Today when we look back at 90’s X-Men comics, we don’t have too many positive things to say. The entire decade of X-Men comics is often the butt of jokes, sometimes deservedly so. But not all of the 90’s were bad for the merry mutants.
There were some good stories back then like: “Fatal Attractions,” Chris Claremont’s final three issues, the Marc Silvestri Wolverine run, and the classic “X-tinction Agenda” and “Age of Apocalypse” to name a few. Other good books also came out the in 90’s. In fact, one of my favorite X-Men crossovers of the time was released twenty-five years ago this month. I’m of course talking about the twelve part “X-Cutioner’s Song.”
“X-Cutioner’s Song” ran in Uncanny X-Men #294-297, X-Factor #84-86, X-Men #14-16, and X-Force #16-18. The crossover was written by Scott Lobdell, Peter David and Fabian Nicieza, and featured art by Andy Kubert, Greg Capullo, Jae Lee and Brandon Peterson. The plot of the crossover went something like this:
After an assassination attempt leaves Professor Xavier in critical condition, the X-Men scramble to find his attacker… Cable. The manhunt leads the X-Men into conflict with X-Force, and if that wasn’t enough to deal with, Cyclops and Jean Grey are kidnapped by the forces of Apocalypse.
Each issue of the “X-Cutioner’s Song” came polybagged with an exclusive trading card featuring one of the story’s key characters. Because of the bag and card, I think each issue was a little more expensive than usual, but I didn’t mind that. This event was a huge deal for a young fan like me, so I bought two copies of each issue. One copy was for me to read, and one copy went directly into one my long boxes to keep.
“X-Cutioner’s Song” held a lot of firsts for me: this story was the first time I saw art by Brandon Peterson and Jae Lee; this was also the first time I saw all the X-Men books come together like this; this was the first time I saw Havok as a true leader; the story showed me X-Force could survive without Cable; and this saga was when I first learned of Wolverine’s love of pork rinds.
I loved the “X-Cutioner’s Song” twenty-five years ago, and I still do today. However, I’m also aware enough to recognize the story has its flaws. The twelve issues start off strong, but by the time you get X-Men #15, the story has lost some steam. Like many big event series from Marvel, “X-Cutioner’s Song” is overstuffed with characters, subplots, and some WTF moments.
I’ve never done the math, but there has to be well over two dozen characters involved by the time we get to the third act of “X-Cutioner’s Song.” It’s just too many, and many of them suffer from it. However, I do respect that the entire story was told in the main x-Men titles, and not in 24 separate mini-series or tie-ins like Marvel does today.
Despite some shortcomings, this crossover hold up well after twenty-five years. “X-Cutioner’s Song” is a highly entertaining X-Men crossover. What makes it all the more enjoyable is the amazing art provided by Jae Lee, Brandon Peterson, Andy Kubert and Greg Capullo. Their art is distinctive and full of great moments. I remember spending countless hours trying to imitate Capullo’s and Lee’s art.
All in all, “X-Cutioner’s Song” is one of the best early-‘90s crossovers. It certainly throws everything at you, including the kitchen sink. The single issues are easy to find in dollar bins, and there are several collections to be found. So if you haven’t read this story, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the “X-Cutioner’s Song.”