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

Friday, November 27, 2020

X-amining X-Men Unlimited #11

"Adrift"
June 1996

In a Nutshell

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Terry Kavangh
Pencilers: Steve Epting & Mike Miller
Inks: Sellers, Milgrom, Koblish, Candelario
Letterer: Starkings & Comicraft 
Colorist: Matt Webb
Enhancement: Malibu
Editor: Kelly Corvese
Editor-in-Chief: Bob Harras

Plot
Concerned that Rogue may be a mutant (and therefore a danger to her young son Stevie), Rogue's landlady Melody visits the local chapter of Humanity's Last Stand. That evening, when Rogue returns from her shift waitressing at a nearby restaurant, a tear-filled Melody, realizing she made a mistake, apologizes to Rogue, shortly before armored members of Huamnity's Last Stand attack. Rogue is able to fight them off, but then Bastion appears. With Bastion threatening Melody & Stevie, Rogue stands down, and is taken to Huamnity's Last Stand's headquarters, where Bastion tells her he plans to kill everyone in the facility and frame Rogue for the act. Just then, one of the guards reveals himself to be Joseph, who frees Rogue. Recognizing him as a younger version of Magneto, she is is initially distrustful, but the two work together to fight off their armored foes. Outside the facility, they are confronted by the townspeople, who ask them to leave town. The pair flies off, but are attacked by Humanity's Last Stand leader Simon Trask, who targets them with a pair of missiles. Joseph is able to detonate the missiles, however, faking their deaths, and the pair return to Melody's home to retrieve Rogue's car. Joseph is trying to make sense of the X-Men's commitment to protecting a world that fears and hates them, when Stevie runs up to Rogue, telling her he knows he can't touch her, but says that if he could, he would hug her. As the pair drives off, Rogue tells Joseph that is why the X-Men do what they do, for the innocents who haven't yet been taught to hate. 

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue picks up Rogue's story from X-Men #52, in which she rented a room in her ongoing attempt to not be a superhero and put the X-Men behind, and possibly revealed herself as a mutant to her landlady. 

It also reintroduces Joseph, the seemingly de-aged & amnesiac Magneto, following his spotlight issue in Uncanny X-Men #327. The two will become something of a recurring duo going forward, appearing together often in an obvious callback to the Magneto/Rogue pairing in "Age of Apocalypse" (which was itself inspired by their pairing in the Claremont/Lee Savage Land story shortly before the '91 relaunch). 


Published the same month as his official debut in Uncanny X-Men #332 (following a couple teasing cameos in the previous month), a slightly-off model Bastion pops up in this issue, hoping to frame Rogue in order to drum up national support for his anti-mutant operation. 


Humanity's Last Stand (the OTHER anti-mutant group with "humanity" in the name) returns in this issue, having established local offices throughout the country which encourage people to report information about suspected mutants. 


Their leader, Simon Trask (the Least Trask), also returns, and continues to appear mostly in shadows for no good reason. 


A Work in Progress
The dress Rogue wears while waitressing is the same one (or at least the same style/design) as the one she wore on her and Gambit's aborted first date in X-Men (vol. 2) #4. 


There's a couple of just hilariously-wrong footnotes in this issue, including one which attributes Magneto's death (in X-Men (vol. 2) #3) to Generation X #4, of all places, and another which references a subplot that was apparently cut from X-Men #52 (as there was nothing about Joseph & Humanity's Last Stand there or anywhere else). 


The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
Rogue is working at a Planet Hollywood-esque restaurant. 

Austin's Analysis
Whereas this series will occasionally be used to setup or further plots to be more fully explored in other books (like Sabretooth coming to the mansion in issue #3 or Dark Beast swapping places with Beast last issue), this is the kind of issue a quarterly, quasi-anthology series like this should do more often: it features a character who isn't otherwise part of the ongoing cast of another series, but is still familiar enough to readers that not a ton of space needs to be dedicated to establishing the character, and rather than tying in to the immediate story du jour running through the monthly books, it focuses on another aspect of the narrative and/or advances an entirely different subplot. The actual story here isn't anything special, a sort of standard "mutant tries to blend in but can't get away with it, then defends the town against the forces being set against the mutant, but gets run out of the town anyway" deal, with the pages not drawn by Steve Epting suffering in comparison, but it absolutely feels like its being told in the right place, picking up on both the Rogue and Joseph subplots ahead of "Onslaught". It also starts in earnest the interesting (but ultimately abandoned) "nature vs. nurture" character arc for Joseph, in which he struggles to avoid the darker impulses which drove Magneto, guided by Rogue. The extra pages are therefore put to good use, giving both characters the space to breathe a little while still telling a complete story. The level of craft involved isn't quite the same, but the end result is an issue not unlike the series' first, something which advances the larger narrative on the margins but is mostly interested in telling a straightforward but character-driven story.  

Next Issue
Next week: Uncanny X-Men #332, X-Factor #123, and X-Man #16!

Like what you read? Then support us on Patreon & gain access to exclusive reviews of X-Men: The Animated Series and more!

5 comments:

  1. Ohhh, is Dr. Emu a mutant?!?! Better calls Humanity's Last Stand!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Solid issue. No complaints. Art is a little... odd. That picture of Joseph reaching out his hand makes him look like Kamino Cloner lady from Star Wars.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "The dress Rogue wears while waitressing is the same one (or at least the same style/design) as the one she wore on her and Gambit's aborted first date in X-Men (vol. 2) #4."

    And this dress make me remember of the one Rogue (with "Carol Danvers" in control) used in Uncanny X-Men #244. I think red is a good color for her.

    ReplyDelete
  4. So last night I was reading X-MEN #54 in preparation for this week's review, and I got to a sub-plot page where Joseph rolls into town, and knowing that was setup for this issue, I thought to myself, "Isn't X-MEN UNLIMITED #11 coming up soon? Was that what I was supposed to read this week? I better check!"

    So I jumped over here and started scrolling down to the most recent "X-aminations...and Beyond" post to find when this issue would be going up -- but I stumbled onto this post itself, instead! I somehow totally missed when it went up.

    No big deal, though -- I decided I'd just read this one last night too. I'd actually been looking forward to it for the reasons described in your review -- it's the too-rare XMU issue tied in with the ongoing saga. I knew the issue was reprinted in the ONSLAUGHT OMNIBUS, so I figured the digital version was available somewhere. (Though there was this lingering feeling in the back of my head that told me I knew somehow that it wasn't...)

    First I checked Marvel Unlimited. No dice. They have a ton of consecutive issues of this series, but #11 is missing. That feeling in my head got stronger then as I recalled you tweeted about this very subject a month or so back, and I even chimed in with a response. But still, I decided to jump over to Comixology and find the issue there, to see if it's included in any of my digital collected editions. Turns out it's not Comixology either.

    At that point I definitely recalled the Twitter thread about this, and my contribution. The ONSLAUGHT OMNIBUS was published in 2015. Marvel has had a digital file for this issue available for five years, yet somehow it's never made its way to any digital platform. That's just bizarre.

    Anyway, my next resort would normally be the Omnibus, but we moved about a month ago, and all my books are packed away in boxes at the moment, probably not to be unpacked until the new year. So, to make a long story short (Too late!) I guess I won't read this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now, with all this out of the way -- this was my second issue of UNLIMITED in a row back when it was published! I grabbed #10 since it was integral to the ongoing stories, and I picked up this one too for Rogue's appearance. As you say, this is exactly the sort of thing UNLIMITED should do. Rather than telling one-off, throw-away tales, it works perfectly as a vehicle to further the stories of characters who have dropped out of the spotlight but are still "core" cast members.

      It's weird in a way, because even if this was a throw-away, it would still feel relatively integral simply because it's a story about Rogue while she isn't part of the X-Men. It's a way to keep her in circulation, and keep her a member of the cast, even as she is away from the team. I could've seen UNLIMITED doing similar things with Archangel and Psylocke during their leave of absence, too. Where an XMU story about Storm, for example, feels like filler if nothing of import occurs, an XMU story about an X-Man who isn't currently an X-Man feels relevant simply by virtue of seeing a character who isn't regularly appearing.

      That said, this issue actually is fairly integral, which makes it even better. I love that we're continuing to see Bastion built up with his crossover still a year away. Rogue meeting Joseph of course becomes a pretty big deal since she brings him with her when she returns to the X-Men. Heck, even seeing Humanity's Last Stand again is nice, because I had totally forgotten they appeared after the UNCANNY '95 annual.

      It occurs to me that Marvel was on a decent stretch of XMU issues around this time. Like I said, I grabbed #10 for Dark Beast, I picked up this one for Rogue, and I got the next issue as well since it spotlighted Juggernaut's trevails during "Onslaught". If the series had always been like this -- or had remained like this -- I might have read every issue!

      Delete

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