Thursday, 27 March 2014

Uncanny X-Men #281: Telepath Fight

Uncanny X-Men #281 is the first "core" post-Claremont book we're looking at.  In X-Force and X-Factor we have seen very different takes on what you can do in an X-book - grim mercenary fantasies and powered detectivey stuff.  This is the first time we see what someone else (in this case Whilce Portacio scripted by John Byrne and Jim Lee, apparently, although who knows what relation that bears to who did what) will do in Claremont's sandbox.

And it definitely his sandbox: rather than introduce anything new, it's business as usual, as we get the Hellfire Club, Sentinels, Emma Frost and the Hellions, the Reavers and Senator Kelly.  It's practically a roll-call, and as such very reassuring - the X-Men are back as they were in the early 1980s, complete with mutants conspiring to build and set giant robots on other mutants for no clearly defined reason.

The element that wasn't present there, of course, is Jean Grey, what with her dying in 1980, before Emma was anything more than a cardboard cutout.  That Jean/Emma dynamic starts to come alive here, for a moment.  Until Jean Grey gets killed off in the last few pages.  Well, that didn't last long, did it?  Ironic that Claremont wanted to keep her dead and then the moment he leaves the book, they kill her off again.

Special shout-out to the names of some of the Hellions to die in this issue.  "Beef" and "Bevatron".  You don't get names like those any more.  Thank god.  These characters were both introduced over in New Warriors, which apparently exists now but I'm not going to cover...


  1. Ye Gods, Whilce Portacio has arrived. I hate that man's writing more than any other scribe ever to tackle UXM. Even Austen isn't so bad, though there's a strong case to be made that he was further below par for the surrounding era than Portacio was for his.

    Of course, Portacio was writing in the early '90s. I'm not even sure what "below par" could plausibly mean here.

  2. I'd argue this issue is less about reassuringly-playing in Claremont's sandbox and more about picking up that sandbox, shaking all the sand out of it, then smashing the frame. The familiar players are there, but they all get wiped out by the kewl new baddie on the block, Fitzroy. The Reavers, dead, Hellions, dead. White Queen, dead/comatose, the Hellfire Club effectively taken over by the Upstarts. Even the agents of all this carnage, Sentinels, have been re-appropriated: these are Fitzroy's equally kewl new Sentinels from the future.

    The message seems to be, all the old standbys are gone, here's their awesome new replacements. How (probably unintentionally) meta.