Writer: Howard Mackie
Art: John Romita Jr.
Colors: Joe Rubinstein
Letters: Comicraft & Richard Starkings
Release Date: 12/1/1994
We all remember the X-Men in the 1990’s right? I am talking about the muscles, the long and drawn-out speeches that would make Shakespeare jealous, and the epic storylines. In my humble opinion, this was THE Golden Age of X-Men Comics. They were everywhere and well known. For those avid X-Men fans, you may remember that outside the main titles (Uncanny and the adjectiveless title), there were a plethora of spinoffs. One of these spinoffs was X-Men Unlimited. Though short-lived compared to other X-Titles, Unlimited introduced the idea of having rotating creative teams and self-contained storylines in each issue. With that being said, join me as I take you back to the 199’s with X-Men Unlimited #7 by Howard Mackie.
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X-Men Unlimited #7 takes place in Cairo, Egypt with Storm, Jean, and Gambit. This particular lineup is unique in a way that we hardly see just the three of them on a mission together. As the main focus of the story, Storm is on a search for her old master. In typical X-Men fashion, this is more easily said than done. Mackie writes Storm as if he took the main character from Madonna’s song, “Ray of Light”, and put her in a comic book. Storm is a goddess amongst mortals. Now some die-hard X-Men fans will roll their eyes at that statement because more than anything, she has long pivoted from that analogy. But we have to look at the facts.
Storm was worshipped as a goddess for a reason. In fact, up until the time she left Africa in Giant-Size #1, she even believed herself as a goddess. Therefore, the way she carries herself as not only a member of the X-Men but as a woman, causes her to stand out. This issue also demonstrates why Jean Grey is arguably the heart of the X-Men. In one panel, Gambit and Storm are planning to interrogate members of the local “street urchin” crew. Gambit (being the slick-talking charmer he is) flat out tells Jean to sit this particular mission out and that she was too pretty to get her hands dirty like he and Storm.
Jean immediately puts Gambit in his place by reminding him that while he was robbing houses, she had already earned her stripes as a member of the X-Men. THIS is the type of fire and energy a well-written Jean Grey brings to the table. She is not a background character who faints (“Scott!”) every time she levitates a chair across the room. Jean can hang with the best of them via a verbal sparring match OR hand-to-hand combat (remember when she took Sabretooth out in X-Men # 28?). Mackie writes an amazing Jean. Fiercely loyal and a potential foe if you cross her the wrong way.
I still smile like a big goofball anytime I see certain heroes truly use their powers. As discussed earlier, Storm was worshipped as a goddess. Now do not get me wrong, seeing her create a hurricane out of toilet water is pretty cool, but seeing her in certain climates (the Arctic Tundra, deserts, and surrounded by water) takes things to an entirely different level. It is particularly juicy when she is trapped under rubble and she wants to break free. Romita Jr. draws an unleashed Storm magnificently. I am talking lighting, wind, and pure fury. When it comes to seeing this Omega Level Mutant utilize her powers, this is what I love to see. In this issue, Gambit is still throwing his cards around and Jean is slamming “street urchins” into walls. Nothing too out of the ordinary for those two, but this gives more attention to Storm.
X-Men Unlimited #7 is a forgotten gem of yesteryear. Fans of these 3 heroes, will find various things that will make them happy. Even though this is a Storm centric issue, Gambit and Jean still have multiple strong moments. Sometimes it is good to take a step back and read those stories that truly outlines our favorite characters. If you have some free time, take a trip to your LCS and pay the $2 to pick up this comic and revisit a beautiful hero team-up.