Wednesday, April 25, 2012
X-amining Uncanny X-Men #151
In a Nutshell
Storm and White Queen swap bodies as Kitty Pryde leaves the school.
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Jim Sherman, Bob McLeod, Josef Rubinstein
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Bonnie Wilford
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
The X-Men gather in Professor Xavier's study where they are told that Kitty's parents are pulling her out of Xavier's school, wanting her to study with students her own age. Though all the X-Men object, there's nothing they can do about it, and an upset Kitty runs to her room. Storm comforts her, but Kitty tells her that she's being sent to the Massachusetts Academy, the school run by the White Queen. Kitty leaves a week later, Professor X having confirmed that her parents are acting of their own free will, with Storm driving her to the academy. As Kitty receives orientation, Storm is visited by the White Queen and blacks out after a flash of light.
After orientation, Kitty says goodbye to Storm, not realizing that White Queen has placed her mind in Storm's body. Leaving the school, White Queen revels in Storm's power before contacting Sebastian Shaw. At the mansion, Nightcrawler and Amanda Sefton's moonlight stroll is interrupted by a group of Sentinels sent by Shaw. Professor X and Cyclops are knocked out, but the rest of the X-Men manage to destroy the Sentinels just as White Queen in Storm's body arrives and blasts them all with lightening. Back at the Massachusetts Academy, Storm, her mind now in White Queen's body, awakens in a cell beneath the school. She manages to escape and seeks out Kitty for help, but Kitty flees from whom she believes to be the White Queen. Storm, unable to control White Queen's telepathy, accidentally psi-blasts Kitty, and fears she may have killed her.
Firsts and Other Notables
The Hellfire Club returns, though only Sebastian Shaw, Tessa and Emma Frost, the White Queen, appear in this issue. It is revealed that White Queen, who was presumed dead by the X-Men (and presumably, the readers as well) following issue #131, survived her battle with Phoenix in that issue.
The latest model of Sentinels, designed by Shaw Industries, debut in this issue.
This is also the first appearance of the Massachusetts Academy, the private school run by White Queen. It will eventually become the headquarters of the Hellions, the New Mutants' rivals, and later, the re-located Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, in the pages of Generation X. Emma does a much better job of running her school as a front for her mutant-related activities, as its suggested there are a number of students present, as opposed to the six or so mostly-grown X-Men at Xavier's school. It's also established that Emma owns most of the town/industries surrounding her school.
Fill-in art comes from Jim Sherman and Bob McLeod; the letters page notes that Dave Cockrum needed a break after issue #150, and is hard at work on issue #153.
A Work in Progress
Kitty Pryde briefly leaves Xavier's school in this story, though she's not considered to have quit the team (the situation is (most likely intentionally) similar to when Jean left the school to attend college in issue #24, but remained a member of the X-Men).
13-year-old Kitty spends the opening pages of this issue running around in a skimpy pink bikini.
Storm has a personal hatred for/revulsion towards White Queen, as a result of the psychic torture she endured at White Queen's hands in issue #131.
Amanda Sefton pops up again, and its mentioned that she's not nearly as powerful a sorceress as her mother.
Storm flashes back to a conversation she had with Jean in the latter's apartment, regarding the difficulty of being a telepath. For what it's worth, the Official Index considers that scene to take place between issue #108 and Iron Fist #15.
I Love the 80s
Check out the enormous computer in Kitty's room.
Both Wolverine and White Queen are depicted smoking throughout the issue.
A narrative caption tells us that Storm doesn't want to break her embrace with Kitty when saying goodbye to her...except at this point, that's White Queen's mind in Storm's body, suggesting White Queen is fooling even the narrator...
Colossus is described as being "nigh-invulnerable" once again, while White Queen-as-Storm realizes that when using Storm's power, she sees the world as patterns of energy.
The other characters have taken to referring to Amanda Sefton as "'Manda"; Claremont has a predilection for dropping the first letter off characters' names in dialogue.
Nightcrawler displays another clever power usage as he teleports from Sentinel to Sentinel, affixing explosives to their legs. He completes the task in nine seconds, having set the detonators for ten.
"Professor Xavier is a Jerk!"
Draw a line in the sand: Professor X claims that while he may have done so in the past, he is no longer comfortable using his power to manipulate people's minds.
Kitty and Peter kiss for the first time in this issue.
In this issue, Claremont continues, after bringing back Magneto in issue #150 and Sauron in Marvel Fanfare, with what has become a sort of "greatest hits" tour, kicking off a two part story that sees the return of both the Hellfire Club and the Sentinels. Unfortunately, their return is less than triumphant. Considering the last appearance of the two villainous groups were in "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and "Days of Future Past", two the most seminal stories in X-Men history, any return engagement was likely to suffer by comparison, but even ignoring any comparisons between those stories and this one does little to improve it. A by-the-numbers plot involving a very Silver Age-y mind swapping device receives little help from lackluster art by the three artists working on this issue. This isn't an awful story; rather, it's a perfectly average one. Kitty's departure leads to some nice character moments between her and the rest of the team, and the fight with the Sentinels is exciting, even if the art doesn't make it as exciting as it could be. But "average" isn't good enough for a story featuring the return of two of the book's most significant villains, making the whole thing seem less than it deserves.
Storm is trapped in the White Queen's body, the X-Men are trapped by the Hellfire Club. How will they ever get out of this one? The resolution will make you go, "alright then".