Uncanny X-Men #533
Matt Fraction’s run on this title is nearly complete with the fourth issue of the five issue Quarantine story arc. The X-Men are getting sicker and sicker on Utopia where they are under a self-imposed quarantine due to an outbreak of the HX-N1 virus. A small de facto team of X-Men unaffected by the virus is still in operation in San Francisco. Northstar appears as a member of this team, having joined up in issue #530 after joining the full X-Men roster in issue #508.
Sent by Cyclops to investigate a party for investors looking to cash in on a scheme led by Lobe that involves an instant dose of mutant powers, the de facto X-Men assemble on a roof with a skylight. While observing the party, Northstar appears in two panels, one with his face obscured and another very tiny in a faceless image. In the panel with his face obscured, he can be shown clearly holding his ribs, as he took a hard shot last issue from The Collective Man in an improbable take-down.
The de facto team of X-Men are then confronted by Lobe’s squad of baddies, including Burst, a martial arts speedster. Unfortunately, the caption doesn’t do such a great job of identifying the baddies – he’s the one on the far right. Storm suggests Northstar might not be ready due to his injuries, but Northstar’s too arrogant for any of that nonsense:
I’m hurting just enough to add an edge. And that superspeedster is biting my style. You have no idea how much that annoys me. Let’s finish these plagiarists.
Well, the speedster-on-speedster battle must have happened so quickly that it ended somewhere between this and the next panel. In fact, the entire confrontation between the two teams of Angel, Storm, Dazzler, Pixie, and Northstar versus the four baddies Bouncing Betty, Verre, Thug and Burst is completely off-panel except for a doozy on Betty’s chin in one panel. These characters were so ripe for an all-out battle in just the right circumstances and all we get is one punch and it’s all over, with a low probability that we’ll see these guys again after the arc ends. So much set-up and it ends not with a bang, but with a whimper.
The X-Men crash (literally) the party, Lobe powers up and Angel sends Northstar in to take him out. This is the exact situation where you’d want to use a speedster: some bad guy is openly available in an easy shot so you send in your speedster on point to crack him in the mouth, knocking him hard on his bad guy butt in a blink of an eye, right? Well, in Matt Fraction’s world, the guy who you recruited for his power set of superspeed is actually the slowest in a one-on-one, and gets taken out. Sound familiar? It happened in Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus #1 when Dark Beast swatted down Northstar, and again just last issue when Angel sent in Northstar on point to take out the Collective Man, only to have Northstar taken out almost immediately. Now again and for the second time in two consecutive issues, Northstar is easily taken down after being sent in on point to take out the bad guy.
And if that’s not enough déjà vu for you, you can feel déjà vu twice! Greg Land hops on Matt Fraction’s “Let’s do the same thing we always do with Northstar” bandwagon by tracing him TWICE in the issue in that same familiar look, one that we’ve seen a few times already!
Northstar finishes up the issue on the floor during a giant battle scene with Pixie comforting him – but he’s shown wearing Aurora’s costume! It’s not clear if Greg Land traced his uniform in mirror image or if colorist Justin Ponsor got the starburst backwards but a costume detail like this is definitely something that an editor ought to catch.