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Monday, May 24, 2021

X-aminations in June 2021 & June 1996 Power Rankings

If all goes according to plan, a week from today my wife and I will be welcoming our second child into the world, so I'm shifting into a more leisurely review pace for this month and next as I settle into the life of being a father of two (and also, you know, continuing the seemingly never-ending post-move unpacking). Fortunately (?), Marvel released a ton of additional content the same month as it was wrapping up "Onslaught", so there's plenty to cover ("hey kids, you just bought a ton of extra tie-in issues, why not an annual, too. Plus a limited series? How 'bout these trading cards?!?"). 

On Sale August 1996
June 2: "Onslaught" Action Figures 

June 9: Unstacking the Deck: Ultra Marvel Onslaught 

June 16: Wolverine '96 

June 23: X-Force/Cable '96

June 30: X-Men/Brood #1-2

Power Rankings On Sale May 1996
The start of "Onslaught" and the return of near line-wide narrative relevancy, not surprisingly, gives all the books a boost, but even the titles not tying in tightly to the crossover are pretty strong.  

1. Onslaught X-Men #1: It's tough to not rank the issue which kicked it all off at #1 for the month, but even beyond that, it gets credit for some nice Adam Kubert art and the whole unexpected reveal of the X-Traitor. 
2. X-Men (vol. 2) #55: It's followed closely behind by the final chapter in "Phase 1", as Onslaught starts doing stuff and the heroes really start intermingling. 
3. Uncanny X-Men #335: This is all mostly setup for future tie-in issues, but it does feature Joe Mad drawing a bunch of Avengers, so it's not entirely without charm. 
4. Excalibur #100: Mostly tangential to "Onslaught", this issue nevertheless proves a strong conclusion to a number of Ellis' ongoing plots. With stronger art, it might have come out in the #2 spot. 
5. Generation X #18: Zagging when all the other books are zigging into the crossover, this is another issue that succeeds by doing what the series does best: showcase Bachalo's art against low-key plotting & character moments. Points off for those annoying "X-Logo borders". 

6. X-Man #18: A crossover tie-in gives X-Man a boost in the rankings; this and the next two issues are basically ranked based on their artists, as the contents of the issue all mostly fit the same level of "enjoyable tie-in issue". 
7. Cable #34: Ian Churchill draws a bunch of Hulks (and Cable's ridiculous/awesome motorcycle gun). 
8. X-Force #57: The focus on characters is an appreciated break from the more action-oriented issues of the crossover; the art is fine, but pale in comparison to the likes of Steve Skroce. 

7. Wolverine #104: The issue itself isn't bad, per se (though it never really addresses why Gateway shows Wolverine & Elektra what he does); I just don't really like the "Professor X was infected by an evil Magneto imp" reveal and what it means for Onslaught's origins. 
9. X-Factor #125: This is the best issue X-Factor has had in awhile, thanks to the return of Havok, the reveal of Random, etc. But it's still an issue of X-Factor from 1996...

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  1. "But it's still an issue of X-Factor from 1996..." That could almost apply just as easily to X-Man.

    It's interesting that, despite the event being much maligned, all of the X-Titles have stronger than normal showings. I imagine part of that is that the ancillary titles are actually given things to do instead of treading water.

    I thought of this earlier but I'll go ahead and state it here:

    It's highly amusing that the X-Traitor is such a big deal considering that, at this point, Collosus actually betrayed them in Fatal Attractions and it appeared Cable did in X-Cutioner's Song. There was also the Betsy/Kwannon nonsense as well. Honestly, if it didn't somewhat contradict Jean's warning in the future, I think it would have played out better if it had been the set-up for X-Cutioner's Song.

    As for this month's power rankings, I'm pretty much in agreement. I would probably have ranked X-Force over Cable but that's about it.

    1. Yeah, "Onslaught" makes for better results across the line just because the ancillary books finally get to do something after treading water for months.

    2. I think what is really frustrating is that X-Factor never gets out of that "treading water" state even though it doesn't tie-in to Operation: Zero Tolerance. It's a really strange that it doesn't considering it was the government X-Team. You'd think that would have been X-Factor's time to shine again.

  2. Five-plus years since I moved, and I can confirm - unpacking NEVER ends.

    1. It's the worst. I finally got my office to where I wanted it, about four years after our last move, and then bam! Moving again and starting all over.

    2. We moved only about six months ago, but we still can't park a single car in our garage due to all the boxes out there. When we were packing up the last house to move, where we had lived for about six years, I felt like we were packing the contents of two or three houses that had been occupied for ten years each -- and it wasn't a big house!

      I did get my "den"/office set up here though, around Christmastime. I think the "Heroes Return" shelf on the bookcase (containing Ominbuses of late 90s AVENGERS, CAPTAIN AMERICA, IRON MAN, THOR, and THUNDERBOLTS) is probably my favorite part of the entire house. Though the two "X-Men 1975 - 2000" shelves are probably a close second.

      Anyway, enjoy your baby! (I'm never quite sure how to phrase that. You know what I mean.)

    3. I've got about ten boxes of books, collectibles and various belongings that have stayed in those boxes for about 15 years. I never seem to be in one place long enough (or have enough space) to ever unpack the things. Which sucks. I love being able to display some of that stuff and having the books be readily accessible.

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