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November 1992 – “Overture”

Some comics you remember because they coincided with memorable event in your life.  Some comics you remember because they were a truly enjoyable read.  Sometimes, like with this issue, it’s both.

First of all, unlike with X-Tinction Agenda, I won’t be doing the entire cross-over.  I loved X-Cutioner’s Song, but with 12 issues, it’ll take me a couple months at least to get through them all and I want to proceed through the 90’s, not because I hate the 90’s but because there’s just so much great comics to cover.  So maybe at some point I’ll go through the entire cross-over (heck, maybe I’ll try and get every single issue in every cross-over) but for now, I’m just going to cover the issue that kicked off what was, for me, the best cross-over up to this point (of course at this point I’d only read X-Tinction Agenda and Muir Island Saga) and still remains one of my favorites to date.

So, I mentioned that this coincided with a memorable event.  It’s not that it was some game changing event in my life.  But I remember this issue so well (all of the X-Cutioner’s Song issues) because for the three months they were out, I was grounded from buying comics.  I’m not going to get into what I did, but suffice to say, I never did it again.  I managed to convince my mom to allow me to order them and I just wouldn’t read them until after I was off grounding.  So I ordered all of them from American Comics and Entertainment and my mom kept them hidden until my 2-3 months were up.  It sucked but at least I didn’t miss out on them.

Meet the Newest Horseman, Death!
Meet the Newest Horseman, Death!

The X-Cutioner’s Song as a whole was very well paced for the most part.  It lacked the dramatic structure of X-Tinction Agenda (i.e. the definitive 3 acts) but it was incredible action packed with plenty of development.  I think the only real problem is that it didn’t focus on very many characters and I was a bit disappointed by the lack of interaction between Cannonball and Cable.  But it finally did wrap up the relationship between Stryfe, Cable, Cyclops and Jean.  The first issue manages to start if off perfectly, throwing them into chaos and ending just as a great show would end a season.

SYNOPSIS

The story starts out innocently enough.  A white-skinned Archangel is ushering in police sergeant Charlotte Jones into a limo with flowers.  Elsewhere, in central park, a massive crowd has gathered to watch Lila Cheney’s concert.  Bishop and Rogue are acting as  plain clothes security.  However, underneath the stage, a couple of humans plant bombs, intending on blowing up the stage when Professor Xavier makes his planned, but secret, speech.  Someone else has other plans, though.  Both are killed by energy blasts from Cable who intends it to be him that kills Xavier.

Back at Westchester, Cyclops and Jean are eating lunch.  Unfortunately, Cyclops is daydreaming about Psylocke (idiot).  Jean, however, is a telepath.  She immediately realizes it.  In the store across the street, Iceman and Colossus are…shopping?  It’s funny because that’s one of those mundane things you never really think about them having to do.  Who cares about getting food for an entire extended family when there are super villains to fight?

Back at the concert, Gambit and Storm talk beneath a tree, X-Factor relaxes in a New York hotel room, it’s all very normal.  Very peaceful.  Of course that all ends during Cyclops’ and Jean’s talk about their relationship.  Cyclops admits to being attracted to Psylocke, but his true love is and always has been Jean.  That disgusts the being spying on them and their old friend Caliban, how extremely enlarged thanks to Apocalypse’s machinations, drops in on them.  The scene shifts to the crowd at the concert where Lila Cheney introduces Xavier to speak to the crowd about mutant/human relations.  Of course most of the crown yells slurs and insults.  One even suggests to shoot the “mutant loving gimp”.  Cable, of course, is listening and smashes the man into a wall, wanting him to remain quiet.

Professor X

Back at Salem Center, Colossus and Iceman notice people fleeing in terror from the bar with Cyclops and Jean.  They spring into action but are interrupted by two of Apocalypse’s horsemen of death:  War and Famine.  In the park, Xavier gives a passionate speech about equality and treating others well.  Unfortunately, his speech is not well received.  Suddenly, a shot is fired from the crowd and strikes Xavier in the head.  The shooter is revealed to be Cable!  At Salem Center, Caliban breaks past Cyclops’ optic blast and Jean’s telekinesis.  As he takes them both, he reveals that he is no longer Caliban, but the horseman Death!  Outside, Famine is defeated when she tries to use her powers on Colossus and they rebound back to her.  War takes the fight personally but is quickly defeated by Colossus who takes the time to rant about his frustrations regarding Mikhail (his brother who supposedly committed suicide last issue).

At the park, Archangel springs into action, turning off his image inducer, revealing his blue skin and metal wings.  Cable takes a shot and blows a hole in Archangel’s wings.  Satisfied that Xavier will die, Cable teleports away before Archangel’s wing knives can find their mark.

In Arizona, the remaining members of X-Force are working to get their television working (after jury rigging parts from the SHIELD craft they stole) in an effort to watch Lila’s concert.  The picture finally shows up.  Although there is no sound, they do not need any.  They can see Xavier shot and they can see his assailant:  Cable.

REVIEW

This is another of those issues that I absolutely loved as a child and to be honest, I haven’t really changed my opinion.  As the start to a major cross-over event, this is one of the best.  It builds the tension and quickly flips between various scenes to keep the reader interested.  It’s like a good movie.  Everything starts off calm, and we get to see several interpersonal moments between several characters we don’t often get to see.  After all, Archangel and Charlotte Jones haven’t interacted since X-Factor (and unfortunately won’t ever again as a couple).

The cross-over as a whole is also one of my favorites.  The art is good all around (although we don’t have talent like Jim Lee, but the other artists do a pretty damn good job).  The action never lets up and nothing ever really feels out of place.  It all belongs and all (with very few exceptions) serve to advance the story.  The only real complaint I have is how little a role X-Force has in this.  Once they are captured, only Cannonball ever really has anything to do with the story.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that he gets to somewhat star, but even at the very end, when you’ve got a great potential for growth between him and Cable, we still don’t get to see much because Cable, of course, “dies”.

Caliban 2

The art for this particular issue is probably the worst of the bunch, but that’s not saying much.  Brandon Peterson sometimes draws things a bit over the top.  What I mean by that is ridiculous forearms on guys and the hair on the women is just silly.  Seriously, my wife has sometimes had a lot of hair and unless you do something with it, it just gets everywhere.  I understand it’s just a style preference, but I don’t particularly enjoy it.

I know some people may disagree with me on this, but X-Cutioner’s Song is still one of my favorite X-Men cross-overs and this issue kicks it off perfectly.  You read this issue and you are immediately craving the next.  You can’t ask for much more.  Especially because, unlike X-Tinction Agenda, the next issue is just as good and the art is just as enjoyable.

Archangel

FAVORITE QUOTES

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Rogue:  “Believe it or not, Bishop, the X-Men managed to function as the mutant team supreme long before ya stumbled in t’camp Xavier t’tell us peons how it’s done.”

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Storm:  “Perhaps you use the word ‘friend’ too freely?”

Gambit:  “Ah, Stormy, you wound me!”

Storm:  “I may if you keep calling me that”

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Cable/Stryfe:  “Shush.  It’s rare that a man has a chance to deliver his own eulogy.”

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Caliban:  “In the months I was part of your ‘family’ you never once asked my real name!  But all that is behind us now because I no longer answer to ‘Caliban’!  I am the fourth Horseman of Apocalypse!  I am DEATH!”

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For those of you coming in late, check out my other reviews!

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