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

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

X-amining X-Men: Time Glider: #1-4

This review comes courtesy of Patreon supporter Miles Stokes. After supporting the site at the "Extraordinary" level or higher for twelve months, he chose this series for review. To get the chance to pick your own issue or series for review, and support the site, become a Patron here

"X-Men: Time Gliders"
December 1995

In a Nutshell
The X-Men battle the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants over a time-traveling glider in this Hardee's promotional tie-in. 

Writer: Ben Raab
Penciler: Mike Gustovich, David Boller (issue #2), John Herbert (issue #3), Roman Morales (issue #4)
Inkers: Dan McConnel, David Boller (issue #2), Bill Anderson (issue #3), Derek Fisher (issue #4)
Letters: Jim Novak, Janice Chian (issues #2-4)
Colors: Jim Hoston

Beast builds a time machine he dubs the Time Glider in order to aid in his research about the Legacy Virus. Empyrean, who wants to use the machine to spread the Legacy Virus throughout history, thereby making more victims whose energy he can harvest, sends Commando to retrieve it. Commando steals into the X-Mansion and is confronted by Cyclops, but manages to escape with the Time Glider. As the X-Men follow Commando to Empyrean's island in the Florida Keys where the rest of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are waiting, Beast works to build another Time Glider. The X-Men infiltrate Empyrean's island, and Wolverine faces off against Blob, Rogue battles Avalanche, and Storm fights Phantazia. Inside, Empyrean tests the stolen Time Glider as Beast completes the second one. As the X-Men defeat the Brotherhood, Beast uses his Time Glider to block Empyrean, forcing the glider to return to the present without Empyrean, who remains trapped in the past. 

Firsts and Other Notables
This four issue miniseries was available as part of a kids meal (sorry, "fun meal") promotion at Hardee's fast food restaurants, packaged along with a series of paired (largely un-poseable) action figures depicting the match-ups highlighted on the series' four covers (Cyclops vs. Commando, Wolverine vs. Blob, Rogue vs. Avalanche, and Storm vs. Phantazia, with a fifth "Beast on the Time Glider" figure available as well), as well as a a strip of cardboard from which three pogs could be pushed out (making this possibly the most 90s thing ever; all it's missing are some collectible trading cards and a gimmicky cover). 

Obviously, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants serve as the villains of this story, but specifically, the iteration of Commando (the now-cybernetic former Crimson Commando), Blob, Avalanche (who is back to his old look instead of his light armor/gray bodysuit version) and Phantazia being led by/renting from Empyrean, the villain of X-Men Annual #2

In fact, this is Empyrean's last appearance to date (and his only outside that introductory annual); issue #4 ends with Empyrean trapped in dinosaur times. 

Each issue includes some kind of word puzzle/game at the end, with the first issue including a word search...

...the second issue some (really bad, even by my standards) jokes...

...the third issue a Cyclops matching game (using a Jim Lee-drawn image)...

...and the final issue, a mix-up puzzle. 

Collection Recollection
I never encountered these issues in the wild at a Hardee's (generally, then as now, I didn't eat at Hardee's very often, though back in the day my family would go there occasionally, usually when we were traveling through rural Wisconsin to visit my grandma and it was the only game around), but I did end up with a couple of the "action figures" (specifically the Cyclops/Commando and Blob/Wolverine ones) somewhere along the way, maybe at a garage sale, or they got passed off to me by some uninterested friend at some point. 

The Chronology Corner
The Marvel Chronology Project has not addressed this series yet (though it is considered canonical, as the events are referenced in the Official Marvel Handbook), but its publication date sets it around the same time as Uncanny X-Men #329 (Wolverine definitely has bone claws here, and is not yet a noseless quasi-animal); probably, it belongs before X-Factor #102, when Commando and Avalanche were shown to be in the employ of Project: Wideawake. 

A Work in Progress
Rogue points out that, while super-strong, she still needs to breathe. 

In fighting Blob, Wolverine cuts off his pants (since they're not invulnerable. 

Commando's dialogue is a bit off in place (using the word "ain't" doesn't seem fitting given his general "genteel elder statesman vibe" in earlier appearances. 

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
I mean, there's pogs...

For Sale
Each issue includes an ad for the X-Men cartoon

Austin's Analysis
For pretty much all of this series, I found myself feeling like Jeff Goldblum's Dr. Ian Malcolm early in Jurassic Park, wondering if there'd be any, uh, time-gliding happening, in this, uh, comic book story about a time traveling glider. That Empyrean only travels through time at the very end of the fourth issue, and even then, his destination is only shown on the final pages, feels like a missed opportunity and, certainly, is disappointing. It's understandable, given that the structural conceit of this promotional series is to highlight a one-on-one showdown between one of the X-Men and one of the Brotherhood (with those pairings then receiving a matched set of promotional tie-in toys as well), which doesn't leave much room for high-concept time-travel adventures (which leaves one to wonder why Ben Raab decided to make a time machine the MacGuffin in the first place...). The conceit works well enough as a introductory tool for the characters, even if it does downplay the team dynamic that is so integral to the X-Men's success, and Raab struggles to find a genuine voice for all his characters, with the Brotherhood serving, as they often do in other media adaptations, as easily-understood-by-a-wider-audience foils ("they're like the X-Men, but evil"), while there is some genuine fun for more devoted readers in seeing this highly-specific iteration of the Brotherhood in action (good on Empyrean for eking out a second appearance for himself). 

But this is hardly essential reading: in addition to the shortcomings in plot & dialogue, the art is amateurish and rushed-looking, doing nothing dynamic or exciting to hook potential new (either of the X-Men or the medium in general) readers. And while the "series of one-on-ones" pairs nicely with the action figure setup and allows each of the featured X-Men some time in the spotlight, it also makes for an especially repetitious and padded out story, and one which emphasizes the X-Men's roles as quasi sci-fi action/adventure evil-punchers moreso than highlighting any of the thematic elements or rich character interactions that set the series apart (and are more likely to hook those theoretical new readers who might be reading one of these issues over a Hardees burger for the first time). Of course, I must reiterate, it's also disappointing because it features so little actual time travel, despite spending so much time suggesting there would be time travel. 

Next Issue
Next week, the run-up to "Onslaught" intensifies in Uncanny X-Men #334, X-Factor #124 and X-Man #17!

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


  1. I am really liking these choices from the Extraordinary Patreon supporters! These are very deep cuts.

    1. Me too! They've been fun to read/write and definitely gotten me to check out some cool corners of the X-universe.

  2. I really hope the whole reason the character is named Empyrean is because he has an island and his creator is a really big fan of this (excellent) Herbie Hancock album:

  3. "Of course, I must reiterate, it's also disappointing because it features so little actual time travel, despite spending so much time suggesting there would be time travel."

    When are they gonna get to the fireworks factory?!?!

    1. Ha! Yes, that is very applicable too (I think I had Jeff Goldblum on the mind thanks to my son's current obsession with dinosaurs/Lego Jurassic World).

  4. Beast building a time machine is considered canon?? That's... interesting. Also, I have a hard time buying (Crimson) Commando as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (in part because he's not a mutant, and in part because he's not exactly evil, either). Surely Raab could've found someone else to better fill out the team.

    I'm a little confused about something now -- I'm positive that there were ads for this promotion that mentioned both the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. names, because this was the thing that made me aware that elsewhere in the country (and, indeed, apparently in most of the country), the place I had always known as Carl's Jr. was called Hardee's. But according to Wikipedia, Carl's Jr. didn't buy Hardee's until 1997.

    Was there a later Carl's/Hardee's promotion with the X-Men that I'm getting crossed up with this one? Or maybe they had some kind of partnership prior to the full acquisition? Hmm.

    1. I have a hard time buying (Crimson) Commando as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (in part because he's not a mutant, and in part because he's not exactly evil, either).

      You know, I actually looked that up, because it seemed off to me, too, but Wikipedia actually lists Commando as a mutant (with a power that keeps him in top human shape - so as good as a human could be without being a super-human, which is more or less how Raab describes it here). I suspect that's a retcon applied in order to justify the continued vitality of a character who fought in World War II (and wasn't around to be de-aged by Mutant: Alpha), but I can't remember when it was first mentioned (and Wikipedia doesn't source it).

      Similarly, while I agree that Crimson Commando doesn't really fit the "Evil" sobriquet, he was (sort of) an established part of this iteration of the Brotherhood - he and Avalanche infiltrated Empyrean's island in X-MEN ANNUAL #2 on behalf of the government (using their connections to Blob & Pyro from their Freedom Force days); presumably they stuck around long enough after that annual to appear in this story (which is partially also why I think it has to come before X-FACTOR #102 when they're both off Empyrean's Island and back with the government).

      Was there a later Carl's/Hardee's promotion with the X-Men that I'm getting crossed up with this one?

      Not that I'm aware of. But if it makes you feel better, I had no idea Carl's Jr. was Hardees by another name until, like, maybe five years ago.

    2. Huh. I guess that must be a ret-con. I was sure Commando wasn't a mutant (unlike his partners). It's kind of amusing how many characters have needed ret-cons in order to stay vital as certain events like WW2 drift into the past.

      I once read where someone suggested Marvel should just invent a fictional war and say it was "always" about 20-ish years ago, no matter when "now" happens to be. Then just tie the backstories of Cap, Magneto, Fury, Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, the Punisher, and whoever else needs it all to that war. And while I like that idea from sort of a "bookkeeping" perspective, it just doesn't sit right with me otherwise. Captain America is so tied to World War 2 that it would feel wrong to change that. And are you going to invent another Holocaust for Magneto to live through? Because that seems a little... distasteful.

      So unfortunately, I think ret-cons probably are the best way to do, ridiculous as they get.

    3. I once read where someone suggested Marvel should just invent a fictional war and say it was "always" about 20-ish years ago, no matter when "now" happens to be. Then just tie the backstories of Cap, Magneto, Fury, Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, the Punisher, and whoever else needs it all to that war.

      Mark Waid sort of did this in his HISTORY OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE series in 2019, but with Vietnam, not World War II. So there's a Vietnam War, like in our world, taking place over the same years, but then there's also the Siancong War, involving the fictional Asian country of Siancong, which takes place perpetually X years ago, and that's the conflict where Frank Castle served, and Tony Stark was wounded (and met James Rhodes), where Reed Richards & Ben Grimm served in the military together, etc. The World War II stuff - specifically Captain America, Fury and the Howling Commandoes, Magneto's experiences in the Holocaust - is still tied to that war/era, but the later stuff that was more connected to the 60s era Red Scare/Vietnam experience is retconned.

      It's still problematic (in a few different ways) but not the worst solution. But like most of that time/era specific references baked into origins, the best solution is really just not to dwell on it too much, and keep references to it it as generic as possible whenever possible.

    4. I need to read HISTORY OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE. I have it bookmarked in Marvel Unlimited, but I just haven't gotten around to it. It seems like something I might like, though, and Waid (if not Kurt Busiek) is probably the perfect person to write it.

    5. It's a fun read. I definitely took it all with a grain of salt (I know it's all meant to be canonical but I refused to get too worked up over that and just appreciated the effort of trying to present the history of the Marvel Universe chronologically and cohesively), but the art is absolutely gorgeous - so much so that I actually bought the big softcover treasury edition collection of it, which makes the art look even better (and includes all the MARVEL SAGA-esque backmatter annotations from the ends of the individual issues).

  5. Wow, another series I have never seen or heard of until now. These issues are expensive to buy these days. Like Matt mentioned, I thought both Commando and Avalanche were still government agents and wouldn't be doing this sort of event. I can't recall where this fits with their appearance in X-Factor vs X-Men Annual 2. Also where do they appear next. My guess is that Avalanche has his more modern look in his next appearance.

  6. Just so you know, there WERE in fact trading cards associated with this promotion. The figure sets each came with one of four trading cards which used artwork from the minicomics and there was also a five card set that came together in a pack which appears to contain original artwork. You can find both sets at


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