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Month of Cool Avengers/X-Men Comic Book Moments – Cannonball Makes Gladiator Doubt Himself, Just a Bit

All month long we will feature brand-new Cool Avengers and X-Men Comic Book Moments in celebration of their fiftieth anniversaries this month. Here is an archive of all the past cool comic moments that I’ve featured so far over the years.

With the holiday, I missed day one, so we’re doubling up for day three. We start day three with Cannonball’s surprising fight with Gladiator in Uncanny X-Men #341 by Scott Lobdell, Joe Madureira and Tim Townsend…

The gist of the issue is that Gladiator shows up on Earth for the X-Men’s help. He teleports into a massive group of Christmas shoppers and grabs Cannonball. Cannonball doesn’t know he’s looking for their help (especially since the two have not exactly had a lot of interactions over the years) and he responds by trying to take Gladiator out of the way of the innocent bystanders. Gladiator then takes this as an affront and decides to quickly dismiss this pesky X-Man, which leads to a memorable fight…

What I love about this moment, besides Madureira’s dynamic layouts, is the fact that this dramatic, awesome, inspiring moment is only a momentary success…

So Gladiator would have then quickly dispatched Cannonball. But the success was in hanging with him at ALL. I like that. You get your “win” without actually having to make it a WIN win.

If you have suggestions for future editions of Cool Avengers/X-Men Comic Book Moments, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com.


I don’t care what anyone else says, I love Joe Mad and I always will.

Also, I actually owned this comic. It is indeed epic.

People dislike Joe Mad? I mean, I can see varying levels of liking the guy (like not liking him as much as other artists) but the guy is pretty clearly a very talented comic book artist.

If you look closely you can see the Punisher in that issue. They just put Punisher’s skull on his jacket, so you know who it is.

Always loved this issue.

Though looking back on it now, I also really enjoy Gambit’s throw-away whiny bit about Joseph there as well. Dates the comic to a very specific time in X-history. :)

*raising hand*

I dislike Joe Mad.


What don’t you like about him?

Great issue, especially after how poorly Loeb had handled the character post AoA. Lobdell is a highly underrated writer.

I also dislike Joe Mad’s art, but I don’t hate him. He never put me off from buying a book, like, say, Ed McGuinnes would. No, sir, Scott Lodbell plotting did put me off X-Men, though. Having said that, Lobdell’s slow issues and one offs are phenomenal.

As for Joe’s art, it’s has more to do with the era of art he ushered in, which concluded with my fellow countryman, Humberto Ramos going off the extreme in cartooniness.

This was one of the first comic books I owned. I had read other friends comics, some of which were good, some of which were meh. But when I bought this and the following issue at a garage sale, my jaw dropped to the floor. My only introduction to the x-men had been the animated series which, while excellent for story, had some awful awful art. Then I read this and I couldn’t believe these were the same characters. I got so excited that I ran straight to my mom and begged to sign up for art lessons. If you read the issue, it isn’t just the action scenes where Mad shines, you can also look at his quieter moments such as between Joseph (ugh) and Rogue which is so well illustrated and so tender at the same time. Also credit must be given to Scott Lobdell who had a great ability to make all his character’s voices distinct and interesting.

It also is shocking to see how much of an impact Joe had in what was really a short run, 3-4 years on the title, and in that short time his style would be outright copied by the likes of Roger Cruz, but I could swear I also saw his influence on more established artists like Andy Kubert. How many artists have had such a meteoric rise in recent memory?

I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically good or bad about more “cartoony” superhero art. Personally I’ve always loved Joe Mad’s style, but find Humberto Ramos’ art a little off putting.

This issue was actually in my top 10 X-Men stories list, my only 90’s choice. I bought it at a grocery store when I was 10 years old and Cannonball was my favorite character, so there’s that, but between the awesome fight sequence and all the down time Christmas moments (including an Uncanny X-Men #98 homage, Bob Harras cameo, the aforementioned Punisher easter egg, and some all around good character work) it holds up as a really nice single issue.

It definitely is fair to note that it seems to be a bit harder to explode on to the scene as an artist than it was years ago. I don’t know why, exactly, since Marvel is putting out roughly the same amount of books as they did back in the 1990s, no? I could be wrong and their output might be significantly smaller, which would be the answer right there.

I love this issue! This was on my list of top ten X-Men comics from the poll you did, Brian. Thanks for spotlighting it. I took it as such a win for Cannonball after he was written as a fish out of water after joining the X-Men. I loved (and still do love) Joe Mad’s art!

I think McKniven had a similarly meteoric and influential rise (to Marvel’s house style) from Marvel Knights 4 to Civil War (though no one really touches Joe Mad’s Michael Jordan like star power at that time). Also I know everyone digs at Lobdell’s run, but as a 5 grader though a junior high schooler, those stories had me at the edge of my seat. This is a fondly remembered issue for me.

McNiven had worked at CrossGen for three years and had taken a year off (possibly due to still being under contract at CrossGen. I really don’t know what he was doing between his last CrossGen work and his first Marvel work) before starting at Marvel in 2004.

“It definitely is fair to note that it seems to be a bit harder to explode on to the scene as an artist than it was years ago. I don’t know why, exactly…” I think it has to do with 3 things, one being everyone fan-wise is much more writer obsessed nowadays (while it should be 50/50 for the best quality comics, I think this is a ultimately a better thing); two I think the bar for average quality in art is much higher now than it was then, especially with digitally coloring being able to make up for an artists short comings. Because of this we’re all a little desensitized to the “wow” factor of great art, and don’t even notice it as we would have then; three, even though artists in the 90s were late on books I think most “hot” artists had a higher output of comics in those given years, that exposure built up a fan base a little easier. Sorry, this post is prolly “TL, DR”.

“McNiven had worked at CrossGen for three years and had taken a year off (possibly due to being under contract at CrossGen. I really don’t know what he was doing between his last CrossGen work and his first Marvel work) before starting at Marvel in 2004.”

Yeah and I was really lucky to have the foresight to get a Meridian sketch from him way back at the 2001 wizard world! I just meant, it seemed like his popularity really picked up across those two runs.

Which was the same comicon that I asked jim calafiore to look over 3 pages of a comic I had drawn for a critique (since I knew him from the Wizard Magazine drawing lesson articles) and he told to stop drawing like Klaus Janson was going to ink my work haha.

Ha! That’s a nice zinger by Calafiore.

@ Kabe

“As for Joe’s art, it’s has more to do with the era of art he ushered in, which concluded with my fellow countryman, Humberto Ramos going off the extreme in cartooniness.”

So you’ve chosen to dislike a guy’s work not because you don’t like it, but because he inspired artists whose work you don’t like? What’s with that logic?

And Brian, thanks for spotlighting this. I remember the panel from this issue where Joseph and Rogue have their moment got me into Joe’s work. I’d heard a lot about him, and I knew he could do dynamic action sequences, but that moment sold me on his abilities as a storyteller overall. I’d also become a Cannonball fan after reading Nicieza’s X-Force, and seeing him take on a personal favorite of mine like Gladiator in an action sequence that seemed straight out of my favorite cartoon Dragonball Z was pretty freaking cool. Not only did Sam get a huge moment out of this that people will remember for years, but you get the classic Lobdell quiet issue goodness too.

Joe’s a true talent, I’m glad Marvel got him to come back even it it’s only until the end of his 3-issue stint on Wolverine, and I really wish we’d gotten an X-Men cartoon with character models and such inspired by Joe’s work instead of the highly overrated Jim Lee (he’s not even the best of the Original 7 Image guys, that honor belongs to Marc Silvestri. Hell, Image’s first two recruits – Greg Capullo and Dale Keown – were better.

I dislike Mad either. I don’t like his slight-mangaesque style. He might be considered talented, but he was one of the reasons I stopped buying comics in the late 90s.

I don’t buy that this is Cannonball — he’s not telling us that he’s near invulnerable when he’s blastin’!

Hmm, I guess I haven’t really read much Joe Mad, because I never really thought much of his stuff. I think part of the goodwill that he built up with his X stuff got squandered by him seeming to blow off Battle Chasers so he could play video games more often ;) But in looking at this, it looks like a really nice synthez–synthezzzatitition–blending of manga styles with superhero art.

As Ejulpboy says, more focus on writers, more exposure to different types of artists, and many artists not really building up a “head of steam” with a long run on a book (like, say, McFarlane on Spidey, or Liefeld on New Mutants/XForce, or Larsen on Spidey) might be part of it being harder for an artist to explode. Probably too, a lot of us lived through these “hot” artists of the ’90s, so we’re wary of these guys that do seem to come out of nowhere.

One of my favorite things is finding a back issue of something with early work by some artist and realizing they aren’t just “overnite sensations”. I’ve got an old Big Bang Comics issue with early Chris Samnee art, from the mid-90s when he was about 16!

So even though Samnee, and Francavilla, to name 2, are pretty hot now, they definitely have worked their ways up.

Or something, I think I’m starting to babble again.

I dislike Joe Mad only because of his inconsistency and waste of potential.

oh the late 90’s art. growing up this was my favorite style, Joe Madureira’s work on the x-men books during the onslaught saga is super nostalgic for me.

Cool X-men moment?

Technical disqualification: One point deducted for a Gambit appearance.

Since I sat out the ’90s, I first encountered Madureira on “Ultimates 3″. Truly, truly terrible art.

Cannonball is pretty awesome. I was hoping for more of this stuff in the recent Avengers book but he really hasn’t had the chance to shine yet.

Yeah, I was definitely a fan of Joe Mad when I was in junior high or so. I even find some charm in it now, unlike most of the ’90s artists I loved back then. I remember my then-best-friend was so affected by his work that he spent, I dunno, at least a few years or so trying to learn his style.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

September 5, 2013 at 7:16 am

I’ve got this issue. Good stuff, right there.

And I love Joe Mad. His work is fantastic. He’s one of the few artists that will cause me to buy a book, sight unseen.

As for “cartoony” art styles, Joe Mad and Ed McGuinness, two of the more well-known purveyors of the style, are two of my favorite artists, so I clearly like it.

It’s just that certain styles fit certain stories. Mad or McG wouldn’t have fit in, say, Ed Brubaker’s Captain America, and Steve McNiven wouldn’t have fit in Jeph Loeb’s Hulk run (or anything written by Loeb, for that matter).

So I guess I could say that I like all styles: it’s just how and where they’re used/implemented that determines my feelings for them.

Though I will agree that Humberto Ramos, who was really good in Crimson, has gone wholehog into distorted and flat-out strange body types and proportions. A little disconcerting, it is.

Oh, and Joe Mad REALLY needs to finish Battle Chasers. I know the odds are nigh-incalculable against that happening, but I’d really appreciate it.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

September 5, 2013 at 7:18 am

That’s not to say I like all artists, I just don’t have any major problems with any particular style.

Though I will say that Greg Land’s “style” of tracing makes my eyeballs bleed.

I’m mixed on Joe Mad. I have no problem with “cartoony.” I love manga, to the point that when I read Joe Mad I could spot the exact animes and manga he was referencing. However, I have a big pet peeve with artists who lack subtlety, especially with size. Like, when someone draws Colossus twice the height of Cyclops, then makes Blob twice the size of Colossus, so that when they’re all together Cyclops is up to around the Blob’s kneecaps.

This is by Liefeld but this is a perfect example of what I’m talking about:

This cover by Joe Mad is another example:

The perspective is all off and everyone’s sizes relative to each other is off. The perspectives and heights don’t seem to match up, and Juggernaut is over double the size of everyone else. This is a guy who in some stories was able to pass a regular guy when dressed in civilian clothes. Now he looks like he can’t even fit inside a house and his arms are so much longer than his legs that they seem able to touch the ground even when he’s standing up straight. His arms look like a gorilla’s.

I was a fan but his extreme proportions would just suck me out of the story and he lacked subtlety and nuance in general. However I realize that extreme proportions have been the norm since the 90s (for example look how tall the Hulk is now), so I’ve learned to accept it some.

It’s not a very good issue (nice art though). Cannonball and Gladiator have a big fight for no reason at all. It’s a superhuman misunderstanding issue where nobody bothered to contrive what the misunderstanding was over. Gladiator just charges in and starts fighting. This sets up a storyline where the X-Men battle a version of the Phalanx that is nothing like the Phalanx previously established by the exact same creative team in earlier issues. It’s the beginning of a year of Uncanny X-Me issues that make no sense. You kind of have to wonder if the writers were phoning it in at this point.

To be fair, the in-story explanation for The Phalanx being different is given, just not until part 2 of that arc. And yeah that era had its plot points that didn’t work (Spat and Grovel, the Crimson Dawn, new villains that never reappeared, Maggot) but it also had a ton of great stuff (Trish Tilby fleshed out, the Bishop/Deathbird pairing, Rogue’s first time functioning as a leader, Cecila Reyes, and the team all scattered into small groups), too!

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