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And of course, it’s New Comic Wednesday!  New comics for the day:  Batman the Red Death, First Strike G.I. Joe, Jean Grey #7, justice League #29, The Wildstorm #7, and X-Men Gold #12!

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 Onslaught:  Marvel Universe (October 1996)

cover

With Great Power
[Onslaught, Finale]

Writers:  Scott Lobdell & Mark Waid
Penciler:  Adam Kubert w/ Joe Bennett
Inkers:  Dan Green w/ Art Thibert, Tim Townsend, and Jesse Delperdang

We pick up right where X-Men #56 left off, with Xavier looking up at a towering Onslaught, helpless to act and debating Onslaught on the merits of his war with everybody.  Suddenly, several blasts of energy strike Onslaught, engulfing him in a fiery explosion as Rogue scoops up the Professor.  The entirety of the X-Men stand before Onslaught, ready to take him down.  But Onslaught is too powerful.  The X-Men try but Xavier is forced to watch as his X-Men are struck down.

But then, as the mist clears, the X-Men are joined by the Fantastic Four, Avengers, and pretty much everybody else they could muster.  Of course, Onslaught isn’t intimidated.  He launches his attack again, scattering the heroes.  Inside Onslaught (or in the other dimension Onslaught is using…I never understood that), Franklin and Nate Grey watch things unfold.  X-Man seems hopeless, but Franklin won’t give up.

Cyclops

Outside, the ground starts to shake and several look up to see a second sun filling the sky, created out of nothing by Franklin’s power (which is now Onslaught’s power).  Cyclops (demonstrating why he leads), sends Thor, Storm, and Crystal to contain the resulting storms.

Meanwhile, Dr. Doom is devising a plan to breach Onslaught’s shield.  Rogue and Vision merge.  Wolverine creates a small tear with his claws.  Giant-Man and Namor use their strength to widen the breach and Rogue/Vision fly through and strike Onslaught.  However, they are both repelled (Vision somewhat fatally).  And Onslaught seems unharmed.  But suddenly he howls in pain and his field drops.  That’s when Hulk has an idea.

Vision

He asks Jean Grey to mentally turn off the “Banner” side of his personality.  To unleash the true rage of the Hulk.  And boy does it work.  Hulk, the strongest there is (as he so loves to remind us), takes on Onslaught and it’s like two forces of nature crashing into each other.  And finally, although Onslaught appears victorious, Hulk delivers one final blow and creates a massive explosion.

When the dust settles, Banner has been separated from the Hulk (don’t ask how…reality bending powers and such shit) and Onslaught’s armor lays scattered, broken.  But it’s not over.  Instead, there is a giant blue mass of energy as Onslaught has now been freed from the physical world and is now pure thought (again…whatever that means…but, comics…).  Since he no longer has a physical form, they cannot harm him.  So what does Thor do?

Hulk

He charges right in and begins to absorb the energy.  Thing and Torch see this and they dive right in as well.  Then several avengers dive in.  Quicksilver, Crystal, and Wolverine prepare to enter but Mr. Fantastic stops them.  Since Onslaught began life as a mutant, another mutant would just undo what they were doing.  So Crystal knocks down Quicksilver and dives in herself.  Iron Man drags Dr. Doom (effectively murdering someone) into the mass and Hawkeye follows.  Then, Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman dive in.

And the X-Men attack, unleashing everything they have…still at just a blob of energy.  Until finally, Bruce wakes up and adds one more body to Onslaught and finally Onslaught explodes and collapses.  Joseph and Xavier reach out for X-Man and Franklin, pulling them out of the pocket dimension just before it collapses.  And just like that…Onslaught is over.  The heroes are dead.  New York is in ruins.

x-man and professor x

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So here it is.  The end of the Onslaught saga.  Other than Age of Apocalypse, this was probably the biggest storyline Marvel had attempted to date.  I’ve made no secret of my dislike for this crossover as a whole, but before I get into bitching about everything here, how about I start with what this did right?

As an issue, this book wasn’t too bad up until Onslaught’s armor cracked.  It was encouraging, hopeful, epic…all the things you’d expect from the final part to a saga.  Remember Return of the Jedi?  Yeah, something like that.  Unfortunately, then Onslaught’s armor cracked and all the ewoks started spilling out.  Wait….that’s not right.  I think I’m mixing up my analogies.

My point is, this book started out having heart, something Lobdell and his scripts excel at.  After all, with such a mess of a storyline and poor plot, it’s a testament to Lobdell’s handling of emotions that he is able to make you feel at this story.

Overall, the crossover did bring together a lot of the MU which is always nice to see.  The interaction between the Fantastic Four and the X-Men is one I especially enjoy because, unlike the Avengers who are a team and nothing more, both the FF and X-Men have always been more like families.

But that….that was it.  Look, I admit it, I liked Onslaught when I first read it.  I mean how cool was it to see the X-Men fighting alongside everybody else, working to save the world.  But seriously…look at it skeptically.

First of all, with this particular issue…  the art was inconsistent.  Kubert’s stuff was actually on point but every time Joe Bennett chipped in, there was a drop in quality.  And it was noticeable.

And then everything else will sound nitpicky, so I apologize, but every time I read this book, I can’t help but notice it.  I mean, how come it took exactly the right amount of heroes?  It literally took every single non-mutant there.  No more, no less.  It’s not like Reed went in but left Sue behind to care for Franklin (we’ll come back to that).  No.  It magically required the exact number that were already there.  And how about some of the other street level heroes in New York?  Luke Cage?  Iron Fist?  SPIDER-MAN???  You mean to tell me that Ben Reilly (don’t get me started on the clone crap) wouldn’t swing on by to see if he could help?  And as a parent, I also have a big problem with both Invisible Woman and Reed jumping into the blob.  Franklin was still out there.  No parent in their right mind would leave their child an orphan.  NONE.  This contradicts everything about them.  I get that they were trying to save the world, but considering that they didn’t even know how many people it would take to contain Onslaught, it was ridiculous of them to do so.

Fantastic and Invisible

Oh…and let’s not forget Force Works and the Black Panther’s entourage and every Inhuman was out there AND DIDN’T JOIN IN.  ugh!

But ultimately, I don’t blame Mark Waid.  Or Even Scott Lobdell (at least not entirely).  I blame the editors.  I blame the management.  Because this was so clearly a clumsy way of rebooting Marvel’s struggling franchises (which is why Spider-Man was spared).  The Heroes Reborn were coming, some of the great artists who left to form Image were coming back to breath new life into these lines that were simply not doing well.  And so Marvel figured “we’ve got this big bad villain, let’s have him kill off all the heroes we’re rebooting” and that forced the writers to come up with a way of only killing them and no X-Men.  Although honestly, I think if Xavier had died, it would have been fitting.  I think this might have meant more if the X-Men had really suffered.

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And thus endeth one of the biggest cross-overs Marvel has ever done (until more recent books such as AvX and Secret Empire where the individual books tie into smaller events).  I will admit, I loved Onslaught at first.  It was such an epic story and admittedly, some of the individual stories I still hold in high regard.  But I also view Onslaught as kind of the turning point…or maybe tipping point…of the 90’s.  Marvel started a downhill slide that it would take some drastic changes to recover from.  It’s not that every story was progressively worse, but you could see Marvel trying to pull out of this tailspin and instead of turning into the skid, they kept trying to correct throughout all of the 90’s.  And it didn’t really work until Morrison took over the X-Men.

Whew.  I feel like I’ve been covering Onslaught for months.  But I guess at 2 reviews a week…I kind of have been.  But it’s been fun.  I’m looking forward to moving on to non-Onslaught titles but for my next review, I’ll be doing something slightly different.

I did a list of times Kitty has verbally taken somebody to the woodshed…and I have been compiling more times ever since then.  And now that Onslaught is done, I’m going to revisit this for the Kitty Monologues, part 2!

Watcher

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