Search for Hu banner ad

Underrated: X-Cutioner’s Song

The cover of the trade I don’t own.

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way.

This week: the multi-part crossover event X-Cutioner’s Song.

The first chapter of X-Cutioner’s Song was published in November 1992 in Uncanny X-Men #294, with subsequent eleven parts coming in issues of X-Factor, X-Men, X-Force and Uncanny X-Men. With the series being billed as revealing the origin of Cable (it didn’t – that came in 1994), there was significant hype and buzz around the comics when they were hitting the shelves nearly thirty years ago, but because I wasn’t into comics at the time, I never heard any of it.

Instead, I noticed a cover when restocking the boxes at my LCS and decided to pick up the arc after the shop owner gave it a quick recommendation. Fortunately, we had a full set (or seven) in stock, so I grabbed the individual issues rather than hunting down a collected edition (partly because I am also building an X-Men and Uncanny X-Men collection, but also because I wanted to read it as it was originally presented in comic form. Complete with the polybags still sealed for some off the comics (I won’t lie, I was tempted to leave them sealed, but at only a couple bucks a comic it didn’t seem worth it.

Plus, I wanted the feeling of cracking those bags and getting to be the first person reading these comics.

I forget sometimes how much dialogue and text there used to be on pages in comics.

Without question, comics from this era were technically published before I started buying single issues, but that doesn’t mean that these issues didn’t kickstart a sense of nostalgia for the old UK reprint magazines that I first came across this arc in. The first issue felt oddly familiar, but beyond that…? It was pure 90’s joy.

After all, 90’s comics aren’t bad. There’s just a huge number of them in longboxes across the country because so many were printed. That just makes them worth less than the comics from the 70’s and 80’s, but it doesn’t mean they’re not worth reading.

“If mankind waited for the ‘right time’ to address the winds of change it’s unlikely we’d ever have crawled from the primordial ooze.”

Scott Lobdell, Uncanny X-Men #294

I don’t know if I had forgotten about the amount of times characters within X-Men comics in the 90’s spouted pearls of wisdom, but I was less than halfway through this first part of X-Cutioners Song and I already had enough one liners to make me sound like I a semi professional couch philosopher thanks entirely to the less than subtle messaging. Messaging that seems just as relevant today as it ever did (and I’m sure we’d all hoped that would be different).

The main plot of X-Cutioner’s Song isn’t fully revealed in the first issue, but there is more than enough information here to reel you in hook line and sinker. The crossover cost me less than $20 to put together, and it was worth every penny to do so – not only because of the nostalgia factor, but primarily because this is a damn good story that holds up today (even the funky fashion choices for the street clothes the X-Men wear don’t detract too much).

With any story crossing over four series, the creative team is, as expected, pretty hefty. There are names that at the time were relatively new faces to the X-Men, but now… well now we consider them as creators who have made significant contributions to the comicsphere, frequently drawing large crowds at conventions;

  • Writers: Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza and Peter David.
  • Pencillers: Brandon Peterson, Andy Kubert, Jae Lee and Greg Capullo
  • Inkers: Terry Austin, Mark Pennington, Al Milgrom and Harry Candelario
  • Colorists: Mike Thomas, Marie Javins, Glynis Oliver, Joe Rosas and Steve Buccellato.

But despite the big names, the characters and import associated with the story, it’s an arc that can easily get overlooked when when you’re looking in the longboxes because the story came in the early 90’s, before the big bust in the comics market. Despite having heard a little about it over the years, largely through comments in UK reprints, I had never actually read the book before. Something I was more than happy to do with a story that is far more Underrated than I ever expected.

Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Almost American