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  1. #31
    Mighty Member Thievery's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thievery View Post

    As far as Stacey goes, it's possible that she wouldn't have been allowed back then. But, I believe that Daredevil's girlfriend had been a stripper. Could be wrong about that, seeing as I now very little about Daredevil. And, it's not like Stacey was shown having sex with her clients. She even told them that there was a no touching rule. Also, heros like Wolverine and Punisher were killing villains back then. I have no problems with heroes killing bad guys, but is killing really worse than sex?
    Oops, I didn't do a good job of explaining my point on this one. I was in a hurry while I typed this post, as I was forced to log off earlier than I anticipated ,and I did an even more sloppy job of posting than I usually do, seeing as I was rushed for time.

    I meant to say that I don't think that characters like Stacey who use sex shouldn't be seen as worse than characters such as Wolverine or Punisher killing people. Surely storiesabout killing should be worse than stories about sex. Still don't mind stories about good guys killing bad guys, though

    I hope that I did a better job of articulating what I was trying to say this time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Buttocks View Post
    Depends on how you have sex I suppose !
    Yeah, I think that this is an example of what I meant about screwing my previous post up. I think that you were responding to my post where I said that sex is worse than murder?

    And, I don't mind love triangles, by the way. I know that they are disliked on this forum, but I think that they can lead to some interesting stories and character work. I thought that Scott/Jean/Emma made for some great reading.
    Last edited by Thievery; 02-13-2020 at 01:35 AM.
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  2. #32
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    All this talk about Stacy X, and she hasn't even shown up in the run yet...

    Keep in mind, this was the early days of the Jemas/Quesada era -- sometimes affectionately referred to as NuMarvel -- and there was a feeling in the air that we could push the envelope a little bit, in terms of content.

    There was only one creative meeting -- which we referred to as the "X-summit" -- before the launch. It was me, Grant, Frank Quitely and Ian Churchill in NYC at the Marvel offices. Aside from the requisite WIZARD Magazine interview and photo shoot we did for PR purposes, I was never clear on why we were even *having* this get-together. But we made the most of it, bombing around Manhattan in the freezing cold and slipping away from our Marvel handlers so we could, y'know, actually talk about stuff.

    Ending up in the hotel bar, things got a little strange. Grant already had his first year pretty much mapped out. I was still figuring things out (one could argue that I never *did* figure things out). But the ideas were still flying. During the conversation, the idea for the X-Ranch -- a mutant brothel -- formed in my fevered brain and when I brought it up, the response from my fellow creators was enthusiastic. Mainly because they thought I'd never go through with it. That was all the ammo I needed. It was like a dare... take the weirdest idea and actually write it into the top-selling franchise. I knew I was in a unique position where our editors weren't going to put up any significant roadblocks to our ideas. Keep in mind, we were fully entrenched in the "writer-driven" era of mainstream comics, so we had a lot of power (much more so than any wrtiers at Marvel or DC have now). So I never thought twice about what was "appropriate" vs. what was "inappropriate". I just went for it.

    But I can tell you, it was never about being *sexually* provocative. The X-Ranch as a concept and Stacy X as a character were meant to evoke a much bigger idea...

  3. #33
    Incredible Member TheRealWashout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Casey View Post
    All this talk about Stacy X, and she hasn't even shown up in the run yet...

    Keep in mind, this was the early days of the Jemas/Quesada era -- sometimes affectionately referred to as NuMarvel -- and there was a feeling in the air that we could push the envelope a little bit, in terms of content.

    There was only one creative meeting -- which we referred to as the "X-summit" -- before the launch. It was me, Grant, Frank Quitely and Ian Churchill in NYC at the Marvel offices. Aside from the requisite WIZARD Magazine interview and photo shoot we did for PR purposes, I was never clear on why we were even *having* this get-together. But we made the most of it, bombing around Manhattan in the freezing cold and slipping away from our Marvel handlers so we could, y'know, actually talk about stuff.

    Ending up in the hotel bar, things got a little strange. Grant already had his first year pretty much mapped out. I was still figuring things out (one could argue that I never *did* figure things out). But the ideas were still flying. During the conversation, the idea for the X-Ranch -- a mutant brothel -- formed in my fevered brain and when I brought it up, the response from my fellow creators was enthusiastic. Mainly because they thought I'd never go through with it. That was all the ammo I needed. It was like a dare... take the weirdest idea and actually write it into the top-selling franchise. I knew I was in a unique position where our editors weren't going to put up any significant roadblocks to our ideas. Keep in mind, we were fully entrenched in the "writer-driven" era of mainstream comics, so we had a lot of power (much more so than any wrtiers at Marvel or DC have now). So I never thought twice about what was "appropriate" vs. what was "inappropriate". I just went for it.

    But I can tell you, it was never about being *sexually* provocative. The X-Ranch as a concept and Stacy X as a character were meant to evoke a much bigger idea...
    Thanks for this, and thanks for Stacy. She was a delightful breath of fresh air the X-books needed.

  4. #34
    Spectacular Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Casey View Post
    All this talk about Stacy X, and she hasn't even shown up in the run yet...

    Keep in mind, this was the early days of the Jemas/Quesada era -- sometimes affectionately referred to as NuMarvel -- and there was a feeling in the air that we could push the envelope a little bit, in terms of content.

    There was only one creative meeting -- which we referred to as the "X-summit" -- before the launch. It was me, Grant, Frank Quitely and Ian Churchill in NYC at the Marvel offices. Aside from the requisite WIZARD Magazine interview and photo shoot we did for PR purposes, I was never clear on why we were even *having* this get-together. But we made the most of it, bombing around Manhattan in the freezing cold and slipping away from our Marvel handlers so we could, y'know, actually talk about stuff.

    Ending up in the hotel bar, things got a little strange. Grant already had his first year pretty much mapped out. I was still figuring things out (one could argue that I never *did* figure things out). But the ideas were still flying. During the conversation, the idea for the X-Ranch -- a mutant brothel -- formed in my fevered brain and when I brought it up, the response from my fellow creators was enthusiastic. Mainly because they thought I'd never go through with it. That was all the ammo I needed. It was like a dare... take the weirdest idea and actually write it into the top-selling franchise. I knew I was in a unique position where our editors weren't going to put up any significant roadblocks to our ideas. Keep in mind, we were fully entrenched in the "writer-driven" era of mainstream comics, so we had a lot of power (much more so than any wrtiers at Marvel or DC have now). So I never thought twice about what was "appropriate" vs. what was "inappropriate". I just went for it.

    But I can tell you, it was never about being *sexually* provocative. The X-Ranch as a concept and Stacy X as a character were meant to evoke a much bigger idea...
    This is great stuff Joe, thanks again for contributing! I'd have given anything to be a fly-on-the-wall at those discussions. I get the impression that both the "NuMarvel" atmosphere and the presence of Grant and yourself would have had some crazy spitballing being thrown out in the hotel bar... I was at the Edinburgh book festival in 2012 and witnessed Grant and Neil Gaiman talking ideas across the bar from me and I turned into a creepy-starer-attempting-to-lip-read for about 90 minutes....

    I *think* the only majorly publicised time I heard about the Jemas/Quesada regime putting their foot down was when Peter Milligan tried to do the Princess Diana story in X-Statix (and Di Another Day remains one of the all-time great unused names..) but that might have been after Bill departed. I remember the newspapers having the Moral Outrage thing going (a bit like the 397 cover!) for that one.

    I thought the X-Ranch was a great idea (especially when The Vanisher wanted to franchise it). But we'll get to that in a couple of issues time!

  5. #35
    Spectacular Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Uncanny X-Men #398: The Clash

    Uncanny X-Men #398 hit shelves on the 3rd of October 2001. It was five weeks late, again most likely due to the state of artistic flux in the X-offices. The estimated report from Diamond to North American distributers had it shipping 121,426 copies, making it third for the month, after New X-Men in second place and the debuting first issue of Origin topping the charts.

    Poptopia reaches a climax here, as Chamber is rather unceremoniously dumped by Sugar Kane, and the X-Men fight Mr Clean in the sewers, whereupon Wolverine kills him. The Britlocks head off in search of a new life and Chamber officially joins the X-Men. Phew!

    Again here, it’s the Chamber plot that is the most interesting, as Sugar’s manager, Sim, orchestrates a fake public kidnapping in order to quell the story about her being pregnant with Jono’s baby. Later on, she has a quick and cold chat with Jono, effectively ditching him. Sim gets a bit more depth and Sugar, when faced with the choice of Jono or her career, shows what is more important to her.

    Jono tries to fight for Sugar during the fake kidnapping but is stopped by Sim, and then, following his (rather brutal) dumping, shows up in the X-jet in the last couple of pages to ask to accompany the X-Men home. I enjoyed this storyline, and feel it’s a good introduction to the cast for the young and conflicted Chamber.

    In the sewers, Kurt befriends the small group of Britlocks from last issue and the X-Men look to keep them one step ahead of Mr Clean. One of the Britlocks shows good taste by being a fan of the TV series This Life which had Andrew Lincoln (Rick in The Walking Dead) in an early role. Intriguingly enough the baby that Kurt delivered in the first issue of the storyline is given the name ‘Hope’ which would co-incidentally be the name of another mutant baby a few years down the road. Mr Clean pops up and Archangel, Iceman and Kurt leave him trapped with Wolverine, who kills him after a short fight.

    Fill-in art is again the order of the day, and this time it’s Ashley Wood providing the finishes to layouts provided by Sean Phillips. This is a real mixed bag. There are moments where the art is striking, evocative and tells the story really well. Highlights include the cast intro page with Chamber providing the light source from the centre and the extremely brutal fight in the sewers between Wolverine and Mr Clean. Unfortunately Wood’s tendency to be over-powering with the dense atmospherics makes some pages borderline unreadable if you’re looking for the traditional superhero art style associated with X-Men (and even with the preceding art of this storyline). I own the single issues and the trade paperback and it is a very jarring change in tone, which I have to confess I'm not a fan of.

    When this came out it’s fair to say that Wood’s style was not well-received. As X-Men fans (or even mainstream superhero comics fans) we were used to decades of Roger Cruz and Rick Leonardi providing serviceable fill-in art that wasn’t so striking and haze-laden (as mentioned – the previous issue went for serviceable fill-in, but of a higher standard than usual). As far as Wood’s (brief) career on Uncanny X-Men goes, I have to put this down as his weakest issue, as the inconsistencies really shine through (I have no knowledge of what time-scale he was given to throw it all together, which may well mitigate, as it did for Igor Kordey over on New X-men at the time). One page I would use as an example is page 20, where Sugar breaks up with Jono. The fourth panel is spectacular with the window sliding up and Sugar’s facial expression suggesting a mixture of emotions. Unfortunately in the first panel she looks like a baked bean with eyes drawn on.

    I should note – I loaned my Poptopia trade to a friend of mine who is a recent convert to comics, and asked him his opinion. He had the fight in the sewers between Wolverine and Mr Clean as the highlight of the book, so it’s obviously very subjective in terms of the art style.

    If you’d like to see stronger (in this author’s opinion) work between Casey and Wood, we’ll be looking at the Uncanny X-Men 2001 Annual very shortly, but this seems as good a time as any to drop a mention in for a series called Automatic Kafka. Automatic Kafka was a nine-issue series the two created for Wildstorm which ran from 2002-2003, which is a) very surreal and b) very good. Unfortunately a trade was - to my knowledge - only ever produced in Spanish, but hopefully anyone interested can get their hands on the full run of single issues.

    So overall, Poptopia is a very mixed arc for Casey and his assorted cast of artists. The book hasn’t yet found an artistic tone, it’s late and it hasn’t delivered a knockout punch just yet, but likewise there haven’t been any disasters. I believe the trade paperback of Poptopia (which also includes Uncanny #394 and #399) is currently out of print, but I’m sure anyone interested could find a copy on ebay.

    Oddly enough, whilst we never hear from the Britlocks or Mr Clean again, Sugar Kane shows up briefly in 2011’s Vengeance mini-series, alongside another Casey creation, Stacy X, who we shall speak of next issue!

    Let’s check in with our cast:-

    Archangel has not much to do in this one, sadly, but better times are ahead for Warren.

    Nightcrawler befriends the Britlocks, gives Jono a wee pep talk and knows better than to ask questions when Wolverine says Mr Clean is “taken care of”, making this a quietly solid issue for Kurt.

    Iceman makes an ice wall and misses hamburgers. It’s not much but it’s actually pretty consistent with how he’d been written since 1963.

    Wolverine stars in an exceedingly well-choreographed slugfest with Mr Clean, which is thankfully mostly free of tough guy banter talk except when the two take respite. He also comes up with a unique way to deal with the villain. Good lad.

    Chamber, as mentioned above, gets dumped quite brutally and heads off to join the X-Men. Casey again has a good handle on the young Brit, and I’m enjoying him thus far.

    Best cover thus far – still 397

    Worst cover - 394

    Who died and will HoXPoX resurrect them? Mr Clean bites the big one, but isn’t a mutant so I doubt we’ll be seeing him again.

    What I Thought Then – I remember being annoyed at the book (especially the art) on my train home from Glasgow, but warming up to it when re-reading all four issues in a row (I didn’t bag and board back then). Not an instant classic.

    What I Think Now – the art is still very jarring, but Casey sticks the landing on this one, tying everything up in a satisfactory fashion and introducing Chamber well. It’s not E is for Extinction, but neither is much else.

    For those reading this – what were your thoughts on Poptopia overall? Did you buy the trade? Does the name Hope stir warm and fuzzies in you? Most importantly – did you watch This Life?

    Next time – superior fill-in art, Warren in the CEO role, one fascinating concept and one not-so fascinating concept debut. It’s Uncanny 399!

  6. #36
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    Now that all of the Poptopia issues have been talked about, maybe I can shed a little light on some of the choices I made in those issues. Bear in mind, we're talking twenty years ago (!). In many ways, I was a completely different person then. Certainly a different writer. But there it is... in print forever... and there's not much else I can do but resign myself to stand by the work I did at a very young age on a very high-profile franchise.

    #394 - This one was odd for several reasons. The first being, it was the "launch book" of this new creative initiative -- when it clearly should've been the first Morrison/Quitely issue -- so I must've felt compelled to deal with the more "commercial" characters (from the movie): Cyclops, Jean Grey and Wolverine (although I threw Archangel in there, too) as opposed to my own, more "misfit" cast. In other words, I couldn't have started with Pt. 1 of Poptopia. That would've been suicide. So I came up with this one-off story that we all hoped would reintroduce the X-Men concept to a wider, newer audience and at least set the proper tone for this new X-era. But, for the most part, I made those choices and everyone else went along with it. I think the imagery I was conjuring up in my mind when it came to this... "virtual space" where victims of Warp's power would find themselves was asking Ian Churchill to draw something that didn't come naturally to him (although there's no question that Ian was and is a fantastic comicbook artist and a great guy). The fault was mine. It's a writer's job to both describe your vision and inspire an artist to execute their ideas and, hopefully, exceed their expectations. I do think Ian nailed the big panel of Archangel arriving on the scene. An epic moment for that character.

    #395-398 - Ah, Poptopia... I remember being more jazzed about the story titles than I was about the story as it ultimately played out. I think it's obvious that I was much more interested in the Chamber storyline than I was in the second-rate Morlocks I created (btw, anything in those scripts that was meant to be UK-specific -- from the references to the vernacular -- came from consulting X-letterer, Richard Starkings, who was himself an Englishman who'd moved to the US in the previous decade). I was still getting used to the team dynamic, learning how to write these characters right there on the page in from of 100K plus readers. Yikes.

    And then there was Mister Clean. Another brainchild of mine. He was a "genetic cleanser" when ethnic cleansing was a thing in the news the previous decade in Bosnia and Herzegovina. My recollection is that I told Ian Churchill that he had a crew cut that read as practically bald, and that he had a "flamethrower" weapon. The rest, I left up to him. In retrospect, I was probably recalling a one-off DC villain created by one of my favorite writers growing up, Mike Baron, and artist, Jackson Guice, in a two-issue Hawk story in TEEN TITANS SPOTLIGHT from 1987. He was called the Toxicator (look him up and tell me you can't see the similarities). Needless to say, both villains were fairly lame. I think, had we really put more thought into the design and the character, he might've been more of a contender. Probably not, though. Some ideas can't be salvaged.

    As it's been pointed out, the art scheduling -- on both books -- was a nightmare from the get-go. It was worse for the editors, who were scrambling -- and failing -- to keep the books from being late. As much as I knew Ian and I weren't a good creative fit, as much as I knew it was best for him to move on, I knew we'd be in some trouble from that point on. I should've pushed for Sean Phillips to draw my run from the beginning, but Ian had been hired for the gig before I was. Besides, I was young and it was a big, important gig and I wanted to play the good soldier (at least, on that front).

    It should be noted... when the latter issues of Poptopia were hitting the stands, 9/11 happened. As you can imagine, the X-Men seemed much less important for awhile there. So, for me, that has as much to do with thinking about those comics as the creative aspects.

  7. #37
    Mighty Member Hi-Fi's Avatar
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    Joe, thank you so much for all these insights regarding your creative choices.

    I'm a HUGE fan of your run (I reread the X-Corps arc every year) and of Stacy X and I'll never forgive Marvel for throwing her away the way they did.
    Last edited by Hi-Fi; 02-13-2020 at 06:17 PM.

  8. #38
    Astonishing Member From The Shadows's Avatar
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    I actually liked this run for the most part. It was different but without the X-Men changing their personalities (see I can do different), they were simply a bit more updated. I was so excited with the promos because Kurt would be on a team with my fave 05 member Bobby and a fave Gen Xer Jono. There were also a few nice bits with the Wolverine/Nightcrawler friendship. And as already mentioned Warren got some good development.

    The only thing I didn't like was the speech Logan gave Stacey which seemed out of character.

  9. #39
    Mighty Member Thievery's Avatar
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    I'm responding late to Uncanny X-Men #398: The Clash, but here is my two cents.

    I thought that the issue and Poptopia in general was pretty good. The story with Chamber and Sugar Kane was clearly the highlight. I also liked the battle between Mr. Clean and Wolverine.

    I know that Ashley Wood's art isn't for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. The only problem that I had with it was that it really doesn't fit in well with the other artists who had already worked on the Poptopia story. That's just my opinion. Mr. Casey did us a favor by explaining to us about all of the problems that Marvel was having with the art delays, and what caused them.

    I definitely agree with the earlier point about how the Uncanny X-Men 2001 Annual was great.

    I originally read Poptopia in single issues as they were released, but the story does read a lot better when all four issues are read at once. I ended up buying the trade paperback, but ended up being destroyed.

    As far as the cast goes, I thought that Chamber and Wolverine were the stars of this story, followed by Nightcrawler. I didn't mind that Archangel didn't receive a lot to do in this story, as I felt that Joe Casey did a good job of giving all of his cast a good amount of story during his time on Uncanny X-Men. It really felt like an actual team book to me. A lot of the recent X-Men team books have really felt like they only focused on one character, and the rest of the cast members were only there to be supporting characters. That's just my opinion.

    Mr. Clean wont be coming back during HoXPoX. But, there was one story that I thought made sense for Mr. Clean to appear in. It happened during Kyle/Yost's time writing X-Force. Bastion had used the TO virus to resurrect a group of human villains who had each killed a large number of mutants. They were characters like Cameron Hoge, Donald Pierce, Reverend Stryker, and Trask. For some reason, I thought of Mr. Clean when those comics were being released.

    What is This Life?
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  10. #40
    Mighty Member Thievery's Avatar
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    Also, it is very kind of Joe Casey to post his thoughts in this thread and for sharing his reasons for the creative decisions that he made during his time writing Uncanny.

    Thank you Mr. Casey.
    Formerly known as ArchAngelSliver

  11. #41
    Incredible Member Su_Whisterfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thievery View Post
    What is This Life?
    British TV show from the 90s about a bunch of London based junior solicitors. Surprisingly, still watchable, particularly queen bitch Anna, they were repeating it last week on BBC2 and Id forgotten how good it was and way ahead of its time.

    Personally? The X-Men is just The Archers in spandex, Emma Frost is clearly Lillian and therefore Wolverine is Eddie Grundy (which I think makes Kurt into Clarrie... which is disturbingly accurate).

    No, I will not divulge what The Archers is...

  12. #42
    Spectacular Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thievery View Post
    Also, it is very kind of Joe Casey to post his thoughts in this thread and for sharing his reasons for the creative decisions that he made during his time writing Uncanny.

    Thank you Mr. Casey.
    Agree 100%

    I was doing this as a labour of love, so to actually have some input from Joe Casey is amazing, and incredibly kind of him.

    (I'm feeling bad now with what I've written thus far about 401...)

  13. #43
    Spectacular Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Su_Whisterfield View Post
    British TV show from the ‘90s about a bunch of London based junior solicitors. Surprisingly, still watchable, particularly queen bitch Anna, they were repeating it last week on BBC2 and I’d forgotten how good it was and way ahead of it’s time.

    Personally? The X-Men is just The Archers in spandex, Emma Frost is clearly Lillian and therefore Wolverine is Eddie Grundy (which I think makes Kurt into Clarrie... which is disturbingly accurate).

    No, I will not divulge what The Archers is...
    The Archers theme tune is awesome

  14. #44
    Incredible Member Su_Whisterfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Buttocks View Post
    The Archers theme tune is awesome
    The Archers is awesome.
    I may be a fan base of one, I can’t imagine there’s much overlap between X-Men fans and Archers fans.

  15. #45
    Spectacular Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Uncanny X-Men #399: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

    Uncanny X-Men #399 hit shelves on the 14th of November 2001. It was seven weeks late, and once again has two artists and two inkers doing fill-in duties. The estimated report from Diamond to North American distributers had it shipping 118,127 copies, making it fourth-highest for the month, after New X-Men in third place and the two issues of Origin taking first and second place. The art situation was getting a bit silly across a lot of books, and Uncanny (to my knowledge) wouldn’t have a regular artist announced until Chuck Austen was revealed as new writer, at which point Ron Garney and Kia Asamiya were announced as rotating artists (I’m not going to cover Austen’s run, but this announcement did not resolve things). It's possible Garney was announced as regular artist before then but he would only draw two issues for Joe Casey.

    This begins an interesting little two issue arc. Both issues are standalones (albeit 400, as an anniversary issue, is giant-sized) and serve to introduce some new characters and concepts, some very successfully and some…not so much.

    The main two concepts the book explores are the X-Ranch, a mutant brothel in Nevada which turns out to be owned by Worthington Industries, and the Church of Humanity, a far-right mutant-hating group whom Casey seems to have based on the current GOP/a more militaristic version of the purifiers from God Loves, Man Kills. (delete as applicable)

    The X-ranch is easily the more successful of these two concepts due to Casey providing nuance and subtlety in the storytelling, where it would have been very easy to get salacious for the sake of shock value. The X-ranch has a very “Hotel California” vibe about it, and the designs for the mutant girls there are distinctive and unique. I think it’s a really good idea and a strong storyline. It’s exactly the sort of thing the books should have been exploring at the time as mutant culture and fashion came more into the limelight and is a natural, seedy path to follow (unfortunately) for the likes of ostracised young mutant girls. Casey wisely leaves a degree of ambiguity about exactly what services are being offered by the girls here.

    Where nuance is conspicuously absent however is in the debut of the Church of Humanity, and it hurts them right off the bat. Teleporting priests with ray-guns aren’t nuanced and unfortunately it comes across as very silly - which may well be the point - but silly doesn’t make for credible villains for the X-Men to fight. The design is a bit ridiculous and the dialogue they spout is somewhat hammy. Not an auspicious debut and I’m afraid it’s downhill all the way from here (thankfully we will only cover a couple more appearances, as Casey leaves before the idea *really* hits the shitter).

    This issue of course marks the debut of Stacy-X, one of the more widely remembered characters from Casey’s run, and one whom I am still rather fond of to this day. She doesn’t have that much to do beyond explaining her powers to Iceman and then demonstrating them rather effectively. She also seems to have some martial arts training, as a lovely panel of her launching an Eric Cantona-style kung-fu kick at Warren illustrates. Stacy would be fleshed out a little more in several issues to come, but the design is good and distinctive and there are already hints of the attitude we would come to know and love over the next few issues.

    Art duties fall to the ever-dependable Tom Raney, who provides some superior fill-in art. For me the highlight of the issue is actually the opening, with Warren laying down the law in his role of CEO at Worthington Industries. Raney does an excellent Warren, and it’s the start of an interesting role for Archangel. Much like Cyclops at the time in New X-Men, Warren had always been comparatively bland when compared to the other characters, which is why metal wings and razor flechettes and suchlike start to pop up in an effort to make him interesting. Casey (as Morrison did with Cyclops) wisely refrains from the 90’s “give him an attitude and make him kewl!” approach, and instead focuses on Warren’s status as an openly mutant head of a powerful corporation. It’s an interesting take and sadly I felt there was far more could have been done with it, however Casey’s premature departure from the book curtailed the character.

    Elsewhere Raney does a solid job until the final five pages, whereupon Tom Derenick takes over. The art is a little less detailed but there’s no real jarring change in the style, so it’s a pretty enough book. I very much doubt that Raney came up with the original design for either Stacy X or the Church of Humanity, so I don’t know what references he was working off, but Stacy is the far more striking design. I’d also add that I really like the cover. There’s some great emotion there.

    Overall I’d say that this is Casey’s strongest issue yet, and only the portrayal of the Church of Humanity stops it being a classic. Strong characterisation, a very nice central concept, some solid artwork and a nice one-and-done storyline all make for an extremely enjoyable read, and I would recommend this issue to any X-Men fans without hesitation.

    As mentioned above – I would have been interested to see how this issue worked if it had been drawn by an artist Casey was familiar with. For all Raney does solid work here, it’s harsh on Joe that two of his main concepts are introduced in a fill-in (this would also count against Grant Morrison, as none of Xorn, Beak, Angel, Fantomex or John Sublime would be drawn by Frank Quitely in their first appearances) and reputations are like tattoos – easy to acquire, hard to get rid of.

    Casting call!

    Archangel has his strongest issue so far, calling the shots both at board level and as the team infiltrate the X-ranch. He also subdues Stacy, punches some priests and generally is the star of the book.

    Nightcrawler is on sordid romance eavesdropping duty, and doesn’t enjoy it too much, which is very in-character for him.

    Iceman get a happy ending somewhere in the middle of the story and manages to get his bearings and out-last the priests as the conflict at the X-ranch comes to a head. In Wolverine’s absence he appears to be the resident heavy hitter.

    Wolverine isn’t in this issue.

    Chamber takes a break from the limelight, showing up in the X-jet at the end to get shouted at by Stacy.

    Stacy makes her debut and it’s a strong one. Nice design, hints at her personality (which would be explored further next issue) and a compelling reason to join the X-Men. Job’s a good ‘un, as they say!

    Best cover thus far – still 397, but this issue has a very nice cover. Top three for sure.

    Worst cover - 394

    Who died and will HoXPoX resurrect them? Madam Drache, Bette and another unnamed mutant (who looks a wee bit like Poison Ivy) are killed on-panel, and Stacy alludes to at least two more. I don’t see them coming back.

    What I Thought Then – mutant prostitutes - cool! Nutcase extremist priests – erm… not so cool. Nice artwork, good story.

    What I Think Now – as mentioned above, this is great stuff, let down by some minor (subjective) niggles. Much like with Chamber in Poptopia, people finding mutants as curiosities and status symbols is a much better take than tired old “feared and hated” all the time.

    For those reading this – what did you think?

    Next time – anniversary time, as Uncanny hits 400 issues (sort of). Artistic jam, Supreme Pontiff and I lose any sense of objectivity and squeal “EDDIE CAMPBELL!” repeatedly.

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