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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #169

"Catacombs"
May 1983

In a Nutshell
The X-Men meet the Morlocks. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciller: Paul Smith 
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Candy Southern comes home to the Manhattan penthouse she shares with Angel to find him missing and intruders in the house. She calls Professor X for help, but is cutoff by one of the intruders. Professor X telepathically alerts Nightcrawler, nearby with Amanda Sefton, to the situation, and Nightcrawler teleports to Angels' penthouse in time to see Angel being carried into the subway moments before Candy is thrown through the window. Meanwhile, Sebastian Shaw arrives at the Hellfire Club and discovers that the White Queen has been rendered comatose by a malevolent telepathic attack. Later, the X-Men convene at Amanda's apartment to debrief Candy before setting off to follow Angel's kidnappers into the subway. Underground, they're attacked by a small group of Morlocks, mutants living underground, and Kitty is ordered to break off and scout the area.


Kitty observes four Morlocks watching the fight, but is detected. One of the watching Morlocks, Plague, passes her hand through Kitty's phased arm before she flees. The rest of the X-Men make short work of the Morlocks, then proceed deeper underground, while a separated Kitty suddenly collapses and is found by Caliban. The X-Men eventually reach a vast tunnel where the Morlock leader, Callisto, is holding Angel, determined to forcibly marry him. The X-Men are quickly overcome by the Morlocks' vast numbers and captured. Elsewhere, Kitty awakens briefly in a strange room before passing out again. Caliban returns, and worried that Kitty will soon die of the sickness she received from the Plague, decides that he'll force Callisto to save Kitty, thereby convincing Kitty to stay with him forever. 

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue is the first appearance of the Morlocks, a group of mutants living in old Cold War tunnels beneath Manhattan because their physical mutations prevent them from blending in as normal humans, their name taken from HG Wells' novel Time Machine (later stories have revealed that the Dark Beast, an alternate reality counterpart of Beast, was responsible for the initial creation of the Morlocks by genetically experimenting on mutants, but the less said of that retcon the better). Though their presence in the book will peak with the "Mutant Massacre" storyline forty odd issues down the road, they will remain a significant part of the X-Men narrative throughout Claremont's tenure and onward, and have appeared in several animated adaptations as well as (sort of) the atrocious third X-Men film.


In addition to the Morlocks as a whole, several specific significant members make their first appearance: Callisto, their leader (enhanced senses), Sunder (super strength), Masque (the ability to physically manipulate human flesh) and Plague (can infect others with disease). All will, to varying degrees, have an ongoing presence in the X-Universe.


The Alley, the main Morlock tunnel, also appears for the first time.


Caliban returns, following his debut in issue #148, and is revealed to be a member of the Morlocks as well. He's still crushing on Kitty.


Kitty's new costume from "God Loves, Man Kills" makes its debut in the regular series, though she is still waffling on her codename despite being referred to as Ariel in "God Loves, Man Kills".


Sebastian Shaw, Tessa and the White Queen make brief appearances in this issue, the later having been put into a coma by some kind of malevolent force - this ties in with the overarching plot that runs through the rest of Smith's run, culminating in issue #175.


Sales continue to rise as, according to the Statement of Ownership, the average number of copies of each issue sold per month in the previous year was 313,955, with the single issue nearest to the filing date selling 327,223 copies (last year's numbers were roughly 260K per month, with around 290K copies of the most recent issue sold).

A Work in Progress
Both Angel and Candy Southern (spelled "Sothern" in the issue) make a guest appearance. 

Wolverine is away from the team, tending to personal business in Japan, which we'll see in the first issue of his limited series, while Cyclops is considered to still be in Alaska.

Coming the closest yet to actually being on the team, Amanda offers to help the X-Men track down Angel, and is even seen wearing a costume of sorts, but is left behind to guard Candy.


Lockheed is also left with Amanda, with Storm and Kitty wondering just how sentient the little dragon may be.


The X-Men use a pre-programmed mini Cerebro unit to track Angel in the tunnels. 

Storm thinks of Kitty like a daughter.


Storm's subtle character changes have been noted by Nightcrawler.


I Love the 80s
Professor X is seen reading a book on the Marvel Universe. 


Storm, Colossus just told you he was aware of your claustrophobia; why are you explaining its origins to him?


Best not to think of the fact that Kitty awakens in Caliban's room in a nightgown, meaning he must have dressed her in it.


Claremontisms
Colossus is only nigh-irresistible this issue...

Young Love
Nightcrawler and Amanda are hot tubbing it, and talking of settling down with one another, when Professor X sends a naked Nightcrawler to rescue Candy, resulting in Nightcrawler being forced to unceremoniously dump Candy in the tub. 


They're Students, Not Superheroes
Storm asks Professor X about using Wolfsbane's tracking abilities to help the X-Men locate Angel; Professor X insists that the New Mutants are not to participate in X-Men missions. 


For Sale
The back cover features an ad for the Jedi Arena video game, which sounds and looks an awful lot like fancy Pong. 


It's in the Mail
A letter writer expresses his dislike of the nickname "Sleazoids" for the Brood. 

Teebore's Take
With this issue, Claremont introduces the Morlocks, arguably his most significant contribution to the title since "Days of Future Past" (at least in terms of opening the door for future plots; the Morlocks aren't nearly as thematically significant as either "Days" or Magneto's gradual reformation, though their initial appearance here does tie in with Storm's ongoing emotional/psychological issues). Their presence in the X-Men universe is somewhat problematic, as we'll get into next issue (when it becomes more apparent), but they serve this issue well, contributing to a tense, tightly plotted issue (assuming we quickly brush past Callisto's motivation for kidnapping Angel and bringing the X-Men in contact with the Morlocks in the first place).

Beginning in Angel's Manhattan high rise, the X-Men journey ever downward, into the subways and beneath; already shorthanded, they're gradually stripped of personnel the deeper they go until only Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus are left to face the hordes of Morlocks (which, the story goes, were drawn in by Smith; Claremont only intended for the Morlocks to number a half dozen or so, but never specified that to Smith, who proceeded to draw a large group of them in this issue and next, which led, in part, to the "Mutant Massacre" story down the road). Smith's work is equally strong; he does a masterful job of subtly contrasting the "beautiful" X-Men with the more fugly Morlocks and conveying the increasingly cramped quarters of the Morlock tunnels before opening things up in the Alley. I tend to overlook this issue when raving about Smith's artwork, but it deserves consideration as one of his best.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, we return to the New Mutants with their fourth issue. And next week, Uncanny X-Men #170 wraps up the introduction of the Morlocks.

22 comments:

  1. This was probably the closest thing to sex that I had ever seen when I got this issue. Of course, I was in third grade at the time.

    I'm kind of surprised my parents let me read it (my dad liked comic books and since he bought the issue, would always read them first before he let me at them.)

    Anyway, it was beginning with issue 167 that I really began my affinity for the X-Men. Looking back, I think that it was Smith's art work that snagged me. He's very underrated.

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  2. @Byron: This was probably the closest thing to sex that I had ever seen when I got this issue. Of course, I was in third grade at the time.

    The whole opening with Nightcrawler and Amanda is very direct about its sexuality - and it definitely helps that Smith excels at depicting sensuality/sexuality.

    He's very underrated.

    If this blog plays even the smallest part in changing that sentiment, I'll be happy. :)

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  3. PART ONE IN A 2-PART COMMENT

    There is a certain ominous feeling to this issue that I really like. It's all these bits like not seeing Sunder at the start, the fact that it all takes place at night and underground, and so on. It's a really good read, and shows that Claremont can do straight-out suspense just as well as superheroics (and sci-fi and fantasy, for that matter). And of course, as noted, Paul Smith has really hit his stride here. Not that his work wasn't already outstanding; but somehow this issue feels -- to me, at least -- like the first one where he's really comfortable with all the characters.

    "This issue is the first appearance of the Morlocks..."

    As you said, Smith drew way too many of them here. I wonder how things would've played out if there really were only about half a dozen of them? We obviously wouldn't have seen the Mutant Massacre, at least not in the form it eventually took. This was also, as far as I can recall, the first "explosion" of the mutant population. Until now, even with the addition of the New Mutants, Marvel still had a relatively manageable number of mutants, and all were named and accounted for. I think this issue was the first to introduce the conceot of the faceless mutant masses, with which later writers, especially Grant Morrison, got a little too carried away.

    "...Later stories have revealed that the Dark Beast ... was responsible for the initial creation of the Morlocks..."

    I loved that revelation when it came about. It tied into the feeling of the X-books at the time, that there were layers and layers of secrets everywhere, and not everything was quite what it seemed. In retrospect, it was a pretty awful idea, but for whatever reason it still holds a special place in my comic-reading memory.

    Overall I like the concept of the Morlocks, but I feel that Claremont's original idea of only a handful would've made a lot more sense. A legion of mutants living beneath Manhattan is a bit much.

    "All will, to varying degrees, have an ongoing presence in the X-Universe."

    I find it interesting how often Claremont went back to Masque. The character and his power seemed relatively boring to me, but Claremont loved the idea of messing with characters' outward appearances to reflect inner changes, and Masque was a good shortcut to make stuff like that happen.

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  4. PART TWO IN A 2-PART COMMENT

    "Kitty's new costume from "God Loves, Man Kills" makes its debut in the regular series..."

    See, Paul Smith draws it so much better than Brent Anderson! And I had forgotten that it barely lasts as long as any of her other costumes-of-the-month. For some reason I thought she had it a while. Probably because it features in this 2-parter, in God Loves, Man Kills, and on the original Bill Sienkiewicz cover to the "Dark Phoenix Saga" trade paperback. I think I had a coloring book or something where she wore it, too. Marvel may have wanted it to be her permanent look for licensing purposes or something, though that obviously didn't happen.

    "Sebastian Shaw, Tessa and the White Queen make brief appearances in this issue..."

    Oh yeah, this scene really adds to that ominous feel I was talking about earlier, though it has nothing to do with the main plot.

    "Both Angel and Candy Southern (spelled "Sothern" in the issue) make a guest appearance."

    Poor Angel. He returns to the title after thirty-some issues, to be used as a Maguffin. And as much as I love Paul Smith, he really de-sexed Candy. She used to be Angel's super-hot girlfriend as drawn by Byrne and Golden, but now she looks kind of plain. Why does she have an afro??

    I feel like I asked this before, but did Angel have a status quo at this time? Was he in the Defenders yet? Or was he in character limbo?

    "Amanda ... is even seen wearing a costume of sorts..."

    Wow, all these years and I never, ever noticed she was wearing some kind of costume there. I must've always glossed over that panel in a hurry, because for twenty years I've thought she was wearing some kind of bathrobe-hoodie. Y'know, since she had been in the tub. It somehow never occurred to me that in the time it would've taken the x-Men to get from Westchester to Manhattan, she might have put on some clothes. Wow.

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  5. Forgot one thing: Paul Smith originally drew a different cover for this issue, which was rejected for some reason. I actually liked it a lot better!

    Uncanny X-Men #169 Original Concept

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  6. Later stories have revealed that the Dark Beast ... was responsible for the initial creation of the Morlocks

    I'm not certain, but I think they walked that one back a while later. Originally, Dark Beast was said to have actually created the Morlocks (which would in turn tip off Sinister and eventually lead to the Mutant Massacre). Cooler heads eventually prevailed, and I believe the official story now is that he only experimented on them; it was enough to get Sinister's attention.

    It's strange to think of a time when the Morlocks were simple and new. They've gone back to that well so many times and just beat it into the ground. The Morlocks never wanted to leave (even though the X-Men offered to take them in more than once), Storm could never actually fulfill her leadership duties, etc. This was all well and good the first time, but stuff like this is why you can't really revisit this kind of concept again and again without making some changes. And of course, after Morrison brought in a host of students (many of them fuglier than what we got here), I don't think the idea even works anymore.

    And the less said about that stuff with Mikhail and eventually Marrow, the better.

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  7. Also, just what the hell is Masque? I had always been under the impression that the character was supposed to be male, in spite of looking like an old witch. Masque appeared a few years ago (I think it might have been Claremont's X-Treme X-Men) in the form of an attractive blonde woman; no explanation was given in the story (I assume this form had been chosen before that) and I didn't know the character well enough to understand what the hell was going on. Any help would be appreciated.

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  8. I'd have liked a "Manhattan" caption to lead off. Even though in context and retrospect it's obvious that Candy was somewhere with traffic, not having read this issue in quite a long time I assumed that she was walking into Angel's place in the Southwest. I was not just surprised but confused at first that Nightcrawler bamfed out of Amanda's place to get to Candy.

    I never liked the Morlocks. While that's undeniably due in part to the whole point of the Morlocks — they're the castaways, the uglier and more unfortunate mutants that we don't want to think about — the whole Morlocks deal just turned me off when they were introduced and I've never really warmed up to the concept from a more mature perspective because I just haven't read enough involving them in my adult years. Of course part of the problem with them conceptually, regardless of how you like the Morlocks themselves, is, as you say, what their number represents in terms of the larger mutant population.

    The other night I had a dream that I was Mimic, by the way — I was visiting the mansion and got attacked by the X-Men. Nothin' to do with this story, but I thought worth mentioning...

    While I've never seen it stated, I always thought that Paul Smith's Callisto was visually based on Patti Smith with an eyepatch. Maybe it's just me.

    Amanda offers to help the X-Men track down Angel, and is even seen wearing a costume of sorts

    I thought she was just wearing a fancy robe, like Matt. (Hmm... Not knowing how Matt dresses when he reads the blog, I shall let that unintentionally vague phrasing stand.)

    Best not to think of the fact that Kitty awakens in Caliban's room in a nightgown, meaning he must have dressed her in it.

    Yeah. That was creepy with a capital "CREEPY".

    I tend to overlook this issue when raving about Smith's artwork, but it deserves consideration as one of his best.

    Agreed.

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  9. @Matt: Why does [Candy] have an afro?

    I can attest to the fact that all sorts of otherwise attractive women had way-overboard perms at the time.

    @Matt: Paul Smith originally drew a different cover for this issue

    I remember seeing that in Comics Feature, I think it was, back in the day. The fact that it was rejected surprises me because it's a more traditional cover — with the regular title characters on it, posed dynamically — and the kid in me responds to it for that reason, but the cover that was actually used is more haunting and probably the bolder choice.

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  10. @Blam and whoever else:
    Of course part of the problem with them conceptually, regardless of how you like the Morlocks themselves, is, as you say, what their number represents in terms of the larger mutant population.


    Another question (not to get us too off track). Others have said that at this point just about every mutant had a face and a name and the numbers were still very manageable. When did this change? I understand Morrison jacked the number up more than had been previously known (I believe the 16 million in Genosha thing came from him, correct me if I'm wrong). But does anyone know how the concept evolved? Like during this story, was it surprising to the characters that there were suddenly so many unaccounted for mutants, or did they know they were out there waiting to be discovered? It kind of makes me think that, had the millions thing been in place from the get go, Xavier would have done things a little differently (as in not recruiting only five students for years). Just curious how we went from several dozen to a shit ton of nameless ones on an island.

    Very interesting stuff, it's awesome to learn when and where some of this stuff came from. As a newer reader (comparatively anyway), I just kind of assumed some of these things were always here.

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  11. @Matt: We obviously wouldn't have seen the Mutant Massacre, at least not in the form it eventually took.

    And, without the success of "Mutant Massacre", there may not have been an ever-escalting series of summer crossover events. So you could blame Paul Smith for single-handedly creating the modern Marvel Marketing Machine. :)

    I think this issue was the first to introduce the concept of the faceless mutant masses

    For the most part, yeah, though the escalating anti-mutant sentiment in the government post-"DoFP" suggested there were more mutants out there than we'd previously seen.

    It tied into the feeling of the X-books at the time, that there were layers and layers of secrets everywhere, and not everything was quite what it seemed.

    I agree with that sentiment, though for me the Dark Beast revelation was one of the first chinks in my naive "I love all this stuff no matter what" attitude that was still in place from when I first started reading.

    As an answer to a long-running mystery (why did Mr. Sinister order the Mutant Massacre?), it was one of the first where I remember thinking, "eh, I don't like that so much" instead of just appreciating having a question answered.

    I feel like I asked this before, but did Angel have a status quo at this time? Was he in the Defenders yet?

    Not yet. I believe prior to this he had been a semi-regular guest star in Dazzler's series (which I really should read one of these days) for a few issues, and just after this is when his Defenders/New Defenders gig starts, which takes him up to X-Factor.

    Paul Smith originally drew a different cover for this issue

    Huh. Somehow I'd never seen that before. It's gorgeous, of course, but I think I like the published version better, as, like Blam said, it does a nice job of establishing the tone of the story.

    @Dan: I believe the official story now is that he only experimented on them; it was enough to get Sinister's attention.

    Yeah, I think you're right; that sounds familiar.

    but stuff like this is why you can't really revisit this kind of concept again and again without making some changes.

    I think they worked fine at least up to the Mutant Massacre, which really should have been (and was meant to be) the end of the Morlocks as a going concern. Claremont revisited them as a group once more, in some of my least-favorite Claremont issues, but banding the survivors of the remnants together as a smaller, more militant group under Masque was a fine reinvention of the concept.

    After Claremont left though, the well was returned to far too often without any significant change to the status quo. And yes, the less said of Mikhail and Marrow the better (though Marrow did eventually grow on me towards the end of Davis' run).

    Also, just what the hell is Masque?

    Masque is, as far as I know, male, despite, as you say, his somewhat witchlike appearance. I have no idea what Claremont intended to do with Masque when he brought him back as a blonde woman (that was Masque's first appearance since seemingly being killed by Shatterstar in X-Froce), but Brubaker latter revealed that Masque's secondary mutation had kicked in, allowing him to alter his own flesh as well as others, and that he had transformed himself into a blonde woman for the purpose of that story.

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  12. @Dan:Others have said that at this point just about every mutant had a face and a name and the numbers were still very manageable. When did this change?

    As I mentioned above, it was pretty gradual. The Morlocks definitely represent an uptick in the idea that they're are lots of mutants out there, and we'll see Claremont explore that idea more fully during his tenure.

    One of the subplots during the "Fall of the Mutants" crossover involves the creation of the Mutant Registration Act, which gives you the sense that while the mutant population isn't in the millions, there's clearly enough of them that the government finds it worthwhile to try and track and control them, and shortly thereafter Claremont introduces Genosha, the island nation built on the back of mutant slavery (though mutants there are clearly an oppressed minority, not the millions of Morrison).

    Long story short (too late), there's no real clear, defining point that represents an outburst in the mutant population; it's just something that happens over time. Morrison certainly takes it the furthest, establishing the millions that were wiped out on Genosha and the rise of mutant culture and mutant ghettos in cities, and lip service is paid by the characters during his run to the fact that the population is larger than ever.

    But then Decimation comes along and effectively wipes all that out, and the mutant population is now back to levels more approximating the earliest years of the series.

    @Blam: Of course part of the problem with them conceptually, regardless of how you like the Morlocks themselves, is, as you say, what their number represents in terms of the larger mutant population.

    That actually doesn't bother me as much. In part, I'll admit, because I grew up in an X-Men world with a large (though not enormous) mutant population, I like the idea of their being enough mutants out there that we can't identify them all, that the X-Men don't know them all. The idea of mutants as a race, the notion that there's enough of them that the general public could worry that their neighbor is a mutant, and not just a couple dozen naturally-occurring superheroes and villains, is, I think, an important part of the X-Men mythos.

    That said, I was never a huge fan of Morrison's population explosion, because I feel he took it too far. Mutants need to be plentiful enough to be considered a persecuted minority, but they still need to be a minority. Morrison admittedly did some interesting things with the idea of mutant culture, but I wasn't bothered when Decimation happened (I was bothered by how shoddily it was handled, but that's a whole 'nother rant); in fact, I often used to say that if I was made the writer of X-Men, the first thing I'd do is reduce the size of the mutant population so they were a feared minority once again.

    (My larger problem with the Morlocks is the fact that the X-Men basically don't like them because they're ugly, which puts the heroes of the book in a pretty negative light. But we'll get into that next week).

    The other night I had a dream that I was Mimic

    Did you have the big feet and everything?

    While I've never seen it stated, I always thought that Paul Smith's Callisto was visually based on Patti Smith with an eyepatch.

    I can totally see that.

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  13. John Byrne's take on the mutant population, from his site:

    "Back when Roger Stern was editor of UNCANNY, and I was penciling and co-plotting the book, he and I had many a discussion about just how many mutants there were in the world. Rog estimated the mutant population to be around 1 in a million -- so, at that time, the US would have had about 250 mutants. Of course, this was also influenced by how technologically advanced a country was, since most of Marvel's mutants depended upon some kind of nuclear accident happening to or near their parents. So, altho China had a population of around 900,000,000 back then, Roger estimated their mutant population would be a lot lower than 900, since most of the country was still in the Dark Ages, technologically.

    "With a global population of about 4,000,000,000, the 1 in a million count put the mutant population at close to 4,000, worldwide, with maybe a couple of thousand shaved off by how much of the population would be in the Third World. Two thousand mutants, total, in all the world, seemed like a manageable number. Especially given that many of the mutations would be quite minor. And some, of course, would be lethal!
    "

    It's no secret that I tend to agree with Byrne more often that not (though he almost always rubs me the wrong way, even when making statements I agree with). This is definitely one such instance. I wish he and Stern had been able to canonize this somehow. Not that anyone would've continued to abide by it as mutants became more and more popular. But still.

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  14. Blam -- I can attest to the fact that all sorts of otherwise attractive women had way-overboard perms at the time."

    True, and I now recall that Golden drew her with the big perm in Marvel Fanfare, too. But she was also wearing a skimpy bikini the whole time. Not that I support the objectification of women in comics, which happens far too often, but when I look at the two previous appearances of Candy I know of -- "Dark Phoenix" and Marvel Fanfare -- it's pretty clear that she was prone to dressing sexy. She just looks very plain here, as drawn by Smith.

    But then, Smith did sex up Amanda more than we'd ever seen before, so I guess that balanced the scales.

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  15. @Matt: Why does [Candy] have an afro?

    I can attest to the fact that all sorts of otherwise attractive women had way-overboard perms at the time.


    This is true.

    My last subscription issue was 167, and I was feeling a bit self -conscious about reading comics, so I stopped buying them. 10 year olds are too old for comic books right? So after a few months sans X-Men I noticed comics had gotten more popular, X-Men in particular. I still think Paul Smith's art had a lot to do with it.
    I forgot how I got these issues, most likely through trading, but I did get 'em not too long after publication.

    While I've never seen it stated, I always thought that Paul Smith's Callisto was visually based on Patti Smith with an eyepatch. Maybe it's just me.

    Or maybe Patti Smyth?

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  16. @Matt: I wish he and Stern had been able to canonize this somehow.

    Their take on it definitely sounds like my preference: a large population, but not an unwieldy one. And honestly, I feel like the way they describe it is how the mutant population was depicted, starting gradually with "DoFP" and the Morlocks, up until Morrison came along and exploded it.

    @Chris:I was feeling a bit self -conscious about reading comics, so I stopped buying them. 10 year olds are too old for comic books right?

    I went through a similar, brief phase around the age of 13 (I didn't really start reading comics regularly until I was eleven or so) when I gave up on comics for about two or three months, then quickly said "the hell with it" and managed to catch back up before I lapsed too far. :)

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  17. Somewhere — maybe somewheres, plural — John Byrne talked about early disagreements with Claremont on the number of mutants in the world. It was brought up that even if mutants were 1 in a million, with a global population of 5 billion by the mid-1980s that was 5,000 mutants in the world, which was plenty by Byrne's reckoning if I remember right. This could've been in the Fantagraphics X-Men Companion books or even in the interview I did with Byrne for Comicology 12 years ago (which is the last time I read even part of the X-Men Companion books).

    I don't tend to think that 1 in a million is too much, and in fact it's not enough if they're a significant enough minority that, yes, there could be a mutant in the family next door. You have to figure that if mutants are spread throughout the world, some will keep to themselves, some will be taken in and either trained or executed by their governments or extragovernmental organizations, and some will have mutant abilities so minor that the abilities themselves would not identify them as mutants — which doesn't mean that they wouldn't show up on Cerebro-like scans.

    A number that large or larger is problematic only if you realize that Xavier has Cerebro, Magneto and the Hellfire Club presumably have similar means of identifying mutants (via technology or old-fashioned legwork), and early on Xavier in particular was presented as keeping tabs on all known mutants worldwide. Given the number that he took in for training — in the comics, early comics at least, not retconned, and not the movies — even thousands doesn't gibe.

    @Teebore: Did you have the big feet and everything?

    Yeah! It was one of those dreams where I was sort-of the POV character, which was Mimic, but sort-of just observing. Mimic was in costume but wearing a trenchcoat over it, in comic-book style, visiting the mansion at night when Cyclops and other X-Men accosted him as he entered. I remember my consciousness taking particular note of Mimic's visor and Scott's ruby-quartz glasses to see if they were really as wraparound skintight as they should have been. Ever the observant fanboy... 8^)

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  18. Once again I forgot to refresh the page and check for new comments after leaving it open earlier to remind me to add my own. I see that Matt tracked down a comment on Byrne's site similar to the one I remembered from interviews. I was going to add the part about nuclear testing and whatnot originally being responsible for mutants per Lee/Kirby, but I didn't think that that was part of Marvel Universe canon anymore (or at least not mentioned).

    @Matt: But then, Smith did sex up Amanda more than we'd ever seen before, so I guess that balanced the scales.

    Not to mention Moira, as we all noted a few issues ago, who went from matronly to homina-homina...

    @Chris: Or maybe Patti Smyth?

    I'm not sure whether you're kidding or not, because Patti Smith and Patty Smyth are often confused (name-wise, both being rock 'n' roll singers — albeit of very different style; they sound and look nothing alike). I meant Patti Smith, although Patty Smyth did rock a ridiculous but hot skintight superhero-style costume (facepaint, too) in her & Scandal's video for "The Warrior".

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  19. @Blam: Given the number that he took in for training — in the comics, early comics at least, not retconned, and not the movies — even thousands doesn't gibe.

    I've always been of the opinion that the mutant population rose exponentially over time: Xavier was one of the earliest mutants (though not THE earliest) making his encounter with Magneto notable despite his travels, but enough mutants were popping up that he felt compelled to start the school. The population gradually upticked, but Trask was still able to gather the vast majority of the mutants in his Adirondack base. But by the time of Claremont/Byrne, the population was growing even larger, such that the government was more concerned than ever about the number of mutants.

    Or, in other words, I always figured the five original X-Men were a representative percentage of the mutants in the world at that time, but by the time this issue came out, the population had ballooned such that it was no longer true.

    However, I have no idea if any of that is canonized anywhere; it's probably just my subconscious attempt to make sense of the situation.

    ...the part about nuclear testing and whatnot originally being responsible for mutants per Lee/Kirby, but I didn't think that that was part of Marvel Universe canon anymore (or at least not mentioned)

    It's certainly not mentioned very often anymore, but I don't believe it's ever been explicitly disavowed, and thus technically canon (for as much as that's worth these days).

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  20. @Teebore:Or, in other words, I always figured the five original X-Men were a representative percentage of the mutants in the world at that time, but by the time this issue came out, the population had ballooned such that it was no longer true.

    Only problem there is that the original five were only founded 15 or 20 years ago, Marvel time (if even that long). So from a pseudo science standpoint, it really doesn't work. Even Apocalypse doesn't work in terms of evolution and mutation. I wish there would be some stronger groundwork for science and mutation in the MU; sometimes they're trying very hard to make this stuff realistic, other times they're all goofy Silver Age and they know it. I suppose it doesn't really matter because we all know the original writers were clearly not thinking in terms of millions, thousands, or probably even hundreds.

    It's certainly not mentioned very often anymore, but I don't believe it's ever been explicitly disavowed, and thus technically canon (for as much as that's worth these days).

    I'm almost kind of glad to see it go, honestly. They tried to make it an important part of Beast's origin, and I think the original implication was that mutants were a result of the atomic age, but there's just no way that stands now. Too many mutants, some of them ancient, it just doesn't work (unless Apocalypse's parents stood too close to the microwave). What irritates me more is the dropped Celestials origin. I swear the Celestials were pretty much confirmed to have planted the seed for eventual mutation (I think there was a backup about this during Atlantis Attacks or somewhere around there), but I don't recall that being brought up again, either. So I guess mutants are just here because they're here. That's one of the few things I admired about Ultimate X-Men; mutants were eventually all given a solid origin that, while being something of a sham to them, didn't really change their minority status. They were failed experiments and they were upset to learn this, but if anything it made them even less liked by others. Kind of a cool idea, I thought. Too bad they all died in that tidal wave.

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  21. @Teebore: I have no idea if any of that is canonized anywhere; it's probably just my subconscious attempt to make sense of the situation.

    Works for me!

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  22. @Dan: Only problem there is that the original five were only founded 15 or 20 years ago, Marvel time (if even that long)

    Yeah, that's definitely something that Marvel Time fudges with, but I generally try to not think about the passage of time (and the problems therein) too often. That said, as you point out, Marvel Science is equally fuzzy, so in a way, it all kind of works out in the end. :)

    They tried to make it an important part of Beast's origin, and I think the original implication was that mutants were a result of the atomic age, but there's just no way that stands now.

    Yeah, Beast is the one mutant who consistently has his mutation tied to radiation (his dad worked at a power plant), which, of all the things from those 60s origins backups that get overlooked/intentionally passed over, it's funny that one has stuck around.

    I agree that drawing a direct connection between the Atomic Age and all mutants is, literally, problematic, for all the reasons you list and more, though I do like the thematic resonance it gives the early 60s issues when looking at them as cultural touchstones rather than chapters in an ongoing narrative (60s Marvel being very much a representation of the fears of the Atomic Age, whereas the Ultimate Universe is much routed in the more modern anxiety over genetic engineering).

    I swear the Celestials were pretty much confirmed to have planted the seed for eventual mutation (I think there was a backup about this during Atlantis Attacks or somewhere around there)

    I don't recall that, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen (I haven't read much of "Atlantis Attacks", nor did I read what I did read very closely).

    I remember that one of the ideas put forth in Earth X (which is non-canonical) is that the rise of superheroes on Earth, both mutant and otherwise, was engineered by the Celestials to help protect Earth from Galactus, since Earth was essentially an egg containing a gestating Celestial. I always thought that was kind of a neat idea.

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