In a Nutshell
The wedding of Cyclops & Jean Grey
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Joe Rosas
Editor: Bob Harras
Chief: Tom DeFalco
As she finishes getting ready for the ceremony, Jean reads a letter Wolverine sent to her & Scott in his absence. Meanwhile, Hank, Warren, Bobby & Alex struggle to tie Scott's bow tie, before Professor X arrives to finish the job, and lead them all outside. Shortly thereafter, the ceremony begins as Jean walks down the aisle, and then she & Scott are married. As the reception begins, Sabretooth ponders causing trouble, but is dissuaded by an unseen figure. Later, the assorted friends & family members of Scott & Jean mingle and catch-up amid the assorted wedding traditions. As the evening winds down, Jean pulls Professor X onto the dance floor and uses her telekinesis to share a dance with him. Later, with the guests having retired to bed or Harry's Hideaway for a night cap, Scott says goodbye to Xavier on his way to the airport, thanking him for the life he gave him, and telling Xavier that he loves him. As Scott leaves, Xavier finds himself, in the wake of the wedding, looking at the work still before him, and the people around him, with new eyes, just as he opens his own letter from Wolverine, telling him simply to lighten up.
Firsts and Other Notables
After several months of build-up, Cyclops and Jean Grey are married in this issue, a marriage that will last until 2003 (real world time), when Jean dies once again in the penultimate story of Grant Morrison's run on this series. For the most part, barring a brief period in which Cyclops is believed dead and the later psychic affair between Cyclops & Emma Frost that shortly precedes Jean's death, the couple will be depicted as happily married (ie writers don't dick the couple around and mostly allow them to just be a happy together) from this point forward.
Though this issue opens with a Jean reading a letter sent to her and Scott from Wolverine in lieu of him attending the wedding, it's later implied that he did in fact make it (and just watched from afar without making his presence known), when Sabretooth, out on the grounds in his manacles & muzzle, considers making trouble, only to find a message written in the snow warning him not to even think about it (and the MCP and Official Index list him as appearing in this issue).
There's a double page spread as anticipating Jean's walk down the aisle, which showcases the various guests attending the wedding. Notable attendees, aside from various members of the X-teams (it's hard to tell if they're all there), include Artie & Leech, Joey and Gailyn (Jean's niece & nephew), Scott's grandparents (I think that's supposed to be them next to Artie & Leech), Quicksilver, Crystal & Luna, with Banshee & Moira (I believe) behind them, and Stevie Hunter (way in the back). The GCD lists Ka-Zar & Shanna being there as well; maybe they're the pair behind Cable & Boomer?
Storm is Jean's Maid of Honor (Havok is never explicitly called out as being Cyclops' best man, but he's clearly serving that role), while Lila Cheney provides the music for the ceremony and the reception.
Their first dance is done to U2's "One", which...isn't a great first dance song (it's nominally inspired by the reunification of Germany and the fracturing of the band at the time it was recorded), but not as bad as having something like the Police's "Every Breath You Take" be your first dance song.
Rogue catches the bouquet, while Gambit (of course) gets the garter, though both use their powers to do so, which seems a bit like cheating.
At the end of the issue, as Xavier ponders the work still ahead of him, he's holding paperwor for the Massachusetts Academy, foreshadowing he eventually resurrection of that institution as a school for mutants in Generation X. There's also a letter on his desk with a note form Moira suggesting Cable may be the key to developing a vaccine for the Legacy Virus. Like most "curing the Legacy Virus" hints, this one will come to naught.
This issue has a wraparound cover.
When my wife and I got married, we wrote our own vows, and when I sat down to write mine, for inspiration (in terms of verbage and whatnot), I revisited a handful of fictional weddings, including this issue. I believe I ended up incorporating the "in passion and pain" dichotomy (I also made sure "poorness" was underlined).
The Chronology Corner
For X-Factor, this takes place between issues #100 and #101. For X-Force, it immediately follows the "Child's Play" crossover, while Cable fits in the events of issues #9-11 of his solo series as well as his appearance in Uncanny #310 between "Child's Play" and this issue. For Excalibur, this fits between issues #74 and #75, and Wolverine's "appearance" occurs between issues #78 and #79 of his series.
A Work in Progress
For those of you keeping track of such things, it's said here that its January (with Storm adjusting things so the weather is unseasonably nice, which probably shouldn't also mean the grass is green and the trees in bloom, unless she's been keeping winter at bay for months, but whatever). So if anyone is looking to celebrate Scott & Jean's anniversary, mark January 7th on your calendars.
As the finishing touches are put on Jean and her dress just before the ceremony, she and Rachel have a nice conversation, following up on their reconciliation in Excalibur #71.
Xavier's narration mentions the last time Cyclops got married (as he wonders if Cyclops is reflecting on it, and what a tragedy it was, which is a bit of an understatement), the only reference (however oblique) to Madelyne in this issue.
None of the male X-Men (including upper class clothes horse Warren Worthington) can tie a bow tie, leaving it to Professor X to get the job done (though I'm not sure you can actually tie a bow tie for someone else without standing behind them and tying it directly around their neck).
In anticipation of guests being present at the wedding who don't know Xavier is a mutant, the founder of the X-Men, and in possession of advanced alien technology, he switches to a regular wheelchair from his usual hoverchair before going outside for the ceremony.
At the reception, Lorna complains to Alex about being constantly asked when she's getting married, a wedding phenomenon I've both experienced and witnessed countless times.
Sam, Rictor & Rahne share a brief one-panel reunion, in which Rahne's former teammates acknowledge her recently-restored ability to turn fully human once again.
Cable bumps into Val Cooper and the pair laugh about him being a federal fugitive.
There's one quick, silent panel in which Cable & Rachel look on at their now happily-married "parents".
The reception ends with Jean using her powers to share a dance with Professor X, with her waving off his concerns about protecting the X-Men's identities (saying that while the world doesn't know Xavier is a mutant and may not know she's one of the X-Men, she's made secret of the fact that she is a mutant, and nothing she's doing implicates Xavier directly).
After the wedding is over, Cyclops mentions that he received a message from his father. He also acknowledges that Havok has been putting up a brave front on his behalf, despite being broken up by Madrox' death (which is an appreciated way of bridging the gap between the genial "brother of the groom" presented here and the wracked-with-grief Havok we'll see in subsequent issues of X-Factor).
Then, on his way out to his honeymoon, he thanks Professor X for taking him and giving him the life he has, telling him that he loves him (which, while a sweet moment in and of itself, is also a nice coda to the bit in X-Men Unlimited #1 where he struggled to call Xavier by his first name).
Both Beast and Iceman are dateless for the wedding, their X-Factor-era sweethearts being unavailable/uninterested.
Like Uncanny X-Men #308, I have a hard time being objective about this issue, as I absolutely adore it. Superhero weddings aren't necessarily rare (heck, this is the second time the X-Men have gathered to watch Cyclops marry a woman who looks like Jean), but it is rare to see them presented this way, in an issue devoted entirely to the wedding itself, without any super-villains crashing the party or cosmic beings presiding over the ceremony, or without being a brief coda to more traditional, action-orientated events earlier in the issue. Here, Nicieza, Kubert and company simply fill the pages with scenes from a wedding, from the bride & groom getting ready, to the bridal march, to the exchange of vows, to the dance and reception. It is presented, for all intents and purposes, as just a regular, "normal" wedding, albeit one involving people who happen to be super-powered mutant superheroes.
The entire issue, in terms of narrative captions, is written from Xavier's perspective, rather than from Scott or Jean's, which adds to the "normal-ness" of it. Like the readers, he has watched these characters grow and develop over the years (/decades), and thus, his reactions to finally seeing Scott & Jean get married reflect our own. And like the readers, he is a spectator, rather than the subject, of the ceremony as well, so making him our window into the wedding makes us feel like we're there beside him, sitting on the mansion grounds as the couple exchanges their vows or Beast walks away from the buffet with several plates full of food, creating an intimacy & solidarity that would be lacking if the story were written from the perspective of an omniscient narrator or one of the newlyweds (whose experiences & feelings expressed via internal monologue would have to be very different from everyone else's).
Of course, it's easy to read something like this, in which the entire issue is nothing but character-driven moments and nearly the entirety of the larger X-universe is crammed into one issue, and lament the missed opportunities, the interactions between characters we didn't see or callbacks to previous events which went uncalled back upon (I for one would have loved to see a more direct interaction between Cyclops & Cable, in the wake of Uncanny #310, as well as a more overt acknowledgement of Scott's previous marriage), but it's worth appreciating the moments we do get, especially the ones like Cannonball & Rictor acknowledging Wolfsbane's ability to turn human again, or Gambit catching the garter in the most over-the-top way possible (Lobdell & Nicieza have to be writing him as a quasi-parody of himself at this point, right?). Or the beautiful moment at the end where Jean uses her power to dance with Xavier, secret identities (as much as they exist anyway for a character who doesn't even have a codename at this point) be damned. There's certainly plenty such moments we didn't get to see, but most of the ones we did are pretty fantastic.
Re-reading this for the review, it was the first time I'd revisited the story since I myself was married. And it's interesting how that has changed my reaction to it a bit. As a kid, I was such a devoted Cyclops/Jean shipper that I agonized over the state of their relationship, and this issue felt like a successful victory lap, a chance for me to relax, safe in the knowledge that the X-Men's OTP had safely & successfully gotten married. Reading it now, I'm less captivated by the story as a culmination of their romantic relationship, and more enthralled by the entertaining depiction of the little, all-too-realistic moments inspired by their wedding, like Polaris lamenting the barrage of "when are you getting married?" questions, or Jean's mom fussing over her dress, or the mixture of pride coupled with sorrow that Xavier feels seeing two of his "children" getting married.
Everything comes together to sell the idea that, for all the evil clones and alternate realities and grandiose powers, these people are all a family, and we, the readers, are part of that family too, gathered to celebrate an all-too-rare moment of happiness in this family's life. That's a remarkable achievement for any story to accomplish, let alone one that's part of a serialized action-adventure narrative at the height of its commercial success, in an era when big guns and teeth-gnashing violence and moral ambiguity usually win out over quiet, character-driven drama, but it's this kind of stuff, juxtaposed against the more usual, louder, super-heroics, that entranced me back then, and keeps me reading today.
Tomorrow, things get louder as the "Child's Play" crossover begins in X-Force #32, and Friday, Excalibur says goodbye and hello to one of their own in Excalibur #75. Next week: X-Men Unlimited #4.