Northstar does… uh, something… in Uncanny X-Men #511

Uncanny X-Men #511
Aug 2009

The Sisterhood arc comes to its conclusion in this issue, as the X-Men defeat the bad, bad girls and gain back another old member (Psylocke) for the mutant dogpile at Graymalkin, their new headquarters. Northstar appears in a few panels as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in issue #508.

Following the sneak attack on the X-Men headquarters in the previous issue, a team of X-Men fly to Westchester for the final showdown. Interestingly, they fly in the old Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, which I thought was a nice nostalgic touch – it’s certainly the fastest way for them to get there and we haven’t seen it for a while. Northstar is shown inside the Blackbird in a quick moment of comic relief when he stumbles upon an awkward moment in the Scott/Jean/Logan love triangle.

What he’s doing strapped into a jumpseat in a fast airplane is a bit puzzling. He can fly, you know. Very fast. It’s what he does. He could get from the X-Men’s headquarters in San Francisco to Westchester in far less time than the bird could. In Marvel Fanfare #28, he ran about the same distance in 30 minutes. When flying, he’s surely faster.

Northstar was recruited into the X-Men for exactly this stated purpose: they needed his speed to round out their power set. Yet, Cyclops puts a seat belt on him and straps him down inside a plane rather than send him as an advance scout. Perhaps they just wanted him to stay together with the group – what would he really do anyway against the Sisterhood – take them all out singlehandedly?

Once they arrive in Westchester, Northstar’s role becomes apparent: he’s one of the X-Men who directly take on the Sisterhood in the cemetery by the old mansion. Shown flying in (finally!) on a full-page splash, he takes on Spiral as the X-Men pair up with their opponents. This splash panel would be used as the cover to this issue’s second printing variant. Note that Greg Land forgot to trace the “X” on Northstar’s uniform, and made him all whitey-eyed, too.

The battle scene takes place over a 2pg spread that falls far short of what you’d expect as not only the climax of this issue, but the entire story arc. First of all, each of the characters say exactly one word to the other character in each of the panels, as if the hated Brian Michael Bendis were writing the scene! Even if it were meant to mock BMB, I’d rather see absolutely no reference at all to anything he’s ever done. Secondly, there are two exceptionally weak panels depicting… something… that Northstar is doing with Spiral. Greg Land traces him running around in circles in one panel and all blurry in another one.

What the heck is he doing in these panels?

Northstar could land hundreds of blows on Spiral’s face in less than a second – when he tried this on the Hulk in Alpha Flight #29, Hulk said, “RARRGH! Hulk felt that! Puny human has hurt Hulk!” He could scoop her up and throw her straight into the ground, or smash her into a tree – when he tried this on Sabretooth in X-Men #163, he knocked him out cold! It’s a shame that he was so underutilized and made into such a useless combatant in this scene by Land’s inability to trace characters in battle and Matt Fraction’s seeming lack of understanding of how super-speed can be used in combat. The only saving grace for Matt Fraction is “respect by association” – the guys Northstar is fighting alongside are three of the top heaviest hitters in the X-Men and it’s nice to see him part of an offensive force quartet that also includes Colossus, Cyclops and Wolverine.

It’s not even clear if Northstar won his little blurry dance battle, but the X-Men win the war, and later in the issue, Northstar can be seen again in one panel standing behind Cyclops after its conclusion.

Note: although Mister Jeffries was a member of the X-Men at the time, he does not appear in this issue.

Uncanny X-Men #511 – Second Printing variant featuring Northstar!


One Response to “Northstar does… uh, something… in Uncanny X-Men #511”

  1. Chris Says:

    You mentioned Marvel Fanfare 28 again. That book is probably my favorite Bill Mantlo Alpha Flight story. It was the closest Mantlo ever came to writing a good AF Byrne story. (Plus having Canadian artist Ken Steacy drawing Canada correctly helped too)

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