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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #26

"Part Two of Bloodties: Civil Disobediance!"
November 1993

In a Nutshell
Various outside factions arrive in Genosha amidst the civil war triggered by Cortez.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

En route to Genosha, Quicksilver is enraged to learn from his broadcast that Cortez has his daughter. Meanwhile, Colossus tends to the comatose Magneto before being dismissed by Exodus in order to counsel with Magneto. In New York, a contingent of Avengers are able to fight their way past SHIELD and head for Genosha, while in Genosha, Beast & Xavier are kidnapped from their UN escort by a group of bipartisan rebels. The kidnapping turns out to have been orchestrated by Xavier in order to allow him & Beast to operate more freely, but US Agent is secretly tracking them. Elsewhere, the X-Men arrive in the country, and are quickly confronted by Cortez and a group of mutates called the Unforgiven, while the Avengers arrive in Hammer Bay and help stop an attack on mutates by a group of human soldiers, all of whom are then obliterated by Exodus, who declares Magneto's greatest disciple will now follow in his footsteps and save the Genoshan mutates, even if it means the death of every human on the island.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue is the first appearance of Rene Majcomb, a biogeneticist and former associate of Xavier's who is now leading a bipartisan rebel force of humans and mutants in Genosha. She is one of those minor recurring characters, like Philip Moreau & Jenny Ransome, who will pop up whenever a story deals with Genosha in the future. And though she isn't explicitly cited as a member of the Mutant Underground, she fits in with the general idea being developed of late that Xavier has a bunch of heretofore unmentioned agents working on behalf of mutantkind around the world.

It's worth noting that only Beast & Xavier are "captured" by the rebels in this issue; US Agent is shown to be following them, and he'll have caught up by the next chapter. But over the course of the story, both Phillip Moreau & Jenny Ransome, and then Gyrich, will appear alongside Xavier & Beast without explanation.

This issue also introduces the Unforgiven, a specific group of mutates serving Cortez. Only two of the three get named (in the next chapter), and none of them have yet to appear outside this story. The promotional Marvel Age series described this group as being mutants cast out of Avalon by Magneto, but that never gets brought up in the story (promotional info like that not making it into/lining up with the actual published stories will become something of a repeat phenomenon over the next few years, culminating most egregiously with the version of "Onslaught" published and the one detailed in the Road to Onslaught oneshot).

Fighting their way free of SHIELD, this issue seems the formation of the Avengers contingent heading to Genosha, comprised of Crystal & Scarlet Witch (Luna's mother & aunt), Captain America, Black Knight, Sersi and War Machine, with Sersei essentially joining because she's the third side of a love triangle with Black Knight & Crystal at this point.

A Work in Progress
The X-Men's Blackbird jet is erroneously described as an "SR-70" instead of "SR-71".

In this issue, it's said that Cortez kidnapped Luna in order to use her as a human shield, to prevent Magneto from striking him directly.

The X-Men point out that this show's Cortez doesn't know about Magneto's current condition, which Gambit declares could be ace up the X-Men's sleeve (also, props to Gambit for another great card-related pun).

By the end of the issue, however, Cortez at least learns that Magneto is incapacitated (technically, this Cortez is actually a shapeshifter, but one with a psychic link to Cortez, so the point still stands).

Aboard Avalon, Colossus wonders if the situation in Genosha would be better if everyone knew about Magneto's condition.

Genosha is described once again as having been a "green and pleasant" land.

Rogue notes Wolverine's absence as the team arrives in Genosha, recalling their adventure together in the first Genosha story.

Austin's Analysis
The second part of "Bloodties", this issue is mostly more setup, getting the various groups of characters (the Avengers contigent, the X-Men, Xavier/Beast/US Agent, and Exodus) to Genosha and into position for the rest of the story, and as a result, the story overall continues to hum along fine, without too many narrative problems (of course, spending two chapters of a five issue story could be problematic; on the other hand, there's not all that much plot here, as we'll see). But putting aside "Bloodties" for the moment, its worth pointing out that this the first issue of this series since Wolverine lost his adamantium (and Magneto his mind).

Now, that seems pretty obvious to anyone looking at the issue numbers who knows that "26" usually follows "25". Yet the events of that issue already feel like they happened several issues ago (and not just because of my delayed posting schedule). At the very least, with the immediate ramifications of issue #25 handled in Wolverine #75 followed by the pivot to "Bloodties" in Avengers #368, two issues worth of narrative incidents featuring these characters occur between last issue and this one, and that's even before considering any of the other series, or annuals, etc. (if one was to read the narrative chronologically, including things like the final chapter of "Fatal Attractions", also on sale the same month as this issue, before "Bloodties", the gap would be even bigger). So when Rogue at one point in this issue comments on Wolverine's absence, it resonates, because it already feels like he's been gone awhile, even though this is the first issue of this series he hasn't appeared in.

Obviously, it's doubtful there were many people back in 1993 who were only reading X-Men, who weren't at least casually picking up Uncanny as well, or Wolverine, or grabbing the "Fatal Attractions" issues, etc. But regardless (and there probably were some people just reading this series of all the X-books), taking a step back to view the issues of this series just as issues of one self-contained title, the narrative whiplash between issues is huge, as several issues-worth of story passes between them. It's a reminder of just how deep - and accepted - the crossover and franchise mentally was in 1993 that nobody at Marvel blinked at cramming so much story between two issues of one series.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, X-Force battles the new MLF in X-Force #29. Friday, "Fatal Attractions" concludes in Excalibur #71. Next week, X-Men Unlimited #3.

Collected Editions


  1. "...the narrative whiplash between issues is huge, as several issues-worth of story passes between them."

    Color me as one of the confused readers. At the time, I was still reliant on going to a newsstand for my comics, and I'd usually pick up X-Men & Uncanny, since I didn't really care about Wolverine outside of the team. I remember feeling like I somehow missed a year of stories between this & 25 (it was a feeling I forgot until you mentioned it & I had a real "oh, yeah" moment). Now, though, they'd probably just make a new title & only belatedly let you know it's supposed to be a limited series if the X-Men & Avengers were teaming up.

  2. I've frequently said that reading everything was just how 1993 rolled, but it was really true.

    As we approach the end of the year in these posts, as my reading scaled back to a relative handful of titles, I am struck by how almost hysterical comics buying in 1992-1993 was. Cross-overs, gimmicks, "extreme" characters, massive status quo changes, all of it turned into some sort of narrative engine that just grabbed comics readers and dragged us into the stores to buy every damn thing we could get our hands on.

    And it wasn't, in my circle of friends, because we thought we were going to get rich quick by selling boxes of Spawn #1; we were actually reading all of this crap! We wanted to know what was going to happen next. Marvel had broken out of the dull as hell art rut they were in during the mid to late 80s (say what you will about the Image guys, but the 'inked by Al Milgrom' period at the end of Shooter's tenure just looked awful) and Things Were Happening.

    So, yeah, it made perfect sense to write the X-Books as a giant gestalt entity where you read everything and the narrative gap between X-Men #25 and #26 was a lot longer because you were reading half a dozen other books during that gap. Because we were. Or at least had been: I was the first of my crew to scale back, but eventually, before Phalanx Covenant, all of us were scaling back, and a few stopped reading.

    There's been a lot of discourse on the comics of the boom period, but I would love to read more stories about how readers acted back then. I'm willing to bet I wasn't alone in falling into the near-hysteria that surrounded comics then.

    1. Since you asked, Jack -- I was pretty good about holding out and only reading what I really wanted to read at this point. I was fourteen for most of 1993. I had no interest in Image or any publishers outside of Marvel and one solitary DC title. Looking at a list of comics cover dated November '93, I think I can tell you pretty much exactly what I read:

      DOOM 2099
      G.I. JOE
      SPIDER-MAN 2099
      X-MEN 2099
      And, for that month only, EXCALIBUR and WOLVERINE.

      Plus my single montly purchase from DC, BATMAN ADVENTURES.

      I was an X-Men fan, but only followed one X-book, plus crossover installments. I was a huge Spider-Man fan, but only followed two monthlies plus the quarterly. I loved the 2099 books, but only followed three of them. And so on.

      Of course, as the decade moved along and my allowance increased, I branched out. Looking at comics cover dated one year later, November '94, I was reading all the above (except TRANSFORMERS, which was cancelled), plus the Clone Saga now had me reading every Spider-book, I had picked up UNCANNY, and I was reading GENERATION X, too. Within another year or so, I'd add EXCALIBUR to my X-list, as well.

    2. Skip ahead five years to 1999 and I'm in college, I have a part-time job, and I'm reading most of the Marvel Universe (which wasn't hard to do thanks to their scaling back due to bankruptcy):

      IRON MAN

      ...Plus a few just-canceled series like NOVA and SLINGERS, as well as assorted annuals, one-shots, and limited series (including maxi-series like AVENGERS FOREVER and EARTH-X) -- and still, from DC, good ol' BATMAN ADVENTURES (now called GOTHAM ADVENTURES).

      Then Joe Quesada came along and ruined all my fun!

      Seriously, it's no wonder I'm so unabashedly fond of Bob Harras's Marvel -- while a lot of readers were scaling back their Marvel purchases as the 90s progressed, my reading expanded, and that expansion can be pretty neatly charted alongside Harras' ascent to editor-in-chief. When he was fired and Quesada came in, dropping continuity and sending a lot of the books in "experimental"/indy-ish directions, I scaled back in a hurry, dropping a bunch of the stuff I had, up to that point, really been enjoying.

    3. The Harras era for you sounds like my unabashed love for most of Jim Shooter's run, though even I will admit his EIC run jumped the shark around Secret Wars II and the art got safe and dull because that's how Shooter liked it. People criticize Shooter pre-1985 and I'll just go "Claremont/Byrne X-Men, Miller Daredevil, and Simonson's Thor" back at them. That was the era I grew up on.

      Someday I need to go back and check out the Marvel I missed from 1994-2000, where I mostly read the X-Men (and even that ended in 1998 during the Kelly/Seagle era) because I wonder if my dislike of the general industry habits from that period caused me to miss good stuff.

    4. I know that feeling when you describe the hysteria around the '90s comics boom. Even at the time, 1993 seemed like an especially packed year; looking back, I think I want to single it out as the peak.

      Sure, you had the infamous Death of Superman in '92 but that was just the tip of the icebarg. The fallout - Reign of the Supermen - rolled right into '93. Consider also: the sprawling KnightFall/KnightQuest/KnightsEnd that tied up the Bat books for the entirety of the year. Marvel of course had Fatal Attractions, a mere six issues, but published over the course of six months. Bloodties right on its heels for another two months. Not to be outdone, the Spidey office unleashed its 14-part Maximum Carnage crossover in the spring/summer. We also got either Infinity War or Crusade, itself a six-issue mini but with a shitload of tie-ins across the entire line. No true annual crossover this year, but that thematic link in the form of a "hot new character find" in every installment heating up the hype machine. And what was the event for Marvel's "supernatural" imprint so highly touted by all those promotional inserts? Siege of Darkness? Pretty sure the Punisher was still doing crossovers across his three(!) regular series too. And these are just the ones I can pin down off the top of my head.

      My financial resources to actually follow everything were limited by my age. I would've been all of 9, 10 years old. I certainly had my favorites, but there was a sense of stress and anxiety that I was missing out on something by not having access to ALL of it. Trips to the comic shop could be an overwhelming experience. But, the upshot of that was no shortage of material to interest me.

      I almost didn't pay attention to the actual issue numbers once I started following books in real time. As long as I was sure I hadn't overlooked something - whether the plot from Uncanny X-Men continued in X-Men, Wolverine, or Avengers - I guess I didn't much think about it. Actually labeling individual chapters of a story (a la X-Cutioner's Song) is one thing, but this kind a semi-permanent event mode is more ingenious in a way. It instilled a vague expectation to grab up everything.

      For these reasons, I didn't have a dedicated pull list. I started to hash out what a hypothetical one would have looked like, but it's just such an amorphous blob. A little of this, a little of that. My only "dedicated" title was X-Men, as I was actually subscribing to it, and I was fiercely loyal to Captain America and Avengers (albeit missing issues here and there).

      So, suffice to say, the notion of cutting back would have been inconceivable to me. A lot of this has to do with the early '90s being formative years. As such, I was unfazed as a young Marvel Zombie by such factors as the collapse of the comics bubble. I don't think any true cynicism affecting my consumption had set in until about 1997. (Perhaps not coincidentally with the honing of critical faculties such that I could declare, "Holy shit Operation: Zero Tolerance is fucking garbage!")

    5. I'm with you on the early Shooter era, Jack. I was pretty young and didn't really read it at the time, but during that period I definitely felt like Marvel was a bigger deal than DC. In addition to the acclaimed runs you mention, there was also Byrne on the Fantastic Four, plus Roger Stern on Spider-Man and the Avengers, Michelinie and Layton on Iron Man, and (in my opinion, at least) Mark Gruenwald on Captain America.

      And like Shooter's final years, I tend to think Harras's last year or so at Marvel was marred by some misfires. "Revolution" in the X-books was (from my perspective) a bit of a disaster, and the Byrne/Mackie Spider-Man relaunch was pretty lame. But at the same time you had brilliant stuff going on in the Avengers' family of titles, so I guess overall it was a mixed bag.

      Obviously I'm speaking heavily from nostalgia, and I don't know exactly how much of '94 - 2000 you skipped (and may have never gone back to check out), but at the very least I strongly recommend the "Heroes Return" Kurt Busiek/George Perez AVENGERS (issues 1 - 34 at least) and the Busiek/Mark Bagley/Fabian Nicieza THUNDERBOLTS (issues 1 - 50 at least). Both launched near the end of 1997, and for my money, they were the A-1, bar-none crown jewels of the Marvel Universe at the time. (I wrote a lengthy post on my blog about my love for that AVENGERS run a few months back which you may have seen.)

      I also recall the Busiek/Sean Chen/Roger Stern IRON MAN being pretty good, though unlike those other two, I haven't read it since it originally came out. And I don't know how much Spider-Man you read during the Shooter era, but the HOBGOBLIN LIVES mini-series from 1996 was pretty good, though my appreciation of it is strongly, strongly influenced by my unconditional love of Roger Stern's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN run. Oh, and I really enjoyed a lot of Alan Davis's run as plotter of X-MEN and UNCANNY in 1999, but I've gathered that stuff isn't as beloved in retrospect as I like to imagine.

    6. I've read the post on the Avengers, which I kept up with but didn't actually read. It's on my wishlist, though right now for some odd reason I want to go back and fill in the Harras stuff that Bloodlines falls into.

      And my Marvel pull list, by 1994, had literally fallen to just X-Men and Uncanny, so I know of things like the Clone Saga by reputation but not by experience. I read the Warren Ellis run on Excalibur, and I owned a few issues of the Busiek Iron Man, but otherwise, that six years is a colossal blank.

    7. I'm late to the party, but I'd just like to fistbump Matt for reading DOOM 2099 back in the day. I only JUST read it (and just the Moore issues) two years ago, and now I regard it as one of the best and most fun series of the early/mid-1990s. I love that in 2099 the world is in such a sorry state that we're rooting for Dr. Doom to take it over because it'll pretty much HAVE to be an improvement.

  3. Good analysis of the passage of time, and in doing so, you hit on something I really like in comics -- how much is crammed into relatively small periods in the characters' lives. Rogue says it's been two weeks since the battle on Avalon, and one week since Wolverine left, yet -- as you note -- a lot has happened in that short span! I love the idea that superheroes' lives are just constantly moving from one adventure to the next, with very little time to stop and catch thier breath. For one thing, it makes the ongoing saga feel more momentous when you get this impression that it's all one nonstop roller coaster, but on top of that, it makes "Marvel Time" a lot easier to swallow when the character are leaping from adventure to adventure within the span of days or even hours, rather than getting weeks or months off between fights.

    (I noted it many times when I looked at Roger Stern's Spider-Man issues a few years back, but Stern was particularly great at this -- with rare exceptions, he would throw Spider-Man into fight after unrelated fight, against various villains and across multiple issues, but all of it would happen in the span of one or two busy days.)

    Is it just me, or did Andy Kubert apparently never get the memo that Colossus now wars an Acolyte uniform? In X-MEN 25, he's still in his X-Men outfit, which is forgivable since he probably hadn't had time to be fitted by the Acolytes' tailor yet. But in EXCALIBUR 71 -- which I believe takes place prior to "Bloodties" even though it was released after -- he's in a proper Acolyte uniform. UNCANNY 315 also shows him in one. Then, when Cyclops and Jean visit Avalon just after "Age of Apocalypse", guest penciler Paul Smith draws him in one as well -- but Kubert's covers to those issues continue to show him in his X-Men outfit, and after Smith's two-issue run is finished, Kubert picks up from a cliffhanger, exactly where Smith left off with Colossus in the Acolyte outfit, and has him suddenly and inexplicably back in his X-Men costume.

    That drove me N-U-T-S as a teenager, and I will never understand why Bob Harras didn't have Kubert (or the inkers) fix the mistake!

    "This issue also introduces the Unforgiven..."

    Maybe these are the silhouetted figures who kidnapped Luna as noted in your review of the prior chapter? Perhaps they were still in their Acyolyte uniforms at the time.

    "The X-Men's Blackbird jet is erroneously described as an 'SR-70' instead of 'SR-71'."

    Is it even still that at this point? I've always assumed, based on dialogue in X-MEN #1, that this Blackbird was built from scratch by Forge. I mean, it looks pretty much nothing like an SR-71!

    "Obviously, it's doubtful there were many people back in 1993 who were only reading X-Men, who weren't at least casually picking up Uncanny as well, or Wolverine, or grabbing the 'Fatal Attractions' issues, etc."

    I was getting ready to type "*raises hand*" until you got to "grabbing the 'Fatal Attractions' issues". At this point, and for close to another year, I really was reading exclusively X-MEN, with only occasional dips into UNCANNY, and nothing else! But I did pick up every chapter of "Fatal Attractions", at least.

    1. I took a liking to that Acolytes uniform. Just sort of worked for Colossus, without looking like too much of an aesthetic departure (except on trading cards that added a long purple cape). You're right about that weirdness with Kubert. I'm not sure if he ever did draw the thing, and have no idea why.

      It pissed me off that the X-Men's actual fight with the Unforgiven went down in Avengers: West Coast - the ONE chapter of the crossover I could never track down!

    2. I'm pretty sure Kubert never, ever drew Cyclops in the Acolytes outfit. It's really weird when you consider that all the fill-in artists apparently got the memo, but he didn't.

    3. It really is the botched all-over-the-place plane trivia that makes me take the era as a betrayal of what the X-Men should be about.

      Their "Blackbird" is a fantasy airplane and the X-Men shouldn't be caught anywhere near one. The Avengers can have quinjets and I don't care what the FF drives, but the X-Men should have standards, like they have an underground hangar at some distance from the school. The reboot X-Men always are like the airplane is in their upper cellar just off the main lobby, with everyone happening to pass by on their route to out of the house when someone is pretending to do some mechanics on it.

      (We shall not concentrate on the visible absence of a runway and the utter lack of Salemians coming to ask unwelcome questions about airplanes frequently taking off from the Xavier estate lands right off a small town during the Claremont run.)


    4. @Matt: // [D]id Andy Kubert apparently never get the memo that Colossus now wears an Acolyte uniform? //

      I’m glad you mentioned this in conjunction with the fact that the events of Excalibur #71 apparently precede “Bloodties” — I was confused by how much Colossus’ portrayal in that issue seems to have backed away from the internal conflict expressed here but since it shows him in Acolyte dress I figured that he’d nonetheless become more entrenched in the group in the interim.


  4. I can’t stop looking at Cap’s pose on that cover. Seriously. It’s hypnotically awful.

    // and none of them have yet to appear outside this story //

    You probably mean “all of them have yet to appear” — or “none of them have yet appeared” — “outside this story”. Although I’d like to keep what you wrote in my back pocket for a nice sarcastic jab at overexposure sometime. 8^)

    Colossus has quite the soliloquy on his place in all this: “I am tired of using my mutant powers as a weapon. And I had foolishly hoped that here … I could use my skills as a soldier, a farmer, and a painter … to help create something — to help make something good flower, rather than be party to more destruction.” I’m aware that the writers have plans for him but, really, if he wants purpose and a shot at contentment after everything he’s been through he should be in the Savage Land.

    1. Back then, I thought Kubert was awesome. These posts are making me regret that.

      And I said in the comments for X-Men #304 that the obvious direction for Colossus was neither following Xavier OR Magneto, and going his own way. Given how little they really did with Colossus the Acolyte, one wonders why they bothered.

  5. I was 12 when this came out and Stan Lee was signing at a local store. You had to buy whatever you wanted signed there up to 5 items. I bought 5 books including this issue, a Marvel Comics Presents (I think 79), a What if and X-Force. The signature looked really nice on this book.

    My Mom also got 5 books signed including New Mutants 86. My friend was smart and got older Amazing Spider-Mans including the first Medusa and Rhino which look amazing.

    Anyways, flash forward to this past year where he was supposed to be at Salt Lake Comic Con Fan X but had to back out because of health issues. I sold all the ones like this at $150 a pop and up. I still have 1 issue signed by him

  6. I remember this issue was packed with an advertorial 'LOOK AT THESE OTHER MARVEL TITLES/CHARACTERS' section presented as Nick Fury's private notes. At the time I thought it was really cool and read it by itself almost as many times as I reread the actual comic. (Marvel did something similar to promote the Siege of Darkness crossover and launch of the Midnight Sons pseudo-line.) Did Marvel only start doing this sort of in-house part-story supplement/part marketing effort thing in the 1990s? If they stopped doing it, when did it taper off?

  7. This is a little off-topic, but X-Men: Grand Design is just outstanding. It’s basically a concentrated blast of the best of X-Men history and Ed Piskor is really a brilliant artist. I can’t imagine fans of this blog not liking it.


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