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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

X-amining X-Men #135

"Dark Phoenix"
July 1980

In a Nutshell 
Dark Phoenix goes on a rampage. 

Writer/Co-Plotter: Chris Claremont
Artist/Co-Plotter: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
In the wake of their skyship's destruction, the X-Men plummet to Earth, with Colossus and Nightcrawler using their powers to land safely while Storm grabs Wolverine and Cyclops. But Dark Phoenix attacks again, making quick work of the team. Nearby, Sebastian Shaw meets with Senator Kelly in the wake of the X-Men's "attack" on the Hellfire Club. As the NYPD insists on calling in the Avengers or the Fantastic Four to search Central Park for the X-Men, Shaw proposes to the senator a more long term solution for the mutant menace: Sentinels. Just then, they watch as an enormous fiery bird appears over Central Park as Dark Phoenix heads into space. Following her departure, Beast arrives and helps evacuate the X-Men from the park. In New Mexico, Professor X confers with Moira over Dark Phoenix's increasing, cosmic-level power. Considering himself party to blame, Professor X tells Angel he must get to New York as quickly as possible to try and rectify his mistakes.


In outer space, Dark Phoenix slingshots around the sun and opens a star-gate, emerging in a far off galaxy. She plunges into the heart of a star and consumes its energy. The star goes nova, obliterating a nearby planet and wiping out its inhabitants. A nearby Shi'ar battle cruiser detects the explosion and investigates. The ship engages Dark Phoenix, but she overpowers it with ease. Before he dies, the captain of the ship manages to send a message to Shi'ar empress Lilandra, who recognizes Phoenix and realizes that what the Shi'ar have feared has come to pass. Back on Earth, the X-Men and Beast have returned to the mansion and are discussing what, if anything, they can do to stop Dark Phoenix when Cyclops suddenly sits bolt upright. He can sense Phoenix through the psychic rapport they share. She's returning to Earth, and she's hungry!

Firsts and Other Notables
Dark Phoenix destroys the planet D'Bari this issue, killing its approximately 5 billion inhabitants, virtually wiping out the species. Though the D'Bari (commonly referred to as "the Asparagus people" by fans and creators) only received their name in this issue, one of their race made a previous appearance in Avengers #4 (the issue which marked Captain America's Silver Age return).


Senator Kelly, first mentioned in issue #133, makes his first full appearance. We also learn his first name is Robert.


As Dark Phoenix leaves Earth, her power surge is detected by a wide variety of Marvel heroes, including a certain doctor around whom strange things seem to happen. 


The backup story in the Classic X-Men reprint of this issue, written by Claremont, takes place during Cyclops' childhood at the orphanage where he grew up. Published shortly after the end of Marvel's line-wide, X-Men-centric "Inferno" crossover in 1989, it hints at Claremont's intended origin for the villain of that story, Mr. Sinister, with Sinister being the evil manifestation of Nate, a boy at the orphanage who is fixated on Cyclops. Though Claremont will leave X-Men before fully revealing his plans for Mr. Sinister, the direction future writers take the character still fits with what Claremont hints at in this story.

A Work in Progress
Nightcrawler bemoans the X-Men's tendency to get blown out of their vehicles. 


Storm displays a nice bit of tactical thinking during Dark Phoenix's attack.


It's once again implied that Leland was killed last issue, but nothing in the exchange is directly contradicted by his later appearances (he's seen being wheeled into an ambulance, but it's not clear whether he's alive or dead).


Shaw suggests to Senator Kelly a way to control the outlaw super-human population: Sentinels.


Dr. Corbeau, the X-Men's astronaut/scientist buddy, last seen in issue #108, makes an appearance aboard the Starcore One deep space monitoring station.


The X-Men return to the mansion this issue, and in the ensuing conflict with Dark Phoenix, the Hellfire Club's tap on Cerebro gets lost in the shuffle; presumably, it's still in place, but as far as I know, it is never mentioned again.

Claremontisms
Claremont continues to make an effort to characterize even one-off characters; here, he establishes that the captain of the ship which engages Dark Phoenix is a protege of Lilandra (who, before leading a rebellion against her brother and becoming Empress, was the head of the imperial fleet).


Not surprisingly, it's an exclamation-heavy issue, with a "By the White Wolf," "Lenin's Ghost", and the Shi'ars' go-to "Sharra and K'ythri preserve us!" getting dropped in the course of the action.

Artistic Achievements
Another great cover, this one an homage to X-Men #56 (creating another link between Claremont/Byrne and Thomas/Adams). 

Byrne and Austin use their knack for parallel panel construction to depict the destruction of the D'bari's planet.


Young Love
The comparisons between Jean's increasing power and her sexuality continues, as Cyclops notes that she's basically getting off on using her power.


Human/Mutant Relations
This issue continues to cement the X-Men as outlaw heroes, reinforcing the idea that as far as the general public is concerned (thanks in part to Shaw's machinations) the X-Men just attacked a prestigious club for no good reason.

One of the cops sent to investigate the disturbance at the Hellfire Club makes it clear he won't order his men into action against the X-Men, and casually tosses around the word "mutie" in reference to them.


It's in the Mail
There's an interesting letter in this issue which tries to take Claremont to task for bringing back Professor X in issue #129. The writer believes Professor X to be dead, as of issue #42. It's a neat glimpse into a different time, before the internet and trade paperback collections, when the author of the letter had likely read (or heard) about the death of Professor X back in the Silver Age, then missed any references to his return and continued survival before seeing the character pop back up again in #129. 


Chris Claremont on Phoenix destroying D'Bari
"There was no awareness of right and wrong. She was beyond that, It was...when she consumed D'Bari, it was the equivalent of a human being destroying an ant hill. 'We're sorry we have to kill you, ants, but we're hungry, we've got to eat something, we've got to plow this for a freeway.' On an evolutionary scale, they were not sentinet beings to her. The same goes for the starship. And, again, in her defense, they shot first."

Sanderson, Peter. The X-Men Companion. Stamford: Fantagraphics Books, 1982. p103

Claremont on the editorial response to this issue
"We had a situation in which John and I knew we were both treading on thin ice with the storyline. We were stretching things as far as we thought we could go in terms of what we could persuade Marvel to accept. And we both felt this was a storyline that had to be cleared at every step of the way. Well, Roger [Stern] at that point had gone off staff in the middle of the storyline. Jim Salicrup had come in and taken over, so here I am giving plots to Salicrup, saying, 'If there's any question, ask me; if there's any problem, would you please show these to Jim [Shooter] and check with him. We are dealing with some heavy concepts here. Jean is killing an entire planet.' And Jim never showed them to Shooter. Shooter told Jim he trusted his judgment. Well, as it turns out, Salicrup approved everything...[but Shooter] popped a cork. And that was exactly what we were afraid of all along."

Sanderson, Peter. The X-Men Companion. Stamford: Fantagraphics Books, 1982. p100-101

John Byrne on making Phoenix a villain
"[Claremont] kept making Jean more and more powerful. Even when I took pains not to draw it that way, we'd get the whole 'her power is a song within her' stuff. The X-Men were fast becoming fifth wheels in their own book...[writer Steven Grant] suggested that we just make [Phoenix] a villain. I wasn't at all crazy about the idea - Jean was a favorite - but it seemed very much a case of the good of the many outweighing the few: If the X-Men were ever to get their own book back, Jean could not continue in her present form...all the 'bits' that Chris came up with for the first rampage of Dark Phoenix amounted to pretty harmless stuff or acts of self-defense - so I had her nuke the Asparagus People, and everything snowballed from there."

Lamken, Brian Saner. "The Phoenix Effect: 25 Years of the All New Uncanny X-Men." Comicology Fall 2000: p27.

Teebore's Take 
Claremont and Byrne open the final act of the "Dark Phoenix Saga" with an issue designed to establish just how powerful Phoenix has become. First, she takes out the X-Men with essentially, a wave of her hand, then she departs the planet, her surge of power drawing the attention of other Marvel heroes from the street-level Spider-Man to the cosmic Silver Surfer. She travels vast interstellar distances, then eats a star and kills a planet before casually destroying a Shi'ar starship and heading back to Earth. Also, the transition into space, and the encounter with the Shi'ar (along with several references to the events of issue #108) are meant to remind us that "Dark Phoenix" is the endgame of the story Claremont began in earnest back in issue #101. Saving the universe in issue #108 was not without consequences. Jean, more powerful than ever, is craving the rush of sensations she experienced inside the M'Kraan crystal. Freed from her inhibitions by Mastermind, corrupted by the extreme power at her disposal, she will do anything to recreate that sensation. Thus, the grand irony at the heart of this four years-long story is that in saving the universe, Phoenix started down a path that has led her to become as great a threat as the one she stopped.  

Next Issue
The X-Men vs. Dark Phoenix: Round 2

26 comments:

Anne said...

man this is exciting stuff!
i swear the pic you posted of the Asparagus People right before they bite the big one is the exact same frame they used on the animated cartoon for this episode

Dr. Bitz said...

First of all, is Storm holding up Wolverine and Cyclops with one arm? What is that, like over 500 pounds!?

Also, I thought Nightcrawler's velocity doesn't change when teleporting so doing so while falling wouldn't save him? (Or did he save himself some other way?)

I like how the Dark Phoenix Saga is one of the most heralded comic book stories of all time...and Byrne was against it.

I assume Doctor Strange does not get involved in battling Jean? Because that would require him fighting a non-mystical entity...which isn't in the job description of Sorcerer Supreme.

Matt said...

As a single issue, I feel like this is kind of a let-down... it works great in the context of the full "Dark Phoenix Saga", but as a one-off it very much feels like a "middle chapter" to me. Sure, we see just how powerful and corrupted Phoenix is, but that's really about it. Everything else is just an exercise in moving people around for the next issue.

"...one of their race made a previous appearance in Avengers #4..."

I remember being so proud of myself when I noticed that all on my own!

"...her power surge is detected by a wide variety of Marvel heroes..."

As I recall, John Byrne thought it was odd that Claremont scripted the Silver Surfer as planning to seek Phoenix out, when it was something neither of them had planned to happen. Byrne says that if it hadn't been cancelled, he would have created the 25th issue of X-Men: The Hidden Years as a stand-alone story of the meeting between the Surfer and Phoenix set someplace during this issue.

(Which would have been totally out of continuity with the main Hidden Years storyline, but he said it still qualified as "hidden"...)

""Nightcrawler bemoans the X-Men's tendency to get blown out of their vehicles."

I love that running joke... it always happens, and it's always Nightcrawler who comments on it.

"It's once again implied that Leland was killed last issue..."

Now that I think about it, if he was dead, wouldn't he be under a shroud or something? The fact that his head and shoulders are visible would seem to indicate that he is still alive. I could be wrong, though.

By the by, the other night I perused issues 151-152, and Leland is indeed present. He has a couple of "moments" with Wolverine, but doesn't seem to hate him nearly as much as Cole, Macon and Reese.

(I was also pleasantly surprised to see that Cyclops does get a brief "moment" of his own with Sebastian Shaw, which I'd completely forgotten about!)

"...the Hellfire Club's tap on Cerebro gets lost in the shuffle..."

I don't recall any mention of it either, but they knew about it, so I suppose it stands to reason they would find and dispose of it. Maybe not this particular night, but probably soon after issue #137.

"Claremont on the editorial response to this issue"

I'd never heard about the Jim Salicrup business... I wonder if that's why he's quickly replaced by Louise Simonson. Though I know he stayed at Marvel for several more years, most notably (to me at least) as the Spider-Man editor in the late 80's/early 90's -- a period remembered by most for Todd McFarlane's rise as a superstar artist, but most fondly recalled by me for Gerry Conway's writing on Spectacular and Web.

I like that in Claremont's quote, he mentions that he told Salicrup that Phoenix was destroying a planet, while Byrne says he came up with it on his own. In Phoenix: The Untold Story, there's a similar moment where they both take credit/blame for the destruction of D'Bari. Claremont claims he plotted it, but Byrne claims he deviated from the plot and drew it without Claremont's input.

Likewise, each of them says it was his own idea to kill Phoenix. In his blog post about the "Dark Phoenix Saga", Jim Shooter is of the memory that it was Claremont's idea, but I'm guessing we'll never know for certain...

Matt said...

Dr. Bitz -- "...is Storm holding up Wolverine and Cyclops with one arm?"

No, look closely -- Storm is holding up Wolverine, but Wolverine is holding up Cyclops.

But seriously, I never really caught that before. It makes no sense. Wolverine alone weighs like 500 pounds, with all that adamantium inside him! Maybe Storm is blowing some wind upwards beneath them to take some of the pressure off? Does wind work that way?

Regarding Nightcrawler, though -- I could be thinking of another issue, but I know there's a scene where he's falling and he teleports but changes the angle from vertical to horzontal, so when he appears at ground level, he goes rolling off at full speed. Maybe that's what happened here?

"I like how the Dark Phoenix Saga is one of the most heralded comic book stories of all time...and Byrne was against it."

Byrne was and is against a lot of things... in this case, he tends to believe that this storyline ushered in the age of "grim and gritty", and of creators trying to make their marks on characters with ill-conceived "epic" stories, and of holographic covers, and pretty much any and all things that ever went wrong with comics. I love that even when he's trying to take blame for something, he still does it in the most egotistical fashion possible!

Teebore said...

@Anne: i swear the pic you posted of the Asparagus People right before they bite the big one is the exact same frame they used on the animated cartoon for this episode

It probably was; I know they recreated a fair amount of panels for the adaptation.

@Dr. Bitz: I assume Doctor Strange does not get involved in battling Jean?

Nope, he stays out of it. Because she's non-mystical, and thus, as you say, already dead to him.

@Matt: it works great in the context of the full "Dark Phoenix Saga", but as a one-off it very much feels like a "middle chapter" to me

I agree; it's a significant issue, in the context of the story and the book's history, but it's not exactly riveting stuff on its own. Definitely a "moving the pieces into place" story.

John Byrne thought it was odd that Claremont scripted the Silver Surfer as planning to seek Phoenix out

Now that you mention it, that is odd, as I assumed Silver Surfer's cameo was mandated by editorial to pimp Epic Illustrated, as indicated by the footnote. But then Claremont added the line about seeking her out, so maybe he had some kind of unspoken plan for a story...

Byrne says that if it hadn't been cancelled, he would have created the 25th issue of X-Men: The Hidden Years as a stand-alone story of the meeting between the Surfer and Phoenix set someplace during this issue.

Interesting. I hadn't heard that before.

...it's always Nightcrawler who comments on it

Huh. You're right. Somehow I never noticed that, just the "destroyed vehicles gag". Now I like it even more!

Now that I think about it, if he was dead, wouldn't he be under a shroud or something?

If TV has taught me anything, yes, but I really have no idea for sure.

He has a couple of "moments" with Wolverine, but doesn't seem to hate him nearly as much as Cole, Macon and Reese.

That's probably why I couldn't remember whether he was in the story or not, whereas their return stood out.

...they knew about it, so I suppose it stands to reason they would find and dispose of it.

Ah, but did they know about it? I mean, they knew the Hellfire Club was getting info on them somehow, but the last time it was mentioned (#132) Cyclops didn't seem to know how, which is why they went to Angel's house instead of the mansion.

So as far as we've seen, while they know the Hellfire Club has access to inside info on them, they still don't know it's via a the tap on Cerebro.

I wonder if that's why he's quickly replaced by Louise Simonson.

I've wondered about that too. I haven't found any interviews with him, and none of the Louise Simonson interviews I've read reference his departure.

Claremont claims he plotted it, but Byrne claims he deviated from the plot and drew it without Claremont's input.

I've always read it as Claremont plotted the destruction of the planet, but Byrne decided to make it clear it was an inhabited planet by drawing in the Asparagus people, and then, presumably, Claremont adjusted the script to reference that accordingly.

But I've never read anything that made that clear; that's just how I've always interpreted the apparent conflict.

Storm is holding up Wolverine, but Wolverine is holding up Cyclops.

Okay, that made me laugh out loud.

My initial No Prize-y explanation was a wind-based one similar to yours, though I too have no idea if wind works that way either (not that Storm's use of the wind has always been terribly realistic).

I know there's a scene where he's falling and he teleports but changes the angle from vertical to horzontal, so when he appears at ground level, he goes rolling off at full speed. Maybe that's what happened here?

Yep, that's this issue. What you described is exactly what happened.

Teebore said...

I love that even when he's trying to take blame for something, he still does it in the most egotistical fashion possible!

Ha!

Not that you were trying to argue his point at all, but I definitely think the contention that "Dark Phoenix" is responsible for everything wrong in comics is, not surprisingly, a tad overblown.

One could make an argument for it changing the way creators approach their books (the "leaving their mark on the book" argument) but if "Dark Phoenix" is at all responsible for the rise of the "grim and gritty" era, it's but one of numerous contributors. And the whole holographic covers/speculator phase is even further removed from "Dark Phoenix" than the "grim and gritty" era.

I can see how it's all connected and one thing leads to another, but it isn't like "Dark Phoenix" singlehandedly led to all that stuff.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

yeah i remember the cartoon really following this issue well. Well, as bet they could with gambit and rogue and jubilee and whoever else they had in that show. And now i want to watch the cartoon all over again

Michael said...

One of my favorite things about this issue -- Phoenix gets a BIG power-up. It wasn't all that long ago (Issue 105) that the editors nixed a battle between Phoenix and Thor, forcing Claremont to use a common villain to make the comparison of their power levels. Now, Reed Richards is comparing her to motherf-ing Galactus.

Cockrum blames editorial sexism for nixing a Phoenix v. Thor fight -- but the decision wasn't partially based on sales. The book was still small potatoes in the early-100s. At this point, they've grown a much larger audience and show no signs of slowing down. I can't help but wonder if that's how they got away with the Galactus comparison just 30 issues later. (Or maybe we can just blame this on Jim Salicrup, too.)

Chris said...

"Byrne says that if it hadn't been cancelled, he would have created the 25th issue of X-Men: The Hidden Years as a stand-alone story of the meeting between the Surfer and Phoenix set someplace during this issue."
I hadn't heard that either; XHY was probably the last Marvel comic I bought or tried to buy with regularity. Honestly It seemed great in theory, Byrne returning to pick up wher Adams/Thomas left off, but just didn't seem to grab me story-wise or art-wise.

"Storm is holding up Wolverine, but Wolverine is holding up Cyclops."
Ok, Storm caught on to Wolverine as they both went down, once they reached Cyke, Wolverine grabbed him, Storm created an updraft and they all landed safely, ...right?

Teebore said...

@Sarah: Well, as bet they could with gambit and rogue and jubilee and whoever else they had in that show.

And no Colossus or Nightcrawler or Angel. And a completely different ending.

Really, it is amazing how well it turned out.

@Michael:Now, Reed Richards is comparing her to motherf-ing Galactus.


Excellent point. The transition from "has to fight Firelord because girls can't fight Thor" to this issue is definitely worth noting.

At this point, they've grown a much larger audience and show no signs of slowing down. I can't help but wonder if that's how they got away with the Galactus comparison just 30 issues later.

That would probably be my guess. At #105 they were still just this little niche book trying to find an audience; by now, while they weren't the sales juggernaut the book would become, there was definitely a large, consistent audience and, I imagine, plenty of buzz around the title.

@Chris: Honestly It seemed great in theory, Byrne returning to pick up wher Adams/Thomas left off, but just didn't seem to grab me story-wise or art-wise.

Ditto. I loved the idea but found the execution pretty dull (it certainly didn't help that for whatever reason, Byrne really seemed to embrace decompression with that series; I'm pretty sure one member of the cast or another was in the Savage Land for at least the first twelve issues).

Pete said...

Don't if already mentioned in the "Dark Phoenix Saga" comments - the origin of the Hellfire Club names/appearances? Old Avengers TV episode, etc?

Teebore said...

@Pete: the origin of the Hellfire Club names/appearances? Old Avengers TV episode, etc?

I haven't mentioned it directly, but when discussing the actors Byrne used as inspiration for the various Inner Circle members in the post for issue #132, I linked to a "Comic Book Legends Revealed" post from Comics Should Be Good that went into all of that.

Matt said...

"...Byrne really seemed to embrace decompression with that series..."

I never caught the "decompression" vibe from Hidden Years. It was definitely highly serialized, especially for the first dozen issues or so, but there was a lot going on, with every issue checking in with the following groups: Cyclops, Marvel Girl & Beast; Havok & Polaris; Iceman; and Professor X. Due to all that cast-shifting, I felt like most issues were packed with more story than a single Marvel comic today. It certainly didn't have the painfully leisurely pacing that I've come to expect out of most Marvels from the past decade.

And I actually liked the Savage Land stuff! First Cyclops, Beast, and Marvel Girl are there, then they leave just as Havok and Polaris arrive, and those two depart just as Iceman gets there (more or less). I liked that they all just missed each other like that.

Teebore said...

I felt like most issues were packed with more story than a single Marvel comic today. It certainly didn't have the painfully leisurely pacing that I've come to expect out of most Marvels from the past decade.

Maybe decompression is the wrong word. I just seem to recall (I've only read through it once now) feeling like a lot of issues went by without anything real significant happening, and that's a feeling I associate with modern decompression storytelling.

I liked that they all just missed each other like that.

In theory I like that idea, in practice I think it added to my feeling of "nothing's happening". Even though Cyclops, Marvel Girl, etc. moved out of the Savage Land, we still had Havok and Polaris hanging out there. Then they left, but we still had Iceman.

So in the end, even though it was spread out across three different groups of characters (and other stuff was happening alongside it) it left this feeling that the book spent a good portion of twelve issues treading water in the Savage Land.

(And then, once everyone got out of the Savage Land, Professor X got mired in that little girl/pet Sentinel subplot that never seemed to go anywhere for almost all the rest of the book's run, so once again, while not exactly decompressed, it felt like various chunks of each issue went by without anything moving forward).

Super Lad Kid said...

Hello, Teebore. I've quietly been stalking this blog for the past few months now. I recently found a disc that I bought at a comic convention a few years ago that contained 40 years worth of X-Men comics. I remember trying to read through them right after I first bought it, but the early silver age tales did little to hold my interest and I simply forgot that I had the disc. Well, I decided to trudge through them again, and I must say that your blog has made the Silver Age stories much more enjoyable. Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the work you have put into each of your posts.

I've finally caught up to your regular posts, and have just finished reading the Dark Phoenix Saga for the first time ever. Now I have always strictly been a DC fan for 25 years, so the X-Men have been my introduction to the Marvel universe. I've enjoyed reading the comments as well. I doubt I'll have anything much to add that isn't already mentioned by the much more eloquent commentators on this blog, other than through the eyes of someone pretty much ignorant of the X-Men and the Marvel Universe as a whole. Anyway keep up the great work.

Blam said...


Though the D'Bari (commonly referred to as "the Asparagus people" by fans and creators) only received their name in this issue, one of their race made a previous appearance in Avengers #4 ... .

I did not know that.

with Sinister being the evil manifestation of Nate, a boy at the orphanage who is fixated on Cyclops

Hadn't Scott already named his son Nathan Christopher Summers — whose alternate-universe version, X-Man, was known as Nate Grey; see, I'm not totally ignorant of the later stuff — by then? I think Scott & Madelyne's son was born in X-Men #201, right before I dropped out. Was there supposed to be some connection between Scott and Nate, or between Nate and Nathan, or... something? (I mean beyond the fact that everyone in a Claremont-written saga is related in some way.)

Nightcrawler bemoans the X-Men's tendency to get blown out of their vehicles. 

I loved that.

"Sharra and K'ythri preserve us!"

Y'know, I always wondered if Sharra and K'ythri knew X'hal. (Titans? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Super Lad Kid?) Or maybe Crom and Mitra — I was never a Conan fan, and even I knew their names.

There's an interesting letter in this issue which tries to take Claremont to task for bringing back Professor X in issue #129.

I actually jotted down a note about that, but I had a less sympthetic reaction than you. Even given the era, I don't think that it makes sense for a reader to just write in to a lettercol about this — not to ask how Xavier was back, mind you, but to outright charge the creators of making a mistake by showing him alive. There were 87 issues, not counting the fact that the reprints were reprints, between Xavier's supposed death in #42 and #129, which is an awfully long time for the character's reappearance to have been explained — and clearly this is a continued storyline. This guy obviously hadn't read any other issues in years if ever, or he'd have complained sooner, so Xavier or someone pretending to be him could have been (re)introduced as recently as #128.

"Dark Phoenix" is the endgame of the story Claremont began in earnest back in issue #101.

And that's one of the great things about ongoing serialized fiction. You get subplots within storylines, storylines within sagas — and they can all overlap. The Savage Land and Proteus arcs were contained within the greater Phoenix saga, as was the first round with The Hellfire Club, and the "mutie" stuff — which will lead to "Days of Future Past", God Loves, Man Kills, and much less happily Freedom Force — is just beginning as the Phoenix saga is wrapping up.

VW: Vatero — Joan's Southwestern cattle-driving supervillain with the power to control giant tubs of liquid.

Blam said...


A few notes on stuff that caught my eye not already mentioned by Teebore in his writeup or folks in the comments...

Nightcrawler on Pg. 3: "Figures -- We get away from the Hellfire Club with our skins intact, only to get trashed by one of our own! Oi-flipping-vey!"

Really? I know that Professor X gave Kurt and Peter (and Ororo?) psychic crash courses in English back in Giant-Size #1, presumably complete with some knowledge of slang and idiom, but this dialogue feels totally inappropriate.

Bob Sharen does an admirable job filling in for Glynis Wein/Oliver (not for the first or last time). I like what they do with flat colors on newsprint with muddy reproduction better than what most colorists do in comics today with fancy painting applications and slick paper.

Orz must've been tired by Pg. 23. He misspelled "anomaly" twice (as "anamoly") and then turned "D'Bari" into "B'Dari" in the last panel. No-Prize that, Jim from Sandy, Utah.

Blam said...


Dr. Bitz: Also, I thought Nightcrawler's velocity doesn't change when teleporting so doing so while falling wouldn't save him??

Matt: I could be thinking of another issue, but I know there's a scene where he's falling and he teleports but changes the angle from vertical to horizontal, so when he appears at ground level, he goes rolling off at full speed.

I had the same "Uh-oh... According to physics, he'd be dead..." reaction that Dr. Bitz did at first, and then I realized that physics — together with Kurt's own quick thinking — saved him. Not only does he obviously come out of the bamf sideways, rolling not-so-gently along the ground, but the last we see of him before he teleports he's very possibly hanging in mid-air at the top of his arc — vectors being equal and whatnot — or being pushed upward by the explosion; if he'd waited until he was in serious freefall then, yeah, he might not have survived. Or so I rationalized it to myself before reading your comments.

Teebore: And no Colossus or Nightcrawler or Angel.

Gambit, Rogue, and Jubilee, but no Colossus, Nightcrawler, or Angel? My desire to watch the series has gone down this week about as much as it went up during our previous conversation about it.

Super Lad Kid: I've finally caught up to your regular posts, and have just finished reading the Dark Phoenix Saga for the first time ever.

Wow. Just... Wow. I mean, I know that that happens, but it's been a long time since I talked — in person or online — to someone who'd just read it for the first time. Either I'm in comics-cognoscenti circles or among "civilians". I look forward to your perspective, I hope you don't mind spoilers, and I love your handle. (Platonically. You wouldn't think I'd have to mention that, but we have this friend named Joan...)

VW: litade — Cool summer drink made from water and freshly squeezed used books. (Talk about pulp!)

Matt said...

"Was there supposed to be some connection between Scott and Nate?"

I don't recall if it was stated at the time Nathan was born, but at some point, it's explained that he was named after Madelyne's father. And since she turned out to be a clone created by Mr. Sinister, whose true name was intended to be Nate/Nathan (and eventually turned out to be Nathaniel), she was kind of telling the truth.

It's also mentioned somewhere that Cyclops was uncomfortable with naming his son Nathan, since he was tortured by young Nate at the orphanage, but I guess since the name meant something positive to his wife, he went along with her wishes. Plus he apparently got to choose both of the kid's middle names!

Teebore said...

@Super Lad Kid: Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the work you have put into each of your posts.

Thanks! That's always nice to hear.

I actually picked up that same disc of X-Men comics a few years ago, and it's what inspired me to start this project, since it gave me an easy way to do screen caps of the panels (and pretty much all of the panels in these posts come from that disc).

I doubt I'll have anything much to add that isn't already mentioned by the much more eloquent commentators on this blog, other than through the eyes of someone pretty much ignorant of the X-Men and the Marvel Universe as a whole.

Well, I certainly hope you do continue to feel inspired to comment moving forward; I'm particularly interested to hear your take on things from the perspective of someone reading these issues for the first time and without a lot of knowledge of the Marvel Universe as a whole.

And I've always done my best to write these posts for someone reading the issues for the first time, trying to keep references to future events we haven't reached yet minimal and/or vague, so I'll be curious to hear how I'm doing in that regard going forward.

Finally, I'll echo Blam's appreciation of your handle as well. :)

Teebore said...

@Blam: Was there supposed to be some connection between Scott and Nate, or between Nate and Nathan, or... something? (I mean beyond the fact that everyone in a Claremont-written saga is related in some way.)

First of all, you earn a hearty "ha!" for the Claremont comment. Secondly, Matt answered this pretty well, so I'll just add to his mention of Scott being uncomfortable with calling his son Nathan because of that name's association with a childhood bully becomes something of a minor running plot point in the lead up to and during "Inferno", with Maddie insisting on calling him Nathan while Scott tended to refer to him as Christopher, further pissing off Maddie.

Appropriately enough, then, following "Inferno", in the time before the baby was sent into the future (and eventually revealed to have traveled back to the "present" as Cable), pretty much everyone in X-Factor called him Christopher exclusively.

(Of course, Nathan/Nate is the name (out of his litany of names) that Cable uses, so presumably Scott may still have some association issues with his now-grown son, but if he does, all things considered, it's the least of Cyclops and Cable's issues).

I always wondered if Sharra and K'ythri knew X'hal. (Titans? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Super Lad Kid?)

Don't worry, I got the reference. X-Men/Marvel may be where I'm most proficient, but I'm still pretty fluent in DC (though I have read dangerously little of New Teen Titans). :)

And I've never been a huge Conan fan either, but "By Crom!" is one of my favorite comic book oaths.

I had a less sympthetic reaction than you. Even given the era, I don't think that it makes sense for a reader to just write in to a lettercol about this

Yeah, in hindsight, you're right, it is odd, not that he didn't know Xavier had returned from the dead, but that he'd write such a letter citing it as a mistake when it was clear there were several years worth of issues he'd missed.

I was just caught up by the anachronistic nature of it, the fact that you just wouldn't see something like that these days (even putting aside the fact that comics don't run letter columns anymore...), when information like that can be double-checked so easily on the internet.

(Then again, far more ignorant comments than Jim from Sandy Utah's have appeared on message boards throughout the internet, so maybe it's truly just the format and not the sentiment of the comment that is anachronistic).

And that's one of the great things about ongoing serialized fiction. You get subplots within storylines, storylines within sagas — and they can all overlap.

Absolutely agree. I especially love that, even in the midst of "Dark Phoenix", their magnum opus (though of course they probably didn't see it as such at the time) they're still planting the seeds for future stories.

...this dialogue feels totally inappropriate.

Not sure how I missed that, because you're right: that does seem terribly out of character for Nightcrawler.

No-Prize that, Jim from Sandy, Utah.

Nice catches. I think D'Bari is one of those words my mind just corrects when I read it wrong.

And now I'm thinking Jim from Sandy, Utah might need to become the blog's Irving Forbush-like mascot...

Gambit, Rogue, and Jubilee, but no Colossus, Nightcrawler, or Angel? My desire to watch the series has gone down this week about as much as it went up during our previous conversation about it.

Well, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Angel do appear in the series, they're just not part of the team. But I get your point. The cartoon is very much a product of the 90s, and the main characters are pretty much all taken from the 90s era Blue team (sans Psylocke, plus Storm and Jean Grey).

Super Lad Kid said...

"And I've always done my best to write these posts for someone reading the issues for the first time, trying to keep references to future events we haven't reached yet minimal and/or vague, so I'll be curious to hear how I'm doing in that regard going forward."

As long as you don't reveal what happens to Jean over the next couple of issues! Just kidding. Obviously some reveals can't be helped, and it would be silly to expect everyone to stay mum over 30 year old stories. Although I did appreciate not revealing Mastermind. That came as a surprise to me.


"Finally, I'll echo Blam's appreciation of your handle as well. :)"

Thank you. It's inspired by my first comics passion - the Legion of Super Heroes. If I ever had the time, money, and attention span, I would love to give the LSH the same treatment that you're giving the X-Men.

Blam said...


Super Lad Kid: [My handle is] inspired by my first comics passion - the Legion of Super Heroes.

That's what I love about it. While I'm not the Legion fanatic that many of my friends and acquaintances are, the Grell-drawn, Shooter- and Bates-written issues of the mid-to-late '70s are some of the earliest comics that captured me, and I've read more than I haven't of that era through shortly after the Zero Hour reboot in the mid '90s, plus most of the mid '00s reboot and, thanks to reprints, a fair amount of the classic '60s stories.

Teebore said...

@Super Lad Kid: Although I did appreciate not revealing Mastermind. That came as a surprise to me.

Ah, that's good to hear. Jean's fate is one of those things even people who haven't read this story know, but the Mastermind reveal was something I thought might be able to still surprise people, so I tried to keep vague about it.

If I ever had the time, money, and attention span, I would love to give the LSH the same treatment that you're giving the X-Men.

If you ever do, I'd definitely rea it. My Legion knowledge doesn't come anywhere close to my X-Men knowledge (or, really, that of a lot of other comics properties), and the only "era" of the Legion that I've read start to finish is the recent Waid/Kitson reboot (and I have no idea what esteem it holds amongst Legion fans, but I generally liked it), along with bits and pieces from other eras, but I know most of the broadstrokes of the Legion's history, tropes and characters (as well as their propensity to suffer the most whenever DC mucks around with its continuity), and really like the concept.

(And I've long thought there's something about both the Legion and the X-Men that attract similar fans).

Blam said...


Teebore: My Legion knowledge doesn't come anywhere close to my X-Men knowledge

I know that the Levitz/Giffen era that was contemporaneous in the early-to-mid '80s with fan-favorite runs of X-Men and New Teen Titans is the most talked-about, with "The Great Darkness Saga" a big touchstone. One of my favorite good old-fashioned superhero comic-book stories, however, from the days when multiple-issue tales were still a relative rarity, is the Mordru two-parter from 1968's Adventure Comics #369-370 — written by Jim Shooter, penciled by the great Curt Swan, and inked by Jack Abel (of whose work I'm normally not so fond). I read it in a giant-size treasury issue, Limited Collectors' Edition #C-49, and it was probably the first time I really felt like the comic-book characters were people — not in the sense that I was too young to distinguish fiction from reality, although I was pretty young, but in the sense that there was real emotion, real friendship, real danger on the page. You'll also find the story reprinted in an Archives hardcover and Showcase paperback, but the treasury is on deliciously pulpy newsprint, which is how these issues were meant to be read.

So if you're interested in expanding your back-issue collection, I heartily recommend tracking that down as an example of how the Legion did a lot of what the X-Men, the Avengers, the Titans, and a later incarnation of the Legion itself became so beloved for doing.

Teebore: And I've long thought there's something about both the Legion and the X-Men that attract similar fans

You probably already know this, but there was apparently confusion at Marvel that DC wanted to use the New Teen Titans property instead of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the crossover that became the heinously titled Marvel and DC Present Featuring the Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans. The Legion had more of a track record at that point, with NTT still early in its road to becoming the same sort of revival success story that the "All-New, All-Different" X-Men had been.

VW: noget — A chewy confection that you're not allowed to have.

Teebore said...

@Blam: I heartily recommend tracking that down as an example of how the Legion did a lot of what the X-Men, the Avengers, the Titans, and a later incarnation of the Legion itself became so beloved for doing.

Thanks for the recommendation! I'll definitely check that out.

"Great Darkness Saga" is one of those things that's been sitting on my bookshelf for ages; I really need to get around to reading it.