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  1. #46
    Astonishing Member From The Shadows's Avatar
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    Woah... I didn't know Joe Casey was posting here. I posted rather quickly and didn't read the whole thread because I was in a hurry and was gonna add stuff later. I got a chance to read the reviews - well done Captain Buttocks! I really wish Joe Casey's run could have been longer and he could do more with X-Corps. I felt that was when the book really went into high gear and I was really intrigued. Loved the use of Vanisher (which was a surprise) and that you brought back Avalanche. Stacey X was also a very interesting new character. All the X-Women were so refined at this point even the ones that started out more awkward but even then there was nothing like Stacey. That wasn't an insult ,lol. I can't wait to see you review those mentioned issues, Cap!

  2. #47
    Mighty Member Thievery's Avatar
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    Uncanny #399

    I thought that this comic was very fun to read. The mutant brothel idea was great. It was nice to see some mutant characters try to take advantage of what their actual mutant abilities were. It was also nice to see that some humans were actually interested in what mutants, and not just rabid mutant haters, as mentioned earlier. But, I think that it could also be a case of the humans who used the ranch as an example of guys having no respect for minority woman, except being interested in what they could do for them sexually. Not sure if this is a proper reading of the story, though. I couldn't do a complete reading of this comic more than once before posting this, so I could easily be wrong.

    As far as the Church of Humanity goes, I'm a little bit neutral on them. As much as I like the art on this issue, the Church may have been better of being introduced by a different artist, as was pointed out. I don't find their costume designs as goofy as some people here do. Still, they aren't the greatest of characters.

    Actually, the Church of Humanity's costume designs are somewhat similar to what the later reliousley themed Purifiers wore. The Purifiers were better characters, though. They seemed to have better individual mtivations for joining, and they were individual characters, with personalities of their own.

    As for the cast
    Stacey is the highlight of the issue. She received a strong debut story, and had interesting powers. S he also was a better fighter than I remembered her being in her debut issue.

    Archangel was next. It was a little bit interesting to see him take control of his business company. I don't believe that we had seen much of him running his company before this. I could be wrong though, as I haven't read every comic that he appears in. Actualy, I believe that earlier comics established that Candy Southern mostly ran Warren's company for him.

    Now, as for Iceman. I know that Joe Casey most likely intend for this comic to be read this way, but in hindsight you coud use some of Bobby's panels with Stacey X as Iceman being a closeted gay man. I know that Bobby was trying to avoid Stacey because of how her powers work, but you could also interpret them as Bobby being uncomfortable with being around a woman that he didn't know, and not entirely being sure how to handle it. But, it is in hindsight, and you have to squint at the panels a little to get this interpretation of Bobby's actions.

    I doubt that Madam Drach, Bette, or the Poison Ivy looking character will reappear in HoXPox because of how obscure that they are, but it would be fun to see them again. They would fit in with all of the party's that seem to be constantly happening in on Krakoa.
    Last edited by Thievery; 02-17-2020 at 10:17 AM.

  3. #48
    Mighty Member Thievery's Avatar
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    Shit, I just realized that I posted that Joe Casey intended Iceman to be gay. I meant to post that Casey most likely didn't intend to write Iceman as a closeted gay man.
    This Is what happens when you log in and then find out you have to leave the forum right away. I didn't give myself enough time to right a comprehensible post.

  4. #49
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Uncanny X-Men #400: Supreme Confessions

    Uncanny X-Men #400 hit shelves on the 5th of December 2001. It was four weeks late, and has five artists contributing to what is essentially a jam issue (albeit a double-sized one). The estimated report from Diamond to North American distributers had it shipping 134,206 copies, making it second-highest for the month, second only to another issue of Origin. It should be noted that it was around about this time period that Marvel started being a bit more realistic about what artists could be expected to draw, and both Uncanny and New X-Men started to get back on schedule (401 would be published a mere two weeks after this issue, which itself came out three weeks after 399). As mentioned above, this is an anniversary issue but quite a low-key one beyond the fact it’s double-sized.

    Right. Where to possibly begin with this one? It’s a thoroughly, thoroughly bizarre issue. The majority of the book is given over to a pair of flashback/origin stories which practically have “Unreliable Narrator” written in glowing neon lights across the page. The subjects of these stories are Stacy, who gives a straightforward origin story until the point where, after being thrown out on the streets, she basically changes tack and substitutes herself for Marvel Girl in the early Silver Age issues. Stacy delivers this story whilst held captive by the Church of Humanity, and is tortured for her troubles before the X-Men show up to rescue her.

    The other origin story we are given is that of the Supreme Pontiff, Head of the Church of Humanity, which is a mixture of religious propaganda and a fair amount of old-school mysticism. Apparently the Pontiff is the son of a frontiersman, whose mother was seduced by a “beast”. The young would-be Pontiff then killed the beast and years later was given superhuman powers by an experiment. Wolverine - who is extracting this information from a Church foot soldier under duress – is openly sceptical, as this appears to be propaganda fed to the members by the Church.

    The other main point of note happening is that when the X-Men arrive to administer a good kicking to the Church, Nightcrawler ends up alone with the Supreme Pontiff who does something to his mind, which Kurt subsequently claims not to remember. One would assume that this was set-up for a future storyline which would never come to fruition under Casey’s pen, and which we will not speak about under anyone else’s pen either.

    In terms of the anniversary issues for Uncanny X-Men, this one is noteworthy for, well, not being particularly noteworthy. Issue 100 featured Jean piloting a space shuttle back to Earth, 200 had the trial of Magneto, 300 the return of Magneto (and a shiny cover) and 500 the ballyhooed launch of the San Francisco era. Each of these would have a significant impact on the series for the next few years, but 400 is remarkable for the sheer lack of lasting impact it had, with Stacy being gone from the book within 18 months and the Church appearing in just three more issues (one of which was barely a cameo). It’s certainly a possibility that had Casey stayed the Church and Stacy would have played pivotal roles, but it just wasn’t to be.

    Another area where this issue is odd is in the array of artists used. Thankfully, the issue makes a conscious effort to play to the strengths of the artists involved, with the solid pairing of Sean Phillips and Cully Hamner working well on the straightforward segments, allowing the Funky Artistic Choices Generator to go into overdrive elsewhere on the book.

    We discussed Ashley Wood’s art on issue 398, and he returns here but his contributions are limited to the action at the Church of Humanity HQ in Montana. Wood goes for a 90% haze to 10% detail mix, and it just about works ok, especially given Casey is still hoping to keep an element of mystery to the Church.

    Of far more interest to me is Javier Pulido’s artwork on the Stacy X flashback scenes, which works far better than you might imagine. It gives off a style similar to the retro Silver-Age look of Casey’s previous Children of the Atom series and feels warm and vibrant.

    All claims of objectivity from me go out of the window when it comes to Eddie Campbell’s work on the origin story of the Pontiff. I love Campbell, and he manages to make a daft premise work. The man is just that good, and if you don’t appreciate that, we will have words! On a serious note though, I’ve already made clear that the Church of Humanity and the Supreme Pontiff do nothing for me, but Campbell’s artwork really does sell the sequence and the writing well, making it feel like less of a piss-take.

    Casting call!

    Archangel doesn’t have much to do, but there’s a nice exchange with Stacy towards the end as they reminisce on old X-Men team photos.

    Nightcrawler gets something done to him by the Supreme Pontiff, which sets up a period of depression for him over the next few issues.

    Iceman again has very little to do.

    Wolverine interrogates the Church of Humanity soldier in his usual style.

    Chamber doesn’t have a great deal to do either.

    Stacy gets some good characterisation here, as she gives her origin story here and interacts a bit more with members of the team. She holds up pretty well under torture also.

    Best cover thus far – 397.

    Worst cover – 394 *just* edges out the cover to this issue, which is uninspiring.

    Who died and will HoXPoX resurrect them? Nobody.

    What I Thought Then – it certainly wasn’t what I expected (which may well be the point), but maybe this is building towards something?

    What I Think Now – it’s pretty much a bizarre footnote in X-history to be honest. Had it led anywhere it may be more than that but unfortunately, aside from a couple of very nice artistic sequences, there is little of consequence here.

    For those reading this – what did you think?

    Next time – it’s Dreadful Idea Month at Marvel, as X-Corps is primed to fail straight out of the gate, and post 9/11 editorial decides who gets orgasms.

  5. #50
    Mighty Member Thievery's Avatar
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    My thoughts on Uncanny X-Men #400.

    I loved the cover. Some really good stuff.

    My favorite part of the comic was the scenes involving Stacey X being tortured by the Church of Humanity. I thought that Ashly Wood did a good job of setting the atmosphere here. Also, I felt that some of the dialogue in this issue was a little goofy. I felt that the dialogue worked better in the scenes that Wood drew.

    Stacey X's made up origin story was fun to read. However, I wasn't a big fan of the Silver Age influenced artwork. I understand why they made the decision to go with that style for these scenes, but the art just wasn't my cup of tea. I can definitely understand how others would like it more than I did.

    I found the made up story about the Supreme Pontiff's origin to be interesting. It read like some real propaganda.
    I know that I will be in the minority on this, but I would have liked to see Joe Casey's original plan for the Supreme Pontiff to be revealed. It couldn't have ended up being worse than what we ended up getting later on. I aso would have liked to see what the affects that The Pontiff had done to Knightcrawler resolved.

    I hope that Wolverine was lying about having killed that deer when he was interrogating that Church member. Wolverine has always struck me as a character who has a strong connection and respect for nature. I'd hate to think that he abandonded that just to interrogate someone.

    I thought that all of the cast had some good moments. I think that it just feels as if they didn't all have something to do because the battle between the Church and the X-Men was kind of bland. Just my opinion.

    Overall, I liked the issue, but it did end up being a little underwhelming seeing as it was such a milestone anniversary issue.
    Last edited by Thievery; 02-25-2020 at 07:34 AM.

  6. #51
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    Might as well chime in on these two issues, before things get *really* wacky...

    #399 - First off, let me say how perversely proud I am of the story title of that issue: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Think of it as an acronym. Gotta be a Marvel Comics' first. Sometimes it's the little things in life...

    Next up, Tom Raney. I was so jazzed to work with Tom at the time, having been a huge fan of his STORMWATCH run with Warren Ellis. Truth be told, this was the first issue that actually *looked* like I'd always pictured the book to look when I took on the gig. Tom just nailed it on so many levels. The reason he didn't draw the whole issue, if I recall, was that he was also drawing fill-ins for ULTIMATE X-MEN at the time and he had to jump over onto one of those before he was able to finish UNCANNY. I can't say I'm particularly crazy about the other pages in the issue... visually, they couldn't hold a candle to what Tom had done.

    Stacy X. Originally she was called XStacy, but Marvel nixed that idea due to the overt drug reference (no kidding!). But once she officially became "Stacy X" at my suggestion, the significance of the name was not lost on me. In fact, it inspired me. I definitely had a trajectory for her character that, unfortunately, never came to fruition. Without sounding too glib, she was going to follow the Malcolm X arc... going from a lowly position in mutant culture and slowly rising up to be an important voice, going through an extreme militant phase before settling into a role as someone who could inspire others. But that would've been a helluva long journey and I can't honestly say I ever thought I'd stick around long enough to depict it. But, that was the idea.

    A quick aside here: This thread actually made me go back and crack open the X-CORPS trade (which collected my entire run a year or two ago) and take a closer look at what I'd done. My memory of a lot of what I wrote had been clouded by time, but when I look at it now I realize what I was trying to do with the characters. I was trying to write them as, for lack of a better term, co-workers. I stayed away from any overly-angsty histrionics (the kind of thing a writer like Claremont excelled at) and doubled down on the idea that these people knew each other well, respected each other, could joke with each other without it becoming a thing. Especially the iconic characters like Archangel, Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Iceman. They were professionals who honestly cared about each other and weren't at all insecure about their relationships. I wasn't interested in writing any kind of interpersonal soap opera stuff. For the most part, I think I succeeded in that... even if it wasn't what readers wanted to see from these characters. They wanted melodrama... and I just wasn't interested in writing like that. My bad, I guess.

    #400. Okay, this one's a little tricky. One thing I remember is that I wrote *this* anniversary issue and ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #600 within months of each other. Two big publishing milestones at two different publishers by the same writer. I don't think that's ever been done (before or since).

    Having no regular artist at the time meant this was going to be a "jam" issue, no matter what. But it was always the plan to have some special guests show up, like Eddie Campbell. I remember pitching Eddie to Joe Quesada over dinner one night. Must've caught him in the right mood, because he agreed to it. Ash Wood, Javier Pulido, Sean Phillips and the rest... all recruited by me. I knew it would be a shock to the system for the "typical" X-Men reader, used to a certain style of art. But at the time, that kind of disruption appealed to me. And I think almost all the artists did a bang-up job on their sections.

    The entire issue could've been titled "Unreliable Narrators" because that's what it was. Stacy's "confession" of her origins was only partly true. The Supreme Pontiff's origin story was only partly true. With Stacy, it was easy to see which part was true and which part wasn't. With the Supreme Pontiff, not so easy.

    The Church of Humanity. I'm not sure what I was thinking with that one. I liked the visual iconography. I liked the notion of an anti-mutant movement hiding in plain sight (or, more specifically, a pro-humanity movement in a world where mutants exist), and masked in the cloak of organized religion. Obviously, it was going to hit Nightcrawler closest to home, since he was a bona fide priest. What happened in #400 was, to the best of my recollection, that the Supreme Pontiff placed some sort of post-hypnotic suggestion within Nightcrawler's mind, to be triggered in some way in the future, probably in a manner that would betray the team (Dark Nightcrawler?). Again, it's been awhile, so I have no idea what my specific plans for that were. I could've easily been that I was simply laying track for future stories that I assumed I'd work out later. A lot of long narrative superhero comics are written that way (as I'm sure most of you could've already guessed). I ended up doing a better version of the "alternative church" concept in my run on Todd McFarlane's HAUNT series from about seven or eight years ago.

    Good times, eh...?

  7. #52
    Mighty Member Thievery's Avatar
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    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on issues 399 and 400, Mr. Casey.

    I honestly never made the Stacey X and Malcom X connection. Don't I look stupid. I did pick up on XStacy though.
    You can see the idea of Stacey maybe working her way up the ladder as far as her standing in mutant culture goes almost from the beginning, though. She does start of a little low, and then she joins the X-Men. So that's a little upward progress.

    I think that the idea for the Church of Humanity was fine. Religion has been used successfully in X-Men comics before and after the Church was introduced. Given a little more time, and I think that the Church could have worked out.

  8. #53
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thievery View Post
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on issues 399 and 400, Mr. Casey.

    I honestly never made the Stacey X and Malcom X connection. Don't I look stupid. I did pick up on XStacy though.
    You can see the idea of Stacey maybe working her way up the ladder as far as her standing in mutant culture goes almost from the beginning, though. She does start of a little low, and then she joins the X-Men. So that's a little upward progress.
    .
    I never made the Malcolm X connection either!

    There's a nice little sequence at the end of 400 where Stacy looks at pictures of old teams with Archangel, which shows the beginning of the growth, but her best moments are still to come.

  9. #54
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Uncanny X-Men #401: Golden

    Uncanny X-Men #401 hit shelves on the 19th of December 2001. It was two weeks late, hitting a mere two weeks after issue 400 as the X-Books made strides in getting most books back on schedule. The estimated report from Diamond to North American distributers had it shipping 113,546 copies, making it fourth-highest for the month, after New X-Men, Origin, and the premiere issue of The Dark Knight Strikes Again, which predictably topped the charts.

    I am not a fan of this issue. There are a number of things here which just do not work and I’m going to try and explain them all in order, however it may look like I’m giving everyone a savage kicking. I hope it doesn’t come across that way.

    This issue is a gimmick issue, and the gimmick was “’Nuff Said” wherein Marvel decided that a whole host of their titles would have to do an issue that was free from any dialogue. A Silent Month for want of a better term. The reasoning our benevolent overlords gave us was that this would demonstrate the power of the medium or some bollocks like that, where it would in fact RESTRICT the medium.

    There is of course a rather famous issue of GI Joe by Larry Hama called Silent Interlude (what is it about this retrospective and great names for comics?) which is marvellous, but had reasons for being silent. The lead character was mute, and the comic was an action/escape sequence. The lack of dialogue enhanced the story. When such writers with great knacks for dialogue, concepts and plot (and this was a writer-driven era at Marvel) as Joe Casey, Grant Morrison, Chris “verbosity” Claremont, Judd Winnick (whose Exiles series was full of easy-going banter and quips) and Peter Milligan are deprived of their tools to tell the story, the story inevitably suffers. Oddly enough I’d have given my right nut for a few silent issues of Ultimate X-Men at the time which was a thoroughly mean-spirited read, but sadly Millar was as exempt from editorial decree as he was of the ability to correctly pronounce his own surname.

    Faced with this glaringly obvious artificial limitation put on their storytelling skills, the writers were left with two options. Option 1, as used by Morrison (sort of), Winnick and Milligan is to fudge the issue and write a story that treads water. Winnick and Milligan wrote dream/hallucination sequences that were clearly treading water. Morrison - who it’s fair to say was helped immeasurably and possibly unfairly by having Frank bloody Quitely at his disposal - did the psychic rescue story which was actually pretty good for what it was.

    Option 2 or The Suicidally Brave Option as I like to call it, is for the writer to roll his or her sleeves up, yell “Death or Glory” and charge headlong into the conflict, continuing with the established plan despite the limitations. This option was chosen by both Casey and Claremont and, well, let’s just say neither of them got Glory as their outcome. I’m not here to review Claremont’s issue but suffice to say it’s not good.

    Where matters are further complicated for Casey is that it was (to my knowledge) his first issue with Ron Garney on art, who I believe wasn’t yet announced as the regular penciller (I recall that happened when Austen was announced) and therefore the two likely hadn’t developed anywhere near the relationship of (for example) Morrison and Quitely or Claremont and Larroca who were frequent collaborators.

    Where matter are even more complicated for Casey is that Ron Garney is an artist for whom certain stories work extremely well and certain other stories do not work so well. Just as an example, he has recently been announced as the artist on a Juggernaut series, which should suit him very well. Garney is an outstanding action artist, capable of conveying marvellous OTT action sequences and scenes of destruction and hugely muscle-bound heroes having larger-than-life slugfests.

    Where matters are EVEN FURTHER complicated for Casey, is that this is the first issue of what would be his longest arc and possibly the arc which most people recall when they consider this run, the X-Corps storyline. I would be fascinated to know if the six issue plan still had this as the first issue had the Silent Month gimmick not been slapped on it, and if Garney was indeed the best choice to be the silent month artist (I cannot help but feel that Sean Phillips should have done this one, or better yet, they shouldn’t have done Silent Month at all).

    It’s getting ridiculous now, but where matters are possibly even-further-complicated-than-matters-has-ever-been-complicated-to is that the initial designs for the X-Corps were not met with wholesale approval when previewed somewhere (I’ve attached the rumoured early design) given that they were perceived in some quarters to bear a resemblance to Nazi uniforms. We’ve seen a propensity in places over the course of this run to go a little bit OTT in places and unfortunately this does appear to be shock value. The idea of Banshee (of all people) running around in an SS cosplay is strange to say the least. We’ll discuss Banshee’s character and motivations later on in this story.bansheexcorps1.jpg

    We’ll address it later on, but the removal of the uniforms does actually rob the X-Men of agency later on in the storyline as they come across, frankly, as whining hypocrites. But let’s focus on the tale in hand – in a nutshell, Banshee, still grieving over the loss of Moira, sets up the X-Corps, a new mutant police agency with alleged paramilitary undertones. Over the course of this issue he recruits Lady Mastermind (which unfortunately caused a bit of a flub as she was being used over in Claremont’s book at the same time) and the Blob. He also attempts to recruit Mystique but she appears to have escaped her cell. For her part Lady Mastermind is hallucinating about being in the original Brotherhood, which confused me terribly at the time. Also at X-Corps HQ are Avalanche, an exact duplicate of Banshee who is presumably Radius (the art really doesn’t help here, nor does the fact Radius isn’t the most visually distinctive character) and Madrox the Multiple Man, who I didn’t recognise on first reading until I read the script at the back.

    In a strange little sub-plot, Stacy X gives Bill Clinton an orgasm. Wolverine then gives her a row, only to do a 180 and stick up for her when Nightcrawler pops in to give her a row. In an interesting little side-note, the original script called for the recipient of Stacy’s services to be Rudy Guiliani, the then Mayor of New York who was (incredibly if you look at him nowadays) seen as one of the most popular and upright heroes of America given the post 9/11 climate.

    I’m afraid the story doesn’t work here. Without reading the script, all I see is a bunch of goons bust out Lady Mastermind, then Banshee knock the Blob out. Unfortunately, with Banshee not dressed up in his originally proposed fascist gear, all it looks like is a (former) X-Man knocking out a long-standing X-villain, which is exactly the sort of thing the X-Men should probably be doing. Had Banshee been dressed up in the originally proposed gear, it would have been completely implausible for the Nice Uncle Sean character of the past 75 issues of Generation X, and given the legal status of the regalia setting up X-Corps HQ in Germany would have been impractical as he would have been arrested.

    The artwork is a huge problem too. As stated, this doesn’t play to Garney’s strengths, and some of the artwork is indecipherable (two Banshees in one room, the lack of the Madrox skullcap – which was specifically alluded to in Casey’s script). Another example of these muddied artwork issues being the apparent duplicate Banshee in the scene where Sean knocks Blob out. As an advert for whatever Marvel were trying to do, this issue, unfortunately, falls absolutely flat, and the X-Corps storyline is gonna have to do a *lot* of heavy lifting to get back on track, and with a poor start and yet more artistic upheaval on the way, it’s going to be a tall order.

    Please be assured that I take no pleasure in voicing this opinion, but overall, for a writer trying to get into a rhythm in the face of huge delays and artwork and a less-than-positive critical reception, this issue is a disaster and unfortunately (if my memory of the timelines is correct) would be a blow it took the book months to recover from, by which time it was too late.

    I have to give Joe Casey huge credit for not taking the “do a half-arsed fill-in issue” option. It was brave, but ultimately it was a misfire, and I’d have this issue as the clear low point of his run. Sorry, Mr Casey.

    Silent Casting call!

    Archangel isn’t in this issue.

    Nightcrawler pops in to give Stacy a row.

    Iceman isn’t in this issue.

    Wolverine finds Stacy after she’s done her thing and intervenes when Kurt tells her off.

    Chamber isn’t in this issue.

    Stacy does her thing with Bill Clinton and appears to have knocked out his guards, then throws down with Wolverine.

    Best cover thus far – 397. I do quite like this one though. Always like a bit of interaction with the logo.

    Worst cover – 394

    Who died and will HoXPoX resurrect them? Nobody. Although Banshee is clearly grieving Moira.

    What I Thought Then – this is garbage, what the HELL is going on?

    What I Think Now – yeah, I hate to be overly negative but this is a mess.

    For those reading this – am I a fool and in actual fact was ‘Nuff Said the pinnacle of storytelling?

    Next time – Marvelscope, my favourite Casey plot, Ashley Wood is surprisingly great and The Vanisher has the best criminal ideas. It’s 2001 Annual time!

  10. #55
    Mighty Member Thievery's Avatar
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    Just a few thoughts on Uncanny 400.

    The idea of a line wide silent issue event was indeed stupid.

    This issue received another great cover.

    Man, I'm really glad that Marvel didn't use those original SS inspired costume designs. Those things would have blown Uncanny out of the water and dead. I can understand how the internet would hate these costume designs. There probably could have been better uniform designs that would have gotten the police state, stormtrooper feel that X-Corps was going for.
    It's more subtle, but the Thunderbolts' name and Thunderbolt logo was meant to represent storm trouper designs. Of course, that comic had Baron Zemo as a main character.

    Still for a silent issue, I thought that this one worked out okay. I thought that you could tell what was happening reasonably easy. I know that Madrox was hard to identify, but I would have been okay with the army of goons being revealed as Madrox in the next issue. Or, maybe they should have just had him wear little badges that said Madrox on them. Radius definitely could have used a uniform that didn't make him look like Banshee.

    In what comics were Mastermind and Mystique locked up in those virtual prisons? I don't remember off of the top of my head.

  11. #56
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Uncanny X-Men 2001 : Absolute Progeny

    Uncanny X-Men 2001 hit shelves on the 16th of January 2002. It was three weeks late. The estimated report from Diamond to North American distributers had it shipping 81,308 copies, making it tenth-highest for the month of December. It shipped in the same month as Uncanny 401, which was fourth for the month (as previously discussed).

    Much like issue 401 this issue also has a gimmick, however very much unlike 401 this gimmick is a reasonably welcome one. This issue is presented to us in Marvelscope, a brave and bold innovation from the X-office. Marvelscope essentially means that the book is presented in landscape form, which was ostensibly to try and replicate the cinema widescreen experience. The scuttlebutt at the time was that this format was being heavily pushed by Grant Morrison who was perceived (rightly or wrongly) as being the person providing the overall direction of the X-books at the time.

    Mavelscope was a bit of an oddity as I remember the X-Men Annuals of the time being presented in this format, to varying degrees of success. The only series I remember in this format was Eden’s Trail, a five issue manga-inspired mini ostensibly created by occasional Uncanny cover artist Steve Uy, who promptly disavowed the entire series mid-way through its publication due to editorial interference.

    Marvelscope is fine for this story, as artist Ashley Wood works well with the format to provide some nice panel lay-outs and tells an atmospheric story. Wood has had his ups and downs over the course of his short stint on Uncanny, but this issue is a good fit for him. The rave scene where Stacy and Chamber investigate the use of designer genes is a real visual highlight of the issue. That being said, there are some very slight issues with Wood’s story-telling skills, particularly when reveals are called for, but it reads perfectly well.

    The story is one of Casey’s best, as former Silver Age villain the Vanisher is now peddling designer genes – drugs which temporarily provide mutant powers to the users. This fits in very nicely with the “mutant culture” direction of the books that Grant Morrison in particular was pushing at the time and the Vanisher reinvented as a businessman is a good use of the character and sets him us a nice foil to Archangel.

    The storyline reaches a satisfying enough conclusion whilst still leaving the issue unresolved, and the follow-up issues in 408 and 409 are two I’m looking forward to reviewing. Casey definitely seems more comfortable with this and the Vanisher seems much scarier as a criminal empire overlord than any of his other recent roles.

    Overall this is a very good issue, and offers a frustrating glimpse at what Casey’s X-Men could have been had he been given time and the various issues we’ve discussed previously hadn’t arisen. I’d recommend having a look at this to any X-Men fan.

    Landscape Casting call!

    Archangel is in the background, although he would return to the fore when this storyline is followed up on.

    Nightcrawler is in the issue but mostly in a background role.

    Iceman provides a genuinely funny one-liner towards a bald Logan, and is tortured by the Vanisher as their Silver Age past is referenced.

    Wolverine joins Iceman in Cuba and gets tortured for his troubles in a nicely disturbing scene

    Chamber seems to be joining Stacy in a neophyte role and helps her investigate the nightclub.

    Stacy gets some nice moments with Jono in the rave.

    Best cover thus far – 397

    Worst cover – 394

    Who died and will HoXPoX resurrect them? A woman called Mrs Alvarez and her son both die. Cant see either being brought back.

    What I Thought Then – “not this Wood guy again. Wait – this is quite good”.

    What I Think Now – Some good solid storytelling with a nice premise, an enjoyable read, especially with 408-409 to follow.

    For those reading this – fan of the landscape format?

    Next time – the X-Men are unlikeable, the X-Corps are unlikeable, Banshee is unlikeable and Marvel are unlikeable. It’s Uncanny 402.

  12. #57
    Mighty Member MechaJeanix's Avatar
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    I just wanted to say that I recently re-read this run, the Joe Casey run and I really enjoyed it. I read it at the time the issues came out, but it was a lot of fun going back and revisiting this era. I also reread the Chuck Austen run that happened after Casey left.

    I hadn't been viewing this thread but I think it is great that Casey himself is participating in the discussion. It is good when we can have positive interaction here with creators.

    This run had a lot of good ideas (like the x-ranch, etc) and it had some of my favorite characters like Iceman, Archangel, and Nightcrawler.

  13. #58
    Mighty Member Thievery's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed the Uncanny X-Men 2001 issue.

    I don't have all of Joe Casey's run in a collected format. How does the Marvelscope format fit in. Is it hard to follow along with the rest of the issues? Does it still read well?

    Is there a big difference between Vanisher's designer genes and Mutant Growth Hormone? They seem pretty similar to me.

  14. #59
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thievery View Post
    I really enjoyed the Uncanny X-Men 2001 issue.
    Me too!

    I don't have all of Joe Casey's run in a collected format. How does the Marvelscope format fit in. Is it hard to follow along with the rest of the issues? Does it still read well?
    I'm not sure. I have the Poptopia trade but not the X-Corps one (which I believe collects the whole run). That said, the Marvelscope format is a pain in the arse in the New X-Men Omnibus. Not fun at all!

  15. #60
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Uncanny X-Men #402: Utility of Myth

    Uncanny X-Men #402 hit shelves on the 6th of February 2002. It was *sigh* five weeks late, as any progress Marvel had made in getting books back shipping on time took a hefty blow over the 2001 festive period. The estimated report from Diamond to North American distributers had it shipping 108,567 copies, making it seventh-highest for the month. Two one-shots and the Ultimates launch forcing it out of the top five.

    Following the disastrous debut issue of the X-Corps arc, it was time to try and salvage the storyline by establishing what exactly was going on. Unfortunately, between Uncanny 2001 and this issue Marvel made it known that Joe Casey was going to be replaced as the writer on Uncanny X-Men by Chuck Austen commencing with #410. This was disappointing on several levels, in that it felt like the book was now limping along (much like a cancelled title) and that it felt like Marvel’s brand new writer-driven direction - following several years of editorially-mandated storytelling – was not being given a fair shake in some quarters.

    But where does all of this leave the X-Corps storyline? On surer footing than the previous issue, obviously, because the storytelling is straightforward here, but unfortunately it still has some issues.

    First and foremost of those issues is the characterisation of Banshee. Last seen doing a hastily-written descent into alcoholism following the shock cancellation of Generation X, Banshee has sobered up and started on a ten-step recovery plan, the second step of which is apparently “become a fascist thug”. For a character who has spent most of his time since his retirement from X-Man status in 1978 as the cheerful, good-natured Uncle figure for the X-Men and their trainees, it’s quite the departure and not really a portrayal I care for or find believable, unfortunately.

    We have another problem here in that the X-Men clearly find X-Corps rather worrying, which of course originally was due to the fact that they were swanning around Berlin in SS uniforms (and again I have to reiterate – would have been arrested on the spot for doing so) but with the uniforms (sensibly) replaced it just comes across as the X-Men being whiny dicks. The legal status of X-Corps is also an interesting point here that isn’t really explained, as Banshee mentions jurisdiction, which would suggest some form of tacit acknowledgement from government in France of some kind.

    We do get some justification in the X-Men being upset when they discover Blob and Avalanche working for the team, but they didn’t know this until the end of the issue so it doesn’t really justify why they were upset with Sean to begin with, beyond “he’s making us look bad”. That may actually be an underlying dig, as for all the X-Men’s talk in the 80’s and 90’s of advancing the mutant cause their primary method in doing so was playing baseball at the mansion waiting to be attacked. Banshee is, at the very least, being pro-active in how he beats the shit out of people.

    There are plenty of positives and some interesting stuff here though, despite the afore-mentioend problems. Banshee’s past with Factor Three being mentioned is a nice touch, as is his past relationship as a mentor figure to Jono. The military precision of the X-Corps is nice to behold as is a very crisp action sequence between the bastard squad and a local militia.

    Over on the obscure characters corner, Casey has dug out Fever Pitch and Abyss as instigators of some violence in Berlin which the X-Corps quell and both are interesting choices. Fever Pitch has a nice visual design and offers a little nod to his only prior appearance in his dialogue s well as events in Morrison’s book, and I’ve always had a soft spot for Abyss (who would be Ruined Forever™ in a couple of years time by Casey’s successor) who has a striking visual design. Abyss also provides a nod to continuity during his battle with Fever Pitch, which illustrates Casey’s strengths in getting all those references in only a few panels in the midst of a solid action sequence. That’s excellent writing.

    What is less excellent is Kurt then flipping his wig at the presence of Blob, Avalanche and the debuting Surge in the X-Corps ranks, aghast that a former X-Man (known past and present members of the team including Rogue, Emma Frost, Gambit, Wolverine, Magneto, Sabretooth and Forge) should consider employing criminals. He looks like a massive hypocrite.

    In terms of looks this issue was drawn by Ron Garney and his strengths lie in the action sequences, unsurprisingly. His Banshee doesn’t look much older than any of the other X-Men despite Stacy pointing out that he’s old. I’m not sure why Iceman suddenly switches to ice form in the Paris HQ either unless it’s a colouring error. In another odd little artistic choice during the sub-plot of Archangel addressing the G8 conference Garney draws Romano Prodi (the then-President of the European Commission) as looking nothing like Romano Prodi. The closing panel of Lady Mastermind is very nice and unsettling though. Good stuff.

    So X-Corps is on the upswing, providing some intrigue whilst not yet sticking together wholly. This arc is fondly remembered by some fans (as evidenced by some of the comments in this thread, thanks again to all who are reading and contributing) and theres still four more chapters, as Marvel was in full-on decompression mode at this time.

    Hastily Redesigned Uniform Casting call!

    Archangel addresses the G8 summit as he moves further into the corporate superhero role that actually fits him exceedingly well.

    Nightcrawler seems to be in charge of the ground team and gets the bulk of the dialogue. He also seems the most upset by Banshee's recent actions.

    Iceman hangs around in the background, but gets enough to do, and is beginning to fall into a useful role, which we’ll address more in upcoming issues.

    Wolverine isn’t in this issue.

    Chamber sticks up for Banshee’s character and morals during a discussion with Stacy but seems a little disquieted.

    Stacy continues in the neophyte role and made me laugh with “dibs on the fat guy”.

    Best cover thus far – 397. Good cover here though, Blob doesn’t get enough covers.

    Worst cover – 394

    Who died and will HoXPoX resurrect them? Nobody. But with the presence of Banshee, Madrox, Abyss, Fever Pitch, Surge and Sunpyre, the Disposable Character Alarm was going like the clappers.

    What I Thought Then – Thank God there's some dialogue. Pleased to see Banshee and especially Abyss, not sure why Kurt is being a prick.

    What I Think Now – it’s a solid enough issue, but nothing spectacular. Some good stuff here though.

    For those reading this – how is Ron Garney for you? Do you feel X-Corps, with perhaps a few adjustments, was something which could have been made more of a thing in the X-Universe?

    Next time – more disposable characters, monsters in the basement and Jakob Eisen. It’s Uncanny 403!

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