Today’s Super Comic — The Uncanny X-Men #319 (1994)

Here’s an excellent example of a mid-‘90s X-Men comic, one of the sort that writer Scott Lobdell excelled at.

Uncanny X-Men #319 features three conversations, each featuring a pair of X-characters and each different in nature. And there’s little in the way of comic booky action.

The cover story is Angel (then Archangel) and Psylocke on a date. Meanwhile, Rogue accompanies Iceman on a visit home to his parents, where he clashes with his bigoted father. And on the astral plane, Professor X chats with someone who appears to be Magneto…or is he????

So these three vignettes entail, respectively, a soapy romance, a message of tolerance, and the setup for the next big storyline. All three are essential ingredients to X-Men comics, but each conversation does something a little different than usual.

The budding Angel/Psylocke romance is refreshingly free of drama at this point, just two teammates growing closer in an organic way. Iceman’s father isn’t building any Sentinels. His bigotry is borne of ignorance rather than evil villainy, and as with most bigoted people, it’s not so simple as labeling them wholly “good” or “evil.” Also, Iceman and Rogue had seldom been paired up before this issue, but they had a good enough rapport that the movies later picked up on what started here. And the usual Professor X/Magneto discussion acquires an interesting subtext here once the twist is revealed.

All good stuff.

Writer: Scott Lobdell

Artist: Steve Epting

Inkers: Dan Green and Tim Townsend

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Generation X #18 (1996)

generation_x_vol_1_18I probably could’ve pulled off this yearlong series of positive comic reviews with X-Men books alone.

The X-Men had about a million spinoffs in the ‘90s, and one of the better ones of that era was Generation X. It brought us back to the X-Men’s roots as a series about teenage mutants learning to control their powers in a highly specialized educational environment. But Professor X wasn’t teaching this latest generation—stalwart X-Man Banshee (Sean Cassidy) and former villain the White Queen (Emma Frost) had that job.

Though the book is ostensibly about the teens, the dynamic between these two very different teachers is one of the best parts…as #18 demonstrates, when Emma telepathically compels Sean to walk off a plane at 30,000 feet in the air (it’s okay; he can fly). Her well-intentioned drive to keep her students safe, combined with her less rigid morality, make her a compelling character and one who plays well off of Banshee’s more traditional superhero type. Instead of spy vs. spy, we’ve got teacher vs. teacher (and teacher vs. students).

And artist Chris Bachalo is in top form here, with creative layouts and memorable images. A scene of Banshee breaking out of Emma’s spell is especially well done, though there isn’t a weak page in the book.

Writer: Scott Lobdell

Penciler: Chris Bachalo

Inker: Mark Buckingham

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Uncanny X-Men #297 (1993)

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_1_297Some of Scott Lobdell’s best X-Men comics were the issues that excluded fisticuffs and super-villains altogether, and Uncanny X-Men #297 is a superb example. Twenty-two pages of human interaction (well, mutant interaction) featuring three pairs: Beast and Archangel (for our entertainment), Rogue and Gambit (to fill the soap opera quota), and Prof. X and Jubilee (to provide the heart of the issue).

The issue serves as the epilogue to X-Cutioner’s Song, the big noisy crossover event that consumed most of the X-titles for the previous few months, so the X-Men were due for some quiet time. In that crossover, Xavier was critically wounded in an assassination attempt, but his recovery grants him a temporary side-effect. For a little while, at least, he gets to walk again.

Granted, poor Xavier has been in and out of a wheelchair so many times over the years, it’s kind of cruel. That’s due to the habit of comics to revert to the most familiar status quo after a while, but this particular story works great because both the reader and Xavier know it’s temporary from the start. He gets to enjoy the use of his legs for an evening or so, and then it will be back to his chair for probably the rest of his life. Very bittersweet.

So how does he spend this precious time? He spends it with Jubilee, whom he has the least in common with and hardly even knows at this point. Jubilee joined when Xavier was off-planet with his space wife (yeah, that was a thing), and he hasn’t been back for all that long by this issue. They bond over roller-blading, and it is fantastic. Jubilee was created to be the Robin to Wolverine’s Batman, but it turns out the character works best as a youthful foil to the very adult and disciplined Charles Xavier, allowing us to see a different side of him.

Wonderful issue, and the ending is rather touching.

Writer: Scott Lobdell

Penciler: Brandon Peterson

Inker: Dan Panosian

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Marvel Unlimited

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up