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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #20

"Digging in the Dirt"
May 1993

In a Nutshell
The first appearance of Revanche.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inkers: Mark Pennington, Bob Wiacek (pgs 22-23)
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Professor X & Jubilee visit Colossus & Illyana, after which Jubilee heads outside to rollerblade. On the way, she bumps into Psylocke, who approaches Cyclops in the hanger and kisses him. Rattled, he rushes past Jean, who grows suspicious when Psylocke emerges after him. Jean proceeds to check on Beast & Gambit in the Danger Room, then Storm & Rogue in the infirmary. Meanwhile, Cyclops packs a bag, telling Xavier he's going to visit his grandparents in Alaska. After he lukewarmly bids goodbye to Jean, she confronts Psylocke in the Danger Room and asks point blank if she & Cyclops are having an affair. Psylocke admits she's attracted to Cyclops, but that nothing has happened. When Jean asks if Psylocke is telepathically manipulating him, a fight breaks out, which is interrupted by the appearance of someone wearing Psylocke's old armor. Believing it to be a hologram conjured by Jean, Psylocke attacks, but the armored figure overpowers her. As the rest of the X-Men, drawn to the commotion, enter the Danger Room, the armored figure removes her mask to reveal Psylocke's original form, declaring she is the real Betsy Braddock, and that Psylocke is, and has always been, an impostor.

Firsts and Other Notables
This is the first full appearance of the character who will come to be known as both Kwannon and Revanche, aka New British Psylocke, the character with a grudge against the X-Men serving an Asian lord who appeared briefly in issues #17 and #18 (I will hereafter be referring to her mostly as Revanche, the name she will shortly adopt, even though it hasn't been established yet as of this issue). The general retcon Nicieza is setting up here is that instead of having had her Caucasian body physically transformed into an Asian one, Psylocke's mind was merely swapped with that of an Asian ninja assassin, such that Psylocke's mind ended up in an Asian body and the ninja's mind ended up in Psylocke's original Caucasian body, and that ninja assassin has now returned, seeking revenge.

That retcon will prove to be problematic for a variety of reasons (chiefly that it's directly contradicted by already-existing text and it will take that being pointed out to Nicieza for him to address the contradiction), but we'll get to that soon enough.

Regardless, Revanche will stick around as a kind of de facto member of the team for a few months following this initial story arc, which for the most part will amount to her being drawn into the background of large team shots when applicable, until she eventually contracts and dies from the Legacy virus, a token "see, not everyone who died from the disease was a faceless, unknown mutant!" victim.

There's a couple of hints sprinkled throughout the issue that, in hindsight, foreshadow the Revanche revelation: first, while talking to Jubilee outside, Wolverine smells Psylocke, but Jubilee finds that hard to believe, given the cold and the dress Psylocke was wearing.

The second occurs later when Jean asks the computer to locate Psylocke, and it tries to tell her about an anomalous presence (ie a second Psylocke) in the mansion. Then later, while Psylocke and Jean are in the Danger Room, it announces an unknown energy signature shortly before Revanche appears, but Psylocke silences the computer.

The Cyclops/Psylocke flirtation subplot comes to a head and, for the most part, conclusion, this issue, as Psylocke makes an overt physical move on Cyclops and the pair kiss, prompting a direct (verbal and then physical) confrontation between Psylocke and Jean Grey.

In the wake of their kiss (and, you know, all the junk with Cable & Stryfe), Cyclops leaves the mansion to visit his long-forgotten grandparents. He will continue to appear in this series, but won't return to the mansion until issue #24.

As Psylocke stabs Jean with her psychic knife, she says that now Jean will know her motives for hitting on Cyclops; nothing ever really comes of this, and Nicieza has admitted that his only long term plans for the Cyclops/Psylocke flirtation was to add a little tension to the Scott/Jean relationship; so that bit of dialogue was probably meant to just cast some suspicion on Psylocke right before Revanche shows up to call her an impostor.

I've never read any official confirmation of this idea, but I've long wondered if this issue's cover was intended to make readers think Magneto returns in this issue, as an additional bit of misdirection; between the ever-increasing teases about his survival, to the purple cape flapping at the edges, to the fact that "Magneto" seems like a more obvious answer to "guess who's back?" than "the other Psylocke, who you didn't know until now existed".

A Work in Progress
A narrative caption notes that Xavier's school is still technically a school, even if little teaching actually occurs there anymore.

Xavier is growing increasingly despondent in the wake of recent events.

Xavier notes that, like Colossus & Illyana, Jubilee is also parent-less, a piece of her backstory that doesn't get brought up often, but which will factor in to an upcoming issue of Wolverine.

He also acknowledges that he's felt distant from the X-Men since his return from Shi'ar space.

Illyana's persistent illness leads Xavier to ask after getting her tested for strep (and though this issue takes place after Uncanny #300, whatever suspicions Xavier may have developed there about the truth behind Illyana's illness go unmentioned here); Colossus insists he can nurse her back to health himself.

Beast continues to mope, while Gambit is said to be recovering from injuries, presumably from his encounter with the Acolytes in Uncanny #298.

Similarly, Rogue's eyes are pronounced healed, setting this story before Wolverine #69.

In a nice little detail, as Cyclops packs to leave, his picture of Jean is shown to have the glass of the frame broken, which occurred in issue #12 as Psylocke left to visit her brother.

As shown in Uncanny #288, the mansion's Star Trek-like computer is used again, as Jean uses it to locate Psylocke in the mansion.

Revanche is able to summon not just a psychic knife, but a psychic katanna.

Wolverine continues the proud tradition of the X-Men taking out their frustrations on stumps, as he hacks away at one while bemoaning all the recent losses suffered by the X-Men.

Artistic Achievements
Jubilee's rollerblades look like they're made of liquid metal.

In a panel I've always loved, Kubert manages to show everyone's reactions to Revanche's reveal via their body language/facial expressions.

Young Love
Jean worries about the state of her relationship with Cyclops in the wake of Psylocke putting the moves on him.

As Cyclops leaves for Alaska, Storm urges him not to make the same mistake she did with Forge, and Cyclops counters that when it comes to building emotional walls, no one is better at it than him.

Austin's Analysis
This issue ostensibly kicks off the "Fabian Nicieza Decides to Fix Psylocke's Asian Transformation But It Turns Out He Only Thinks It Needs Fixing Because He Never Read Uncanny X-Men #255, So Then He Has to Unfix His Fix Ten Issues Later" storyline, but most of that business is saved for the final few pages (and a few hints of the upcoming revelation sprinkled throughout), with the bulk of the issue more in the vein of a Classic Claremont Quiet issue, providing the characters some time to reflect on recent events (here, and in Uncanny). This also provides Nicieza, already prone to it, to indulge in his penchant for Claremontian purple prose.

When people online complain about Claremont's prose (as opposed to his favorite tropes or penchant for dangling plotlines), I often wonder if they're conflating the work of his later imitators with his own, blaming him for the work done by lesser writers trying to imitate his style, and this issue is a prime example of tha imitation, as Nicieza goes for the effect, peppering the issue with narrative captions attempting to get inside characters' heads, but doesn't quite nail the style, with the end result more overwrought and less elegant than Claremont's similar efforts.

This issue also showcases how Andy Kubert, similarly, is still coming into his own, as some of his more noticeable artistic quirks (feet-covering steam, liquid metal clothing) are on full display in the absence of distracting-action. Still, even if this issue stands as a "work in progress" for the still-new creative team, it's nevertheless appreciated as a well-timed "breath-catching" issue, as well as an effective transition from one storyline to the next (even if the new storyline is, initially, pretty ridiculous). Sometimes, even if a cover of a song isn't as enjoyable as the original, it can still be entertaining.  

Next Issue
Tomorrow, X-Force comes crashing to Earth in X-Force #22. Friday, Excalibur busts out in Excalibur #65. Next week, Forge returns (again) in Uncanny X-Men #301.

Collected Editions


  1. I've always wondered just how the X-Men editorial office could have read the explanation in the next issue and someone not gone "hang on a minute, Fabian." This was such a massive mistake I always wondered how it happened.

    Concerning Nicieza doing Claremont, agree wholeheartedly. Back then it was obvious that, unlike Scott Lobdell, who was far better at nailing the feel of a Claremont story, that sort of style wasn't in his comfort zone. (He also wasn't as good as prime Claremont, for that matter, and at the time I thought Lobdell was a better writer.)

    Just to deal out the pain to everyone: my memory of this run was that it had pretty good artwork by the standards of the time, but, good god, it's aged as badly as anything else from 1993, and I wonder what I was thinking back then. Kubert back then was the wrong guy for doing quiet issues. So very wrong.

    1. The craziest part of this whole Revanche mess is that Bob Harras was the editor of both the original Claremont story and Nicieza's story! I can only wonder if he didn't realize what Nicieza had in mind when #20 came out, and then with the tease established, felt they had to go forward with it in #21, while still planning to back off of it at some point in the future.

      And seconded on the motor oil thing. I don't know if it was in the plot or if Kubert drew it in of his own initiative, but either way it just comes across as really weird and unintentionally funny rather than erotic or sexy.

  2. I definitely thought that was Magneto on the cover as a kid. Discovering it was Revanche was a pretty big let down for me at the time.

    Psylocke comes onto Cyclops by licking motor oil off of his face. What the hell?

    1. "Psylocke comes onto Cyclops by licking motor oil off of his face. What the hell?"

      I would like to second that what the hell. Betsy, that...that's not sexy or good for you.

    2. At the time, I read it as blood (it's colored the same way) which is... well, very kinky, but not as bizarre as motor oil. It can still work, considering Scott had just taken a bad spill. I can't say I'm bothered enough either way, since this scene has been a guilty pleasure since childhood.

    3. Forge was probably ahead of his time like always and the oil was some sort of natural rapeseed oil kind of thing and not the fossilized petro-chem stuff, and it's perfectly safe to cross Jean like this. Like it was for Madelyne.

  3. So yeah, I'm pretty sure this issue is what turned me into a full blown, never-miss-an-issue regular X-Men reader at the tender age of 10. Like everyone, I had the first issue of Adjectiveless, and a rather spotty run of #2-10 or thereabouts - largely acquired by cherry-picking back issues. X-Cutioner's Song hooked me as my first exposure to Big Event comics. But as far as single issues? Right here. As an avid watcher of such age-inappropriate shows as Melrose Place and Beverly Hills, 90210 I was ALL IN on the Betsy/Scott/Jean love triangle. Sure, the X-Men comics I'd read previous to this blended superhero action with soap operatics, but it all felt so overblown and obtuse (see again, X-Cutioner's Song) especially without a PhD in X-Men continuity. But in this, I found something more down to earth. Even though trashy interpersonal dynamics had LONG been a staple of X-Men comics, this was the issue that fully demonstrated the potential of the medium in a way I never thought possible. Going forward, I'd never need to dive through back issue bins (except to fill earlier gaps) in search of subsequent issues. X-Men was "appointment reading" and I soon had a subscription to this series, with others to follow.

    It's funny, looking back I find that Nicieza was a better serialized/narrative writer, while Lobdell knocked the self-contained "quiet" issues out of the park. Nicieza does indeed feel out of his element here and the Claremont-esque purple prose dripping in his trademark angst is unintentionally hilarious, and oh-so of its time. Nevertheless, I still think he did a nice job of modernizing Claremont's voice. The script reads as more contemporary (by 1993 standards), even if it's lacking in some regards.

    I absolutely took the cover as a Magneto tease. It's not exactly a bait-and-switch, but they knew what they were doing. Even though the contents were far from what I expected, I can't say I was disappointed.

    Personal favorite artistic achievement: that panel of Kwannon psychically(?) decapitating(!?) Psylocke. I could never tell what the fuck was supposed to be going on there, but it certainly left an impression.

  4. I guess I had a similar experience as cyke68. I feel like I've typed this a million times now as you led up to this issue, but this should be the final time: my first issues of X-Men ever, after having read several of a friend's back issues, came in the form of "X-Cutioner's Song". I liked it enough to keep reading UNCANNY afterward, though I inexplicably missed #299 -- and I then dropped it after reading #300 because I didn't care for JR jr.'s artwork (though I did pick up a few issues here and there during crossovers before I got back into it as a regular reader a year or more later).

    Then, a month after dropping UNCANNY, I saw X-MEN #20 on the local shop's shelf. I had always liked the Blue team more than the Gold (I only ever chose UNCANNY over X-MEN for Brandon Peterson's artwork), and the cover sold me. I absolutely read it as a Magneto tease, and I found Andy Kubert's artwork more appealing than it had been during "X-Cutioner's Song". So I picked it up and really enjoyed the story within. I had no knowledge of the Siege Perilous, Psylocke's transformation, etc., so all I had to go on was the text of this issue, which I assumed was correct. Even later, when Nicieza walked back and ret-conned his ret-con circa issue 32, I still hadn't read the earlier issues and assumed he had planned the whole thing out.

    I wasn't 100% sold on Kubert yet at this point, but overall I liked his work -- certainly, to my fourteen year-old eyes, he was superior to Romita. And I loved Nicieza's scripting; I dunno what you guys are talking about! Back in my teens, I thought he was a much better writer in all respects than Scott Lobdell. I liked his plotting and I loved how he poured on the melodrama so thick you needed a spoon to consume it. That said, I've come to appreciate Lobdell as well over the years to the point that the two are equal in my eyes, albeit in different ways, which others here have already described: Lobdell had a great handle on the character stuff, while Nicieza was a stronger plotter.

    Also, this comic felt more "grown up" to me at the time than any I had read prior, with Psylocke aggressively pursuing the committed Cyclops -- and him briefly going along with it! -- not to mention Jubilee referring to Psylocke's outfit as an "'I want sex' dress," which I'm pretty sure was the very first time I ever saw the word "sex" in a comic book! Of course, nowadays I recognize all this stuff as -- to quote cyke68 -- "trashy", but I do still enjoy it as an adult for what it is.

    So from this point on, I was a regular reader of X-MEN, only somehow missing #24, for the next several years until I finally dropped it when Grant Morrison came aboard and turned it into NEW X-MEN -- though I had flirted with dropping it earlier, during Chris Claremont's "Revolution" stuff.

    I guess you could say that as of this issue, we have officially entered my "personal Golden Age" for the X-Men.

  5. Very cool that this random issue is a turning point for the both of us, Matt. Viewed from a distance, I suppose it is rather zeitgeist-y in terms of what the X-Men were all about in the early '90s. Sandwiched between two huge crossovers, it's all about the rising action, intersecting subplots, enigmatic characters (Kwannon here and thinking ahead to all the Sinister/Dark Riders shit a couple issues later), and nonstop brooding dramarama.

    Don't get me wrong, between Lobdell and Nicieza I consider the latter to be a better writer all-around. Nicieza seems incredibly adaptable, in that he can tailor his scripts to the tone of book he's hired for. (Consider the comical bent of his Cable & Deadpool vs. the punchy dialogue in something like New Warriors vs. the high concept-driven Thunderbolts) It surely was his secret weapon in competently writing seven monthly books on a regular basis during this stretch! Lobdell's good at his one thing and you're better off not asking for him to stretch outside that comfort zone.

    I get what you mean about the comic feeling more grown up. It isn't, but through adolescent eyes, you're pretty taken aback. Kubert's art was perfectly paired with Nicieza's script, adding up to an overall package that screams, "EDGY!" Jubilee commenting on Psylocke's Fuck-Me dress so candidly really is a good example. It makes overt all of the subtext Claremont so frequently peppered throughout his run, but without going completely off the bend. Sort of like, "Come on, we're ALL thinking it anyway." Jubilee tended to work well as the Greek chorus in that respect.

    I wasn't mature or informed enough at the time to appreciate that these things were created by actual human beings. I just knew that X-Men looked one way, Uncanny X-Men another, and I'm not sure that I necessarily had a preference artistically for one or the other. Romita's art became quite iconic for Uncanny in my young mind, and I definitely have a lot of fondness for it now. Kubert's limitations become more glaring now, but he'll improve over the years. It's too bad that Brandon Peterson didn't stick around; he was a GREAT fit for the house style of the time.

    1. Yeah, when I said I considered Lobdell and Nicieza equals, I meant strictly in terms of their work on X-Men. Though to be fair, I haven't really read much Lobdell outside of his X-stuff circa the early- to mid-nineties, while I have read a great deal of Nicieza's later stuff, chiefly THUNDERBOLTS/NEW THUNDERBOLTS and CABLE & DEADPOOL.

      I love the idea of Jubilee as a Greek Chorus, by the way.

  6. This supposed British Betsy was and is very off for me.

  7. Really enjoying the discussion here. My experience is broadly similar to others: first started reading with the 1991 relaunch, got hooked big-time by X-Cutioner's Song, and this issue is right in the heart of My Era.

    Re the cover: I specifically remember seeing it in the store, being convinced it was Magneto, and NEEDING to buy it (I was so savvy). Guess it speaks strongly of this issue that I enjoyed it despite the letdown. I'll echo the sentiment that its "adult" vibe really appealed to my young brain.

    Re the oil-licking: If you interpret Psylocke's message to be, "I'm a freak, and willing to do things in bed your uptight girlfriend would never even think of," then it's actually kinda hot, I guess. But if you interpret her message to be, "Mmmm, oil turns me on," then it's just goofy & weird.

    Re the retcon: Despite the continuity error, I actually prefer the simple body swap explanation, compared to whatever the hell Claremont's explanation was meant to be (The Hand teamed up with... Mojo??... because their agendas are so similar??... because they wanted their lead assassin to look Asian, but didn't care if she actually WAS Asian??). It's a shame Nicieza didn't stick to his guns, rather than eventually trying to coordinate his story with Uncanny #255-258. I love Claremont, but not every idea of his was a keeper.

    -Jeff B

    1. I agree, Jeff -- I actually like Nicieza's ret-con here quite a bit, though I understand why he (and/or Harras) felt it needed to be fixed since it contradicted prior continuity.

    2. Agreed. It gets glossed over due to the overwhelming plot contrivances and creators involved, but that original transformation story is kinda fucked up from a cultural appropriation standpoint; certainly tone deaf, at the very least. A Caucasian British woman being physically altered to present as an extremely fetishized "Yellow Fever" ideal? Holy shit.

      I don't think rectifying that element was Nicieza's chief objective, but the introduction of Kwannon as an actual character had a helpful knock-on effect. And I think I'll forgive him either not reading or misunderstanding the original story. I dunno if it was the change in artists, Claremont losing interest, or a combination of the two, but narrative comprehension was NOT Claremont's strong suit at that point. Especially considering the story in question, laden as it was with a ton of dream sequences and elements that made you question whether what you were seeing on the page was actually happening. I believe there was some confusion as to whether the change would stick (and indeed, if it was physical rather than mental in the first place), but Lee just kept drawing her as a Japanese woman so that was that. Not the finest outing for either creator, so points to Nicieza for trying to wring something worthwhile out of it.

    3. I think Calremont's wasn't so much they needed her to look aisan, as they found a powerful telepath and wanted to conceal her identity. Asian just made sense because they were in Hong Kong.

  8. In comparison to Claremont, the huge problem for me was that pretty much all of the interpersonal stuff was suddenly of romantic nature, and all the interpersons are members of the X-Men. The disappearance of interesting supporting characters sneaks up on you and this issue is one where it pushes to the forefront. There used to be out-of-gang girlfriend prospects and acquaintances and extended cast and Jaime Rodriguez and a genuine environment to interact with, but now the X-Men seem to have devolved into a deprived bunch of people fucking, or trying to, each other in the mansion. There's not even the New Mutants to give you the feel that there's more happening than what you see on-panel. The core X-Men were less sealed off from the world while living in the Australian Outback.

    And Summers of all people. It's like they at Marvel had sat down to contemplate what great things they should have to bring to their X-Men 3.0 from the 2nd Genesis X-Men and the original five X-Factor, and something horrible happened and they all thought a Cyclops-angst-centered love triangle should be one.

    1. I will agree with you there, Teemu. One thing that has always bugged me about the Lobdell/Nicieza era is that the X-Men have pretty much no friends outside the mansion. They're totally insulated from the world there, and, as you note, even the romantic interests are teammates (though I've always liked the Psylocke/Archangel pairing). We see some of their family members over the next few years -- Cyclops' grandparents, Iceman's parents, Jean's parents -- but really no (or very few) acquaintances who aren't blood relatives.

      It's kind of weird.

    2. I think part of the problem is that this is really the last arc that maintains any pretense of separate "Blue" and "Gold" teams. From Fatal Attractions-on, every character featured regularly in both books (well, actually... Lobdell wouldn't touch Psylocke until Nicieza sorted this mess out). With such a bloated cast, things necessarily became more core-focused. There just wasn't room for the external supporting characters anymore. So, when it came to the interpersonal dynamics, the easiest option was to go insular. Remy and Rogue! Warren and Betsy! Bobby and, umm... reading too much into minor situational cues which would end up amounting to a great deal 20 years later! Though I concur that inserting the angsty Scott into a new supposed love triangle was an odd decision. His ongoing family drama provided enough soap by itself.

      But again, as a student of prime time soap opera, I lapped it up. All the elements were there. Family in-fighting, romantic entanglements, even the "evil doppelganger" trope when Dark Beast comes into the picture! I gained an appreciation later for the rich supporting cast, and it is a shame that so many of them fall by the wayside. Opal had been botched before the relaunch, but Tom and Sharon REALLY got raw deals. Would've been nice to see more of Charlotte Jones (although I do really like the Warren/Betsy pairing). Trish does stick around at least and Moira isn't totally forgotten. But you're right in that Claremont's predilection for naming and giving depth to even his ancillary characters is entirely absent now.

    3. That's a very good point on the unclear "character rights" of any supporting cast members. And also, with non-team-members Claremont could just not use them for six or eight issues before bringing them back and reviving a character arc they might have been having, but that obviously is not an option with a team member in either book.

      Alas, I'm that guy who just wants to read significance into things like when pretty much the earliest villain from X-FACTOR (which book first prompted the end of Claremont's full control of all things X), Frenzy, strikes Sharon Friedlander dead from behind whilst she's being in midst of some very Claremontian introspection, on the eve of UNCANNY #300 no less. You can read that as a very patricidal statement from the post-Claremont creators, if you're so inclined, and I obviously am because I was sucker for the "extended X-universe" stuff where auxiliary characters and the man o' street get they say sometimes.

      My X-Men was first the #200+ and then the #176-200 and the latter half of Claremont/Byrne and the patchy bits in between, so I have post-traumatically hard time coming into terms with the distruption in the creative approach at the re-launch. Obviously that era is gone for good at this point and it's hard and needless for me to not acknowledge that this here is the X-Men for the blogmeister and many of the commentors, so feel free to call me out when my "old man yells at cloud" crap gets overtly tedious. :)

      Also this Kubert dude is totally wrong fit for the X-Men. All the women have the same face. It legitly worsened my distruption back in the day.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. Ha, I love that reading of Sharon Friedlander's death! Setting aside my own snark, I am a fan of wildly over-reading the prose and drawing connections that may or may not be intentional. For instance, I view the entirety of Claremont's final year on the series as a metacommentary on his conflicts with editorial. That last issue, with Xavier's heartbreaking reversal of Peter's post-Siege Perilous character development, kind of says it all.

      This era is the first X-Men I was regularly reading, so I'll always have a soft spot for it. But I consider Claremont/Byrne to be the best, and was fortunate to read that during my formative years as well via the Essential trades. Then it's probably the Paul Smith run. #177-Mutant Massacre is a real rough patch for me. It's quality work and has its moments, but I've never been able to connect with that on the level of other runs. I'm pretty high on the Outback Era. Dissolution and Rebirth is incredibly admirable for its ambition.

      Original X-Factor is another anomalous childhood favorite. Nabbed the first 50 issues in back issue bins when I was 14 and devoured them during a winter break in middle school. There is oh-so much to delightfully overthink in that series.

    6. This era has a lot of nostalgia value for me as well. I have to admit that I genuinely enjoy Kubert's art, even now as a jaded adult. I think the break down of the Blue and Gold teams was kind of a mistake. Niceiza seems to hold onto it longer, but I miss the more defined teams. I also find it funny that as soon as Lobdell gets his hands on Psylocke he makes her even more complicated with the Crimson Dawn stuff.

    7. It's been brought up more than once here that the Reavers (specifically the Hellfire commandos among them) apparently act as a stand-in for the editorial in Claremont's work: First Reese, Cole and Macon, supposedly killed by Wolverine in Dark Phoenix Saga, are suddenly alive and cyborgized due to "no killing" rule in #151-152; they next appear in the New Mutants MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL 4 which was born as a compromise to external demands for "X-Men West Coast" or something like that; again they appear in #205 after the X-FACTOR is pushed on Claremont's plans; and when Bob Harras assumes the role of the editor in #232 it takes about a year to turn really ugly.

    8. Lol. See, that's exactly what I'm talking about. In retrospect, perhaps Reese, Cole, and Macon should have appeared at the end of #201 to gun everyone down and really drive the point home.

      Jeff, I'm with you on wanting more out of the Blue & Gold divisions. Although, it's fairly obvious that the Blue Strike Force was engineered to be the "cool" team. All of Jim Lee's hand-picked favorites, with everyone else getting confined to the b-squad in Uncanny. This was certainly reflected in the licensing and other media, which was Team Blue all the way. Look no further than the animated series: it's the Blue team, minus Psylocke, plus Storm and Jean (i.e. the Lee redesigns). That had to be a HUGE boost and statement of intent at the time.

      It's interesting how Lobdell and Nicieza not only used the same characters, but handed the various arcs back and forth. Colossus Must Suffer: Lobdell kills his brother, Nicieza kills his parents, Lobdell kills his sister, Nicieza wipes out Avalon, Lobdell sends him off to Excalibur. Sabretooth: brought into the mansion under Nicieza, Lobdell sends him packing. Archangel: Lobdell softens his character; Nicieza introduces the relationship with Psylocke. Lots of little examples like that.

      Crimson Dawn was Psylocke's nail in the coffin as a character for a long time. Did way more damage than the Kwannon retcon, which everyone had moved past.

    9. Niceiza actually does at least get to finish the Sabretooth storyline in the Red Zone one shot, which I had never heard of until a few years ago, and leads into Sabretooth appearing in Howard Mackie's X-Factor. (shudder)

    10. And you're right Jim Lee definitely got first dibs on characters for his team.

    11. That's right! Completely forgot about that Red Zone one shot, which I actually really enjoy. Kind of a hidden gem. Probably was Nicieza's last regular contribution to the franchise too.

    12. "It's been brought up more than once here that the Reavers (specifically the Hellfire commandos among them) apparently act as a stand-in for the editorial in Claremont's work:"

      Excellent observation. I wonder who first made it ...

    13. This was the original I gather(?):

      I came in very late for this game, and met and accepted the thing as an acknowledged truism when I first heard of it mentioned. Truly one of those hard-to-unrealize things.

      (It insists on putting the "fi" to the url for me. Sorry.)

    14. I have this far failed to notice the nice bookends that in #205 Lady D and the Hellfire commandos maul Wolverine badly just before Nimrod lays waste on the Hellfire Club in the Central Park while the X-Men lose a Claremont-created female member; and in #246 Nimrod returns pretty much in the same location, the X-Men again lose a Claremont-created female member, and the Reavers, revealed to be lead by Donald Pierce (formerly of HFC), again maul Wolverine badly.

      It kind of reads that Claremont probably took badly how he wasn't allowed to use Alan Moore's Fury (and Jim Jaspers) on UNCANNY, and had to resort to Mr. Sinister's Marauders and the Adversary for the Mutant Massacre plot that's being bookended by the Nimrod appearances and the Naze/Forge shenanigans, both first prompted by both Forge and ersatz Linda McQuillan Rachel Summers premiering in the same UNCANNY issue #184.

      Mojo, the promoter bent on usurping the X-Men, being heavily used at this time in the ANNUALS and his henchwoman Spiral being tied to Lady Deathstrike is probably not an accident either.

      I don't know what the hell to make of Matsuo stealing the tedious "I'm an artist!" knack from Mojo, with Mojo kind of being there to witness it.

  9. The last panel teases "Who has been sleeping in my head?" as the title for the next issue, but it will not be the title. I don't know of any pop culture significance beyond the play on Goldilocks fairytale, but the same phrase was the alternative title for UNCANNY #167, where Prof. Xavier turned into a Brood.


  10. // Psylocke, who approaches Cyclops in the hanger and kisses him //

    , not hanger.

    // a psychic katanna //

    I guess? Seems kinda thick for a katana; more like a scimitar. Probably whatever Kubert felt like drawing because, y'know, "psychic sword" so don't mind me being all contrary...

    // Jubilee's rollerblades look like they're made of liquid metal. //

    And they kick up a lot of yellowish dust, or maybe they’re motorized and generate yellowish exhaust, or it could be that Spore is back for vengeance on Wolverine. Like you say later, of course, Kubert’s probably doing it to save himself time on some feet, although there are a fair number of feet throughout and Jubilee’s body overall on these pages is easily some of the best figure work in the issue amidst art that’s not generally to my taste.

  11. In X-men 256, when Wolvie encounters the new and improved ninja Psylocke he makes a comment about recognizing the scent, as he does in this issue when running across revanche. So, did they do some kind of gland swap as well? For the love of God Fabian, just do your homework. This is where I started to check out as a monthly reader, dating all the way back to somewhere around 205/Mutant Masacure range. Everything started to feel very haphazardly planned and written, and though he would improve in later years, kubert was still working a lot of stuff out, and his story telling was often confusing to say the least. I believe that wolverine 75 is my departure point. Bone Claws was just a bridge too far, but I'll comment on that when you get there. I'm sure we'll all have a field day witht that one. On a more positive note, 303 is coming up, which is one of the finest moments of this era in my opinion.

  12. Actually, doesn't Wolverine look at her and recognize her as Betsy? Maybe the Asian visual was unintentional initially. Maybe Lee's new Psylocke looked Asian, but really wasn't; artists mistook it and just ran with it?


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