Uncanny X-Men #517
The Nation X storyline continues directly from the cliffhanger ending of the previous issue of Uncanny as the X-Men are attacked on their new floating island home of Utopia by a bunch of very nasty Predator X creatures. Both Mister Jeffries and Northstar appear as regular members of the X-Men, having joined up in issues #505 and #508, respectively.
The entire issue is a big battle scene between the X-Men and the Predator X creatures, and we see much of the team-up style fighting Matt Fraction used in the Utopia finale, Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus #1, where groups of X-Men would gang up on extremely powerful enemies while Cyclops barks orders and fights alongside. Northstar and Jeffries both join in this battle in a few panels.
Four Predator X creatures survive an initial blast by Cyclops, one of which Namor takes on singlehandedly, refusing to take battle orders from Scott. Cyclops makes a ten-dollar bet with Northstar as they watch the King of Atlantis fly off that he’ll apologize upon his return. Another Predator X is taken out by Rogue. The other two, not so easy.
After Magneto rips the metal skin off one, leaving a disgusting bloody skinless mess, gross!, Northstar flies in with superspeed and pummels the poor thing into submission, allowing Colossus, Iceman and Boom Boom to blow it up. As he lands the blows, he asks Cyclops, “Never a dull moment, huh?” to which Cyclops responds, “This ain’t Alpha Flight, no.”
An insult to Alpha Flight or a moment of bravado? Possibly either, and it would be a realistic thing for Cyclops to say to Northstar, knowing his long-standing ambivalence with his former team. Matt Fraction might just be stuck in a rut where it’s just okay for him to drop an insult on Alpha Flight when writing dialogue between Northstar and another member of the X-Men. I’d be disappointed with Matt Fraction for this insensitive comment (it hasn’t been so long that Alpha Flight was killed at the hands of The Collective in the unfortunate events of New Avengers #16), except there is another possible meaning: Cyclops may just be indicating frustration from a never-ending series of attacks, catastrophes, assaults, upheavals and invasions that have plagued the X-Men of late, and his answer to Northstar might be more of a self-deprecating comment on these ridiculous circumstances than an insult or adrenaline-induced trash talk of a former adversary.
The nice part about this little battle scene with Northstar was the vast improvement over the last time he was used in battle, which was quite the poor showing when Dark Beast took him out with a single swipe in Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus #1. It’s also nice to see him FLYING. Yes, he can fly. Fast. That’s what he does. Note that Greg Land forgot to trace the “X” which is supposed to be on Northstar’s costume, as he did in previous appearances.
The last Predator X is taken out by the insanely unfair team of Wolverine, Mister Jeffries, Cyclops and Storm. While Wolverine is busy doing what he does best, etc., Jeffries grabs some jagged bits of scrap metal off the deck, but instead of making a weapon out of it, he just hurls it all full force into the creature, doing some major damage and causing it to say, “GGWWAAAAAARRRRRR–“. This is a surprising way for him to use his powers, and in the very next panel, just as the reader notices this odd telekinetic sort of attack, he admits sheepishly to Cyclops, “Usually I’d have the time to make, I don’t know, a robot warrior or something…” Fraction writes Jeffries as if this sort of battle is out of his league, putting him squarely in the brainy Science Team, forgetting that he once took out a frakkin’ Tyrannosaurus Rex by transforming into a robot T-rex and ripping out the dinosaur’s throat with his own robot jaws like it was nothing (Alpha Flight Annual #2), among other extreme feats of battle, but at least he gives him the opportunity to mention what he would usually do. Like Northstar’s improvement since the last battle, this greatly exceeds the paltry coiled tentacle scene from Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus #1.
Particularly interesting about Mister Jeffries’ participation in the battle scene was that in the previous issue, Cyclops called out to the team at the very start of the battle, “All non-combatants to safety shelters” which is where we’d expect the Science Team. In fact, Dr. Nemesis is nowhere in this issue, just Jeffries, so it’s nice to have the offensive potential of his power set recognized. In the same book that contains a scene where Magneto collapses from one use of his newly restored magnetic powers, we see Jeffries effortlessly manipulate metal with great power and force. One can’t help but compare the two mutants’ powers, with Jeffries clearly as the front-runner.