UXM 312 cvr

May 1994 – “Romp”

SYNOPSIS

At the end of the previous issue, Storm is meeting an old friend, Yukio, for dinner.  Turns out, Yukio was running from something that has caught up with her.  This issue starts with them leaping out of a window as an explosion blows out the walls.  The metallic monstrosity chases them across the rooftops.  Finally Storm carries Yukio and takes to the air (we also learn at this point that this thing calls itself the Phalanx).  Down on the street, Gambit, atop a motorcycle, flirts with a rather attractive lady, but his flirtation is cut short by the sound of thunder from downtown.  In the air, Storm obliterates the creature following her.  They land to investigate the pieces when it suddenly reconstructs itself and blasts Yukio.  Storm summons a gust of wind to tear the creature apart and then tends to her friend, learning that Yukio is not nearly as selfless as she lets other believe (turns out she’s a member of Xavier’s underground, but to be honest, I don’t remember hearing about any such thing until this issue).  Even as Storm helps her friend, a citizen has taken a baseball bat to beating the remains of the creature while several bystanders cheer him on and a police officer on horseback comes onto the scene.

girlfriends having fun!
girlfriends having fun!

Storm attempts to push through the crowd, trying to get the overzealous baseball player to stop when suddenly, the mechanical pieces again reconstruct themselves, grabbing the man and swallowing him.  Despite Storm and the officer’s best efforts, the man is completely engulfed (and presumably killed) and the Phalanx grabs hold of Storm.  Storm destroys the ground beneath it, but it won’t be deterred as the Phalanx continues its assault on Storm and Yukio.

Suddenly, Gambit rides his motorcycle into the air, tossing four charged cards at the Phalanx, forcing the creature to release its grip on the women.  Storm then generates an intense cold, making the Phalanx brittle and she quickly disperses a portion with her winds.  At this point, it might be of some note that apparently Yukio and Gambit know each other from years ago and she’s not too pleased with him.  Gambit plows his bike into the phalanx.  Storm then takes off with him and Yukio and Gambit throws one last object at the creature, igniting the full tank of gas and blowing the creature apart.

The shock wave from the explosion, knocks the trio to the ground.  As they recover, the woman from earlier (read up a couple paragraphs – Gambit flirted with her) shows up, brandishing a government badge.  However, before any real words can be exchanged, the Phalanx reforms itself into a single, gigantic being.  Gambit mentions to the FBI agent that it would be a good time to call for reinforcements.  Unfortunately, the FBI agent was not there to help the mutants.  She, too, is part of the Phalanx.

Back at the X-Mansion, Beast is performing CPR on Iceman (don’t ask – it has to do with last issue, which I’m not going to get into).  Meanwhile, Professor Xavier indicates that he is sensing mental activity from the supposedly comatose White Queen.

It's not much, but this is one of my favorite scenes in the issue!
It’s not much, but this is one of my favorite scenes in the issue!

REVIEW/THOUGHTS/SNIDE COMMENTS

Growing up, this was one of my favorite issues.  I absolutely loved the art and the writing.  This may not have been as personal an issue as #308, but the art and coloring was just so incredible.

The dialogue between the characters, whether it’s between Storm/Yukio, Storm/Gambit, or Beast to himself, is fantastic and humorous and really fits in well with who these characters have always been.  This is also one of the few issues to feature Storm and Yukio’s friendship (although I could be wrong, the last issue was somewhere in the 170’s when the X-Men went to Japan) and it’s great to see them together.  Gambit, of course, has a very flirtatious relationship with Storm (non-romantic, though) and Lobdell scripts that perfectly.  And of course, Beast babbles due to nervousness.  Once again, Lobdell demonstrates his ability to show character just through dialogue and does it better than almost all X-Men writers since, with only a few exceptions.

The art is one of those that you either love it or hate it.  I have found very few people that just “sorta like” Joe Madureira’s work.  Personally, i absolutely loved it.  It blended perfectly Japanese anime with comic book illustrations and fit perfectly in with the action of the issue.  Sure, the hands are too big, and everything is angular, but it really did seem to work.  He remains one of my favorite artists of the 90’s, right up there with Jim Lee, and definitely better than JR JR.  It’s definitely a new look for the title and one that succeeded.

This issue is also the first appearance of the Phalanx as everybody would recognize them.  I put it that way because in Uncanny #305 and 306, the Phalanx make their first appearance, but they show up more as a mass of flesh and are somewhat disgusting.  They would later make a bigger appearance in the major crossover at the end of the year.

It’s hard to pick out my favorite scenes, but one does stand out.  Seeing the patrol officer and Storm work together (in vain) to free the citizen from the Phalanx’s grip, reminds the reader of why the X-Men do what they do.  At that point, Storm is no longer some freak and weirdo.  She, like the cop, is someone doing a thankless job at trying to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  Unfortunately, sometimes they fail, but at least they make the effort together.

When this issue came out, I didn’t yet have any real “subscription” at any of my local comic shops.  I would often not pick up X-Men issues until a few weeks after they came out.  Unfortunately, this issue sold out quickly.  Madureira was such a hugely popular artist that this and the following issues were a royal pain in the ass to get.  If I remember correctly, I didn’t manage to pick them up until a couple years later, although a friend of mine had these so I was able to read them.  These were also what inspired me to open up an account at my local comic shop (which I’ve had for the past 22 years).

The Phalanx makes the same mistake every villain makes:  it underestimated Storm.
The Phalanx makes the same mistake every villain makes: it underestimated Storm.

FAVORITE QUOTES

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Yukio:  “No way, Wind Rider.  I’m not taking the blame for this!  Well, not entirely, anyway…”

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Storm:  “*sigh*  You are as insane as you have always been.”

Yukio:  “Thank you.”

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Gambit:  “Yo, Robot-Man.  I got news for you.  Aside from swallowing de metal, rubber, and leather, you gulped down de gasoline too.  Flammable gasoline.  All it needs is a little spark.  And an ace up my sleeve.”

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things go boom...
things go boom…
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