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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #173

"To Have and Have Not"
September 1983

In a Nutshell 
Wolverine defeats Silver Samurai, but is left at the altar by Mariko. 

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

Plot
Wolverine and Rogue tear through the Yakuza, looking for information on Nabatone Yakuse, hoping he'll lead them to Silver Samurai. Finally getting a location, they set off. Elsewhere, Storm and Yukio seek sanctuary from the Yakuza, but are turned away by Yukio's friend. Suddenly, they're confronted by a gang of muggers. Outside the city, Rogue and Wolverine arrive at Nabatone's estate, but find that the gang leader has been dead for over a week, meaning the Nabatone Mariko met with earlier that night was an imposter. Wolverine realizes they've been suckered, sent out of town and away from Mariko and the recovering X-Men. Meanwhile, Storm and Yukio make quick work of the muggers, with Storm reveling in the use of her powers. Back at the hospital, Viper and a cadre of ninjas take out Mariko's guards, but Rogue arrives and clears the room.


Inside, Silver Samurai emerges, and engages Wolverine in a duel. Wolverine defeats him, but Mariko entreats Wolverine to spare his life. As Silver Samurai collapses, Viper comes back inside and fires on Mariko. Rogue flies past the blast, pushing Mariko and Wolverine clear and taking the full brunt of it herself, overloading the gun. As Viper and Silver Samurai flee, Wolverine willing allows Rogue to absorb his power to help heal her injuries. A week later, Mariko is visited by a mysterious stranger but quickly forgets about his visit. The next day, the X-Men attend Wolverine and Mariko's wedding, and are shocked when Storm arrives sporting new clothes and a Mohawk. As the ceremony begins, Mariko emerges and calls off the wedding, declaring that Wolverine is not worthy, leaving him stunned and heartbroken at the altar. 

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue marks the debut of Punk, or Mohawk, Storm, as the character transformations she has undergone in the preceding issues, including her attraction to Yukio's more wild, carefree outlook on life, comes to a head and is marked by a visual transformation to leather biker gear and a Mohawk. Interestingly, Paul Smith submitted a batch of designs for Storm's new look and only included the biker gear/Mohawk look as a joke, but that was the one editor Louise Simonson decided to go with (based on the idea that the readers were going to object to a new look for Storm no matter what, so why not go all out?). You can read more about that situation here (which also includes the somewhat surprising fact that Smith's departure following issue #175 was apparently planned from the beginning of his run). 


Punk Storm is a somewhat divisive iteration of the character amongst fans. As I've mentioned before in comments on other posts, I'm a big fan of it, as I find the juxtaposition (both visually and in terms of character) between "classic" Storm and the more hard-edged, pragmatic Storm represented by her punk attire fascinating. Watching Storm struggle to reconcile the two (as well as deal with her upcoming power loss) throughout the "Punk Storm era" is about the only time in her over thirty-five years of existence that I've found the character interesting.

We get our largest hint yet that Mastermind is the villain manipulating things behind the scenes, as we get a glimpse of his legs (featuring the tails of his coat) and mouth (featuring his cigarette and muttonchops).


Mariko calls off her wedding to Wolverine, though we'll soon learn this was done due to the influence of Mastermind.  

This issue more or less serves as Rogue's coming out party to the X-Men, the first time we've seen her in action as part of the team, and she earns, at the very least, the begrudging respect of Wolverine in the process.

The X-Men officially meet Madelyne Pryor in this issue, as Scott brings her along to Wolverine's wedding.


Rogue's head is added to the corner box on the cover.

A Work in Progress
Storm's appearances in this issue before showing up with her Mohawk involves her attacking some thugs with Yukio and enjoying Yukio's devil-may-care attitude. She also mentions this is the first time she's willingly used her powers to inflict pain on someone.


It's explicitly stated that Rogue is invulnerable, though not invincible, as a concentrated blast from Viper's gun requires her to absorb Wolverine's healing factor to stay alive (a moment that was adapted in the original X-Men film).


Rogue teases kissing Wolverine, something which he responds to about as well as you'd expect, and which seems slightly out-of-character for the later, "more angsty because she can't touch anyone" version of Rogue. 


Later, Rogue takes a blast intended for Mariko to pay her back for being kind to Rogue in issue #172.


Upon seeing Madelyne for the first time, Lilandra straight up freaks and whips out a lightsaber before she's calmed down.


Havok, Polaris and Corsair also attend Wolverine's wedding. 


Seeing Storm's new look, Kitty runs off, upset.


Kitty serves as Mariko's pseudo-Maid of Honor. 


I Love the 80s
Though grounded in character development and not nearly as obvious or grating as, say, a mullet, it should be pointed out that Storm's new look is of its time. 

Artistic Achievements
There's a great comedic bit where Madelyne, after agreeing to watch Lockheed for Kitty and learning he's a dragon, reacts to the strange surroundings she's found herself in. A great piece of illustration that cracks me up every time.  


It's in the Mail
The letters in this issue are answered by Colossus.

There's a letter which points out how often Kitty has saved the X-Men since joining the team.


Responses to questions in other letters reveal that Professor Xavier's cloned body was cloned without a mind, so he didn't displace anything when his mind was transferred into that body, Banshee and his daughter are in Ireland getting to know each other, Stevie Hunter teaches physical conditioning for the X-Men as well as the New Mutants, and the X-Men no longer use Magneto's island base because they no longer need it, and because it's connection to Limbo is enough to keep Colossus, at least, away

Teebore's Take
In just nineteen pages, Claremont manages to deftly conclude the Wolverine/Silver Samurai conflict, introduce Madelyne Pryor to the X-Men, punctuate Storm's recent character transformation, and break Wolverine's heart, without anything feeling rushed or under-served. But the real standout of this issue, and the thing which immediately comes to mind whenever I think of it, is the brilliant four page sequence right in the middle, in which Paul Smith adopts Frank Miller's technique, from Wolverine's limited series, of depicting the action in a series of four rectangular panels. For four pages, we get the same panel grid repeated, and the result is a great example of how sequential art creates the sensation of movement. Each panel is, of course, a static image, yet each one so expertly suggests the next movement that our minds automatically fill in the action as we cross the panel border, until we reach the next "snapshot" in the following panel and it synches up with what we imagined. In terms of pure sequential storytelling, it's one of the best choreographed and constructed action sequences in X-Men history, and a personal favorite.

Next Issue
New Mutants #8 takes the New Mutants deep into the Amazon, and next week the X-Men head to the Texas State Fair in Uncanny X-Men at the State Fair of Dallas #1

23 comments:

  1. MOHAWK STORM! YES!!!

    Like you, Teebore, this is the only iteration of Storm that I find interesting. Thinking of her history, it makes sense that she would now be going through an adolescent rebellious phase.

    Storm spent her childhood trying to survive, first as a thief and then as a "goddess." She became responsible for the welfare of a tribe. From the moment Professor X found her, she's been both training and thrown into constant danger. Eventually, she takes on the responsibility of leadership. Finally, she is cut off from every status quo she ever had, and goes through experiences unusual even for super-heroes (e.g. merging with a space whale, body-swapping, vampirism).

    When Ororo tries to return to her familiar life, she finds she has a hard time connecting with her old life (including "mother" earth, invoking a parental figure that she has trouble bonding with). Of course she decides that she doesn't fit her former mold. Of course she comes up with a new self, much like teenagers or college students trying on new identities to find the "real" them. Eventually, she grows out of her punk phase and becomes an adult.

    But until then, MOHAWK STORM!!! I wonder if she listens to Bad Brains...

    - Mike Loughlin

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  2. @Mike: MOHAWK STORM! YES!!!

    I'm glad you share my appreciation for this iteration of the character. Fantastic analysis of her transformation, too. I've never considered it in the context of adolescence/being a rebellious phase, but I really like it (especially the idea of her estrangement from her symbolic "mother").

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  3. I really dislike Mohawk Storm, as I've made clear plenty of times before, but the funny is, this is the first version of the character I encountered. I knew nothing of the X-Men until I read Secret Wars, which introduced me to Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Rogue, and what appeared to be some dude with a mohawk named Storm.

    Obiosuly, I quickly realized this was actually a woman with a mohawk, and of course that begged the following questions from seven or eight year-old me, "Why would a woman have a mohawk? Why would a woman want to have a mohawk? Why would someone want to draw a woman with a mohawk?" To this day, I don't know the answers to at least two of those questions.

    Anyway, as an adult I understand what was going on, as far as Storm's outward appearance reflecting her inner changes. The problem for me is, it's such an ugly outward change (though I would argue that her inner change is pretty ugly too). I liked The Cockrum/Byrne Storm, with big flowing hair and big round, innocent eyes. She was a very attractive character -- certainly about as hot as an illustration can be. From this point forward, up until around the time Jim Lee comes aboard, I can't understand how every man she meets still finds her attractive. Sure, some guys might be into that sort of thing, but Claremont has every male react like always, talking about how beautiful and regal she is. I don't buy it. Even after she grows her hair back under Silvestri, she retains some of the less attractive elements of this look, such as the hair being all wild and spiky instead of flowing, plus here eyes stay small and she keeps those long black eyeliner thingies well into -- and even past -- the Jim Lee era.

    (Side note: Arthur Adams is the only artist who I think made Mohawk Storm actually look somewhat attractive.)

    And beyond that, as I said above, the inner changes that this signals don't really do much for me either. I liked Storm as she was -- innocent and kind-hearted, but with a bit of an edge that would occasionally come out. Basically, I liked the Storm that winced when Wolverine killed that guard in the Savage Land. Now, as we move through the Romita era, we will see the evolution of a Storm who would object to the killing of that guard, but who would also condone the action under the right circumstances. She would understand Wolverine's action, and that is what I dislike the most about this iteration of Storm. She basically loses her innocence and becomes way too hard edged.

    Some -- including Claremont, it seems -- seem to believe this makes her a better leader. Yet Cyclops, while angsty, was about as far from hard-edged as you can get, and I never saw that compromise his ability to lead the X-Men effecively, and usually more effectively than Storm.

    So those are my issues with Mohawk Storm -- I find it a visually unappealing transformation, and beyond that, I dislike what the change represents for the character's personality, as well.

    Now -- all that said, I would have fewer problems with this iteration of Storm if it was just a subplot change, which lasted for a year or so to explore Storm's inner conflict before restoring her to normal afterwards. It's the fact that the mohawk sticks around for something like 50 issues that bugs me the most!

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  4. Besides the Storm stuff, I actually do like this issue quite a bit. It's a great conclusion to part one, and it does an excellent job of further setting up Mastermind's return. I could've done without the single tear running down Wolverine's cheek, though. I think Smith could've conveyed his heartbreak without it.

    "...which also includes the somewhat surprising fact that Smith's departure following issue #175 was apparently planned from the beginning of his run.)"

    Ahh, I knew I had read that someplace over the years. I understand that he had a finite run planned, which is fine, but I've never figured out why he couldn't at least draw all of issue #175. He had drawn a double-sized issue previously without missing a deadline, so I'm not sure it was a speed thing, unless he was working on another title at the same time. Maybe they just wanted to ease readers into the transition to Romita Jr.?

    "We get our largest hint yet that Mastermind is the villain manipulating things behind the scenes..."

    It's too obvious, in my opinion. I feel like it's meant as a callback to the "Wyngarde casting Mastermind's shadow" panel from "Dark Phoenix", but that was much more subtle and effective, I thought.

    "Storm's appearances in this issue before showing up with her Mohawk involves her attacking some thugs with Yukio and enjoying Yukio's devil-may-care attitude."

    For years, I thought there was some sort of sexual encounter between Storm and Yukio after this scene. Just the fact that she's hanging out with Yukio the night before, and when she shows up the next morning she's suddenly all butch. But more recently I've begun to reassess that opinion. Still, with Claremont, you never know.

    "Though grounded in character development and not nearly as obvious or grating as, say, a mullet..."

    Don't worry, Longshot will be here soon enough.

    "There's a great comedic bit where Madelyne, after agreeing to watch Lockheed for Kitty and learning he's a dragon, reacts to the strange surroundings she's found herself in. A great piece of illustration that cracks me up every time."

    I also love this sequence, but while it's very funny, it does seem like one of those "bits" Claremont liked to toss in without much consideration. Is it really possible that Cyclops and Madelyne have become this close, and he hasn't told her anything about the X-Men?? Not even on the way to Japan to prepare her for an incident just like this? What if a super-villain had attacked the wedding?

    "Banshee and his daughter are in Ireland getting to know each other..."

    Well! It's good to know this was addressed somewhere. Though we've seen Banshee on Muir Island in the interim at least once, in New Mutants, so it still sounds like someone covering for themselves.

    "...Stevie Hunter teaches physical conditioning for the X-Men as well as the New Mutants..."

    Why??? Professor X never had a staff before. He taught everything himself. And why do full-grown superheroes even need a physical trainer? They seemed to keep in shape just fine on their own before now.

    Also, it always bugs me that all of the New Mutants attend dance class. I can't speak for Roberto, Sam, or Doug, but if someone told me when I was in high school that I was required to take a dance class, I would've filed a formal protest with the principal and asked for an alternative, like weights or something. I'm not saying that only girls should take dance classes, but I am saying that not all guys want to take dance classes.

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  5. After re-reading that Comic Book Legends article, I want to add that I appreciate Paul Smith for admitting that Mohawk Storm was an awful idea which should not have been done, and for at least attempting to change editorial's mind at the time. Good man.

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  6. @Matt: the inner changes that this signals don't really do much for me either.

    To be clear, I don't want my liking Punk Storm to be construed as condoning the character she becomes. I'm obviously a big Cyclops guy, so his unique brand of straight-laced nerd chic appeals to me. I much prefer his "we'll find another way" approach to leadership to the more Wolverine-esque pragmatism Storm will increasingly embrace in the wake of her makeover.

    But while I don't necessarily condone her actions, I still enjoy the hell out of watching her transformation, and in watching her struggle to reconcile that new found "ends justify the means" mentality with her older, more idealistic self.

    I've always found pre-Punk Storm kind of boring, all serene and one with the Earth and whatnot, and while she got a little more interesting when she first became leader of the team, Cyclops quickly rejoined and she was more or less brushed aside in that capacity (when I think of Storm as leader of the X-Men, I'm usually thinking of her upcoming post-Cyclops tenure). By the time the 90s revamp rolls around and Storm is back to normal after being Kid Storm (one of the later day Claremont ideas I can't stand), she's pretty much back to being boring, serene, 90s cartoon Storm.

    (It might also help that I don't find Storm with a Mohawk as inherently ugly as you do, not that I personally found her all that attractive before hand. She was mildly attractive before the Mohawk, and mildly attractive afterwards. *Shrug* Maybe I just have a taste for the slightly bizarre?)

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  7. I could've done without the single tear running down Wolverine's cheek, though.

    In fact, you could take it away and he'd look just as heartbroken as is. Though humorously enough, I remembered it being bigger than it was.

    I've never figured out why he couldn't at least draw all of issue #175.

    Maybe it was a contract thing? He was signed to X number of pages and then they decided to make #175 double sized after the fact? Not sure if the business even worked like that back then though. Otherwise, your ideas are as good as any I have.

    I feel like it's meant as a callback to the "Wyngarde casting Mastermind's shadow" panel from "Dark Phoenix", but that was much more subtle and effective

    Definitely. I can't remember if, reading this for the first time as a kid, I picked up on it being Mastermind. I suppose it would depend on whether or not I'd read "Dark Phoenix" at that point or not, and I honestly can't remember that either.

    Still, with Claremont, you never know.

    Ha! I've never read it that way myself, but you're right; with Claremont, that could very well be the case.

    Don't worry, Longshot will be here soon enough.

    Ha! That's who I was thinking of when I wrote that (also, Rachel's rat tail...).

    Is it really possible that Cyclops and Madelyne have become this close, and he hasn't told her anything about the X-Men??

    I've always read it as Scott having told Madelyne about the X-Men in broad strokes ("we're superheroes, we fight villains, sometimes we go into space" etc.) and it was something that Madelyne understood in the abstract.

    But suddenly she's sitting at a wedding and a girl hands her a purple dragon (the presence of which Scott would be ignorant of at this point, so he couldn't have told her about Lockheed specifically), and all that stuff Scott told her suddenly comes crashing home and she has a little freak out.

    Kind of like, "okay, I was onboard with the costumes and the short guy with claws, but a dragon?!? What the blazes have you gotten me into?!?"

    Though we've seen Banshee on Muir Island in the interim at least once, in New Mutants so it still sounds like someone covering for themselves.

    Yeah, but did Colossus know Banshee was there? :)

    Also, it always bugs me that all of the New Mutants attend dance class.

    If the only faculty you've seen fit to bring into your school is a dance teacher, I suppose you throw her a bone and force all your students to attend her off campus classes. ;)

    Seriously though, I think it makes sense for Xavier to bring in faculty, both from a storytelling point (larger supporting cast, more avenues for stories) and in-universe (the student body is larger now, he can't possibly be an expert in every field, given the intentions of the school, it makes sense to bring in teachers and allow the students to interact with some "outsiders"). My biggest problem with Stevie as the phys ed teacher is that she's more or less the only teacher Xavier brings in to help him out. If she was one of maybe three or four extra teachers, I think it wouldn't stick out so much. Eventually, we'll get Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander, but they never quite function as teachers.

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  8. Matt,

    I get why you don't like Mohawk Storm, both as a character (she has a harder edge that wasn't as prevalent before) and for aesthetic reasons (different strokes for different folks). As I indicated in my comment above, I like it as an outward expression of a phase, and I agree it didn't make sense to
    keep the mohawk after she grew up a bit.

    As good as issue 173 is, there are 2 things that bug me: 1) the Scott/ Maddie exchange is funny, but I think Claremont botched the puncline. One sentence would have been punchier; 2) Kitty's reaction to Storm's new look is over-the-top. I think most of us has seen a friend sporting a look we don't like. I don't think any of us screamed, "how could you" and ran away.

    Wolverine letting Rogue use his healing factor even at the risk of his life remains one of my favorite moments in X-Men. Noble Wolverine can get annoying, but it worked in this issue.

    As for Professor X not hiring any other staff, he didn't need to. Either he reads the minds of the greatest teachers or experts available or he mentally downloads information directly into student minds. Unethical, you say? You try running a school with its own aircraft and danger room on an inheritance. Why only Stevie Hunter? Prof. X might not be the best choice to teach dance.

    Do I get a No-prize?

    - Mike Loughlin

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  9. I have to agree that "punk" Storm, particularly during her powerless phase, is pretty much the only interesting version of the character. I like Claremont's version of her in general, but way too many x-writers after him just read the cliff notes where "regal" and "aloof" are underlined.

    I can't speak for Roberto, Sam, or Doug, but if someone told me when I was in high school that I was required to take a dance class, I would've filed a formal protest with the principal and asked for an alternative, like weights or something. I'm not saying that only girls should take dance classes, but I am saying that not all guys want to take dance classes.

    I'm pretty sure Brazillian rich kid Roberto is way more into dance class than Rahne, who more than likely was told dancing was created by the devil to get women pregnant.

    Re: the Mastermind reveal, this is the dead give-away, after some more subtle clues earlier. I still like it as a storytelling device, because it rewards the reader by making it clear to anybody who was reading either the classic x-men issue or has been reading for years.

    I think most of us has seen a friend sporting a look we don't like. I don't think any of us screamed, "how could you" and ran away.

    Kitty's just transferring her angst over her parents being divorced for like the third time.

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  10. Yeah, I'm going to agree with everyone who likes Punk Storm. I think it's a style that would look terrible in real life (even in the 80s), but looks pretty awesome on the page. Plus it's perfect for the darker turn the X-Men are taking. This really is a great era, although I'm not a huge fan of the JRjr issues, which seem way too disjointed and kind of directionless to me. That's obviously not JRjr's fault though.

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  11. I thought Punk Storm was a neat idea. I never thought her appearance was that hideous, and to be honest, I think it's come full circle and she could probably pull off the look today without looking out of place. I know a lot of people can't separate it from the 80's, and while it certainly was indicative of the time, I also feel that "what's old is new again", or some such nonsense. The mohawk might not fly today, but the clothing looks fine. I honestly think it looks less dated than her upcoming "poofy hair and lighting bolt" black costume or her ridiculous 90's silver costume.

    And I also liked the personality change. At least it was something different and interesting, and it had been built up well enough that it didn't seem forced. But, of course, it got old fast. Claremont just kind of beat it to death, and every time Storm hooked up with Yukio, it's like, great, now we get to hear about how wild and free she is some more. But I agree with Teebore; I challenge someone to find a more interesting character arc for Storm since then.

    @Matt-
    From this point forward, up until around the time Jim Lee comes aboard, I can't understand how every man she meets still finds her attractive. Sure, some guys might be into that sort of thing, but Claremont has every male react like always, talking about how beautiful and regal she is. I don't buy it.


    Yep. Pissed me off to no end. It wasn't even Storm's character that made it hard to swallow for me, it's that it happened so goddamned often that it was comical. Seriously, EVERYONE wanted to make this chick their queen, even Dr. Doom (and yes, in my mind, it WAS Doom). And of course, she'd go right along with it, all while being torn between that and her place with the X-Men. Ooooh Claremont, I'm on the edge of my seat. And then, years and years later he comes to X-Treme X-Men and does it AGAIN with some purple alien guy. He just didn't let up. I think the man had some personal issues going on or something.

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  12. @Mike: Why only Stevie Hunter? Prof. X might not be the best choice to teach dance.

    Hahaha! Nicely done. Your no-prize is in the mail. :)

    @Dobson: Kitty's just transferring her angst over her parents being divorced for like the third time.

    Yeah, I there's a scene in #180, I think, that more or less says as much. Something about people changing and she liked Storm just the way she was, and if Storm could change her image that drastically, maybe it meant Storm's feelings about Kitty could change, just like her parents feelings about themselves changed, etc.

    @Jeff: I think it's a style that would look terrible in real life (even in the 80s), but looks pretty awesome on the page.

    I think that's a good point. In real life, it would probably look silly and/or awful, but on the more stylized comic book page, I think it works.

    @Dan: I honestly think it looks less dated than her upcoming "poofy hair and lighting bolt" black costume or her ridiculous 90's silver costume.

    Agreed. Mohawk aside, this look has dated much, much better than some of her other looks, and especially stuff like Longshot's mullet or Rachel's rat tail. I mean, she's wearing leather pants, a black halter top and vest. Sure, it's extreme for Storm, but it wouldn't look that out of place on some women today.

    I even added it to "I Love the 80s" at the last minute, as I figured it was worth pointing out that, especially with the Mohawk, it was created at a specific time with the sensibilities of that time, even though the look itself hasn't dated too terribly.

    It wasn't even Storm's character that made it hard to swallow for me, it's that it happened so goddamned often that it was comical.

    Ditto. I mean, it was a laughable trend even before her makeover. The fact that Claremont continues to do it even after her new look is annoying less for the new look and more because he's already beaten that particular horse to death.

    And then, years and years later he comes to X-Treme X-Men and does it AGAIN with some purple alien guy.

    I haven't read it more than once as the issues were released, but man, I remember most of X-Treme X-Men being just awful. It was basically all of Claremont's worst tendencies and cliches with none of his redeeming elements to balance it out.

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  13. I should mention that I agree with the assessment that Storm has been extremely boring ever since her Mohawk phase ended. But that never really bugged me much in the 90's. I just saw her as a secondary member of the X-Men's ensemble cast. For those who had grown up with her as one of the major X-Men in the 80's, I can see how that would be a disappointment, but for me she was just there as kind of a supporting player for the bigger names on the team.

    However, I liked her just fine prior to this issue's transformation. And again, it's primarily the physical transformation that irritates me. I could live with it, as I said, if it had only lasted a year or so, and I could live with it if we were exploring her mental transformation without such extreme outward changes. I fully admit that I am a very visually shallow person when I read comic books. I want to see characters in action wearing awesome costumes, and I'm willing to overlook a lot of the story stuff I dislike if that's the case.

    An example I've used before is Grant Morrison's run -- I really, really didn't like it. I won't try to start a debate about that, but my point is that if the X-Men had been wearing colorful, exciting costumes instead of those drab black uniforms, I would've stomached the whole thing a lot better in spite of my issues with the story. That's just how my brain is wired.

    Also -- and I failed to mention this in my first post -- I have no real problem with the punk Mohawk look for a brand new character. It's not my cup of tea, but to each their own. It just really bothers me that they made this drastic visual change to a character who already had a very dynamic appearance. It kind of becomes a waste of the classic Storm, since that design just disappears, pretty much forever.

    Teebore -- "Sure, it's extreme for Storm, but it wouldn't look that out of place on some women today."

    But it does look out of place on a superheroine. If evil mutants attacked my office, I would find it very odd to be rescued by a bunch of folks in costumes, plus some random biker chick. I agree that the post-Mohawk lightning bolt costume was kind of lame, but at least it was a costume and she wasn't out fighting supervillains in street clothes. I have no real problems with the Jim Lee outfit as a costume, though it doesn't really look to me like something Storm would wear. Her original costume is my favorite, but the current one, a variation on Alan Davis's design around the time of "The Twelve" easily takes second place. I also had few problems with her purple outfit from the late 90's, lame haircut aside.

    Teebore -- "I haven't read it more than once as the issues were released, but man, I remember most of X-Treme X-Men being just awful. It was basically all of Claremont's worst tendencies and cliches with none of his redeeming elements to balance it out."

    I thought it had a decent start, with the plot hook of searching for Destiny's diaries. Unfortunately, in classic Claremont fashion, that story fell by the wayside in a hurry and it became kind of a scattered mess. But when the only alternatives were Grant Morrison's weirdness and Joe Casey's blandness/Chuck Austen's awfulness, it was pretty much the best X-Men title available. Unfortunately, that's not saying much. But at least they wore costumes for a while.

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  14. @Matt-
    But when the only alternatives were Grant Morrison's weirdness and Joe Casey's blandness/Chuck Austen's awfulness, it was pretty much the best X-Men title available.


    Ooh, gonna have to disagree with you there. X-Treme X-Men was better in its early issues, but at no point was it what I'd call good. The first bunch of issues was okay (Nuff Said month aside which was garbage of course), but it wasn't long before we got to that 100 issue long arc about Emperor Khan, and it was really downhill from there. And I know all the Joe Casey apologists always talk about how underrated his run was, but I have to agree; that was the hippest the X-Men have ever been, trippy covers and all (once again, barring the Nuff Said issue). The worst I can say about it was that it was kind of weird. And I can't believe I'm saying this, but I didn't remember Austen's run getting awful until #423, which was the exploding communion wafers story. From there, it was all garbage, all the time.

    But hey, no worries. Like Teebore, I haven't read X-Treme since the original issues came out, so maybe it reads better than I remember?

    And to get way off track here, I never thought Destiny's Diaries was a good plot device. The problem was that Claremont seemed to think that not only was Destiny only writing about his stories, but those of the immediate future. Like Destiny would have wasted pages writing about Gambit being hooked up to that machine, or Vargas stabbing him and Rogue, or Bogan? No way! She would have been writing about Morrison's run! (Sorry, I had to) ;)

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  15. @Matt: But it does look out of place on a superheroine.

    That's a fair point. I'm more accepting of Morrison's non-costumes than you, but at least in that case everyone was similarly not costumed. I've never really thought about it before, but Storm really is pretty much just running around in street clothes (albeit slightly abnormal relative to most people's day to day wear) throughout her punk phase, while everyone else is still in a more traditional costume.

    I thought it had a decent start, with the plot hook of searching for Destiny's diaries.

    I did like that initial plot hook, though like you said, in true Claremont fashion, it got pushed aside and never returned to pretty quickly, and as Dan said, what we did see of it dealt with some relatively mundane and/or hilariously-tied-to-the-immediate present moments.

    And I can't believe I'm saying this, but I didn't remember Austen's run getting awful until #423, which was the exploding communion wafers story.

    To keep us further off topic, I will say the one idea out of Austen's run that I actually really liked was making Juggernaut an X-Man. Yes, the whole "reforming a villain" thing had been done to death, but I thought it led to some interesting ideas, with the potential for even more interesting stories if anyone had stuck with it.

    I also liked that Austen shook up the lineup a bit and "graduated" some characters, like Husk, though that could have been more editorial's doing. And, of course, putting Husk on the team led to the whole "Husk and Angel have sex above Husk's mom" bit, so maybe it would have been better if she'd stayed off the team...

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  16. @ Dobson: "Kitty's just transferring her angst over her parents being divorced for like the third time."

    Ha, yes! I'd forgotten about that development, not that Kitty didn't remind me constantly.

    @ Matt: "An example I've used before is Grant Morrison's run -- I really, really didn't like it."

    Oh, yeah? Well let me tell you something, mister...

    "I won't try to start a debate about that"

    ... oh. Carry on, then.

    I'll just say that I liked the run despite its flaws, and thought the Quitely uniforms were great. They had enough super-hero touches to work, but gave the impression of uniforms worn by people in the same job.

    @ Dan: "... I can't believe I'm saying this, but I didn't remember Austen's run getting awful until #423, which was the exploding communion wafers story. From there, it was all garbage, all the time."

    I agree. The first story was a fairly standard Juggernaut fight, nothing great but nothing abominable. I liked the Northstar issue. Juggernaut & Sammy worked for me. The story about the Lobo sucked but didn't look like the harbinger of dross it actually was. The rest of the run (or at least what I read of it) deserves its reputation.

    @ Teebore: " also liked that Austen shook up the lineup a bit and "graduated" some characters, like Husk, though that could have been more editorial's doing."

    I like -Men (and Avengers and Justice League) line-ups, and like that the X-Men have a farm team. I would have loved to see some more e New Mutants & Generation X characters incorporated into the main team. Occasionally Karma or someone like that will show up for an arc, but I wish they'd stay longer.

    As bad as the conclusion to the exploding communion story was, I thought the crucifixion and slaughter of Gen X characters was worse. I have a huge problem with writers having characters tortured and killed for shock. Awful, schlocky, and never worth it.

    - Mike Loughlin

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  17. My laptop seems to have eaten my comments from yesterday. (That's right: I was almost on time this week.) And we'd been getting along so well lately, too.

    I have only a vague recollection of what was typed up, since the past 24 hours have been busier than usual, so we'll mostly have to settle for my comments on the comments.

    One thing that did jump out at me was Scott musing that perhaps he should've warned the rest of the X-Men that Maddie looks just like Jean. You think?!? The only thing contextually weirder than this is Xavier downplaying the very identicality (to coin a word) that we, the readers, have been struggling to take Scott's word for by saying that Maddie "resembles" Jean, nothing more — that's mighty lowball given that Lilandra just drew a lightsaber on her for the only-in-the-Marvel-Universe equivalent of DWB.

    And I love that Lil was packing a lightsaber, in her kimono, at a wedding.

    I appreciate that you called out that sequence of Kitty giving Lockheed to Maddie and her deadpan reaction. That whole page is one of my favorite sequences ever, marred slightly by the fact that Maddie should've only said "What the blazes have you gotten me into?"; the "Just precisely who are these people?" feels a little late, even if Scott hadn't explicitly told Maddie that his friends were the X-Men, given that Storm had literally flown in earlier. I see that later in the comments we're pretty agreed that Scott has to have told Maddie about the deal with his friends, at least in broad strokes, which reinforces how out-of-place the first part of that line is.

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  18. @Mike: (e.g. merging with a space whale, body-swapping, vampirism)

    Favorite. Parentheses. Ever.

    @Matt: I knew nothing of the X-Men until I read Secret Wars, which introduced me to Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Rogue, and what appeared to be some dude with a mohawk named Storm.

    Ha! Three comments in and I've laughed twice. I needed that.

    @Matt: "Why would a woman have a mohawk? Why would a woman want to have a mohawk? Why would someone want to draw a woman with a mohawk?" To this day, I don't know the answers to at least two of those questions.

    Okay, I've laughed thrice. And I don't say "thrice" often.

    @Matt: I liked The Cockrum/Byrne Storm, with big flowing hair and big round, innocent eyes.

    As I've said here before, I did too, and I hated hated hated Punk Storm when she/it happened at the time — but I can also appreciate (more) in retrospect what was going on. I was a relatively conservative kid at 13, and, even though a year later I'd befriend a kid with a mohawk, aesthetics notwithstanding I just didn't grok that counterculture world. To reiterate what I said in comments on a recent past issue, I wish I'd been around to see the balance restored — or, you could argue, since I guess this was partly the point of this (beyond just shock value and forced change for the sake of change) the balance discovered for the first time — in terms of Storm's personality; it's not like we haven't already remarked on the stark dichotomy of Storm's past life in Egypt and the Serengeti. What I'm curious to see is not only how this evolution is handled but how interesting Storm is afterwards, since the integration of the extremes could well leave her as bland as she was in the movies. Of course that depends a lot on the facility of the creative team, but as writers of serial comics and television will tell you a person and/or a relationship at peace isn't nearly as interesting as one in conflict except as a foil. I'm afraid that we have to lose the internal conflict often played up to good effect that you, Matt, later mention. (I also see based on later comments that Punk/Mohawk Storm is considered to indeed be boring.)

    @Matt: I could've done without the single tear running down Wolverine's cheek, though. I think Smith could've conveyed his heartbreak without it.

    No question. Just putting his downcast face in shadow — in fact, showing us his defeated body in a long shot, at total contrast to Logan's normally cocky, controlled (when he's not berserker) demeanor — would have been more effective.

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  19. @Matt: For years, I thought there was some sort of sexual encounter between Storm and Yukio after this scene.

    I remember thinking that too, and I've actually been waiting to see where that was made, well, not explicit obviously, but where I would've picked up that impression beyond their obviously intense bonding and Yukio's generally sexually charged persona.

    Speaking of implied homoerotic partnering, I have no recollection of what Stevie thinks of Ororo's new look, but I can see her being totally jealous of Yukio. 8^)

    "Kid Storm"?!?!?!? That's as terra incognita to me as "Tom Corsi and Sharon Frieldlander" (late addition: also "exploding communion wafers"). I'm both intrigued and nervous at how new things will be to me post-#205, despite my knowing some broad plot points from later years.

    @Mike: As for Professor X not hiring any other staff, he didn't need to. Either he reads the minds of the greatest teachers or experts available or he mentally downloads information directly into student minds. ...Why only Stevie Hunter? Prof. X might not be the best choice to teach dance.

    No pun intended, but my thoughts exactly; I was going to write virtually the same thing — which doesn't make it any less funny. 8^)

    @Matt: If evil mutants attacked my office, I would find it very odd to be rescued by a bunch of folks in costumes, plus some random biker chick.

    Everyone's on a roll today.

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  20. Dan -- "Ooh, gonna have to disagree with you there. X-Treme X-Men was better in its early issues, but at no point was it what I'd call good."

    Don't worry; I'm certainly not saying it's good. It was -- to me only -- the "best" of three pretty bad books. I actually stopped buying the X-Men entirely during the Morrison/Casey/Austen/X-Treme Claremont period, though I kept up by reading my friend's copies. But I didn't want to support what I deemed to be a very lackluster line of books with my own money.

    Dan -- "And I can't believe I'm saying this, but I didn't remember Austen's run getting awful until #423..."

    I can believe it. I actually thought Austen was a breath of fresh air initially, though his own advance hype may have added to that. I recall reading an interview with him at the time where he said he primed himself for the job by reading the Claremont/Cockrum run, and he wanted to try to recapture some of that. Plus, in his first or second storyline, he finally changed Angel caucasion again, which was way, way overdue (why his skin didn't change back when his wings did, I will never understand).

    I even had very little problem with his coupling of She-Hulk and Juggernaut, unlike most of the fandom. She-Hulk was always a party girl, and she hooked up with a lot of guys over the years. Why not Juggernaut too? And the Juggernaut reformation wasn't bad either, considering that he had long been more of a misguided thug than an out-and-out villain. Claremont got some additional mileage out of "good" Juggernaut in New Excalibur, too.

    So yeah, there was a fair amount of decent stuff early in Austen's run. It's just that it got so bad so quickly, that I think a lot of that was overshadowed by the depths to which he soon sank. The execution of poor Skin was really the first major turn-off for me, as I recall.

    Dan -- "She would have been writing about Morrison's run! (Sorry, I had to) ;)"

    No problem; I actually agree. Whether I like it or not, New X-Men really was the flagship title at that time, with all the others -- even X-Treme later on -- taking their cues from it.

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  21. Teebore -- "I'm more accepting of Morrison's non-costumes than you, but at least in that case everyone was similarly not costumed."

    Mike -- "I'll just say that I liked the run despite its flaws, and thought the Quitely uniforms were great. They had enough super-hero touches to work, but gave the impression of uniforms worn by people in the same job."

    I actually think Cyclops pulled off the New X-Men look quite well, and I liked when he wore the jacket in part of Whedon's run. I think those outfits are fine for when the X-Men are "off duty" or teaching classes. I just don't like them charging into action wearing them. But if the New X-Men jacket was Xavier's equivalent of a letterman jacket or something, I'd be fine with it.

    Blam -- "As I've said here before, I did too, and I hated hated hated Punk Storm when she/it happened at the time..."

    Well, it's nice to have at least one person agree with me.

    Blam -- "No question. Just putting his downcast face in shadow — in fact, showing us his defeated body in a long shot, at total contrast to Logan's normally cocky, controlled (when he's not berserker) demeanor — would have been more effective."

    One of my favorite stories about John Buscema is when young Jim Owsley/Christopher Priest wrote a story where Conan befriends a young boy who later gets killed. Priest's script called for Conan to weep over the boy's body in the final panel. Buscema instead drew Conan from the back, cradling the boy, and left his tears (or not) to the reader's imagination. Priest says it was the only time Buscema ever changed something in one of his scripts, and he's glad he did.

    Not saying Smith should've done that -- heck, for all we know the tear was his idea, and not in Claremont's plot -- but I just like that anecdote.

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  22. @Blam: he only thing contextually weirder than this is Xavier downplaying the very identicality (to coin a word) that we, the readers, have been struggling to take Scott's word for by saying that Maddie "resembles" Jean, nothing more

    That stuck out to me as well (I probably should have mentioned it). It's probably Claremont's way of reinforcing the "it's just a coincidence" idea - if Professor X is able to push it aside with minimal fuss, so should we - but it comes off as somewhere between not caring and dangerously irresponsible.

    And I love that Lil was packing a lightsaber, in her kimono, at a wedding.

    Me too. Comics!

    Speaking of implied homoerotic partnering, I have no recollection of what Stevie thinks of Ororo's new look, but I can see her being totally jealous of Yukio. 8^)

    Ha! I love that we've managed to create an entirely new narrative thread running behind the scenes of the panels we're reading.

    I'm both intrigued and nervous at how new things will be to me post-#205, despite my knowing some broad plot points from later years.

    Kid Storm is pretty lame, Tom and Sharon are a decent enough characters (albeit very Claremontian ones) that Claremont largely forgets/grows tired of before he can do anything wildly interesting or awful with them.

    Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to your reactions to some of the stuff with which you're less familiar. :)

    @Mike: I would have loved to see some more e New Mutants & Generation X characters incorporated into the main team. Occasionally Karma or someone like that will show up for an arc, but I wish they'd stay longer.

    Ditto. One of the things I liked about New X-Men (the one with the kids in training) and Fraction's Utopia stuff was that they integrated a lot of the New Mutants and Generation X characters into the books.

    I have a huge problem with writers having characters tortured and killed for shock.

    Agreed. I have no issue with the occasional "death" of a character, especially since we all know they can always come back, but it should be a character whose death is built towards and means something, and not just some random second stringers that haven't been used much lately, killed for shock value or to pump up the cred of a new villain. It's one of modern comics tendencies that bothers me the most.

    @Matt: It's just that it got so bad so quickly, that I think a lot of that was overshadowed by the depths to which he soon sank.

    Agreed here, and with the general sense that Austen had some good ideas early in his run and then went horrifically off the rails.

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  23. I like "punk" Storm. Combine her with a thin-goggled Cyclops, skunk-streaked Rogue and green-haired Polaris, and you've got a nice group of characters that would fit in with any group of punk teenagers in 1983. Or 1993, or 2017.

    This is why I liked Grant Morrison's New X-men and X-men: Evolution so much. The X-men work best as teens, reflecting real teenagers (another reason Superman's mullet never worked. It was at least 10 years out of date, and even then, was never in style with hip kids--not that I ever was one).

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