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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

X-amining Onslaught: X-Men #1


"Traitor to the Cause"
August 1996

In a Nutshell
"Onslaught" begins as Professor X betrays the X-Men! 

Story: Scott Lobdell & Mark Waid
Art: Adam Kubert & Dan Green
Art Assist: Pascual Ferry & Art Thibert
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Steve Buccelato & Team Bucce
Edito-in-Chief: Bob Harras

As the summoned X-Men gather at Professor Xavier's side, Jean Grey - fearing that Xavier is Onslaught - probes his mind for any psionic weaknesses. When she spots a crystal on Xavier's desk, with Juggernaut trapped inside, her worst fears are confirmed. Just then, Onslaught reveals himself in his full armored form, declaring that he is Professor Xavier. Cyclops blasts him, and Onslaught freezes the X-Men in place, telling them he hopes they'll follow him as they did Xavier, before disappearing to attend to other matters. After Gambit uses his power to free everyone - something Jean hopes mean Onslaught isn't in full control yet - the X-Men split up, one group to purge the files from Xavier's Ready Room, the other to disable Cerebro. Meanwhile, at Four Freedoms Plaza, Franklin Richards plays with his imaginary friend Charlie, who goads Franklin into getting into trouble with his parents. Back at the X-Mansion, Onslaught takes control of Cannonball to try and turn the X-Men on each other; when that fails, he blasts them all. Meanwhile, Nate Grey meets with the Avengers, convincing them to fly to the X-Mansion in order to investigate his claims about Xavier. At the mansion, Onslaught attacks the rest of the X-Men, including Beast, who reveals himself as Dark Beast and pledges his loyalty to Onslaught. Jean manages to escape, and races to the Z'Nox chamber, where she records a message to the X-Men's allies, revealing that Xavier betrayed them all and asking for help. As she nears the end, Onslaughts enters the chamber, and fires a blast of psionic energy at her. Just then, Bishop jumps in front of Jean, absorbing the blast and saving her life. Bishop collapses, but Onslaught leaves with Dark Beast, telling him his plans go beyond the X-Men. Later, as the X-Men lick their wounds, Cyclops declares that Xavier wanted the X-Men to help protect the world from mutants who couldn't control their powers, and thus that the X-Men need to be prepared to kill Xavier when next they meet. Elsewhere, at a Sentinel factory in a classified location, a group of Sentinels suddenly activate, and utter a single word: Onslaught. 

Firsts and Other Notables
"Onslaught" begins here, a multi-part crossover that serves as the X-books' 1996 event (in the vein of "Age of Apocalypse", "Phalanx Covenant", etc.) but which, like "Inferno", also branches out to encompass a number of other series in the Marvel Universe (to varying degrees of importance) and, ultimately, serves as the vehicles for saying goodbye to the original versions of the Avengers and Fantastic Four as the characters before the characters are rebooted as part of the "Heroes Reborn" initiative (in which Marvel contracted Image creators Jim Lee & Rob Liefeld to revamp the "core" Marvel Universe characters as part of a standalone imprint). 

Additionally, this issue reveals Professor X to the be the X-Traitor, thereby resolving a mystery first introduced in Uncanny X-Men #287. It does so by depicting Jean recording the message, sent to the X-Men's allies warning them about Xavier's turn to Onslaught, which first introduced the mystery when Bishop watched a (conveniently garbled) version of it before coming back in time. 

Following on from his last panel cameo in Avengers #400, Nate Grey appears here urging the Avengers to do something about the threat of Xavier, setting up their appearances in Uncanny X-Men #335.

Similarly, this issue introduces "Charlie", Franklin Richards' "imaginary" friend, which will turn out to be a manifestation of Onslaught working to gain control of Franklin's reality-warping powers as part of his plans, which is the vehicle that brings the Fantastic Four into the crossover. 

The other bit of crossover setup this issue does is close out with a scene of Sentinels at a hidden facility coming online, seemingly under the control of Onslaught; this fleet of co-opted Sentinels will prove to be Onslaught's cannon fodder throughout the storyline, and serve as the main in-road for some of the more ancillary tie-in issues. 

Big thanks to my brother Ian for the Onslaught banner art at the top of the post! 

Collection Recollection
This is another one of those issues for which I have a crystal clear memory of reading it for the first time: on a bench outside the Rainforest Cafe at the Mall of America, waiting for a table to have dinner with my family. I don't remember which of the remaining stores at the mall at the time which sold comics I purchased it from (most likely it was Starlog, which was the last such store standing at the mall), my remember my mind being absolutely blown as I cracked it open and realized on top of everything else, the identity of the X-Traitor was going to be revealed). 

Creator Central 
Adam Kubert (having presumably left Wolverine to draw this and the conclusion to the crossover in Onslaught: Marvel Universe) pencils the portion of the story set at the X-Mansion, while Pascual Ferry does the scenes setting up other chapters of the crossover. 

A Work in Progress
Jean's message references both the Blue and Gold teams having been decimated by Onslaught/Xavier, which is perhaps the most anachronistic element of the message, as those distinctions had long since faded away (at least in terms of how the X-Men had been presented in their respective series) by this point in time. In fact, as of this issue, there's really only nine active X-Men, with Psylocke, Archangel, Rogue, Colossus, and Jubilee, all stalwarts of the Blue/Gold era, on leave from the team to varying degrees or off in other books. 

It’s suggested that everything that’s happened since at least Uncanny X-Men #322 has occurred over “several weeks”.

I don't think this is the first issue to use them, but around this time, Marvel has begun using different colored footnotes when referencing more than one thing per page. 

Wolverine is wearing a bandana mask throughout this issue, something he has yet to adopt in his solo series. 

Onslaught declares that he was born of Xavier's rage & suppressed dark side; the X-Men counter that it was no secret that Xavier was no saint, including to Xavier himself. 

Onslaught seems unable to say Magneto’s name, and repeatedly corrects himself when he starts referring to Xavier in the third person (or as his host), a hint towards later developments in his identity.

He also says it’s the part of Xavier inside him preventing him from just killing all the X-Men outright, as he wants them to fight with them for his new dream.

Iceman is able to use his power to view things in terms of their temperature, allowing him to know when Onslaught tries to sneak up on the X-Men by masking his presence psionically. 

When Onslaught turns on the X-Men, Beast* throws in with Onslaught, who also reveals that's been helping covering for Beast (who made the boneheaded decision to hide from Mister Sinister in a house full of telepaths who otherwise would have figured him out immediately).

(*Actually, Dark Beast who took the real Beast's place, see X-Men Unlimited #10 for more information.)

Onslaught cites Bishop's memories of "Age of Apocalypse" as inspiration, for showing him how a mutant can conquer & control the world (though Onslaught insists he will be a more benevolent ruler than Apocalypse). 

Bishop, in turn, proves to be instrumental in averting his own future, as he steps between Onslaught & Jean Grey, absorbing the blast that killed most of the X-Men in his past.  

The issue doesn't make a huge deal out of it (aside from it being the note the X-Men's portion of the issue ends on), but it's worth noting that Cyclops suggests that the X-Men may need to kill Xavier and no resistance is immediately offered, which is a marked change from his earlier "the X-Men don't kill, period" stance. 

Storm & Cyclops assure us that the X-Men will neither give nor ask quarter from Onslaught. 

Human/Mutant Relations
Before revealing himself to the X-Men, Xavier ruminates on the failures of his dream, and suggests that it's time for the X-Men to take a different approach to human/mutant relations. 

Scott Lobdell on the genesis of Onslaught 
"We had just come off the event-style 'Age of Apocalypse' storyline and had decided to start doing stories that focused more on the individual characters. All of the X-Men creative people gathered for a big conference and Bob Harras basically said to us, 'If you could do any story, what story would you do?' I seem to remember that Warren Ellis said that he'd like to do a story where the members of the Excalibur team just sat around and drank beer in a pub, but he knew Bob would never let him do that story. Bob told him he could do that story [which became Excalibur #91. When Bob got to me, I said that I wanted to do a story where the X-Men are at home and they suddenly hear a whistling sound. They run out to the front yard and see this massive object flying through the air. It hits the ground in flames and skids the length of a football field. As the dust settles, everyone runs up and they see that it's Juggernaut. He manages to utter just one word before passing out, and the word is 'Onslaught'. Everybody in the room was really intrigued and they demanded to know who Onslaught was. I told them I had no idea, but I just thought it was a cool way to open a story. Imagine someone so strong that they could hurl Juggernaut across the sky! I ended up doing that opening sequence, but I still didn't know who Onslaught was...That's how I usually work. Some guys work out every last detail up front, but I tend to unwind my ideas slowly and just follow a character or a storyline. I feel like I'm somebody who has a clothesline that's all knotted up and I follow the line until I get to the end. Hopefully, a story or a character will reveal itself by the time I get there. I don't have any problem finding a story instead of telling a story." 

DeFalco, Tom. Comic Creators on X-Men. London: Titan Books, 2006. p201

"The X-Men have never had their own Galactus-type character. We've had Sinister and Apocalypse and, to a greater or lesser extent, Magneto, but these characters are plotters. What I was after was a character who could take the X-Men's butts and wrap them around their collective shoulders. That's why Onslaught's very first fight was against the Juggernaut, an irresistible force." 

Paul Grant. "The Uncanny X-Men Wait for Onslaught." Wizard: The Guide to Comics #56, April 1996, p11

Austin's Analysis
This is, of course, the big kickoff, after months/years of build-up, to "Onslaught", the crossover event which is not only a big deal for the X-Men, but will change the entirety of the Marvel Universe (for a time, at least), as the X-Men learn their trusted mentor/teacher/father figure is the villain who has been stalking them for some time, shortly before he cuts his way through them with ease on his way to enact his master plan (what is that master plan? See additional tie-in issues, of course!). But this issue is also the culmination of the long-simmering X-Traitor storyline, revealing that traitor whose exposure Bishop made his mission in the past is not Gambit, or Sabretooth, but rather, Professor Xavier. 

This was a huge shock for me at the time - for all the months of build-up and hype about "Onslaught", the fact that it was also going to address this subplot that had been around for literally the entire time I had been reading comics wasn't something I knew was going to happen, and thus I was legitimately surprised, not necessarily by the identity of the traitor, but just by the fact that the identity was being revealed at all, here, in the kickoff to this big event. The way all the creators recreate that splintered message from Jean Grey, using the breaks in the original to fill-in the critical blanks with Onslaught-relevant information that pins down Xavier as the traitor, blew my mind. It also had me convinced this was all part of some master plan, that the full text of Jean's message had to have been written back when it was first presented and edited out, as opposed to the actual way it happened ie the exact opposite of that (of course, it wouldn't be long before this crossover also led me to a different, correct, conclusion, that very little of any of this was planned out ahead of time, but we'll get there). 

In revealing, once and for all, the X-Traitor, and by having Bishop play a role in altering events (relative to his own timeline) to prevent Xavier/Onslaught from killing all the X-Men (save Gambit), as in Bishop's telling of the tale, this issue also somewhat completes Bishop's narrative arc - or at least, concludes, his immediate narrative purpose. It does this quietly - with all else going on, there's no room for Bishop to reflect that, with the X-Men's surviving the attack of the X-Traitor, his purpose in the past is complete - but it will, over time, lead the character to become somewhat rudderless, and suffer as a result as writers try to find something else to do with the character. Though he remains an ongoing part of the franchise to this day, Bishop is often considered a "90s character", and much of that has as much to do with the fact that he completes a narrative arc in that era, concluding here, as it does with the intial "big guns, tough guy attitude" trappings he has already, as of this issue, started to grow beyond. 

But as much as this issue, somewhat surprisingly, offers a solution to a long-running X-mystery, it is also, like X-Men: Alpha before it, responsible for kicking off a massive crossover event, both in terms of establishing the immediate threat and seeding plotlines for subsequent chapters. While it completes the latter via brief check-ins with the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, it is far more concerned with - and effective at - establishing the immediate threat of Onslaught. After months of (mostly offscreen) build-up, Onslaught's arrival needed to be big, on par with the being who put the fear of God into Juggernaut. In that, the issue succeeds, with Kubert rendering Onslaught throughout as a massive, looming presence, dwarfing the X-Men but also as someone who, thanks to Xavier's telepathy and knowledge of his students, is capable of quiet deception & gaslighting, thus able to attack the X-Men both inside their heads and out. While the grander strokes of Onslaught's ultimate goals and what he'll do to achieve them remain shrouded in mystery, his power and the threat he represents - one the combined might of the X-Men could do little to stop - is made very clear by issue's end, ending the crossover's kickoff issue on just the right note. 

Next Issue
Next, "Onslaught" continues in Uncanny X-Men #335, Avengers #401, and Fantastic Four #415!

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  1. Did Lee and Portacio originally have a traitor in mind? I remember hearing years later that they'd planned to pick whomever had the least suspicion among the press/fans once they got around to resolving the storyline, but that sounds so lazy and short-sighted (and downright cynical in regards to the characters they'd been entrusted with.) Then again, we're talking about the same guys who got handed the keys to the biggest books/characters in comics, then ditched it all after less than a year when they had to start answering for more than 22 pages every month. So responsible, long-term thinking isn't exactly their forte.

    I was long gone from the X-books at this point, so I missed out on the excitement of discovering the traitor revelation. I can imagine the excitement, both collectively in the fan community and among individual readers as they reached that page. X-fans know the pain of long-gestating subplots that take forever to pay off (and far too many that never did; I sometimes wonder if Chris Claremont prepared me for some of David Chase's narrative habits on "The Sopranos,") so when an actual payoff arrives, it's like Christmas morning out of nowhere.

    1. "Like Christmas morning" is definitely how it felt reading this for the first time back in the day.

    2. It may sound "so lazy and short-sighted (and downright cynical in regards to the characters they'd been entrusted with)" but it also sounds rather typical of Marvel in this era. Over on the Spider-Man titles there were many storylines and mysteries in the 1990s where the writers and editors simply didn't know where they were ultimately going - the return of his parents, the identity of the fifth Green Goblin, a lot of the Clone Saga and so forth. Meanwhile Avengers the Crossing doesn't appear to have had a clear plan (or if it did it was known only to Mark Gruenwald and nobody found his notes). So the X-Traitor would be a typical part of this short term "make something up as you go along and leave it to your successor to sort out" approach.

  2. I totally fell for it. I completely bought that Jean's recorded message in Bishop's DoFPesque setting meant that the X-Men were genuinely legitimately dead (and that Bishop had to prevent that from ever happening). Didn't think it was yet another case of "I saw you die!" "No, we only almost died."

    I mean, goddamn, Jean! Didn't the Savage Land volcano incinent in the early #100's teach you anything!? First thing after something happens you're causing havoc and alarming everyone that the X-Men are dead!

    I tell y'all, this time I swear the f***ing X-Men are f***ing dead! D-E-D, dead! They're dead!

    1. In her defense, upon believing, however falsely, that the X-Men are dead, she did immediately proceed to call (via high-tech sci-fi superhero means) the X-Men's friends and allies to spread the word, which is definitely a step up for any of the X-Men. :)

    2. Well she's married to Scott so she know's that much better.

      Despite the permanent telepathic link I bet she's still berating him for not communicating with her.

  3. Cue the Marvel vs Capcom OST. Onslaught really begins here.

    I'm of two minds about this issue. On the one hand, this brings a lot X-Men plots to its breaking point. We know who the X-Traitor is, Dark Beast has his subterfuge resolved, Onslaught is established as a legitimate threat.

    On the other hand...

    "Age of Apocalypse" was a good story. In hindsight, "X-Men Alpha" is light years better than "Onslaught: X-Men".

    Bishop is now DONE as a character. There's a workable arc with Gambit, but that'll come later.

    Onslaught FELT like an event. It could've been. It SHOULD'VE been. Tying it into "Heroes Reborn" at the ignoring of their most famous characters (hey, writing Spider-Man or Wolverine? We got this event and Jim and Rob don't care) is just... kinda why the whole crossover is a mess.

    That'll all come later tho. This was a good issue and FELT so when it came out.

    1. Yeah, the pivot to becoming a larger MU story and setting up Heroes Reborn really hurts this one.

  4. Just re-read this for the first time in many years, and I was struck by how looong it was. I know it was double-sized; was it ad-free as well? I feel like Lobdell and Waid were treading water at a few points to pad the thing out to its allotted length.

    But besides that, I mostly like it. As has already been noted, “Onslaught” served as a bit of a deck-clearing exercise for the X-Men, resolving plots both old (the traitor) and new (Dark Beast impersonating Beast and, upcoming, Rogue’s leave of absence). I like it for that. Had it remained solely an X-Men event, it might be better remembered today. But they needed some means to transition into “Heroes Reborn”, and this was a good vehicle for that, I suppose.

    Interesting that Lobdell calls Onslaught a “Galactus-level threat” for the X-Men, which to me implies he intended the character might return every once in a while. But of course he was off the book a year later and that never happened. (Also, I would argue that the X-Men had a Galactus-level threat in Dark Phoenix, who Claremont and Byrne had also intended as an occasionally recurring foe until Jim Shooter put the kibosh on that plan.)

    I like this quote from Lobdell: “ Some guys work out every last detail up front, but I tend to unwind my ideas slowly and just follow a character or a storyline. I feel like I'm somebody who has a clothesline that's all knotted up and I follow the line until I get to the end. Hopefully, a story or a character will reveal itself by the time I get there. I don't have any problem finding a story instead of telling a story.

    I’m sure you, Austin, don’t. I know you’ve voiced your distaste for this writing “style” over the years. For me, it’s this weird romanticization of comic book writing. Doing it by the sear of hour pants, never knowing what’s going to happen next. I like to imagine that all my favorite runs were done this way, though I imagine many were not.

    (Though I did recently re-read John Romita’s introduction to an older SPIDER-MAN MASTERWORKS volume in which he said that he and Stan did it that way. For example, the introduced the stone tablet, which was a McGuffin for many months in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, with no idea of why it was importantor how its story would end.)

    Lastly, Bishop... Bishop was one of my favorite X-Men in the 90s. And today, he is still one of my favorite X-Men if we’re talking about the 90s. But I must sadly agree that nobody knew what do with him after his big moment here. Quite honestly, I think he should’ve died in this issue, giving his life to fulfill his destiny and prevent his future. It would’ve really sold Onslaught as a credible threat — the only problem is that if it’s Professor X killing him, then that kinda makes any eventual redemption a lot harder to pull off. Professor Xavier may be a jerk, but he’s no murderer.

    That’s about all I’ve got right now, but I bet I’ll think of more to say by tomorrow morning.

    1. I did remember one more thing I wanted to comment on: Jean. There's more confusion on her wardrobe here, as she's drawn in her street clothes emerging from the Z'Nox chamber (which is consistent with Andy Kubert's work in X-MEN 54 but still goes against Madureira's art in UNCANNY 334). Of course this is moot a page later as she arrives in Xavier's study in costume.

      And there's also a bit of timeline confusion. Early on, Jean says that her encounter with Onslaught in Salem Center was "yesterday," but later she refers to it as "earlier today." Still later, she says "hours ago," which could technically go either way. In any case, all events have consistently been presented as happening in the same day across X-MEN 53 - UNCANNY 334 - X-MEN 54, so I'm pretty sure the "yesterday" line was a mistake.

      (This is a long day for the X-Men, then! Counting X-MEN: ONSLAUGHT, that's four straight issues running across one day and night.)

      Also speaking of the timeline, I gather that the events of this issue are taking place overnight; like the X-Men went out looking for Juggernaut late at night, and the subsequent Onslaught reveal, him capturing the X-Men and playing cat-and-mouse with them, takes place throughout the night and into the wee hours of the morning.

      ...So if that's the case, why are the Fantastic Four, including their young child, all hanging around the breakfast table? They're not in another time zone! I can buy the Avengers all being awake and in costume in the middle of the night when some random super-powered teenager shows up at their front door, but nothing out of the ordinary is happening with the FF, so why are they awake?

      (I guess maybe they just got back from a mission or something, and I don't necessarily need exposition to tell me that, but it just feels odd to see them this way in relation to what's going on with the X-Men.)

    2. Jean could be secretly corrupting into Dark Phoenix again, if she's using her powers to change her wardrobe at will, like in the Proteus story, and Madelyne in the build-up for Inferno.

    3. > Lastly, Bishop... Bishop was one of my favorite X-Men in the 90s. And today, he is still one of my favorite X-Men if we’re talking about the 90s. But I must sadly agree that nobody knew what do with him after his big moment here.

      Bishop's trajectory after Onslaught reminds me of Storm's trajectory after the Blue/Gold relaunch. No one seemed to know what to do with her after Claremont left, and she just was sort of _there_. Such is Bishop's fate from this point forward. In retrospect, I kind of wish he'd died saving the X-Men. It would have been an excellent end to his story and would have significantly raised the stakes going into the event.

    4. Also, I would argue that the X-Men had a Galactus-level threat in Dark Phoenix

      I had the same thought. Recurring or not, it's not like they'd never fought someone on that scale before.

      I’m sure you, Austin, don’t. I know you’ve voiced your distaste for this writing “style” over the years.

      Heh. No, I don't, though to be clear, in terms of *outcome*, I don't REALLY care: a good story is a good story, regardless of whether or not the writer had it planned out from the start or made it up as they went along.

      As a *writer*, I just can't fathom how anyone can operate like that (ESPECIALLY in a serial medium like this), but that's just me. I'm a planner and, in writing terms, a plotter (and I do believe you're MORE LIKELY to end up with a better story if you go into with some idea of where it's going, especially, again, in a serial medium like this), so that romanticized notion of comic book writing you describe would be like torture to me if I had to write like that. :)

      Quite honestly, I think he should’ve died in this issue, giving his life to fulfill his destiny and prevent his future.

      Yeah, it really would have worked on multiple levels: give his character arc a noble finale, establish the stakes of the crossover, etc. And sadly, if they had killed him off here, it doesn't feel like we really would have missed out many great stories featuring the character later on.

    5. This is a long day for the X-Men, then! Counting X-MEN: ONSLAUGHT, that's four straight issues running across one day and night.

      That's a lot, but if you really think about, if everything since UNCANNY #322 happened over "several weeks", then the X-Men probably constantly have to have days like that. :P

      So if that's the case, why are the Fantastic Four, including their young child, all hanging around the breakfast table?

      Yeah, that's one of those weird bits you see in comics and TV sometimes, where two plots are unfolding at seemingly different paces, but are cut together in a way that makes it seem like they are occurring over the same amount of time/concurrently.

      @Michael: Bishop's trajectory after Onslaught reminds me of Storm's trajectory after the Blue/Gold relaunch.

      Yeah, you're right, it does seem like that. They each had a big, impactful, defining story (Storm, a couple, at least) and once they wrapped, they were just...kinda there.

    6. @Michael -
      Excellent point re Storm. As a kid I read from essentially the '91 relaunch until just before Legion Quest/AoA (bad stopping point, I know!), and I never understood why Storm was a team leader. She seemed so blah. But having gone back to read through the entire series, it's clear that the writers post-Claremont had no clue what made her interesting or what good stories for her were.

      I'm sad that the same is about to happen for Bishop too.

    7. I should note that I agree; a good story is a good story regardless of how the writer got there.

      I'm honestly not even sure where I got this idea in my head that the best comics are created by writers making it up as they go along, other than knowing that (as I said above) Lee and Romita did it that way on SPIDER-MAN, Roger Stern has said he created the Hobgoblin and started writing his first appearance without knowing who the villain really was (though he did figure it out halfway through writing the issue), and Larry Hama has said that he often didn't know how an issue of G.I. JOE would end until he got to the last page.

      (Though that last one could also be taken to mean that he knew where the story was going but simply didn't know where he would cut off the action until he reached the end of his allotted space.)

      The flip side of making it up as you go along is, to me, writers who over-plan. I remember reading a long time ago where Bendis said he was usually something like two years ahead of schedule on fully-written scripts when he was writing DAREDEVIL and ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. That's insane to me; like, where's the room for improvisation and reacting to events in other titles? I've also read (though not sure if it's confirmed) that Jonathan Hickman apparently plans out his entire run on a given title from the beginning. That just feels so... I dunno, "clinical" to me. Like, from my perspective, it doesn't sound fun if you know what's going to happen and you're just following your own roadmap. Like, what's the point of doing five years (or whatever) worth of stories if you already have them essentially all written? I'd get really bored, really fast doing it that way.

      I guess I view writing a monthly, ongoing comic as something you're "supposed" to make up as you go, with no end point in sight -- which is, of course, the complete opposite of how I would view writing a novel or a movie, or a single season of a serialized TV show (or even a comic book limited series). In those cases, I absolutely expct the entire thing written in advance. But for a never-ending serialized comic, once a writer has established enough success that they feel secure in their position, that just seems wrong to me, somehow.

      (But of course, all of the above is why I am not a professional writer.)

      I'm curious -- how do you feel about the style of writing where someone will write the first scene and the final scene and then fill in everything in between? I believe the first time I encountered that was as a child when I read an interview with Don Rosa. He said he did his Duck comics that way. He would do the first page and he would do the last page, then he would do the story to link them together. I've read that some novelists do it that way as well. It seems like an interesting idea to me; you know where you're gonna start and you know where you're gonna finish -- and you presumably have a rough idea of how things will play out -- but you're leaving a lot of blank space in between to connect points A and B.

      "Yeah, that's one of those weird bits you see in comics and TV sometimes, where two plots are unfolding at seemingly different paces, but are cut together in a way that makes it seem like they are occurring over the same amount of time/concurrently."

      True, and my first thought when I read that FF scene was, "Is this taking place at some other point in time?" -- but the fact that Onslaught freezes the X-Men and then leaves suggests to me that he actually did send his astral self to visit Franklin during that time.

  5. Similarly, this issue introduces "Charlie", Franklin Richards' "imaginary" friend, which will turn out to be a manifestation of Onslaught

    Yes, but: his visage obviously is very much that of young Charles, who we saw in UXM #12 where Xavier's (and Juggernaut's) origin was told. His appearance together with Juggernaut being Onslaught's first and special victim went long way in selling me Onslaught as the product of Xavier's frustrations.

    UXM #12 should be mandatory reading at this point for everyone, before you read further.

    1. Sounds like you just picked next week's "Tales from the Archives" featured post!

    2. Teemu, you sound like a blurb on the first page of an old comic: "Hold it right there, True Believer! Before you go any further, you MUST read UNCANNY X-MEN #12! Don't say we didn't warn ya!" I love it.

    3. Matt, that blurb sure would have been a mood killer in a mid-90's comic book! I only had read the applicable bits of #12 because they had re-printed some of the stories of the pre-X-Men X-Men from the early X-MEN.

  6. Taking this in as someone who did not read it at the time, the hook as Professor X being the "traitor" via the Onslaught reveal is kind of a letdown. Traitor implies a specific intent to betray - Judas, Benedict Arnold, etc. Professor X had a psychic episode that went awry, and he eventually is physically removed from the manifestation at the end of the storyline, and fights against it. So he's not really a traitor, more like a possessed victim.

    And since Onslaught really has no defined powers or motives (other than just kill everyone on the planet) he's just not an interesting character. His name might as well be "MacGuffin" since his sole purpose at the end of this storyline is to relaunch Avengers and FF for Heroes Reborn. The thing that makes Galactus an interesting antagonist is not that he is all powerful. It's that he's the force of nature that is beyond good and evil, and humans/superheroes having to figure out how to overcome that is a challenge that presents opportunities for so many interesting storylines.

    Lastly, the Dark Beast cop-out just makes Dark Beast seem like the dumbest mutant around. I would have preferred that Jean or the Professor could detect that he is like the Beast we all know and love, but something is off, or his memories aren't right, or something like that - but not probe too deeply because he's an old friend/05 X-man. That would be more satisfying than "superman-badguy subconsciously blocked brain signals for several weeks to hide your identity for no discernable reason other than you too may be villanous."

  7. I feel like this was a pretty decent start to the Onslaught event. While it has its lulls it was nice to finally have momentum after months of titles treading water.

    The Jean Grey video replay with the new dialogue feeling the gaps doesn't really work for me. The flow and phrasings never felt natural to me. I know part of that is that the line had moved on since the original issue. It also reminds me of Obi-Wan's justification for claiming Anakin was betrayed by Vader. Still, it was nice to finally get a cap on the traitor storyline. Even if this feels anticlimactic.

    I agree with a previous poster who suggested that this event would probably have been better had it focused on the X-Men. Heroes Reborn could easily have been generated from an event within the relevant titles themselves.

  8. Long time, first time here.
    Are you from Minnesota? If so, I as well!
    Perhaps the comic shop you were struggling to recall was Leonard Nimoy's own Tekno Comics store..?

  9. It has bothered me for 25 years that the 'milk' in Franklin's glass is colored orange. :(

  10. Nice job by Ian on the banner and delightfully relatable anecdote re your first time reading the issue.


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