Monday, September 10, 2018

Retro Review: X-Men #7 (1992) - "Inside...Out!"




Red in Tooth and Claw


Plot and Breakdown: Jim Lee
Dialogue: Scott Lobdell
Art: Jim Lee and Art Thibert
Lettering: Tom Orzechowski
Colors: Joe Rosas
Cover Price: $1.25
Release Date: April 1992



Jim Lee’s X-Men. This was my teenage entry point into Marvel Comics (following a DC dominated childhood). After a somewhat strange opening arc, which closed off Chris Claremont’s time on the X books (for the time being), we get the conclusion of this Omega Red dominated the second arc with this issue. The tale of Omega Red and his operation to take down Wolverine and facilitate the theft of his memories opened with two fine issues in 5 and 6. Let’s see how this closing installment fares.

The richness of the storytelling is what immediately strikes the reader here. The story pulls on a number of pre-existing X-Men story threads from across the X-Men titles. One of these rotates around Wolverine’s backstory in the military following his relationship with Creed and Maverick and dwells on where Omega Red linked into his past. The other thread is the way this issue harks back to Psylocke's development and her backstory from Uncanny X-Men 251. Here it feeds into the story via a residual control mechanism exercised by Matsuo. One point worth making more generally about this arc is that it displays a snappiness of dialogue in comparison to the more poetic detailed dialogue and narrative that was a hallmark of Claremont’s work. Here we can credit the talents of Scott Lobdell, and I have to say his work here just really crackles off the page.



The action here comes courtesy of the X-Men’s fight back and it really provides an exciting finale to the story. All action, powers on full display and witty exchanges between Beast, Jubilee and, yes, even Cyclops. As an issue, it is best looked at as a showcase for Jim Lee's house style (along with Art Thibert's finishing). Character-wise this is the classic line up of X-Men for those of us who grew up with this run and the associated cartoon. Wolverine’s energy and rage in this issue seem to come out at the reader from the page. His energy crackles as a result of the dynamic artwork. Elsewhere the team looks muscular and athletic like a team of deities; wonderful to look at. This to me is peak Marvel, peak X-Men, peak superhero. This is my go-to art style if I had to pick only one run of comics from my collection. Whether this is purely warranted by merit, or whether there is an element in nostalgia in this view I cannot say at this point. My love for Lee’s sketchy, line-heavy style has been too long implanted in me at this stage. 

Bits and Pieces:

As a sample of X-Men at this time, it probably wouldn’t be possible to pick a better issue. This has an explosive story, throwbacks to the past storylines, art that is fully representative of peak Marvel X-Men boom, and just a lot of fun in general. While issues 1-3 of this new X-Men series still had Chris Claremont at the helm this issue closes off the first arc based on Jim Lee’s story outlines and the tone Lobdell achieves in this issue distills the essence of the X-Men as I remember them. We go in on a deep dive from this point on in this series; for me, this is where my journey really began years ago. 25 years on it still holds up. 

9.1/10

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