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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #158

"The Life That Late I Led..."
June 1982 

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men fight Rogue inside the Pentagon.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Dave Cockrum
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
On the X-Men's base in the Bermuda Triangle, Carol Danvers spars with the Starjammers while Dr. Corebau runs a series of biological tests on her. Meanwhile, Oracle of the Imperial Guard attempts to telepathically wake Professor X from his coma. Scanning his mind, she is overwhelmed by the presence of great evil in his consciousness. When she attempts to withdraw, Xavier subconsciously takes control of her mind and tries to user her power to kill himself before Wolverine severs their connection. Just then, Kitty draws the X-Men's attention to Senator Kelly, who is appearing on TV denouncing mutants in general and the X-Men in particular. Moira worries that the government might be able to track down the X-Men via the information Professor X shared with the FBI back when he was working with them, and Kitty suggests having the Starjammers create a virus capable of erasing all references to the team from the federal databases.


With the help of Carol Danvers and her Air Force credentials, Wolverine and Storm are able to infiltrate the Pentagon in order to upload the virus. However, inside the building they encounter Rogue, and a fight breaks out. As the X-Men battle Rogue, Carol sneaks off to take care of the virus, but she's followed by Mystique, at the Pentagon in her secret identity. Mystique shoots Carol, but the bullet only grazes her, and she's able to overpower Mystique. In the halls of the Pentagon, the X-Men are holding their own against Rogue, and Storm is able to create a tornado which smashes Rogue through the roof of the building and sends her away. The X-Men hastily leave the building as Mystique is arrested by military police and Carol uploads the virus, taking the opportunity to erase her own files  Outside, Carol rendezvous with the X-Men, confirming that as far as the federal computer network is concerned the X-Men have ceased to exist, while also feeling that she's finally ready to start her life again.

Firsts and Other Notables
Though she's previously appeared elsewhere, this marks the first appearance of Rogue within the pages of X-Men. Though she'll go on to join the team and become only the second X-Man Claremont had a hand in creating, here she is still a member of Mystique's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and a full-on villain.


Mystique also pops up again, and we see her in her secret identity as Raven Darkholme, deputy director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.


In a nice bit of (probably unintentional) foreshadowing, Storm worries that the casual presence of Rogue at the Pentagon could mean that the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants is working with the government.

In a call back to their relationship with FBI Agent Fred Duncan during the Silver Age, the X-Men release a virus into the government's databases that erases all references to them (and will erase any future references as well).


Imperial Guard telepath Oracle attempts to bring Xavier out of his coma and encounters a malevolence inside him, another reference to the Brood Queen egg inside Xavier.


To stop it, Professor X goes so far as to take control of Oracle and attempt to kill himself via psibolts.


Havok is introduced to Corsair and told Corsair is his father.


A footnote mentions that future issues of Marvel Fanfare will reveal why Mystique hates Carol Danvers so much, but as far as I know, that story has never been told (at least not in Marvel Fanfare).

A Work in Progress
Moira's hanging with the X-Men in the Bermuda Triangle, presumably leaving Banshee to mind the store back on Muir Island.

According to tests conducted by Peter Corbeau, though Carol Danvers has lost her superhuman abilities, her body is still functioning at peak human capacity.


Carol explains that she alternatively carries the rank of major and colonel in the Air Force, depending on her mission, which I believe is an attempt by Claremont to explain away past discrepancies in her rank.


Nightcrawler teleports into the Pentagon from outside, though he had no way of knowing exactly where Storm and Wolverine were and, unless he's been there a lot, should have been worried about teleporting inside of a wall.


He also mentions wanting to speak with Mystique, a reference to the relationship between the two which Mystique teased in issue #142.


It's stated in this issue that Rogue's stolen powers go away faster the more she uses them.

Like the White Queen in issues #151-152, Rogue can't control Storm's stolen power.


As Carol enters the virus in the government's computer, she also takes the opportunity to erase her own files, declaring that she's starting over.


I Love the 80s
Kitty is back in a bikini.


The X-Men apparently arranged for their ancient island base in the Bermuda Triangle to be hooked up to cable...


The dense metal of Wolverine's claws is able to to disrupt the psychic energy Professor X is hurling around the room, which seems a dubious ability, at best.


Needless to say, the virus the X-Men deploy is based very much in early 80s understandings of how computers work, but all things considered, it's actually not that outrageous/dated. 

Claremontisms
With the X-Men now operating fully out of their Bermuda Island base, we get another instance of Claremont moving the X-Men out of their traditional school setting, though as before, it won't be long before he's forced to return to them to their usual status quo. 

Ch'od is described as having a "speed that belies his massive bulk", one of Claremont's favorite descriptions for larger, muscular characters. 

Young Love
Kitty finds herself confused and frightened by her growing feelings for Colossus.


The Best There Is At What He Does
In a neat little bit I've always enjoyed, when Wolverine sets off the metal detector entering the Pentagon, he passes it off as prosthetics caused by war injuries. He's also depicted wearing the uniform of the Canadian Air Force, and it's said that his ranks and medals are legitimate.


Human/Mutant Relations
Senator Kelly goes on TV and more or less declares war on mutants.


For Sale
As the direct market of independent comic book stores (as opposed to newsstands and drug/grocery/convenience stores which happen to sell comics) grows, Marvel runs an ad listing such stores.


It's in the Mail
Responses to letters in this issue refer to the upcoming New Mutants spin-off (as an X-Men companion book), including Donald Pierce's involvement in that series' first issue. Also, it includes the first mention of Marvel exploring the notion of a live-action X-Men movie. 

Teebore's Take
This issue marks the first of four relatively stand alone issues that form the bridge between the two acts of Claremont and Cockrum's Brood story, each one a little different in tone and intent (with all but one laying significant thematic/character groundwork that will be built upon later). Here, Claremont and Cockrum take the opportunity to break away from the space opera and touch on the issue of human/mutant prejudice, something that hasn't really been dealt with since "Days of Future Past" re-contextualized that relationship. Following up on that story, Senator Kelly has openly declared mutants a menace, and the X-Men realize that with the government growing increasingly more anti-mutant, they need to sever whatever lingering ties they may have with it.

This is a clever way for Claremont to address a lingering Silver Age plot thread (and it will have some plot-based implication in the future), but it also furthers that re-contextualization begun in "Days". The X-Men have long existed on the fringes of the Marvel Universe, compared to teams like the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, which have official government sanction and/or the trust of the public. But while lacking an official charter and feared by the public, the X-Men were always firmly in line with the establishment. But with the establishment slowly becoming more anti-mutant, the X-Men are forced more and more into the roles of counter-culture outlaws, even while their actions remain as ostensibly heroic as ever (it is, after all, the government that's becoming less virtuous). This transition of the X-Men away from the morality and functionality of the traditional super-hero team as a result of the government becoming more like the one depicted in "Days of Future Past" will become a significant element in Claremont's stories moving forward.

In the meantime, Claremont takes the opportunity to introduce Rogue to X-Men (and write an epilogue of sorts for his abruptly-cancelled Ms. Marvel series), and though here she's played as a pretty straightforward black hat (and, like in her first appearance, pretty much in direct opposition to some of her later characterizations), her future role in the book, as well as that of her teammates in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, will contribute significantly to the X-Men's growing position as anti-establishment heroes. 

Next Issue
The X-Men encounter a certain long-lived Eastern European noble with a taste for blood.

47 comments:

  1. "the X-Men release a virus into the government's databases that erases all references to them (and will erase any future references as well)."

    That's all well and good except that, last I checked, federal agents have eyes and memories. Don't you think one of them will think something is up with the computer system when, after typing up some sort of report about the X-Men they go looking for that entry the next day and it's missing?
    What do they think government workers are? Mindless automatons that can't conceive of anything existing outside their own file system?

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  2. Fun fact: I'm both a private and a General in the army, depending on what day of the week it is.

    OT: why is your word verification now showing pictures? I never really know what to do with that. I'v been skipping it and it still goes through

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  3. Government workers wouldn't look into it. If they don't have work on their desk, they don't look for it, I assure you.

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  4. PART ONE IN A 2-PART COMMENT

    Other than the plot point about the computer virus and the bit with Wolverine and the metal detector, I have no real memories, fond or otherwise, of this issue. These four stand-alone stories between the two halves of the Brood saga seem oddly placed to me. I've long felt the Brood storyline would've been better served if we just jumped straight from last issue to "Gold Rush" and then moved on to the rest of the epic. As it's structured, I assume these four issues were meant as a break from the long Brood epic, but they really just seem like an interruption.

    That said, the next issue is one of my all-time favorite single X-Men issues, ever. And there's no hyperbole whatsoever in that statement!

    "Though she's previously appeared elsewhere, this marks the first appearance of Rogue within the pages of X-Men."

    For some reason I feel like I mentioned this before, but I'll say it again, just in case: John Byrne has an anecdote about Rogue, in which Cockrum received the character's visual reference and asked Claremont how old she was supposed to be. Claremont said, "about 16." Cockrum heard, "about 60," and didn't bat an eye. He apparently had assumed from earlier art that Rogue was supposed to be a middle-aged or older woman.

    Obviously they got the age discrepancy worked out, but I can see how Cockrum could've been confused. Rogue looked significantly older in her earlier appearances.

    (Also, John Byrne hates the codename "Rogue" because it says nothing about her powers, nor could an unfamiliar fan use the name alone to pick her out in a line-up.)

    "Mystique also pops up again, and we see her in her secret identity as Raven Darkholme, deputy director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency."

    A position she originally held, in the pages of Ms. Marvel, because she was the advance scout for some sort of alien invasion. She even had a secret hidden master that she reported to, and everything! I guess Claremont dropped that plot entirely, which is fine, but was there ever another reason given for Mystique maintaining a secret identity with the U.S. government? It seems like a really odd choice unless you're planning to subvert things from within, which I don't think she ever indicated was something she wanted to do.

    "A footnote mentions that future issues of Marvel Fanfare will reveal why Mystique hates Carol Danvers so much, but as far as I know, that story has never been told (at least not in Marvel Fanfare)."

    I'm assuming this would've been the final two issues of Ms. Marvel, which were eventually published in a Marvel Super Heroes issue from the early 90's? That story basically just ends with Ms. Marvel beating Rogue, though we may never know exactly how Claremont intended it to play out. The final product was scripted by Simon (Transformers) Furman, as Claremont was on the outs with Marvel at the time.

    "Moira's hanging with the X-Men in the Bermuda Triangle, presumably leaving Banshee to mind the store back on Muir Island."

    Hooray, you remembered!

    I know that Banshee probably has his own life and such, so I don't necessarily expect him to be joined at the hip with Moira, but an occasional mention now and again would be nice. I wonder if I could pitch an "Untold Tales of Sean Cassidy" series to Marvel, explaining what he was up to in this timeframe? His stock has to be at an all-time high after that kid played him in a movie last year, right?

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  5. PART TWO IN A 2-PART COMMENT

    "Nightcrawler teleports into the Pentagon from outside, though he had no way of knowing exactly where Storm and Wolverine were and, unless he's been there a lot, should have been worried about teleporting inside of a wall."

    Maybe the "micro transceiver comlink" helped him somehow? Or maybe Dave Cockrum just wanted to feature Nightcrawler saving the day, established power limitations be darned.

    "Kitty is back in a bikini."

    At least she's on a tropical island this time.

    "The X-Men apparently arranged for their ancient island base in the Bermuda Triangle to be hooked up to cable..."

    I prefer to think it's a Betamax machine. Though with "Marvel Time" in effect, reading it right now would make it a DVD player. And when I re-read this issue again in five or six years, it will be a Blu-Ray player or an iTunes download.

    "...as before, it won't be long before he's forced to return to them to their usual status quo."

    This has always been an odd one for me. There's such an abrupt and immediate about-face on this plan, that something had to happen behind the scenes. I mean, the X-Men spent about a year's worth of issue's reparing the Danger Room, but the mansion is rebuilt in a matter of two or three issues! Somebody -- I assume Jim Shooter -- wanted the X-Men back in that mansion immediately. And beyond that, they never even think about the island again. After moving all their junk there, I don't even think there's a reference to having it moved back.

    I guess the impetus for getting them back to New York must have been the impending launch of New Mutants. It's too bad, though, because I wouldn't have minded seeing a year or two's worth of stories featuring the X-Men on the island before they moved back to New York. It was more interesting to me than the Outback town, and much more visually exciting, too (though it's possible that few artists other than Cockrum would've kept it that way).

    "Ch'od is described as having a "speed that belies his massive bulk", one of Claremont's favorite descriptions for larger, muscular characters."

    Just once, I would like to read a large Claremont character moving exactly as slow as you'd expect. It would be refreshing to see the stereotype reinforced!

    "Senator Kelly goes on TV and more or less declares war on mutants."

    Still not buying it from Cockrum. Compare the tame images here of Senator Kelly with these panels from your post on issue #99: Panel 1, Panel 2. I can't quite explain what it is, but something about those panels (and the whole page) say "anti-mutant sentiment" to me far better than anything Cockrum drew during his second run. Maybe it was the inking or the coloring; I don't know. But Cockrum just does not convey any sort of bleakness during his second run, while his first nailed that atmosphere perfectly.

    (Did they lower the number of characeters you're allowed in comments? It took me forever to break this thing into two sizes it would accept!)

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  6. "Nightcrawler teleports into the Pentagon from outside, though he had no way of knowing exactly where Storm and Wolverine were and, unless he's been there a lot, should have been worried about teleporting inside of a wall."

    Why y'always gots to be looking for plot flaws where they don't exist?

    I'm reading the panel, and Nightcrawler says, "Sorry it took me so long." Isn't it possible that the reason it took so long is that he had to find a safe way into the building and then scout around to locate them?

    LEAVE!! CLAREMONT!! ALONE!!!

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  7. @Dr. Bitz: Don't you think one of them will think something is up with the computer system when, after typing up some sort of report about the X-Men they go looking for that entry the next day and it's missing?

    Yeah, the "future reference" bit comes later. And even then, it's relatively minor.

    But once the X-Men become invisible to electronic devices, well, it'll get even easier to hide from the government. ;)

    @Sarah: Fun fact: I'm both a private and a General in the army, depending on what day of the week it is.

    Or depending on what the plot demands, right?

    why is your word verification now showing pictures?

    Man, who am I? The CEO of Google? I have no idea why Blogger does what it does. Rest assured, it's not as a result of any changes we made.

    @Anonymous: Government workers wouldn't look into it. If they don't have work on their desk, they don't look for it, I assure you.

    Ha!

    @Matt: As it's structured, I assume these four issues were meant as a break from the long Brood epic, but they really just seem like an interruption.


    Considering Cockrum takes a couple of them off, most definitely, but I've always rather liked the little breather between the two acts of the Brood story. Or, at least, I like the fact that the break consists of some standalone issues, and not just another random four part adventure.

    That said, the next issue is one of my all-time favorite single X-Men issues, ever. And there's no hyperbole whatsoever in that statement!

    Interesting. Next issue is my least favorite of this group of four. I don't dislike it or anything, I just like the other three more (probably because of the greater implications they have on stories further down the road).

    He apparently had assumed from earlier art that Rogue was supposed to be a middle-aged or older woman.

    I can totally see that. It's at least good to know Claremont always intended for her to be 16ish.

    Also, John Byrne hates the codename "Rogue" because it says nothing about her powers, nor could an unfamiliar fan use the name alone to pick her out in a line-up.

    I'll actually agree with Byrne on this one; I've never been a big fan of "Rogue" as her codename. I mean, it's better than calling her Power Stealing Lady, but something a little less generic and/or representative of her personality if not her powers would be nice.

    ...was there ever another reason given for Mystique maintaining a secret identity with the U.S. government?

    I believe Claremont touches on that later down the line. I don't remember it exactly, but I think it pertains to keeping an eye on the governments response to mutants and having access to advanced tech.

    I'm assuming this would've been the final two issues of Ms. Marvel, which were eventually published in a Marvel Super Heroes issue from the early 90's?

    Ah, I bet you're right. I know they had those issues more or less ready to go, so I could see them thinking about slotting them into Marvel Fanfare before scuttling that idea.

    His stock has to be at an all-time high after that kid played him in a movie last year, right?

    I don't know if it's that high. ;)

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  8. cont...

    I mean, the X-Men spent about a year's worth of issue's reparing the Danger Room, but the mansion is rebuilt in a matter of two or three issues!

    Off panel, no less! The X-Men go off into space and the next time we see Professor X, he's back at the mansion.

    I'm 99.9% sure it's because of New Mutants, though its odd, because I've always understood New Mutants was Claremont's way of giving Shooter his "X-Men in school" book, while presumably allowing the X-Men to gallivant around the world.

    So I wonder if a scenario went down in which Claremont started working on New Mutants while planning to keep the X-Men in the Bermuda Triangle, and then Shooter stepped in and said, "no, the X-Men still have to be at the school too"?

    But Cockrum just does not convey any sort of bleakness during his second run, while his first nailed that atmosphere perfectly.

    Nice job with those comparisons; I definitely see it. I wonder if Cockrum just wasn't interested in that kind of bleak during this run?

    Did they lower the number of characeters you're allowed in comments?

    Not that I know of, but I wouldn't put it past Blogger.

    @Jason: Isn't it possible that the reason it took so long is that he had to find a safe way into the building and then scout around to locate them?

    Well, if that's the case, then maybe Claremont should have made it more clear? ;)

    Seriously though, that's as good an explanation as any, and I think I've made it pretty clear here that a little plot hole like that, if it is such a thing, does little to detract from my love for Claremont.

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  9. This issue feels like it should've been a cool-down, but it turns into a big crazy fight with the Pentagon getting exploded by tornadoes very quickly. Also it says a lot for Claremont's storytelling that he made it seem perfectly natural that Carol bumps into the one person she hates most on earth on a water break at a secure government location. I love that absorbing Logan's powers also gives her Wolverine hair- it's a cool visual, even if it doesn't make much literal sense. While I'm nitpicking, maybe Cyclops should've taken his dad shopping. I would've loved to see Corsair show up at Alex's in some Mad Men season 1 casual wear, since he left earth circa 1961 at this point.

    I agree with Matt: the Dracula story rules. Maybe it doesn't make much sense here, and didn't have much resonance outside of inspiring "Bloodstorm" in the late 90's, but Sienkiewicz's art goes perfectly with the story and it's just great 22 page storytelling. The weak issues are obviously Belasco and the continuation of Professor X gallivanting around the Holy Land.

    It's a shame it took that Ms. Marvel story over a decade to be published, as the fight with Sabretooth in particular was pretty cool.

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  10. "The weak issues are obviously Belasco and the continuation of Professor X gallivanting around the Holy Land."

    What? That issue is great! It lays a ton of groundwork for issue #200 and Magneto's reform. I think it's the first we see of Xavier and Magneto's past and they're fighting Nazis!! I think Belasco and Dracula are the weaker issues.

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  11. I just think the Dracula story is much stronger on its own merits then the Professor X story, which feels like part 2 a mini-series that nobody would read if it wasn't in the main title (part 1 being the Shadow King issue some 40 issues earlier). I don't really care that it ends up being important, or that it introduces another love interest for Xavier. But I'm willing to admit a lot of that favoritism is due to Bill S.'s art. Only he and Gene Colan should draw vampires.

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  12. @Dobson: Also it says a lot for Claremont's storytelling that he made it seem perfectly natural that Carol bumps into the one person she hates most on earth on a water break at a secure government location.

    Well said. I do love that the X-Men just happen to bump into Rogue, but at the same time, with Mystique's job, it makes perfect sense.

    I love that absorbing Logan's powers also gives her Wolverine hair- it's a cool visual, even if it doesn't make much literal sense.

    You know, I didn't even notice that! That is a really fun little detail.

    While I'm nitpicking, maybe Cyclops should've taken his dad shopping.

    It is pretty funny to see Claremont meeting his other son out in the "real" world while wearing his intergalactic space pirate garb.

    The weak issues are obviously Belasco and the continuation of Professor X gallivanting around the Holy Land.

    I don't really care that it ends up being important, or that it introduces another love interest for Xavier.

    I have to echo Jeff's sentiments: I love the Magneto/Xavier issue just for the role it plays in deepening Magneto's character. But I'll freely admit that, as I love Claremont's Magneto, I'm biased toward such things.

    (And I would totally read a "young Xavier gallivants around the world" series, for what it's worth. Heck, I might just write something like that myself someday).

    And, not that anyone asked, but if I was to rank the next four issues in terms of how much I like them, they'd go:

    1. #161
    2. #158
    3. #160
    4. #159

    Which isn't to say I don't like #159, but it's the one I'm probably least likely to reach for and re-read. Needless to say, I'm really curious to revisit it again for next week's post.

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  13. I like "Gold Rush" also, mainly for the opportunity to see young Xavier vs. Baron Strucker. I like when the X-Men interact with the larger Marvel Universe.

    Since rankings were brought up, for me the four "filler" issues would go:

    1. #159 (Dracula)
    2. #161 (Hydra)
    3. #158 (Rogue)

    (Lots of empty space)

    4. #160 (Belasco)

    I don't necessarily dislike the Belasco issue on its own merits, but I don't like what it does to Illyana. I know Magik is a favorite New Mutants character for many readers, but I have never liked what was done to her to make her into that character. I'll elaborate when we get to the issue.

    Also, I need to issue a retraction/correction: I thought it was John Byrne who had an anecdote about Claremont, Cockrum, and Rogue's age. It turns out it was a poster on Byrne's forum, who doesn't provide a source for the story, and it turns out I was wrong about the artist. It was Paul Smith who heard "16" as "60".

    So take all of this with a grain of salt, I guess. The exact story as realted on Byrne's board:

    The way I heard the Paul Smith story is that he was looking at how she was drawn in the Avengers Annual while Claremont was telling him about the character's backstory. Claremont said that Rouge [sic] was about 16, but Paul misheard him and thought he said sixty.

    Smith's reaction was - No way is she older than 45.

    Claremont replied - No, I said she was 16.

    Smith's response - No way is she younger than 45.


    I actually think this is funnier than what I tried to convey here originally, whether it's true or not.

    And lastly, I agree with the awkward hilartiy generated by Corsair's refusal to change out of his space pirate outfit. From the streets of Manhattan to the deserts of New Mexico, he will never shed those clothes, no matter how many strange stares he receives! I'm kind of surprised he doesn't wear it to Cyclops and Madelyne's wedding (and he probably would have if Cockrum had drawn it).

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  14. @Matt: I like when the X-Men interact with the larger Marvel Universe.

    I do love that they used Strucker, and not just some random Nazi-themed villain. They never quite clicked, but I kinda like the Strucker twins too.

    I'll elaborate when we get to the issue.

    Color me curious. I'm a big Magik fan (albeit, in some regard, for the potential of the character that ultimately wasn't quite met).

    ...and he probably would have if Cockrum had drawn it

    Oh man, you're absolutely right about that. :)

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  15. "Seriously though, that's as good an explanation as any, and I think I've made it pretty clear here that a little plot hole like that, if it is such a thing, does little to detract from my love for Claremont."

    I know, and if it wasn't clear from the "LEAVE CLAREMONT ALONE" ending to my post, I am mainly just giving you crap in good fun. :)

    (And also because I am the internet's Number One Claremont Booster -- or so I like to tell myself -- and I need to play to my image.)

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  16. My rankings

    1. 161 (young Xavier/Magneto)
    2. 160 (Belasco)
    3. 158 (Rogue)
    4. 159 (Dracula)

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  17. Since all the other kids are doing it, my list:

    159
    158
    161
    Big gap
    160

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  18. Here's the way the issues are filed in my collection:

    #158
    #159
    #160
    #161

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  19. In a call back to their relationship with FBI Agent Fred Duncan during the Silver Age, the X-Men release a virus into the government's databases that erases all references to them (and will erase any future references as well).

    The callback makes me slightly unreasonably happy as continuity things do.

    Havok is introduced to Corsair and told Corsair is his father.

    Scott: "There's no easy way to say this ..."
    Me: "Perhaps. An easier way, though, almost certainly..."

    A footnote mentions that future issues of Marvel Fanfare will reveal why Mystique hates Carol Danvers so much, but as far as I know, that story has never been told (at least not in Marvel Fanfare).

    I copied this but didn't write up a reply in case it was brought up in comments, which it was. Pretty certain that it didn't appear in Fanfare, I poked around the Interwebs a bit and I concur that what ended up in the '90s Marvel Super-Heroes was at least an iteration of what this was going to be.

    Moira's hanging with the X-Men in the Bermuda Triangle, presumably leaving Banshee to mind the store back on Muir Island.

    According to the letters page, Banshee is with Siryn at his Cassidy Keep in Ireland. (Sorry, Matt!)

    As Carol enters the virus in the government's computer, she also takes the opportunity to erase her own files, declaring that she's starting over. 

    I like Carol as a character, but I'm kind-of hoping that in some later story this comes back to bite her in the ass — like, maybe next time she tries to waltz into the Pentagon and they realize that they might want to check credentials instead of just eyeball uniforms. "Sorry, lady... We have no record of a Carol Danvers. Please come with us now..."

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  20. Kitty is back in a bikini. 

    It's more of a tankini, to be fair, and not exactly inappropriate for casual wear for a teenager in that climate as relatively modest as it is. (That's right: I said tankini. I worked in my grandparents' summer-resort clothing store and have lived with women most of my life. I know the lingo.)

    The X-Men apparently arranged for their ancient island base in the Bermuda Triangle to be hooked up to cable.

    Easier to believe than a mail drop!

    The dense metal of Wolverine's claws is able to to disrupt the psychic energy Professor X is hurling around the room, which seems a dubious ability, at best.

    I thought so, too, but if Magneto can disrupt Xavier's psychic ability by slightly changing the Earth's polarity or whatever...

    Ch'od is described as having a "speed that belies his massive bulk", one of Claremont's favorite descriptions for larger, muscular characters. 

    This may be a Claremontism, but it's his variation on a line used almost verbatim repeatedly throughout the Silver Age and I think especially at Marvel, namely, "I've never seen anything so big move so fast!" (It was enough of a known trope that I used it, geez, over 15 years ago in a post at Doug Pratt's Comics/Animation Forum on CompuServe, "Top Ten Silver Age Phrases Exclaimed in the Heat of Passion".)

    In a neat little bit I've always enjoyed, when Wolverine sets off the metal detector entering the Pentagon, he passes it off as prosthetics caused by war injuries.

    That's a great bit, indeed, although I think they'd still pat down his muttonchops.

    As the direct market of independent comic book stores (as opposed to newsstands and drug/grocery/convenience stores which happen to sell comics) grows, Marvel runs an ad listing such stores.

    I've been a regular at two out of the three Pennsylvania stores listed. The Comic Vault in Philadelphia is where I was handed X-Men #98 at five years old and told that it was a great series to watch. Several years later, I met Terry Austin at a signing there, and several several years after that, once it had changed hands, I ended up working for the small chain that took it over. The Book Swap in State College, home of Penn State University's main campus, is now The Comic Swap — and in fact it already was by the time I lived in town during the year my wife was in graduate school there. I must say that if you're lucky enough to move to a town with a comics shop (of which I know there are fewer and fewer these days), it makes creating a bit of a social circle somewhere you don't otherwise know a soul a lot easier.

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  21. Random Acts of Comments:

    I really like the cover. Yes, Rogue doesn't look like that anymore — A green pantsuit with johdpurs? Really? And long yellow "cowboy" gloves with red piping? — but, hey, back then she did; in fact, she's taken off a good 10 years since her last appearance, so now she's only in early middle age. The coloring on the cover in general is actually well thought-out and I like the old-fashioned style used for Storm's lightning blast, although it must be said that the way she's squeezing her thighs together she looks like she either has to pee or is trying to keep herself from flying over to scissor Rogue like she did Emma Frost on the cover to #152. Oh the lingering effects of body-switching and Joan's dirty mind...

    The "alien" dialogue for Ch'od's pet on Pg. 2 reads "Hiya Toots".

    I love Claremont's unintentionally trivializing transitional caption on Pg. 4 — "While Kitty wrestles with the realities of growing up..."

    Wolverine: "You're wastin' yer breath, elf. The best arguments on Earth won't convince that creep. His mind's made up."
    Me: "Also? He's on TV and he can't hear you."

    Carol bumps into Rogue immediately after she tells Ororo and Logan why the corridors in the Pentagon are so wide!

    The Atlantean-or-whatever sculpture and stuff on this island is nicely done. Do we ever get a backstory on whose it was and why it was abandoned before Magneto came upon it?

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  22. Matt: Cockrum heard, "about 60," and didn't bat an eye. He apparently had assumed from earlier art that Rogue was supposed to be a middle-aged or older woman.

    I love it. No matter how it actually went, I love it because, as Stephen Colbert would say, it feels true. And now that I've read the "actual" exchange as reported on Byrne's board via your later comment, I can only say: "Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!! ... Eheh. Ha. Hurm. Whew."

    Matt: Also, John Byrne hates the codename "Rogue" because it says nothing about her powers, nor could an unfamiliar fan use the name alone to pick her out in a line-up.

    Teebore: I'll actually agree with Byrne on this one; I've never been a big fan of "Rogue" as her codename. I mean, it's better than calling her Power Stealing Lady, but something a little less generic and/or representative of her personality if not her powers would be nice.

    I'm with Byrne on this too. I guess it's no wonder that Rogue became such a fan- and creator-favorite character in the '90s — to me, she's incidental until the movies, really, as I was already mentally clocking out of the series before giving it up with #205 when her star was on the rise — because that very idea of a "kewl" name that offered no real description of a character was a signpost of that era. Gambit, okay, I guess it was something to do with his fast-and-loose, um, rogue Cajun thief personality, but, you know: Cable.

    Of course the other way the '90s went was with trademarkable variations on standard words that did indiciate a character's powers or personality; but for ten years (and/or, frankly, being a latter-day Kirby creation) Rogue could have been named, like, Syphonn.

    Matt: Maybe the "micro transceiver comlink" helped him somehow?

    I rationalized it to myself that way, albeit only after Teebore pointed out that there was a potential problem there.

    Matt: Did they lower the number of characeters you're allowed in comments?

    Blogger is constantly fiddling with its parameters or whatever, so I wouldn't be surprised. We've had lots of changes to the comments page lately, in terms of design as well as "word verification" — as Sarah has noted, the recent switch to a pair of character strings has even more recently shifted to one word-like thing and one frickin' photograph of a number. It's bizarre; I only wish that Blogger was as concerned about actual security as it puts on a show about being in terms of comment spam, because my own blog has been repeatedly hijacked lately.

    Dobson: Also it says a lot for Claremont's storytelling that he made it seem perfectly natural that Carol bumps into the one person she hates most on earth on a water break at a secure government location.

    You put that so well that I decided to delete my own similar remarks and just agree with yours. Although I repeat that it's rather silly for Carol to literally bump into Rogue just as she's (unnecessarily to the narrative) telling Storm and Wolverine how wide the Pentagon's corridors are.

    Teebore: It is pretty funny to see Claremont meeting his other son out in the "real" world while wearing his intergalactic space pirate garb.

    You'd think that at the very least he'd ask if Scott knew a good place to pick up some new bandanas.

    Matt: I'm kind of surprised he doesn't wear it to Cyclops and Madelyne's wedding (and he probably would have if Cockrum had drawn it).

    With Cockrum's affinity for both nautical regalia and Star Trek, I'm surprised that Corsair doesn't at least have an official dress uniform.

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  23. "Here's the way the issues are filed in my collection:

    #158
    #159
    #160
    #161"

    GAME CHANGER

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  24. Question for you: I really enjoy the "X-amining the X-Men" series, you do an awesome job. Do you happen to know if there is a similar blog devoted to the Avengers?

    If not, you should do it.

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  25. Blam -- "According to the letters page, Banshee is with Siryn at his Cassidy Keep in Ireland. (Sorry, Matt!)"

    No need to apologize; I'm surprised they mentioned it!

    Blam -- "I like Carol as a character, but I'm kind-of hoping that in some later story this comes back to bite her in the ass — like, maybe next time she tries to waltz into the Pentagon and they realize that they might want to check credentials instead of just eyeball uniforms. 'Sorry, lady... We have no record of a Carol Danvers. Please come with us now...'"

    It must have been undone or fixed at some point, because I believe these days the government is fully aware of who Carol is and was. Wasn't she with the Homeland Security department for a while? I think during Geoff Johns's run on Avengers.

    Blam -- "...trying to keep herself from flying over to scissor Rogue like she did Emma Frost on the cover to #152..."

    Maybe this is subtle foreshadowing of her upcoming encounter with Yukio...

    Blam -- "The Atlantean-or-whatever sculpture and stuff on this island is nicely done. Do we ever get a backstory on whose it was and why it was abandoned before Magneto came upon it?"

    I think it's Lemurian. I believe it served as the headquarters of Guar, the Deviant priest in the 1989 "Atlantis Attacks" annual crossover. I'm pretty sure it's somehow tied to the Serpent Crown in those issues, hence the Lemurian connection. But I could be totally mistaken. I'm really just thinking out loud. On a computer screen.

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  26. @Jason: And also because I am the internet's Number One Claremont Booster -- or so I like to tell myself -- and I need to play to my image.

    Fair enough. :)

    @Dobson: Since all the other kids are doing it, my list

    Seriously, I'm loving this! We might need to lists like these for more self-contained chunks of issues, like maybe all the Paul Smith issues, or something.

    @Blam: The callback makes me slightly unreasonably happy as continuity things do.

    Me too. Clearly, Claremont has boned up on the Silver Age X-Men by this point.

    Me: "Perhaps. An easier way, though, almost certainly..."

    Ha! Well said.

    It's more of a tankini, to be fair, and not exactly inappropriate for casual wear for a teenager in that climate as relatively modest as it is.

    Indeed. The tankini is less exploitative/creepy than some of her previous swim wear.

    This may be a Claremontism, but it's his variation on a line used almost verbatim repeatedly throughout the Silver Age and I think especially at Marvel

    Yeah, it's definitely the specific wording that is Claremont, as I recall seeing that type of description used a lot in comics.

    The "alien" dialogue for Ch'od's pet on Pg. 2 reads "Hiya Toots".

    Love it! Totally missed that; it almost looks like a captcha phrase...

    Me: "Also? He's on TV and he can't hear you."

    Loving the asides from "Me".

    but, you know: Cable.

    Hey, he was a link between the present and the future, you know, a cable, connecting the two.

    (Of course, that's a 100% BS retcon they came up with years after his debut, when he was given the name more or less because it sounded ambiguous and "kewl", in the style of the time. But I love me some Cable, mainly because he's such an unabashedly comic book character, a symbol of everything dense and complicated that is off putting to readers on the outside but tons of fun if you're on the inside).

    PS I'll take "Rogue" over "Syphonn" ;)

    Although I repeat that it's rather silly for Carol to literally bump into Rogue just as she's (unnecessarily to the narrative) telling Storm and Wolverine how wide the Pentagon's corridors are.

    I had honestly never noticed that until you pointed it out, but now that you have, it seems so hilariously wrong that I wonder if Claremont did it intentionally, for the gag.

    (Then again, maybe he just wanted to establish that the halls were wide enough to allow for a super-powered battle, and totally missed the juxtaposition).


    Blam: like, maybe next time she tries to waltz into the Pentagon and they realize that they might want to check credentials instead of just eyeball uniforms.

    Matt: Wasn't she with the Homeland Security department for a while? I think during Geoff Johns's run on Avengers.

    I'm not certain if we ever see those records restored, but yeah, someone must have recreated them at some point. I forget if it was Homeland Security specifically, but she was clearly known to the government, if not SHIELD, by the time she had stopped being Binary and was working with the Avengers again in the late 90s.

    Blam: Wasn't she with the Homeland Security department for a while? I think during Geoff Johns's run on Avengers.

    Matt: I believe it served as the headquarters of Guar, the Deviant priest in the 1989 "Atlantis Attacks" annual crossover. I'm pretty sure it's somehow tied to the Serpent Crown in those issues, hence the Lemurian connection.

    I'll take your word for it, as my memory of "Atlantis Attacks" is hazy, at best, and as far as I can recall, the "origin" of the Bermuda base was never really discussed. I'll definitely look for it when we get to "Atlantis Attacks", though.

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  27. @Byron: Do you happen to know if there is a similar blog devoted to the Avengers?

    As far as I know, there isn't. At least, not one that I've found (and I've looked). In fact, I'm kinda surprised by the relative lack of good Avengers sites out there. Where the X-Men have, at the least, UncannyX-Men.net, the X-Axis, and Jason Powell's Claremont retrospective, the closest thing I've found for the Avengers is AvengersAssemble.net, which is a great site, but its issue-by-issue analyses are lacking.

    That said, I would LOVE to someday give Avengers the same treatment I'm giving X-Men. After the X-Men, the Avengers are my favorite comic book team. It's just a matter of time. I'll be starting dual coverage of New Mutants alongside X-Men soon (and then, before long, X-Factor as well) and that will give me a good sense of how well I can cover multiple series at one time (I'm also making some changes to how I approach writing the posts, which will hopefully make the process more time efficient).

    So, long story short (too late): I would love to do Avengers some day, and it's really just a matter of making the time to do it while feeling comfortable I can keep up with everything else.

    But it's good to know that when that day comes, there's at least one person out there who would read those posts. :)

    And thanks for the kind words; I'm glad you're enjoying the posts.

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  28. Speaking of Avengers, I just started watching Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Holy crap, I was not expecting it to be that good!

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  29. @Jeff: I just started watching Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Holy crap, I was not expecting it to be that good!

    Yeah, the animation can get a little...rough at times, particularly in the second season, but it's really quite good. Great adaptations of classic stories, a surprising amount of character development, and a clear desire to feature Avengers/villains/stories from all eras of the title.

    Honestly, it's one of the best examples I can think of for how to update and adapt existing stories for a new audience/new era and still maintain the core of what makes the source material so great.

    It's a shame it's being cancelled at the end of this season, especially since it's not because the show has had bad ratings or been poorly received. Marvel just wants to replace it with a new Avengers cartoon that, from the one promotional still I've seen of it, looks to tap more directly into the movie's universe/continuity (which is odd, since there really isn't much about Avengers: EMH that sets it apart from the movies, aside from some costume stuff. I mean, we're clearly dealing with Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man, the Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury, the same somewhat brusque relationship with SHIELD, etc. I'm not sure how much more like the movies this new cartoon could be. But I'm not trying not to pass judgment, having, you know, not actually seen it yet).

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  30. I think they just want to make the Avengers cartoon more like the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon...that sound you hear is me slamming my head in the drawer.

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  31. @Dr. Bitz: I think they just want to make the Avengers cartoon more like the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon...that sound you hear is me slamming my head in the drawer.

    Bite your tongue! Ultimate Spider-Man is fine for what it is (I guess), but I wouldn't want an Avengers show like that.

    I really hope that's not the case.

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  32. He's already slamming his head in the drawer, dude. There's no need to add injury to injury. 8^)

    I still have yet to see Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but a friend of mine is sending me some.

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  33. At the very least, I believe the new Avengers show is going to be set in the same continuity as Ultimate Spider-Man. I'm not sure if it's being developed by the same creators or not (aside from Jeph Loeb, who is overseeing all of Marvel's animation these days), though, so it could have a different style.

    But either way, the cancellation of Earth's Mightiest Heroes is a travesty. It's the first Marvel cartoon that I have enjoyed with absolutely no reservations. Every Marvel show I grew up with, some of which (such as Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends and Fox's X-Men) has had something slightly off about it. This is the first one which is practically pitch-perfect.

    (I would consider the use of the Sam Jackson Nick Fury as something to complain about, but thanks to the movies, he pretty much is Nick Fury to the rest of the world, and nothing will ever change that).

    Trivia -- I just read recently, though I don't recall where, that there is an episode of Earth's Mightiest which will feature Spider-Man. Spidey's voice was originally recorded for the episode by Josh Keaton, who played Spider-Man in the short-lived but very entertaining Spectacular Spider-Man series.

    But they re-recorded all of Spider-Man's lines using the guy who plays him in Ultimate Spider-Man. Which really makes no sense, if they're producing a new Avengers series to specifically be set in the Ultimate Spider-Man universe... Why not give us that little tidbit and let Spectacular Spider-Man share a universe with Marvel's other two prematurely canceled shows, Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Wolverine & The X-Men? I doubt anyone would complain.

    Double-Trivia: Speaking of Josh Keaton, he had a cameo part in an episode of Young Justice as Batman enemy Black Spider, who was moving uncharacteristically like Spider-Man in the episode... and the showrunner of Young Justice is Greg Weisman, who also ran Spectacular Spider-Man.

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  34. Darn it... that should say:

    "Every Marvel show I grew up with, some of which I loved a lot (such as Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends and Fox's X-Men) has had something slightly off about it.

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  35. @Matt: Why not give us that little tidbit and let Spectacular Spider-Man share a universe with Marvel's other two prematurely canceled shows, Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Wolverine & The X-Men?

    That whole Spider-Man voice switcharoo is ridiculous. I agree that your proposal makes more sense.

    I've heard good things about Spectacular Spider-Man but totally missed it. I should hunt it down someday and check it out.

    and the showrunner of Young Justice is Greg Weisman, who also ran Spectacular Spider-Man.

    I did not know that. Young Justice is another show I wish I would have caught from the beginning and need to catch up with someday. From what I've seen, it looks a lot more enjoyable than the turgid Green Lantern cartoon I have made the time (and DVR space) to watch...

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  36. I've heard that Phil "so that's what it does" Coulson was planted by SHIELD as principal of Peter Parker's high school in Ultimate Spider-Man. That feels a bridge to far for me, although I do understand that both the comics of the same name and the past decade's worth of standard Marvel Universe continuity, which I haven't read, have Spider-Man much more insinuated into the superhero establishment — Avenger, Tony Stark protégé, etc. — than he used to be. My Spider-Man is a sometime pal and rival of Johnny Storm, sure, and always available to participate in some crazy team-ups, but he's still a largely down-on-his-luck outsider (at least until such a time as he's raising May Parker, the spectacular Spider-Girl) whose parents weren't secret agents and who wasn't destined to have his latent powers unlocked because of some weird totemic Spider-Clan.

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  37. Teebore: We might need to lists like these for more self-contained chunks of issues, like maybe all the Paul Smith issues, or something.

    I'm not opposed to that, but I hope that you'll wait until after we've covered the period up for judgment. Some of this stuff I haven't read or even re-read in 10 or 20 years. I may not have read most of what I have of the "JR Jr." run (whose standouts for me are in fact the BWS issues, except for that one in Japan) since I bought it. Byrne and 1st Cockrum are pretty familiar to me, due to both pleasure reading and research. I'm surprised by how little of 2nd Cockrum I've retained, though, and curious to see how the sinfully short Paul Smith run strikes me after so long away from it.

    Teebore: [Cable] was a link between the present and the future, you know, a cable, connecting the two.

    I'd never heard / thought of it that way, "100% BS retcon" or otherwise. Points, I guess, for someone at least trying to justify it...

    Teebore: But I love me some Cable, mainly because he's such an unabashedly comic book character, a symbol of everything dense and complicated that is off putting to readers on the outside but tons of fun if you're on the inside

    I'm totally with the spirit of what you're saying and I'd probably say — heck, I'm sure that I have said — the same sort of thing talking about, like, DC's parallel Earths. Yet to me, and I will equally totally own this as having to do with my differing age-related perspective, Cable is a symbol of everything needlessly armored, weaponed, cybernetic, doodaddy, and complicated (in backstory as well as appearance) about such "kewl" characters devised by the boys who'd go on to found Image. The components feel like they should appeal to my inner 7-to-12-year-old, but all put together they don't.

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  38. "Every Marvel show I grew up with, some of which I loved a lot (such as Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends and Fox's X-Men) has had something slightly off about it."

    You know, for all the flack the series as a whole gets, the first season of the 90s Spider-Man cartoon is kind of perfect in my mind. The animation hasn't fallen off and isn't all recycled yet and they pretty much nail the all the characters. It just feels like the Lee/Ditko/Romita era issues put on screen. It is a major soft spot for me and I love revisiting it every now and then.

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  39. @Blam: although I do understand that both the comics of the same name and the past decade's worth of standard Marvel Universe continuity, which I haven't read, have Spider-Man much more insinuated into the superhero establishment

    Yeah, Ultimate Spider-Man insinuates Spider-Man into the larger super-hero community even moreso than the comics do present day Spidey. The conceit of the show is that Spider-Man has agreed to train with SHIELD in order to be the best possible super-hero (while also being allowed his own "me time").

    He's even part of a New Warriors-esque pseudo-team of fellow young heroes-in-training (Power Man, Iron Fist, White Tiger and Nova), all of whom attend his school in their secret IDs, making Coulson's presence at the school more than just him looking after Spider-Man.

    It's...well, like you said, it's not *my* preferred take on Spider-Man, but it's not too far a cry from his more integrated MU character, and it certainly makes for an interesting take on the character.

    (Also, I think we've had this discussion elsewhere on the blog, but it's worth pointing out for the sake of pedantry that Peter Parker's parents being secret agents was something Stan Lee cooked up back in the 60s, so while I agree with the sentiment that it's kinda unnecessary and/or dumb, at the very least it's not something for which we can blame the modern era).

    I hope that you'll wait until after we've covered the period up for judgment.

    Fair enough. I'm certainly not thinking of anything very formal, but if I do get the ball rolling on that, I'll wait until after we've covered the issues in question (which will probably be better for me as well, since my memory of these isn't always what it used to be).

    Cable is a symbol of everything needlessly armored, weaponed, cybernetic, doodaddy, and complicated (in backstory as well as appearance) about such "kewl" characters devised by the boys who'd go on to found Image.

    I certainly can't deny that Cable isn't also that, though in my defense, when encountering him initially I wasn't too far removed from 7-to-12 year old sweet spot he was aimed at, and I also first began reading stories featuring the character in earnest just after the Image Exodus, when work was already being done to develop his character beyond his kewl cybernetic arm and take-no-prisoners attitude.

    Or, to put it another way, by the time I was reading (and enjoying some) Cable stories, he was already generally considered to be the son of Cyclops and Maddy that was sent into the future, even if that hadn't yet been officially confirmed. So the character being the son of Cyclops (already my favorite character at the time) AND a time traveler to boot (I was, and am, a total nerd for time travel stories) made him much cooler in my eyes than any amount of big guns and shoulder pads.

    Of course, that connection to Cyclops wasn't even a glimmer in Rob Liefeld's eye when he created the character, and Cable spent plenty of time in the late 80s/early 90s as nothing more than a cliche 90s Image-style character, so I completely understand the disdain a lot of people have for the character.

    @Jeff: You know, for all the flack the series as a whole gets, the first season of the 90s Spider-Man cartoon is kind of perfect in my mind.

    I definitely have a soft spot for that show and agree that the first season avoids a lot of the pitfalls of the later season, but I remain bothered by 90s era designs on a lot of the characters (like Doc Ock), and while Christopher Daniel Barnes is pretty much how I hear Spidey's voice now, it also bugged me that the show started off with Peter as a college-aged guy wearing a sport coat with the sleeves rolled up.

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  40. Teebore -- "From what I've seen, it looks a lot more enjoyable than the turgid Green Lantern cartoon I have made the time (and DVR space) to watch..."

    I still can't believe that the GL series is a Bruce Timm production. It's so disappointing. I gave up on it after about two episodes. I highly recommend Young Justice, though a pretty big development between the first and second seasons has dampened my enthusiasm for it somewhat.

    Jeff -- "You know, for all the flack the series as a whole gets, the first season of the 90s Spider-Man cartoon is kind of perfect in my mind."

    Good point... I tend to think of the series as a whole, and when you do that, the lows tend to outnumber the highs. But the first season judged on its own merits was one of the best (if not the best) translations of classic Spider-Man to screen. I liked the second season quite a bit too, actually. My main gripes with that series were the Peter Parker character design, the Hobgoblin coming before the Green Goblin (though they justified it pretty well), the substitution of Felicia Hardy for Gwen Stacy, and the fact that Fox's S&P seemed to lean especially heavily on them for whatever reason, resulting in beat cops and hoodlums alike carrying weird sci-fi rayguns instead of pistols.

    Teebore -- "I remain bothered by 90s era designs on a lot of the characters (like Doc Ock)...and while Christopher Daniel Barnes is pretty much how I hear Spidey's voice now..."

    For me it is and always will be Dan "Bumblebee" Gilvezan, as heard in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.

    Teebore -- "...it also bugged me that the show started off with Peter as a college-aged guy wearing a sport coat with the sleeves rolled up."

    I liked that they started him in college. They skipped the origin and everyone knew who he was, so it was easy to assume we were joining him a few years into his career. And I know there are tons of fans who love high school Peter Parker, but for me the college years are the sweet spot. I love the Lee/Romita run more than pretty much any other, including Ditko.

    I should also point out that they didn't start him with the rolled-up sleeve look. His first season character design was a much more respectable and nerdy tucked in polo shirt. From season 2 on, the much more casual rolled up sleeves appeared.

    Though no look is as un-Parker as his Spectacular Spider-Man appearance. I liked the show, but Peter Parker does not walk around wearing baggy pants and a T-shirt with the tag sticking up in back.

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  41. I didn't mind them aging up Peter, either, Matt. In the comics he doesn't meet Gwen, Harry or MJ until college, so I thought it was fine to skip ahead to that dynamic. I also liked how the creators used the series finale to take a big dump on the clone saga. That wins you major points in my book.

    I keep hearing how good Spectacular Spider-Man is. I'm always scared off by the character design though. Well, that and the fact that the one episode I saw featured Peter MacNicol as a really whiny Doc Ock.

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  42. Jeff -- "I also liked how the creators used the series finale to take a big dump on the clone saga. That wins you major points in my book."

    I'm one of those weird Clone Saga fans you hear about occasionally, so I didn't enjoy that bit as much as you did. Seeing the Scarlet Spider on screen was kind of cool, though.

    Jeff -- " keep hearing how good Spectacular Spider-Man is. I'm always scared off by the character design though."

    Yeah, there are some questionable character designs. Same with Young Justice, actually.

    Also, Greg Weisman is very big on diversity, which is a wonderful thing. But he basically reinvented a lot of the all-white Spider-Man cast, which led to some oddities. Ned Leeds became Ned Lee, an Asian. Liz Allen was a Latina. Roderick "Hobgoblin" Kingsley was suddenly black.

    MacNicol was an interesting Doc Ock... it was different take on the character, but I liked it.

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  43. @Matt: I still can't believe that the GL series is a Bruce Timm production. It's so disappointing.

    Ditto. I thought going in that the all-CG animation would be my biggest issue, and that's the least of the show's problems.

    the fact that Fox's S&P seemed to lean especially heavily on them for whatever reason, resulting in beat cops and hoodlums alike carrying weird sci-fi rayguns instead of pistols.

    That always bugged me too. Even moreso than it did on the X-Men cartoon, probably because Spider-Man ends up dealing with street level thugs far more than the X-Men (it's one thing for the Genoshans to have sci fi laser guns, and another for bank robbers to have them).

    They skipped the origin and everyone knew who he was, so it was easy to assume we were joining him a few years into his career.

    "College aged" was the wrong adjective. I too enjoy college era Spider-Man, and also appreciated the lack of an origin episode. What bugged me about Peter Parker in the cartoon wasn't so much that he was college aged as he was apparently an approximately 35 year old college student.

    Or, to put it another way, he was way too much Clark Kent for me, and even college era Peter is still younger than Clark Kent.

    (Though I had totally forgotten that the "rolled sleeves jacket" look wasn't in the first season).

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  44. This just reminds me that, as a kid, it was easy to see someone get hit with a laser or plasma blast or something and brush it off. No big deal. But if someone gets hit with a lead bullet? Well, now they're in trouble!

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  45. @Dr. Bitz: But if someone gets hit with a lead bullet? Well, now they're in trouble!

    It's amazing how that works, isn't it?

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  46. Sorry for necroing, but I feel I must state proudly that KY's listing for a comic shop, The Great Escape, is still alive and kicking at the same location even after 30 years. #winning

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  47. "[Cable] was a link between the present and the future, you know, a cable, connecting the two."

    That 'explanation' made things much worse. Since Rob Liefeld copied so much of his early artwork from Michael Golden G.I.Joe art, I always assumed he copied the naming conventions given to G.I.Joe characters: Grand Slam, Clutch, Duke, Rock N' Roll, Flint etc.
    They don't tell you anything about their 'abilities', nor should they.

    It's a silly superhero tradition that I fully accept and enjoy, but that's not the direction Claremont's X-men were taking.

    Granted, I don't attribute the name 'Cable' in any way to Liefeld's creativity, it's simply a continuation of a trend begun by others.

    To explain it literally is to apply the unironic Bon Jovi-stadium-rock mentality to a Nirvana song. Why call it 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' (a phrase that appears nowhere in the song), when you can title it "Hello, hello, hello" ?

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