll remain fairly separate from the rest of the X-characters until the very end."

    Reminds me of the various G.I. JOE TV miniseries, where Duke would always get captured and have a parallel story running alongside the main plot.

    "...while this crossover is fairly maligned these days online..."

    I've never quite understood why. As X-crossovers go, I tend to think of "X-Cutioner's Song" as one of the stronger ones. Even in retrospect, looking back at it as objectively as I can, I think it's stronger than most of the ones that came after it and a few that preceded it as well. It has a mission and it accomplishes that mission very well. I suspect those who don't like it aren't on board with its very concept. It's a surprisingly tightly plotted, well organized crossover event chock full of dramatic moments and overwrought melodrama -- exactly what one expects from the X-Men. It helps that half of it is written by Fabian Nicieza, with another quarter by the other core X-writer, Scott Lobdell. I think Peter David is the only one who was disgruntled by the whole thing (and understandably so, but even his issues are good -- he may not have liked his book being co-opted by Wolverine, Bishop, and Cable, but he wrote them well nonetheless).

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    1. Honestly, I was more excited over the continuity than the actual story, though the plot did intrigue me as well.

      It's always the darn continuity that hits you into face like a shovel with your first UNCANNY. :)

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    2. "I've never quite understood why. As X-crossovers go, I tend to think of "X-Cutioner's Song" as one of the stronger ones. Even in retrospect, looking back at it as objectively as I can, I think it's stronger than most of the ones that came after it and a few that preceded it as well. It has a mission and it accomplishes that mission very well. I suspect those who don't like it aren't on board with its very concept."

      Well, I can answer that. :)

      A year of build-up of teasing the identity reveal for Cable and Stryfe, and then this crossover gives us issue after issue of Stryfe teasing his identity to Scott and Jean ... and in the end? No payoff. No revelations, no explanations, nothing. There's not even a suitably satisfying conclusion to Cable vs. Stryfe. They both disappear? Seriously? So I would respectfully disagree with your "it accomplishes its mission" assessment. :) (This was happening in parallel to the increasingly manipulative material in Wolverine, stretching out and teasing revelations every month only to pull the rug out with "memory implant" garbage.)

      Mr. Sinister kidnaps Scott Summers in part 2 or whatever issue it is, then trades him away to Stryfe in exchange for ... revealed in part 9 ..."Summers genetic material." WHAT?

      I also remember being annoyed at the fake-drama/dorky-psuedo-science when Apocalypse cures Xavier. The whole fake out ("He's making the virus stronger!") with Archangel not letting the other X-Men interfere, is so transparent and forced, and the whole explanation ("he made the virus powerful so it would burn itself out!") is some of the lamest psuedoscience ever. Why didn't it consume Xavier while it was burning itself out?

      That said, my disappointment all happened at the end, in the final third or so. I remember liking this opening chapter a lot, and pretty much everything in the first six chapters had me fairly engaged.

      Only later did it start to wear me down, with the last issue being the one to finally give up.

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    3. finally *make me* give up, that final sentence should say.

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    4. @Matt: Even in retrospect, looking back at it as objectively as I can, I think it's stronger than most of the ones that came after it and a few that preceded it as well.

      Yeah, me too. I mean "X-Tinction Agenda" is fun, and reading it as the culmination of the "Dissolution Era", it's nice to see the band back together. But roughly 2/3 of its issues are not...very good, in one way or another.

      I always have a hard time ranking "Onslaught", and I'd put AoA ahead of this, but I'll take this over "Zero Tolerance" any day, and pretty much all of "Phalanx Covenant" outside of the UNCANNY/X-MEN portion of the story. There's parts of "Fatal Attractions" I really like, others I don't, but that's not really a crossover in the true sense anyway.

      Reminds me of the various G.I. JOE TV miniseries, where Duke would always get captured and have a parallel story running alongside the main plot.

      Ha! Now that you mention it, I see it too. Which is funny just because I've always had an affection for both, as the respective leaders of their organization who get a bad rap for being overly bland and authoritarian. :)

      @Jason: So I would respectfully disagree with your "it accomplishes its mission" assessment. :)

      I don't want to step on the toes of my upcoming reviews too much, but I'll just say that while that may have been its main mission (which it did indeed fail to accomplish, spectacularly), it's not its only mission, and it accomplished the others better.

      I do think if you separate the story from its marketing, it works much better. In a vacuum, without that year build-up and promises of payoffs that never come, this still (mostly) holds together. I think anyone reading it today for the first time, without Marvel crowing in their ear all the time that it's going to ANSWER EVERYTHING and knowing that anything it was going to answer, has by now been answered elsewhere, would be able to enjoy it. They may not love it, but I think that specific criticism of it not fulfilling its promise (which it absolutely doesn't) is tied to a very specific time, and if you read it outside of that time (or, like me, were just a dumb kid who swallowed whatever marketing told you and then just assumed not answering anything was part of the plan all along) its sins are less egregious.

      Mr. Sinister kidnaps Scott Summers in part 2 or whatever issue it is, then trades him away to Stryfe in exchange for ... revealed in part 9 ..."Summers genetic material." WHAT?

      That is without a doubt the biggest plot hole in this thing, and a bigger problem for me than the whole "not answering who Cable & Stryfe are" thing. I guess the idea is that Sinister wants future Summers DNA, or a wider sample of it (I think he says something at some point about it being, like, DNA from all the Summers or something). Basically, if he wanted Summers DNA all along so he could make Cable, well, he's done that, and now he wants to examine the fruits of his labor? So having Cyclops around is irrelevant; he's gotten what he needs from that. Now he wants the next gen stuff.

      But if any of that is the case, the story definitely needed to make it more clear, in-story.

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    5. I actually think the crossover works because of all the character interactions. The X-Men finally confronting X-Force really is momentous and I like how Nicieza makes it kind of sad as well. Also, I still think the Wolverine, Cable and Bishop missions are a lot of fun even if it's in a 90s overload way. As a kid, the Stryfe non-reveal didn't bother me so badly, since it's basically stated outright, although it's kind of lame that the hints were for the reverse of the whole real/clone thing.

      The Summers DNA thing is really dumb though. Although as of Inferno it seems like Sinister should already have Grey and Summers DNA and he still couldn't make a baby Cable himself so who knows. This was my first exposure to Sinister and I loved his design enough to overlook that stuff. I also love how David has him break the 4th wall next issue.

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    6. @Jeff: I know reversing the Cable/Stryfe identity thing was a last minute change, but I don't know when, exactly, that decision was made. Because you're right: this story is definitely written to make you think Stryfe is the original. I just have no idea if that's an intentional feint, or an accidental one that came about because the decision was made to reverse them after all (or most) of this was written.

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    7. " Basically, if he wanted Summers DNA all along so he could make Cable, well, he's done that, and now he wants to examine the fruits of his labor? So having Cyclops around is irrelevant; he's gotten what he needs from that. Now he wants the next gen stuff. "

      That's a good idea, but yeah, it's not in there. And it speaks to the fact that the creators didn't think this through very well. Maybe later stories exploited the connections more, but you're right ... Sinister's whole deal is that he engineered the birth of Cyclops' son, and in this story he's palling around with Stryfe, who IS the guy he engineered (or that was the intent at this point). Lots of potential for dramatic irony there, none of which is actually present.

      I should say as well, in reference to Matt's point about "X-Cutioner" being better than crossovers that came after ... I certainly would never argue with you on that, Matt. (Granted, it's because I have not read any of the crossovers post-Cutioner ... but still, I believe you.)

      As for crossovers that preceded it ... "Inferno" is sprawling but it does resolve a lot of mysteries and end a lot of long-standing plot threads in a very climactic way. X-Tinction is a solid payoff to the "X-Men disbanded" arc. "Fall" ... does Fall even count? :)

      "Massacre" is definitely not as tight as X-Cutioner's, but it has a lot of dramatic impact. What else is there? "Days of Future Present"? Well ... that one at least is short. :) Also I like that one because they let Claremont be the one to land the plane. (Most of the other crossovers from those days, it was Claremont who wrote the opening and then Louise wrote the ending.)

      Anyway, none of the above is meant to be argumentative ... Really it just got me thinking about how I (and y'all) would rank the X-crossovers that have been covered thus far ...

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    8. Age of Apocalypse is the best Post-Claremont material until Morrison gets on the books. I think if we're comparing X-Cutioner's to Claremont era crossovers, it has better art than 2/3 of X-Tinction Agenda, which I feel like should count for something. X-Cutioner's also feels a little more personal to the characters whereas X-Tinction felt more like "Let's just get the band back together." But as always, YMMV.

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    9. Oh and this is loads better than the Muir Island Saga.

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    10. Sinister's whole deal is that he engineered the birth of Cyclops' son, and in this story he's palling around with Stryfe, who IS the guy he engineered (or that was the intent at this point).

      I don't know at which point the Summers/Grey child as a weapon against Apocalypse thing came to the forefront, but Stryfe sure is angsting against Poc at this point already. X-FACTOR #68 is enough for legit grievance though. Maybe the Sinister/Poc retcon came to answer this issue: Stryfe is kind of fulfilling his (retcon-)intended role.

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    11. @Teemu: I'm fairly sure the "Summers Child as Sinister's weapon against Apcaolypse" idea came about via "Age of Apocalypse", when that Sinister explicitly created Nate Grey as a weapon against Apocalypse. And then later that all got codified in THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF CYCLOPS & PHOENIX, when it was shown how the "main" Sinister was connected to Apoclaypse.

      Around the same time (and possibly a little bit before) the idea of Cable having a destiny tied to Apocalypse (ie the two are meant to fight one another in some big final battle) was being floated around, and that then tied back in with Sinister's motivations for creating Cable.

      Of course, Stryfe's grudge against Apocalypse is tied directly to X-FACTOR #68; clone or not, he's got a grudge against the guy who infected him as a kid and got him tossed into the future, away from his family.

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    12. Jason, I'm reading your words, but all I'm seeing is your latest plot to conquer Eternia.

      Kidding. I'm wondering if I'm more forgiving of "Song" because I never read X-FORCE (or, for that matter as noted above, any of the X-books up to this point), so I was coming in with no preconceptions or expectations. And from that point of view, by the story's end, I had gleaned from Stryfe's oblique rambling that he was Cyclops' son and that Cable was his clone. The Sinister stuff as well didn't bug me that much since all I knew of him thus far was what I'd read in my friend's "Inferno" issues. Again, based on Stryfe's monologues, I was able to glean that he had provided Sinister with his own DNA. The fact that Sinister wanted it even though he already had Cyclops just said to me that Stryfe had some different strain or something.

      At least, that's the best I can come up with based on twenty-plus year-old memories of reading the thing for the first time. I probably did fill in some blanks in my head later on as I learned more. Notably, as Teebore suggests (is it still acceptable to call you that, by the way?), I eventually figured that Sinister had long had access to Cyclops' DNA from the orphanage days, so he must want the Stryfe/Cable stuff to see how little Nathan had turned out. You're right, though, that nothing in the story supports that theory.

      I have to admit that I liked the bit with Apocalypse curing Xavier while Archangel stood by, which is odd because it's an example of one my most-hated tropes in TV writing -- one character could easily defuse a situation by speaking up but chooses not to for drama's sake. The part with the virus not consuming Xavier never bugged me that much. It's not like techno-viruses exist in real life, after all.

      I do feel there are some missed opportunities throughout "Song", but I maintain that it's superior to most of the other nineties X-events (though like Teebore I appreciate bits and pieces of the later ones and I love many of them for nostalgia's sake even if they're not great stories). I generally think "Song" is also better than "X-Tinction Agenda" and "Fall of the Mutants", and about equal to "Inferno" and "Mutant Massacre" in terms of quality and execution.

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    13. Teebore -- "Ha! Now that you mention it, I see it too. Which is funny just because I've always had an affection for both, as the respective leaders of their organization who get a bad rap for being overly bland and authoritarian. :)"

      I'm the same way. I have pretty boring tastes, I guess. My favorite X-Man is Cyclops, my favorite Avenger is Captain America, my favorite Joe is Duke, my favorite Autobot is Optimus Prime, etc. I tend to favor upstanding squares (though my favorite JLAer and DC character in general is Batman).

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  2. That art hurts me eyes.
    Also, Peter saying "my grief--my shame" is surely a Claremontism!
    -Pushpaw

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    1. Oh, good catch on the Claremontism!

      I don't dislike Petersen's art here, but it's definitely my least favorite of the four artists who work on this story.

      I think this is fairly early in his career (it's certainly the first time he's popped up on an X-book); his later work gets much sharper.

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  3. Here in Brasil, the twelve issues of "X-Cutioner's Song" were published in a single issue, called X-Men Gigante #1, in a attempt to rush the four years gap between X-continuity in USA and here.

    Now, I discover that X-Factor's scene was omitted. Such a shame, because - as you pointed out - this issue was able to present characters of all X-teams involved in the crossover.

    As I commented in another post, it was very odd to me see Archangel just happy with Charlotte Jones after Jean Grey's revelations about his wings last Uncanny issue. Was he in denial?

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    1. Judging by the apparent shock Charlotte gets when realizing Warren was using an image-inducer to appear as his old rich playboy self, I would say he to an extent may be in denial. Though his jocularity in face of Charlotte's initial notion that he's white may as well suggest that he's just opting to take a vacation from the brooding blue. He goes full Archangel again the second after the shooting, and stuff gets addressed later on, so could be either way.

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    2. I've always taken it that Jean's revelation made him happy, in that, he knows he's entirely free of Apocalypse's control.

      Though as Teemu points out, there's plenty of Archangel angst ahead, so this could just be him trying to have a nice night out and ignore his problems for a bit.

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    3. And now I'm thinking that Archangel is a jerk, because he dumps Charlotte Jones off-scene and starts a relationship with Psylocke.

      About Rogue's outfit: unintentionally, is it ressonating her various outfits during the confront against Shadow King?

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  4. Cyclops reminds Caliban (and readers) that Apocalypse is dead as of X-Factor #68, and indeed, we have yet to see him again following that issue.

    "I killed him myself." All the boss villains seem to go that way. Apocalypse, and Mister Sinister before him. Mr. S. we obviously have already seen return at this point.

    This was the first crossover I got to experience in real-time, as it unfolded month-to-month, instead of via back issues collected in fits and starts.

    Somewhat funnily this applies to me too: either they didn't publish the non-UNCANNY bits of the previous ones, in time or at all, and the single time they did, with Inferno, I failed myself to get all the books as the event unfolded.

    I can't mind the name, because the translation couldn't do the X-tatic pun and "Executioner's Song" worked okay with the musically themed titles to individual parts. The issue with the Thor villain of the same name wasn't really an issue because you can't fail by invoking the Gjallerbru awesomeness that had been freshly enough published for us.

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    1. Yeah, I'm just not sure how the music theme ties into the story. Like, if they came up with the title, then named the chapters accordingly, great, but why the music-themed title in the first place?

      Or if they looked at the chapter titles, then gave it a suitable title, fine, but why title the chapters like that then?

      I mean, it's not like Dazzler is the focus of this story. Is Stryfe a singer? Does he fancy himself a musician? Is it just because the first chapter has him shooting Xavier ("executioner") at a concert (song)?

      I mean, "X-Tinction Agenda" is pretty vague as a title, but at the end of the day, it's clear it's titled that because the story is about Hodge, who wants to destroy all mutants aka has an "extinction agenda" towards mutants, attacking the X-Men.

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    2. I... always just took it like they had no shame in intentionally making it a big mutant opera and owning it up with a wink with the "Overture" and "Crescendo" and whatsthere. :D

      I could hardly complain after previously sucking up the Dantesque "Inferno"... the beauty of which title I only now realize, with Belasco, Illyana's sorcerous teacher having had an existing Dante backstory.

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  5. "He also says that Caliban is the name Callisto gave him, and never during his time with X-Factor (during Louise Simonson's run) did anyone ask what his real name" Which contradicts X-Men 148, when he explains that his father named him for a monster.
    Note that Lobdell states that Warren only lost "most" of his fortune. This might have been the result of questions about a Marvel Fanfare story where Archangel offers to make sure that a boy's cancer treatment is paid for.

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    1. Good catch on Caliban; I'd forgotten that detail.

      This might have been the result of questions about a Marvel Fanfare story where Archangel offers to make sure that a boy's cancer treatment is paid for.

      Or possibly Lobdell wanting to leave that door open, since having a rich guy on your team makes things easier for writers sometimes. Certainly, Warren will be back to being a full-fledged rich guy before too long.

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  6. If Bishop is supposed to be wearing camo pants in the concert, then that's the biggest singular artistic failure of the X-Men of the 90's. Yes, including Liefeld.

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  7. >> "Brandon Petersen takes over as the new regular penciler of the series with this issue, though he'll only last until issue #299, so I'm not sure if he was intended to be the new artist and just left early, or if he was always scheduled to just do six issues before John Romita Jr.'s return"

    It's my understanding that Brandon Peterson's run was, always, meant to be an interim one. I remember buying an issue of PREVIEWS (probably, from a couple months prior to the crossover) that had a promo article hyping all the new artists taking over the X-books in the wake of the Image Exodus. The article, specifically, mentioned that John Romita Jr. was lined up as the next, regular, artist in UNCANNY X-MEN following a CABLE mini-series (both true). Brandon Peterson was announced as only doing a brief run on UNCANNY before moving over to WOLVERINE. Obviously, Peterson never did WOLVERINE. I think, around that time, he might've been swiped up by Marc Silvestri's Image studio to draw a CYBERFORCE spin-off, if memory serves. The article, also, announced (to me, at least) new X-MEN artist Andy Kubert, new X-FORCE artist Greg Capullo, and new X-FACTOR artist Joe Quesada.

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  8. Do we have an explanation for why Excalibur was (again) ignored by a X-crossover?

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  9. // Brandon Petersen takes over as the new regular penciler of the series with this issue //

    I’m surprised he even did six in a row, whether he was supposed to be the official regular penciler or not — and Cerebro above suggests "not" — purely based on my recollection of an odd running joke in Wizard in the early-to-mid ’90s about Petersen never actually getting a regular gig.

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  10. I utterly loathe the title and it has nothing to do with any poetic or operatic pretensions. “X-Cutioner” just makes no sense. “X-Terminators” was a contextually stupid name but, that aside, it technically works as a pun: “terminators” is a word in and of itself; “X” is the acknowledged in-universe prefix for mutant stuff; “exterminators” is also a word. “X-Tinction Agenda” still bugs me from a grammatical and typographical perspective — I’d much, much, much rather see it written as “Extinction Agenda” with the X simply highlighted in the logo’s graphic design — and the same goes for, say, “X-Ternal”, but at least “extinction” and “external” are still words. “X-Cutioner” obviously plays off of “executioner” but it has an entire syllable missing.

    // Terry Austin, returning to the series //

    And really laying on that era’s Image aesthetic with all the slashy lines. Whether they were there in the pencils or added by Austin (either on his own initiative or via editorial request for that style), I would not have pegged this as his work absent printed credits.

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