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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #310

"...Show Me the Way to Go Home..."
March 1994

In a Nutshell
Cyclops & Cable battle the X-Cutioner during Cyclops' bachelor party

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Dan Green
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
On their way to Cyclops' bachelor party, Cyclops & Banshee respond to a proximity alarm in the mansion and discover Cable waiting to talk to Cyclops. At a bar in Greenwich Village, the rest of the male X-Men have gathered, wondering what is keeping Cyclops. Back at the mansion, X-Cutioner teleports inside, and Cyclops sends Banshee onto the party. As Cyclops & Cable hash out their issues pertaining to Cyclops sending Cable into the future as a child, Sabretooth senses X-Cutioner, and alerts Cyclops. As the party continues, the X-Cutioner heads towards the med bay, intent on killing the comatose Emma Frost. He is stopped by Cyclops & Cable, who work together to force X-Cutioner to retreat. Afterwards, Cable & Cyclops make peace, then Cable teleports Cyclops to the party, and assures him that he'll be at the wedding.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue features Cyclops' bachelor party, though he misses most of it (or, at least, we don't see much of it with him present) helping Cable battle an invading X-Cutioner, making his first appearance since his debut in last year's annual (and used quite well here: serving basically as someone for the characters to fight without representing a huge threat to them, which is just about the right way to pitch a villain that is, essentially, just a guy with some fancy weapons).

Along the way, Cyclops & Cable hash out some of their issues lingering in the wake of the revelations in Cable #6-8, with Cable angry at Cyclops for (what he believes to be) his clinical decision to give him up as a child, while Cyclops does his best to convince Cable it wasn't an easy decision, and that its haunted him ever since. While the two's issues aren't entirely laid to rest by the end of the issue, they do come to an understanding, with Cable agreeing to come to Cyclops and Jean's wedding.


This issue confirms that the White Queen, comatose since her apparent death (and Jean shifting her mind into the White Queen's body) in issue #281, has been recuperating at the mansion, the first step towards her return in issue #314, and subsequent role in Generation X. We also learn her middle name is Grace, for what that's worth (it's also worth noting, given their later relationship together, that Cyclops is key to preventing X-Cutioner from killing Emma in this issue, and even though she's unconscious throughout, it's one of their earliest direct encounters).

Cable hurls a chunk of metal at the X-Cutioner, prompting Cyclops to ask how long he's been that strong; he gives a characteristically-cryptic/flippant response, but later stories would suggest he's using his telekinesis to augment his strength.


There's a couple lines here which hint at the events of the upcoming Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix (in which the titular characters end up in the future and help raise Cable without him knowing its them). One is when Cyclops spouts a bit of philosophy at Cable, which seems familiar to him.


The other comes when Cyclops expresses sorrow that Cable had to grow up alone, and Cable remarks that there was "a couple" who helped raise him, though he can't remember their names. 

The panel from issue #308, in which part of Jean's proposal never got lettered into the speech bubble, is reprinted in this issue's letters page, along with an explanation/apology.


A Work in Progress
Thanks to the magic of the Danger Room, this issue features a holographic flashback to the moment when Cyclops handed over his son to Askani, from X-Factor #68 (and props to Romita for remembering that Charlotte Jones was there).


Banshee & Cyclops' dialogue bubbles in that scene are misplaced, though.

In addition to the flashback, we see a new scene this issue, set shortly after X-Factor #68, in which Cyclops tries to log an after-action report and breaks down (it's unclear where or how this scene was recorded, considering Ship was destroyed in the same story that sent Nathan into the future).


When Cable pops up before Cyclops & Banshee, we get to see Banshee's thoughts on Siryn being a part of X-Force for the first time (he's not too happy about it).


At the bachelor party, there's a great bit where the X-Men give Bishop a hard time about constantly talking about the future.


Gambit spends most of the bachelor party obviously (and hilariously) feeling everybody out about Professor X bringing Sabretooth into the mansion.


And there's a weird bit with Iceman which seems to suggest he's underage, which really doesn't work, especially since Nicieza has Beast talking about turning 30 over in X-Men (since Iceman could only be, at most, three years younger than Beast.


The X-Cutioner is able to piggyback onto Cable's bodyslide in order to get into the mansion. He's also using a Sidrian cloaking device; the Sidrian hunters were the aliens who destroyed the mansion the first time in issue #154.


Young Love 
At the bachelor party, Archangel jokes that Jean is running out of time to become Mrs. Warren Worthington, a nice callback to the fact that the Cyclops/Jean/Angel love triangle was one of the series' first.


For Sale
There's an ad for Mega Man X (still one of the all-time great games) in this issue, as well as an ad for the Spider-Man/X-Men Sega Genesis game.


Austin's Analysis
Another in the recent string of "standalone-ish" issues (in that they aren't devoid of connection to other issues/events in the X-universe, but still tell a mostly self-contained story), this one does three things: it introduces X-Cutioner to the series proper (after his debut in last year's annual), it features Cyclops' bachelor party, making it part of the run-up to the big wedding in X-Men #30, and it puts Cyclops & Cable in a room together in order to tackle some of their issues, in the wake of recent revelations over in Cable's solo series, via that time-honored comic book tradition: by teaming up to clobber on a villain.

That latter element really shows how in-synch Nicieza & Lobdell are at this point in time. While, once again, for anyone not reading every possible corner of the X-universe, the way in which certain information is presented with little explanation (here, the recent confirmation that Cable is Cyclop's son) must be maddening, but for those who are reading everything (or, in this case, at least Cable along with Uncanny), the fluidity of plot & character development between series is remarkable. After Nicieza confirms the Cyclops/Cable relationship once and for all in Cable #8, here, the next month, Lobdell picks up that ball and runs with it, giving the two characters a chance to discuss what that means in the context of their current lives and somewhat come to terms with the recent revelations. While I certainly wouldn't have objected to another full Lobdell Quiet issue that just presented Cyclops' bachelor party, or a lengthy Cable/Cyclops heart-to-heart, after two relatively quiet "talk-y" issues, its understandable that someone (Lobdell, Romita, Harras, whomever) wanted a little action, and having Cyclops & Cable hash things out over a battle with the X-Cutioner (which gives JRjr, who has always drawn a really great Cable, a chance to cut loose, filling the pages with crackling Kirby-esque energy) kills a couple of birds with one stone.

So while this issue is definitely more action-packed than the previous two, and the bachelor party, a few genuinely funny moments aside, mostly takes a back seat to the Cable/Cyclops/X-Cutioner stuff back on the mansion, it's still an appropriate conclusion to the loose trilogy of issues focused on the upcoming wedding between Cyclops & Jean Grey that began in issue #308, while also showcasing, for better and worse, just how interwoven the X-books have become, and how easy it is for plot and character elements to pass from book to book.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, X-Factor #100. Friday, Wolverine #79. Next week, the big day arrives in X-Men (vol. 2) #30!

  Collected Editions

13 comments:

  1. I feel like I say this a lot lately, but I really like this one. It was an UNCANNY issue that I actually did pick up due to its relation to the wedding, even though I still didn't like Romita's artwork at this point. (Nowadays I think this issue looks great, though.) As you say, the X-Cutioner is used well here, I like the fence-mending between Cyclops and Cable, and the character bits at the party are great.

    I'd forgotten about the "underage Iceman" thing until another commenter mentioned it here not long ago. Clearly that appears to be what Lobdell is going for, even though it makes no sense -- but I prefer to just imagine he left his wallet at the mansion and is trying to find a way around that little lapse.

    Lastly, I really like (big surprise) that it's Banshee who's still behind at the mansion with Cyclops, even if he doesn't stick around for the full story. Lobdell and Nicieza were quietly building him back up at this point ahead of GENERATION X, with little cameos here and there in both series, and Lobdell in particular would give him an occasional larger spotlight, such as here and in the upcoming issue 314 -- plus, of course, there's "Phalanx Covenant" less than half a year away now. Anyway, I'm always happy to see Banshee pop up like this.

    Geez, every time I revisit this stuff, whether it's flipping through issues or even just browsing covers, I get this huge rush of excited nostalgia. I know a lot of people disagree, but, from "Fatal Attractions" up to "Age of Apocalypse" is a major high point for the X-Men as far as I'm concerned. And then on top of that, I have more than once declared X-MEN PRIME up to the beginning of "Onslaught" to be one of my favorite X-periods of all. I seriously just want to toss aside my mission statement to read along with you, drop all the reading I need to do for my own blog, effectively abandoning it, and do a nonstop marathon of the rest of the Lobdell/Nicieza stuff (including GENERATION X), like right now.

    I won't, but that's how excited I get for this material, and how much I'm looking forward to your continued reviews of it!

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    1. FYI, for anyone who cares: later this year, Marvel is releasing a hardcover edition of THE WEDDING OF CYCLOPS AND PHOENIX, which covers all the material that was in the trade paperback version from a few years back (less one annual), plus more issues such as CABLE 6 - 8 and the immediate post-wedding issues leading up to "Phalanx Covenant".

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    2. I know a lot of people disagree, but, from "Fatal Attractions" up to "Age of Apocalypse" is a major high point for the X-Men as far as I'm concerned. And then on top of that, I have more than once declared X-MEN PRIME up to the beginning of "Onslaught" to be one of my favorite X-periods of all.

      SAME!

      The books really took a while to get their sea legs after the Image exodus, but everything after "Fatal Attractions" is gold.

      Honestly, I'd go further and say that -- excluding the Onslaught event itself -- I love everything up through Operation: Zero Tolerance. The post-Onslaught breakfast issue and the Iceman-and-dad issue are not just two of my favorite Lobdell quiet issues, their two of my favorite standalone issues of any X-book ever. Phenomenal stuff.

      I wish Lobdell and Nicieza had both stuck around longer. They were really on fire for these few years.

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    3. While I think "Onslaught" itself kind of fell on its face (though I did mostly enjoy it at the time, and I still think it has phenomenal artwork in the core X-books), I just love all the buildup to it. The clues don't add up, but taken as they came, they were really exciting -- and I liked a lot of the other non-Onslaught stuff that went on in those issues, too -- Gene Nation, Mister Sinister, the X-Babies, etc.

      The post-"Onslaught" stuff is more of a mixed bag for me. While I enjoyed the immediate aftermath with Xavier leaving and all, I really didn't like the X-Men in space storyline in UNCANNY. It couldn't hold a candle to the previous outings by Claremont and his collaborators. I did really like the Cannonball vs. Gladiator issue that started it off, though.

      X-MEN, on the other hand, I generally liked between "Onslaught" and "Zero Tolerance". Carlos Pacheco doing some of the best work of his career didn't hurt, but I also enjoyed the stories in general much more than those in UNCANNY -- particularly the Shang-Chi/Kingpin/Hellfire Club three-parter.

      I dunno. I'm sure some of it isn't as great as I remember, but I do think a lot of it is better than it's regarded -- and anyway, that stretch of "Fatal Attractions" to "Onslaught" gives me more warm memories than pretty much any other run of comics I've ever read, and because of that, I tend to be willing to overlook any flaws I might otherwise pick up on as an adult.

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  2. I always appreciated the lineup of blue guys -- Hank, Kurt & Warren in that panel. Blue is the X-Men's "signature color". :)

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  3. "it's unclear where or how this scene was recorded, considering Ship was destroyed in the same story that sent Nathan into the future"

    I'd say they were invited to stay over for a bit with the Inhumans in Attilan (back when it was on the moon), but he also looks like he is blasting the device which might be recording his report anyway, so...

    "we get to see Banshee's thoughts on Siryn being a part of X-Force for the first time"

    Which we see the last couple of years compressed into "recent weeks".

    "At the bachelor party, there's a great bit where the X-Men give Bishop a hard time about constantly talking about the future."

    Lobdell poking fun at himself?

    "Gambit spends most of the bachelor party obviously (and hilariously) feeling everybody out about Professor X bringing Sabretooth into the mansion."

    Warren, you say you don't care now, but in another 40 issues or so, you most certainly will care...

    Also, is this the first time we ever see Warren and Gambit having an on-panel conversation?

    "And there's a weird bit with Iceman which seems to suggest he's underage"

    For some reason, I assumed it was a joke about how baby-faced Bobby was. Like, he's over 21, but people assume he is underage?

    "from "Fatal Attractions" up to "Age of Apocalypse" is a major high point for the X-Men as far as I'm concerned"

    On that, I will agree with you.

    "X-MEN PRIME up to the beginning of "Onslaught" to be one of my favorite X-periods of all"

    On that, I cannot agree with you.

    Overall, a good issue, and continues the good run of Uncanny we have been seeing since #304.

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  4. Why did the X-Cutioner try to kill Emma?

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  5. Daniel AH, I believe it's for her failure to protect her 'children' the Hellions, a parallel to Scott's failure.
    Y'know, I always had a thing for Scott and little Nathan (due to my interest in father-son relationships in popular culture; Goofy and Max; Goku and Gohan, etc.). Sad thing, there wasn't very much of it in the actual time, aside from Scott holding Nathan for the first time in Inferno, or his breakdown when Franklin erased him. His freakout here does seem to contradict CC's portrait of acceptance in X-FACTOR.

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    1. I don't know, Scott didn't have much alternatives at the moment. But, that also warrants to some extent Cable's grievance of it having been a "cold, calculating" move. There was time for grief only afterwards.

      At least he didn't blast a N'garai portal.

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    2. "His freakout here does seem to contradict CC's portrait of acceptance in X-FACTOR."

      Yeah, he seemed to be at peace with it all when he was talking about it with Charlotte.

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  6. This issue was originally supposed to feature Scott coming to terms with what happened to Madelyne.

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    1. "This issue was originally supposed to feature Scott coming to terms with what happened to Madelyne."

      I've heard that, too, and even though this is an issue I always liked (and still holds up today), knowing that kind of dinged it a bit. More Maddie got a raw deal.

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  7. I had an actual poster of the painted Bob Larkin Hulk close-up shown in this issue’s Marvel Screen Posters ad, tacked up on my bedroom wall for several years in the ’80s.

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