Uncanny X-Men #321 was cover dated February 1995 and was on sale in December 1994, sharing the spinner racks with Angela #1, Azrael #1, Extreme Justice #1 and Indiana Jones & the Iron Phoenix #1.
Credits: Scott Lobdell – writer, Ron Garney – pencils and Bob Harras – editing.
Cast (20 years ago): Charles Xavier, Erik Magnus, Robert ‘Iceman’ Drake, Lucas Bishop, Ororo ‘Storm’ Munroe, Betsy ‘Psylocke’ Braddock, David ‘Legion’ Haller and Gabrielle Haller.
Cast: (Present): Professor Charles Xavier, Scott ‘Cyclops’ Summers, Jean Grey-Summers, Remy ‘Gambit’ LeBeau, Rogue, Dr Henry ‘Beast’ McCoy, Warren ‘Archangel’ Worthington III and Nathan Christopher Summers Dayspring Askani’Son (Cable)
Plot: 20 Years in the past in Haifa, Charles Xavier is involved in a philosophical debate with his friend Erik Magnus over the possible existence of homo superior and what that will mean for the world. Behind them, a veteran who lost his legs is being mocked as he begs for change. Seeing someone badly treated and with a bit of booze in him, Charles goes to right this wrong and it descends into a bar fight, which a bitter Erik jumps into quite happily. Charles says the words “Any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for.” Erik offers to carve it on his tombstone.
In the present, Professor X is relating this story as Jean Grey and her kind of son Cable are using some Shi’Ar technology to contact the time lost X-Men to prevent the universe from ending, Back in the past Charles and Erik discuss Charles’ deeply unethical relationship with Gabrielle, but Erik convinces him to go for it. At the same time Bishop, Iceman, Pyslocke and Storm still don’t have all their memories and tensions are rising.
That night, Legion walks by and greets his mother, way before his birth. Charles walks in as Gabrielle is convincing herself she imagined that and kisses her after talking in a way that underscores how creepy and unethical he is being.
The next day, Charles and Magnus pass a man on the docks, with a M brand on his face. Bishop doesn’t react, but Charles gets a sense on oncoming darkness. Bishop does however see a translucent Cable, who touches his head, re-awakening his memories and reminding his off his mission. The rest of the lost X-Men arrive and the same happens to them from a distance. But it may be too late, because Legion has come for Erik Magnus and has declared he must die.
Notes: There’s a lot of good here, so lets get that out of the way. Ron Garney does a decent job here, his work will improve over time and with 3 different inkers, he still shines out with good and consistent art. The opening, with Erik and Charles in the bar fight is great and I really enjoyed this look at Pre-Professor X. (Seriously, Marvel could do a whole series here, sort of like X-Men: the Hidden Years) and the friendship/bromance between Erik and Charles is clearer here than in the last 3 X-Men movies. Very little story is wasted and having the X-Men in the past is used barely, so the better parts of the story is given more room to breathe.
Then we get to Charles himself…..
I am a lifelong comic fan, in particular the X-Men and I have always had a great appreciation for Professor-X. My wife (The MIGHTY Rosie) doesn’t and when she read some X-Men because of me, her view of Professor X was that he was a massive a**hole. He’s unethical and single-minded and lets be realistic, a bit of a cult-leader. That is so very very apparent here. He’s dating a patient, a mental patient. THAT IS NOT OKAY. This would be creepy as f**k if he didn’t have psychic powers. I’m happy that Legion showed up, just to get that part of the story over. The scene where he kisses her, show me where the consent is. Lobdell does a good job here of making Charles the hero and the villain in 2 dozen pages, I’m wondering if that was his intent?
Next Time: Another dodgy doctor as the Spider-Clone fights to save the original.