Friday, December 29, 2006

Uncanny X-Periment # 81: "Internal Struggle"

X-Men # 71-72, Uncanny X-Men # 351-355

In the aftermath of OZT and despite the troubles brewing within the team, Scott and Jean decide to head off to Alaska for some very extended leave. Despite doubts from the both of them, the pair decide to head off after learning that the Avengers and the Fantastic Four are very much alive and back from Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee's wild ride.

Logan, concerned about Marrow's place on the team and in the mansion, confronts her in the Danger Room. A wild brawl follows, concluding with Wolverine nearly killing her. Marrow rushes off, very uncertain as to what she is doing.

Afterwards, Cecilia Reyes decides to go back to work. It's there she faces down racism, a Legacy Virus-ravaged Pyro, anti-Mutant sentiment, and a shot Daredevil. In the end, she heads back to the mansion after being fired.

In the air and on their way to Alaska, Jean and Scott encounter some strange creature on the plane. AIM is after it, but the pair secretly fight them off. The day is saved.

Back at the mansion, Rogue is not doing so well. She's all messed up after the Gambit situation and is struggling more than ever with the temptation to use her powers. After learning that a Doctor Agee has developed a way to surpress Mutant genes, she decides to head off to investigate this claim. Joseph, however, is quite upset with Doctor Agee, but passes out. Meanwhile, a state investigator from the Department of Education pops by to check out the school and firmly decides it is not a very good facility.

Before Rogue has the chance to leave, she stumbles across a power drained Wolverine. She touches Wolverine, but then runs off again.

It's revealed that the one who intiated the original power drain was Sauron, but Rogue gets the blame and she leaves. Sauron attacks the other X-Men, but they handle him. As Wolverine waits with Sauron for SHIELD to haul him away, Alpha Flight shows up, thinking that Wolverine is responsible for a murder up north. A throw-down follows with the X-Men, but the truth is revealed.

Back up in Alaska, Jean walks into her and Scott's living room . . . dressed in the Phoenix costume!

Plus: Bishop is lost in space with Deathbird!

All in all, a good bunch, if not a little slow. It reminds me a lot of the post-"Fall of the Mutants" time peroid when the team was comprised of both older members (Storm, Rogue, Wolverine, etc.) and newer, untested members (Marrow, Maggot, Reyes, etc.) It makes from some good drama and great interaction. Storm finally gets some spotlight time after being underdeveloped for far too long. Rogue's power issues is nice, as it kinda brings her back to her roots. Reyes return to the hospital is very well done, really bringing us a splash of old school anti-Mutant sentiment. The Department of Education's investigator appearance makes for a nice dose of reality.

Unfortunately, besides a really great Marrow/Wolverine fight, there's not a whole lot of action present. The conflicts with AIM, Sauron, Pyro, and Alpha Flight are average at best. This is lucky overshadowed by the nice character development.

The art remains on high with work from Carlos Pacheco and Chris Bachalo topping off the best.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Uncanny X-Periment # 80: "New Beginnings"

X-Force # 70, Uncanny X-Men # 347-350, X-Men # 70

In the aftermath of "Operation: Zero Tolerance," the X-Teams pull back. X-Force pick up Domino, then meet up with Cable. Cable offers them a chance to start over with brand new identities. Domino, Rictor, and Shatterstar all leave. Sunspot, Meltdown, Syrin, Moonstar (she's back), and Warpath (eventually) reject Cable's plans and decide that they're strong enough to chose their own fates. Cable then leaves them.

Now, down in Antartica, the other X-Men team (Gambit, Rogue, Joseph, Beast, and Trish) all awaken in what at first appears to be an alien world, but turns out to be a massive series of underground tunnels. Gambit is captured by bounty hunters (and former friends) Spat and Grovel, who want Remy to pay for his past crimes. They meet up with Rogue and Joe, and then they are ALL captured by Nanny and her cohorts (remember Nanny?). Joseph is taken to a special cell, where he learns about OZT (which is running parallel with this story) and he starts to get pissed.

Meanwhile, powers shut off, Rogue starts to have memories of Gambit's past float up to the surface of her mind. Uncertain and full of doubts, Gambit tells her to push them away. He then tells her that they have one night that could be their first and last.

They make love.

The next morning, Gambit is full of angst. Sooner or later, Joesph is able get freed and meets up with them. Gambit, Rogue, Spat and Grovel then break loose and when it comes time to face Nanny, Trish and Beast pop by and take her out. Gambit then turns himself over to his former pals and current bounty hunters so that he can finally face down his terrible secret.

Meanwhile, in NYC, the mysterious Mutant named Maggot is on the trail of Joseph. Psylocke, sensing a darkness within him, goes to investigate him. Archangel gets involved from there. Eventually, they end up teleported down into a massive structure in Antartica.

Rogue and co. go searching for Gambit, but soon, all end up in a massive citadel. It's there Gambit is put on trail by Erik the Red, a cover name once more. Then, the truth is revealed. Mr. Sinister hired Gambit (during a peroid of despression) to not only assemble to Marauders, but also to lead them into the Morlock Tunnels to wipe them out. This stuns all those there. However, in revealing this truth, Erik the Red forced Rogue to kiss Gambit. This allowed her to gain his powers and free Maggot and the X-Men. The place crumbling around them, Psylocke gets everyone but Gambit and Rogue out of there. Instead, Rogue rescues Gambit . . . only to drop him off right outside - abandoning him. With the X-Men gone and Erik the Red on his way out, Erik the Red changes into his real attire . . . that of Magneto!

WHA - ?! But what about Joseph?!? What the -- ?!

Anyways, Iceman, Reyes, and Marrow arrive at the mansion . . . stunned to find it stripped bare. It's then that the other team of X-Men (Cyclops, Phoenix, Wolverine, Cannonball, and Storm) show up with Scott, who has a nanite-assembling bomb in his belly. Doctor Reyes soon leaps into action, trying her best to save Scott. However, things get complicated as tensions are high with Marrow hanging around, giving Storm trouble. Things get even more worse when the Juggernaut shows up with a lawyer, trying to claim the mansion as his own.

Luckily, the rest of the X-Men (sans Psylocke and Archangel) show up, with newcomer Maggot. There's a brief skirmish, but Juggy and his lawyer depart, laughing at the poor luck the X-Men are having. With the help of Marrow's bones, Reyes gets the bomb out just as it's ready to denonate. They give it to Maggot, who has one of his maggots eat it. The X-Men breathe a sigh of relief as Scott lives, but problems are around them. Scott, though, remains optimistic.

Oh, and Bishop is lost in space.

Hands down, one of my favorite X-Men stories. Lobdell has left the building, which isn't great because he did a pretty good job, all things considered. But it's nice to have some fresh air in the X-House - and with Joe Kelly and Steve Seagle, it's a good air.

The whole Gambit/Rogue subplot takes another step forward and it's very nicely done. The "sex scene" (which is kinda subtle and sad) is nice, and all the angst that Gambit carries with him is well done. His involvement in such a big event is nice addition, really making his actions resonate with the history of the X-Men.

I love seeing the characters interact, from the oldies like Iceman and Beast to fresher charcters like Reyes and Marrow. Splendid work from all involved. Good character development and it's nice to see some new changes taking place in the X-Men's (and X-Force's) world.

Below the surface, there's a nice story here. The X-Men, despite going through all the crap of the Onslaught, the Creed assassination, OZT, Gambit's trial and the bomb scare, are pulling themselves out of that tunnel of darkness. Just like they always do.

And that's one of the reasons I just love the X-Men.


Uncanny X-Periment # 79: "Operation: Zero Tolerance"

X-Men # 65, Uncanny X-Men # 346, X-Men # 66, Generation X # 29, Wolverine # 115, Generation X # 30-31, X-Force # 68, Cable # 45-47, X-Man # 30, X-Force # 69, X-Men # 67, Wolverine # 116, X-Men # 68, Wolverine # 117, X-Men # 69, Wolverine # 118

The story kicks off with an attack on the X-Men. Over Colorado, the X-Men (Cyclops, Phoenix, Wolverine, Storm, and Cannonball) are attacked by the Prime Sentinels (new and improved man-sized Sentinels). They are subsequently captured, with the attack broadcasted across the US (and slanted to make it seem like the X-Men attacked OZT). As this unfolds, the Prime Sentinels and some OZT forces take control of the mansion.

In NYC, Callisto and Marrow attack Henry Peter Gyrich because of his involvement with OZT. Spider-Man intervines and quite soon, they have to deal with Prime Sentinels. Action ensues, but Gyrich has the police take down the Sentinels, as they are a greater threat to the general public than the Mutants are. Meanwhile, Bastian confronts J. Jonah Jameson over his search from the truth behind OZT and the X-Men. Jameson rejects all the information that Bastian has to offer regarding the X-Men, as he believes Bastian killed one of his reporters (and he did).

At a Bronx hospital, self-loathing Mutant Doctor Cecilia Reyes is attacked by Prime Sentinels. This reveals her power to create force fields to her staff, who all hate Mutants for some reason. Iceman comes to her rescue and the pair go off to find help.

Over in LA, Generation X meets up with Skin's cousin Gil and they crash at his place. It's then that the Mutant gang leader (and Skin's ex-girlfriend who thought he was dead) shows up with her posse and sells them out. Prime Sentinels rain upon them and Torres, some thugs, Generation X, and Gil make a run for it.

At the Hulkbuster Base (now the OZT headquarters), the X-Men are taken to their prison cells. Bastian shows this to Jubilee, but she believes it's just another illusion. However, seeing the subtle details of the images (Logan's hand on Jean's), she soon realizes it isn't an illusion. The X-Men are carted away and Wolverine is taken down to the furance to be fried. He comes to and frees his fellow X-Men. The X-Men then bust their way out of the base with the help of Jubilee (who they don't know is in there -- nor do they know that Xavier is down there too).

In Flordia, at one of Emma Frost's safehouses, Emplate makes a deal with Banshee and Emma to help find Generation X in exchange for Penance. Emma wants to take it, but Sean throws a big fit. She tries to force Penance into doing it, but Sean punches her out and he and Penny run for it.

Meanwhile, Generation X has taken safety in a car museum. There, they confront the aspect of dying. Husk comes up with a plan and when the Prime Sentinels arrive, Gil blows the place up. Torres and co. and Generation X survive, with Synch finding twin girls instead of M!

During an undercover mission, X-Force and whatever is left of the MLF are ambushed by Prime Sentinels. One of the Prime Sentinels (a woman once named Ekatarina Gryaznova) manages to capture Domino for revenge for an accident Domino caused. Also captured are Meltdown, Shatterstar, and Rictor. X-Force retreats to regroup.

Cable, tipped off by G.W. Bridge, heads to the mansion to retrieve valuable information before OZT gets their mits on it. He busts in, breaks Caliban free, gets Caliban to safety, the takes control of the War Room, where he then downloads all of the valuable information. Bastian pops by and the two wrestle. Eventually, Cable takes telepathic control of the OZT soldiers and erases their memories of even being a member of OZT and sends them on their way. He passes out from the stress and when he awakens, the mansion is completely stripped down.

Cable, while he was downloading the information, contacts Nate Grey the X-Man and sends him to go protect the Greys - including their cousins, Joey and Gailyn. A fight with the Prime Sentinels later and all is good.

Domino then wakes up, shaved and with something in her neck. As she tries to make sense of it, X-Force takes down their opponents and frees their teammates.

Back with Reyes and Iceman, the pair break into Warren and Betsy's apartment to try and get some help. Calls to X-Factor and Excalibur go unanswered, but after being attacked by a Prime Sentinel, Charlotte Jones come to the rescue and takes them down to the Police station for protection. Unfortunately, things aren't looking good there either. With many of the Police officers really being Prime Sentinels, Iceman and Reyes have got a problem. But luckily Marrow is hiding in the basement.

In the Desert, the X-Men stumble across a small shanty town of hanicapped people. Turns out these people have all been helped by a clinic. This clinic is, in truth, an OZT cover operation to make Prime Sentinels.

Iceman and Reyes get their butts saved by Marrow. After they take down some Prime Sentinels, they team up with the Israeli Mutant super-hero Sabra - who has secret information regarding Bastian. They then find out that Charlotte Jones was blackmailed into helping OZT because her son (Timothy) was kidnapped.

The X-Men, in the Desert, deal with some Prime Sentinels and then decide to destroy the clinic. Once there, Wolverine catches the scent of Jubilee, who was freed with the help of Daria. Wolverine and Jubilee then reunite with Mustang and the rest of the X-Men and bust into the clinic. Just then, Mustang turns into a Prime Sentinel!

All this while, Senator Kelly is looking to shut down Operation: Zero Tolerance.

With Sabra's help, Reyes, Iceman, and Marrow all head to New England, where Timothy is being held by Bastian and some old lady. They break in, Iceman pulls Bastian out and lectures him. A lot. Just as the Prime Sentinels are about to blast the four Mutants out of existence, SHIELD appears suddenly! They order Bastian to stand down and take him into custody.

At the clinic, the X-Men destroy everything and Wolverine manages to get Mustang back to normal. With SHIELD taking down all of OZT, one final blast is fired at Cyclops. Suddenly, a bomb is beginning to grow in his abdomen!



Okay. So let's talk about this.

First and foremost, the good. There's some good stuff in this crossover. Character development is on high, with special focus on Iceman, Marrow, Jubilee, Cable, and Domino. While Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, Phoenix, Reyes, Generation X and Nate Grey get their moments, those characters right up there get the spotlight. Iceman really grows up, getting a lot of characterization and action since, well, Uncanny X-Men # 17-18.

Nate's saving of his extended family, Generation X (Synch and M esspecially) dealing with the possibility of death, and Cable struggles within the mansion are all very well done. James Robinson, who handled Cable and Generation X, does a great job on both titles.

Another thing to like about this is the way it was done. I really enjoyed the fact that we saw various parts of the X-Men attacked - just not all as one unit, but as factions (save X-Factor and Excalibur). Having the stories (at least the main ones - the X-Men) converge onto the same plot point is very well done.

Plus, Bastian feels like a real menance. He's a very dark character. Very threatening. And very powerful.

And that, I think, is the where the story falls apart.

Operation: Zero Tolerance has been building up for a while - since right before Onslaught. We've seen appearances by Bastian all over the place. So, when this story came along, there was a lot of potential for it to be really good. All of the questions and mysteries about Bastian were going to be answered. A war was going to break out between the X-Men and the humans.

But at the end of the day, none of that happened. Everyone that was captured by OZT escaped - except for Professor X. We never had any answers regarding Bastian's origins. There were no big battles besides the usual fights we're used to. OZT came out, put out a single, and then vanished. One of the best non-Mutants villians the X-Men have ever dealt with and they're gone in a flash with very little fanfare.

What bothers me to is why Bastian was taken into custody? I'm thinking it was because he kidnapped that boy, but what was with that woman he gave him to and how did she play a role in his creation (I know the answer, but I'm just putting it out there)? Who was the real power behind OZT and why didn't they stop Kelly and Gyrich from shutting it down? Why did the Mossad have information on Bastian that no one else did? What information did they have? What happened to it?

Plus, the crossover is almost inaccessible due to all the threads going in and out of it. You need to know why Professor X and Jubilee have been captured. You need to know why X-Force are doing what they're doing. Etc, etc.

Coordination-wise, it's good. Quality of writing is good, though the outcome of the story is way too disappointing. The appearances of Spider-Man and Jameson are nice nods, and I talked about how I liked stuff like that in the last entry. The art is very good too.

I also really liked Marrow and Reyes in this story. Reyes is the best thing to come out of OZT.

Disappointing ending plus great characterization plus good coordination plus lack of answers equals "meh, it's all right. No AoA or Mutant Massacre, but it's kinda okay."


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Uncanny X-Periment # 78: "Countdown"

Generation X # 27-28, X-Men # 62-64

Jubilee, captured by Bastian, is basically tortured for information regarding the X-Men by being shown "evidence" that they are in fact dead. Jubilee defies all this and eventually befriends one of the Operation: Zero Tolerance aides, Daria.

Meanwhile, Generation X is rescued by a being named Glorian, shaper of dreams. His goal is to make their every desire come true. But Skin proves difficult and in the end, they are teleported to his home neighborhood in LA. In the meantime, Sean, Emma, and Penance on out on the hunt.

The X-Men (Cyclops, Wolverine, Phoenix, Storm, and Cannonball) all arrive in Hong Kong and meet up with Shang-Chi, master of the Kung-Fu. As it turns out, there's a battle going on between the Kingpin and Sebastian Shaw in regards to the mystical Elixer Vitale (which was used by Shang-Chi's father) -- mostly in the case of its effects on the Legacy Virus. Shang-Chi and the X-Men get into the middle of it and in the end, Storm makes the difficult choice of destroying the Elixer Vitale. The X-Men then head on home . . . only to be stopped by Operation: Zero Tolerance forces!

A short little batch, but good all around. Scott Lobdell pulls out some good ones. Jubilee really shines out as a great character. The X-Men themselves are portrayed quite nicely, the smaller cast allowing for a deeper look at the characters themselves. And kudos on bringing in non-Mutant villian, the Kingpin.

The art is esspeically good. Bachelo brings his usual goodness, but the X-Men are now joined by Carlos Pacheco, one of my all-time favorite artists.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Uncanny X-Periment # 77: "Askani"

X-Men: Phoenix # 1-3, Uncanny X-Men # -1, Askani's Son # 1-4, The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix # 1-4, X-Man # 25, Cable # 42-44, Hulk # 455-457

What we have here are four tales, each one taking place in three basic time periods.

Kicking it off is Rachel Summers and the story her arrival into the future after trading places with Captain Britain. She arrives and immediately begins a rebellion against Apocalypse. However, Apocalypse is in regenerative sleep, so she deals with the power-vampire lady Nero. Nero seeks the Phoenix power from Rachel, but when she gets it, it blows her mind. The Phoenix then departs from Rachel. Rachel then forms the Askani and vows to use the powers that the Phoenix left her to bring her baby brother into the future to help out. She also meets a teenaged telepath named Sancity.

The two, at some point, travel back to before the X-Men have been founded. There, it's revealed that Sancity is the daughter of Bolivar Trask, creator of Master Mold and the Sentinals. Rachel yanks her back, but not before information regarding the "12" is dumped into Master Mold's memory banks.

Further along in the future, a now abandoned Nathan Dayspring and his buddy Tetherblood encounter the Yoda-like Balquesmith. Blaquesmith has Nathan head to the mysterious Ebonshire to seek out the Askani - which is now being run by Madame Sancity. Leader of the New Cannite government (which has swept into place in the aftermath of Apocalypse's death), Tribune Haight sends a woman named Umbridge to find the Askani as well. Stryfe, Ch'Varye, and Zero also seek Ebonshire. Dayspring gets there and meets up with a woman named Aliya. He is also regarded as a great hero! But then all heck breaks lose as everyone kinda arrives at first. Umbridge dies, Stryfe and Sancity run off together, and Haight goes back to the US. Dayspring, Tetherblood, and Aliya form the Clan Chosen.

Now, let's zoom back to 1859, where Sancity plops the present day Scott and Jean to bare witness to Mr. Sinister's creation. Sinister was once known as Nathaniel Essex, who was looked upon like a nut by the scientific community. He believed that humans would soon evolve into incredible beings - Mutants! He's so nutty about this that he experimented on his late son's corpse. This breaks the heart of his pregnant wife Rebecca. It only gets worse when he recruits a gang he calls the Marauders to round up all the freaks to his mansion. This attrachts the attention of the recently woken Apocalypse. As Scott and Jean try and find each other, Apocalypse and Essex hang out with the Hellfire Club. Eventually, Rebecca dies, declaring his husband to be sinister! Thus, that's the name that Essex choses for himself as he is remolded into an agent of Apocalypse. When Apocalypse makes an attempt on the British royal family's life, Scott and Jean intervine (they were captured for a bit). Apocalypse, who has the help of the Hellfire Club and has Mr. Sinister make him a plaque, is suddenly weakened. It turns out that Sinister had the plaque work against Apocalypse (the Techno-Organic Virus), as he wished to see the world bare evolutionary fruit rather than be destroyed. Apocalypse then returns to his cryogenic sleep. Sanctiy sends Scott and Jean home, revealing that it was their presence that pushed Essex into becoming Sinister - for without Sinister, there would be no Cable and therefore, no one chosen to destroy Apocalypse.

In the present day, Sancity recruits Jean to figure out the heck is going with Maddie being back. A confrontation between Jean, Maddie, and Nate Grey reveals that Maddie came into being as a result of his desire to have some to care about him like Jean would have in the AoA.

Storm and Cable then stop a returned from the dead Marrow (thanks to a second heart!?) and Calisto from blowing up a Lila Cheny concert. Cable then confronts a Mutant-hating mob that reminds of a time in his past. Maddie then goes after Cable, trying to convince him to join her.

At the mansion, Wolverine shows up with the Hulk. A battle with the X-Men and the Hulk follows, the X-Men trying to help him (with Cable and Forge by their side). Hulk is then eventually teleported away by Apocalypse. Apocalypse seeks to make him into the Horsemen War and tests him by manipulating the organization One New World into sending Absorbing Man and Juggernaut against ol' Purple Pants. The Hulk (as War) trounces Creel and Juggy, but then breaks Rick Jones spine, which sends him back to normal and out of Apocalypse's grasp. Apocalypse then blows up the One New World.

So, what does all this mean to me?

"X-Men: Phoenix" is probably among the Top Ten worst X-Men stories ever. It contradicts various other elements of the mythos. It's poorly written, for the most part. I don't care about any of the characters except for Rachel and while her struggle with the Phoenix is nice, it doesn't make up for anything else that is wrong with this crappy comic. The art is particularly bad.

"Uncanny X-Men" # -1 is good, but it over-complicates things with Rachel and Sancity.

"Askani'Son" is okay, if not a little anticlimatic and boring. Gene Ha does a great job at picking up the slacky writiing. It's neat, also, to see Nathan grow from the baby we saw in X-Factor, the kid we saw in Adventures, and now the young man found here. Great job.

Likewise, "The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix" is great. I think it would have been stronger had Jean and Scott not been in there, but the perfect blend of Peter Milligan's creepy story and John Paul Leon's dark art style makes it a keeper. Plus - we find out why he calls himself Mr. Sinister!

The whole Maddie thing has always bothered me. From Day One, when she first showed up, I groaned. Even as an enthralled 12-14 year old, I groaned loudly at this. And the relationship between Maddie and Nate? Eeeeew! I wouldn't make out/have sex with my Mom's clone, alternate reality or not.

I'll give props to make Maddie an interesting character again, but this whole thing wasn't necessary and should have been dealt with in "X-Man" # 25 in finality.

The "Cable" issues are a bore, with Callisto acting way out of character. It's also revealed an younger Ch'Varye was sent back in time to create as Askani cult and . . . to give even me a headache! Ugh . . .

The "Hulk" issues are a highlight. With these being the only heroes left (save Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange, and Daredevil), it's neat to see them interact in each other's corner of the universe. Apocalypse's testing of Hulk is esspecially well done, as it was written by Peter David and drawn by Adam Kubery. Drool!

Overall, I don't care for the needless clutter added to the already complicated Summers/Apocalypse/Askani situation. It makes for bad comics and smacks of unoriginality. While there are gems - "Further Adventures" and "Hulk," for one, everything else around these make for some bad to mediocre reading.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Uncanny X-Periment # 76: "The Phalanx/Shi'ar Conflict"

One of the funny little things I’ve encountered in regards to this blog are the occasional “crossovers” into real time events. Me reading Banshee’s first appearance right around his death is a good example. Reading the revelations in “Deadly Genesis” as I’m reading Giant-Sized X-Men # 1. Reading “Onslaught” the same month as “Onslaught Reborn” comes out. And so on. Unfortunately, this latest coincidence is of a far less enjoyable note – Dave Cockrum, a visionary of the X-Men, passed away last weekend.

And yet, as I read through this patch of comics, they featured the Shi’ar. In my opinion, besides the X-Men redesigns, the Shi’ar rank up there with some of the best additions the pallet of the X-Men’s universe that wouldn’t have been as perfect if done by anyone else. Back during his initial run and his later arcs, Cockrum made the Shi’ar very strange and very alien, but at the same time still making them human enough for us Earthers to see a bit of ourselves in this strange world.

Beyond the Shi’ar, the new X-Men’s initial costumes still remain among their best (save Wolverine’s, but it still looks cool). In fact, that Storm costume is my favorite of all time, beating out all of the others. Same with Nightcrawler and Colossus.

So, thank you Dave Cockrum, for adding the perfect texture to Claremont’s words. The X-Men wouldn’t have been the same without you. Thank you.


Uncanny X-Men # 341-345, Generation X # 26

Joseph, Beast, Bishop, Gambit, Rogue, Trish, and Cannonball are in NYC on Christmas Eve, out for a night on the town. However, they all end up breaking off and doing their own thing. Trish and Beast go off for dinner. Bishop goes off to spend some time alone. As does Gambit. Joseph takes Rogue to the top of the WTC, where he shows her the Z’Nox Chamber (how it got there and then how it left is beyond me). He then uses said chamber to temporarily negate her powers. He gives her a tender smooch on the forehead.

Meanwhile, Cannonball is attacked by Gladiator, who (after a bit of a battle with Cannonball) teleports the X-Men (save Cannonball) to a starship and to save the Shi’ar in his stead (because the Imperial Guard are remaining on Earth to help out with the other heroes are “dead”). This team of X-Men arrives at a massive shipping hub, but they find it decimated and the crew all gone – expect for Deathbird.

The X-Men then discover who this foe is. Their old pals, the Phalanx. The Phalanx have torn through Shi’ar space. The gang play possum, teleport onto the homeworld, free Lilandria, protect the royal babies, and destroy the invading Phalanx by separating their organic from inorganic parts somehow.

They celebrate the success and decide to head back to Earth with Deathbird as their escort. On their way home, though, they are caught in massive ships wake and then get caught in the destruction of the stargate back to Earth.

Back on this green and blue orb, Jubilee is at the mercy of Operation: Zero Tolerance. She attempts to escape, but after accidentally injuring someone, she stays and help said person. Her last minute escape is then thwarted by Bastian.

Also on Earth, a creature searching for Joseph hunts down Sister Maria. Maria is then saved by the mysterious Maggot, who then asks the same question . . . just nicer.

Meanwhile, Generation X is stuck floating the middle of the ocean with no way to safety . . .

Overall, pretty good. Joe Mad and fill-in Melvin Rubi do a good job of capturing some of Cockrum’s style when it comes to the Shi’ar. Not to mention making the Phalanx about ten times cooler looking than their “Phalanx Covenant” appearance.

The story itself is a little shakey and while Lobdell does a great of focusing on the characters, the action/adventure side suffers. The ending is a dues ex machina that any Shi’ar scientist should have thought of. Good moments for a lot of the characters including: an about to be assimilated Rogue telling Gambit she loves him; Joseph having holocaust flashbacks; the Rogue/Joseph kiss; Cannonball’s battle with Gladiator; the Trish/Hank relationship; and Lilandria and Gambit’s respective angst. But are these great points worth the price of crappy moments, such as the big spaceship, the defeat of the Phalanx, and the unnecessary battle with Gladiator (cool looking, though)? Maybe.

It’s good to see the Shi’ar again, too. Always a great story with these guys, it seems.

Oh, and Generation X was good.

Plus Maggot! I love that guy!