X-Men: Bishop's Crossing HC collects:
- Uncanny X-Men #281 to 293
- X-Men #12 and 13
- A 2-part short story from X-Men #10 and 11.
Bishop's Crossing is a book of great relevance for the X-Men mythos, as it introduces Bishop, a character from a dystopian future that will be a key player during a good part of the 90's stories. This book fills the gap between X-Men by Chris Claremont & Jim Lee Omnibus Vol.2 and X-Men: X-Cutioner's Song.
A BRIEF HISTORICAL CONTEXT:
Bishop's Crossing also gives us the first adventures of the X-Men Gold-Team, starring Storm, Jean Grey, Colossus, Iceman and Archangel. By 1991, there were so many mutant characters that the X-Men had to be split into 2 teams in order to feature them all properly, with a new ongoing series simply called "X-Men" running in parallel with Uncanny X-Men. So, starting with Uncanny X-Men #281, you had the Gold Team, while in X-Men #1 you had the Blue Team (with Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast, Gambit, Rogue, Psylocke and Jubilee). The adventures starring those characters (and the stories that lead to the Gold and Blue Teams division) can all be found in the X-Men by Claremont & Lee Omnibus Vol.2.
A SHORT SUMMARY OF THE ISSUES INCLUDED AND THE CREATIVE TEAMS:
- Uncanny X-Men #281 to 283 (pencils and plot by Whilce Portacio, script by John Byrne, co-plot by Jim Lee). This is an all-action story involving the Hellfire Club, Emma Frost and The Hellions, Shinobi Shaw (the son of Sebastian Shaw) and Trevor Fitzroy, a criminal mutant from the future. And of course, Bishop, a mutant law-enforcer who comes to the present from the same future timeline than Fitzroy in order to capture him.
- Uncanny X-Men #284 to 286 (pencils and plot by Portacio, script by Byrne and Scott Lobdell, aditional art and co-plot by Lee). In the Russian Sakhalin Islands a void opens up and mysterious creatures emerge from it. When the mutant Sunfire is send to investigate and everything goes wrong the X-Men get into the action. This story introduces the long lost brother of one of the X-Men.
- Uncanny X-Men #287 (pencils by John Romita Jr, script by Lobdell, plot by Lee). This issue focuses in the history of Bishop and his timeline in the future. This is a story with lasting effects during years in the X-Men series, introducing the notion of an unknown treacherous X-Men that leads to the complete annihilation of the team in the near future.
- Uncanny X-Men #288 (pencils by Andy Kubert, script by Byrne & Lobdell, plot by Lee & Portacio). This issue focuses on Bishop having a hard time adjusting to his new life in the present.
- Uncanny X-Men #289 and 290 (written by Lobdell, pencils by Portacio). Iceman must face the cyber-samurai-yakuzas he fought during his late X-Factor adventures. While at the Mansion, Storm and Forge must deal with their personal issues.
- Uncanny X-Men #291 to 293 (written by Lobdell, pencils by Tom Raney and Rurik Tayler). More radically deformed and powerful tha ever Morlocks attack Manhattan and it's up to the X-Men to stop them.
- X-Men #12 and 13 (written by Fabian Nicieza, pencils by Art Thibert). Starring the X-Men Blue-Team, this story introduces Hazard, a new mutant menace with ties to Xavier's past.
- Material from X-Men #10 and 11 (written by Lobdell, pencils by Mark Texeira). A 14-pages short story starring Maverick, an allied from Wolverine's past.
A (PERSONAL) APPRECIATION ON THE ART:
Most of the comics collected in this volume are illustrated by a much inspired Whilce Portacio. I really like his work here. Though he isn't a great storyteller, he certainly brings spectacularity to the table. If you are up to very muscular, typical 90's depictions of superheroes, you'll do just fine. There's much detail in his work and he manages to give great volume to the anatomy of the characters. I think his work here is much better than his more recent efforts in Marvel books these last years.
The Bishop origin issue is beautifully illustrated by John Romita Jr, and there's another great single issue by Andy Kubert, inked by Bill Sienkiewicz no less. The Tom Raney issues are well done but they are probably the less attractive ones of the volume. The Art Thibert issues are also well done, but they are nothing great, they look too much like Jim Lee or Arthur Adams illustrations but with none of the magic that characterize them.
This book features around twenty pin-ups from 1990, 1991 and 1992 editions of Marvel: The Year In Review, Marvel Illustrated: Swimsuit Issue, Marvel Swinsuit Special, as well as a couple of Wizard covers. The illustrators are Whilce Portacio, Art Thibert, Marc Silvestri, Andy Kubert, George Pérez, Kevin Nowlan, Joe Jusko and Mike Mignola, among others. Unfortunately, no original pencilled or inked versions of the comic pages, or sketches are included.
ABOUT THE EDITION:
This is a very high quality book. It features sewn-binding, excellent glossy paper stock and metal engravings printed on the front of the book and the spine that you can see when you remove the dustjacket. The printing and art reproduction are excellent, showcasing incredibly crisp illustrations. The sewn-binding allows to read the book confortably with no gutter-loss at all, so you can fully appreciate the art. It's the kind of book that's made to last, you definitely get your money's worth.
If you are an X-Fan, you have to get this book, its relevance for the X-Mythos is huge. The writing, while no masterpiece, is quite solid, the art is very attractive and the high quality of the edition is indisputable.
If you are new to X-Men and have sympathy for early 90's comics, you'll have no problem enjoying the book: even though it's embedded in a long continuity, this is the first Bishop story, so it's new-reader friendly. If you want more sophisticated or contemporary X-Men stories, then you are better off getting New X-Men by Grant Morrison or Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon.
For more stories of this X-Men era, you can get the X-Cutioner's Song HC, which is the direct continuation of this book, starting with Uncanny X-Men #294. And of course, you have X-Men by Chris Claremont & Jim Lee Omnibus Vol.2: the narrative in Bishop's Crossing spins directly from that book and it features great art by Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio among other artists.