The Xavier Institute: Something Borrowed, Something Blue

by Tony Thornley

To be honest, this was not going to be my original topic this week. This week, I was going to cover a classic X-Men storyline (I was torn between Asgardian Wars and the X-Men/X-Factor portion of Inferno), but this week X-Men Gold #30 was released, and it featured a wedding between one of the longest established X-Men couples…which turned instead into the wedding of one of the OTHER longest established X-Men couples.

(X-Men #30 Cover by Andy Kubert, Matthew Ryan and Joe Rosas)

Naturally that got me thinking about X-Men weddings, and while there have been plenty, I ended up at one of the most notable that was ALSO featured in issue #30 of a previous volume. I’m talking of course about X-Men #30, the wedding of Scott Summers and Jean Grey. The issue was written by Fabian Nicieza, with art by Andy Kubert and Matt Ryan, letters by Bill Oakley and colors by Joe Rosas.

I originally read the issue not long after it was published, and re-read it last year. I was surprised when I started re-reading this issue for the column. I expected a momentous occasion like this to warrant a double sized issue. It felt like it reading it, as well. It’s a dense, wordy issue, where a LOT happens. However, it’s a regular sized issue. To Fabian’s credit though, it’s GREAT. The story, decades later, holds up.

The plot is straightforward. It picks up from an hour before the ceremony, and ends as Jean and Scott leave for the airport for their honeymoon. The issue is narrated by Charles Xavier throughout, which is lovely, but detaches action slightly from the center of the issue. It would have been better served by having Jean or Scott narrate honestly, because the choice makes the issue about Charles more than the happy couple a few times. However, it’s a minor quibble overall, probably the only negative in Fabian’s script.

The issue opens with Jean getting dressed with the help of her mother, Ororo Munroe and Rachel Summers. Logan has left a note explaining his absence, which Jean is tearfully reading as she dresses. Each of the women present express their love for Jean, and the moment between Jean and Rachel (mother and possible future daughter) is a particular highlight. Meanwhile Scott is having trouble with his bow-tie, and Hank, Warren, Bobby and Alex are all present to tease him about it. Charles arrives just in time to save the day.

The action then moves outside, to the ceremony. It’s quiet, subdued and heartfelt, even with some cheesy touches like Lila Cheney’s band playing to processional. The action immediately moves to the reception, mixing heartfelt moments with humor and levity.

Another highlight- Fabian also makes a point to address the continuity of everything happening around the X-Men. Cable acknowledges that Val Cooper probably should be trying to arrest him, but Cooper just winks and walks away. The former New Mutants of X-Force find Wolfsbane and hugs and well-wishes are exchanged. Even Sabretooth, a prisoner of the X-Men at the time, makes a cameo that acknowledges that yes, technically he’s at the mansion, but at a safe distance (and monitored by a hidden Wolverine who couldn’t truly miss the event).

It is an absolutely wonderfully written issue. Fabian takes all the emotions and history of this classic couple and puts it on the page. He also perfectly writes the supporting cast. They’re not window dressing here. The regular cast all get a good moment with the bride and groom, and the guest stars all are important, not cameos. This is a great story by a legendary X-writer at the height of his game.

The art…there’s highs and a low. The low point here is absolutely the designs. The fashion here is weird in a lot of places. Rather than a veil, Jean wears a hood for some reason. Storm’s dress is a bit garish. But for some reason, it’s not uniformly bad. The men look great, and several of the women’s dresses (such as Rogue’s) are great. It’s probably a product of the times (I mean it WAS 1994), and not Kubert and Ryan’s design sense, though.

However, I can say with a certainty the issue as a whole is fantastically rendered otherwise. Kubert and Ryan takes the emotion in the script and puts it on the page. It’s a joyful celebration of one of the best pairings in comics, and it’s GREAT. Even some of the more cheesy moments (such as the men chasing the garter) look good.

Not a lot of comics from the 90’s hold up really well. Some remain fun, but flawed. This is one that overall just works. Fabian condenses decades of history and romance into 20-some pages, and shows us why Scott and Jean are meant to be. I love this issue and will probably revisit is again and again.

If you’ve never read it, you should track it down on Comixology or in your local shop. It’s a stellar X-Men story. The best stories in the franchise’s history are the interpersonal drama. This is an issue with maybe two or three uses of superpowers at most, but I’d say it’s more memorable and just plain better than two-thirds of all the X-Men stories I’ve read.

This is just plain good comics, and it should be read by any X-Men fan. You’ll enjoy it, I promise you.

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