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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

X-amining X-Men: The Wedding Album #1


"Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue & Gold" / "Cut to the Video"
1994

In a Nutshell
Jubilee reads Jean's diary, and Kitty Pryde creates a video album for Scott & Jean.

Writer: Scott Lobdell; Scott Lobdell & Fabian Nicieza (2nd Story)
Pencils: Ian Churchill; Ken Lashley, Tom Lyle, Ron Garney & Jae Lee (2nd Story)
Inkers: Jason Minor, Randy Elliot, and Harry Candelario; Scott Hanna, Andrew Pepoy, Bill Sienkiewicz, & Jae Lee (2nd Story)
Letterers: Dave Sharpe & Jon Babcock
Colorist: Chris Matthys; Pat Garrahy & Chris Matthys (2nd Story)
Dress Designer: Nicole Miller
Stills from X-Men #30: Andy Kubert & Matt Ryan
Editor/Designer: Suzanne Gaffney
Group Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Jubilee helps Jean go through some of her old clothes, and the pair discuss Wolverine's absence and Jubilee's less-than-positive feelings about marriage. When Jean's fashion designer friend arrives to drop off her wedding dress, Jubilee discovers Jean's diary and, despite knowing better, decides to read it. When Jean returns and discovers Jubilee, she's mostly mad because, while the diary represents her private thoughts, Jubilee should have known that Jean would have talked to her about any of them, had she asked. Jubilee apologizes, and admits that reading about Jean's relationship with Scott through the years has given her a better appreciation for marriage, and the pair leave to check out Jean's dress.

Firsts and Other Notables
This is a magazine-sized special meant to celebrate/milk the wedding of Cyclops and Jean Grey. The front half is a story involving Jubilee reading Jean's diary which serves as a survey of the Scott/Jean relationship, while the second half is mostly pinups (often overlaid with snippets of text) of the guests at the reception, in the guise of a video being shot by Kitty Pryde as a wedding gift to the couple.

Jean's wedding dress is designed by one of her old modeling friends, Nicole Miller. In addition to being a rare reference to Jean's short-lived modeling days (as seen in X-Men #48, during the time when the X-Men were broken up and doing their own thing), Nicole Miller is a real-world fashion designer, and I believe Marvel actually reached out to her to have her design the dress (she is at least credited for it in this issue).


Jean's diary is presented as blocks of text running alongside a single panel on each page, but the layout is super awkward, with the text not quite fitting on the page (and thus overlapping into the border of the images), making it harder to read (the blue, underlined text also makes me think someone forget to close their HTML hyperlink tag, but that's not really 1994's fault).


I'm also not sure who decided a blue-ink cover was a good idea, instead of a full color one (the blue ink makes it seem half-finished, even though the whole thing is meant to be more of a "prestige" presentation).

Another rarity in this issue is an appearance by Jean's niece & nephew, Gailyn & Joey, who appear in one of the reception "video" pinups. Last seen in X-Factor #40 being turned over to their grandparents for care (since their mother was - and still is - MIA), they'll appear in the actual wedding in X-Men #30 as well.


A Work in Progress
The masthead is overlaid on top of an image of Cyclops & Jean taken from a chapter of the "Dark Phoenix" which, of course, means that, technically, it's not Jean in the picture, but Phoenix, which is kind of funny (yes, I know, for all intents and purposes they're one and the same at this point, but still).


Jubilee is missing Wolverine.


In one of the diary entries, Jean mentions "meeting" Scott for the first time, a rare reference to the Classic X-Men backup story about Cyclops' time in the orphanage, in which a young Jean made telepathic contact with him while testing Cerebro.


For what it's worth, the wedding is said to be on "the 7th".

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
Jubilee refers to Jean as "Miss I'm Too Sexy for a Codename".


This being 1994, Kitty is making a video album for Scott & Jean.


Austin's Analysis
When this was first published, I avoided it, mostly because its larger magazine size meant it would neither fit into one of my plastic comic book sleeves, nor into one of my comic book boxes (because I was that kind of anal-retentive), but also because I assumed it was mostly just a trumped up promotional piece for the upcoming wedding, void of much "in-universe" content. And while the former still holds true, and there is some truth to the latter, upon reading this for the first time for this review, I was surprised to find a fun little Jubilee story alongside the expected Scott/Jean relationship retrospective and a bunch of pinups. Granted, there's not a lot of there "there" to the story, and the layout/design of the "pages from Jean's journal" is pretty terrible, in a uniquely 1994 kind of way (they remind me, not pleasantly, of the "X-Men/Avengers 30th Anniversary" ad pages that ran in the books a few months back), but after their pairing in Uncanny X-Men #303, it was a pleasant surprise to see the strong relationship between Jubilee & Jean established there returned to here and used well, amidst all the other wedding hubbub.

Next Issue
Cable crashes a bachelor party in Uncanny X-Men #310, X-Factor loses one of their own in X-Factor #100, and Wolverine encounters another old foe in Wolverine #79.

Collected Editions

10 comments:

  1. Weird that Kitty is making a video for Scott and Jean given that she's met the real Jean all of like once and doesn't even really know Scott super well.

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    1. I had always interpreted the use of Kitty as videographer was meant to be a reference to her being one of the premier tech-geeks of the X-Universe. And relationship wise, it made sense to have her do the filming considering Kitty's relationship with Rachel than say, Forge (the only other real tech-Geek in the group).

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    2. I'll give you Kitty barely knowing Jean -- but I think she knew Scott well enough; they served together on the X-Men from UNCANNY 151 through 175, including the extended voyage through space -- and she continued to interact with him whenever he popped up through (ugh) #201.

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    3. Aren’t they technically at this point still going with the notion that Jean gained all of Maddie’s memories after Inferno? In which case, she “knows” Kitty a bit, at least. It’s not much, but...

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  2. ALSO...I have to say that the lack of consistency in how Jean's dress is drawn on the cover - especially since it was *almost* right - bugged me from the get go. I was DEEPLY invested in this wedding (the upcoming issue 30 is the one issue I've been DYING for y'all to review since discovering this blog) so the fact that this was marketed as the official wedding album only to miss certain details bugged me to no end.

    Weirdly, the only dress on the cover that is both correct here and in issue #30 is Psylocke's dress...which itself was cribbed from Demi Moore's famous LBD dress by Thierry Mugler from the movie "Indecent Proposal'. Wild, right?

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    Replies
    1. Jean and her changing dress amounting to nothing feels like such a waste after Maddie's black dress Inferno shenanigans and Phoenix-Jean's change-dress-on-every-step thing.

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  3. "Jean's diary is presented as blocks of text running alongside a single panel on each page, but the layout is super awkward, with the text not quite fitting on the page"

    Super awkward indeed.

    "Jubilee refers to Jean as "Miss I'm Too Sexy for a Codename"."

    A cultural reference that was already dated (and somewhat embarrassing) by the time this issue came out. Though, kind of funny.

    "I have to say that the lack of consistency in how Jean's dress is drawn on the cover - especially since it was *almost* right - bugged me from the get go."

    Looks like Richard Bennett (I'm guessing that is his signature on the cover) didn't quite get the memo on what Jean and others would be wearing in #30.

    "after their pairing in Uncanny X-Men #303, it was a pleasant surprise to see the strong relationship between Jubilee & Jean established there returned to here and used well"

    Possibly the last time we see them sharing a moment together?

    Most of the art doesn't look good (especially the Churchill and Lashley pages), and I am curious to see what Jae Lee, of all people, contributed to this. In the end, at best, it looks like a couple of cute yet inconsequential stories meant to capitalize on the upcoming wedding.

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  4. Ian Churchill was not the best choice to draw a "quiet" story. Though at this point, Ian Churchill was rarely the best choice to draw anything. I like some of the pinup pages in the video, though (and I must agree to disagree with wwk5d; the Lashley pictures are my favorites in the book), and I think printing those pinups through the device of a wedding video, rather than just a series of pages with no connecting theme, is a cute idea.

    I really liked this story as a kid. I wasn't fully steeped in X-lore yet, so stuff that leaked out bits of backstory in this way was always welcome. I seem to recall that I solved the issue of its size by simply placing it in the comic box sideways, in the little sliver of space next to all the other comics. Of course, I was pretty haphazard about organization. I had a friend who put all the books in his boxes sorted by series. I kept X-MEN and UNCANNY together, ordering the issues in what seemed to me like the best sequence -- though at this point I still wasn't reading UNCANNY monthly.

    "For what it's worth, the wedding is said to be on "the 7th"."

    A quick look online reveals that there was only one Saturday the 7th in 1994, and that was in May -- which really doesn't fit with the issue's on-sale date (January 18th) or cover date (March), nor with the weather that was depicted as Archangel watched the preparations in X-MEN #29 -- but I guess if it's the 7th, it's the 7th, which means, by my estimation and using some of my previous extrapolations, the bachelor party took place on May 6th, X-MEN 29 on May 5th, and Thanksgiving was on April 21st.

    ...That all checks out, right?

    I suppose the other possibility is that, if Thanksgiving was two weeks ago, as I previously posited, then we're still in 1993 at this point, but there was no Satuday the 7th at all that year.

    Or maybe in the Marvel Universe, there was a Saturday December 7th in 1993, which we didn't have in our world...?

    OR! Maybe -- just maybe -- I'm thinking way to hard about this, and it doesn't matter at all.

    But that can't be the solution. It's no fun.

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  5. Remember, though, that almost none of Scott and Jean’s friends have actual real, 9-to-5 jobs. In which case, why limit yourself to a Saturday? I assume superheroes hold weddings on whatever day of the week Magneto or the Juggernaut isn’t attacking.

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  6. The graphic design on this really is hideous. And I still remember the slick cover stock feeling weird — kind-of like a newly developed photo or laminated placemat, highly chemical — even though it's been nearly a quarter century since I've touched one.

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