Penciling: Brandon Peterson | Inking: Terry Austin
Back in 1992, I was about to turn 16 years old, and had been in & out of hospitals all year. During that time, one of the things that put a smile on my face, was X-Men comics. Being born “different”, I had come to identify with the socio-political message that the books sent, and I had learned just about everything there was to know about the characters & the lore.
Early that year, I had heard that there was going to be a superb X-Men crossover series on the way. This, of course, only fueled my excitement for the series, as I wanted desperately to see where they’d take the stories. When November rolled around, I hurriedly bought the first in the series. As soon as I saw the cover, I was stunned into silence. There was Professor X, a bastion of acceptance & rights for all, lying (presumably) dead at the feet of Cable. Cable, a once-great ally to the X-Men… What…The…Hell???
I wanted to tear up right there in the store.
Now; rather than dive in to the art & lettering style of this cover, or the history of its creation, I want to talk about why this cover affected me on a personal level.
As I mentioned above, I was born “different”. Being a kid with a disability was hard. Society hadn’t quite gotten to the point(s) of inclusion that we have reached today. Therefore, X-Men was an escape for me. I was able to get into a world where those who were also born different were able to physically fight against those who oppressed them, yet the majority of the progress they made in being accepted was due to the political & social work put forth by their leader, Prof. Charles Xavier.
To be shown that this iconic character could possibly be killed off, was a huge hit for me. It represented that society was not always just, and that there would always be losses in the fight for equality. It also reminded me that regardless of where you think people’s loyalties lie, one should never stop fighting for what is right.
NOW we can talk about the artwork. The work of Brandon Peterson (penciler) & Terry Austin (inker) on this is really striking. The look of anguish on Xavier’s face, coupled with Cable’s shadowed eye, really brought forth the tragedy that was played out here. The floating papers & the energy blast still flowing from Xavier’s chest give a great sense of motion to the otherwise static image, and the shading throughout is some of the best hatching I’ve seen in a while.
The only negative that I see in this cover is the lack of any real background. While I know that the plain white background is there to bring the focus of the eye to the scene that is being portrayed, I feel like having something going on behind Cable would have added to the drama of the event. Give it more impact, if you will.
All in all, I feel like this fantastic cover really sets the stage for what is to come in this arc: a dramatic & exciting battle between powerhouses. I’d really like to see more arcs like this in the future, as I feel like this one brought so much to the X-Men / X-Factor / X-Force lore.