Uncanny X-Men #301, June 1993, written by Scott Lobdell, penciled by John Romita Jr.
0202. Uncanny X-Men #287, April 1992, scripted by Scott Lobdell, plotted by Jim Lee, penciled by John Romita Jr.
Seventy-six issues after he left the title, Romita Jr. comes back. And boy oh boy, it’s a welcome return. He’s a solid storyteller and, yeah, he’s drawing in his “everyone is a big square box of muscle” style, but I don’t care. That’s the Romita Jr. I grew up with on this title, and it was a nice surprise to open this issue and see a big, blocky Bishop on the opening splash page.
This issue also has the wince-inducing dialogue tic of the X.S.E. officers of the future taking the X-Men’s names in vain and using sound effets like “bamf” and “snikt” as curse words. But, uh, thankfully I don’t think that lasted for long. So it’s awkward sounding and incredibly immature sounding now, but I can digest it easier knowing I won’t have to read much more of it. I think. Again, haven’t read this era of Uncanny in a while.
Also I don’t think Romita Jr. was clued in to the whole “seventy years in the future” thing, as Bishop’s future makes Star Trek look like Gunsmoke. I don’t think that gleaming and floating high rises and flying motorcycle cars were ever used in this vision of the future again. The mysteries are piled on in this issue, as the X-Traitor storyline is brought up and then IMMEDIATELY hinted to being Gambit. I don’t think Gambit’s last name had been revealed yet, but the Witness having the last name LeBeau now reads as lazy storytelling or a lame red herring.
Okay, the art gets this issue a lot of points.
My Score: 8.4
0194. Uncanny X-Men #174, October 1983, written by Chris Claremont, penciled by Paul Smith
Chris Claremont and Paul Smith’s work on Uncanny doesn’t get nearly enough praise. I honestly believe it belongs right up there with Claremont/Byrne and Morrison/Quitely (the former being a no-brainer, the latter being one I have to toss in even though I don’t personally care for it). It’s phenomenal.
For Valentine’s Day, I’m reading some comics dealing with love and all that junk. “Romances,” the penultimate issue of Smith’s run, was the first that came to mind. It features romantic vignettes starring Professor X and Lilandra, Wolverine and Mariko, Nightcrawler and an absent Amanda Sefton, Kitty Pryde and Colossus and, most prominently, Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor.
Professor X and Lilandra work as a couple for me. The Obi-Wans and Gandalfs and Dumbledores rarely if ever get love interests, so it’s great to see the Prof let his guard down.
Kitty and Colossus became such an iconic couple even though their relationship was so brief. This is because it was handled so well. Kitty’s youthful playfulness mixed with Colossus’ shy demeanor works. It’s charming and so pleasant to read. The two have a lot of tough stuff ahead of them, but I like reading them here before all the deaths and giant bullets got in the way.
Even Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor is enjoyable. The concern over her being a reincarnated Jean Grey is dealt with realistically by all the characters and Claremont has her react appropriately. She punches the crap out of Cyclops after he asks her if she’s Phoenix…the night of their engagement. Ouch, Cyclops, insensitive! I really like Madelyne when I read these older issues. She comes across as a completely normal woman totally swept up in the insanity of the X-Men. The team needed that at this moment. The fact that she herself becomes one of the most insane things in the X-Men canon is sad. It’s some of the worst character assassination ever committed in the medium, I would daresay.
This is a great issue, another one in the brief Claremont/Smith run. Spectacular art that Claremont, shockingly, lets do a lot of the talking.
My Score: 9.5
0158. Uncanny X-Men #286, March 1992, scripted by Scott Lobdell, plotted by Jim Lee, plotted and penciled by Whilce Portacio
Scott Lobdell begins his five and a half year run as a writer on this title with this issue. The shift in scripting from John Byrne to Lobdell is noticeable, as the dialogue becomes sharper, more concise, humorous and modern. His dialogue and knack for characterization (of the characters he chose to write well) become one of the strong parts of his run. They’re on display here, but with a dreadfully done to death plot.
My Score: 7.2
0157. Uncanny X-Men #285, February 1992, scripted by John Byrne, plotted by Jim Lee, plotted and penciled by Whilce Portacio
This storyline was just done a couple years earlier in X-Factor, and it was as boring then as it is now. I do not care about stories where the heroes get transported to an ill-defined alternate dimension/faraway planet that has both the feudal system and crazy technology. No no no, stop. Bored. Also, Mikhail Rasputin, Colossus’ long lost brother, debuts.
My Score: 7.2
0139. Uncanny X-Men #284, January 1992, scripted by John Byrne, plotted and penciled by Whilce Portacio
The X-Men vs. Predator. Well, adolescent girls in Predator costumes.
My Score: 7.6
0137. Uncanny X-Men #283, December 1991, scripted by John Byrne, penciled and plotted by Whilce Portacio
My Score: 7.3
0126. Uncanny X-Men #282, November 1991, scripted by John Byrne, plotted and penciled by Whilce Portacio
I’m just going to list these things.
Page 2: Storm gives Forge a crushed Sentinel head by using…some blue energy? Telekinesis?
Page 3: Storm says that Fitzroy kidnapped the White Queen, which happened off-panel. An editor’s note says “Not quite what you saw last issue, but take our word for it! It’s what happened!” That just screams to me that the art being super cool is more important than actually telling a good story, and leaving an important detail out of the previous issue is a-okay.
Page 6: Fitzroy is now super concerned about getting the ring that signifies the leader of the Upstarts. Who or what the Upstarts are has not been explained and this ring thing comes out of nowhere. If it’s important enough for Fitzroy to cut off Shinobi Shaw’s finger to get, I think it was important enough to mention last issue during their scene together. Also, pretty sure Shinobi is drawn with all his fingers for the rest of his appearances.
Page 8: Jean Grey has transferred her psyche…into the White Queen’s body…why? Jean’s body isn’t dead after that Sentinel attack and vacating it just seems like the best way for it to get killed. I also forgot to mention the completely out of place cameo by Senator Kelly at the end of last issue, where he runs out and yells at the X-Men. It’s a panel, he has to be identified as Senator Kelly, and it adds nothing to the story. Anyway, this whole mind swapping business is nonsense, illogical and I’m pretty sure Jean Grey, uh, can’t do that.
Page 11: Okay, Professor X deduces that Jean put her mind in the body of the nearest telepath. Which was the White Queen. Who Jean Grey and the Professor assumed was dead. Hey Jean, what good is transferring your psyche out of your living body into a dead one? I know the White Queen is actually comatose, and they figure that out by the issue’s end, but the fact that everyone clearly thought the White Queen was dead makes Jean’s Freaky Friday idea even MORE idiotic.
Page 13: A Sentinel warns Fitzroy that there is an unknown aircraft in the vicinity of his remote headquarters. Fitzroy says “it’s unlikely the craft represents any attempt of our captive’s cohorts to mount a rescue operation.” Um…what? What? The fact that he assumes that superheroes with a jet won’t come after their kidnapped allies makes Fitzroy the most moronic villain ever.
Also on this page, he kills Tarot by sucking out her life energy. Except that Tarot was also shown getting blown to bits by Sentinels in the previous issue. So…Tarot has died twice in two issues.
Page 16: I always suspend disbelief when it comes to fliers carrying teammates, but Archangel is carrying a fully armored Colossus in this issue. According to Marvel’s stats, that’s 500 pounds. Archangel is lifting 500 pounds, guys. Whilce Portacio beat Grant Morrison to that secondary mutation idea by a decade, but no one else caught it.
Page 20: Fitzroy whines “Why is this happening?!?” when his soldiers get defeated. Not that bad of a moment, just makes the guy that wiped out two entire important teams of villains that much more lame.
Page 29: The last page teases the next issue with the caption “ANSWERS!” but I have a feeling none of the above problems will be dealt with in #283.
My Score: 4.9
0125. Uncanny X-Men #281, October 1991, scripted by John Byrne, plotted by Jim Lee, plotted and penciled by Whilce Portacio
So you know the part of the ’90s that’s all fun to read, where nostalgia overrides everything leaving me a giggling 3rd grader again? Well followers, all my favorite characters are on the X-Men’s Blue Team so no sentimentality can make this mess any better.
And this is a mess.
First of all two mainstay villain groups are ruthlessly killed off just to make Fitzroy seem super bad. To this point, the Hellions and the Reavers were two big parts of the X-Men’s rogue’s gallery and to see them wiped out by Sentinels and Fitzroy is just sloppy. They deserved more, I would say. Or they at least deserved to die in an issue that was more than a completely illogical fight scene. Seriously, the X-Men and Hellions just start all-out fighting and then stop when Jean Grey mentally commands them to. Plus the White Queen has summoned the X-Men to her aide, but then refuses to tell them anything about her attacker when they get there. Lame.
The art is fine and, truthfully, it’s the next issue that includes some doozies.
Again, this rating might seem high but I reserve ratings below 7 for issues that I get little to no joy out of reading. For all it’s faults, this issue is still a somewhat entertaining comic.
My Score: 7.2