Uncanny X-Men #310 Review

Reviewer: Jesse Baker
Story Title: “…Show Me the Way to Go Home…”

Written by: Scott Lobdell
Penciled by: John Romita Jr
Inked by: Dan Green
Colored by: Steve Buccellato
Lettered by: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Bob Harras
Publisher: Tom DeFalco

While mapping out the storylines for 1993, both Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza decided that with all of the dark and depressing things that they had planned for 1993 (which was also the franchise’s 30th Anniversary to boot) that they needed at least one “feel good” thing to happen that year. This would make-up for the depressing stuff like the death of Magik, Colossus’s defection to Magneto’s side, Wolverine losing his adamantium, and Magneto getting his mind erased by Professor X. So it was decided that after thirty long years Jean Grey and Scott Summers would finally get engaged at the end of the year and be married at the start of 1994.

Meanwhile during 1993, the popular X-Men character Cable was given his own solo book after being left for dead at the end of 1992’s “X-Cutioner’s Song” crossover. The character was in a bit of a bind though due to the fact that despite promising to reveal his origins in “X-Cutioner’s Song”, Marvel failed to deliver. In fact, they only created more questions in the form of asking whether or not Cable or Stryfe was the long missing Nathan Summers. It would not be until Cable #6-8 that Marvel confirmed once and for all that Cable was indeed Nathan Summers.

So as the wedding approaches we get Uncanny X-Men #310, which was released the same month as the wedding (which took place in X-Men #30). On the eve of the wedding we get the first meeting between Cyclops and Cable since the events of Cable #8. Not to mention the return of a familiar face, the White Queen, who would play a key roll in the series in the coming months along with another returning regular Banshee.

The issue begins with Cyclops and Banshee running into the Danger Room. The two were heading out to Scott’s bachelor party when the alarm for the Danger Room went off and both are expecting trouble. The narration box talks about how Scott is known for being prepared for anything, which is a clear sign that we are going to see Scott deal with something bad that he isn’t prepared for. As they enter the room, we see that someone has the Danger Room running a holographic reenactment of the moment Scott gave up baby Nathan Summers to the futuristic warrior Askani. Banshee is in total shock and asks Scott if this is what really happened to his son, which Scott replies was correct. The narration box continues to hit us over the head with the sledgehammer of plot, by pointing out that giving up Nathan was Scott’s greatest failure. I personally think “Abandoning both Nathan and his wife Maddie in X-Factor #1” and “Going to the White Queen for marital advice” are Scott’s greatest failures.

Scott yells at the computer to turn the holographic sequence off and even uses his own optic blast power to manually turn it off. And did I forget to mention that we get more info from the narration that Scott feels violated? This narration is suffocating not only in hogging up panel space but also for being horribly melodramatic. Scott’s a failure as a human being and as a dad and hates himself for f*cking up as parent with Nathan. We get it. Hell, a good number of fans have been saying that about Scott for years and cheered when Grant Morrison finally acknowledged it during his New X-Men run.

Sean tries to break the tense nature of the moment by joking that the X-Men have way too many high-tech gadgets but Scott yells for the person running the program to show himself. Then on cue, in walks “[Cyclops’s] prodigal son…several centuries removed.” It’s Cable and he’s finally ready to have a sit-down with the father who abandoned him twice.

Banshee, still angry that his daughter Siren has hooked up with X-Force. He curses Cable for corrupting his daughter with booze and sex (though in Cable’s defense he DID reject Siren when the drunken heroine tried to force herself onto Cable). Cyclops tells Sean to go on ahead to the party while he talks to his son. We get more narration-exposition about how Cable got into the mansion (teleportation) and talks about how Cable came with ZERO guns, which Scott takes as a sign that Cable wants to talk and not brawl.

We now cut back to the stag party as Bishop, Iceman, Beast, Nightcrawler, and Archangel chat about Scott no-showing his own bachelor party. Bishop breaks up the chat to remind everyone that he’s from the future (which leads to Beast interrupting Bishop and making fun of Bishop’s habit of always pointing that out) and that the only time men got together to watch porn, get drunk, and ogle strippers was during “The Passing.” Before he can go any further, Iceman hand-gags Bishop and tells him to stop talking about being from the future.

Meanwhile we see the X-Cutioner (lame Marvel villain introduced in Uncanny X-Men Annual #17) break into the X-Mansion as he rants about how he was able to tap into Cable’s teleporter and follow him into the mansion. We then cut back to the narrator, who reminds everyone that Cable was confirmed once and for all as being Nathan Summers in Cable #6-8 and that Cable and Cyclops still have much to resolve.

SIDENOTE: Cable #6-8 were written mainly due to the fact that Scott Lobdell originally planned for Stryfe NOT Cable to be revealed to be Nathan Summers at the end of the “X-Cutioner’s Song” cross-over. Sadly Bob Harras refused to let Lobdell end “X-Cutioner’s Song” with this revelation (despite the fact that the entire story only makes sense if you think that Stryfe is Nathan Summers) because he felt that revealing Cable to be a fake copy of Stryfe would ruin the character. So we get a half-assed and rushed out three-part story that says Cable was really Nathan Summers and that Stryfe was a clone.

Cable and Cyclops argue over the fact that Scott abandoned Nathan and in such a cold, calculated “Take this unwanted spawn away from me so I can shag my girlfriend without having to have this rugrat from my previous marriage ruining things for me with his very presence!” manner. Scott argues that it was the most emotionally difficult thing he ever did in his life. Cable refutes this by bringing up the holographic reenactment, which leads to Scott responding by way of bringing up his own hologram, one of a video diary entry he made immediately after the battle.

Meanwhile we cut back to the stag party and get some nice character moments/advancement of running storylines. Angel has a very humorous conversation in his head:

Archangel (THINKING TO HIMSELF)

“Anyone here who can show just cause why this man and woman should not unite in the holy bound of matrimony let him speak now or forever hold his peace” HMMM…. Just Cause, just cause, does unrequited love fall under the legal definition of just cause?

As Archangel is contemplating his lingering feelings for Jean, Gambit sneaks up beside him and asks in a sinister voice about what Angel thinks of Sabretooth staying at the mansion. Warren replies that he is willing to give Sabretooth a second chance, which is ironic when you consider Warren’s reaction towards the revelation that Gambit aided in the Mutant Massacre in Uncanny X-Men #350. Warren walks away and Gambit then decides to bug Iceman (who’s being forced to go to his car and get his ID before he can get a beer) about Sabretooth. We then cut to the cage where Sabretooth is being held prisoner as he senses that Scott, Cable, a lady (who will come into play in a little bit), and a fourth stranger which causes Sabretooth to declare that there is an intruder in the mansion.

Scott calls up his video diary, which has Scott going ape-shit in front of Jean for failing to save Nathan from being captured, experimented on, and infected with the techno-virus as well as his weakness in giving Nathan up like he did. Cable tells his dad that it doesn’t make things right, which Scott agrees with. Suddenly a hologram of Sabretooth appears as he tells the two that there is an intruder in the mansion. Sabretooth points them in the direction of the Med-Lab, where the intruder is located and wishes them happy-hunting.

Meanwhile back at the stag party, Forge has arrived and Beast is making a joke that no one else seems to get involving his ears, atticus, and andrium. Forge sees Banshee arrive and asks where Scott is. Sean lies for Scott and tells Forge that Scott is working on Cerebro and will be there shortly. Banshee silently whines about lying for Scott as we cut back to the X-Mansion in a plot point that makes no sense given that everyone would learn that Cable was Scott’s kid off-panel within a matter of months with the Phalanx Covenant.

Here we see the return of the long MIA and comatose Emma “White Queen” Frost, who is the target of the X-Cutioner. Turns out X-Cutioner wants to kill Emma for her various crimes as well as for not saving the Hellions from being killed. As X-Cutioner prepares to strike a deathblow, he is knocked to the ground by an optic blast by Cyclops.

We move to a sideways panel as Scott and Nathan put aside the hate as they prepare to kick the guy’s ass. They beat X-Cutioner up as Cable and Scott bond some more; Cable even admits that he is proud of Scott. As Scott and Cable leave the mansion after cleaning things up, we get foreshadowing towards the upcoming “Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix” mini-series by way of Cable mentioning that he was raised by a nice couple in the future, one of which reminded Nathan of Cyclops. Cable offers to teleport his dad to the stag party and when he arrives there, he finds that Cable also included an invite to Scott and Jean’s wedding in Scott’s hand during the teleportation trip with a note written on it telling Scott that Cable would be present at the wedding.

Vivisection
OK, it’s another character driven story that ties into the wedding and gives us some closure on the long-running storyline about Cable’s origin. There is a level of irony that Scott Lobdell would be the one who would ultimately have the final say on the official backstory of Cable when you consider that his writing partner Fabian Nicieza worked more with the character than Lobdell. Not to mention the responsibility to make all of Rob Liefeld’s insane and nonsensical ideas about Cable’s origins make sense back when he was working on X-Force with Rob. But given the fact that it was Fabian’s idea to make Stryfe have Cable’s face (as opposed to Rob Liefeld’s original plan for Stryfe to be revealed to be a woman) maybe it was for the best that Lobdell was given this task.

There are some flaws to this story though. The X-Cutioner’s presence is extremely forced and appears to have been tossed into the story as an afterthought. The fact that Cable and Cyclops easily beat the guy (who was able to not only beat the crap out of the X-Men but also cut Colossus up pretty badly) comes as a big disappointment.

And speaking of forced, the presence of Banshee, White Queen, and Sabretooth in this issue is also very forced. Banshee is here in a prominent role only because he’s about to be spun off into the much hyped and ultimately disappointing Generation X series. Same with White Queen, who after nearly two and a half years finally makes a reappearance after the events of Uncanny X-Men #281-283. But the biggest forcing is the presence of Sabretooth.

Sabretooth was a victim of the trend going on at Marvel at the time to “rehab” various popular villains and turn them into heroes. So Sabretooth was made to “join” the X-Men circa X-Men Unlimited #3/X-Men #28. It was extremely forced and made ZERO sense especially since both Lobdell and Nicieza refused to play ball and kept Sabretooth locked up and acting like a villain. Think of James Marsters (AKA “Spike” of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel fame) circa Season Four of Buffy for a good comparison towards how Sabretooth was written. The only difference is that Spike grew as a character through his love for Buffy and the revelation that Spike only acts evil to distance himself from others so that they never get close enough to find out that Spike deep down is a momma’s boy who writes terrible poetry. Sabretooth stayed an unredeemable asshole that took pleasure in tormenting Rogue with hints of Gambit’s dark past and trying to escape and/or kill the X-Men. In this issue we get Sabretooth appearing for no good reason just to have him appear. Same with Gambit asking everyone in sight what they felt about Sabretooth being in the mansion.

John Romita Jr. does the art and it holds up better with time. I remember absolutely hating Romita’s artwork when I was buying his original run and that for the most part this holds true for the bulk of his work. This issue is one of the few exceptions though one could compare this issues Cyclops to any recent issue of Amazing Spiderman and be surprised at how utterly identical Peter Parker and Cyclops are.