Uncanny X-Men #337
In the wake of Onslaught's assault on New York and the shocking revelation that the villain destined to betray the X-Men was born from the mind of Charles Xavier, Uncanny X-Men #337 takes a breather between massive events to catch up with several of our merry mutants!
To call this story a very “human” tale would do the issue a diservice but still there is something of the like to be said about this issue. It is full of the mundane. The conversations that occur between various characters in this issue seem like the sorts that are normally the space between action. There are no villains breaking down the doors of the mansion to fill the space between events but rather this issue is entirely dedicated to taking a breath and playing catch-up. From Betsy’s changes to Pietro’s loss, every panel in this issue is dedicated to the relationships between this cast of misfit mutants.
The moments between Wolverine (in his beastial era) and Xavier are among the most tedious in hindsight, although at the time they felt more powerful to a 15 year old me. For readers of my generation, this issue marks a turning point in the development of Charles Xavier– one in which is arrogance and selfishness begins to solidify into something that will marr the character for decades to come. Here we see Xavier powerless and idignant about it while Logan plays the role of cheerleader and moral compass. While Xavier laments his mistakes and condemns Logan for thinking his experiences could possibly compare to his own (yuck), presidential-hopeful Graydon Creed reminds us that however far into the gutter political rhetoric seems now, it hasn’t changed quite as much as we think as he echoes words from our much more recent past. By the end of the issue, neither character emerges looking much better than the other, however, although it took a nearly 25 year later reading to realize that.
Joe Maduriera provides the pencils for this issue to the delight of many fans from the 90s. The man known by many as Mad! is something of an enigma for the comics faithful. He burst onto the scene, defined a distinct era for the X-Men, and then barring the occassional return or series, vanished into the world of video games. Looking back on his style (which is perfectly captured in this particular issue), he is clearly a harbinger of the soon-to-be influx of Eastern art styles in the West. With bold, black outlines and accentuated physical features, there is no mistaking his work for the work of somebody else. It was distinctive. His layouts frequently utilized negative space in an uncommon way for the period. Love him or hate him, you knew damn sure it was him.
Is it strange to say this issue is simultaneously self-contained and utterly connected to everything that surrounded it? Perhaps, but that is the case here. You can see the era of “writing to the trade” on the near horizon but it isn’t here yet and that makes issues like this one possible. Gone were the days of endless self-contained issues but the era of the mega-arc was still just out of reach. Finding issues like this one is like finding that one last piece of chocolate in a full candy jar.
It's Sunday and that means breakfast time in the X-Mansion! Join Comic Watch as we look back at a quietly underrated, classic actionless issue-- Uncanny X-Men #337 (Lobdell, Maduriera).
SUNDAY CLASSICS: Uncanny X-Men #337: The Day Ya Stop Changing…
Writing - 9/10
Storyline - 10/10
Art - 8.5/10
Color - 9/10
Cover Art - 10/10
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