Friday, December 25, 2015

12 Days of X-Mas: Uncanny X-Men #319 (1994)


I've been a little hard on the X-Men for a few years now. Hating on Bendis and now accusing Marvel of burying the team to put the shine on the Inhumans. Just last week I wrote about how poor I found the new flagship book to be in the X-line. But now, it is time for my annual 12 Days of X-Mas. We know Grant Morrison's run was sublime. We know Chuck Austen's run made readers' eyes bleed. So let's pick an era that gets less attention. Let's look at the mid-1990's.

In the glory days of 1994, were the X-Men comics as good as I remember?

Randomly starting with issue 319, it seems I may have been off. This is clearly one of the "rest" issues between big storylines (I believe Phalanx Covenant had just wrapped up and Age of Apocalypse was about to begin.)

This issue only follows a few of the X-Men, and each story is more boring than the last. Iceman and Rogue get the most page time, but they spend it all moping. This is firmly in the time when I was certain that Iceman was about to come out as a gay man (it just took another 21 years). The heavy-handed, purple prose from writer Scott Lobdell makes it clear that there was a new direction for the character on the way. And since the issue focused on Bobby Drake's difficult relationship with his parents and Bobby's trouble with relationships, it seems like this was right in line with 1994 thinking on the subject.  Rogue is a supportive friend here, with little of the fire that has made her into one of my favorite characters. Steve Epting does a wonderful job with her, though. Even in street clothes she looks fantastic.

Archangel (rocking blue skin and a blonde mullet) and Psylocke are getting together in the second storyline. And again, the dialogue is painful. The two talk about whether they should pursue their mutual attraction or if it is too complicated in the X-Men's world. I always liked these two together.

The last storyline sets up Age of Apocalypse, with Professor X's son Legion showing up in an ominous dream, threatening about how the world would be better had Professor X and Magneto not split the mutants over the last decades. I suppose this counts as some sort of action, but really, it is a dream, so I can't count it.

What a waste of Steve Epting's talents. He's the guest penciller here, and knowing how good he was even in 1994, I wish he had been able to show off his skills on some good villains or at least our core cast in uniform.

One last question: how do Archangel's wings work? That cover has me confused!


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