Uncanny X-Men 289 Cover
Uncanny X-Men 289 Cover

June 1992 – “Knots”

For a 14 year old kid who had very little previous X-Men experience, this issue just came out of left field.  I just had very little X-Men experience.  This issue seemed to focus a lot on the relationship between Forge and Storm.  I had no idea they were a couple.  There was a single kiss towards the end of X-Tinction Agenda.  So all of a sudden, this one came along and it wasn’t necessarily my favorite X-Men issue, but as I grew to know more about Storm (and let’s face it – she wasn’t drawn by Jim Lee so at 14 I didn’t care too much about her) I appreciated this issue more.

This issue also brought in a recurring racist supporting character:  Bobby Drake’s (Iceman) father.  I don’t remember him ever showing up before, but he may have made appearances in the old X-Men series.  However this issue also brought back a story I didn’t think necessarily needed closing:  the cyborgs from Japan from Louise Simonson’s last story on X-Factor.  I’ve since gone back and read that two part story – and thought it was a bit boring and silly.  But as Uncanny 289 and 290 would be Portacio’s last issues, maybe it made sense.

A great photograph of the original X-Men
A great photograph of the original X-Men

SYNOPSIS

The issue starts off with a tour of the X-Mansion for the newest “kid”, Bishop.  Imagine a fanboy visiting Marvel studios for the first time.  Well, that’s how Bishop comes across.  He also seems to try and flirt with Storm but gets shot down.  Of course, we realize also that something else may be bothering her.  Elsewhere, Forge and Iceman are chatting as Iceman gets ready for a date.  Like Storm, something seems to be bothering Forge.

The scene shifts and we see some long haired guy spying on Iceman’s parents.  This man is Hiro, the same guy who kidnapped Opal back in the X-Factor days.  A police officer catches him spying, but Hiro easily beats the officer into submission and continues his stalking.

Back at the mansion, Iceman is finishing his grooming, discussing his love life with Archangel.  Iceman leaves and suddenly, a younger version of Angel shows up, dressed up in Angel’s old X-Man garb.  Archangel attacks the impostor as his frustration over what was done to him comes out.  The impostor beaten, it changes shape to reveal Mystique.  The commotion spills into the hallway and attracts the attention of Storm, Bishop, and Forge.  Storm reprimands Mystique (as does Xavier mentally).  Archangel refuses the professor’s summons and flies out through the window.  Forge leaps to Mystique’s defense as she was only trying to reach out to Archangel.  The argument then shifts to Forge against Storm, indicating that the problems affecting them earlier in the issue have to do with their relationship (or the lack thereof).

Storm confronts Forge and he admits to her that his problem is the complete lack of interaction they have had since she has resumed leadership of the X-Men.  Storm acknowledges the distance she’s placed between them.  Forge professes his love for her and finalizes it by asking Storm to marry him.

Meanwhile, Iceman shows up with Opal and dinner with his parents.  His father refuses to even shake Opal’s hand (this is their first meeting).  Before an argument can get out of hand, Hiro shows up, warning Iceman of an attack.  Not from Hiro, rather the attack is from the remainder of Hiro’s clan who shows up.

One of my favorite Archangel scenes!
One of my favorite Archangel scenes!

REVIEW

Okay…  so it’s not that I hate issues without a lot of action.  I love them, in fact.  The X-Men have always seemed more a family to me and those issues helped to solidify this belief.  But this issue just felt lacking in most places.  Maybe because I’ve never been the biggest fan of Bishop or maybe because although Forge and Storm shared love in the Adversary’s world, she’s spent far more issues trying to kill him.  I would’ve loved for them to explore their relationship more, but the fact of the matter is that their relationship barely seemed to be an issue.  It was non-existent.  So when Forge suddenly proposes to Storm, my reaction was somewhat confused and, for the most part, I felt very little excitement or joy.

The other plot throughout this issue (and the next) was the resurgence of the cyber-ninjas from Japan (who first appeared in X-Factor #62 and 63).  My guess is this was Portacio’s attempt at wrapping up his own personal creations before leaving Marvel.  Who knows.  but I didn’t like them back in X-Factor and I didn’t like them now.  I never cared for Hiro.  Here was a true diverse couple:  a mutant and an Asian.  And what do the writers do?  Throw in another Asian to form a love triangle, because apparently the only one who can compete with Iceman is an Asian.  Maybe I’m looking too far into this, but that’s how I look at it now.  Although to be fair, I did like the subplot of Iceman’s dad being a racist.  Kind of added a nice wrench into the relationship.

The best part of this issue?  Mystique and Archangel’s confrontation.  That scene was fantastic, along with Archangel’s frustrations coming out.

As for the art, it was decent, but I realize now that Portacio’s best work is done with action scenes.  These quiet scenes do not work nearly as well.  I think my problem is really how he does facial expressions.  Most of the times they just look goofy.  All in all, it was a decent issue, but if you’re a Storm fan, you’ll probably really enjoy this and the next issue.

Forge proposes to Storm
Forge proposes to Storm

FAVORITE QUOTES

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Jean Grey:  “Professor, please.  What child is given the opportunity  to fly to the stars?  How many children battle alongside Asgardian thunder gods or super-soldiers?  You gave me, all of us, more than you took away.”

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Archangel:  “I had everything – EVERYTHING – and Apocalypse took it all away in a single night!”

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Storm:  “I have responsibilities to the team which…”

Forge:  “What about your responsibility to me – the man you love?!”

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William Drake (to Iceman and Opal):  “I think what the two of you is doing is vulgar.  I thought we brought you up better than that.”

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