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Friday, May 21, 2021

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #57

October 1996

In a Nutshell
Professor X leaves the X-Men! 

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Art Thibert
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colorist: Joe Rosas 
Enhancements: Malibu
Editor: Bob Harras

As Xavier ponders his lack of powers & culpability for the damage wrought by Onslaught, Val Cooper arrives at the mansion, intent on taking Xavier into custody in order to prevent the emergence of another Onslaught. The X-Men object. Meanwhile, Beast meets with Trish Tilby, and the pair begin to rekindle their relationship together. Elsewhere in the city, J. Jonah Jameson meets with Bastion, who orders him to end his investigation into Graydon Creed; instead, Jameson says he intends to look into Bastion's "Operation: Zero Tolerance" as well. Back at the X-Mansion, the arguments between the X-Men and Val continue, until Xavier himself intercedes, and agrees to leave with Val, saying that in order for the world to know peace, he must allow himself to be taken into custody. Xavier departs as the X-Men say goodbye to their mentor, while at Archangel's loft in Soho, Psylocke arrives looking for him, but finds, curiously, only feathers. 

Firsts and Other Notables
In the wake of "Onslaught", this issue marks Professor Xavier's departure from the X-Men, as he agrees to enter government custody in order to be monitored & contained so as to prevent the emergence of another being like Onslaught. He will remain mostly off-page for the next couple years, publication-time, making a few one-off appearances (including in Onslaught: Epilogue #1) here and there before returning during the Seagle/Kelly runs. This marks Xavier's third prolonged absence from the series, following his Silver Age "death" and his time in Shi'ar space between Uncanny X-Men #200 and #275.  

Mark Waid is gone, leaving Scott Lobdell to return to writing both X-Men titles (with a handful of scripters pitching in on occasion), which he will do before he leaves both books ahead of the Steven Seagle/Joe Kelly runs. 

Iceman and Cannonball are watching videos of Graydon Creed's campaign speeches in this issue; this is setup for a short subplot that will find them infiltrating Creed's campaign as volunteers working to help elect him. 

Beast meets up with Trish Tilby (who looks much more like her old self here than in Onslaught: Marvel Universe) and apologizes for attacking her in Uncanny X-Men #323 (over her breaking the news of the Legacy Virus to the general public). The pair reconcile and rekindle their romance here, which sets up Trish's role in the upcoming Shi'ar/Phalanx/space story over in Uncanny

In other "subplot setup" advancements, J. Jonah Jameson meets with, and is threatened by Bastion, over his investigation into Graydon Creed, but all the encounter does is convince Jameson to expand his investigation to include Bastion and Operation: Zero Tolerance. 

And at the very end of the issue, Psylocke (looking & acting more "normal" than Jean's comments about her attitude of late in Uncanny X-Men #337 would suggest) enters Archangel's New York loft to find feathers strewn about, a setup for Uncanny X-Men #338 (in which Archangel's metal wings get replaced by feathered ones). 

The cover of this issue is an homage to Uncanny X-Men #138

A Work in Progress
The mansion is shown to be damaged here, a result of the attack by Mister Sinister in X-Force #57 (though it is perhaps not as damaged as that issue may have suggested). Xavier notes that the X-Men have been too busy to do much in the way of repairs (though they're all mostly just hanging around in this issue...). 

Val Cooper's role here is a bit inconsistent with how she's been portrayed of late in X-Factor, as she's grown more disillusioned with the US government there (in the face of things like having Sabretooth forced onto the team), whereas here she appears full-throatedly on behalf of the authorities to detain Xavier. 

She does mention to Cyclops that they still don't know where Havok is, revealing that Cyclops is at least aware of his brother's apparent heel turn and disappearance. 

Val recognizes Joseph as Magneto (despite the de-aging), noting that the X-Men are apparently harboring Magneto now, too. 

Human/Mutant Relations
While waiting for Trish, Beast observes a mother admonish her child for pretending to be a mutant as part of a game. 

Austin's Analysis
Now that he's back to writing both of the X-Men titles himself, Lobdell uses this issue, technically his second Post-Crossover Quiet issue following the end of "Onslaught", to conclude the mini-arc for Professor X he began in Uncanny X-Men #337 and, in doing so, write him out of the series for the foreseeable future. In that Uncanny issue, Xavier remained steadfast in the face of Wolverine's arguments, not ready to forgive himself for Onslaught's actions nor accept that the good he's done outweighs the bad. Here, as the X-Men rail against the idea of Val Cooper effectively arresting Xavier and holding him to some level of account (not even to punish him, really, but simply to make sure something like Onslaught can't happen again), Xavier agrees with her, and leaves the X-Men. 

Again, all too often these kinds of "good character does bad things" stories conclude with the character's peers assuring them they are still a good person, allowing some level of status quo ante to return. Here, Lobdell has Xavier saying, essentially, "no, I did a bad, and I need to deal with that". The downside is that most of the actual work of Xavier reconciling his role in the creation of Onslaught and his culpability for his crimes occurs off-page, and eventually gets tangled up in some disparate "Operation: Zero Tolerance" setup and stuff like "The Hunt for Xavier" and the Mannites. Nevertheless, credit is owed for not simply having Xavier be told he's still a good guy at heart so that makes everything okay before rushing the series back to the pre-crossover status quo. 

Next Issue
Next week, an examination of how "Onslaught" was meant to have played out in Road to Onslaught #1.

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  1. Some pages aren't drawn by Andy Kubert. I bet it was Val Semeiks who did them.

    1. Thank you, Cesar! I had written up a long comment trying to figure out what was going on with the are here, but you solved it. Kubert is the only credited penciler and Thibert the only credited inker, but it was very clear someone else ghosted some of this thing.

      Weirdly, I can't find credit for Semeiks or any other penciler anywhere, even at

  2. Kinda funny that Val lands a huge futuristic jet on the X-Men's front lawn, but nobody notices she's there until she rings the doorbell.

    Anyway -- this issue isn't as good as UNCANNY 337. It's not bad, but I'm just not sure we needed an entire issue, more or less, dedicated to Xavier being taken away after we had just seen the conversation with Wolverine in UNCANNY. I will state again something I said the last time Lobdell was handling both titles, between Nicieza's and Waid's tenures: he doesn't seem like he knows what to do with two core X-books a month, so it always feels like he's "phoning in" one or the other.

    I was happy to see that feather on the final page, because I've always preferred Angel over Archangel. I just wish Lobdell had given him his original skin color back as well, but we would need to wait for (urgh) Chuck Austen before that happened.

    "Val Cooper's role here is a bit inconsistent with how she's been portrayed of late in X-Factor..."

    And, as noted by Iceman, her hair is inconsistent with her usual look, too. I'm seriously beginning to think that Andy Kubert never bothered with looking up reference.

    1. I was actually disappointed by the feathers. While I understand that some people prefer "Classic" Angel I thought Archangel was far more interesting. Certainly, he had more to offer than simply flying around and dodging things.

      I agree that this issue felt a bit extraneous. It's basically Return of the King where we keep getting more endings. Especially with the Onslaught Epilogue being just a few months away.

  3. This was a really weird time in the X-Titles. The government makes sure Xavier is held to account for something that, with a little effort, he could be made innocent of. It's especially odd since Val Cooper is the one bringing him on while simultaneously overseeing a group who claims both Mystique and Sabretooth as members. Apparently being inherently evil gives you more leeway with the law in the Marvel Universe.

    1. Y'know, it just occurred to me to wonder how the government knows that Xavier had anything to do with Onslaught. Like, how did Val come by this intel? The X-Men play things pretty close to the vest, and there was nobody from, say, the Avengers left to file a mission report that might've fingered him (not that I would expect most of the Avengers to rat on him anyway). It's kinda weird that she shows up here at all, unless Xavier called her to turn himself in.

    2. I wondered that too and just assumed that I had missed or forgot something.

  4. I appreciate how Xavier’s decision and his lack of immediate absolution by all parties are handled but wanted more sense from him personally of the ramifications of him evidently no longer possessing his powers: How isolated must he feel? Does that make physically leaving his students, friends, and compatriots behind even harder knowing the lack of connection he’ll be grappling with? Or is he relieved and believing that he no longer deserves the ability to enter, let alone to alter, people’s minds if he in fact ever did?

    1. Good point, Blam. I feel like Chris Claremont would've gotten a ton of mileage out of Xavier losing his powers (and justifiably so). He certainly wouldn't have glossed over it like Lobdell.

      I can't remember if this is touched on at all in the upcoming Xavier-centric ONSLAUGHT EPILOGUE one-shot. I guess we'll find out soon enough!

    2. @Matt — I’ve been haunted by the idea of what that loss would be like ever since reading, back in either The Art of John Byrne or one of the X-Men Companions, how the original plan of Jean’s “psychic lobotomy” in #137 would result in her becoming such a fragile shadow of her former self. Other stories have since presented material along the same lines, such as Troi losing her empathic abilities in an episode of ST:TNG. When all you’ve ever known is possession of a certain power, especially one that fundamentally connects you to other sapient beings, then its loss really would be like having a physical sense torn from you if not worse.

  5. Betsy stepping out of the elevator and going to the bedroom to search for Warren only to find some feathers on floor to notify that he has gone curiously missing is very reminiscent of UXM #169 where Candy did pretty much exactly that.

  6. I always mistankingly think this is Kuberts last issue of X-men, thematically it wouda made sense what with the 'farewell' aspect, instead it's the one coming up featuring Hercules in a few issues time. Still bugs me that his work on the book isnt regarded as highly as some others, he was on it for the best part of 50 issues and off the top of my head I cant remember another artist who has come close to that number since.

  7. I think Joe Mad unintentionally stole his thunder. Kubert did good work and it got better once the X-office switched to computer coloring imo. He was also relatively on time with few fill ns (or less than Joe MAd). Also the fact that he had to follow Jim Lee put him in an unenviable position.


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