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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

X-amining X-Men #126

"How Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth...!"
October 1979

In a Nutshell
The X-Men attempt to capture Mutant X. 

Author: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Roger Stern
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
The X-Men race to Muir Island aboard the Blackbird, crossing the ocean in just over an hour. As they fly over the island, the X-Men fan out, searching the complex for signs of trouble. Colossus encounters Havok and Multiple Man and they tussle briefly, the Muir Islander's believing the real Colossus to be dead, while Storm and Cyclops encounter Moira. Cyclops breaks off on his own and finds an unconscious Phoenix, who comes to briefly. She confuses Cyclops with Jason Wyngarde, then passes out again. Later, after the X-Men have scoured the island and found no trace of Mutant X, everyone convenes to plan their next move. Multiple Man explains how, after hearing Lorna's scream, he sent a duplicate to help her, who stopped Mutant X from killing her but lost his own life when he was possessed by the villain. As Cyclops stresses the need for more information, Moira reluctantly admits that Mutant X is her son. 


Meanwhile, Mutant X, in the body of Multiple Man's duplicate, arrives in nearby Stornoway. He attempts to possess a passing Jason Wyngarde, but finds his way blocked by some kind of psychic shell he's too weak to penetrate. So instead he takes the body of a drunk man named Ferdie Duncan. Outside the city, the X-Men split up into search parties. As they search, Moira tells Cyclops that Mutant X has two weaknesses: his need for host bodies, and metal. As Phoenix searches on her own, watched by Wyngarde, she once again finds herself transported back to the 18th century, in the middle of a stag hunt. Shocked back to reality, she comes face to face with the corpse of Ferdie Duncan while a few miles away, Wolverine tracks down Mutant X, who has taken the body of a cop. He attacks Wolverine and attempts to posses him, but Wolverine's adamantium bones force him back in a panic. Nightcrawler intervenes, but Mutant X fights back, calling himself Proteus and using his mutant power to warp reality around them. Just then Storm arrives but Proteus forces her to the ground. She calls up a ferocious wind to force him back, but Proteus slowly advances, moving in for the kill.

Firsts and Other Notables
Mutant X makes his first full appearance, and takes the name Proteus, "the mutant who masters reality". We learn he has the power to manipulate reality (his ability to possess host bodies is less a power and more a condition of his state of being). It is also revealed that Mutant X is Moira MacTaggert's son.


The X-Men are reunited with Phoenix and the Muir Island crew, and the "we thought you were dead" business is put to rest once and for all.

A Work in Progress
The X-Men arrive on Muir Island and take charge of the situation with military efficiency. Though Proteus is long gone, it's a neat sequence which shows how far the new X-Men have come in terms of working together.


It's noted that Beast, who was planning on coming to Muir Island with the X-Men last issue, was left behind because, after hearing Lorna's scream, Cyclops didn't want to take the time to wait for him to come back to the mansion after returning his Quinjet to the Avengers.

When Phoenix is awoken after Mutant X's attack (from last issue) she initially sees Cyclops as Jason Wyngarde, and recognizes him as someone she loves.


Later, she experiences another timeshift to the 18th Century, where she's hunting alongside Jason. In a creepy moment, it's revealed that they are hunting a man dressed as a stag, which was Jean's idea.


I believe this is the first time Jamie Madrox experiences the death of one of his duplicates.


Wolverine and Cyclops continue to argue over tactics.  


Proteus' two weaknesses are made explicit: his constant need for new host bodies (as he burns them out quickly) and his intolerance of metal.


Phoenix is unable to track Proteus telepathically, a fact she keeps from Cyclops.


After several hints to the effect, this issue reveals that Wolverine's skeleton is made of "three million bucks worth of adamantium" (the idea that his bones are laced with the metal, and not composed entirely of it, will come along later).


Storm once again notes her reluctance to take a life.


That 70s Comic
This entire story hinges on fairly large coincidence, that Beast just happened to check in on the X-Mansion (as seen in issue #125) at just the right time to tell Cyclops that Phoenix is alive, so that Cyclops could call Muir Island just as Mutant X, after hiding on the island for weeks, attacks Phoenix and then Lorna while she's on the phone with Cyclops, spurring the X-Men into action. 

Claremontisms
Claremont returns to another favorite trope, last seen in issue #121, of the slow reveal of the nature and extent of the villainous threat. Here, the full force of Proteus' power isn't seen until the issue's end.  

Artistic Achievements
There's a cool two panel sequence where Nightcrawler teleports from the Blackbird to Moira's living room and his body/teleportation effect forms the panel border between them, one panel on the plane, the other in the room.


Later, Byrne and Austin get to go nuts depicting Proteus warping reality.


"Professor Xavier is a Jerk!" 
Claremont originally intended for Proteus to also be the son of Professor X (the "X" in Mutant X then standing for Xavier), but the idea was, as discussed below, scuttled by Byrne. 

Young Love
Though Cyclops breaks off from the group to make sure he finds Phoenix alone, their reunion, after both believed the other to be dead, is surprisingly low key, with Cyclops doubting their relationship after all the "not really dead" nonsense.


To her credit, when Moira first encounters Cyclops, she quickly asks for assurance that Banshee is alive as well. 


For Sale
Old school Cylons. 


Chris Claremont on the lack of a proper Scott/Jean reunion scene
"Sometimes I plot moments into a story and they've been shunted aside for various reasons. For example, the reunion of Scott and Jean in #126 after they've been apart for months and months and months - well, in the original plot, the reaction to that meeting was supposed to take place in #126...but John felt he didn't have space, and there wasn't really an opportunity to do it in the next two issues of the Proteus saga, because everybody was going boompetyboompetyboom, lickety-split to the end. So we had to postpone it to #129. It was a structural decision for which we must both take the blame, but that's unfortunately how things work sometimes. To have added the scene would have meant adding a whole new page to the book and cutting a page somewhere else, or repencilling the last 15 pages, or nine pages, or 11 pages, and that's beyond the bounds of sense."

Sanderson, Peter. The X-Men Companion II. Stamford: Fantagraphics Books, 1982. p43

John Byrne on the secret origin of Proteus
"The notion that Moira [MacTaggert] had this son who she kept locked away had sort of been lurking around since the Claremont days. I don't remember how much of it had actually been revealed in the book by the time I came on board, but Chris and Dave had certainly already worked Proteus out, and were set to unleash him at some point. Ultimately, though, it was Chris and I who unleashed him. Chris had it in his head that it was Moira and Xavier's child. Xavier's bastard child, but I said, 'No, I don't think superheroes have bastard children.' So instead he became Moira and Moira's ex-husband's child. He was a huge menace - something big and really bad - because we were constantly trying to outdo ourselves."

DeFalco, Tom. Comic Creators on X-Men. London: Titan Books, 2006. p107-108

John Byrne on the end of the Cyclops/Collen Wing relationship
"She was introduced for a very specific purpose: to create the conflict that never really came about when Jean came back. "Here's Jean back and here's Colleen, and oh jeez, I jumped into Colleen so fast and I did not care about Jean" and all that kind of stuff, which didn't happen because Mary Jo Duffy quite rightly demanded Colleen back to do stuff with her. Chris has an unfortunate tendency to think that once he's written a character it's his character, and I try to think that once I leave a book I leave the characters behind."

Sanderson, Peter. The X-Men Companion II. Stamford: Fantagraphics Books, 1982. p98

Teebore's Take
This issue marks the beginning of, arguably, the best straight-up superhero action story of Claremont and Byrne's run. Though it lacks the innovations and psychological depth of the story which follows it, "Proteus" is a highly-polished comic book story. It is tightly plotted and well paced (this issue in particularly breaks down into three neat acts, with two suspenseful scenes of the X-Men searching for and later encountering Proteus book-ending the "who the villain is/what he wants/what he can do" act) with a sinister villain who presents a credible threat to the heroes, complete with a power tailor made for the form (Proteus' reality warping ability is a bit nebulous when thought of in a real world context, but lends itself greatly to the comics' page, where it can be depicted with a surreality that would be hard to do in other mediums). It may "just" be a standard comic book action story, but "Proteus" is one which serves as a great example of the form.

Next Issue
We find out whether Storm can escape the power of Proteus!

17 comments:

  1. Good issue! You really feel like this is the start of something big. Of course, that perception could be influenced by the fact that when I first read this, I already knew it was the lead-in to the Dark Phoenix Saga.

    I've occasionally wondered if Beast was excluded because Claremont and Byrne chose to leave him behind, or because the Avengers office wanted him left behind. I've never really seen that addressed anywhere.

    "This entire story hinges on fairly large coincidence..."

    I can usually spot Claremont's reliance on unbelievable coincidences pretty easily, but this one never occurred to me! It's a big one, too!

    "...when Moira first encounters Cyclops, she quickly asks for assurance that Banshee is alive as well."

    So she does care after all!

    I've always thought the panel of her bumping breast-first into Cyclops was funny. They way people run, you'd think her head would've collided with his chin, but instead he took a boob to the chest. Of course, as Anne pointed out in last issue's comments, Moira also walks very strangely, so maybe it's possible.

    The comment from Claremont about the delayed reunion between Cyclops and Jean is interesting. Putting things off is something he will become known for as a writer over the years, and I suppose it's one of the cons of the "making it up as you go along" approach. I still think there are more pros, though.

    "...everybody was going boompetyboompetyboom, lickety-split to the end..."

    Guh. I hate when Claremont uses bizarre, nonsensical phrasing like that. It's one of the reasons I'm not as keen on his writing as his long run goes on. All the weird run-on thought balloons filled with stream-of-consciousness "panicked" dialogue using cutesy made-up words as above... it really, really irritates me.

    (Also, I never in a million years would've imagined that he actually talks like that! I just assumed he thought the weird wordplay looked interesting on the page...)

    That said, the more quotes you post from these X-Men Companion volumes, the more I feel the need to track them down!

    "Chris had it in his head that it was Moira and Xavier's child. Xavier's bastard child, but I said, 'No, I don't think superheroes have bastard children.'"

    Byrne's objections turned out to be only a delaying action, though. I've noticed that once Claremont gets an idea in his head, he will execute it eventually, one way or another. As Byrne has said on his website, the first year or so after he left X-Men, he felt like he was "reverse-plotting" it, as Claremont used every plot and "bit" that Byrne had shot down while they were co-plotters!

    "...Mary Jo Duffy quite rightly demanded Colleen back..."

    I note that both Claremont and Byrne used the phrasing "quite rightly" when talking about Mary Jo Duffy's wanting Colleen back. Obviously they both believed -- quite rightly -- that she belonged to Iron Fist, having been in his supporting cast first.

    Not sure why she couldn't have bounced between both titles for a while, though. The love triangle would've been interesting -- more interesting to me, anyway, than the Cyclops-Jean-Wolverine triangle that never existed until it was ret-conned into existence years later.

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  2. @Matt: I've never really seen that addressed anywhere.

    Nor have I. I've always wondered if they just kept their hands off him out of respect, or if they were asked to exclude him from the story.

    I've always thought the panel of her bumping breast-first into Cyclops was funny.

    It is, especially the way either Byrne or Austin drew the little "impact effect" around it.

    I hate when Claremont uses bizarre, nonsensical phrasing like that.

    I honestly thought, "what? I have to type out this nonsense? Can I just ellipsis it out?"

    I never in a million years would've imagined that he actually talks like that! I just assumed he thought the weird wordplay looked interesting on the page

    I've seen a couple different people remark that Claremont's infamous purple prose in comics is only ratcheted up a notch or two from his regular speech; that is, for the most part, he really does talk like he writes!

    That said, the more quotes you post from these X-Men Companion volumes, the more I feel the need to track them down!

    They're actually pretty good; I'm glad I tracked them down. There's tons of neat stuff in there I'll probably never quote, just because its not issue or character-specific, but was still fun to learn nonetheless. You can find them used pretty cheap (I think I paid around $8 a piece for mine via Amazon Marketplace).

    he felt like he was "reverse-plotting" it, as Claremont used every plot and "bit" that Byrne had shot down while they were co-plotters!

    Ha! That's pretty funny (and largely true). If Claremont gets an idea into his head, he's going to use, come hell or high water.

    And you know, while I don't necessarily disagree Byrne about heroes not having bastard children, there's something about the matter-of-fact way he says it that really bugs me (plus, I'd argue that Professor X isn't a super-hero in the traditional sense anyway, and that having a bastard child is kind of fitting for the guy running kids through a Danger Room and wiping memories left and right).

    Not sure why she couldn't have bounced between both titles for a while, though

    Ditto. Lord knows it happens now, where even main characters bounce around titles, let alone supporting cast. Different times, I suppose...

    the Cyclops-Jean-Wolverine triangle that never existed until it was ret-conned into existence years later.

    That's a really good point. I mean, at this point we know that Wolverine has feelings for Jean, but he (and the readers) are pretty much the only ones who know it, which doesn't really make a love triangle. And Mariko's appearance pretty much put an end to whatever "triangle" there was.

    Sure, Wolverine will continue to reference his feelings for Jean occasionally, but the Cyclops-Jean-Wolverine love triangle as we know it is very much a retroactive, modern convention.

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  3. This issue marked the end of the Cockrum covers during the Byrne run.

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  4. "A man?!" hahahahahaha!

    terrific.

    OT, are you bring back the weekly tv series??

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  5. I'm not sure I like the idea of Proteus being Xavier's son...but the reasoning that superheroes don't have bastard children is kind of dumb.

    Secondly, whose to say Cyclops didn't purposely bump into Moira's breast? Wouldn't you?

    Also, Matt, "I suppose it's one of the cons of the "making it up as you go along" approach. I still think there are more pros, though."

    Ummm....no comment.

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  6. "...there's something about the matter-of-fact way he says it that really bugs me..."

    Yes, Byrne's bluntness is obviously a major part of his negative reputation. Everything he says comes across as, "This is not my opinion, it is fact. And if you disagree, you're wrong."

    That said, I do also agree about the bastard child thing, in most situations. But I agree with you that Xavier isn't exactly a "superhero", and besides that, he's older so it can work better than, say, Bill Mantlo's idea that Peter Parker should have an illegitimate kid (something Jim Shooter mentioned on his blog a while back).

    However, I feel that Legion was handled poorly, and I don't really like him as a character anyway. Given the choice knowing was to come, I would've rather seen Proteus as Xavier's kid, if only to avoid Legion later on.

    "...we know that Wolverine has feelings for Jean, but he (and the readers) are pretty much the only ones who know it..."

    Not only that, but doesn't Wolverine hit on Jean once or twice, and she totally shuts him down? She's not only not interested in him, she's kind of repulsed by him! But for some reason, Claremont decided later on to say she was faking that revulsion to cover up her intense attraction to him. I've never understood why he decided to do that.

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  7. "Ummm....no comment."

    I should clarify -- I don't mean that I think making everything up as you go along is a good thing. I kind of mentioned this in the comments on the recent Annual review, but I'm not a fan of, for example, coming up with a name (or really just a word that may or may not be a name) and nothing else, then making up random "clues" that may or may not lead to a revelation about that name.

    It's more like, for example, I'm writing Spider-Man and I come up with a new villain whose identity is a mystery (a longtime staple of the Spider-books). I know from day one who the villain will turn out to be, but I have no idea how the revelation will happen; just that it will happen someday (maybe a year from now, maybe five years from now), and I intend to periodically throw out clues pointing in that direction. But in the meantime, I sit down every month thinking, "what should happen this issue?" and just go from there. Maybe the issue advances the mystery villain plot or maybe it doesn't, or maybe it even derails it for several months with a story that turns into a multi-part epic! Who knows?

    I'm also a big fan of making up subplots as you go along. You should have a general idea of how they will end, but if you think of something better along the way, feel free to change it. Nothing should be set in stone, and I kind of get the impression that a lot of today's comics are set in stone, and are way too over-plotted. I think the best comics are written very "fast and loose", as I feel the early days of Claremont's X-Men were.

    (Of course, most of today's comics don't even have subplots in the traditional comic book sense anymore, so that last point is kind of moot.)

    To sum it up succinctly: I believe in having a clear starting point and a clear ending point, but I do not believe in drawing out any sort of roadmap in advance linking the two points. Just know where you want to get to, and take as long as you want, with as many detours as you happen to run across, to get there (just don't let your audience forget where you're going).

    Lastly, I should add that all of the above beliefs apply pretty much solely to ongoing serial fiction in the old school comic book fashion. You obivously need an outline when writing something self-contained like a novel, or when plotting a season of a TV show, or even when writing a comic book limited series. But for an ongoing comic book series, I see no reason to intricately plot anything out. I think it'd be lot more fun not to, in fact!

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  8. I suppose this could get down to semantics because, really, it doesn't matter how you create a story. It's the end product that matters.

    (Although I'll admit that if a show like Lost actually wrapped everything up but then later I found out the writers were making it up as they went along it would affect my enjoyment of rewatching the series. That's because I would know deep down that all the foreshadowing and hints were nothing more than writers throwing crap against the wall.)

    You can correct me if I wrong, but it sounds like you really have more of a problem with comics these days "writing for the trade paperback" more than anything else. Which I don't like either.

    Having comics try to completely self contain themselves in 6-12 issue story arcs really hurts the overall feel of an on-going narrative. I think it also hurts character development and, heck, it hurts stories in general. You lose the long on-going plot threads.

    I just feel that plotting things out is better because it helps enable foreshadowing and symbolism and thematic continuity. Where making things up as you go along will lend itself to lost plot points and a muddled continuity.

    I would just think you can have a well plotted out 5 year or, heck, 10 year storyline instead of a condensed super-plotted out 6 month storyline.

    Anyway, we both agree that a beginning and an end should be known ahead of time and I would say that, whether it's plotted out or made up as it goes along, if the writer is good enough the story can be enjoyable either way.

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  9. you know, if i was Beast, i would've been effing pissed if i dropped off my jet at the Avengers, went back to the mansion and everyone had already left.
    Also, Moira, Metal IS an organic material. Unless you're going to get specific with your man-made alloys.
    Also, i can't remember for sure, but i think in the animated xmen show they may have said that Xavier was Proteus's son. I can't be sure, though, but i have a distinct memory of that being the case. Though i suppose they just could've hinted heavily to it and i just assumed it was stated outright.

    And, OT, i second Hannah's question

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  10. @Chris: This issue marked the end of the Cockrum covers during the Byrne run.

    Ah, good point, thanks. I completely forgot this was the last one.

    @Dr. Bitz: I'm not sure I like the idea of Proteus being Xavier's son...but the reasoning that superheroes don't have bastard children is kind of dumb.

    I like the idea of Xavier having a hidden/unknown song, though not always the execution of it. I'm not sure how I feel about Proteus being that son. On the one hand, it gives the story some added thematic weight, on the other hand, it would seem kinda odd to deal with that when Xavier isn't even around.

    Secondly, whose to say Cyclops didn't purposely bump into Moira's breast? Wouldn't you?

    Definitely.

    @Matt: Everything he says comes across as, "This is not my opinion, it is fact. And if you disagree, you're wrong."

    Exactly. There's probably plenty of people out there who agree with him, but are turned off by hs brusqueness.

    he's older so it can work better than, say, Bill Mantlo's idea that Peter Parker should have an illegitimate kid

    I think Xavier is, especially at this point, the only X-character which a bastard kid would work, both because of his age, and the potential conflict between his literal and metaphorical children.

    And Peter Parker having an illegitimate kid, especially back then, is just dumb.

    I feel that Legion was handled poorly, and I don't really like him as a character anyway.

    I'm very torn on Legion. As a character, he's pretty awful, but I feel like he has tons of potential and just has never been handled correctly (though I think Mike Carey has been doing some good stuff with him in Legacy, but I haven't caught up to that yet). I also love his introductory story in New Mutants, with some absolutely brilliant Sienkiewicz art, and the role he played in kicking off "Age of Apocalypse".

    But the fact that he was introduced and then largely ignored by Xavier and the X-Men just makes them all look like colossal jerks, and that's never a good thing.

    Not only that, but doesn't Wolverine hit on Jean once or twice, and she totally shuts him down? She's not only not interested in him, she's kind of repulsed by him!

    I've always read a little bit of an attraction to Wolverine from Jean in their first few encounters, but I'll freely admit, having always read those instances as "back issues", that I could have let my knowing what's to come color my reading. So it's hard to say.

    But it's very clear at any rate that the Wolverine/Jean interactions are very lopsided, and at the time, fairly inconsequential, regardless of what it is said later.

    @Matt: Of course, most of today's comics don't even have subplots in the traditional comic book sense anymore

    You know, more than anything else, I think that's what I miss the most in modern comics. Subplots were one of those uniquely-long form comics type things, and they've just disappeared (or greatly lessened) lately. It's a shame.

    @Dr. Bitz: Although I'll admit that if a show like Lost actually wrapped everything up but then later I found out the writers were making it up as they went along it would affect my enjoyment of rewatching the series

    Ditto. I can't deny that I enjoyed "Onslaught" a little bit less after I found out that Lobdell introduced the character with no idea who he was and that most of the clues leading up to his reveal were made up on the spot. I still enjoy the story, but the enjoyment has definitely lessened.

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  11. @Sarah: if i was Beast, i would've been effing pissed if i dropped off my jet at the Avengers, went back to the mansion and everyone had already left.

    I know, right? Did they leave him a note? "Sorry, off to stop unspeakable evil, couldn't wait. Catch you later!" And for that matter, how was Beast going to get back to the mansion? Take a cab? Wouldn't the Avengers have understood if he'd left his Quinjet parked at the mansion for a few days?

    i think in the animated xmen show they may have said that Xavier was Proteus's son.

    I have only the vaguest memories of that episode, so I don't recall either, but it wouldn't surprise me. It's a simpler explanation (rather than having to introduce Moira's ex-husband to the audience), and in adaptations that's usually what plays out.

    I know in Mark Millar's Ultimate X-Men he basically combined Legion and Proteus, essentially making Proteus Xavier's son, as that seemed more direct to him.

    @Hannah: OT, are you bring back the weekly tv series??

    Yes, "Last Week in TV" will return sometime Monday, discussing all the TV I've watched this week, and continue every Monday as long as there was new stuff that I watched the previous week.

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  12. I remember the Proteus episode. He made Wolverine cry. But I think Proteus was the son of a politician who was afraid that if the fact that Proteus was his son came out it would ruin his career.

    I think the entire episode (or two-parter?) was about Proteus trying to find and obtain love from his dad. It tugs at your heartstrings.

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  13. "Anyway, we both agree that a beginning and an end should be known ahead of time..."

    Yes, agree to partially disagree. I was thinking yesterday, that when I was in school (an English minor, by the way), I would never come up with a thesis for anything until after I was done with the paper. I'd write and write, then I'd look over what I'd written, find the stuff that had a common theme and edit it together, omit the extraneous stuff, and then create a thesis based on what I'd just compiled. I don't think that's how you're supposed to do it...

    "There's probably plenty of people out there who agree with him, but are turned off by hs brusqueness."

    I frequently agree with Byrne; more often than not, in fact. But I can't stand the way he treats people on his forum.

    "...he was introduced and then largely ignored by Xavier and the X-Men just makes them all look like colossal jerks...

    Yes, that's a huge part of my problem with the character. Xavier learns he has a kid, then leaves. It's ridiculous that he didn't bring him back to the mansion. At least Moira kept her son locked up in solitary confinement at her own house!

    I have other problems with Legion, but Xavier's treatment of him is a major one. I did like "Legion Quest", though.

    "...more than anything else, I think that's what I miss the most in modern comics..."

    Me too! I could put up with a lot of the other stuff I don't like these days if subplots still existed as they used to.

    "...a show like Lost..."

    But didn't Lost make it up as it went along for a while? I'm pretty sure I've seen Lindelof and/or Cuse say that they didn't figure out how it would end until around season 3 or 4. This is a quote from David Fury, who wrote for Lost in the first season, when asked what the whispers were supposed to be the first time they were heard:

    "I can’t tell you what they are now, but I can tell you what they WERE. They were supposed to be the Others, lurking in the jungle. At that time, we hadn’t yet settled on what the Others would be. Since they were undefined, I had imagined they were going to be more feral, gone native… One might say “Reaver-ish.” (I wouldn’t, but one might.) I just didn’t imagine they were going to be spirit-gum, fake beard wearing, boat driving, faux hillbillies... as done in the season finale. My bad."

    (Sorry, I don't want to derail the X-Men conversation with Lost stuff, but I've always thought that quote was fascinating.)

    "Wouldn't the Avengers have understood if he'd left his Quinjet parked at the mansion for a few days?

    For that matter, couldn't he just ring up Iron Man or Thor and say, "Hey, guy -- can you please use your power of flight to fly to this mansion in Westchester and pick up the quinjet? Thanks!"

    "i think in the animated xmen show they may have said that Xavier was Proteus's son."

    I feel like Fox, with their super-strict Standards & Practices for kids' shows in the 90's, would never have allowed an illigitemate child on a cartoon. Could be wrong, though.

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  14. @Dr. Bitz: But I think Proteus was the son of a politician who was afraid that if the fact that Proteus was his son came out it would ruin his career.

    That makes sense. That's kinda similar to what we'll see with Proteus' dad next issue (though he's much more of a jerk than Fox would have allowed).

    @Matt: It's ridiculous that he didn't bring him back to the mansion.

    And it's one thing when, shortly thereafter, Xavier leaves Earth and the X-Men have bigger problems, but there's plenty of issues where it's just bizarre that Legion is being treated at Muir Island instead of by his supremely powerful telepathic father.

    But didn't Lost make it up as it went along for a while? I'm pretty sure I've seen Lindelof and/or Cuse say that they didn't figure out how it would end until around season 3 or 4.

    Absolutely, but both Dr. Bitz and I are supremely disappointed in how Lost turned out. In fact, just thinking about it is enough to send me into a Hulk-like rage.

    But my rage has less to do with what was or wasn't planned from the beginning with the show, but rather how the creators implicitly and explicitly promised to tie up their narrative, then failed to do so, then tried to pretend they'd never promised any such thing and we were all wrong for wanting it anyway.

    Lost, as a narrative, is like a Sherlock Holmes story where we never find out whodunit, and while there have been plenty of mystery/sci fi/genre shows through the years that ended that way, Lost had not only the opportunity to avoid that, but explicitly promised its viewers it would avoid that, then didn't. And that is extremely disappointing and infuriating.

    But I digress...

    "Hey, guy -- can you please use your power of flight to fly to this mansion in Westchester and pick up the quinjet? Thanks!"

    Ha! Exactly. Clearly Beast was there just to setup the coincidence that moved the story along, and was never intended to stick around for long after that.

    I feel like Fox, with their super-strict Standards & Practices for kids' shows in the 90's, would never have allowed an illigitemate child on a cartoon.

    Good point. The X-Men show didn't suffer from that too much, but man, some of the hoops Spider-Man had to jump through were ridiculous.

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  15. Yeah, I'll try not to get on too great of tangent. But Lost annoyed me in two ways. The biggest annoyance was that it didn't tie up its narrative. A secondary annoyance (whcih was greatly responsible for my bigger annoyance) is that they made it up as they go along.

    To clarify my point, let's say there are two Lost-esque shows of equal quality whose narratives were both satisfactorily tied up. (Hard to imagine one such show let alone two, but let's move on.)

    Show A had everything plotted out from the beginning and Show B was shooting from the hip and then realized, in their final season, that they needed to BS some answers. I would enjoy rewatching Show A more.

    Keep in mind the end result of both shows is of similar quality. So my initial enjoyment of each show would be the same. However, rewatching Show B would tainted in my knowledge that any hints or foreshadowing that occur is complete BS. I'd enjoy and respect Show A more because any foreshadowing or callbacks or thematic continuity would have been purposeful and carefully designed.

    In other words, it's much more fun to watch a show knowing it was plotted out and saying, "See that pack of cigarettes in the room, that's a clue that Dude X had just been in the room, even though we won't find that out until two seasons later." Instead of seeing the pack of cigarettes in the room and saying "Yeah, those were put there just as a set piece but the writers decided that they wanted Dude X to have been in the room so they thought it would be cool to have Dude X smoke that brand of cigarettes."

    If I'm ignorant to everything, those two scenarios are exactly the same to me. Unfortunately, that's now how it works in this day and age. We know too much.

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  16. "We know too much."

    Totally agree with you there! I'd love to see a TV series, or a comic, or almost anything, where the writers/producers/whatever do no interviews and just let it speak for itself. In the situation you describe, we would be none the wiser, and would like both programs equally.

    That said, in a world where we do know too much, I really have no problem with either of your scenarios. The intricately plotted show is great, especially if you have some sort of companion book or website or something to really show you just how much planning went into it. But I also like the second scenario, because to me there's something creatively exciting about seeing writers build stories and concepts around things that were originally nothing more than throw-away props, lines, or what-have-you.

    Lastly, I'm also among those who were dissatisfied with Lost, for the reasons you guys describe. I have nothing against an elaborate storyline plotted out from day one, as I said. But as Teebore said, Cuse and Lindeloff tried to make us believe it was all plotted out when really, they were just making it up as they went along. If they'd told us from the beginning that they didn't have everything worked out, I probably could've accepted that and gone with it two see where they went. But since they more or less said that the ending was worked out from the beginning when clearly it wasn't, that's what frustrates me.

    (That, and the fact that the show we were presented with over the first two seasons showed so much more promise than what we wound up with, as far as mysteries about the Others and the Island and such. Even if they had worked out most of the eventual revelations from the start, they wouldn't have been satisfying enough in proportion to the mysterious atmosphere of those early episodes.)

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  17. @Dr. Bitz: We know too much.

    Ain't that the truth. Sometimes I miss the days when consuming entertainment was easier and based more in ignorance.

    @Matt: they wouldn't have been satisfying enough in proportion to the mysterious atmosphere of those early episodes

    Continuing the Lost hijacking of this post, yeah, definitely. The example I always think of in that regard is Richard.

    The Richard episode in season six, as a standalone episode of TV, was brilliant, but as the answer to all the mysteries surrounding the character, it came up short. I mean, just an episode or two before it, Richard made a comment to Jack about how he couldn't imagine how old Richard was. Then it turns out he's roughly 150. He doesn't think Jack can imagine that? It's not that crazy of a number.

    It just seems like a lot of their resolutions, especially in season six, were like that: rushed and half-assed, and they fit with the previous clues only if you squinted a little bit. They make it seem like Richard is really old; actually, he's just old enough for it to be supernatural. The Others have this whole creepy culture that seems to stretch back eons and have all kinds of complicated rules and values, but in the end, they're just random people from the last 150 years who decided to stay on the island. The Whispers seem to alternately warn and guide people, and signal the appearance of the Others. Nah, they're just ghosts. There are numerous appearances by dead people throughout the show, not of all which can be attributed to Smokey. Nope, they were all Smokey, for whatever reason.

    It's like the writers didn't realize they were writing the last season and had to tie this stuff up until the last minute, so they went with the easiest, most obvious resolutions to the mysteries just to say they did.

    Which, while still irritating, wouldn't have been as infuriating if Darlton hadn't spent time before the last season assuring everyone they had a plan and everything would be revealed, when the final evidence makes it clear that wasn't the case (and, in the end, they still failed to finish their narrative, half-assed or not).

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