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I remember back in 1993 how excited I was with Marvel Comics’ celebration of the 30th anniversary of the X-Men. Back then the X-Men line of comic books had the Fatal Attractions storyline which was not a crossover but a story arc that connects with the X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Force, X-Factor, Excalibur and Wolverine monthly series highlighted by specific comic books that had hologram cards on the cover.
It was an exciting time. Of course, many geeks who followed the X-Men closely knew that the very comic book that would mark the 30th anniversary was Uncanny X-Men #304 (dated September 1993) which was previewed with a Magneto hologram card on the cover.
Of course, before getting to that comic book, it’s nice to take a look back at one of the comic books that was released before it. I’m talking about Uncanny X-Men #303 which had a dramatic and even somber looking cover with the words: “If you read only one X-title this month—this issue must be it!”
Are you curious now? Let’s take a look back at Uncanny X-Men #303 published in 1993 by Marvel Comics with a story by Scott Lobdell and artwork by Richard Bennett.
The story begins with Jean Grey finding Jubilee sitting on the chair (read: Cerebro) doing some makeshift fireworks with her power. She noticed that the youth is troubled. Jubilee expressed her thoughts and mentioned that life stinks. Jean asked her if she wants to talk about it but Jubilee asked if talking would change anything. As the two talk on, it turns out that Xavier’s mansion is nearly deserted.
The story then shifts to what happened just several hours back. Jubilee was spending quality time with Colossus’ sister Illyana who is lying on a bed in the med-lab. Illyana was sick and nearby was Charles Xavier and Moira McTaggert struggling to figure out what to do for the blonde girl.
Moira tells Professor X that they need a fresh perspective on the information they have about the genetic deterioration within Illyana, and they need a miracle. Xavier replies that once the gold team of the X-Men returns, he is certain that they can find some treatment to arrest the disorder’s progress.
Suddenly, Illyana recognizes someone special from her past…
By today’s standards, Uncanny X-Men #303 is a good comic book to read and it is an effective way of setting up events leading into the 30th anniversary story of the next issue. On its own, the comic book is clearly very dramatic and cleverly uses nostalgia that is meant to resonate with readers who were fortunate enough to read issues of Uncanny X-Men which had Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat as a newcomer (around the time of the classic Dark Phoenix Saga).
As X-Men comic book history showed, Kitty Pryde was the resident teenage girl of her time and eventually she bonded by Colossus and got close with his sister Illyana whose own exploits involved a lot of twists and turns (she was even a young adult for a time) and made her own mark with The New Mutants.
Nostalgia aside, the writing done by Scott Lobdell is pretty good. The wordy approach to presentation kind reminds me of the descriptive writing and character expression styles of Chris Claremont (who left the X-Men franchise in 1991). More importantly, Lobdell’s writing shows he researched the characters Illyana and Kitty Pryde. After seeing those two reunited in this 1993 comic book, I recognized them not just visually but rather in terms of personality. In addition to characterization, the dialogue is richly layered and the script’s pacing was good (I was never bored even though this comic book clearly lacked action scenes). On Jubilee, this comic book is very notable for showing her NOT being annoying.
The art by Richard Bennett, in my view, is satisfactory at best. He’s not a bad artist but his style gives this comic book and the characters a rather imbalanced visual presentation. In fairness, Bennett did his own research on the history of the X-Men and his drawings about key moments from the past (example: The New Mutants) added to the nostalgia. Bennett’s best showing in this comic book happened during the most dramatic moments, especially in the 2nd half.
I really like this comic book. Even though it lacked action scenes, Uncanny X-Men #303 remains engaging by means of emphasizing the characters while touching into past of the X-Men. It is through dramatizing and defining the characters that made this comic book worth reading until now. Even if the nostalgia does not resonate with you, you will still feel for the characters.
By the time you finish reading this comic book, you will feel prepared for the big 30th anniversary story of Uncanny X-Men #304. In fact, this is an essential read in order to truly enjoy and understand Uncanny X-Men #304.The art could have been better, though.
In case you are interested to acquire an existing copy of Uncanny X-Men #303, take note of the rates from MileHighComics.com. As of this writing, a near-mint copy of the regular edition is priced at $5. The near-mint copy of the 2nd printing (gold cover) costs $128 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand costs $15.
Overall, Uncanny X-Men #303 is recommended.
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