Wednesday, October 30, 2019
X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #43
In a Nutshell
Cyclops & Phoenix attempt to survive the destruction of Avalon.
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Guest Penciler: Paul Smith
Inkers: Matt Ryan & Cam Smith
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Kevin Somers/Digital Chameleon
Grace Catcher: Bob Harras
Professor X telepathically tries to contact Cyclops & Phoenix, who have been teleported to Avalon in the midst of Exodus' battle with Holocaust. On Avalon, Cyclops & Jean try to find Skids, and learn Rusty was killed by Holocaust. Elsewhere, Colossus debates abandoning Cyclops & Jean to escape with Magneto. At the X-Mansion, Voght tells Xavier he'll never break through Exodus' psionic shields, but he continues to try. On Avalon, Cyclops rallies the remaining Acolytes to escape, while Phoenix sets out in search of Skids. After Xavier breaks through and makes contact with Jean, he tells Colossus to use an escape pod to escape with the comatose Magneto. As Jean uses her power to leave the station and recover Skids, Cyclops leads the Acolytes to the escape pods, only to discover they're all missing or destroyed. As Exodus & Holocaust's battle causes the station to fully break apart, Cyclops orders Unuscione to use her exoskeleton to protect the hunk of wreckage to which he and the rest of the Acolytes are clinging, but as the pieces of the station begin crashing to Earth, Jean senses Unuscione's shields starting to falter.
Firsts and Other Notables
This issue marks the end of Avalon, Magneto's latest orbital headquarters, introduced in X-Force #25 (at least until pieces of it show up as part of Utopia in the 00s), as the station breaks apart due to Exodus & Holocaust's battle, sending the pieces crashing down to Earth. It also effectively ends the Acolytes as a group for the foreseeable future, until a revived Magneto regroups them shortly before "Magneto War" towards the end of the decade.
As such, the various players on Avalon are all sent scattered by the end of the issue: Exodus & Holocaust end up crashing in the ocean. Exodus will next appear in Cable #30 (the start of a crossover with X-Man), while Holocaust will return in X-Force #48.
Colossus & Magneto escape in an escape pod before the station breaks apart. Colossus' fate will be revealed next issue (and he'll eventually end up joining Excalibur following this), while Magneto's will be (seemingly) addressed in Uncanny X-Men #327.
Jean & Skids are sent hurtling to Earth on one piece of wreckage, protected by their respective powers, while Cyclops and the rest of the Acolytes are on another, using Unuscione's powers to keep themselves alive. Their fates will also be covered next issue.
Before destroying Avalon, Holocaust kills Javitz, the Acolyte who perpetually had a bandage/blindfold over one eye.
The three limited series for 1995 (all of which have to be crammed into the last 2/3 of the year because of "Age of Apocalypse") are announced in this issue's letter column: Wolverine/Gambit (from Loeb & Sale), Starjammers, and Askani'son (the sequel to The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix).
A Work in Progress
Tons of callbacks to original X-Factor run in this issue. First, Jean is determined not to leave Avalon without Rusty & Skids, their original wards.
Then Cyclops flies into a rage when he learns Rusty is dead.
This leads to him turning on Frenzy, calling back to the fact that she was the first evil mutant X-Factor confronted, when she tried to kidnap Rusty.
Exodus is able Force Jean out of his mind, causing her to realize just how powerful he is.
Like a Phoenix, From the Ashes
The closing panels of this issue, with Jean sensing Cyclops' peril as Unuscione's shields start to fail, is a callback to X-Men #100 and the events which led to Jean becoming Phoenix, complete with the same "tac" sound effect.
This is a fun issue, one which plays almost like a disaster movie (where the disaster is two super-powered lunatics whose fight with one another indiscriminately threatens the lives of everyone around them), with Cyclops & Jean furiously working to first stop the disaster, then get the Acolytes (and themselves) off Avalon, as the station crumbles around them. And for fans of the original X-Factor (like myself), there's also some much appreciated callbacks to Cyclops & Jean's time in that series, recalling their tutelage of Rusty & Skids and antagonism with Frenzy (one of the first evil mutants to appear in that series). Once again, all this is complemented by Paul Smith's pencils which, while not as polished as his earlier work (I don't think either the inkers or the paper stock are doing his work any favors), are still much appreciated, and make this a worthy sendoff for one of this era's more notable locations.
Next week: Generation X #6, Excalibur #88 and Cable #22!
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