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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #44

"Lost and Found"
September 1995

In a Nutshell
In the wake of Avalon's destruction, Cyclops fights to keep himself and the Acolytes alive.

Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Matt Ryan
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Kevin Somers & Digital Chameleon
Editor: Bob Harras

After crashing to Earth in the wake of Avalon's destruction, Colossus is found in Antarctica by an armored figure. Meanwhile, Professor Xavier strains to telepathically search the globe for any sign of Cyclops or Phoenix. Just then, he is contacted by Bishop. Tracking an emergency signal given to the X-Men by Amelia Voght, he & Psylocke have found Phoenix & Skids, alive and well. Meanwhile, Cyclops and a group of Acolytes have landed in the Australian Outback, with Cyclops doing his best to keep them alive while sending Scanner out on recon missions to get their bearings. In Antarctica, Colossus is taken inside Magneto's former citadel. Later, Xavier approaches Voght about using her powers in concert with his to locate Cyclops, though Voght balks at the risk in doing so to Xavier's life. In the Outback, Cyclops manages to lead the Acolytes to the X-Men's old Australian base, using the equipment there to call the mansion for help. In Antarctica, Colossus regains consciousness and learns his rescuer is Callisto. She tells him that in exchange for saving his life, she needs his and the X-Men's help to save the world.

Firsts and Other Notables
With Avalon destroyed and Magneto (as we'll see) off the board for awhile, this issue effectively marks the end of the Acolytes' tenure as recurring antagonists across the line. While Exodus (who doesn't appear in the issue) will continue to make a few appearances in various places, the rest of the Acolytes for the most part won't be seen again until 1996's Magneto limited series (the one starring Joseph); after that, their appearances will be far more sporadic and never again as consistent as over the last two plus years.

The main story in this issue involves Cyclops leading the Acolytes to the X-Men’s old Outback base after crashing in Australia; it's the first time we've seen the place since Uncanny X-Men #281. Cyclops also notes that someone has appeared to have been using it lately, but this, I believe, goes nowhere.

Frenzy is called out by some of the other Acolytes for sticking up for Cyclops; she & Unuscione rightly point out he’s keeping them alive (and also Magneto is probably dead so what does anything matter?) but it’s interesting to note in light of Frenzy later developing feelings for him.

Last issue, Colossus & Magneto used an escape pod to evacuate Avalon; Magneto has disappeared between issues (he'll turn up again - sort of - in Uncanny X-Men #327). Colossus, meanwhile, is found by Callisto (last seen when she and the rest of the Morlocks seemingly died at the hands of Mikhail in Uncanny #293), looking roughly ten years older (by her estimation) than when he last saw her; the pair will next turn up in Uncanny X-Men #325.  

Xavier is unable to search the astral plane for Scott & Jean due to a psionic disturbance, which is either a reference to the presence of X-Man on Earth, or another Onslaught tease. I honestly don't remember.

It is confirmed that Skids survived the destruction of Avalon alongside Jean; she'll next appear in X-Force #78.

A Work in Progress
Despite being drawn in his Acolyte uniform last issue, Colossus appears in his classic costume in this one with no explanation (Cyclops is also shown wearing his visor in this issue, despite having been sent to Avalon by Voght in issue #42 while wearing civilian clothes and his non-visor glasses).

Apparently, Bishop & Psylocke are the X-Men's search & rescue team; they take the Blackbird to find Jean & Skids in this issue, just as they flew it into space to retrieve the strike team sent to Avalon in Wolverine #75.

Cerebro is still out of commission following the Phalanx Covenant.

Cyclops does that aboriginal survival thing where he digs into the ground to find water (but uses an optic blast instead of a stick).

The escape pod Colossus & Magneto used was programmed to go to Magneto’s Antarctic citadel, last seen in X-Men Unlimited #1

It’s established here that Voght’s natural state is mist, and she holds herself together out of sheer force of will.

It's in the Mail
A response to a letter in this issue once again promises that an X-Men movie is in the works.

Austin's Analysis
"The Fall of Avalon" concludes with a fun survivalist adventure featuring Cyclops, as he has to lead a group of Acolytes across the Australian outback and keep them alive in the process. For a story that featured an orbital space station being blown apart by super-powered beings before the pieces crashed to Earth, it's something of a quiet conclusion (almost more of an epilogue, really), but that contrast works to its advantage, giving everyone a chance to breath after the previous, more frenetic issue. And there's some fun to be had in the "odd couple" pairing of Cyclops & the Acolytes, particularly in the moments when half the Acolytes want to kill him and the other half rightfully point out he's the only one keeping them all alive. It's a strong & effective depiction of Cyclops' "always find a way" mentality, given an extra boost by pairing him up with a group of would-be foes.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, X-Force #45. Friday, Wolverine #92. Next week, Generation X begins its first Bachalo-less run in Generation X #7.

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  1. Weren't Bishop and Psylocke search and rescue in Unlimited #1 as well?

    1. Yes! I think that is what I was thinking of here.

  2. "Apparently, Bishop & Psylocke are the X-Men's search & rescue team; they take the Blackbird to find Jean & Skids in this issue, just as they flew it into space to retrieve the strike team sent to Avalon in Wolverine #75."

    X-Men Unlimited #1 have Bishop & Psylocke rescuing Professor X, Cyclops and Storm.

    "The main story in this issue involves Cyclops leading the Acolytes to the X-Men’s old Outback base after crashing in Australia; it's the first time we've seen the place since Uncanny X-Men #281. Cyclops also notes that someone has appeared to have been using it lately, but this, I believe, goes nowhere."

    It could be... ONSLAUGHT!!!

    "Despite being drawn in his Acolyte uniform last issue, Colossus appears in his classic costume in this one with no explanation"

    Andy Kubert drew Colossus with his X-Men uniform in all his appearances as an Acolyte, right?

    1. By the way, Bishop was alone in Wolverine #75. I can recall a panel with Psylocke on Earth and not in Avalon helping rescue the strike team.

    2. Yeah, I think I was confusing that in my memory with X-MEN UNLIMITED #1.

  3. This was probably my last X-Men comic for a while.
    Wouldn't Xavier's comment about him and Magneto having similarities be a sign of Onslaught slowly molding his thoughts?

  4. It's been awhile since I read this one. But love the dynamic of Cyclops and Magneto's little rascals. The Acolytes managed to provide some contrast to the XM, but their radacalization never (even) outmatched the personality clashes. With that, at least, they could've marshaled some intrigue all their own.. maybe. 'Prolly hard to write terrorists for pre-teen demo.

    Gotta wonder if Cyke can be depicted genuinely raising an eyebrow from under the chunky visor, or if it suits him better to never break his 'laser' focus on.. KeEPInG eVErYonE AliVe! Flanked over each shoulder by recent refugees/or have they fallen back to earth again(?) - he pays mind only to the work ahead of them : So he can look on while ProfX scolds or consoles them upon retrieval. Classic Scott.

  5. I loved this issue for what it could have led to, but it did not. It would have been great to see the Acolytes as “refugees” in the mansion and, perhaps, looking at Cyclops as their new leader. Also, there’s no discussion between Cyclops, Jean and Skids about all that has happened to her since they saw her for the last time, specially with Rusty, who died! No follow-up! What a wasted opportunity!

    1. It would have been neat seeing the Acolytes end up at the mansion in some capacity. Or even to have Rusty's death acknowledged. I wouldn't be surprised if, had Nicieza stayed on the book, he might have done something with Skids and Rusty's death (the Acolyte stuff, on the other hand, feels very much like Nicieza working as the hatchet man for an editorial edict to clear them off the board ahead of "Onslaught", but I have zero evidence of that being the case aside from a gut feeling).

  6. Was it ever established what ran the computer in Australia? I remember it being futuristic and doing things it shouldn't - was that all goblins/magic or was it linked to Sugar-Man/Dark Beast/Onslaught - same with the recent use here?

    I loved getting this issue and seeing Kubert back on it, finally some crisp art again.

    1. Back in the day, the weirdness of the Australian computers was one of those things Claremont left dangling. I don't know that it's every been retroactively addressed.

    2. I always liked Nathan Adler's hypothesis that it was somehow connected to the organic Mastermind computer in Captain Britain's basement, that evolved by consuming minerals. It was Roma who sent the X-Men after the Reavers who were using the abandoned mining town as their base. Claremont curiously namedropped "Gateway Technologies" in Excalibur #2 around the same time when he introduced Gateway.

    3. Curiously the Gateway Technologies factory was at Lake Daemon, apparently right next to the stone circle from the Lady Daemon story in Bizarre Adventures, where her sister tried opening a gateway to the Outer Dark and summon N'Garai assumably.

      Apparently Gateway's people would've been "demonically enslaved" if his holy place was desecrated by the Reavers... idk, N'Garai seem like the demonically enslaving type to me.

  7. I’m a bit late to the party on this one, so I’ll be brief:

    1. Good spotlight issue for Cyclops. Also, I found it interesting that Unuscione, generally one of the more zealous Acolytes, was so willing to follow him. Seems like maybe she and the Kleinstocks should have had their attitudes swapped.

    2. Thanks for mentioning Colossus’s costume. I won’t beat the dead horse; I’ll just say that I’m glad I don’t need to complain about Andy Kubert’s lack of attention to detail on that front anymore!

    3. I wish Voght had taken Xavier up on his offer. I would’ve liked to have seen her as an X-Man during this era.

    1. Agree, great issue showing what a natural leader Cyclops was and how people that hated him had to respect his leadership.

      Really cool retcon with Voght, Jean would probably also liked to have another woman there and maybe Bobby could have got a date, haha, referencing the Fire/Ice issue. It's crazy how many other people have been retconned to almost joining the X-Men before the actual X-Men.

      I always wondered about the art/costume issue. Is it the artists fault if they are coming in after being off of the book for three months to know exactly where it left off and they don't have those pages they missed to know the change, the writers fault for not telling the artist to change things or the editor that should be keeping everything in check like this? I would think it was more of the editor or do artists just stick to the character model and don't like to stray from it.

      It's just like any cartoon/comic/etc. where someone goes in looking one way and then they later appear in costume or they are knocked out and suddenly in costume. Did the villain change them, that's strange. Have you ever tried to lift another limp person, I can't imagine trying to put clothes on them. Lifting my own kids and trying to change them when they were small was a challenge. Was the costume just under their clothes. Or how about GI Joe that always wore their battle gear and never had regular clothes.

    2. Well, I just mean that I wish Voght had accepted Xavier’s offer in this issue to remain at the mansion, not necessarily that she had been ret-conned onto the team from the beginning.

      As for the costume thing, I place a bit of blame with Kubert for not following the example of literally every single artist who had drawn Colossus since he became an Acolyte, but I think most of the blame lies with the editor. Bob Harras should’ve either had Kubert redraw Colossus in the Acolyte uniform, or simply instructed Matt Ryan to ink the uniform onto the art instead of the X-Men costume.

    3. Since everyone is picking on Andy Kubert’s lack of synchrony with Paul Smith’s depiction of Cyclops and Colossus, I’ll go further: Kubert draws Cyclops as if he has been in the desert for weeks, with the hair and beard grown, and clothes in rags, when Paul Smith depicted him with a clean cut hairstyle and very well shaved face. Ow, and no visors.


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