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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

X-amining X-Men #123

"Listen--Stop Me If You've Heard It--But This One Will KILL You!"
July 1979

In a Nutshell
The X-Men are captured and imprisoned in Arcade's Murderworld. 

Writer/Co-Plotter: Chris Claremont
Artist/Co-Plotter: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Tom Orz.
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Roger Stern
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Spider-Man is on his way to a date when he bumps into Cyclops and Colleen Wing. After a brief chat, they part, and as Spider-Man leaves, Colleen and Cyclops are captured by a garbage truck. Recognizing the sound from his own encounter with the villain, Spider-Man realizes Arcade is targeting the X-Men. Meanwhile, at the Metropolitan Opera, Colossus and Nightcrawler, along with their girlfriends, are attacked and knocked out by Arcade's associate Miss Locke, while Wolverine is captured following a date with Mariko. Back at the mansion, Banshee is awoken by the telephone, but is stunned by Arcade before answering. Brought downstairs by the still-ringing phone, Storm is similarly knocked out.  Arcade answers the phone and tells Spider-Man, who was calling to warn the X-Men, that he's too late.


The X-Men awaken inside Murderworld, groggy and trapped in Lucite spheres. From his control room, Arcade sends the X-Men through a massive pinball game before dropping them into their own individual deathtraps. Cyclops finds himself in a room with three doors; he's told one is an exit and the other two dead ends, but he must decide before a hydraulic ram smashes him against the wall. Colossus is seemingly  confronted by Colonel Vazhin of the KGB, who calls him a traitor for joining an American superhero team. Wolverine finds himself inside a hall of mirrors, attacked by distorted android versions of himself. Nightcrawler is attacked by bumper cars with buzz saws while Banshee is bombarded by WWII airplanes and Storm is trapped in a deep pool of water that is trying to pull her beneath the surface. As the hydraulic ram draws closer, Cyclops decides not to play by Arcade's rules, and blasts out the side of the room instead of the doors. Escaping, he finds Wolverine, and the pair make quick work of the androids before running into Colossus, who has been brainwashed into the Proletarian, hero of the Soviet Union. His first mission: to smash the X-Men!

Firsts and Other Notables
The X-Men are taken to Arcade's Murderworld, his base of operations filled with elaborate death traps, for the first time. It's not the only time they'll be taken there...


Spider-Man makes a guest appearance this issue, dropping in to say hi to Cyclops and Colleen Wing and later trying to warn the X-Men about Arcade (whom Spider-Man battled alongside Captain Britain in Marvel Team-Up #65 and 66, Arcade's first appearance).

It barely counts as "notable", but a brainwashed Colossus appears as the Proletarian for the first time. I mention it pretty much just because the Marvel Index does...

As detailed here, this panel of Storm emerging from the shower became an inadvertent "nip slip" when the issue was reprinted, sans color, in Essential X-Men vol. 2.


A Work in Progress
This is the issue where, for all the prior plot holes, the wheels really come off the whole "everyone thinks the X-Men are dead" plot. Cyclops mentions trying to contact Jean's parents to Colleen. Though he's been unable to reach them thus far (if he had, he'd know Jean's alive), this makes it clear that Cyclops has told Colleen that as far as he's concerned, Jean is dead. Which means Colleen has never discussed with her partner Misty Knight the supposed death of Misty's friend and old roommate.


Later, Banshee makes it clear the X-Men have been home for weeks, and Spider-Man's phone call proves that the phone lines have been re-activated since Cyclops' visit to the phone company last issue, yet in all that time, Banshee has yet to call Moira, the love of his life. Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Wolverine are all out on dates as this issue begins, yet Banshee spends his evening dozing in front of the fire. Nor has Cyclops, in the weeks the X-Men have been home, contacted Moira, despite specifically saying last issue that he was going to call her. 


Inside Murderworld, Colossus is confronted by a KGB colonel named Vazhin. Though Vazhin in this issue is a fake, there is an actual KGB Colonel Vazhin who will make his first appearance in a future issue of Marvel Team-Up and eventually pop up in X-Men (he's essentially Nick Fury's Russian counterpart). 


Despite describing himself as "barely literate" in X-Men #94, Banshee is reading fellow Irishman James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, a particularly dense and difficult novel.  


Banshee, being powerless, can do little against Arcade's attacks.


Professor X has a box at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.


That 70s Comic
Arcade is the quintessential old school super-villain, having the heroes entirely at his mercy yet choosing to run them through a gauntlet of themed death traps instead of just killing them outright.

Arcade being the world's worst high-priced assassin aside, at one point, the X-Men are trapped in Lucite balls before getting banged up in a giant pinball machine and sent down specific tubes to traps designed for each of them; how does Arcade ensure the pinballs go down the right chute?


Most of the X-Men are captured wearing civilian clothes, yet when they awaken inside Murderworld, they are wearing their costumes (Cyclops even comments on this), suggesting that Arcade and his crew must have dressed the X-Men while they were unconscious, a skeevy detail that emerges from following the genre convention that the main characters need to appear in their costumes. 

Colossus is taken to task by "Colonel Vazhin" for serving on an American superhero team instead of using his powers for the Motherland, and is brainwashed into becoming the Proletarian, hero of the Soviet Union, complete with a little picture of Lenin on his overalls.  


Chris Claremont, Roger Stern, Len and Glynis Wein, Terry Austin and Bonnie Wilford all make appearances, reacting to Spider-Man's meeting with Cyclops and Colleen.  

This issue contains a great example of a comic book staple that has fallen out of usage in recent years: the editorial footnote. When Spider-Man runs into Colleen and Cyclops, he refers to the last time he saw each of them, and a footnote leads to a caption which references the issues in which those meetings occurred. The issue itself provides the reader with everything they need to know (Spider-Man is familiar with Cyclops and Colleen due to past encounters), but if a reader wanted to learn more about those encounters, now they know where to look.


Claremontisms
Banshee is suddenly replacing the word "my" with the word "me" in his dialogue.


Claremont uses the word "stygian" to describe darkness in the narration; it's one of those great Claremontian words (I had to look it up the first time I read this issue as a kid).

Artistic Achievements
I'm not sure if credit goes to Claremont, Byrne, Austin or Orzechowski, but there's a hilarious bit where Spider-Man overhears Cyclops and Colleen getting captured and recognizes the sound effect. It's always cracked me up.


Young Love
Cyclops and Colleen are out on a date when they bump into Spider-Man.


Nightcrawler and Colossus go on a double date with Betsy and Amanda, their semi-regular stewardess girlfriends.


Wolverine goes out with Mariko and finds himself falling hard for her, even questioning his lifestyle and elevating his feelings for her above his feelings for Jean.


For Sale
I wonder what other things Pete Rose could teach us...


Pete Rose AND OJ? It's quite the month for ads featuring disgraced sports legends.


Chris Claremont on Portraying Banshee as Irish
"I chose Finnegan's Wake not because it was a book that anybody with half a literary mind would realize that only an insane person or an extremely erudite, educated, articulate one would even attempt to read. I'm only on page three...I consider myself proud to have gotten that far, and this in ten years. Ulysses was hard enough. But when you say "stereotypical," part of the problem is, how do you tell the reader this guy is Irish? Well, give him an accent. Jim [Shooter] doesn't like phonetic accents. You have to pick a word here or there or an expression or an attitude or a phrase...It may be cliche to show him when he's in civvies wearing a cord sweater and corduroys and a jockey's hat, but in Ireland - especially in the country - that's the "uniform"! That's what you wear. An Aran sweater, and cords, and boots, and that peaked hat."

Sanderson, Peter. The X-Men Companion II. Stamford: Fantagraphics Books, 1982. p42 

John Byrne on Arcade and Murderworld
"They were about ninety-nine percent Chris. He 'cast' Malcolm McDowell, circa A Clockwork Orange, and suggested the ice cream suit. About the only thing I added was the shoes!"

DeFalco, Tom. Comic Creators on X-Men. London: Titan Books, 2006. p107

Teebore's Take
Arcade is a...problematic villain. On the surface, there's nothing inherently wrong with him. He's an assassin, so it's easy to set him up as the antagonist of a story, and he has a gimmick that lends itself to fun comic book situations. But scratch beneath the surface, and he completely falls apart. Not every X-Men villain needs to be deeply layered and thematically complicated, but Arcade belongs amongst the likes of such Silver Age stalwarts as the Locust or Warlock moreso than the measured and complex stories Claremont and Byrne are producing at this time. He's a villain from the Adam West Batman show dropped into one of the most groundbreaking runs of a superhero comic.

Plus, while villains are, by design, destined to fail, by making Arcade nothing more than an assassin, every time he faces the X-Men he comes out of it looking less competent. For villains like Magneto or Dr. Doom, who have goals beyond just "kill the heroes", their inevitable defeats don't always have to weaken their credibility. All Arcade is supposed to do is kill the X-Men, and every time he returns and fails to do so, he looks less and less like a credible opponent. At one point in this issue, he declares, "Murderworld: where nobody ever survives!". Except everyone survives. Every time.

To Claremont and Byrne's credit, their execution of this story does its best to elevate it above the problems inherent to its villain. The various traps and threats the X-Men face are clever, and its fun to see how each of them overcomes the hurdles thrown in their way by Arcade. It's an entertaining story, nothing groundbreaking or revolutionary but an enjoyable super-hero adventure. So long as you don't think too hard about it. At all. 

Next Issue
Will Cyclops and Wolverine be forced to attack their friend? Will Colossus break free of his brainwashing? Will anyone actually die inside Murderworld? 

18 comments:

  1. Hi, I've been following your X-aminations for a while now, and they're excellent! Keep up the good work!

    A couple of points about this issue:

    1. Arcade was definitely a one trick pony, yet for some reason Claremont kept bringing the character back. Had he only appeared in this one story, I guess he would have been OK, but his subsequent returns weren't needed. He's too silly to be taken as a serious threat and totally incompetent as an assassin, since, as you mentioned, everyone always escapes from Murderworld pretty much without a scratch.

    And point number two: Isn't that Doctor Strange's house in the "SFLANNG"-panel?

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  2. To be fair to Arcade, he fails every time we see him try to assassinate someone with superpowers. I'm sure plenty of "normal people" have been killed in Murderworld, right? Anyway, I kind of like Arcade. I feel like he's a villain every hero should meet once. But surprisingly, few have. I'd love to see Daredevil in Murderworld, for example.

    I'm glad you mentioned SFLANNG! One of my favorite Spider-Man moments ever.

    Storm's wardrobe malfunction is also visible in the Uncanny X-Men Omnibus (and therefore presumably in the Marvel Masterwork volume containg the issue since I think they use the same source material). I find it funny that since it was meant to be in shadow, the nipple was even drawn anyway. Byrne claims Austin did it. He also claims the inker of his She-Hulk graphic novel drew some nipple details in a panel there, too. Strangely, though, the only common denominator in both of those cases is Byrne... Make of that what you will.

    I've said enough about the plot holes in the "everyone thinking everyone else is dead" business, so I'll just say here that again, I totally agree with you. I'm just amazed all that stuff made it through plotting and every level of editorial! Or maybe they missed it at first but noticed it later, but by then felt they were in too deep and had to keep going.

    "Nightcrawler and Colossus go on a double date with Betsy and Amanda..."

    And as Byrne has mentioned, it's too bad Amanda forgot she was a witch at this time, or this story could've ended much differently!

    (He really didn't like that development, but to be honest, and I think I mentioned it here before, neither do I.)

    "Jim [Shooter] doesn't like phonetic accents."

    Huh. I seriously would never have suspected this, based on the way Rogue and Cannonball and Banshee and Wolfsbane and Moira were written... and those are just characters Claremont wrote! And now that I think of it, I believe Shooter himself wrote Rogue with her phonetic accent in Secret Wars. Weird.

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  3. @Ugus: Thanks for reading, and commenting! I'm glad you're enjoying the posts.

    Had he only appeared in this one story, I guess he would have been OK, but his subsequent returns weren't needed.

    Agreed. I don't mind him having a presence in the Marvel Universe, just as a recurring nemesis for the X-Men that we're supposed to take seriously.

    Isn't that Doctor Strange's house in the "SFLANNG"-panel?

    I'll defer to Dr. Bitz, our resident Dr. Strange expert, but it sure looks like it to me...

    @Matt: I'm sure plenty of "normal people" have been killed in Murderworld, right? Anyway, I kind of like Arcade. I feel like he's a villain every hero should meet once.

    I assume normal people have been killed in Murderworld, but I maybe would have liked to see that (or be told that, at least) at some point. As it stands, I'm pretty sure the only people we, as readers, ever see going into Murderworld are superheroes, so of course they always escape alive.

    And like I said, I too don't mind Arcade existing, and being a low level foil for a variety of characters (because his crazy deathraps can be fun), I just don't like the fact that Claremont seemed to latch onto him and consider him a greater threat than he really is (probably my favorite Arcade/Murderworld appearance is in issue #177, when Mystique pays Arcade to help her train for taking on the X-Men. That's how I like Arcade: being around, but not being the focus of the story).

    Storm's wardrobe malfunction is also visible in the Uncanny X-Men Omnibus

    Interesting. I had no idea.

    I find it funny that since it was meant to be in shadow, the nipple was even drawn anyway.

    I think in the urban legends revealed article I linked, Byrne mentions Austin drawing it in as a point of reference, correctly assuming the colorist would remove it.

    Strangely, though, the only common denominator in both of those cases is Byrne... Make of that what you will.

    Heh.

    I'm just amazed all that stuff made it through plotting and every level of editorial!

    Yeah. I wouldn't be at all surprised nowadays, but back then, they ran tighter ships when it came to that kind of stuff.

    And as Byrne has mentioned, it's too bad Amanda forgot she was a witch at this time

    Ha! Good point. Though doesn't she get captured again the next time Arcade shows up (when the "Subsitute X-Men" storm Murderworld)? Maybe she's just powerless against Arcade's charms.

    He really didn't like that development, but to be honest, and I think I mentioned it here before, neither do I.

    Yeah, that seems to be a major sticking point between Claremont and Byrne. Claremont can't help piling layer upon layer onto a character, and nobody (except maybe Stevie Hunter) can be left alone as "just" a normal person. Everyone has to have a secret power or evil relative or hidden motives, whereas Byrne has no issue leaving someone "normal".

    Personally, I don't mind that Nightcrawler's girlfriend is a sorceress, but I'm not a huge fan of that girlfriend ALSO being the seemingly-normal flight attendant girlfriend.

    I seriously would never have suspected this, based on the way Rogue and Cannonball and Banshee and Wolfsbane and Moira were written...

    I thought it was odd too. Maybe Shooter softened his stance on it through the years? Or Claremont gained enough clout that he could flaunt that edict (most of those phonetic accents didn't start showing up until the X-Men had become a huge hit)?

    Then again, maybe all those accents as written are reined in, as far as Claremont and Shooter were concerned. Which begs the question: would they have been even more over the top if Shooter hadn't been reigning them in?

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  4. It's a shame that comic tropes dictate that Arcade must always lose, and that Claremont kept using him, degrading his menace again and again. The book "The Devil in the White City" is about the serial killer H.H. Holmes, who constructed a "murder castle" to lure unwary travelers to their doom during the 1893 World's Fair. I believe that's a partial inspiration for Arcade.

    The real deal is chilling stuff. And Arcade could've been a chilling villain. But instead he became a punchline. And later on, a weird deformed scarred psychopath, right? One step up from a demony cyborg Hobgoblin I think.

    Anyway, this first outing is pretty good. Wacky, yet deadly. And I believe one of his attacks on Courtney Ross and Excalibur much later was entertaining. But whenever I see him I think of Carrot Top: a one-note gimmick.

    --Mortsleam

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  5. Hmmmm...I don't think that's the Sanctum Sanctorum, the architecture is a little off:
    http://marvel.com/universe/Sanctum_Sanctorum

    But you never know for sure unless you see the Seal of the Vishanti.

    Although, these days, I've heard Doctor Strange has resorted to selling frozen yogurt:
    http://wathatdaniel.blogspot.com/2009/02/sanctum-sanctorum.html

    Also, it's a good thing Arcade is a highly paid assassin (and presumably gets paid in advanced). The cost of Murderworld's upkeep has to be astronomical.

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  6. took me for freaking ever to see the nip slip- Sarah had to point it out to me.
    I love guest appearances and crossovers. Throw in the awesomeness of the Sflaang bit and spider man is full of win!. I wonder when he got the phone number to the X Mansion- are they just handing that out now?
    i had forgotten how much i didn't really like Colossus until reading these posts. I mean- who the hell is vulnerable to brainwashing in that span of time? and Arcade actually had a new uniform ready to wear (a stupid looking uniform i say)? No thanks, Proletarian

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  7. @Mortsleam: The book "The Devil in the White City" is about the serial killer H.H. Holmes, who constructed a "murder castle" to lure unwary travelers to their doom during the 1893 World's Fair. I believe that's a partial inspiration for Arcade.

    Thanks for mentioning H.H. Holmes; I meant to add that to the post and completely forgot. On the other hand, I had no idea "Devil in the White City" was about Holmes. I really need to read that one of these days...

    Arcade could've been a chilling villain. But instead he became a punchline. And later on, a weird deformed scarred psychopath, right? One step up from a demony cyborg Hobgoblin I think.

    Indeed. There are moments in this first story where Arcade does seem almost chilling. Unfortunately, every subsequent appearance degrades that feeling until its almost gone.

    I believe one of his attacks on Courtney Ross and Excalibur much later was entertaining.

    I haven't read it (I missed a lot of early Excalibur) but I've heard that story referenced in a few places as one of the few "good" Arcade stories.

    @Dr. Bitz: Although, these days, I've heard Doctor Strange has resorted to selling frozen yogurt

    I bet Dr. Strange makes bitchin trippy yogurt.

    The cost of Murderworld's upkeep has to be astronomical.

    Yeah, next issue we get some of Arcade's "origin" and it involves a large inheritance, but still, he must charge an arm and a leg for his killings. The overhead for Murderworld must be huge (though you wonder how he gets away with charging exorbitant fees when he kills so few people...).

    @Anne: I wonder when he got the phone number to the X Mansion- are they just handing that out now?

    Good point. I haven't read his last team-up with the X-Men, but I doubt there was a scene of them giving him the mansion's phone number. Maybe Xavier is listed, and since Spider-Man knows Xavier=X-Men, he just called that number?

    I mean- who the hell is vulnerable to brainwashing in that span of time? and Arcade actually had a new uniform ready to wear (a stupid looking uniform i say)?

    Yeah, Colossus has been coming across as a chump lately. That brainwashing must have lasted, what, fifteen minutes, max? Thankfully he'll have a pretty cool moment coming up in a few issues.

    And in defense of Arcade, I don't think he intends for us to take the Proletarian costume too seriously. He clearly sees it as a great gag.

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  8. "Personally, I don't mind that Nightcrawler's girlfriend is a sorceress, but I'm not a huge fan of that girlfriend ALSO being the seemingly-normal flight attendant girlfriend."

    I should've clarified; I feel the same way. It's the coincidence of it that gets me, not the fact that he's dating a witch. And you may be right about her vulnerability to Arcade, because I seem to recall that she does cast a spell when she's a prisoner of the Hellfire Club in issues 151-152.

    Regarding Spider-Man knowing the X-Men's number -- it's been some time since I read the Marvel Team-Up annual with the Lords of Light and Darkness, but I think Peter Parker meets the X-Men in their civilian clothes, along with Professor Xavier, aboard a plane, and I think he sees them use their powers while uncostumed -- but again, I'm not positive about that. I figure it makes sense, though, since he recognizes Cyclops out of costume -- and even knows that his name is Scott Summers.

    Given all that, I assume he just looked up Charles Xavier in the phone book. Or maybe he even looked up Scott Summers, whose phone number would also have been Xavier's school.

    Regardless of how he figured it out, I think we can all agree that John Byrne would tell us we're overthinking it.

    P.S.: I forgot to mention it in my first post, but I was just reminded of the panel where Spider-Man rips apart the phone booth in a fit of rage after hearing Arcade's voice. I love that part.

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  9. i think i remember liking Aracade when i waas younger, probably becaude i could recognize possiblity of him being a badass. Too bad he never lives up to it.
    That colossus costume is just turrible.

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  10. @Matt: Regardless of how he figured it out, I think we can all agree that John Byrne would tell us we're overthinking it.

    Ha! Yeah, you're definitely right about that.

    I forgot to mention it in my first post, but I was just reminded of the panel where Spider-Man rips apart the phone booth in a fit of rage after hearing Arcade's voice. I love that part.

    Me too. I almost used it as the picture for the page break. It was probably also worth pointing out that Spider-Man was using a phone booth in the first place, which is a pretty antiquated fixture by today's standards. ;)

    @Sarah: i think i remember liking Aracade when i waas younger, probably becaude i could recognize possiblity of him being a badass.

    I definitely liked him more when I was younger, and just enjoyed the crazy deathraps without really thinking about all the flaws inherent to his premise.

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  11. I've been reading these "X-aminations" for a while now, so I thought it was time to say "Thank you." These thing are so much fun.

    Are you going to examine spin-offs when the time comes? "New Mutants" launched around "Uncanny" 167 and they were closely intertwined for years.

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  12. For my own edification, over the weekend I flipped through the Marvel Team-Up annual where Spidey meets the new X-Men, as footnoted in this issue. As I thought, Peter does see the X-Men out of costume, and he witnesses them use their powers that way.

    He also thinks to himself that he recognized Xavier and "some of the others" (presumably Cyclops and Jean) from past meetings. Then there's a footnote stating that Spidey has met the X-Men before, including most recently in Marvel Team-Up #4.

    I've never read MTU #4, but I just skimmed a summary on Spider-Fan.org. First, it's from the era where the X-Men operated in street clothes, during their reprint years. Also, it features the X-Men brining an ailing Spider-Man to Xavier's school, where he meets Professor X. I guess Xavier showed rare mercy on Spider-Man's memories and left them intact, so that's how he knew how to look up the X-Men's phone number.

    By the way, it occurred to me recently that during the Spider-Clone era, Ben Reilly once paid a visit to the X-Mansion as Spider-Man, and to my recollection he didn't recognize the newer X-Men in that issue. Spidey was cloned in 1975, and the MUTU annual where he met the new X-Men was from 1976, so Scott Lobdell actually did his homework there (or got lucky) -- he got the timeline right for when Spidey's memories would split from his clone's, and he apparently knew that Spidey knew who the X-Men were from MTU #4.

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  13. @Michael: Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying them.

    As for the spinoffs, I intend to cover at least New Mutants and X-Factor when the time comes, as well as the more random stuff along the way (like the Marvel Fanfare Savage Land story, Avengers Annual #10, the Wolverine and Kitty Pryde/Wolverine limited series, etc.).

    I'm not sure yet about Wolverine or Excalibur. I know later in their runs they get tied pretty tightly to the main books, and I'd likely cover them at that point, but early on, they're fairly standalone.

    Yet at the same time, I haven't read a lot of the early issues of those titles, so it might be fun to cover them regardless. On the other hand, that's a lot of books to cover, so I dunno.

    I'm also not sure what format I want to use: if I want to just switch from title to title every Wednesday, or start a "Spinoff Thursday" post or something where I cover the spinoffs and leave the main book on Wednesdays. That'd be nice, but I shudder at the thought of doing TWO of these kinds of posts a week, and still generating other content, and, you know, living...

    Thankfully, I don't have to make any decisions for a little while yet. In any event, I know I will be covering at least the most relevant spinoffs in some form when the time comes.

    @Matt: Thanks for checking out that Marvel Team-Up annual. I probably should have covered it (or at least referenced it) back when we were at that point, but I plum forgot about it until recently (and its placement in the X-Men timeline is difficult; I believe it officially occurs between #101 and #102, except that Phoenix is still bedridden in #102 and the new X-Men leave for Ireland in #101. But the next place it could fit is after the X-Men get back to Earth following #108, and I believe there are references in the Team-Up story to the newness of Phoenix).

    Any ways...

    I guess Xavier showed rare mercy on Spider-Man's memories and left them intact, so that's how he knew how to look up the X-Men's phone number.

    Ha! I didn't think anything of it when I read the issue for the "Hiatus Years" post, but it is odd that Xavier didn't wipe Spidey's memory, especially considering he wiped Human Torch's after compelling Torch to help the X-Men against Juggernaut, back in issue #13.

    he got the timeline right for when Spidey's memories would split from his clone's, and he apparently knew that Spidey knew who the X-Men were from MTU #4.

    That's very cool. The third issue of a recent Spider-Man/X-Men limited series (which shows the characters interacting across four decades) features a meeting between the 90s X-Men and Ben Reilly. I'll have to go back now and see how Reilly's knowledge of the X-Men is portrayed (depending on if its supposed to happen before or after that first meeting).

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  14. I agree that putting the MTU annual into a proper reading order is problematic. Personally, I keep it between issues 109 and 110. The Phoenix was still relatively "new" at that time, and it's really the best place to fit it, continuity wise. That's also where I keep Iron Fist #15, despite Wolverine's costume discrepancy.

    If you are planning to cover spin-offs like you say, my vote would be for "Spin-Off Thursdays". I look at it this way: at an issue a week, you will reach the end of Claremont's run in just about three years' time. I get the impression that you would like to continue beyond that run (though you can correct me if I'm wrong). At that point you'd likely be alternating between Uncanny X-Men and X-Men on Wednesdays. To get to just the end of, say, the Scott Lobdell run would take nearly three more years!

    Adding in New Mutants and X-Factor would more or less triple that time (though not exactly, since they start up a couple years apart). That's a long time to be doing this! I have no doubt that I will still be reading comic book blogs when I'm (gulp!) 50 years old in 2029 (if blogs as we know them now still exist, that is), but will you maintain interest in this project for that long? I'd like to see your thoughts on Lobdell and Nicieza, but I'd rather not wait till 2020 or so to read those reviews.

    Plus, and this is my own preference, New Mutants is extremely hit or miss for me, with the emphasis often on miss. X-Factor is similar. I know one reader's opinion doesn't matter much, but from my point of view, days spent on those issues instead of an X-Men issue would seem like a waste. In fact, I would suggest covering the X-Men issue on Wednesday, then devoting Thursday to a combined post for that same month's issues of New Mutants and X-Factor, similar to the way you did your "Hiatus Years" posts. But again, that's coming from someone who doesn't care as much about those two titles.

    Anyway, that's one reader's opinion. Obviously, you overworking yourself has no bearing on me, so I'm all for more posts! But like you said, you still have some time to figure it out!

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  15. @Matt: I get the impression that you would like to continue beyond that run (though you can correct me if I'm wrong).

    Yeah, I have no plans to stop with Claremont. The goal is to cover it all, good and/or bad, until I've covered it all...

    I have no doubt that I will still be reading comic book blogs when I'm (gulp!) 50 years old in 2029 (if blogs as we know them now still exist, that is), but will you maintain interest in this project for that long? I'd like to see your thoughts on Lobdell and Nicieza, but I'd rather not wait till 2020 or so to read those reviews.

    Whew! I'm glad you did the math; I've always been too afraid to do it!

    In all seriousness, the time element is the biggest motivator in breaking the spinoffs into their own posts - I would like to finish the project at least in my own lifetime!

    from my point of view, days spent on those issues instead of an X-Men issue would seem like a waste. In fact, I would suggest covering the X-Men issue on Wednesday, then devoting Thursday to a combined post for that same month's issues of New Mutants and X-Factor, similar to the way you did your "Hiatus Years" posts.

    Whether in it's on its own day or not, I know I want to devote a full post to at least Claremont's New Mutants run, as its basically "X-Men 2" for a good chunk of issues, with the characters moving pretty fluidly between the two books, but there will definitely be a point (i.e. the 90s and on) where the content in a given issue will barely warrant a full post, and I'll definitely accordingly alter the format somehow at that point.

    Bottom line: Uncanny/X-Men will always get their own full post, but even if I start out devoting the space to the spinoffs, we'll eventually reach a point where they get condensed or grouped together somehow.

    Basically, there's no way I'm going to waste an entire post/week talking about Howard Mackie's X-Factor...

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  16. I, for one, am thankful the editorial footnotes have disappeared (though both Marvel & DC trudge them out every so often, no doubt to appeal to old-time fans).
    Something so disruptive belongs in 'endnotes', where they don't break the *spell* of the story.

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    1. Oh, I'd be fine with footnotes going away in favor of endnotes. My problem is footnotes have mostly gone away in favor of nothing.

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    2. Good point. At least in the 80s, we knew that writers were reading back issues :p

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