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Welcome back, superheo enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts, X-Men fans and comic book collectors! Today we revisit the X-Men Adventures monthly series which was the literary adaptation of the popular X-Men animated series of the 1990s.
In my previous retro review, the encounter with Magneto ended without any resolution. Back at X-Men headquarters, Sabretooth freed himself and got into a fight with Wolverine which symbolically highlighted tensions from their past encounters.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at X-Men Adventures #5, published by Marvel Comics in 1993 with a story written by Ralph Macchio and drawn by Andrew Wildman.
The story begins inside the Danger Room where X-Men members Storm, Rogue, Gambit and Jubilee are tested for combat and skills development under the tight watch of Professor X. While Xavier is aware that while a real-life threat would cause his team to perfect their reflexes and counterattack strategies, it is the leadership of Storm that concerns him the most.
Just as the amount of danger rises, Xavier decides to raise the stakes of the exercise by drawing upon the deepest fears within Storm. Suddenly the ceiling moves down and the walls start closing in on the X-Men. This causes Storm to lose focus as painful memories from her childhood pertaining to claustrophobia suddenly entered her head. The exercise ended on a negative note and Storm tells Professor X that she cannot lead the X-Men as she believes that her claustrophobia will only put others at risk.
Within Xavier’s mansion, the still recovering Wolverine practices martial arts moves. Standing nearby is Jean Grey who starts talking sense into him. Wolverine then notices something in the way Jean looks at him…
As the cover of this comic book shows, the main feature of the story is the X-Men’s encounter with the Morlocks (first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #169 published in 1983), a group of mutants living underneath the city of New York. Other than being a force of opposition, the Morlocks – led by Callisto – is itself a society composed of outcast mutants who could not really live among humans in normal society not only because of their mutations but also because of their collective look of deformity.
Picking up from the previous issue, the plot moved smoothly starting with a clear focus on Storm and her potential to lead the X-Men followed by the short but intriguing scene between Jean Grey and Wolverine. When the narrative shifted on New York City and the start of the conflict with the Morlocks, the story noticeably turned dark with its tone as the underground mutants become more prominent.
Other than the expected good-versus-evil emphasis of the plot, this comic book sheds light on the social ladder of America with the X-Men symbolizing the normal people and the Morlocks as the misfits. Symbolically speaking, the X-Men are bound to their code of no killing and their search for mutants that their leader Professor X could help, while the Morlocks prefer to be independent believing that isolation best serves their interests. Both the X-Men and the Morlocks have their respective approach on honor which is symbolized further when Storm and Callisto engage in close combat (note: this was the X-Men animated series’ adaptation of their fight as told in 1983’s Uncanny X-Men #170). I should also state that the portrayal of Cyclops and Jean Grey a very vulnerable figures in this story is pretty engaging.
To put things in perspective, the script of this comic book showed that the superhero spectacle is finely balanced with the strong dialogue and dramatization of the X-Men-Morlocks conflict.
X-Men Adventures #5 (1993) is not only a very engaging read on its own, it is also one fine adaptation of the X-Men animated series episode “Captive Hearts” which I first saw on local TV way back in 1993.
Overall, X-Men Adventures #5 (1993) is recommended.
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