Alphans in Uncanny X-Men #514 – Motorcycles and submarines!

uxm514coverUncanny X-Men #514
Oct 2009

The fourth chapter of six in Utopia, a crossover between the Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-Men set in the Dark Reign storyline, this issue sets up for the surprise ending and final encounter between Norman Osborn’s teams (Dark X-Men and Dark Avengers) and the X-Men.   Northstar appears as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508 and Madison Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

uxm514bCyclops gathers teams of X-Men specifically grouped for certain tasks, unrevealed to the reader for the most part, and sends them out on their way. Northstar is chosen for the group intended to take down the Dark X-Men.  They ride out on motorcycles to the Northern Park suburb of San Francisco to observe the Dark X-Men in battle against a squad of Trask’s Biosentinels, as depicted on the cover.  From their rooftop vantage, they study the Dark X-Men’s fighting techniques and individual styles in preparation for the final showdown.

Northstar can be seen from the front in only one panel when he’s on the rooftop, and he gets an off-panel line there, but unfortunately the rest of Northstar’s panels are just partial appearances, a headless body, his right side, a shoulder, etc.  I suppose in a book this crowded, not even the Dodsons can fit everyone in.  To be fair, many “A-list” X-men were treated the same way, or worse. 

Why fly solo when you can cruise with a badass motorcycle pack?

It’s not clear why Northstar rode on a motorcycle to get there, especially because they had Pixie with them, who could have teleported the group to any location, and oh yeah, HE CAN FLY!  It reminded me of the silly scene in issue #4 of the Northstar Limited Series where he gets too tired to fly from New Orleans to Vancouver and has to rent a car from “Aviz” 70 miles outside of Seattle to drive the rest of the way.  Perhaps Cyclops just wanted to keep the group together, or avoid detection by going a ground route, or maybe he just wanted to cruise with a badass motorcycle pack.  

The issue concludes with the Science Team in the X-sub, a submersible craft with an awesome X-shaped front window, about to do… something.  Matt Fraction continues to tantalize the readers about Cyclops’ plan by holding back just the right amount of details.  Pyslocke asks Jeffries, “How long will it take to install?” without saying what the heck it is he’s going to install.  Install the what?  Arrrgh!  We find out later that they are approaching Asteroid M, the long-submerged rock that will ultimately become Utopia Island.

uxm514c
The submersible may be under Jeffries’ control, as hinted by his outstretched hand reaching back behind him toward some glowing machinery, but it’s not clear exactly what he’s doing.  You can also see Jeffries very tiny in the preceding panel through the awesome X-shaped front window.

This issue has four variant covers: (one not shown is a variant of the regular cover with slightly different title text)

uxm514coverbianchivariant Uncanny X-Men #514 – Simone Bianchi variant
uxm514cover70thanniversaryframevariant Uncanny X-Men #514 – 70th Anniversary Frame variant
uxm514coversecondprintingvariant Uncanny X-Men #514 – Second Printing variant
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