In a Nutshell
Archangel meets a guilt-ridden, bird-attracting, telepathic ghost woman.
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Leonard Manco
Letters: Jonathan Babcock
Editor: Mark Powers
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras
Archangel flies off alone after an argument with Psylocke. Flying over New York City, he is psychically attacked & wakes up in a fortress-like building, the captive of woman named Tuesday Bird, who is deathly afraid of birds. She helps heal his damaged wings, while Psylocke & Jean search for him. Eventually, Archangel learns how Tuesday killed her abusive husband by causing their private plane to crash, which also killed a flock of birds. He realizes that her psychic powers are causing her guilt over the death of her husband to subconsciously call the attacking birds to her. He helps her escape the birds, and she lets him go, just as Jean & Psylocke discover that Tuesday died in the crash with her husband. In the wake of his encounter with Tuesday, Archangel finds himself more at peace with himself and his metal wings, though Psylocke is unsure how she feels about another woman - a ghost - being able to reach him when she couldn't.
Firsts and Other Notables
This is a special one-shot presented entirely in black & white with a wraparound cover by Steve Lightle, focused on Archangel coming to terms with his metal wings.
Both Psylocke & Jean Grey appear in this issue as well, though neither really sound like themselves.
In the course of his encounter with Tuesday, Archangel hallucinates there are feathered wings inside his metal ones; this will turn out to be the case, as the feathered ones return in Uncanny X-Men #338.
Peter Milligan, who will later revamp X-Force with Mike Allred (turning it into X-Statix), as well as take over X-Men from Chuck Austen, writes this issue. Leonard Manco, probably best known as a Hellblazer artist, does the art.
The Chronology Corner
Technically, this issue is considered to take place after Uncanny X-Men #330, but it doesn't quite fit there. It notably takes place after Sabretooth #1, with the events therein referenced, but while Archangel's wings start off injured and Psylocke is said to be recovered from Sabretooth's attack, there is no visual or textual reference to her transformation by the Crimson Dawn which occurs in Uncanny #330.
A Work in Progress
The injury & loss of Angel's wings pre-Archangel, circa X-Factor #10-15, is referenced.
Archangel's wings are shown to be capable of wrapping around someone, enabling him to carry Tuesday in flight.
The injuries Archangel sustained via Sabretooth are seemingly healed (though I don't recall whether or not his wings are also healed elsewhere).
Woof. More than anything, this reminds me of some of the one-off stories we'd see from Ann Nocenti in the late 80s, with its more artsy trappings and loose relationship with current continuity. Of course, even if those Nocenti stories were similarly arch in presenting characters that seemed more like authorial mouthpieces than their usual selves, Nocenti, to her credit, was usually trying to say something profound in the process. This, well, I'm not entirely sure what the larger point of it all is, aside from Archangel finding some inner peace by helping a bird-obsessed ghost come to terms with her murder of her abusive husband. Which, sure, that's a story, I guess, but it's hard to quite gather what Milligan is trying say with any of this. He's clearly attempting to draw some parallels between Tuesday's guilt and Archangel's sorrow over losing his wings, but that connection is...tenuous. The general idea seems to be that Tuesday represents a worst case scenario for Warren, someone too consumed with guilt and looking back to function, someone further along the path he is on, but it sure spins its wheels with a lot of flowery nonsense in the process.
Similarly, while plenty of stories benefit greatly from being presented in black-and-white, the art in this feels like the choice to go sans color was less an artistic one and more like it just got released before the colorist had a chance to do their thing, adding to the quizzical, half-formed feel of it all. The end result is an issue which feels both rushed and ponderously poured over at the same time, one which seems more interested in seeming like it's saying something profound than actually being profound. Even at this point in time, at the zenith of the X-Men's commercial power, when Marvel was pushing out as much X-content as possible, it's hard to see who the intended audience was for a an overwrought Archangel story with delusions of grandeur, where everyone sounds like a stock character instead of themselves, other than the most ardent of completists.
Next week, Marvel continues to milk the X-cash cow with Logan: Path of the Warlord #1!
Like what you read? Then support us on Patreon!