Made Me Quit... The X-Men

UNCANNY X-MEN #277, Marvel Comics, June 1991
"MADE ME QUIT" Week ends on the last holdout of the Great Marvel Purge of 1990. The X-Men was the first (and possibly last) comic series that I collected for over 100 consecutive issues, so I had some loyalty to it even though it had jumped the shark many times already. But we're talking about that point in time when they were starting to fracture the team over a number of titles and making the soap opera that much more difficult to follow.

As of #277, I'd finally had enough. And looking at it now, I'm not even sure I understand the story. To be fair, there's a lot of superhero action, and rising star Jim Lee doesn't even let Professor X look like a normal joe.
Pretty buff for a former cripple. Anyway, the comic is basically a big battle in space between the X-Men, some aliens posing as X-Men, and the Starjammers and/or aliens posing as the Starjammers. And Gladiator. The aliens seem to be Skrulls (how topical!), but could be aliens posing as Skrulls. Uncanny X-Men had become that kind of a series.

To be fair, there are a number of cool things happening here, but it's a popcorn movie kind of cool (not that there's anything wrong with that), and indeed, I've counted only 3 panels that wouldn't involve special effects if it were put to film. It's got that George Lucas feel about it. The outer space action sequences are well choreographed, and the principals look dangerous and sexy. It helps that Gambit isn't allowed to wear his pink outfit. They're all in their yellow and blue school uniforms, give or take a personal accessory and a large red corset to keep their abs well tucked in.

Of course, half the problems the X-Men have to overcome are created by their inability to work well together. You'd think they'd have the hang of it by now. Storm, dressed up as a starfighter (below), creates problems for the Starjammer spaceship thanks to its being "close enough" to a planet's atmosphere, but this destroys her boyfriend Forge's space-sled!
But it does mean Forge gets to look cool in a Die Hard stunt to get into the ship the hard way.
It works, he ends up shooting an alien in the face, but it's too strong to be bothered. Banshee to the rescue with his sonic scream! But it knocks Forge out too. It was the early 90s, and reports from the Gulf War were more about friendly fire than anything. In true X-Men fashion, the whole thing is padded with people making long winded speeches in between punches. And for some reason, everybody sounds like Shakespeare or Thor (same thing, really), give or take the odd accent.

The X-Men beat the crap out of these Skrulls and then crash the ship into the villains' fortress, interrupting a fight between Skrull-Wolverine and Skrull-Jubilee, the latter pissed that she's had to take the form of the worst X-Man in history. I empathize completely. In the schoolyard, I've made like I was Dr. Fate, Iron First and other losers. But never Jubilee. You sissies are welcome to write in that you did.

More pointless battle ensues, and to my surprise, even Gambit gets a cool moment:
Though he missed out on a 52-pickup joke which would have been a better line. It's not the last time this would happen to the X-Men. We all remember the X-Men movie's suckiest line: "What happens to a Toad when it gets hit by lightning? The same thing as everything else." The right answer, folks, is "It croaks". More "cool moment, wrong line" fun with Gambit:
Spears don't go "Bang", dude.

But that wasn't the real Professor X, pictured above. It was a Skrull. The real Xavier was being turned into Locutus in another room. And when the two Patrick Stewarts meet up, it's former cripple against fake former cripple. Former cripple wins.
Bla bla bla. This ain't the classroom, Professor. Save it for the New Mutants.

Then the soap opera resumes as Xavier's girlfriend's evil sister turned ally kisses him in front of his lover, her sister. Oh, and Banshee goes "what about my subplot that we've been ignoring for 12-24 issues?". Bottom line, while this issue's not that bad, the X-Men have lost their way. The mutant agenda has been pushed aside in favor of space opera, and the characters are talking machines guiding us through all the continuity and plot points. With the impending threat of multiplying the X-titles and the stories becoming even more convoluted (Marvel made good on that threat), I had to finally stop collecting Uncanny. End of a personal era.


Sea-of-Green said...

I left the X-men a little earlier, about the time Kitty, Colossus, and Nightcrawler were taken out by the Mutant Marauders (the only good thing about that it indirectly let to the eventual creation of Excalibur). Your overview of this comic convinces me that I made the correct decision!

SallyP said...

Well, I kept slogging on with it, because at the time I was probably too brain-dead to realize just how terrible it all was.

90's era comics are almost as embarrassing as 70's era clothes.

Stephen said...

locutus in x-men. u said this far no farther to this comic.

Jack Norris said...

277? You've more persistence than I, my friend.
Also, am I really the first to give you a hard time about saying that this is from DC?

Siskoid said...

Yes, but my mutant power is editing typos.

Unknown said...

That comic doesn't look like the end of the world, but it sure lacks the "sophisticated" drama the X-Men had working for the first half of the 80s.

I gave up on the x-books by the time the first of the Mutant Massacres started, so that was a few years before this issue.

snell said...

I can't remember exactly when I gave up on X-Men...probably about the time they got their 3rd or 4th member from an alternate future timeline.

Seriously, Chris Claremont, there weren't enough interesting things you could do with present-day characters? You had to keep dipping into the Days of Future Past well again and again?


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