Spanning from Uncanny X-Men #410 to #443, the Austen run ran for nearly two uninterrupted years. If you’re saying to yourself, that’s a lot of issues crammed into less than two years… well, you’d be right. Marvel was big on double-shipping back in those days (imagine that!), and they passed the savings (and quality) on to us!
|I almost used a cropped version of this for our “The Austen Run” banner…|
In perhaps a sign of things to come, the Austen run begins in the only way it can — with someone taking a gob of viscous white fluid to the face. Soon enough we might just be able to relate to this poor fella. Anyhoo, this is Sammy the Fish Boy… or Squid-Boy. He’s being “hated and feared” by a group of bullies, who surmise that he was the product of his mother “doin’ the nasty” with a bottle of Mr. Bubble. I hope she managed to get a t-shirt out of the deal.
|I wonder if Sammy’s mom thought it was as much fun to get dirty with Mr. Bubble as it was to get clean?|
Anyhoo, they “fear and hate” Sammy for a bit before shoving him into a mud puddle and leaving him to writhe around a bit. Sammy pulls himself up, declares that he’s the biggest loser who ever done lost. Also, a turd. He arrives home shortly after, and is informed by his mother that he’s gotta get himself cleaned up — they’ve got company tonight. Sammy says he’ll be right there… but first, he’s gotta go out to the field.
Despite the fact that Mom says no… he does anyway. This “field”, by the way, is basically a junkyard right in the middle of their suburban Vancouver neighborhood. Sammy laments the fact that he looks the way he does… and wishes he wasn’t a Mutant. Nothing we haven’t seen or heard before. This is almost too traditional an X-Men story, innit?
Sammy climbs into his secret clubhouse… which, doesn’t seem like the most secure location to hide what he’s about to show us. In addition to a swimsuit poster of “Brie!”, a poster of the cover of Uncanny X-Men #402 (March, 2002), those puppets from the N’Sync album cover, and some cans with the Ghost Writer thingie on it… Sammy’s got a gun!
Whodathunk this guy would be that up on pop culture? Well, I mean… bygone pop culture — I dunno. Whatever. The important part is the gun of course. Worth noting, Vancouver gets the Daily Bugle — that’s a heck of a circulation, innit?
So, Sammy’s got a gun… and he heads back home where he plans on ending his life. Instead, he’s met with tonight’s dinner guest: Charles Xavier! And he comes with an opportunity. Sammy smiles and begins to cry… and, all joking aside, we get to see that this visit saved his life. And again, all jokes aside, it’s actually quite well done.
Elsewhere, the Blackbird is headed toward Scotland for a mission. Our team includes Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Angel, Monet, Iceman, and Stacy X. Stacy is complaining that Chamber just upped and left the team to go off to college. Perhaps it’s worth noting that Chamber was a (relatively speaking) high-profile “get” for the earlier Joe Casey run. It felt as though Jono was being positioned as the (non Emma Frost) “breakout” star of the recently-cancelled Generation X. That… didn’t quite work out. Anyhoo, Stacy’s kvetchin’… and Monet shushes her by calling her a “mutant prostitute”, which would be like calling me an “idiot blogger”. Sometimes things just are what they are.
From here we get our ROLL CALL page, which gives us the run-down on our cast, including a reference to Stacy-X being “slutty yet fun”, as if to suggest that the two must be mutually x-clusive. I hate being the guy who points out things from back in the long ago that “haven’t aged well”, but… yeah. Anyhoo, not near as important as Stacy’s promiscuity… the Blackbird is coming under fire, and our heroes are very likely to die here.
We see in the distance that the Blackbird is being bombarded by flaming balls of fear and hate. The X-Men attempt to eject from the ‘bird before it takes the brunt of it… Nightcrawler manages to make landfall, crashing into a castle… because this is Scotland, and everyone there lives in castles.
Back to B.C…. Professor X is chatting up the Squid-Boy family about this opportunity. He’d like to take Sammy back with him to have him learn more about his Mutant abilities and whatnot. Sammy notices Charles’ accent… and I have to remind myself that this issue isn’t too far off the earliest X-Men movies – so, yeah. This quick chat is all it takes, before the day is through – Sammy’s on a jet to Xavier’s.
Outside, there’s a fella sorta rattling Charles’ cage about parking his jet in the middle of a residential neighborhood… which, yeah – he’s got a point. Xavier promises it won’t happen again… but, in the event that it does, he’ll give the fella a tour of the rig. Sammy is in awe of this, considering that Xavier, if he wanted to – could just use his “brain powers” to send this lookyloo away. Charles says he’d never* do such a thing… which is absolutely adorable. They board, and Sammy is introduced to Cat Beast.
Before they take off, Xavier uses his “brain powers” to deduce that Sammy’s got a gun. That, of course, is a big no-no. Sammy hands it over, claiming he only brought it because he didn’t want anyone else to find it and get hurt. Hmm… shouldn’t lie to a telepath, but whatever.
|I’ll credit Austen for his restraint in not having Charles ask “Is that a gun in your pants, or are you just glad to see me?”|
Xavier then decides to check in on the Scotland-bound team… and finds that they’re all kayoed! All x-cept Stacy. She’s freaking out as none of the rest are breathing. The Prof tries to calm her down and teach her C.P.R. – but she’s still all shades of wacked.
She finally calms down enough to let Xavier “take over” so she can administer C.P.R. Moments later, Nightcrawler wakes up with an “Ay carumba”, which… I’m not even sure where to start with that. He then spies Stacy blowing into Warren’s mouth… and accuses her of kissing him. Ya know, I thought Kurt was a pretty x-perienced guy, you’d figure he’d know the difference between making out and saving a life — maybe all he knows of C.P.R. is what he’s seen on 90’s sitcoms where guys used it as a way to make out with unwitting and prone girls to great hilarity?