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  1. #61
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    (Apologies for the lack of updates to this - I work in the health service here in Bonnie Scotland, and things are a bit mental just now. Hope everyone is keeping safe!)

    Uncanny X-Men #403: Lurking

    Uncanny X-Men #403 hit shelves on the 20th of February 2002, a mere two weeks after issue 402. It was one week late, as Marvel again strove to get back on schedule (they made significant improvements around this point, with both Uncanny X-Men and New X-Men almost never shipping late for the remainder of the year). The estimated report from Diamond to North American distributers had it shipping 104,311 copies, making it fourth-highest for the month. New X-Men, Ultimates and DKII would be the ones higher than it.

    X-Corps continues its upswing, as Casey continues to flesh out the organisation and reintroduces familiar (and some not-so-familiar) characters, as well as bringing another villainous organisation to the fore. It’s all decent stuff, and there is a nice pervading sense of unease running through the book as to something not being quite right. There are a few notes of interest in the plot, which we will cover as we get to them.

    Fever Pitch, following his capture by the X-Corps last issue has apparently now gotten in line and is a member of X-Corps. Also cropping up are Jubilee, Husk and M who have joined on the strength of their past relationship with Banshee but are beginning to have their suspicions also. There’s a nice scene where Iceman confronts Blob, Avalanche and Mystique in a bar, which nicely touches on the characters’ shared history over the years. For someone who has no love for the X-Men, this scene (and the Sean/Kurt one) indicate that Casey certainly did his homework.

    The characterisation of Banshee remains problematic here, although he has a powerful scene with Nightcrawler, reminiscing about their All-New, All-Different days, but he still doesn’t sound convincing as a quasi-fascist. If he were indirectly being controlled by Lady Mastermind - as it is hinted the other villains are - it might make more sense, but he appears to have had all these grand notions long before he considered busting Lady Mastermind out of prison. Avalanche mentions Cassidy getting immunity for them, so it's unclear exactly what the legal status of X-Corps is.

    Elsewhere an organisation called A.R.M shows up and they’re basically just another generic mutant-hating group, but this time in Europe. They are led by Jakob Eisen, and in a scene which would cause some confusion at the time, are merrily slaughtered by newcomer Surge.

    One of the themes of this arc would be that the X-Corps are maintaining mutant order but the X-Men see it as a public relations nightmare. Unfortunately we don’t get any reaction from members of the public, as the only people we see besides the X-Men and X-Corps are Eisen’s hate group.

    The art duties on this issue are handled by Aaron Lopresti who turns in a solid issue which is mildly reminiscent of Tom Raney’s work on #399. The opening scenes with Archangel and Stacy are the strongest work in the issue, although it does noticeably deteriorate in quality after that although Iceman’s chat with the former Brotherhood members is good too. Lopresti is capable of a lot better but this is perfectly good, solid, safe superhero fill-in work.

    What is not suitably safe, solid and good is the cover, which is bad. We have Blob in the background, looking absolutely nothing like he does in the book (or any book ever) in fact he looks like The Kingpin. There’s a bloke in a hat, who I assume to be Avalanche and also Jubilee and Husk. You can tell who they are because one has gum and the other is blond. If you weren’t reading the storyline I’m not sure you could name any of the characters, bar possibly Banshee, who is doing the old “eyes in the back of the head” expression WWF wrestler The Undertaker did, as well as the accompanying “reach out towards the urn” gesture. Not Ariel Olivetti’s best work by any means. I’m honestly not sure if it was a repurposed cover for something else, or if he was just taking the piss.

    More Recognisable In The Interior Pages Casting call!

    Archangel is present in the opening scene as he and Stacy find themselves stuck in the middle of an X-Corps/ARM standoff. His relationship with Stacy seems to be growing. He sensibly backs down rather than fight Madrox.

    Nightcrawler is more likable than he’s been in a while as he has a genuinely touching scene with Sean before sending Chamber off to snoop around.

    Iceman has a strong scene in the boozer with Blob and Avalanche, with some decent dialogue being thrown out on both sides.

    Wolverine isn’t in this issue.

    Chamber has a nice reunion (although slightly awkwardly in Husk's case) with the Generation X girls and then pops down to the basement to investigate rumours.

    Stacy has a nice few exchanges with Archangel and then unfortunately gets to meet Radius. Poor girl.

    Best cover thus far – 397.

    Worst cover – All change as this cover boots Warp Savant into touch, quite possibly whilst drawing him looking like someone else entirely.

    Who died and will HoXPoX resurrect them? No mutants were harmed in the production of this issue, although some ARM goons were murdered by Surge. More fodder is brought in with M, Paige, Husk and Radius all reporting for possible death duty.

    What I Thought Then – I wasn’t sure if Banshee was being mind-controlled, but there was enough here to enjoy. The ending was odd, because I hadn’t really grasped the dream bit from 401.

    What I Think Now – Another solid issue.

    For those reading this – did Banshee work for you in this role? After the books abrupt cancellation did you enjoy the mini-Gen X reunion?

    Next time – the artist I would associate most with Casey’s run gets a full debut, and it’s time to kill people. Uncanny 404!
    Last edited by Captain Buttocks; 03-24-2020 at 10:08 AM.

  2. #62
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    I was gritting my teeth thru most of this arc.... I thought Sean was written way out of character, but I recognized he was mourning, and hoped that he would right the ship. I had hoped that the x Corp might spin off into a Banshee-lead title, but he fumbled the ending badly, and was played by the secret villain.
    His character was ruined for years.

  3. #63
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearman View Post
    I was gritting my teeth thru most of this arc.... I thought Sean was written way out of character, but I recognized he was mourning, and hoped that he would right the ship. I had hoped that the x Corp might spin off into a Banshee-lead title, but he fumbled the ending badly, and was played by the secret villain.
    His character was ruined for years.
    I may be wrong, but following the conclusion of this arc I believe his next appearance was in Deadly Genesis, where he was killed. And not "properly" revived until HoXPoX.

  4. #64
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Uncanny X-Men #404: Army Ants

    Uncanny X-Men #404 hit shelves on the 6th of March 2002, for the first time since early in Casey’s run it was – wait for it – ON TIME! The estimated report from Diamond to North American distributers had it shipping 102,499 copies, making it fourth-highest for the month. New X-Men, Ultimate X-Men and Ultimates would be the ones higher than it.

    The most notable feature of this issue is that, five issues from the end of Casey’s run, Sean Phillips would fully pencil his first issue of the run (having pitched in on layouts for 397 and 398 and contributed an early section in 400’s jam issue). As quoted earlier in the thread, here is Casey’s take on the art situation:-

    “There was no consistent artistic vision to my stint on the book, which -- even in that bygone era of “Writer-driven” comics -- makes a big goddamn difference. Besides which, here are the artists I specifically brought to the X-party: Sean Phillips, Ashley Wood, Eddie Campbell, Javier Pulido. Compare that list to the artists that editors teamed me up with, without my input: Ian Churchill, Ron Garney, Aaron Lopestri. To me, those two lists are as stylistically different as night and day. Now, you can argue that the editors had more “mainstream” tastes and that I had more “alternative” tastes, but I know which type of artist I work better with. I didn’t stand up for myself the way I’ve learned to since then, and the book suffered because of it. Obviously, they're all skilled artists, but it’s rare that I’ll have that real, lasting, creative chemistry with artists that editors hook me up with (even when I get along with them, personally). Another lesson I learned the hard way.” (Joe Casey in conversation with Chad Nevett of CBR)

    Casey and Phillips have been frequent collaborators in the past, and it’s good that Casey (finally) gets an artist he is comfortable with working on the book with him.
    Author story here – Sean Phillips came to my local comic shop a few years ago, and in amongst the issues of Criminal and Wildcats I asked him to sign a copy of #407. He had a quick look and it and smiled, seeming surprised that anyone remembered it, which is a shame as his run on Uncanny here is some seriously solid work and helps the book to finally develop some consistency (albeit not yet as he’s still on fill-ins).

    The X-Corps story continues, as tensions heighten between A.R.M and the X-Corps, following the (apparent) death of Surge, who launched a random attack on the A.R.M last issue. Jakob Eisen delivers a video message claiming Surge has been executed. Rather than alert the police, Banshee sends the “nice” members of X-Corps out to hunt them down and deliver some vigilante justice.

    Meanwhile Chamber, having stumbled into Lady Mastermind’s telepathic dream, has some bits and bobs explained to him and realises that A Mysterious Figure™ is pulling some strings here for nefarious purposes. Naturally they discover him and knock him out.

    Elsewhere Archangel and Stacy become concerned that Abyss is being held captive against his will and Sunpyre explains that Banshee approached Sunfire initially, but he refused to join. Sadly this is a wasted opportunity for Sunfire to join and then immediately quit, so chance for bonus points wasted there. With the “good” members of X-Corps drawn away by Surge’s apparent murder, the former Brotherhood members (and Fever Pitch) murder Sunpyre as a helpless Abyss looks on and Surge is revealed to be alive as he blasts Jono with his electric powers. This was quite confusing at the time (as was Lady Mastermind’s presence) but all will be made clear over the next two issues.

    So actually quite a lot going on in this issue, and for the most part it’s carried off rather well, with time for a couple of nice character beats thrown in (more on which below).

    Sean Phillips gets off to a good start here, with the design of the Chamber dream sequence being a highlight, with some lop-sided panels and interesting perspectives helping to give it a nice odd quality. The sequence with Styger looking on at a dead Sunpyre is also nicely done, whilst the notes from her broken Dictaphone give a nice poignant quality to the scene.

    The cover is also a very nice one, with a nice perspective on Chamber. It’s by no means the best cover in this run but is a very nice one and is a stark improvement on last issue’s effort.

    A shorter review this time, as this is a middle section of a six part sotryline, so I'll keep a lot of my thoughts for once the story is completed.

    Cast update!

    Archangel is probably gonna get reported to HR for invasion of personal space with Sunpyre (although she deals with it more than adequately). He seems to be concerned with the mutant rights problems around X-Corps holding Abyss.

    Nightcrawler spends more time with Banshee, and prevents him murdering a captured A.R.M goon in his anger. Unlike Warren, Kurt seems to be concerned around the image X-Corps is putting across for mutants.

    Iceman is hanging around in the background.

    Wolverine isn’t in this issue.

    Chamber has some nice moments in Mastermind’s illusions and there is a point where she tells him he should work on his telepathic skills, a long-forgotten point from the early Generation X issues. It was nice to see it referenced here.

    Stacy buddies around with Archangel and seems to have some genuine sympathy for Abyss as he is kept in containment. Phillips draws her very well.

    Best cover thus far – 397.

    Worst cover – 403.

    Who died and will HoXPoX resurrect them? Sunpyre is murdered by the Brotherhood. I don’t believe she was ever resurrected, so HoXPoX may well bring her back at some point although she’s hardly an essential character.

    What I Thought Then – the Surge scenario was a little confusing, and I’m still not sure why the X-Corps image is so reprehensible, but it’s a good read.

    What I Think Now – Yep, things are moving and it’s a good read. There’s definitely a sense of mixed opportunity here.

    For those reading this – were you confused by the Surge shenanigans? Did you enjoy Sean Phillip’s work?

    Next time – another death, Banshee loses control and the true villain stands revealed. Uncanny 405 is coming for your helicopters!

  5. #65
    Mighty Member Thievery's Avatar
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    I'm late responding to these X-Corps reviews so I'll just offer a few thoughts.

    In regards to that cover to issue 403, Avalanche is wearing what looks to me like a Nazi style helmet, similar to the helmet model that Darth Vader's helmet was modeled off of.

    I think that my favorite parts of these issues so far have been the scenes between Chamber and Mastermind, in Mastermind's telepathic dream sphere thing. I also enjoyed the little GenX reunion.

    I liked the way that Stacey and Archangel seemed to be bonding.
    I'm a little less interested in Archangel addressing the G8, but it wasn't bad.

    I had no problem with Banshee's portrayal in the X-Corps issues. He was clearly being written as a man who had hit rock bottom and was making mistakes. What Banshee was doing was wrong, but it was interesting to read a story about a guy who was resorting to some questionable tactics because he felt that the X-Men's old methods had failed him.
    Really, if you take out the situation of Mastermind using mental control, there isn't a lot different from what Banshee was doing, and some of the things that Cyclops was doing after Decimation.

    Also, the more militaristic, take it to your enemies approach had already been done by X-Force. I know that many members of the X-Men had problems with the way that Cable had run X-Force, but seeing something like this shouldn't have blown their minds away. In the early issues of this story, even the villains shouldn't have bothered the X-Men so bad, as Captain Buttocks pointed out, seeing as how they have allowed so many former villains onto their team. Hell, Archangel once joined Apocalypse, and the X-Men took him back. I know that Warren's turn to Apocalypse was a different set of circumstances, but still.


    EDIT: I hope that you are staying safe yourself Captain Buttocks, seeing as you work in the health service. I understand that the Corona pandemic is starting to take it's toll on you guys.
    Last edited by Thievery; 03-28-2020 at 10:40 PM.

  6. #66
    Astonishing Member AbnormallyNormal's Avatar
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    When you just go through and read all the Uncanny issues in sequence , the Joe Casey era in early 00's is absolute freaking madness. Honestly this is peak experimentation, Austen experimented as well but this was RAW pioneering stuff. Surreal almost.

    I don't even think it was particularly readable or entertaining or digestible for common fans but at least it was "an attempt" at something DIFFERENT. Very different , so i give it full credit on that
    Forget the old ways - Krakoa is god.

    OBEY

  7. #67
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thievery View Post


    EDIT: I hope that you are staying safe yourself Captain Buttocks, seeing as you work in the health service. I understand that the Corona pandemic is starting to take it's toll on you guys.
    Thanks Thievery - just hoping everyone stays safe. With the comics shops shut I may well be revisiting other X-Men runs just for something to take my mind off events!!

    Quote Originally Posted by AbnormallyNormal View Post
    When you just go through and read all the Uncanny issues in sequence , the Joe Casey era in early 00's is absolute freaking madness. Honestly this is peak experimentation, Austen experimented as well but this was RAW pioneering stuff. Surreal almost.

    I don't even think it was particularly readable or entertaining or digestible for common fans but at least it was "an attempt" at something DIFFERENT. Very different , so i give it full credit on that
    It's something that comes through pretty strongly. An objective observer could easily see that the late 90s were a low point for X-Men stories BUT X-Men fans - ironically for a book that deals with evolution - really dont like any changes to the normal status quo and the eeditorially mandated books were still selling highly. Morrison's run was divisive (I personally love it), Casey's had issues and other attempts since then to change the direction are often met with resistance too. The X-office are always reactive as well, when Casey left we went back to soap opera with Austen and when Morrison left it was full-on nostalgia (albeit very well done) from Whedon.

  8. #68
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Uncanny X-Men #405: Ballroom Blitzkrieg

    Uncanny X-Men #405 hit shelves on the 3rd of April 2002, as originally solicited. The estimated report from Diamond to North American distributers had it shipping 100,958 copies, making it sixth-highest for the month. New X-Men, Ultimate X-Men, Spider-Man, Ultimates and – of all things – Dreamwave Productions first issue of Transformers: Generation 1 would round out the top sellers. On a side note, if you are interested in troubled comic productions, the Dreamwave story is a crazy one.

    The X-Corps storyline heads towards its conclusion as the villains’ evil scheme is revealed, which is to use the X-Corps to blow up Paris and head to Berlin next.

    Now, one of the things that is easy to overlook here is that this storyline came out during the post-9/11 introspection that was going on around the world. I’m reasonably sure that Casey certainly must have had the idea (or even some of the script) prepared before 9/11 happened, even though the issue was released several months later. It felt a little uneasy at the time, but obviously reading it in retrospect it seems no different from the usual superhero destruction that happens routinely in comic books. Nevertheless at the time I certainly remember having some conflicting feelings, however your mileage may certainly vary.

    In terms of the rest of the storyline, it builds towards a climax reasonably well, with Banshee finally explaining that he was using Lady Mastermind (and offering a bit of a quick-fix to the continuity problem of two female Masterminds running around) to control the villains and then Mystique showing up and stabbing him through the throat as he has a nice little soliloquy explaining his motives and the reasons for him being written so strangely through his arc. If you don’t give a toss about Banshee (believe it or not – back then a lot of people did) it’s fine but if you were a fan of the character (he had been regularly in the X-Books for 8 years at that point) it didn’t really stick.

    The X-Men don’t do too much this issue, with most of the spotlight on Banshee and the carnage in Paris, as a mind-controlled Madrox pilots the choppers for the brotherhood. Kurt does a bit of looking for Chamber and acts a bit disapproving of Banshee. Elsewhere, Stacy X gets set to perform her regular services on Radius, but is saved from him explaining his backstory when the Brotherhood show up and murder him but inexplicably leave her alive.

    Sean Phillips once again provides art, and does a stellar job, managing to convey a range of emotions from Banshee in particular as things fall down around his ears. He also does a really eerie Lady Mastermind in captivity page earlier in the issue which certainly gives the X-Men reason to be as annoyed with the Banshee as they are. Joe Casey kindly confirmed earlier in this thread that Phillips also provided the cover for this issue which is absolutely beautiful and one of my favourite X-Men covers ever. Odd that no credit was ever given.

    One further odd little note – if reading from the original issue the Big Reveal of Mystique is helpfully given away in the letters page, a few pages before the end which gave me a laugh.

    Cast update!

    Archangel is once again normally in charge and prompting exposition from Sean and Jamie. He certainly appears ready to lead the fightback as he pops up near the end with a BFG..

    Nightcrawler does more angsty disapproving and then gets blown up after finding Chamber in the X-Jet. Archangel correctly assumes he got away.

    Iceman is still hanging around in the background and is a little bit of a dick in this issue.

    Wolverine isn’t in this issue.

    Chamber is asleep on the floor of the X-Jet all issue. Youngsters nowadays.

    Stacy gets a shellacking from the Brotherhood, which is probably better than having to listen to Radius prattle on and on.

    Best cover thus far – 405. This one is a stunner.

    Worst cover – 403.

    Who died and will HoXPoX resurrect them? Radius is seemingly killed by the Brotherhood (it looks pretty fatal) and if the X-Men have any sense they’ll leave him well dead unless they can bring him back without vocal chords. As he has done precisely nothing I’m assuming he was brought in to be expendable.

    What I Thought Then –definitely some feels as I saw the splash page destruction of Paris. I could do with this story being over by now though.

    What I Think Now – It’s definitely beginning to feel a little drawn out, and this is mostly an issue of set-up for the big resolution next time.

    For those reading this – did you buy Banshee's motivations? What did you make of the Paris destruction?

    Next time – Fight! Fight! Fight! Mystique has a thyroid problem, Banshee is pretty much finished as a character and we briefly discuss another character who I really thought they could have done more with but sadly didn’t. X-Corps concludes with issue 406.

    Stay safe everyone!

  9. #69
    Mighty Member Thievery's Avatar
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    405 had an absolutely great cover.

    I bought into Banshee's motives. The guy felt that the X-Men's old methods had failed, and he was trying something that he might get better results. I think that I pointed this out before, but other than Banshee using Mastermind to mentally control the villains, the X-Corps feels a little bit tame compared to the actions that Cyclops would take after Decimation. Just my opinion.

    I strongly disagree about Radius. I thought that he was a terrific character, both here, and what (admittedly little) I read of him in Alpha Flight. A kid with a cocky attitude that was meant to get on your nerves. He filled the role better than Fantomex in my opinion. I'd love to see him resurrected on Krakoa.

  10. #70
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thievery View Post
    405 had an absolutely great cover.

    I bought into Banshee's motives. The guy felt that the X-Men's old methods had failed, and he was trying something that he might get better results. I think that I pointed this out before, but other than Banshee using Mastermind to mentally control the villains, the X-Corps feels a little bit tame compared to the actions that Cyclops would take after Decimation. Just my opinion.
    It is interesting that Banshee's actions do not seem as harsh nowadays, particularly as you say given the direction the X-Men would go in (and even looking at their current status quo).

    I strongly disagree about Radius. I thought that he was a terrific character, both here, and what (admittedly little) I read of him in Alpha Flight. A kid with a cocky attitude that was meant to get on your nerves. He filled the role better than Fantomex in my opinion. I'd love to see him resurrected on Krakoa.
    I never read him in Alpha Flight, so I'm glad you're a fan of his!

  11. #71
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Uncanny X-Men #406: Staring Contests Are For Suckers

    Uncanny X-Men #406 hit shelves on the 1st of May 2002. The estimated report from Diamond to North American distributers had it shipping 98,022 copies, making it sixth-highest for the month. Transformers was once again topping the charts (dull surprise) with other X-Books New X-Men and Ultimate X-Men as well as Ultimates and Amazing Spider-Man rounding out the top five.

    This issue marks the conclusion of the X-Corps storyline, and as storylines go it’s quite possible that this one sums up the strengths, weaknesses and frustrations of Joe Casey’s run better than any other storyline. From a disastrous start with the Silent Issue, X-Corps recovered to reach satisfactory levels (occasionally rising above) but overall seems like a bit of a missed opportunity.

    There’s definitely the core of an interesting concept here, as the idea of an organisation policing mutant-on-mutant violence is an interesting one, as is the idea of what that organisation would represent in terms of the PR aspect of mutant culture as a whole (something that was being explored in the X-titles at the time) but overall none of these concepts are followed up on enough here to really grab the attention.

    In terms of this story, we are repeatedly told that the X-Men see the X-Corps as a PR disaster, but we don’t really get any reaction from any regular people (barring Jakob Eisen and his hate organisation) to really justify the X-Men’s position. Banshee preaching mutant unit but having to rely on mind control and what looks suspiciously like torture to achieve it seem very out of character for him, and as I stated last issue, the idea of him being grief-stricken over Moira doesn’t quite justify the change in the character. Now it may well be that Casey had plans to follow up on both the mutant-human relations and also the status of Banshee’s mental health, but obviously his removal from the book early into the storyline cut short plans for any subsequent follow-up.

    The X-Men themselves do very little of note in this issue, basically blowing up the X-Corps helicopters over Paris whilst the real drama is played out between Banshee and an expositing Mystique, who explains the Eisen/Surge plot and also has to explain the presence of two Lady Masterminds in the books at the time. Whilst she gloats, Banshee lets Abyss out of the containment field where he has been stuck since issue 402 so he can swallow up Mystique, whilst Stacy and the Gen X girls defeat the Blob off-panel.

    It may seem like I’m being overly critical, but I do think there is plenty here to like. I have mentioned that the X-Men don’t do a lot this issue, but it does allow some members of the supporting cast a bit of spotlight, which actually makes them seem like a part of a proper X-Universe. Just for shits and giggles, let’s see how some of these characters fared over the subsequent years?

    Banshee would only appear once after the denouement of this story, being killed off in Deadly Genesis. Whilst he was brought back eventually it was in a much changed state so this was, for all intents and purposes, the last chapter in the Sean Cassidy story. He has been seen (back to normal) in the background of DoX.

    Madrox was at this point mostly just used as a generic one-man army. Following this story he would come under the pen of Peter David, who would explore his powers in some very original ways in almost a decade’s worth of X-Factor storylines. Monet would join him in this book. Husk and Jubilee would be used in quite a questionable manner by Chuck Austen after he replaced Casey on Uncanny, before going off into forgettable plots involving vampires and Toad.

    Abyss is an interesting case. Although he spends the majority of the story in a box before saving the day, there were rumours of him being added to the Uncanny X-Men team had Joe Casey stayed on the book. Instead he was retconned into being a blue teleporter by Chuck Austen and later joined the X-Cell following M-Day.
    Art on this issue is once again provided by Aaron Lopresti, who contributes his usual high quality fill-in art, doing especially well with the action scenes in Paris and a nice distinctive style for Abyss. The art changes throughout this arc, whilst frustrating are nowhere near as disjointed as those on the Poptopia arc, so it hangs together much better upon re-reading.

    The cover is another odd one, with Ariel Olivetti providing a nice image of Banshee (his facial expression is great) alongside Mystique with an oddly puffy face. She looks like she has a thyroid problem. Despite the nice Banshee expression it’s one of the poorer covers from this time.

    Overall, X-Corps is an interesting storyline which is let down in the details and in a plot that needs to be re-read to follow the nuances. There is definitely a good core premise here, but we are left frustatingly short of follow-through. The damage to Paris is, as far as I can recall, never mentioned again throughout the X-Books. There is some good dialogue, with the bar exchange between tough guy Iceman and the Brotherhood members being my particular highlight, and it has plenty of continuity nods, which I am a fan of.

    Cast update!

    Archangel blows up some helicopters over Paris.

    Nightcrawler isn’t in this issue.

    Iceman fights with Archangel and Madrox over Paris, whipping Fever Pitch.

    Wolverine isn’t in this issue.

    Chamber isn’t in this issue.

    Stacy defeats Blob off-panel.

    Best cover thus far – 405.

    Worst cover – 403. This one isn’t great but definitely better than 403.

    Who died and will HoXPoX resurrect them? Nobody, althoug Mystique was teleported into some awful plot contradictions.

    What I Thought Then – I was happy for the storyline to finish. It was a long one, and didn't really grab me (or make sense) until the end.

    What I Think Now – lots to intrigue the reader, but little to love. The X-Men taking a back step is a bold choice, but the plot about human-mutant relations feels frustratingly under-developed.

    For those reading this – would you have been happy to see Abyss join the X-Men? And what did you make of X-Corps, both as a concept and as a story?
    Next time – untranslated German, circus performers and ANGST.

    Stay safe everyone!

  12. #72
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    I remembering reading Joe Casey’s stories at the time. I didn’t mind the plots as the book was getting an identity compared to Morrison’s and Claremont’s books.

    I didn’t like though that for the cast he had no previous X-women on his cast and had to create one with Stacy X. I didn’t mind her concept and character, but when she’s the only female on the team, I had serious problems with her. I wish she had other females to bounce off of, instead of an all male roster.

    I know the “main females” were on Claremont’s team with Morrison getting Jean and Emma.

    But with all the female mutants from the previous X-Factor, X-Force, New Mutants, and Generation X runs I was disappointed absolutely none made Casey’s team roster.

    So I was happy with the X-Corps story bringing the Gen X girls in. I know Joe wanted to focus on Chamber, but I still wish more females joined. Also disappointed Sunpyre was killed before she was developed as a character. Between her and Psylocke’s dead body, not a good time for Asian female mutants. I was worried for Jubilee.

  13. #73
    Mighty Member Thievery's Avatar
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    I enjoyed reading the X-Corps story a whole lot. It was neat to see Banshee take this path, and the appearance by the Gen-X kids was much appreciated and well handled.

    I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Archangel using a bazooka to destroy those helicopters may have been an homage to when Warren appeared on the cover of the very first X-Men issue carrying a bazooka. I'm usually wrong about things like this however.

    That bar scene between Iceman and the Brotherhood was indeed good writing. The dialogue Avalanche uses to put down Iceman was particularly great.

    I noticed the lack of female members on Casey's X-Men, but that didn't really bother me the way that it usually would.

    About the only real problem that I have with the story is the way that Mystique is written. She really comes across as little more than a psychotic terrorist in this issue, when she is usually mor of a shades of grey villain who usually uses underhanded villain tactics to achieve her goals. She wouldn't typically just destroy an entire city in some sort of misguided attempt to advance mutant rights. I reread this story, and I'm still not sure what Mystique thought that she would accomplish here. Did I miss something? Do I need to reread this story again?

    I think that it is worth pointing out that there are story's from Casey's run that would be referenced and used further down the road by other writers.

  14. #74
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    Joe Casey

    if you’re still reading this thread:
    Did you have any plans to re visit Banshee and address the personality changes?
    Thank you
    Gerry

  15. #75
    Fantastic Member Captain Buttocks's Avatar
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    Uncanny X-Men #407: Glaubiger, Heiler, Gefaller

    Uncanny X-Men #407 hit shelves on the 5th of June 2002. The estimated report from Diamond to North American distributers had it shipping 94,855 copies, making it eighth-highest for the month. This is the second month that Casey’s run had been below the sixth figures mark and indicates the loss of steam his run has suffered from, resulting from the myriad issues which we (and he) have discussed previously in the thread. The title is in German (more of which shortly) and seems to translate to Believer, Healer, Faller.

    This issue, as well as New X-men #127 which was also released this month serve as “breather” issues where a character takes stock after a six-month storyline (X-Corps in this book, Imperial in the other one) and begins the second year of both Joe Casey and Grant Morrison’s runs. Sadly we knew at this point that Casey only had two subsequent issues, but both titles decide to do a character piece. In an unusual move for the X-office at the time, both stories were also furnished with artists who are more suited to the material, with Sean Phillips returning to Uncanny and the always under-rated John Paul Leon providing the artwork in New X-Men.

    The main focus of this issue is Nightcrawler, as we return to the lingering plot of the Supreme Pontiff having done something to him in the climax of issue 400. Thankfully the Church of Humanity are only referenced here, as Kurt instead spends an issue having somewhat of a crisis of faith. The backdrop to this is the Bavarian Alps, where Kurt blindly teleported both himself and Chamber during the penultimate issue of X-Corps to avoid being killed by a bomb.

    Luckily for Kurt his blind teleport took him to the reclusive mountain home of Feuer Lanhagen, a former fire-breathing circus accomplice of Kurt from his youth. As Kurt reconnects with his old friend and seems to somewhat envy him his nomadic lifestyle, he comes into disagreement with Chamber who quite rightly points out that it’s a bit rich him considering going off to live like a hermit after he gave Chamber the big spiel about responsibilities back in Poptopia.

    Elsewhere, Warren is playing front-man for the clean-up associated with the X-Corps attack on Paris and Stacy is contacted by Chamber’s rarely developed telepathic powers after he becomes concerned that Nightcrawler hasn’t let the X-Men know that they are alive. Warren and Iceman refuse to believe her, however Jean independently uses Cerebro to track them down, confirming Stacy’s story.

    It’s a quiet, simple talking heads issue which addresses Kurt’s dissatisfaction and begins to sow the seeds of some slight tension between Kurt and Archangel. There’s also a nice moment where Chamber tells Stacy he contacted her because he felt she was the only one who would believe him. The dialogue is good except for one minor quibble – there’s a bunch of untranslated German interspersed throughout the issue. Now admittedly, none of it appears important to the plot but it does take me slightly out of the book when it pops up. (There is a credit to Christain Lanhagen in the title page, and I suspected he had some involvement with the accuracy of the German). The only other quibble I have is a joke made by Iceman at the expense of Stacy which is very Jemas/Quesada “Nu-Marvel” and possibly might not make it past an editor nowadays, although I would argue that the joke, in poor taste as it is, is meant to portray Iceman as a dick, and therefore achieves what it sets out to do.

    Those minor quibbles aside there is little else to find fault with. It’s the kind of story Scott Lobdell used to excel in telling after the mega-crossovers of the 1990s, but slightly less sentimental. Mopey Kurt is far from my favourite use of the character, but it’s told well and is believable, and Chamber is a good choice for a character he can bounce off.

    The artwork for this issue is once again by Sean Phillips and it’s excellent. It starts with an intriguing four pages of overlapping art whilst Kurt dreams about the Supreme Pontiff, before transitioning to the nice remote snowscapes of the Bavarian Alps, and really gives the reader a feel for the isolation that Kurt is craving. The colouring also provides an excellent contrast between the vast open air snow scenes and the quiet warmth and earthiness of Langhagen’s cabin.

    I mentioned earlier in the thread about asking Sean Phillips to sign a copy of Uncanny X-men for me a few years ago – this is the issue in question. I’ve always loved the stark white background and the desolation of the image of Kurt on the cover (oddly enough new X-Men this month also had the central character against a stark white background in a cover I love almost as much). It’s a bit of a shame to me that Phillips didn’t really seem to care for his work on the title (admittedly in the space of only a few minutes I spent chatting to a very busy, polite, kind and engaging artist), as I found it excellent back then and still do now.

    Overall this is a real hidden gem of an issue, despite the couple of quibbles I mentioned above. It’s far from the flashiest issue of X-men ever written but the story is well-told, the characters are on point and the art is very pretty. The only thing which hurt the issue then (as now) is the dark cloud of Casey’s impending departure, as plot points hinted upon in this issue would either be ignored, dropped or ramped up to bonkers level once his replacement came aboard.

    If you haven’t read this issue I would check it out. It is to me (alongside Annual 2001 and #399) the highlight of the run so far and it’s frustrating to think that Casey was finding his feet (and a suitable artist) just at the point where the rug was being pulled out from under him.

    Cast update!

    Archangel is on clean-up duties for the X-Corps, and has a frank discussion with Kurt, in a quietly solid little issue for him.

    Nightcrawler gets the central focus of this issue, and whilst it’s all solid stuff, it does hurt slightly in retrospect when you know where all this ultimately heads once Chuck Austen takes over.

    Iceman, in a nice bit of character work is an unrepentant dick to Stacy but very supportive of Kurt, whom he has known longer and respects.

    Wolverine isn’t in this issue.

    Chamber provides counterpoints to Kurt when he expresses his doubts about the way has life has headed and also has the afore-mentioned nice scene with Stacy. I’d definitely have liked to read more of Casey’s Chamber.

    Stacy is annoyed at Chamber’s telepathic intrusion into her mind and takes up her usual antagonistic discussions with Warren and Bobby, although she would soften her stance towards the end of the issue. It’ll be in the next arc that we get the best character work for her.

    Best cover thus far – 405. This one is very nice though, and looks great next to NXM 127 also.

    Worst cover – 403.

    Who died and will HoXPoX resurrect them? Nobody.

    What I Thought Then – A pleasant change of pace, but the New X-Men issue is slightly stronger.

    What I Think Now – obviously the Xorn thing helps, but I’ve reversed my position on comparing the issues. The Kurt work is stronger than what is essentially an Unreliable Narrator story in Morrison’s book.

    For those reading this – did you enjoy this issue? Is sad Kurt a more layered character than swashbuckling Kurt? Did you enjoy the artwork of Sean Phillips?

    Next time – Stacy, Vanisher and drugs are bad, mmmkay.

    Stay safe everyone!

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