Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

356 – The Michael Bay-eux Tapestry

Art by David Wynne. Wanna buy the original? Drop him a line!

In which it’s hard to be Joseph; we do our best to explain the inexplicable; Miles is full of feelings; Hulk smashes; and Onslaught finally (mostly) ends.

X-PLAINED:

  • Heroes Reborn Return
  • Wild times with the Dreaming Celestial
  • Onslaught so far
  • X-Men #56
  • Onslaught: Marvel Universe
  • Jay’s definitive Bond
  • Joseph (more)
  • The physical evolution of Onslaught
  • Sense of scale
  • Hawkeye (TV series)
  • Onslaught’s goals, to what extent they exist
  • The three genders
  • A really big fight
  • A miracle of magnetism
  • The (nominal) end of the Age of Heroes
  • Beast’s scientific career
  • Chamber’s voice

NEXT EPISODE: Several epilogues


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7 comments

  1. So Franklin is resisting Onslaught to the degree that O can’t hold his shape from one issue to the next, but he can still summon a second sun? (Which, like a lot of the event, looks really neat for a panel or two before being forgotten about.)

    I’d have thought the sun’s appearance would have some significance to the story, or at least give the heroes a new challenge. Maybe Iron Man and Bishop could’ve flown up to absorb the energy or Magneto could magnetically warp it safely away, which is less crazy an idea than what his powers are used for in the actual comic.

    The sun would also make more sense if Franklin had created it himself, on purpose. Maybe it’s not a second sun but the Sun of Counter-Earth, which Franklin called into being not as a subconscious, 11th-hour reflex to save the heroes, but as a gambit to banish Onslaught to another plane. That would give him and Nate something useful to do — and it’s in keeping with the issue being a better Fantastic Four story than an X-men story. I would have liked to see a showdown between Franklin and Lil’ Charlie, for example. As is, there’s not nearly enough going on in the comic to occupy all these characters.

    There are bits I liked. That Captain America page is terrific, and even if a lot of readers won’t get the significance of the panels (I didn’t when I read this in the ‘90s), it’s a good gift for those who do. But overall there’s so much decompression that the issue feels like a five-page school paper turned into eight pages at the last minute by boosting the font size.

  2. Y’know Emma’s line that so many people love? “Where were you when our babies were burning?”
    I have always had two responses to that line:
    1) If the Avengers/FF/whoever swept in to help or save the X-Men in every crisis that deserved it, that would ruin the entire tone of the X-Men and you know it, Emma, and
    2) You remember that time the Avengers and FF jumped on the giant psychic grenade of Chuck and Erik’s bad feelings and DIED (except, y’know, comics)?

    The thing I love about this comic so much–and, forgive me, this and the rando Punisher comic were all I read of Onslaught–is the sense of community and trust I got out of it between the teams. Yes, it’s dumb. It didn’t make any sense as a stand-alone, and greater context somehow only makes it dumber. But I’m with Miles; the feels and the character moments overcome that.

    I haven’t liked any of the tension and conflicts between hero teams, and especially the divide between X-folks and everyone else. I haven’t liked Civil War, AvX, any of it. That stuff never works for me, and it’s because of moments like this. The Avengers and the FF showed up to help the X-Men out with an X-Men baddie, because that’s what heroes do. As dumb and nonsensical as this is, I LOVE it, because THIS actually makes MORE sense than constant infighting. These people all know their lives are ridiculous, but they still need each other sometimes, and so they show up. “We need to beat up a giant psychic gestalt of Chuck’s worst decisions? (Shrug) Okay. You can get us back next time we’re the nonsense.”

    1. Also, don’t anyone tell me they all came back to life & those deaths were no big deal.
      This led to that Captain America as portrayed by Rob Liefeld.
      Those were consequences. Awful, dire, ginormous pectoral consequences.

  3. Now that I’m at the end of it, I think Onslaught is not significantly worse than Age of Apocalypse for me, but its problem is the opposite problem.

    AoA’s end read as if the writers had a list of things coming out of all the individual “series” that had to appear in the conclusion, and they made sure to tick off every box, but at no point did anyone stand back and ask, “Yes, but what about this gets across what the #[email protected]%ing point of all this is supposed to be?”

    Meanwhile, you can’t complain about Onslaught there. It is 100% clear that this is supposed to be an elegy for the old Marvel universe, to celebrate what it meant and to mourn that it doesn’t sell very well any more. And it does a good enough job at that task that at least for me it works fairly well, emotionally, despite me knowing that it wasn’t the end and that, in fact, 25 years later the Avengers, at least, would be a colossal pop-cultural presence in a way that would be very hard to imagine in 1996.

    But you know what Onslaught didn’t have? That damn list of things that needed to be checked off. This goes from minor things like the Spider-Men never showing up to the really bizarre big thing, that it’s so utterly unclear what the [expletive deleted] is going on that allows all the non-mutants to save the day by sacrificing themselves.

    Bizarre is the word. Let’s say that you have the villain first. Still, you’re going to ask at some point, how do they lose? Fine, the Heroes Reborn thing is latched onto this at a late date, maybe. You have a villain whose whole schtick is that they want to do something nasty to non-mutants — how hard can it be to contrive a situation in which mutants are the only ones to make it out of the final confrontation alive? Bothering to cover the Scarlet Witch with a line only makes it still more bizarre, because it means that Lobdell & Waid were noticing problems and trying to deal with them — how do you not notice that you haven’t explained how the solution to Onslaught works at all?

    So I’d be really curious about what the behind-the-scenes story is here. As it is, it reads like one of those films where the studio takes control from the director, and makes a bunch of cuts and changes, and the entire thing ends up a mess because it’s not what anyone would have ever set out to make.

  4. The story also doesn’t set up “Zero Tolerance” as well as it thinks it does. 1) Bad guy appears. 2) Avengers/X-Men punch bad guy. 3) Bad guy destroyed, cloud appears. 4) Avengers fly into cloud. 5) X-Men punch cloud. 6)And the X-Men are the villains somehow? Besides, nobody would be seeing any of this on TV, as Onslaught already destroyed NYC’s electronics.

    Agreed on a desire to learn more behind-the-scenes stuff. Given that Waid and Lobdell will leave the X-books after this (almost immediately and in about a year, respectively), it’s easy to view some of the Onslaught event’s narrative failings as creators basically checking out after one too many interferences by their bosses. Did they want to tell a different story?

    The Gentlemen of Leisure website has some details, including an old comment by Lobdell that suggests he was the one who volunteered Onslaught as the way to launch “Heroes Reborn”. And as Voord 99 notes, Lobdell’s Age of Apocalypse work showed that — whatever that event’s other problems — he was capable of handling multiple story threads. So I’m kind of mystified how this fell short in the ways it did.

    1. Congrats on trudging-through & making it all the way through onslaught! That’s no small feat.
      .
      Onslaught is too painful to read (the one storyline I’ve never finished), so I’m happy to follow along someone else reading it and explaining it to me. I appreciate that ,/you guys.

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