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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #302

"Province"
July 1993

In a Nutshell
The X-Men battle Fitzroy in Dallas.

Writes: Lobdell
Pencils: Romita Jr.
Inks: Green & Panosian
Vacations & Lettering: Eliopoulos & Babcock
Colors: Buccellato
Edits: Bob Harras
Chiefs: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As Storm struggles to contain the debris from the Aerie explosion, Bishop searches the rubble for any sign of Forge, Mystique or Fitzroy. Meanwhile, Xavier worries about Illyana's worsening health. In Dallas, Storm is attacked by a mob, but a local police officer comes to her defense. In the remains of the Aerie, Forge emerges from a protective shield along with an unconscious Mystique, while on the ground, the mob reasons they can probably overpower both Storm and the cop, just as Iceman arrives and helps contain the situation. Above. Fitzroy attacks Bishop & Forge, but his armor is destroyed by Jean, while Colossus leaps into the fray, pummeling him in rage to the point that Colossus has to be pulled off the unconscious villain by his teammates. Back at the mansion, a studying Jubilee is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Kitty Pryde, who came as soon as she heard about Illyana.

Firsts and Other Notables
Illyana's condition continues to deteriorate, with Xavier at a loss as to how to stop the further degradation of her genetic code. He also dances around calling the cause of her illness the Legacy Virus (though that's what it is).


Having heard of her illness off-panel, Kitty Pryde shows up at the end of the issue, the first time she's appeared in this series since issue #227 (when she watched the X-Men die in Dallas). This kicks off a string of guest appearances for her across a half dozen issues or so of this and Adjectiveless for the course of "Fatal Attractions".


Fitzroy is defeated and, presumably, captured this issue; he will next appear in the "Child's Play" crossover between X-Force and New Warriors, which wraps up the Upstarts plotline.

Bishop mentions that, as Genesis, Forge founds the XSE in the future. He also mentions the Summers Rebellion for the first time, an event from his timeline which will occasionally get name-checked through years before being depicted by Peter David in his return to X-Factor, a story which will also develop an actual character for Fitzroy beyond "sneering psychopath",


The Chronology Corner
Kitty appears here, and in her subsequent non-Excalibur appearances around this time, between issues #70 and #71 of that series.

A Work in Progress
Bishop peppers his dialogue with future slang inspired by X-Men sound effects in this issue, first using "snikt" as a synonym for "burn out", then "bamf" in place of moving from one place to another.


He also says "by the single eye!" in the same way we might say "by Lucifer's beard!".

Iceman continues to stretch his powers, appearing here in a massive, spiky form that I've always considered the specific inspiration for his second action figure.


Colossus vents his building frustration by savagely pummeling Fitzroy.


This leads to a well-written discussion of morality, in which Bishop says that in executing the criminals Fitzroy brought back in time earlier in the series, he was acting in accordance with the laws and morals of his own time, but said actions aren't as appropriate in the present time.


Jubilee says that she's the worst student to come through Xavier's other than Warlock.


Kitty mentions that she met Jubilee in England, an un-footnoted reference to Excalibur #57-58.

Claremontisms
Jubilee, complaining about Illyana's constant coughing, refers to her by the very Claremontian "'Lanna".

Human/Mutant Relations
Storm, in the midst of trying to prevent debris from Fitzroy's explosion from raining down on civilians, is accosted by an anti-mutant civilian.


Later, a local police office comes to her defense. in a Claremontian moment of injecting a one-off minor character with a fair amount of gravitas, shades of Sabrina Morrell.


For Sale
There's ad for the fourth series of Marvel Universe cards in this issue.


Austin's Analysis
Aside from when I first read it off the stands, this issue has always felt overshadowed by the issue which follows it. In part, that's probably because, knowing what's coming, there's a sense of foreboding permeating this issue, from Xavier's disheveled inability to treat Illyana (his stubble the international sign for "haggard and running out of options") to Jubilee's casual irritation towards Illyana's constant coughing (and concern for waking her up), suggesting just how sick she's gotten, to Kitty's arrival to be with her best friend. In part, it's also because the bulk of this issue is a fairly basic action story in which the X-Men rather quickly dispatch Fitzroy, still, to use the modern parlance, a "nothingburger" of a character Fitzroy. As a result, it's Colossus' increasingly unhinged attack on Fitzroy that really stands out, as he releases his growing rage and frustration on the villain. And thus, even there, hindsight once again reminds, that for Colossus, the worst is still yet to come.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, "Fatal Attractions" in X-Factor #92. Friday, Wolverine vs Sauron in Wolverine #71. Next week, X-Men #22.

Collected Editions

  

16 comments:

  1. "Fitzroy is defeated and, presumably, captured this issue; he will next appear in the "Child's Play" crossover between X-Force and New Warriors, which wraps up the Upstarts plotline."

    And what a great plotline it has been so far. Honestly though, I do think the idea of the Upstarts was a good one, it just had a really lousy execution.

    "Bishop peppers his dialogue with future slang inspired by X-Men sound effects in this issue, first using "snikt" as a synonym for "burn out", then "bamf" in place of moving from one place to another."

    I realize some people like this, but I was always annoyed by it.

    "Iceman continues to stretch his powers, appearing here in a massive, spiky form that I've always considered the specific inspiration for his second action figure."

    Other than breaking up with Opal, this is pretty much Bobby's main character and plot arc for the next few years. And it isn't even consistent, since he spends the next year or so actually trying to stretch his powers, then after AOA, he's back to whining about not living up to his potential again...

    "This leads to a well-written discussion of morality, in which Bishop says that in executing the criminals Fitzroy brought back in time earlier in the series, he was acting in accordance with the laws and morals of his own time, but said actions aren't as appropriate in the present time."

    It is one of Lobdell's better written scenes so far. A little reminiscent of Rachel going after Selene. Good thing Colossus calmed down here and wasn't throwing around any ultimatums, or Bishop might have had to snikt him...

    "Later, a local police office comes to her defense. in a Claremontian moment of injecting a one-off minor character with a fair amount of gravitas, shades of Sabrina Morrell."

    With a Claremontian accent, too!




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  2. Now that you mention it, it kind of feels like a semi-conscious rolling-back to more Claremontian UNCANNY after the excesses of the re-Image-nation era.

    +1 on annoyance on the onomatopoetic verbiage of the future. Though, if we were to travel back in time to the early 90's and would refer to our communication in the future as "tweets", the subsequent hits on our noses would so be deserved.

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  3. Note that Mystique mumbles about "Gray" while she's injured- this is a clue that she's Graydon Creed's mother.

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  4. I'm with you guys on Bishop's epithets. I'm glad that was done away with. They just sound dopey to me.

    I wasn't reading UNCANNY regularly when this one came out, so I never saw Kitty's "we met in England" line. As I also didn't read EXCALIBUR, I just assumed Illyana's funeral was the first time Kitty had seen most of the X-Men in a really long time! (Similar to how I believed issue 300 was Nightcrawler's first reunion with the group since "Mutant Massacre".)

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  5. It's ironic that this is the era of the X-Men I first discovered when I was 6 or 7, and I loved it a lot. But reading these reviews now after discovering Claremont's run and all those great classic stories, I can't help but feel something is missing from this era, and I'm not finding that joy in them I once had.

    You know how Claremont said that when Magneto "died" in X-Men #3 that this was *HIS* Magneto dying, and that any other version after that wasn't the *TRUE* Magneto? I feel the same way about Claremont and the X-Men as a whole - Without him writing it, things just don't feel right. Claremont knew these characters inside and out, and I feel that anyone else writing them is just doing a karaoke version of them. I think Claremont would've done a much better job exploring how the original 5 members interacted with the newer members. And the whole shitting on Colossus thing just doesn't sit right with me, it feels so out of left field.

    I'm thinking of checking out X-Men Forever and seeing how Claremont's plans could've turned out. Who knows, it may make me like Lobdell and Nicieza's runs better.

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    1. I can't agree with you regarding how Claremont would handle the original X-Men's interaction to the new ones. We saw it during Inferno and it was awkward. (Arch) Angel had worked with them, was saved by them once, and they treated him as a stranger. Claremont never cared about Iceman.

      Knowing Claremont as I do, he'd turn Jean Grey into a main character and make everything revolve around her. He's also take time to show his contempt for Cyclops as well.

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    2. I thought Claremont write Cyclops well. Not sure where his contempt for the character comment comes from.

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  6. Yeah, if you actually believe that X-Men: Forever had anything to do with where Claremont would have taken the book, then you might end up appreciating Lobdell and Nicieza far more!

    In actuality, X-Men: Forever has nothing to do with the stated premise, of showing what Claremont would have done with the books had he stayed.
    Instead, Claremont seems to want to convince people that had he remained on X-Men, he would have written all the important moments in latter-day Marvel history (up to time of X-Men: Forever's publication) first.

    The series isn't an awful read, and is better than a great deal of Claremont's post-1991 comic work. Just don't expect that it's going to live up the billing, of being anything remotely like what X-Men would have been with Claremont writing.

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    1. I do wonder if Claremont went in a different direction on Forever because he'd already spoken at length about his post-1991 X-Men plans in interviews. Maybe he no longer had any interest revisiting those ideas or just wanted to throw people a curve ball. The first few issues start out promising enough, then Tony Stark shows up, and... yeah.

      Really, I don't know how you enforce a premise like that in the first place. A current day editor wouldn't be expected to came down hard on Chris Claremont for his writing something that he would NOT have been allowed to get away with on the main books 20 years ago, but is totally irrelevant in the "what if?" vacuum of the Forever-verse. It's largely dependent on him editing himself, which he's probably not gonna do. Still, I suppose there is a middle ground, since it didn't feel like the book was even remotely adhering to the spirit of the concept by the end of that first volume.

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    2. Wow, I just looked up the plot of X-Men Forever on Wikipedia, and it's definitely not what I imagined it'd be. It says that Claremont pretty much changed the premise to it being an alternate reality as opposed to being a continuation of his X-Men run.

      I've also read Claremont's return to the core books over the years, and while I enjoyed them, I think they felt really disconnected from the rest of the series. Claremont's original run worked really well because he had years and years of continuity building up to create interesting subplots that could simmer for months or even years. But when he shows up after a major run like Grant Morrison's, it's not the same because too many different hands have been playing in his sandbox.

      But yeah, going back to my original post, I'm curious to see if I'd have liked the X-Men around this period better if they were still written by Claremont, and to see whether or not the quality would still be there or if he'd get burned out.

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  7. I think Claremont admitted he ended up writing something completely different for X-men: Forever, since he had already pretty much revealed what his original plans were anyway in various interviews (Wolverine being killed and coming back as an assassin of the Hand, the final battle with the Shadow King, Xavier dying and Magneto replacing him, etc). Rather than just doing what we all expected him to, he took a chance and decided to do something different.

    Granted, his original plans would have either not included the first 3 issues of Vol. 2, unless he planned or resurrecting Magneto himself in time for the final battle with the Shadow King.

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    1. Yeah, that's the other screwy part - the jumping off point is a little arbitrary and disingenuous. It's not like Uncanny X-Men #94-280 and X-Men #1-3 are Claremont's 100% pure, unadulterated vision. His influence wanted significantly at the tail end of the run, and I think it's safe to say vol. 2 never would have existed in that form if he had his druthers.

      Of course, he did sort of try working around this with the Nathan Christopher and Storm/X-Tinction Agenda retcons. That just made things feel even more forced, as the events of X-Men #1-3 apparently happened as read, but there's all this weird vague shit preceding them that doesn't add up because it isn't Claremont's preferred status quo.

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    2. I posted this once before, I believe on Not Blog X when G. Kendall looked at X-MEN FOREVER, but this seems a good time to bring it up again: I really think Marvel and Chris Claremont fumbled X-MEN FOREVER horribly. It was advertised as Claremont continuing his run, but that's not what it was at all. I feel like a lot of the negative fan reaction could've been averted if they'd tried something like this:

      First, in issue #0, Claremont writes his originally intended conclusion to UNCANNY #279 ("The Muir Island Saga). Then from there, whether or not he would choose to disavow X-MEN #1 - 3 (and I think there's a good case to be made for him doing so), each issue of X-MEN FOREVER would map to an issue of UNCANNY -- i.e., FOREVER #1 would be UNCANNY #280. Claremont would then write UNCANNY X-MEN #280 - 300 (XMF 1 - 21) in a pointed effort to tie up all the loose ends from his original run and put a nice bow on it for the longtime fans.

      Then from there, Marvel could've launched X-MEN FOREVER volume 2, and he could've gone nuts with burnout, the Consortium, Perfect Storm, and whatever else his heart desired.

      I don't know that this would've staved off cancellation any longer than the actual title did, but I think it would've been a more honest way to do the series as advertised, as it would've delivered what the older fans expected going in, while still allowing him to explore all his new ideas going forward.

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    3. I had had a similar thought, except I think starting with right after X-Men #3 was the right idea, simply because it's cleaner.

      But the idea of each issue mapping onto an issue from the time is very similar to my own thoughts. But I had thought that since the series was twice monthly, each issue could have mapped onto one of the two X-series, leapfrogging along. (So, issue 1 maps onto an issue of adjectiveless, issue 2 onto an Uncanny issue, then issue 3 back to adjectiveless, etc.) Which is maybe silly, but it would have let Claremont explore two different things at once by having a blue team and a gold team to play with, having simultaneous adventures.

      And it needed a better editor, someone to remind Claremont that, 'Hey, Scalphunter wasn't called "Greycrow" or whatever in 1991, and Magneto's name wasn't "Erik" back then either. Here's where things sat in 1991, here are the storylines that were still outstanding. Why don't we focus on paying off all that stuff first.'

      The series could have just been one satisfying payoff after another, but instead it just ignored the danglers that were still in play in 1991 and created like eighty new ones.

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  8. These two issues are weird because a bunch of well-regarded characters were jobbed out to Fitzroy to build him up and then he gets taken out fairly easily in two issues in his second appearance. I feel like the creators could have at least tried to give a better send off to the Upstarts plot even if they were going to toss it off as soon as possible.

    For some reason, even though the current plot in Adjectiveless actually contradicts his stories, it still feels more like a continuation of Claremont at to me. I can't justify it, but it just feels that way for some reason.

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  9. I think I’m just as unlikely to exclaim “By Lucifer’s beard!” as I am “By the single eye!” but YMMV…

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