Uncanny X-Men #519
The Nation X storyline continues in this issue of Uncanny as the X-Men deal with various emergencies on their new island nation of Utopia. Let’s see… Cyclops has an all-consuming evil in his brain, the Beast is about to quit, the island is sinking… you know, the usual daily grind. Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the Science Team, having joined up in issue #505 and Northstar makes a very tiny cameo appearance as a member of the X-Men, having joined up in issue #508.
In the previous issue, Jeffries suggested they use Magneto as a power source to generate electricity to raise the island. The Science Team tries out this theory down in the lab, and as the coffee-lovin’ team sips their coffee, Magneto gives it his all but falls far short of their goal. Jeffries appears to be completely distracted by something and is shown with a new power: tech-vision, which enables him to see floating surveilliance nanobots that have infiltrated the island. He condenses them out of the air and forms them into a cube. He then returns to his coffee, seemingly unaffected by their presence.
A few things happen in this appearance that ought to raise an eyebrow, the first of which is this tech-vision, something not shown before this issue. New powers for Jeffries are explainable as being enhancements obtained during his time in the Weapon X program, so it’s OK for Matt Fraction to add these sorts of things. Look, it’s not X-ray vision nor heat vision, but it’s still neato, and fits in with a general understanding he seems to have with machinery. This understanding is quite extensive in this scene, as he’s able to communicate with the nanobots, easily determining their function, origin and purpose in just a few panels.
Second, he’s able to count the number of nanobots he condensed with uncanny precision: 784 trillion. In an attempt to make Jeffries smart, which Matt Fraction has over-done in a few issues, the reader is left with more of an impression of the toothpick scene in “Rain Man” than anything else, unless you remembered that in issue #512, Jeffries was introduced with a small caption that read, “Mechanical Mastermind. Savant-y” and were expecting something like this all along.
Third, Dr. Nemesis refers to him as, “Box”, the first time anyone has done so since he joined the X-Men. This would also seem to come out of the blue, unless you remember that small caption again which mentioned his codename, “Madison Jeffries–Box.” It’s not clear why Dr. Nemesis suddenly starts calling him Box when he hasn’t suited up in the armor, even in two major battles on Utopia, and was just sitting there drinking coffee at the time.
Later in the issue as Beast whines on to Iceman about how numbingly disaffected he is about his membership in the X-Men, you can see Northstar in one panel very tiny walking on the deck of Utopia with an unnamed student.