Wednesday, May 25, 2011

X-men Marathon: Uncanny X-men #303

I don't know that this comic is one many people think of very often when it comes to some of the best issues of X-men out there. However, it does stress its own importance right on the cover.

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The Jubilee of the 90s cartoon was mostly a whiny brat. Jubilee of the comics also had her annoying moments, but she also had some really strong moments where she got to shine. Much like Uncanny X-men #297, #303 showed us this teenager slowly becoming an adult, and that is a large part of the reason I like it a lot.


Like I mentioned in my previous review, the end of the X-Cutioner's Song storyline saw the release of the legacy virus. The legacy virus was essentially the X-men way of dealing with the AIDS epidemic that was going on at the time - the X-men as mutants and outsiders were always an easy metaphor for homosexuals and others who are different than "normal" people in society, and just as AIDS was originally thought to be a disease that only effected homosexuals, here we have a virus that only effects mutants. Eventually, it would be transmitted to humans as well, but at this point in the storyline very little was known about the disease at all.

Since the first person to be struck by the disease is a young child it makes sense that we would see this issue told through the eyes of another young mutant trying to make sense of it all. The issue is all about Jubilee trying to make sense of death, and it really applies to any death following an illness:

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I'm not too crazy about the art in this issue. While some of the panels look good, a lot of the facial expressions and positioning of the characters is really awkward.

Earlier I wondered how I managed to learn so much about X-men characters without the internet. I forgot that a lot of issues used to have handy little summaries, like this:

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It's another great thing about the medium, these montage pages. You can fit a lot of details in a small amount of space. Of course, if this isn't enough for you, you can read about everything that has happened to Illyana before this (and her inevitable resurrection) at her Wikipedia page.

As you can see from the earlier pages, Jubilee is in full attitude mode at the beginning of the issue, her natural self defense mechanism for dealing with what is happening. But she isn't completely heartless:

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I'm of the opinion that this next sequence would probably work a little better without the thought bubbles at all. But since we're only seeing this because Jubilee is telling Jean Grey what happened, I guess it is kind of necessary.

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Despite my earlier complaints, I think the art in these last few pages is well done, especially when it comes to the facial expressions.

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The despair on the Professor's face in that last panel is pretty heartbreaking.

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There's nothing being said here about death that hasn't been said before, but really, what else could you say? I think it's incredibly well executed and a very touching story. Perhaps a little too sentimental in parts, but I remember shedding tears when I originally read it all those years ago. If anything I think looking at this gives you a good idea of the frustration I used to have when being told that reading comics was "for babies."

I'll take one more look at some comics tomorrow with my favorite X-men crossover that happened shortly after this.

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