Some of Scott Lobdell’s best X-Men comics were the issues that excluded fisticuffs and super-villains altogether, and Uncanny X-Men #297 is a superb example. Twenty-two pages of human interaction (well, mutant interaction) featuring three pairs: Beast and Archangel (for our entertainment), Rogue and Gambit (to fill the soap opera quota), and Prof. X and Jubilee (to provide the heart of the issue).
The issue serves as the epilogue to X-Cutioner’s Song, the big noisy crossover event that consumed most of the X-titles for the previous few months, so the X-Men were due for some quiet time. In that crossover, Xavier was critically wounded in an assassination attempt, but his recovery grants him a temporary side-effect. For a little while, at least, he gets to walk again.
Granted, poor Xavier has been in and out of a wheelchair so many times over the years, it’s kind of cruel. That’s due to the habit of comics to revert to the most familiar status quo after a while, but this particular story works great because both the reader and Xavier know it’s temporary from the start. He gets to enjoy the use of his legs for an evening or so, and then it will be back to his chair for probably the rest of his life. Very bittersweet.
So how does he spend this precious time? He spends it with Jubilee, whom he has the least in common with and hardly even knows at this point. Jubilee joined when Xavier was off-planet with his space wife (yeah, that was a thing), and he hasn’t been back for all that long by this issue. They bond over roller-blading, and it is fantastic. Jubilee was created to be the Robin to Wolverine’s Batman, but it turns out the character works best as a youthful foil to the very adult and disciplined Charles Xavier, allowing us to see a different side of him.
Wonderful issue, and the ending is rather touching.
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Brandon Peterson
Inker: Dan Panosian
Publisher: Marvel Comics
How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Marvel Unlimited
Appropriate For: ages 10 and up