Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #326

"The Nature of Evil"
November 1995

In a Nutshell
Gambit confronts Sabretooth as Beast & Xavier debate the threat of the Legacy Virus.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Joe Madureira
Inkers: Tim Townsend
Letters: Richard Stakings & Comicraft
Colors: Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon
Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Gambit, sitting alone on the roof of the mansion, ruminating on his recent reunion with Rogue in Seattle, is joined by Storm, and they discuss whether a person can truly change who they are. Meanwhile, Beast & Professor Xavier appear at WHO conference in San Francisco to debate the Legacy Virus, in an attempt to play down the virus' threat and calm the public's fear & anger toward mutants. Genoshan Rene Majcomb is in the audience & argues on behalf of the mutates killed by the virus, but Val Cooper delivers the government's official position that at present, there is little evidence proving the threat of the virus to the population at large. At the X-Mansion, Boomer has growing doubts regarding the sincerity of the seemingly-docile Sabretooth, but Gambit does not. He bursts into the Danger Room and confronts Sabretooth with holographic recreations of his past kills, arguing that no one can forget or move past those heinous acts, until Storm comes in and makes him stop. Back in San Francisco, Beast finds Xavier ruminating on his recent failures, notably with Sabretooth. Beast says that it may very well be in Sabretooth's nature to kill, and while they may have failed to change him, they shouldn't let Sabretooth change them.

Firsts and Other Notables
The end of this issue finds Xavier despairing over his inability to cure the Legacy Virus and his apparent failure to cure Sabretooth after bringing him into the mansion; this despair and feelings of hopelessness regarding these two events will later be pointed to specifically as having contributed to the creation of Onslaught.


The events of this issue are also setting up the upcoming story in which Sabretooth will reveal his trie colors and escape the mansion, ending his tenure in the mansion and leading to him Suicide Squading over in X-Factor; that story begins in issue #328.

A Work in Progress
Gambit & Storm discuss recent events together, a reminder of the bond between the two stemming from Gambit’s introduction when Storm was in the body of a child.


Professor X appears at the WHO conference in his Shi’ar hoverchair, which seems an odd choice for someone who is publicly known only as a professor/expert in mutants, and not someone with access to alien technology.


Rene Majcomb, last seen fighting her way into the country in Cable #22 (erroneously footnoted as #23) is also at the conference. She says that the Genoshan mutates who died of the Legacy Virus were infected with a variant strain, an attempt to reconcile the contradicting depictions of the disease’s effects and symptoms.


Val Cooper is on hand to argue the mutate deaths are irrelevant in terms of being indicative of a larger threat, since their population is so unique.


Watching the Xavier/Beast debate from Muir Island (apparently WHO conferences get internationally-televised) Moira notes that the Legacy Virus operates less like a disease than a designer gene, which Nightcrawler suggests may have been Stryfe’s plan all along: to sow fear & distrust with the virus, rather than decimate the population with a plague.


Boomer finds herself doubting Sabretooth for the first time.


Sabretooth recognizes Gambit.


Gambit confronts Sabretooth with images of all the people he’s killed, including Birdie, his telepathic gal Friday.


He also recreates Gambit & Sabretooth’s encounter from X-Men #33.


The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
There’s some top-notch mid 90s computer graphics work in Beast’s legacy virus presentation.


Austin's Analysis
We are fast approaching peak Madureira in the series, and this issue is a great example of what he brings to the book. In terms of plot this is a fairly dry issue: Gambit yells at Sabretooth, while Beast & Xavier have a debate about medical ethics (that turns out to be staged). But the issue pops nevertheless, as Madureira injects these scenes with a fair amount of energy and style, from Gambit's atmospheric rooftop pout which opens the issue, to the physical staging of Beast & Xavier during their debate (Beast, hunched over the podium, Xavier being introduced by a medium-range hero shot), to the "greatest hits" of holographic flashbacks to Sabretooth's past kills that accompanies Gambit's tirade. Ultimately, this issue isn't about anything so much as plot machinations - spinning the Legacy Virus wheels some more, amping up for the climax of the "Sabretooth in the mansion" story - but thanks to Madureira, it's still a fun, engaging read.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Wild Child gets the spotlight in X-Factor #116. Friday, Nate battles Dark Beast in X-Man #10. Next week, X-Men (vol. 2) #46!

Like what you read? Then support us on Patreon!

6 comments:

  1. I hate that cover, but inside the issue is nice.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I always hated that hover chair. I blame the animated series for its longevity.

    ReplyDelete
  3. How did Joe Mad get so popular?! Way too cartoony and he rarely draws backgrounds. Ugh.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This issue is definitely gorgeous in terms of both art and color, though I also question Xavier using the hoverchair in public. But the cartoon was on the air at this time and he constantly used it out in the real world there; perhaps Madureira was taking cues from the show.

    I know there have been other clues suggesting Sabretooth has already regained his memories, even in this very issue, but I’ve always taken the “Oops” scene as the moment he became himself again. It sure if that was Lobdell’s intention, but I kind of like the idea that Gambit, in his seething hatred for Sabretooth, is responsible for bringing him back to his old self.

    Lastly, I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it was mainly over at Not Blog X in years past — where does Beast receive his mail?? Do people seriously not know that Henry McCoy, renowned biologist and ex-Avenger, lives in the mansion of Charles Xavier, renowned geneticist?? What I’m getting at is, how on Earth is it possible for them to stage this idea that they’re only casual acquaintances? It really makes no sense!

    I’ve mainly discussed this before in relation to Archangel — the well-known playboy superhero who also lives at Xavier’s and is clearly a member of the outlaw X-Men. I have a hard time suspending disbelief when we’re talking about high-profile public figures who are also super heroes without secret identities, living together in the home of a pretty famous guy who swears he’s a normal human with no connection to the X-Men!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good points, Matt. I also found it ridiculous that the outlaw X-Men lived in that mansion undetected until Xavier was outed by Cassandra Nova. No one ever saw the Blackbird landing? People flying in and out? The goddamn place exploding every couple of years? I'm not saying Xavier's mansion was part of a celebrity homes bus tour but geez, people talk, you know?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, the mansion getting destroyed on a regular basis is a pretty major clue that something unusual is happening at Xavier's.

      One thing I also forgot to mention, which has occurred to me more than once, is that presumably, anyone with the inclination and resources could pretty easily learn that Hank McCoy and Warren Worthington both completed their secondary educations at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters -- and since both were easily identifiable members of the X-Men, that's another fairly simple way to find a connection between Xavier and the group. (Though in that case you'd probably have to be actively looking for a connection, otherwise why would it occur to you?)

      Speaking of Beast, here's another thing I don't get: he's clearly a member of the X-Men. He doesn't try to hide his identity in either his superhero role or his civilian one. So if the X-Men truly are "outlaws", why is he able to waltz around in public, give high profile lectures, etc., without being arrested? I know we sometimes see him going out with an image inducer (as recently as UNCANNY 322), but it's pretty rare, and I think it's more so he can be incognito with his friends and not be mobbed by adoring fans than to hide from the authorities.

      At least with Archangel that's not as big a deal since at this point he uses an image inducer regularly in public to look like his old self, and Archangel's wings clearly aren't the same as the ones he had when he didn't bother with a secret identity as Angel. (Though the fact that Archangel is currently flying around in the exact same costume Angel used to wear would be a pretty big clue for anyone inclined to notice.)

      Delete

Comment. Please. Love it? Hate it? Are mildly indifferent to it? Let us know!