Writer: Scott Lobdell
Art: Brandon Peterson
Colors: Marie Javins
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Release Date: 2/1/1993
If you’re interested in this X-Cutioner’s Song, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon.
So last night, I finally began the X-Men storyline “X-Cutioner’s Song.” This early 90’s X-Story played out over the various X-Titles of the time (X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Force, and X-Factor). Overall, it is a typical example of the 90’s X-Men formula (guns, muscles, speeches, and action). However, the one issue that stuck out to me the most, was the epilogue in Uncanny X-Men #297 titled “Song’s End.” This issue contained three separate narratives that could be broken up between the past, the present, and (at the time) the future. It scratched the itch of heartwarming and provided much-needed relief from the muscles and soliloquies that were embedded throughout the X-Cutioner’s Song arc. With that being said, let’s take a deep dive into Uncanny X-Men #297, shall we?
Harry’s Hideaway was a staple for each era of the X-Teams. After it was destroyed by the Horseman of Death, Caliban (yes, the Morlock Caliban who kidnapped Kitty back in Uncanny #179), Angel and Beast are obligated to repair the bar. I am a sucker for the Original 5 (O5) X-Men. They were the “guinea pigs” if you will. The older siblings went through the beginning of the X-Men. If you will, they are the template for what any standard X-Team should have (the telepath, the flyer, the leader/tactician, the comic relief, and the brute force). Seeing them interact and discuss their younger years as members of the team, has always shown how far the series has come. In this case, as Hank and Warren are cleaning Harry’s, they bond over the many gatherings that have occurred at Harry’s. These gatherings range from late-night cram sessions and malts to Jean’s Sweet 16.
Even though the O5 are all adults and senior members of the team, they still were teens who once had to endure Prof. X as a teacher. For instance, the man who would become Apocalypse’s Horseman, once paid Hank $1,000 to write an essay for him. At the last minute, Prof. Xavier decided to have the team give their presentations psionically. Of course, Warren failed since he did not know what Hank wrote. As they’re cleaning, Hank reveals to him that he had given the Prof. a heads up that Warren had paid him AFTER he cashed the check hence why there was a sudden change to the presentation. Typical O5 antics. These deep-cut stories (that may or may not have had been alluded to during the ’60s or ’70s) solidify that there is much history between the O5 that we do not always see.
It also shows the harmony between them. They can call each other out and annoy each other in ways that not too many other heroes can do. Case in point, Wolverine states that he could “hear” the kidnapped Jean and Scott during the X-Cutioner’s Song. According to him, this was because, after Scott, he was the closest one to her. Bobby immediately asks, “How close” (with Hank finishing the sentence) “…is close…?” Outside Havoc and MAYBE Storm, no other members of the team, have any space to questions those dynamics. Bobby and Hank can freely do so as they truly know Jean and Scott. The four of them (along with Warren) have a unique bond that has continued throughout the decades.
At the end of any solid story arc, there has to be a scene on the X-Mansion’s rooftop. After a tussle with Boom Boom (or Boomer as Cannonball called her), Rogue is still recovering from the damage to her optic nerves. Rogue wants to be alone whereas Gambit wants to be there for her. They want to connect, but Rogue’s powers are always stopping them. The Rogue and Gambit tug-o-war was riddled throughout the X-Comics of the ’90s. This is especially true in Uncanny X-Men #297. Their budding relationship was brand new. It was fresh. It was something outside of the Scott and Jean dynamics that had been there since the ’60s. The Southern Belle and the (as Logan called him) Swamp Rat would eventually end up marrying etc. but at the time… it was a different scenario. In a way, it was a modern telling of the Lady and the Tramp.
Wanting to rollerblade around the Mansion’s grounds, Jubilee is startled by a walking Prof X. Up until this point, Prof X was once more wheelchair bounded. However, as a side effect of a techno-organic virus given to him by Stryfe, he was able to once more stroll the grounds for roughly an hour. We are treated to a bridge from the past (Xavier) with the then future (Jubilee). Xavier states that there are times, he wishes he could feel the grass beneath his feet and go for a run here and there. Wanting to take it to the next level, Jubilee persuades the Prof to go rolling blading with her. This ends with the both of them in the lake. We see Jubilee start to see Prof. X as a human being and not just a cruel taskmaster who is all about training. As he begins to trot back to his wheelchair, we see him struggle to keep balance. As he falls, Jubilee swiftly helps him. This image can be viewed as Xavier once more, passing the torch to the next generation. His dream will live on.
I love when the X-Men are allowed to be people. Uncanny X-Men #297 delivers this and more. This issue ties together the past, the present, and the future in a way that resets the team. The big bad had been defeated, and now they can rest. This issue served as the perfect palate cleanser. I would recommend this issue ONLY if you’re in the mood for 90’s X-Men nostalgia OR you have just finished reading the X-Cutioner’s Song arc. Again, it serves as a palate cleanser to the guns and muscle of the 90’s X-Men OR even as a reminder of where our mutants have come from.