Posts Tagged ‘Nation X’

Box and Northstar in Uncanny X-Men #522

March 24, 2010

Uncanny X-Men #522
May 2010

The Nation X storyline continues in Uncanny X-Men as one of the biggest events in X-history unfolds – the return of Kitty Pryde. No spoilers here, as the hated Internet ruined yet another surprise months in advance. Even the variant cover (shown below) art was released weeks before, not leaked, but officially released by Marvel, so it can be concluded they really didn’t make any effort to shock us with this news. Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Club, the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in issue #505 and Northstar makes a single panel cameo as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in issue #508.

Wishing to avoid global panic resulting from the appearance of the space bullet, which would be perceived by the general public as an Extinction Level Event, Cyclops turns to the X-Club to solve the problem. The scene with the X-Club in their lab on Utopia opens with a dialogue error. Mister Jeffries and Dr. Kavita Rao are discussing previous attempts to retrieve the bullet and he conjectures:

What if that’s because they were going for the vessel and not the cargo?

Clearly, it ought to have read:

What if that’s because they were going for the cargo and not the vessel?

as this is the first time anyone has tried to move the bullet (the vessel) and not just contact Kitty (the cargo).

After Jeffries jokes about building an interstellar ark to survive the bullet impact and again later in the lab, Cyclops calls him, “Box”, continuing from the previous issue when The Angel also called him that. No longer news, folks, that’s what Matt Fraction wants to call the guy. In fact, he’s not referred to as “Jeffries” at all in this issue, just “Box”. All we need now is the robot so it makes sense.

In under 24 hours, The X-Club builds an incredibly complex satellite influencing mind contraption consisting of a psycho-machine interface controlled by the Stepford Cuckoos using Danger as a conduit. When Cyclops asks how it works, Danger motions to the super-genius Jeffries to explain. It’s nice to see Jeffries all smartened up, but this is quite extreme, even for him. He’s really just not the ditch digger we met in Alpha Flight #16 back in the day anymore. This loose characterization which seemed so wrong at first has become par for the course.

After Kitty is silently rescued, a few pages of silence follows showing normal life around Utopia, including another scene in the lab where Jeffries is shown building some sort of life-support bed for Magneto. Also shown is a single panel with Northstar and Dazzler, as they arrest some ne’er-to-do’s in downtown San Francisco on the evening news, evoking iconic imagery of the superhero crimefighter. He appears to be wearing a slightly altered costume with a symmetrical starburst on his left hip, but it might be just a minor variation of his costume by Whilce Portacio.

Note: there is a variant cover by Mark Brooks, based on a classic movie poster for Doctor Strangelove.

Uncanny X-Men #522 – Mark Brooks variant

Mister Jeffries gets some action in Nation X #3

March 11, 2010

Nation X #3
Apr 2010

The anthology series Nation X continues in this issue with more “slice of life” stories about what it’s like to live on Utopia Island, the new headquarters for the X-Men. Consisting of 8pp stories by various writers and artists, we get to see a showcase for characters not usually put into the center of the stage, and for creators not usually associated with the X-Men. Mister Jeffries and Diamond Lil are featured in one of the stories, with a cameo appearance by Northstar in one panel.

The third of four stories, “Boxes” begins with the burial at sea for Diamond Lil, who was recently killed off unceremoniously and completely unnecessarily in X-Force #23. This issue was published so shortly after that issue that this story had been solicited as “a story that is so top secret we can’t tell you who is writing it or drawing it or who it’s about!” because it would have been quite a spoiler otherwise.

In a strange funeral scene attended only by Cyclops, Dr. Nemesis, Logan, Mister Jeffries and Northstar, Diamond Lil is put to rest inside of a glass coffin and tossed overboard from Utopia Island. The funeral is strange for three reasons. First, the attendance is so sparse compared to the general population of the island. Note that Dr. Takiguchi’s rooftop cremation funeral in Uncanny X-Men #515 was attended by about twenty mutants, including the entire X-Club, and he was barely known. Second, they encase her in glass rather than cremate her, but that’s likely because she still might be indestructible, even in death. It also raises the question why they didn’t also bury Dr. Takiguchi this way. Third, and strangest of all, Mister Jeffries is wearing a suit! Seriously though, credit goes to whoever decided not to dress up the few heroes who made it to the funeral in their costumes, as many superhero funerals are disrespectfully accompanied by way too much spandex.

The figure in the foreground is very likely Northstar, but he’s not mentioned by name. It marks one of the few times since the pair joined up with the X-Men that Northstar and Mister Jeffries are shown in the same panel.

The story itself explains the sad, sad story of Madison and Lil’s marriage after the unfortunate events of the Neverland mutant concentration camp from the Weapon X series. During that series, a mind-controlled Jeffries built Boxbot guards to run the horrific prison where his wife Lillian was an inmate. In fact, she had beaten nearly to death by one of his creations while temporarily depowered in Weapon X #5 (Mar 2003). The beating was so bad that at the time, fans assumed she had been killed off until it was revealed later in the sequel series Weapon X: Days of Future Now #3 (Nov 2005) that she had just been taken away.

Up until this little 8pp story, even inclusive of the unfortunate events of X-Force issues #22 and #23, the issue of “What’s up with Lil?” had not been asked nor answered. Fans who knew Lil was still out there, still powered after M-Day and knew she was married to Mister Jeffries had been wondering where she was, why no mention had been made of their marriage and why Jeffries, despite having appeared in over 20 issues as an X-Man until this point, had never mentioned her once. This story does a fairly good job as a ret-con explaining why he had been so reticent about the whole issue.

He had been in fact, quite affected by his role as the constructor of the Boxbot guards and was completely avoiding Lil for over a month, choosing instead to immerse himself in the behind-the-scenes construction of the facility on Utopia Island. Chris Yost, the writer who killed off Diamond Lil in the first place, does score points here by noting in one of Jeffries’ thought captions dated Day 9 of Utopia’s existence:

I bury myself in work. God knows there’s enough of it here. The entire installation is a disaster, and given my abilities, I’m the prettiest girl at the dance. Nemesis and Beast help brainstorm, but I’m left to do the work.

This is a very accurate observation, as we’ve seen Jeffries do it all in his many appearances, always the hard-working hands-on guy taking action while the rest of the team just blathers on and on and I’m glad Chris Yost mentioned this.

Another nice touch takes place on the 26th day of Utopia, when Lil comes down to the lab to call a truce just after the unfortunate events of Dark X-Men: The List #1, when Marrina was killed. Although Jeffries and Lil likely never really knew Marrina all that much, even back in the days of Dept H, it’s finally nice to see two of the precious few Alpha Flight members still alive mentioning her passing.

Along with plenty of gratuitous scenes of Jeffries using his powers to transmorph metal, glass and plastic into machinery, artist Karl Moline very smoothly inserts powerful haunting images of Boxbots into several panels. The evil robots aren’t actually there, but are cleverly placed visuals showing the immense depth of guilt suffered by Madison whenever he uses his powers. It’s a very serious insight into the character and is quite a nice touch on top of his otherwise cartoony style.

After forty-one days, Mr. and Mrs. Jeffries resolve their differences and continue the tradition of hooking up “on panel” that we’ve seen before in Nation X issues. See if you can tell which of the following images of Mister Jeffries are from scenes that occur before the sex scene and which is from the scene that occurs after:

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Unfortunately, the events of Necrosha begin shortly after they get back together and Lil perishes within an hour after that. Chris Yost does manage to elevate himself with this story with a few good points, close characterization and excellent writing, but it all happened one issue too late.

Northstar and Box in Uncanny X-Men #521

February 21, 2010

Uncanny X-Men #521
Apr 2010

The Nation X storyline continues in Uncanny X-Men as the Predator X arc comes to its conclusion and a new arc gradually starts. Well, the new arc is not so much an “arc” as it is an “event”, or whatever the highest ranking episodic descriptor might be: Kitty Pryde is coming back, if you didn’t already read it on a hundred other blogs. Northstar appears in a one panel cameo as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in issue #505 and Mister Jeffries appears as a member of the X-Club, having joined up in issue #508.

In the previous issue, Cyclops sent a squad to deal with the Predator X situation in New York City, where they encounter a team of bad guys who nave been around since issue #515. It turns out the 784 trillion nanobots Mister Jeffries discovered on Utopia Island in issue #519 have been gathering data for these villains to put into a super-duper mutant computer. Of course their leader, Lobe, made the classic movie mistake: don’t explain so much! He literally explains their entire nefarious plot on floating video screens generated from their super-duper mutant computer. On one of the screens, you can see part of Northstar.

Also in the previous issue: Magneto and Namor built a column to hold up Utopia Island, which had been sinking. This massive column also serves as a habitat for displaced Atlanteans. Dr. Nemesis and Mister Jeffries arrive in the X-sub and its awesome X-shaped front window to offer their assistance. Jeffries is shown in one panel with a hands-free headset playing the straight man to Nemesis’ usual nasty rudeness. It’s quite comical that the reader is left to figure out that the unattributed speech bubbles coming from the X-sub are spoken by Dr. Nemesis as Jeffries comes across so warm and folksy.

Meanwhile, Magneto is doing… something on a mountaintop, presumably concentrating really hard to bring back Kitty Pryde, who has been trapped inside a giant space bullet. Cyclops calls in the X-Club to figure it all out and Jeffries figures it out! He appears in front of a virtual orrery where he discovers what Magneto is doing. Although it’s great to have Jeffries portrayed as the super-smart guy, it’s a bit of a mischaracterization to have him studying orbital pathways and astrophysical dynamics. It would make more sense for him to use his powers to build a giant telescope or a sensitive detection instrument to measure gravitational effects, something like that.

Jeffries is shown again in one panel from behind talking with Angel, who calls him “Box”. It seems odd at first because he hasn’t been called this regularly, but in his previous appearance in this title (issue #519), Dr. Nemesis calls him Box. Also, when he was introduced to the reader in issue #512, his little X-caption box said, “Madison Jeffries-Box”, so it’s not really all that controversial.

Note: this issue has a Deadpool variant cover by Karl Moline, Rick Magyar and Christina Strain.

Uncanny X-Men #521 – Deadpool variant

Northstar gets some action in Nation X #2

January 17, 2010

Nation X #2
Mar 2010

The anthology series Nation X continues in this issue with more “slice of life” stories about what it’s like to live on Utopia Island, the new headquarters for the X-Men. Consisting of 8pp stories by various writers and artists, we get to see a showcase for characters not usually put into the center of the stage, and for creators not usually associated with the X-Men. Northstar is featured in one of the stories and appears as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508. Aurora also briefly appears as Jeanne-Marie in three panels. Not a member of Alpha Flight but a notable new associate, Northstar’s boyfriend Kyle also appears extensively.

In the third of four stores, “LDR” is written and drawn by Tim Fish, who is gay, and whose cartoony style first suggests a parody piece more suitable for a FUNday post. However, he’s just having fun with a gay character while skirting the edge. When Matt Fraction first introduced Kyle in Uncanny X-Men #508, it was the first time Northstar had an actual boyfriend and Tim expanded on that idea, although at the expense of Northstar’s usual demeanor.

The story begins with a brutal but completely unexplained attack by the Warwolves, beasties from the Excalibur title put back into play seemingly randomly. Northstar is quickly taken out while Storm rescues him in a whirlwind, leading to a tongue-lashing from Cyclops. Note already two stark differences in character: Northstar ought to be able to handle the Warwolves, or at least escape handily with his super-speed. Second, there’s no way the Northstar we know would sit there and allow himself to be scolded by Cyclops with “I’m very disappointed” and then apologize immediately “I’m sorry, Scott.”

Preliminary sketch art by Tim Fish

This is Northstar? Remember the scene from Alpha Flight #25 where he’s confronted by the team about his past and we get lines like, “I see no one here whom I acknowledge to have the authority to pass judgement over me.” and “Oh, so it’s truth you’re after, is it? Whose truth, I wonder? Yours? My sister’s?” That’s the arrogant jerk we love, not this simpering bag who offers an apology first crack!

Well, Tim Fish is just trying to set up the premise of the story, the LDR (Long Distance Relationship) problems Jean-Paul is having with Kyle, who is all the way over in Toronto, over two thousand miles away, causing him to be distracted and preoccupied. Then the fun starts: a few silly scenes around Utopia showing Northstar acting about as simple as the cartoon art of this piece. He’s shown handing a wrench to Pixie, who is repairing a burst water pipe and carrying a box of tissues while Warpath is hauling heavy crates around. Written by anyone else besides Tim Fish, these panels would be rather insulting, but here’s where he really shines. He caps it off by having Northstar absentmindedly fly smack into Dazzler, knocking her off her roller skates and onto all fours while he’s daydreaming about Kyle.

Have you seen my pink bra?

Awesome! He later decides to call him and suggests he asks his boss for some vacation time.

Well, his boss is none other than his boyfriend’s sister, Jeanne-Marie Beaubier, the Chief Operating Officer of Team Northstar Extreme Snowsports, who, up in her high-rise office, sends Kyle off gladly. We find out that Kyle’s been a “trusted friend for ages” and a bit of backstory – she hired him as an event manager for Northstar and later, they fell in love. It is unknown if she’s put on her bra since removing it in Dark X-Men: The Beginning #3.

Upon his arrival in San Francisco, Kyle is whisked to Utopia and three panels later is toweling off after what Tim Fish himself calls “implied gay sex”, which isn’t so shocking after similar scenes in Uncanny X-Men #508 with Karma and of course the scene recently in Nation X: X-Factor #1 with Longshot and Dazzler. They then visit around the island while Kyle keeps insisting they leave, as he’s generally unsettled by what’s otherwise an ordinary day on the island.

Prelminary sketch of Kyle

Just then, a Warwolf returns as inexplicably as the story began, and attacks! This time Northstar gets in a solid blow before handing off the battle to Colossus and Psylocke. He then heroically rescues Kyle by whisking him away again. Kyle then almost breaks up with him due to all the excitement that he just can’t handle… but they agree to stay away from Utopia and on the ground for a while.

Tim Fish also included an interesting image of Aurora in an X-Man costume on his blog, but she doesn’t appear in this costume in the story:

Here’s another Aurora sketch:

Preliminary sketch of Aurora

Note the rounded ear, covered up in the published version.

Published version

Note that in both the cover art by Dustin Weaver and Tim Fish’s version of Northstar’s costume, the white starburst on his leg has been replaced by a white belt, which we’ve also seen in Nation X: X-Factor #1.

Northstar appears in Nation X: X-Factor #1

January 10, 2010

Nation X: X-Factor #1
Mar 2010

No, not that X-Factor, and no, not the other one… the new one with Jamie Madrox and crew doing their private eye work in Manhattan. That one. They come to visit Utopia Island, the new home of the X-Men, in this one-shot by invitation for a tour and friendly get-together. Northstar appears in a few panels as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508.

Upon their sudden teleportation arrival, Wolverine tenses up, thinking it’s trouble and cracks a good one, “Been a good day and a half since we had a tussle!” The X-Men have been continually attacked, invaded, assaulted and generally under siege constantly since moving to Utopia Island, so the little in-joke by Peter David really gave me a chuckle. Northstar and Pixie drop in just after X-Factor arrives, and strangely, Madrox doesn’t remember Northstar at first. Note that they met in Alpha Flight #107 and fought together in the graveyard in that issue when Northstar used his super-fast punching power to help Jamie create many copies of himself in a short time. They also met again in the Infinity Crusade and Infinity War series, so it’s sort of odd that he’s unfamiliar to him. It has been almost 20 years in our time, and Jamie did remember who he was after he reminded him, so it’s possible he just forgot his name after all this time.

One particular member of X-Factor, the alien Shatterstar, who has recently taken on a more modern appearance from his archetypical 90s look, briefly flirts with Northstar. Originally meant to be an asexual being struggling with his emotions, Shatterstar is now bisexual, and is currently dating fellow X-Factor teammate Rictor, who is gay, and who quickly puts a halt to each of the flirty introductions. Peter David also mischievously has Shatterstar approach Iceman, just to add fuel to the “Is Iceman gay?” controversy.

Another visitor to Utopia Island brings trouble: a new character called Crone who keeps a book of prophecy. When Professor X and Darwin confront her and confiscate the book, she grows to enormous size, prompting a rescue by Nightcrawler and Northstar. Unfortunately, the book falls into the drink during the rescue and is eaten by one of the swarming sharks (??!?!) who are circling the island.

Northstar is shown with a slightly altered costume from previous appearances: he’s got a white belt and white stripes going down the sides of his arms and legs, along with distinct boots and gloves, not just white portions of costume by his hands and feet. It’s a minor alteration that stands out for those of us who keep track of these sorts of things.

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

Uh oh, fifteen minutes to Judge Wapner.

December 26, 2009

Uncanny X-Men #519
Feb 2010

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.

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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.

I'm an excellent driver.

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.

Mister Jeffries beams me up in X-Men: Legacy #230

December 19, 2009

X-Men: Legacy #230
Feb 2010

The four-part “Devil at the Crossroads” arc comes to its conclusion in this Nation X issue of X-Men: Legacy. Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

The story arc had a rather predictable ending as the X-Men defeat Emplate when Rogue brings his pocket dimension into the Science Team’s interdimensional dragnet firewall thingy. Mister Jeffries, at the helm of the machine, is shown in a few panels rooted in the same control chair he’s been sitting in since issue #228. Must be a comfortable chair, eh? You can see his hand in one panel, too, engaging the liminal field, but it looks like he’s doing something else. They can put “click click click” all they want into the panel, but it will still look like he’s engergizing the transporter controls.

Oh, man, this is just like when Scotty beamed up the bridge crew from the surface of Gamma Trianguli Five, awesome!

Man, I love this chair. I could sit here for at least the next 3 story arcs.

For those of you keeping track of these sorts of things, when Cyclops addresses him, he neither refers to him as “Dr. Jeffries” nor “Mister Jeffries.” Just “Jeffries” this time around. He had been erroneously referred to by Mike Carey as “Dr. Jeffries” in a few other issues, so this nit must be picked.

It would have been nice to see him in action throughout this arc, but this was really a story about Rogue, so he was only involved as a Science Team accessory role. He’s made it into each of the issues of the arc in this fashion, providing solid behind-the-scenes support for the main characters. It’s a good way for him to appear in a large number of books, but I’d rather… well, it needs not even be mentioned what someone who writes in a blog called “Alpha Flight Collector” would rather be collecting.

Daniel Acuña’s detailed painted style was perfectly suited for this “horror story resolved with old-fashioned sci-fi” story arc, down to the minutiae of warming Jeffries’ face and Dr. Nemesis’ white jacket with the green phosphor glow of the control console, a nice bit of excellent coloring.

Mister Jeffries and the smoking gun!

December 13, 2009

Nation X #1
Feb 2010

The Nation X logo began appearing on comics a few months before this issue, as if there were a coherent storyline to follow. If you expected this issue to start to tie it all together, well, the main title of Nation X turns out not to be a main story at all. It’s actually the opposite: an anthology series of 8pp stories by various writers and artists about life on and off Utopia, the X-Men’s new island home. Northstar appears on the cover as a member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508 and Mister Jeffries makes a minor appearance as an X-Man, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #505.

Anthologies happen to be a favorite of Alpha Flight Collector for two reasons. First, you get to see a wide variety of writers and artists who you’d not normally see through the blinders of Alpha-vision, some of which are up and coming and some of which are daringly different from the usual subject matter. Also, these stories are typically showcases for characters who either don’t appear in their own books or are somewhat minor characters, so the chances of an Alpha Flight appearance is pretty good.

In the third of four stories, Mister Jeffries appears in a few panels. The story, written by Chris Yost and illustrated by Michele Bertilorenzi, is essentially a “Day in the life of Iceman”, and it begins with a standoff between Toad, Dragoness, Bliss and Litterbug on one side (thanks to comicbookdb.com for assistance with IDing these guys) and Iceman, Mister Jeffries, Prodigy and Surge on the other as Toad threatens to take control of the water supply. Jeffries is shown holding some sort of two-handled gun, possibly recently fired, as it has smoke trailing out of its nozzle. Hopefully, it does more than make grey smoke. Iceman takes out Toad and his gang quickly and singlehandedly by giving them hypothermia, as noted by Mister Jeffries on the next page.

I can see Canada from my front porch!

At the conclusion of the story, Mister Jeffries can be seen in one more panel standing around on the deck of Utopia Island. Like dozens of other mutants in this story and the other three stories in the book, he’s not referred to by name, but those distinctive grey temples make him easy to spot.

Northstar’s appearance on the cover is so tiny you could easily miss it, and part of him is obscured by Rogue’s scarf. He’s shown standing around on the cliff of Utopia island in an X-Men family portrait by Dustin Weaver. He does not appear in any of the stories inside.

Note: the cover to Nation X #2, also by Dustin Weaver, appears as a promo at the back of the book, showing Northstar much larger, and wearing a white belt as a new accessory to his costume.

Jeffries appears in Uncanny X-Men #518

December 6, 2009

Uncanny X-Men #518
Feb 2010

The Nation X storyline calms down for a bit on Utopia, the island nation of the X-Men, which is now sinking. A metaphor for the entire story arc or just another emergency for the X-Men to deal with? You decide. Mister Jeffries appears as a regular member of the X-Men Science Team, having joined up in issue #505.

Matt Fraction goes back to his crowded and barely manageable multi-plot storytelling method with no fewer than four plots running through this issue. Two pages are devoted to the Science Team, who confront Magneto in the infirmary. Mister Jeffries begins to accuse Magneto of enhancing the Predator X creatures, then suddenly explains that the generator engines installed to float the island aren’t strong enough. After Dr. Nemesis almost threatens Magneto (really, there’s a panel in there that seems to be missing a speech bubble), Jeffries suggests that Magneto help by using his magnetic power to become a human dynamo.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Here, Jeffries is not using “dynamo” in the traditional sense to mean a low-voltage DC electricity source, as it would not be able to provide enough power to lift the island. He must mean it in the colloquial sense to mean “generator”, unless Fraction doesn’t know what it means.

It’s also a bit odd to use “human” to describe what he wants Magneto to do, as Magneto wouldn’t usually allow himself to be described as a human, unless Fraction doesn’t know what the word “human” means, either. “Mutant-powered” would have been a better choice.

Overall, another minor but solid appearance from Jeffries doing his Science Team thing. They still have that mutant birth crisis thingy to work on, but I suppose the sinking island and the drowning death of the entire population of Utopia comes first.

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

Never a dull moment in Uncanny X-Men #517

December 1, 2009

Uncanny X-Men #517
Jan 2010

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.

I am flying so fast that not even Greg Land can trace me!

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.