I want you to think back for a minute to a time when you were knee deep in comics. I’m not talking about right now, but more along the lines of when you were younger. What MAJOR storyline was taking place in comics during this time in thought? Secret Wars? Crisis on Infinite Earths? Maximum Carnage? Or even newer stuff for those that just dove into comics a few years ago. Final Crisis? Civil War? It’s that one epic storyline you remember as a pivotal moment in comics.
One of those moments for me was X-Cutioner’s Song. Remember that? How could we forget! Cable was hot at that time, and anything that he was in, sold comics. It only made sense that the rebel leader to Xavier’s dream of Mutant/Human co-existence would clash heads at some point. Who knew it would be as staggering as this?! Let’s jump head first into part 1 of that epic 90’s saga that took place in all the X-titles at the time. Onward!!
It all starts out simply enough. Warren Worthington III, better known to us as Archangel, is preparing to take his love, Charlotte to a free concert in the middle of Central Park. As Warren rides with his date in style, the other X-Men are scattered throughout the city. Scott Summers and Jean Grey are in a pub, while across the street Iceman and Colossus are in a supermarket doing what every X-Men loves to do. They’re grocery shopping! Professor Xavier is at this concert too. He’s been invited to be a guest speaker for the crowd, but he’s not alone. Standing guard at various points in the crowd are none other than Gambit, Storm, Rogue and Bishop. A pretty good mix of X-Men, but it seems like on this day, everybody is just not as close as they want to be, or just have other things on their minds than watching over the same type of mutant-hating people they always do. It’ll come to haunt them. As Xavier starts his speech, a shot rings out from the crowd. Charles falls from his chair in a bloody mess, and just as the crowd starts to realize what just happened, the shooter reveals himself. It’s Cable! That’s when all hell breaks loose.
In order to start such an epic storyline like this, it has to be good. There is no other way around it. When X-Cutioner’s Song hit shelves, it was at a time when the X-titles had seen the most popularity of it’s run. The only problem was, all of the artists for the X-titles had left Marvel to form Image. Something had to be done, and seeing as this would be the first major crossover for the mutant titles since the start of X-Force and the self titled X-Men, the order was given.
Scott Lobdell’s writing is great. The way he starts the story really brings you in and it feels like it’s all a fresh start. That’s really what it is, if you look at it, and with that in mind, this makes for a great issue to have someone start on. Here, Scott excels. Each character feels as if they have their own part, with their own set of emotions. Gambit is written perfectly, with all his wit and charm, and even Storm holds true to character here. At first read, while the action is taking place, it can almost feel as if it’s too much. That’s at first glance. If you look at it just a little deeper, all the pieces fit. The X-Men are paired off, and each are attacked by someone different. It seems almost random at first, but it’s not. It’s very orchestrated, and Scott Lobdell’s writing really brings that across. It does falter just a little bit though with some dry dialogue and over extended fight scenes, but aside from that… Wow. What an issue.
Brandon Peterson’s artwork is visually striking. After the likes of Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio left Marvel, people had grown very used to a visual style with the X-books. Here, Brandon carries that as he keeps the visual tone of X-Men. It’s definitely his own style, that’s for sure, but you can see where he’s at least influenced by the likes of Lee and Portacio. That’s not bad. I dig the artwork here. It feels right, it’s animated and full of life. How much better can an artist really be?
When this came out, my friends and I were up in arms about it. I was 13 at the time, and I can still remember arguments over whether or not Cable really did shoot Xavier. Could he? Really? Why did he do that? It makes me smile just how into it we all were at the time. As the story progressed, talks got more heated until all was revealed. Wow!
The 90’s were all about just how big it could all be, and this epic storyline was no exception to the rule. If anything, it showed us just how dramatic a comic series could be. It’s that storyline that very well could stand the test of time and go down as one of the pivotal story-lines in comics history. When it came out, it sure caused a stir, and I think some of those ripples can still be felt today. That cover is just epic. I mean, look at it. Cable, towering over Xavier, who is lying bleeding on the ground. That cover says it all right there.
Parental concern: Some violence, but it’s approved by the comics code, so it’s cool.