If you want to know when I release these, I do have a twitter account (@psychodadcomics).  It makes me feel all warm and squishy inside to know that you might follow me.

Sorry for the delay, but it’s been hectic.  I closed on a house a little over a week ago and will be moving in around the 27th of May.  So from now until then, my comics posted may slow down.  That’s also why there was a delay.  Still, I’m really excited and I’m slowly moving things over there.  Most of my comics are over there already but I’m visiting twice a week so it’s easy enough to get more to read.

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So this kind of marks the start of the Road to Onslaught.  I know, he was first mentioned immediately after the Age of Apocalypse, but it was here that he really starts popping up, first with his herald, Post.  And while Onslaught isn’t the most popular crossover, it was definitely a big one, with a lot of build up (maybe that was the problem – too much build up and not enough delivery).  Oddly enough, with the exception of X-Men #50 (as you’ll see) I preferred the smaller stories leading up to Onslaught.

X-Men #50 (March 1996)

Writer:  Scott Lobdell
Artist:  Andy Kubert

I have mixed feelings about Onslaught (we’ll get to him in the next couple weeks) but this still remains such an awesome issue as we are introduced to Post, an emissary of Onslaught, who has kidnapped four of the X-Men and battles them and is seemingly indestructible until Cyclops, Storm, Iceman, and Wolverine finally overcome him.  The art is amazing (although if you can’t stand Andy Kubert you may feel differently) and the colors are vibrant and the story is action packed.  Definitely one of my favorites leading up to Onslaught.

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X-Men Unlimited #10 (March 1996)

Writer:  Mark Waid
Artist:  Frank Toscano, Nick Gnazzo

cover

Whew….I mean damn.  This was a twisted issue as we see Dark Beast attempt to take over his 616 counterpart but first he has to learn everything he can.  So he visits all sorts of people from Beast’s past…killing them in horrible ways after he learns what he needs to learn.  Almost kills Beast’s parents even.  Then?  Tricks Beast away and captures him, replacing him in the X-Men.  Would have been a better story if I could have stomached the art.

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Uncanny X-Men #331 (April 1996)

Writer:  Scott Lobdell
Artist:  Bryan Hitch

You know, for the past 10 years or so, we have gotten only a few issues like this.  I point it out often every time we get an issue from the 90’s (or before because the 80’s had plenty of these too) .  I really enjoy the issues where it’s all about personal growth.  No big bad or little bad to fight.  And here, Lobdell and Hitch give us a great tale of Iceman trying to understand how his powers work after his chest was shattered by Onslaught.  We also get to see the aftermath of X-Men Unlimited #10 as Dark Beast formally takes his place amongst the X-men.

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The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix #1-4 (June 1996 – September 1996)

Writer:  Peter Milligan
Artist:  John Paul Leon

I’m torn on whether or not this story really needed to be told.  I mean on one hand, it was great seeing the origin of Mr. Sinister and his ties to Apocalypse.  It was great seeing an early version of the Marauders.  But seriously?  Did we really need to include Cyclops and Jean here?  The original Adventures was a great tale and a great origin to Cable and it made plenty of sense for Cyclops and Jean to be there (Cyclops was his father and Jean his biological mother).  But here?  I guess I didn’t really see a point to it.  On top of it, Cyclops and Jean have to go back in time to stop Apocalypse’s rise to power.  But since the past is something that already happened, if Apocalypse was normally to gain power, then the future wouldn’t happen as we know it and Cyclops and Phoenix would never have been around to go back into the past to…ugh, I hate time travel stories sometimes.

If we can ignore that we didn’t need Cyclops and Jean here, it was a nice story, giving you insight into Sinister’s past, his wife, why he was the way he was, and even has some interesting cameos by Charles Darwin.  I’m not 100% sure, but I think this was also the first time we realize just how long Sinister had been around.

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Wolverine #100 (April 1996), Uncanny X-Men #332 (May 1996), Wolverine #101 (May 1996)

“Furnace of His Brain, Anvil of His Heart”
Writer:  Larry Hama, Artist:  Adam Kubert

Wolverine captured!  (cue ominous musical score)  Tyler/Genesis/Apocalypse (depending on which title he uses…but it’s all Cable’s son) observes Wolverine in a tank with all sorts of wires coming out.  With the help of his Dark Riders he prepares to rebond adamantium to Wolverine’s bones.  This is also part of his plan to resurrect the original Apocalypse.  Cannonball watches hidden from air vents.  As the adamantium process starts, Cannonball attacks, blasting through the Dark Riders and working on the machines.  Unfortunately, the Kentuckian is downed by Hurricane and the Riders go to work beating the south out of him!  But as Cannonball is about to lose consciousness, the process starts to fail.  Wolverine rejects the bonding and coupled with the damage done to the system by Cannonball, a massive feedback causes everything to explode right behind Hurricane, sending hundreds of shards of metal into the back and head of the Dark Rider (yeah…he’s dead).  Cannonball takes this moment to fly with Wolverine into the catacombs and the remaining Dark Riders pursue (of course turns out the explosion also killed Lifeforce by driving a shard completely through her head).  As Cannonball tries to catch his breath, the Dark Riders stalk him, not realizing that they are actually the hunted ones here.  Spyne dies first (or at least loses his tail).  Deadbolt falls next.  Gauntlet drops as well.  Finally, Genesis confronts Cannonball but Wolverine shows up, more feral than human.  Even as Wolverine and Genesis do battle, Cannonball opens up Apocalypse’s sarcophagus only to find it empty!  We’re left wondering if Genesis was just completely nuts or if Apocalypse got up and walked away.  Wolverine finally leaves a dead Genesis on the floor.  He escapes, leaving Cannonball alone.

“The Road to Casablanca”
Writer:  Scott Lobdell, Artist:  Joe Madureira

A feral Wolverine is on the run, followed by…Elektra?  I wasn’t really following Wolverine’s own comic so I didn’t know why, but…Elektra?  Meanwhile, Cannonball has returned to report on Wolverine’s troubles and he, Iceman, Cyclops and Phoenix are waiting for Professor Xavier from Ms. Culloden (she works for Landau Luckman and Lake…some interdimensional law firm…I guess she’s been in Wolverine a bit?  like I said, I wasn’t really following Wolverine).  But Ms. Culloden is being difficult, refusing to give Xavier the information he needs, even going so far as shooting him point blank in the head.  Of course, turns out that was just in her head and Xavier can play dirty too (this was a great scene by the way…it shows you how Xavier is really starting to break down).  The X-Men are sent off to Ozymandias’ cave (he’s Apocalypse’s scribe) where Wolverine ends up.  Ozymandias causes the rocks to come alive, representing virtually all villainous mutant in the X-Men’s world.  They’re not much of a threat but the sheer number of them overwhelms the X-Men, as Cyclops falls and disappears into a chasm.

“The Helix of an Age Foretold”
Writer:  Larry Hama, Artist:  Val Semeiks

Wolverine slashes through the stone mutant doppelgangers and jumps into the pit after Cyclops.  Jean works on taking down the stone Magneto while Cannonball and Iceman trash who they can.  Wolverine manages to find an unconscious Cyclops and drags him to the surface using his TEETH.  yes.  Wolverine is gone at this point, more of an animal.  Once back at the surface, Wolverine protects Cyclops as stoned Magneto (hehe) sends tons of rock on top of her.  Cyclops wakes up to find her buried and obliterates Magneto with a single blast.  With stone Mags gone, Ozymandias realizes the battle is lost and causes the rock spire to collapse to cover his retreat.  Of course Wolverine is little more than an animal and growls at both Sam and Bobby trying to check on Scott.  Jean is the only one who can get close.  The five muties then bug out before the cavern collapses.

I wanted to like this little crossover.  Really I did.  I even really enjoyed it when it first came out.  But the more I read it?  The more I really disliked it.  I mean, there were parts that were okay.  The banter between Iceman and Cannonball was good (Iceman joking about the Defenders and then giving Sam grief over his use of “gosh”) and the art in Uncanny was awesome (as always) and even Adam Kubert’s art in Wolverine was decent (I’ve never been his biggest fan).  But the art in Wolverine 101 was horrible.  It was like he was trying to emulate Adam Kubert and failing miserably.
Seeing Wolverine pick off the Dark Riders little at a time was great too.  But ultimately, this story fell flat.  I can’t stand Wolverine become more and more feral (almost to a silly degree).  He’s even able to talk at first (asks Sam to apologize to Cable for killing Tyler).  But then he just growls.  And that’s it.  acts like a dog.  I mean, I get that it was what he was going through at this time and I’m not really following his own title, but it was just a stupid idea.
There was also the idea (and this gripe isn’t just about this arc but it’s very prominent in these three issues) of Cannonball going from a badass leader of X-Force (even displaying tactics on par with Cable and Cyclops) to some green whiny X-Man.  I understand it was supposed to be all about hero worship for him, but the writers (all of them) took it too far.  And he shows up like this in both the Wolverine titles AND X-Men.  Especially when he’s the same age as some of the younger X-Men.

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