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Welcome back, superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts, X-Men fans and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the X-Men monthly series of the 1990s and look back at what happened after the ending of X-Men #28 (1994). For those who missed out on my previous X-Men retro review, issue #28 showed the X-Men being disturbed by the presence of Sabretooth living as a prisoner/patient in the mansion under the authority of Charles Xavier. Along the way, the wedding of Jean Grey and Cyclops is nearing.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men #29, published by Marvel Comics in 1994 with a story written by the Fabian Nicieza and drawn by Andy Kubert.
The story begins inside the danger room wherein Psylocke and Sabretooth (wearing cybernetic restraints on his arms as well as a mask) engage in a sparring session while being monitored by Professor X, Warren Worthington/Archangel and Hank McCoy/Beast. Warren expresses concern about the session and Xavier replies by saying that they could not have Sabretooth develop the control he needs over his violent tendencies by having him contained in a cell every day.
After some struggle, Psylocke gains the upper hand and tells Sabretooth that she sparred without using her mutant abilities (solely out of deference to his reduced capabilities caused by the restraints) and insisted she still fought to win.
After the danger room session, Warren leaves and thinks a lot as he takes time out to watch Cyclops and Jean Grey leading the wedding preparations outdoors. Jubilee passes by with lots of mail, hands over to Warren an unusual looking envelope, then leaves. As he opens the envelope, Psylocke arrives hearing Warren talking to himself as he reads the letter. It turns out to be an invitation from the Hellfire Club…
To put things in perspective, the Hellfire Club within the Marvel Comics universe is a fictional high-class society which became a formidable force of opposition for the X-Men. Their debut during the Dark Phoenix Saga is very memorable and since that time, varied comic books – specifically X-Men comics – revisited the club from time to time.
Within the pages of this particular comic book, the Hellfire Club itself went through some changes in terms of membership and organizational structure kind of similar to the X-Men themselves. In this case, the son of Sebastian Shaw – Shinobi – gains tremendous power and even went as far as revealing to Warren/Archangel his ambitious plan to re-establish the Inner Circle and have the mentioned X-Men member (one of the pioneering students of Charles Xavier) part of it as the White King.
A key element in this story is self-pity which Archangel and Shinobi Shaw both share. For these two, there are key parts of their past that are so hurtful they respectively question their existence and purpose. Quite symbolically, Archangel and Shinobi both have fathers involved with the Hellfire Club and Psylocke herself was familiar with the club’s presence in London. More on Archangel himself, his self-pity really puts him in a very awkward place among the X-Men, especially at a time when he is supposed to be happy for his long-time teammates Jean Grey and Cyclops about to get married.
In a way, X-Men #29 was an inspired attempt to reconnect the past with the contemporary times with the Hellfire Club as the enduring factor. In my opinion, Fabian Nicieza’s work here is solid.
X-Men #29 (1994) is symbolically a quick and yet inspired way of updating readers about the state of the Hellfire Club and hint what potential conflicts they could have with the X-Men of the 1990s. Psylocke and Archangel are the most prominent X-Men members to follow here and they both have past connections with the Hellfire Club which itself is changing as Shinobi Shaw gained power. Its story is pretty intriguing and there is a descent amount of spectacle to be enjoyed. The selling point here is the story concept itself backed with solid writing by Nicieza who seem to have researched the Hellfire Club carefully. Given the legacy behind the X-Men and the fictional club, this comic book will appeal more to long-time fans of the X-Men. Reading this as a first-time discovery of the club will surely challenge newcomers.
If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of X-Men #29 (1994) be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition costs $90.
Overall, X-Men #29 (1994) is recommended.
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