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February 1993 – “Up and Around”

If I had to give you one thing that I miss about the early 90’s X-Men, it would be issues like this one.  This is what is missing without Claremont and Lobdell.  Very few of the writers since then have taken time to show the X-Men as a family.  Stories like these are why, even as a stupid 15 year old teenager, I preferred X-Men over Avengers.  It’s also one of the reasons I get really nostalgic about the 90’s.  It wasn’t because of Jim Lee.  Heck, there have been plenty of artists that I rank up there with him.  It’s because you never get the X-Men just relaxing and interacting like a family anymore.

But I digress.  This issue was one of the better “epilogues” of major cross-overs.  It was also the first X-Men issue to make me experience real emotion at these characters.  The scenes between Jubilee/Xavier and Gambit/Rogue are incredibly touching and make this issue one of my favorites, even all these years later.

Don't mess with the guy carrying the varnish.
Don’t mess with the guy carrying the varnish.

SYNOPSIS

The scene opens with Archangel carrying Beast through the air at night.  They land in a pile of rubble.  Beast whips out tools and they begin repairing what was, until recently, Harry’s Hideaway.  At the mansion, Rogue sits alone by the pool, still blinded after being wounded by Strobe during the X-Cutioner’s Song.  Gambit arrives and despite her protests, asking to be left alone, he sits down next to her.  On the other side of the mansion, Jubilee is taking some time to rollerblade (for those of you who didn’t live during the 90’s, rollerblades are shoes with a single row of wheels on them – deathtraps in shoe form).  She comes across a walking Professor Xavier, his legs temporarily healed from the techno virus he was infected with.  Needless to say, she’s a bit shocked.

This issue isn’t great because of what happens to the characters.  This issue is great because of what happens between the characters.  For the first time in a while (maybe even the first time since before the Mutant Massacre), the X-Men are seen behaving as a family.  So let’s break it down between them.  This issue focuses on only 6 characters.  In fact, it doesn’t just focus on them, it has ONLY those 6.  Beast and Archangel take it upon themselves to fix up Harry’s Hideaway.  The interaction between them truly feels like the joking that goes on between old friends.  Archangel finds out that when Beast wrote a term paper for him in their school days, Beast had then told Xavier about it and then Xavier changed the report to a mental one and Archangel had to stand there without a single thought in his head.  Of course, Beast only did this after he cashed the check.  Archangel responds to this revelation by spraying Beast with wood varnish.  The reaction between the two (including when Beast tries to give Archangel a noogie) is fantastic and is one of the few issues, ever, to really bring a smile to my face.

Gambit and Rogue’s interactions are much more somber.  Rogue, who is still feeling the interactions from Strobe’s attack during the cross-over and is still essentially blind, is having a hard time dealing with her disability.  This has caused her to push away the one man who has been showing her more compassion than anyone lately:  Gambit.  But Gambit, to his credit, refuses to allow her to wallow.  Up until this point, it seemed as though Gambit was just being a ladies’ man, but here you finally realize that he does, in fact, deeply care for Rogue.  Somebody who was just in it for the fling would’ve easily left.  Their interaction ends at sunrise when Gambit returns to her, wrapping her up in a blanket for warmth and holding her.  For the romantic in me, it was a very touching scene.

Professor Xavier and Jubilee perhaps have the most meaningful and emotional interaction.  it starts with Jubilee rollerblading when she comes across a Professor Xavier who is walking.  Due to the techno-organic virus Stryfe had infected him with, he temporarily has use of his legs and he is taking the time to feel the grass on his bare feet.  Jubilee, has a better idea.  She convinces Xavier to strap on some roller blades and takes him for a spin.  Of course, a middle-aged man putting on roller blades for the first time would be cause for alarm.  Consider how bad this is for a man who has been in a wheelchair much of his adult life.  Still, Xavier manages to stay upright, but is terrified the entire time.  Jubilee decides to have a little fun and steers him right into the pool!  The two huddle up under blankets, drying off, sharing a “moment” (Jubilee refers to Xavier as “normal”) until Xavier rises to his feet, shakily, and begins to walk back to his wheelchair.  Jubilee, seeing that he is struggling, does something no one would expect her to do:  she prays.  The answer to that prayer is her realization that she can be the one to help him and she rushes to him and gives him a shoulder to lean on as he makes his way to his chair.

Gambit Rogue

REVIEW

No issue up to this point had ever brought any emotion to the surface like this one.  Granted, I wasn’t reading X-Men when Jean Grey first died, so any issue in the 80’s are read with already knowing what happened.  Still, I think this is the great part about Scott Lobdell’s writing.  He knows how to write dialogue to instill emotions in the reader.  He really makes you care about these characters and is great at character development.  At this point in my life, I never expected to enjoy an issue like I enjoyed this one considering there was absolutely no action at all.  No bad guys.  Just family.  I really do miss this about the X-Men (although I think Bendis has been doing a decent job of late).

The art is above average.  Brandon Peterson puts some great faces in the comic (such as Jubilee’s lip sucking when she is praying for Xavier to have a little strength to reach his chair).  He definitely improves over the years (I remember being fairly impressed with his work on Astonishing X-Men years later) but even here, I think he does a good job at conveying the emotion Scott Lobdell writes.

Overall, I think it speaks volumes of this issue to have such an impact on a 15 year old kid.  It’s a slow issue, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to read than any other issue.  Some issues I always dread reading when I do this, but some issues, like this one, I always look forward to.

Xavier Jubilee

 

FAVORITE QUOTES

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Rogue:  “Remy, if ya have any feelings for me, any at all, leave me alone.”

Gambit:  “S’funny.  My  feelings for you are the very same reason I’m stayin’.”

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Jubilee:  “What are you scared about?  You’re a natural.  Most dudes practice hours before they get this good.”

Professor X:  “I am hardly scared.  But should I die, a copy of my will  can be found in the upper right-hand drawer in my study.”

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Jubilee:  “Look, whoever up there is in charge of these things…?  Give the dude a break, huh?  It’s only a few more steps…  Please?”

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Best Jubilee scene ever.
Best Jubilee scene ever.

Check out my Previous Post on Uncanny X-Men #294!

Or wait for my next Post on X-Men Unlimited #1!

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