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Wednesday, March 1, 2023

X-amining X-Men (vol. 2) #63

April 1997

In a Nutshell
The search for a Legacy Virus cure gets complicated as Sebastian Shaw returns and the Kingpin reveals himself!

Plot: Scott Lobdell
Script: Ben Raab
Pencils: Carlos Pacheco 
Inks: Art Thibert
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Colors: Chris Lichtner , Aron Lusen & Liquid Graphocs
Editor: Bob Harras

The X-Men an Shang-Chi battle the cyber ninjas, who reveal they are working for Sebastian Shaw, who shortly thereafter reveals himself to the X-Men. After a brief scuffle, Storm brokers a truce, while Cannonball slips away underneath a rickshaw headed towards Fujikawa Enterprises. At the Hong Kong branch of the Hellfire Club, Shaw admits he's seeking a cure for the Legacy Virus — and a financial interest in the production of it — but claims there is some altruism to his motives. He also secretly receives all of Moira MacTaggert's data on the Legacy Virus from Rory Campbell. Shortly thereafter, the X-Men depart for Fujikawa Enterprises, where Shaw believes the Elixir Vitae sought by Shang-Chi's father and key to the cure, is being held. However, Cannonball is already inside, and learns the new head of the company is none other than the Kingpin, who shortly thereafter reveals himself to the intruding X-Men!

Firsts and Other Notables
Sebastian Shaw status as "not dead" is revealed to the X-Men who didn't already know that (mostly everyone present but Jean, who presumably learned it in X-Man #25 and apparently didn't tell anyone else, including her psychically-bonded husband, despite the fact that her adventure in that issue involved the her husband's seemingly-resurrected ex-wife). 

The final page reveals that Kingpin — Marvel's go-to "top gangster" character who usually bedevils Spider-Man and Daredevil — is involved in the plot, as the head of Fujikawa Enterprises (a minor Marvel Corporation with ties to Iron Man; Kingpin's ascent to its control, an ultimately brief turn for the character that doesn't really last past this story, remains an untold story). His presence represents a continuation of the X-books taking steps into the wider Marvel Universe and becoming less insular in the wake of "Onslaught" (see also: the recent Latveria story in X-Force, the Hercules appearance in issue #59, the continued role of Franklin Richards and Howard the Duck in Generation X).

Rory Campbell the one-legged scientist theoretically fated to become Ahab who was recently a recurring presence in Excalibur pops up in this issue, giving Shaw Moira's Legacy Virus data; he's not terribly wild about working with Shaw but believes it will serve a greater good. 

At one point, Jean says she's worried about something...sinister, with the ellipses and connotation of the word "Sinister" for the X-Men suggesting this is meant to tease something, but as far as I know, nothing Mister Sinister-related comes of it. 

A Work in Progress
Shaw makes a cheap reference to X-Men (vol. 2) Annual #3, though the footnote is incorrect (it leaves out the "annual", therefore directing readers to either the first appearance of Blob or the death of Magneto). 

Young Love
Shang-Chi picks up on the will they/won't they vibes between Jean and Wolverine, noting that interact like unrequited lovers. 

Austin's Analysis
Plot-wise, X-Men (vol. 2) #63 is a bit of a mess. The fight with the cyber ninjas (whom Raab heroically tries to make interesting by giving them names and some semblance of personality a la Chris Claremont but simply doesn't have the room nor the best raw material in characters to work with) proves to be pointless when their master is revealed to be Sebastian Shaw, who shortly thereafter starts working with the X-Men despite having sent the cyber ninjas to kill them in the first place (thus endeth the existence of this batch of cybernetic ninjas). Similarly, Cannonball somehow knows Fujikawa Enterprises is involved in the plot, even though the rest of the X-Men discover this later in the story (to say nothing of him randomly hitching a ride on a vehicle that happens to be going exactly where he wants to go). 

It all reads a little like the "Soulsword Trilogy" in Excalibur, another three part story plotted but not scripted by Lobdell, which periodically loses track of its characters and plotlines. The Pacheco art is nice, as is the illusion of progress on the never-ending Legacy Virus plotline. Casting Shang-Chi as  the point-of-view character also helps make some of the internal narration mildly interesting. But overall, the whole thing reads like a random jumble of plot points and characters, a story that somehow feels both too short for the amount of story it's trying to cram in, and interminably long. 

Next Issue
Wolverine fights a mime in Wolverine #112!

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  1. I had no comments after reading this issue as is becoming standard. However, I misread for a moment the words “After a brief scuffle, Storm brokers a truce,” in your recap as “After a brief soufflĂ© …,” so that was fun.

  2. This is where we are slowly slipping into territory where I can hardly follow the through thread. I'm reading along and even though I read this stuff at the time, it's completely new to me. Glad to have these recaps to get us through the dark period

  3. I'm so annoyed with myself; I've fallen behind on my read-along. I keep seeing this issue and everything going back to the beginning of the year, and I haven't read any of it! I really need to get back at it; I recall greatly enjoying this period for X-MEN (but not so much for UNCANNY) when it was originally published, though as with ACC above, I don't remember a lot of it.

    However I will note for the record, as I try to do whenever one pops up, that the image of Sebastian Shaw you provided above from his big reveal moment was his profile picture in the MARVEL SUPER HEROES ADVENTURE GAME tabletop RPG released in the late 90s.

    When I finally get around to reading this issue, I may have more thoughts! I recall being really excited by the Kingpin's return, though I feel like it was spoiled somewhere prior to the issue's release. WIZARD, probably?

  4. Woah, it's been a while. Hope you're doing okay, Austin.


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