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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #144

"Even in Death...
April 1981

In a Nutshell 
Cyclops and Man-Thing battle D'Spayre

Writer: Chris Claremont
Guest Penciler: Brent Anderson
Inker: Josef Rubenstein
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
In the Florida Everglades, Jock Forrester contemplates suicide, having learned he has incurable cancer. His despair draws the attention of the empathic Man-Thing as well as the demon D'Spayre, who goads Jock into killing himself. Man-Thing attacks the demon, but D'Spayre, filling the creature with fear, chases him off and assumes Jock's form. Meanwhile, down the coast, the fishing boat Arcadia comes into port, and Lee Forrester asks Scott to join the rest of the crew at the local tavern. After dinner, Scott reads a letter from the X-Men. Back in New York, the X-Men are still cleaning up after the N'Garai demon attack, with Nightcrawler and Wolverine teasing Kitty relentlessly about the incident. As Kitty runs out of the Danger Room, Nightcrawler catches up to her and apologizes, and tells her that both he and Wolverine are proud of how she handled herself. In Florida, as Scott plays pool, Lee gets a call from her dad asking her to come home, and she asks Scott to accompany her. The pair arrive at Lee's childhood home and are greeted by Jock, who quickly transforms into D'Spayre.


Scott suddenly starts hallucinating: first he relives the plane crash that separated him and his brother from their parents. Then, dressed as Cyclops, he finds the X-Men dead as he and Havok battle a group of Sentinels. Finally, he finds himself in a church, marrying Jean, but when she removes his visor he kills her. Now face to face with D'Spayre, Cyclops leaps out a window and finds himself outside Lee's house. As Man-Thing approaches, the pair re-enter the house where D'Spayre is torturing Lee. Cyclops blasts him, but D'Spayre gloats that he can't be physically harmed. Realizing D'Spayre feeds off emotion, Cyclops declares that while he will always feel fear, he won't let that fear rule him and lead to despair. His resolve empowers Man-Thing who, no longer afraid of D'Spayre, attacks the demon, causing him to burst into flames. As the house burns, Cyclops grabs Lee and escapes. Later, Man-Thing climbs from the wreckage, having survived, but so too has D'Spayre, his existence a necessary counterbalance to hope.      

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue marks Cyclops return to the spotlight following his departure in issue #138, though he doesn't officially return to the team nor the main cast of the book. 

Fill-in art this issue comes from Brent Anderson, making this the first issue since #110 to not be drawn by John Byrne. Anderson will once again draw the X-Men in the seminal God Love, Man Kills graphic novel, and will later still gain fame as the penciller of Kurt Busiek's Astro City

Lost in all the hoopla of Byrne's departure last issue was the fact that inker Terry Austin left as well. Josef Rubenstein comes aboard this issue as the book's new regular inker.

Man-Thing, the character with the most unintentionally-hilarious name since the Whizzer, guest stars this issue. Marvel's version of the more well-known Swamp Thing, Man-Thing is a scientist who was accidentally transformed into an empathic "quag-beast" swamp monster. He is drawn to strong emotions, and anyone who knows fear will burn at the Man-Thing's touch. Despite being a largely reactive character incapable of speech, Man-Thing managed to headline a surprising number of issues during the 70s and the 80s, most with a supernatural/horror tilt (Claremont was writing Man-Thing's book at this time, which is why he pops up here).


D'Spayre, created by Claremont and Byrne during their earlier Marvel Team-Up run, is a demon which induces fear and despair in people, then feeds on that despair until they wise up and see through his illusions. The less said about him the better.

Following this issue, the X-Men make a brief appearance in Marvel Team-Up #100, written by Claremont and drawn by acclaimed artist Frank Miller. It is principally a Fantastic Four/Spider-Man story (the X-Men only appear in a couple pages), which is why we're not covering it, but it is notable for introducing Karma, a young Vietnamese woman with the ability to possess people's minds, who will eventually becoming a founding member of the New Mutants. It also features a back-up story in which Storm and Black Panther team-up and it's revealed the two were childhood friends, a revelation which more or less forms the entire basis for Marvel's justification for having the two characters marry in the mid-00s.

After Marvel Team-Up #100 and before their appearance in the issues we'll cover next week, the X-Men pop up in Rom #17-18 to help the titular character battle Hybrid. Rom, whose series has become something of an internet darling, is based on a toy created by Mattel. The toy never really took off but the comic book was more successful, outlasting the toy itself. However, because Rom is a licensed character and Mattel still owns the rights to him, Marvel is unable to reprint any of the issues of his series (which is why we're not covering those appearances either, as they're difficult to come by). But my buddy Siskoid reviewed each issue of Rom on his blog, and you can find his write-ups of those two issues here and here.

The yearly Statement of Ownership appears in this issue, and lists the average number of copies of each issue sold per month in the previous year as 192,514, with the single issue nearest to the filing date selling 205,736 copies. Though still not at the top of the sales charts, the numbers continue to steadily increase, improving from the ~171,000/166,000 posted the year before.

A Work in Progress
Six weeks have passed since the last issue, and the X-Men are still repairing the damage done during Kitty's battle with the N'Garai demon. 

After having vague recollections of it in issue #114, here Cyclops recalls, via D'Spayre's hallucinations, in vivid detail the plane crash that separated him and his brother from their parents.


After Nightcrawler and Wolverine tease Kitty about damaging the mansion last issue, Nightcrawler apologizes to her, then wonders if he subconsciously wanted to make her feel bad to get back at her because of the way Kitty acts around him.


While wearing his costume in D'Sparye's hallucinations, Cyclops' visor is his older, thinner one.


During another hallucination, as Cyclops envisions his wedding to Jean, Havok is his best man, Storm the maid of honor and Professor X is presiding over the ceremony. 


I Love the 80s
The scene of the X-Men cleaning up in the Danger Room is pretty much "every issue could be somebody's first" 101, detailing the characters and their powers for anyone picking up the comic for the first time.


Claremontisms
Claremont makes his first overt callback to "Dark Phoenix" as Cyclops hallucinates a living Jean, and the mesa sequence from issue #132 is referenced.


Without the Byrne art to distract from it, this issue comes across as particularly wordy, and Cyclops defeat of D'Spayre is overwrought, as tends to be the case whenever Claremont gets too deeply involved in discussions of good and evil and the supernatural stuff that makes up the bulk of this issue.


Nightcrawler drops some more German, calling Kitty "liebchen" for the first time.

"Professor Xavier is a Jerk!" 
Professor X passively-aggressively asks Angel for money.


Young Love
Lee and Scott both share an attraction for one another, though neither is prepared to act on it.


The Awesome and Terrible Power of Cyclops
Cyclops tells one of his shipmates that he always wears his glasses because of a sensitivity to light.


Cyclops uses his optic blast and his aptitude for spatial geometry to sink all the pool balls on the table with one shot (though I question whether he should have that fine of control over his blast sans visor).


Later, Cyclops has a rather gruesome hallucination of blasting Jean to death on their wedding day. 


When Man-Thing approaches, Cyclops almost blasts him, but then admonishes himself because he never blasts someone unless they are a "definate" (sp) foe.


Teebore's Take
You know, this isn't half bad. It's not great, and certainly suffers from being the first issue out of the gate post-Claremont/Byrne, but I was dreading re-reading this issue, remembering it being just awful, and it's not. It's overwrought and overwritten at times (perhaps the most overwrought and overwritten issue of Claremont's yet), and Man-Thing's presence is largely superfluous, but there's some decent stuff here. D'Spayre is a one-note and unremarkable villain, but he does provide a vehicle for Cyclops to address some of his lingering issues regarding Jean's death, and the scenes in which Scott recalls his parent's plane crash, watches the old X-Men get killed by the new, and marries Jean only to end up blasting her to death are suitably macabre and genuinely creepy while doing a nice job of depicting Cyclops' psychoses. The end, in which he affirms to not give in to despair is hokey (especially given the pun in the villain's name) but is still a nice beat for the character post-"Dark Phoenix Saga". Definitely a fill-in (Claremont is clearly casting about in the wake of Byrne's departure, and you could skip reading this and not miss a beat), but not as bad a fill-in as I recalled. A pleasant surprise.    

Next Issue: Spider-Woman #37-38
The X-Men pop up in a pair of Spider-Woman issues, also penned by Claremont, and featuring a couple old friends: Black Tom and Juggernaut!

29 comments:

  1. My first subscription issue, 12 comics for something like 6 bucks (mailed flat). When I got this it was like Christmas, and Cyclops was back! Unfortunately Byrne was gone (I didn't read the Editorial boxes just yet). You also didn't get annuals or special issues with subscriptions.

    So yeah, it's an ok comic. This is probably the first time we see Cyke on his own in a normal environment around normal people. I liked Lee Forester, too bad Cyke kicked her to the curb.

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  2. @Chris: You also didn't get annuals or special issues with subscriptions

    I never had a subscription, so I always wondered about that. How did they ensure the issues stayed flat? I know they have fancy packaging for online subscription services today, but was it just a manilla envelope or something?

    (And $6 is exactly what the Statement of Ownership lists the cost of subscription to be).

    I liked Lee Forester, too bad Cyke kicked her to the curb.

    Yeah, I always felt like Lee got a raw deal, though I've always blamed Claremont for that. He seems to have lost her in the shuffle, then had Cyclops hurriedly toss her aside so Claremont could introduce Maddy. Then he brought her back again briefly and promptly forgot about her again.

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  3. @Teebore: "had Cyclops hurriedly toss her aside so Claremont could introduce Maddy."

    Hey...bros before hoes. Er...well...in this case, hoes that look like other dead hoes before hoes that have no nostalgia factor.

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  4. @Dr. Bitz: Er...well...in this case, hoes that look like other dead hoes before hoes that have no nostalgia factor.

    Ha! I suppose it would be tough to pass up the hoe that looks just like your dead girlfriend...

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  5. I agree, this issue isn't terrible. It's only a chore to read because, as you point out, it's extremely wordy.

    I like seeing the X-Men cleaning up after the demon attack, though why they waited six weeks is beyond me. Incidentally, this concept is -- are you ready? -- a sore point for John Byrne, who complains that Jim Shooter insisted that "continuity" meant that if a hole is punched in the wall of the heroes' headquarters, it should be seen getting repaired in the next issue. Personally, I like that touch, as I think it adds to the feeling that you're reading an ongoing story. It's a Shooter edict that I think makes a lot of sense.

    Also, I love seeing Cyclops in pulse-pounding solo action. And the pool table scene, while not as spectacular as the bumper car scene in Murderworld, is really neat.

    I didn't know that D'Spayre was created by Claremont and Byrne. I've read that issue of Marvel Team-Up, but somehow it never registered with me that it was his first appearance.

    Speaking of Lee, I agree that she was a character who showed some promise, but got left in the dust too often. I liked her better in these early appearances than later on, when she became (ugh) Magneto's girlfriend.

    However, it may be for the best that she was ultimately forgotten, because if Claremont had kept writing her, we would have eventually learned that she was actually D'Spayre's daughter rather than Jock's, and that she had inherited his powers somehow. Or something like that.

    That's a joke, obviously, but it suddenly occurs to me that since Claremont had originally wanted Nightmare to be revealed as Nightcrawler's father (as mentioned a few issues ago), I feel like D'Spayre, a characters of Claremont's own creation with similar powers, could have been a reasonable alternative. I wonder if Claremont ever considered that...?

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  6. Nightcrawler apologizes to her, then wonders if he subconsciously wanted to make her feel bad to get back at her because of the way Kitty acts around him.

    So, shits starting to get kinda weird and very-7th-grade between creepy Nightcrawler and Kitty... next he's going to take her to the dance and then skulk off when "makes eyes" at another guy... only to go home and cry and write her a love letter (complete with cool skulls and hearts with daggers through them).

    Creepy Crawler: "I got so mad, I punched a wall, like 3 or 4 times, then I karate chopped an old log in the back yard... it rolled away from me though, and it smelled bad, so I stopped. I hurt my hand pretty good but it's nothing compared to how my inside-my-body-feelings hurt... then I wrote you this letter."

    Kitty: "Aw, I have the bestest boyfriend ever!"

    Man-Thing?
    Thppt... thtpt... hahahaha!
    That's what an old grandma calls a wiener!

    I love the Super Awkward things people say, even in their private thoughts: "But I feel comfortable -- and good -- with him..." Okay, Weird Inner Self, be quiet and steer the boat now, so we can continue to "scoot" through the Everglades.

    And then Scott thinking to himself about his "ruby quartz" glasses and "deadly orbs" - you already know this Scott, why are you talking about it (to yourself!) like it's an unknown? I must say I do love that hillbilly shipmate who's all grabby for shiny things.

    I don't what's more impressive, Orbo being able to use his laser beam eyes as though they were a pair of... laser beam eyes, or his ability to juggle complex spatial relations in his mind!

    HAHAHAHAHAHA forever at the picture of Jean being all "dur, dur, dur, I love you -ahhhhhhh! My skin and my body!" Heheheeh, does no one else find this hilarious? should I stop drawing attention to the fact that I do?

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  7. Everyone knows if you spell definite with an A you're definitely an a-hole.

    Also, even worse, i read through your whole synopsis before i realized D'Spayre = despair. I'm on top form today

    And, as usual, Joan wins 5 internet points for her post

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  8. I hate that Jock Forrester turns out to be Lee's dad. For this kind of insane coincidence — superheroes being around when there's trouble that warrants their intervention even in the most random places — to occur as often as it does and not be totally unbelievable, thousands of encounters with demons and supervillains and cosmic menaces should befall innocent, everyday people each month with no superheroes in sight, which of course would make for one scary-as-$#!% world. You could get away with that once upon a time, but not after the Silver Age.

    Man-Thing, the character with the most unintentionally-hilarious name since the Whizzer, guest stars this issue.

    I'm not sure how big a deal (um, no pun intended) his name was until the publication of Giant-Size Man-Thing. Then it was kind-of inescapable. There's also the fact that his face looks like a long, wrinkly schvanze with dreadlocks...

    Storm and Black Panther team-up and it's revealed the two were childhood friends, a revelation which more or less forms the entire basis for Marvel's justification for having the two characters marry in the mid-00s.

    How in the world is a childhood friendship a necessary justification for marriage? Was Marvel afraid that simply having them get together because they're both regal, black, African superheroes would be racist? Could they not have just met due to circumstance and fallen in love?

    As for the main story in MTU #100, I think that it's mentioned in one of the X-Men Companion books that, as Len Wein introduced Wolverine in Hulk #180-181 with an eye on the proposed (and realized) X-Men revival, Claremont introduced Karma to set up what would eventually become The New Mutants, although the spinoff got put on the back burner for a while. Shooter had been pressuring Claremont and Byrne to return X-Men to its young-mutants-in-training premise, but they didn't want to do that with X-Men itself, so to appease him seeds were sown for a spinoff with Kitty Pryde, Xi'an Coy Manh, and I believe some kid in Fantastic Four.

    Professor X passively-aggressively asks Angel for money.

    In the most obnoxious way: by not asking him but rather making Angel offer. X calls him into his study, alone, to mention how costs are mounting. Warren says, "If you need money, sir, all you have to do is ask," to which Chuck replies, "I appreciate that, Warren. I'm glad I can count on you." Not once did Xavier actually have to phrase things in the form of a question.

    You'd think that Xavier could finagle some kind of revenue stream — without using his telepathic powers, even. He did invent Cerebro. Something I always liked about Fantastic Four that I think Stan Lee touched on but Byrne certainly made explicit was that Reed Richards held all kinds of crazy patents that funded the team's personal and professional needs.

    I question whether he should have that fine of control over his blast sans visor

    He shouldn't. First he says, "If I open my eyes even the minutest fraction, the beams will fire -- with devastating effect." Then in the next panel, having raised his glasses, he opens his eyes to fire the shot. I always took the visor as a device that didn't just allow for adjustment of angle — wide or thin beams, depending on the aperture — but held back Scott's beams unless he concentrated, letting the beams filter through the ruby quartz in them with an intensity level based on how hard Scott "pushed". The glasses should work the same way, minus the control over width; if Scott's raising them and just opening his eyes, he shouldn't have any control over the beams' intensity at all.

    VW: nerfubsc — A soft, spongy, ubsc.

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  9. Teebore: Yeah, I always felt like Lee got a raw deal, though I've always blamed Claremont for that.

    Uh... Good. If you blamed Scott, I'd worry about you.

    Matt: Jim Shooter insisted that "continuity" meant that if a hole is punched in the wall of the heroes' headquarters, it should be seen getting repaired in the next issue. Personally, I like that touch, as I think it adds to the feeling that you're reading an ongoing story. It's a Shooter edict that I think makes a lot of sense.

    I agree if the next issue is taking place right on the heels of the destruction, but there's also nothing wrong with explaining that things are back to normal due to the passage of time. The X-Men should probably not still be fixing the mansion up six weeks later.

    Matt: I liked her better in these early appearances than later on, when she became (ugh) Magneto's girlfriend.

    ...

    ... What?!?

    Joan: kinda weird and very-7th-grade between creepy Nightcrawler and Kitty

    Actually, Kitty gets a mutual crush (and eventually a bit more) going with the big, armor-skinned Russian dude, Colossus. Furry blue Nightcrawler is dating his own adoptive sister, a sorceress who hid her identity from him until literally dragging him to hell. So that's a healthy relationship.

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  10. Sarah: And, as usual, Joan wins 5 internet points for her post

    I think she's a Ravenclaw, although when they put the sorting hat on her she wouldn't stop yammering and its eyes started to bleed.

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  11. How did they ensure the issues stayed flat? I know they have fancy packaging for online subscription services today, but was it just a manilla envelope or something?

    "mailed flat" was a line used in the ads sometimes. the mailer was just a cheap brown paper slip-in envelope, in hindsight I'm really surprised the comics weren't mangled and damaged. Same thing pop's Playboys came in...oops. I got Annual 5 by chance in the store, but missed #6 (one of the better annuals in my opinion), and the Special Edition reprint of GS1, which I later obtained in a costly trade.
    when she became (ugh) Magneto's girlfriend.
    When was that?

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  12. Chris: and the Special Edition reprint of GS1, which I later obtained in a costly trade.

    I bought that off the racks, gratefully, because I didn't yet have a copy of the original. I've not re-read it in a while, but I recall Cockrum's art job on the new backup being particularly good. I really appreciated the no-ads Baxter-paper reprints that DC and Marvel did around that time, with the while paper and cover reprints and often other goodies.

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  13. but I recall Cockrum's art job on the new backup being particularly good.
    By then I'd gotten used to Cockrum's style and could appreciate it, still the difference between GS1 material and the new back-up was striking. The Thomas/Adams stuff was reprinted around that time on Baxter paper as well.

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  14. Okay, "girlfriend" may be a strong way to phrase it, but... (SPOILERS)

    Following the Secret Wars, when Magneto returns to Earth (Blam will appreaciate this), he coincidentally splashes down in the ocean right next to the Arcadia. Lee rescues him from drowning and takes him back to his hidden island, where (in the pages of New Mutants she helps him recuperate and they get it on one night, and she somehow convinces him to become a good guy (yes, I know it had been building for a while, but it still reads to me as way, way too abrupt).

    Then in Uncanny X-Men he returns to civilization with Lee in tow, and they share another moment or two together in New Mutants before she vanishes into oblivion.

    (This, by the way, is around the point where I really think Claremont started to go out of control and off the rails.)

    Blam -- "I hate that Jock Forrester turns out to be Lee's dad. ... You could get away with that once upon a time, but not after the Silver Age.

    I agree to an extent, but coincidence was always, and will always be, something that's unavoidable in a superhero comic. Even if it's just a small one like, Spider-Man happens to be swinging by just as his enemy the Rhino is robbing a bank or something. This is a big one, but I don't really have any problems with it, just as I have no problem with the one I mentioned above where Magneto meets Lee, or even, an issue or two from now, with Cyclops and Lee getting shipwrecked on a mysterious island that just happens to belong to Cyclops's arch-enemy.

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  15. I actually tried to play the word "Quag" in Scrabble based on this issue shortly after it came out (I was 9 or 10), and was denied. I didn't challenge it, but I felt like Claremont ripped me off with his descriptor...

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  16. @Matt: I like seeing the X-Men cleaning up after the demon attack, though why they waited six weeks is beyond me.

    My impression has always been that they're *still* cleaning, having spent the last six weeks fixing the mansion in various places.

    Perhaps because of the Shooter edict, Claremont seems to devote a surprising amount of time to the X-Men fixing the mansion during Cockrum's second run. They'll spend a few issues doing it some more after the Sidri attack in #154.

    Personally, I like that touch, as I think it adds to the feeling that you're reading an ongoing story. It's a Shooter edict that I think makes a lot of sense.

    I do too, though as Blam mentioned, I don't think there's anything wrong with glossing over damage if a significant passage of time between issues is established, allowing for the implication that the damage was repaired off panel in that time.

    I love seeing Cyclops in pulse-pounding solo action.

    Ha! Me too, of course.

    I liked her better in these early appearances than later on, when she became (ugh) Magneto's girlfriend.

    Yeah, though again, that storyline suffered from Claremont losing the thread. It might have gone somewhere interesting, but we never got a chance to find out.

    because if Claremont had kept writing her, we would have eventually learned that she was actually D'Spayre's daughter rather than Jock's, and that she had inherited his powers somehow. Or something like that.

    It's funny cuz it's true...

    I wonder if Claremont ever considered that...?

    I've read nothing to suggest it, though it's possible. I'm pretty sure Claremont used D'Spayre in his Doctor Strange run, so he clearly liked the character (or at least liked excuses to give his character emotionally-overwrought hallucinations).

    @Joan: "I got so mad, I punched a wall, like 3 or 4 times, then I karate chopped an old log in the back yard... it rolled away from me though, and it smelled bad, so I stopped. I hurt my hand pretty good but it's nothing compared to how my inside-my-body-feelings hurt... then I wrote you this letter."

    You need to write comics Joan.


    I love the Super Awkward things people say, even in their private thoughts: "But I feel comfortable -- and good -- with him..."


    I actually meant to point that out in the post. It's an example of the weird parenthetical thought device Claremont uses a lot. It's one thing to interject on yourself while talking, but seems far to structured for thoughts.

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  17. @Sarah: Also, even worse, i read through your whole synopsis before i realized D'Spayre = despair. I'm on top form today

    That's okay, you're probably just ty'rde.

    And, as usual, Joan wins 5 internet points for her post

    Please, I think she won, like, 50.

    @Blam: You could get away with that once upon a time, but not after the Silver Age.

    I've never really thought about it in those terms (probably because I'm so used to it) but you're absolutely right.

    There's also the fact that his face looks like a long, wrinkly schvanze with dreadlocks...

    It's enough to make you think SOMEONE had to be in on the joke, but I've seen nothing to suggest anyone was. We must just have dirtier minds these days...

    Could they not have just met due to circumstance and fallen in love?

    The problem was that Marvel decided to have them get married with little or no build-up/courtship/falling in love. They simply decided it would be a good idea to marry the characters, told a writer to do it, then pointed to that MTU story as an explanation for their sudden marriage and lack of courtship. The idea being, I believe, that they've known and carried a torch for one another since childhood, so their sudden marriage is just the consummation of a relationship that has existed for decades, and that's why they didn't waste any time dating/being engaged/not being married once they suddenly decided it was time to get married.

    Claremont introduced Karma to set up what would eventually become The New Mutants, although the spinoff got put on the back burner for a while.

    I'll have to see if I can find that quote. I've read plenty of stuff about Shooter pushing for the return of students and a spin-off, but I hadn't seen anything about Karma coming about specifically in preparation for both. Though it certainly makes sense.

    Not once did Xavier actually have to phrase things in the form of a question.

    Charles Xavier doesn't ask.

    What's especially odd about that scene is that it's pretty much the only time that its suggested that Xavier isn't loaded enough to run the X-Men himself. Up to this point, and pretty much after it, the X-Men do their thing, more or less on Xavier's dime, with occasional mentions of Angel helping out, even if he's not on the team.

    Here, Xavier needs money from Angel to effect some repairs; down the road, the mansion will be rebuilt from the ground up (a few times) without Xavier blinking.

    Reed Richards held all kinds of crazy patents that funded the team's personal and professional needs.

    I've always loved that little detail.

    if Scott's raising them and just opening his eyes, he shouldn't have any control over the beams' intensity at all.

    I'm glad it wasn't just me.

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  18. @Blam: I think she's a Ravenclaw, although when they put the sorting hat on her she wouldn't stop yammering and its eyes started to bleed.


    Ha!

    @Chris: the mailer was just a cheap brown paper slip-in envelope, in hindsight I'm really surprised the comics weren't mangled and damaged.

    It is amazing they didn't end up trashed by the time they got to you.

    @Matt: Thanks for detailing the Magneto/Lee relationship so I don't have to, but in true internet fashion, I will now nitpick it. :)

    Following the Secret Wars, when Magneto returns to Earth (Blam will appreaciate this), he coincidentally splashes down in the ocean right next to the Arcadia.

    I'm pretty sure Magneto crashed into the ocean as a result of Warlock accidentally destroying Asteroid M en route to Earth in his first appearance.

    I've always held that up as one of the examples of the great inter-connectivity between the titles back in the day (the kind you rarely see these days), as Asteroid M was destroyed in New Mutants but you saw Magneto fished out of the ocean by Lee as a result of that destruction in that month's X-Men.

    But the connection between the two was always vague, so maybe I've always misinterpreted it.

    ...and she somehow convinces him to become a good guy

    I suppose we can get into it in more detail when we get there, but I never read his interactions with Lee as being that direct a contributing factor on his turn to good, but more of a "well, I'm heading in that direction anyway, why not shack up with this hot chick?" kind of thing.

    I mean, yeah, there's the idea that he's learned to love a human woman, and that's a big deal for super-villain Magneto, so it's definitely a factor, but I've never read it as "well, now I've slept with Lee, I'm a good guy." or that Lee was that directly responsible for turning him good through direct urgings on her part.

    But again, maybe I'm downplaying/misremembering her involvement.

    Incidentally, for Blam and Chris, this all happened during the Romita Jr. run on Uncanny, somewhere in the 180s or 190s, I believe, and the corresponding New Mutants issues, in the late teens/early 20s.

    This, by the way, is around the point where I really think Claremont started to go out of control and off the rails.

    I don't know that I'd say he went off the rails, entirely, but it's definitely around that time that he really started to lose/drop plot threads and leave stuff, like the Lee/Magneto relationship, hanging/unresolved. It's also, probably not coincidentally, around the same time that Weezie stepped down as editor to freelance, and I definitely get the impression that of all Claremont's editors, she was the best at saying, "Hey, Chris, remember this plot? Don't forget about that!" etc.

    @Chris KI didn't challenge it, but I felt like Claremont ripped me off with his descriptor...


    As Dr. Bitz can attest, what does or doesn't constitute a word as far as Scrabble is concerned confuses and irritates me to this day...

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  19. Teebore: I'll have to see if I can find that quote.

    Good luck! I'm not 100% sure that it's from a Companion book. While it's there in my head, for some reason, that seems a bit early for the quote. I should add that it's something Byrne said. Art of JB is too early for sure, but I don't think that it's from one of his Comics Interview Q&As either. For all I know it's from my talk with him for Comicology, but I don't think it's that recent. As for who the kid from Fantastic Four is, while in rereading what I wrote it sounds like I'm coyly referring to Franklin Richards, I recall Byrne literally saying something like "[proper name forgotten], the black kid from FF #[whatever]".

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  20. Teebore: I've never read it as "well, now I've slept with Lee, I'm a good guy."

    He's like Angel — Buffy Angel, not X-Men Angel — in reverse!

    Teebore: this all happened during the Romita Jr. run on Uncanny, somewhere in the 180s or 190s, I believe, and the corresponding New Mutants issues, in the late teens/early 20s.

    I must've blocked it out, because I was still reading both titles then (and enjoying New Mutants more than X-Men at that point, if only for Sienkiewicz's crazy art). Warlock does seem to have been involved in knocking Magneto out of the sky, based on a link that I found when I did a quick Google search to quell my incredulousness. Magneto's good-guy tenure as Xavier's replacement at the mansion, and its attendant terrible costume, I recall, as I do Warlock, but not the thing with Lee Forrester. Rereading those issues for the first time in decades will be really interesting.

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  21. @Blam: I recall Byrne literally saying something like "[proper name forgotten], the black kid from FF #[whatever]".

    That rings a bell for me now. I think I know exactly where it is. I'll have to look it up tonight.

    I must've blocked it out, because I was still reading both titles then

    It really was a minor thing, a couple of scenes here and there spread across X-Men and New Mutants that ultimately amounted to very little. Easy enough to overlook/forget about.

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  22. You're right, Teebore -- Magneto fell into the ocean following the destruction of Asteroid M. I think it happened near the time everyone returned from the Secret Wars, so I often get it mixed up in my head.

    Teebore -- "It's also, probably not coincidentally, around the same time that Weezie stepped down as editor to freelance..."

    Yes, I think I've said before that I've noticed my enjoyment of Claremont's X-Men is largely dependent upon his editors. I love it when Roger Stern is the editor, I like it when he has Louise Simonson (though there is a steady decline), I'm really not much of a fan of the Ann Nocenti period at all aside from the Marauders stuff, and it begins to win me back when Bob Harras comes on board.

    Lastly, I know the "black kid from Fantastic Four" remark from that Letters of Note link that I posted here a while back, where Byrne introduces Kitty Pryde to Chris Claremont. It's probably been published elsewhere, though. Byrne loves to tell and re-tell the same stories multiple times.

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  23. @Matt: I'm really not much of a fan of the Ann Nocenti period at all aside from the Marauders stuff

    I'm more forgiving of the Nocenti stuff than you, but I definitely agree that she had a lighter editorial hand than Simonson before and Harras after her, which tended to let Claremont get unfocused and rambling, even if I do enjoy some of the stories that came out of that period.

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  24. "The yearly Statement of Ownership... average number of copies sold... 192,514". That's really impressive. Comic sales were in freefall 1975-1980, and X-Men was at around 110k in the "X-Men vs Magneto in Antarctica/dead" arc - see the comments to either Teebore's #113 or 114 review.
    So they'd almost doubled their sales in a few years. Did it get to quarter/third-million by the mid or end of the 80s?

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  25. @Pete: So they'd almost doubled their sales in a few years. Did it get to quarter/third-million by the mid or end of the 80s?


    I honestly have no idea how big the peak is (aside from the millions of copies X-Men vol. 2 #1 sold in '91), though I'm really curious to find out. I too continue to be amazed at just how fast the sales are increasing around this time.

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  26. Hey Teebore,

    Claremont had D'spayre using N'Garai magicks in Dr. Strange, I wonder if he intended to reveal him as one of their Triad, perhaps a brother to Y'Garon?

    You know D'Spayre has been revealed as Aarkus, the Golden Age Vision, in recent years.

    While I hate this idea, it would provide an explanation for Kurt's teleporting power given Aarkus's own teleportation from the Smokey World. This story also revealed Aarkus's race were midwives to Cosmic Cubes. Phaaa!

    However, this would rule out Mystique as Kurt's father, Baron Eric Wagner, which I'd be totally against.

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  27. @Nathan: You know D'Spayre has been revealed as Aarkus, the Golden Age Vision, in recent years.

    Huh. I did not know that. Interesting implications, as you say.

    "Midwives to the Cosmic Cubes"? Crazy!

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  28. Nathan: You know D'Spayre has been revealed as Aarkus, the Golden Age Vision, in recent years.

    I did not know that either. That's one of those things that when I was a kid I would've just accepted as gospel — but as an adult I know all too well that writers (some whippersnappers younger 'n' I am) are not just fallible but sometimes outright bad at their job. I can't pinpoint exactly when things went from "Roy Thomas has retconned it, so it must be true" to "Whoever's running Marvel and DC has no greater moral ownership of these characters' mythologies than the fans" but somewhere in there I got tired not only of poor creative choices but the ping-pong of rewritten history altogether.

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  29. @Teebore & Blam: Yeah, retcons by most writers these days are so dull, yet when you have someone like Claremont or Byrne come along and do one, like Bishop as an Aborigine, it actually makes you say: "He's still got it!"

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