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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #174

"Romances"
October 1983

In a Nutshell
Scott proposes to Madelyne. 

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

Plot
Aboard the Starjammer, Scott and Madelyne share their first Earthrise together. As Corsair gives Madelyne a tour of the ship, they learn Carol Danvers is planning to leave Earth and join the Starjammers. Corsair asks Scott if he's still considering joining them, but Scott isn't sure because of Madelyne. Elsewhere, Professor Xavier and Lilandra continue Xavier's physical therapy, and Lilandra once again affirms that she'll need to leave soon to reclaim her throne. In Japan, Wolverine confronts Mariko following their aborted wedding, but she insists she does not love him and orders him to leave her alone. In New York, Kitty pulls Colossus away from a painting and demonstrates her ability to phase someone along with herself by air-walking them into Storm's attic. They kiss, but are interrupted by Storm.


Meanwhile, Nightcrawler tends to Rogue, still recovering from the injuries she suffered in Japan. She asks him about the X-Men's reactions to Madelyne, and he tells her about Jean's rise and fall as Phoenix. Later, Scott and Madelyne are piloting a commercial flight to Anchorage, having gotten engaged. As Scott checks on the passengers, a kindly priest gives him a photo he apparently dropped. It's of Jean, but Scott has no idea how it got on the plane. That night, Madelyne returns home from the grocery store to find a troubled Scott waiting for her. He asks her point blank if she's the reincarnation of Jean Grey. Madelyne punches him, knocking off his glasses. Replacing them, he follows Madelyne into another room, but is suddenly hit with a blast of fire, as Dark Phoenix emerges. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor's whirlwind romance reaches it's next step, as they get engaged.


Though he goes unnamed, Mastermind appears in his Jason Wyngarde persona in full, setting the stage for next issue. He also appears on Scott and Maddie's plane in the guise of a kindly, rotund priest, one of the same illusions he used when he was seducing Jean in the run-up to "The Dark Phoenix Saga".


A Work in Progress
After regarding the similarity somewhat dismissively last issue, Xavier is afforded an opportunity to more thoroughly ruminate on Maddy's resemblance to Jean, suggesting it could just be a massive coincidence.


Professor X also says he can't read Madelyne's mind, as she is one of the rare few with a natural resistance to his telepathic powers. 


Binary declares she's joining the Starjammers and leaving Earth.


Lilandra declares that whatever is inhibiting Xavier's ability to walk is a physical problem after all.

Cyclops worries because Madelyne won't tell him anything about her life prior to the plane crash.


A battered Silver Samurai is named heir to Clan Yashida by Mariko. 


It's revealed that much like objects, Kitty can phase a person along with her.


As part of her recent changes, Storm has removed her plants from the attic.


Rogue is still recovering from the injuries she suffered at Viper's hands last issues, despite her invulnerability and having absorbed Wolverine's healing power. Nightcrawler tends to her, furthering his role as the X-Men's medic. 


I Love the 80s
Kitty is reading a Star Wars comic book (published by Marvel, natch).


One of the passengers on Scott and Maddy's flight is smoking. 


Claremontisms
Hepzibah says "yah" instead of "yeah".  Also, he's apparently still trying to sell "Lynne" as Madelyne's nickname.

"Professor Xavier Cyclops is a Jerk!"
Scott asks Maddy point blank if she's Jean reincarnated, and she responds with a right cross.


Young Love
Not surprising, given the title of this story, there's lots of lovin' in this issue. Professor X once again discuss Lilandra's departure, with both still unwilling to abandon their respective responsibilities for the other.


Wolverine confronts Mariko, who insists she does not love him, at which point he returns to her the honor sword of Clan Yashida, which she gave him in Wolverine #4.


Kitty surprises Colossus with a kiss, and the pair proceed to make out in Storm's attic.


Finally, Nightcrawler receives an "Amanda" doll counterpart to Amanda's Bamf doll.


The Awesome and Terrible Power of Cyclops
We learn Cyclops always keeps a spare pair of ruby quartz glasses in his pocket. 


Like a Phoenix From the Ashes
Nightcrawler gives Rogue (and any new readers) the rundown of Jean's rise and fall as Phoenix, appropriately enough given the apparent return of Dark Phoenix at the end of the issue.


For Sale
Okay, a Kool-Aid man video game is probably the most 80s thing, ever.


Bullpen Bulletins
Marvel runs a house ad illustrating their new cover design.


Teebore's Take
With this issue, Claremont and Smith continue the pattern of their run, following up the two-part Wolverine/Japan story with a done-in-one focusing on characterization and subplots. With Wolverine, Rogue and Storm having headlined the last story, and aptly titled "Romances", the issue largely focuses on the romantic lives of Scott & Maddy, Professor X & Lilandra, and Colossus & Kitty (with Nightcrawler getting a brief moment of romantic contemplation). It is the final (and arguably best) showcase for Smith's uncanny ability to wordlessly depict emotion and character. Most significantly, the somewhat-breakneck pacing of the Scott/Madelyne relationship escalates to the point where the couple gets engaged, dovetailing with the simmering conflict that's been percolating, unknown to them, since the X-Men returned from space in issue #167, setting the stage for the culmination of almost a years' worth of Phoenix hints and teases and the final regular collaboration of Claremont and Smith next issue.

Next Issue 
Tomorrow, the New Mutants are taken to Nova Roma in New Mutants #9, and next week, Mastermind's schemes come to a head as we learn whether Madelyne is Dark Phoenix reincarnated in Uncanny X-Men #175.

31 comments:

  1. I TOTALLY want to play that Kool-Aid man video game! What do you think it entails? Crashing through brick walls without spilling your delicious red kool-aid?

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  2. @Sarah: Crashing through brick walls without spilling your delicious red kool-aid?

    One can only hope.

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  3. I feel like I've said it non-stop since Paul Smith arrived, but this is another issue that I really like. Of all the subplot-only issues in the Claremont/Smith run, this one probably has the very least amount of action -- just a single sucker punch to Cyclops. And yet the development of the romantic storylines, plus the furthering of the Mastermind plot, make this a page-turner anyway (at least for me).

    "Professor X also says he can't read Madelyne's mind, as she is one of the rare few with a natural resistance to his telepathic powers."

    So let's recap: As far as Chris Claremont of 1983 is concerned, Madelyine Pryor is a woman who looks exactly like the deceased Jean Grey, who was in a plane crash at the exact instant Jean died, and who is totally immune to Professor Xavier's mental probes. But these are all just complete coincidences, and she's really just a perfectly normal woman.

    It boggles my mind that nobody in editorial ever said, "don't you think you might be taking this a bit too far?" And yes, I know that we've discussed before the possibility that Claremont really did intend Madelyne to be Jean reincarnated, but he couldn't come right out and say it... but because of that, it really does come across like he's jerking the readers around, setting up a payoff that he never intended to reach (until he was forced to by circumstances outside his control).

    Anyway, given everything we know about Madelyne so far, plus the fact that she apparently refuses to tell Cyclops a single thing about her life prior to the plane crash, he was absolutely, one hundred percent justified in asking her point-blank if she's the reincarnation of Jean. Everything about the woman says that she is! There is no way any sane, rational person would not have that eating away at them until they had no choice but to bring it up.

    I should also add that no matter how vehemently I complain about this Madelyne stuff, it really doesn't bother me as much as it may appear. I have no real problems with it because I know that, come "Inferno", it will be revealed that there is more to her than meets the eye. My only real beef with the whole thing, as I've tried to indicated in my repeated rants, is that Claremont never intended for such a revelation to come about.

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  4. I'm not sure it is a dick move to get enganged right after Wolverine is left at the alter...but it certainly feels like a dick move.

    I think part of "I Love the 80's" should have been that spandex excercise outfit Lilandra's sporting. Let's get physical!

    And, also, again I agree with Matt about Madelyne. Not only is she immune to telepathy but she refuses to talk about her life prior to the plane crash...which is just bizarre in general. Why is Scott getting married to her again? You'd think if she can't confide in him about her life marriage isn't recommended.

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  5. @Matt: Of all the subplot-only issues in the Claremont/Smith run, this one probably has the very least amount of action

    You can even see the action getting stripped away with each subsequent subplot-only issues: #168 (fight w/the Sidri) to #171 (Rogue punched into orbit) to #174 (Scott slugged by a normal woman).

    So let's recap...

    Cue Chris Claremont: "Let's not, please." :)

    My only real beef with the whole thing, as I've tried to indicated in my repeated rants, is that Claremont never intended for such a revelation to come about.

    I get that. Heck, I really like Maddy, both as a character within the comics and for how the character weathers all these crazy editorial and creative machinations in an "inside baseball" kind of way, but that doesn't change the fact that I still think Claremont intending for the whole "it's just a big coincidence" explanation to stand is a misstep, to say the least.

    @Dr. Bitz: I'm not sure it is a dick move to get enganged right after Wolverine is left at the alter...but it certainly feels like a dick move.

    Ha! I never thought of that before, but you're right. Especially since not only do they get engaged, but they get married, like, really soon.

    I think part of "I Love the 80's" should have been that spandex excercise outfit Lilandra's sporting

    I think I was chalking it up as some kind of crazy alien unitard, but I think you're right: it's just very much of the 80s.

    Why is Scott getting married to her again?

    We've been over this: because she looks just like his dead childhood sweetheart. :)

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  6. I love the last two pages of this issue. Smith carried out the action perfectly, of course, and the horror-movie like pacing of the next few panels works to make the "Dark Phoenix" reveal suitably dramatic.

    You know, next issue would have been the perfect place to reveal that Madelyine was a construct of some sort. clone, demon-in-disguise, whatever. Cyclops should have faced the truth about Maddy (*any* coherent truth), then either married her or not knowing full well that she wasn't Jean (but contained her essence and the song of fire and life within her her choice her funeral focused totality no quarter asked none given and I wish- I hope- I pray- when ah'm blastin', Lightengale... sorry, I was trying to imagine how the scene would play out and my Claremont-o-matic writicizer got stuck).

    Also, by developing his skills as team medic, team mechanic, and team priest, Nightcrawler's time in the X-Men bulked his resume right up.

    - Mike Loughlin

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  7. Different Anonymous here...

    In the Kool-Aid Man game you play Kool-Aid Man, defending a swimming pool against a gang of marauding "thirsties" trying to drink the pool dry. There is video of it up on YouTube. Of course there is.

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  8. @Mike: Smith carried out the action perfectly, of course, and the horror-movie like pacing of the next few panels works to make the "Dark Phoenix" reveal suitably dramatic.

    Agreed. Well said.

    but contained her essence and the song of fire and life within her her choice her funeral focused totality no quarter asked none given and I wish- I hope- I pray- when ah'm blastin', Lightengale... sorry, I was trying to imagine how the scene would play out and my Claremont-o-matic writicizer got stuck

    Alright, you officially win the internet today. Well done. :)

    Also, by developing his skills as team medic, team mechanic, and team priest, Nightcrawler's time in the X-Men bulked his resume right up.

    Ha! It's a shame he could never find any non-superhero work.

    @Anonymous: In the Kool-Aid Man game you play Kool-Aid Man, defending a swimming pool against a gang of marauding "thirsties" trying to drink the pool dry.

    Aw, that doesn't sound nearly as exciting...

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  9. Dr. Bitz -- Good point about Cyclops's dick move. I never noticed it, but it's pretty funny when you stop to think about it.

    Though if you want to delve more seriously into it, it could be Wolverine's heartbreak that is the impetus for Cyclops proposing. He wants to strike while the iron is hot, maybe.

    Speaking of Nightcrawler, I never thought about how multi-talented he was under Claremont. He's the team medic, also the team pilot when Cyclops isn't present, and he seems to be the team mechanic too (though Kitty is the go-to brain for the less pedestrian stuff).

    On top of all that, he's the team leader while Storm is off Lifedeathing in Africa -- a role he continues to fill with Excalibur.

    I guess Nightcrawler is something of a Renniassance Mutant. Not sure how I never picked up on that before.

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  10. @Matt: I guess Nightcrawler is something of a Renniassance Mutant. Not sure how I never picked up on that before.

    I never really had before either. For whatever reason, it seems like Claremont was comfortable slotting him into whatever role he needed.

    Perhaps it's a corollary to his "why not a women?" rule: why not have Nightcrawler do it? :)

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  11. Matt said: “As far as Chris Claremont of 1983 is concerned, Madelyine Pryor is a woman who looks exactly like the deceased Jean Grey, who was in a plane crash at the exact instant Jean died, and who is totally immune to Professor Xavier's mental probes. But these are all just complete coincidences, and she's really just a perfectly normal woman.”

    To be fair, the picture of Jean Grey that the priest gives to Cyclops, shows a woman with only a passing resemblance to Maddy. As readers aren’t we meant to question Cyclops’ behaviour regarding this. I’d always assumed that the similarity between Jean and Maddy was as much in Cyclops’s mind and not meant to be taken as literally true.

    Ditto with the point about the time of Jean’s death. With everything that was happening on the Blue Area of the Moon, there is no way that Cyclops could know that exact instant she died. Or for that matter the exact instant Maddy’s plane crashed.

    And as to Professor X being unable to read Maddy’s mind. Well, that seems to happen every other issue. It’s hardly unusual.

    (Of course, I can think of no earthly reason why Mastermind would want to attack the White Queen or Mystique. Nor why Destiny senses an all-powerful malevolent force approaching the Earth. That probably was just a case of Claremont over-egging the pudding).

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  12. Not even gonna talk about Madelyne this time. I've beat that corpse into the next world already.

    @Teebore
    I never really had before either. For whatever reason, it seems like Claremont was comfortable slotting him into whatever role he needed.


    Honestly, I think this illustrates one of the problems with the character; there's just nothing for him to do. He's great in action scenes (Nightcrawler always gave some of the best and most creative visuals) and his jovial nature compliments that in dialogue, but there's really just not much too him beyond that. The "innocent Europe guy who doesn't understand fancy shmancy modern America" role was mostly filled by Colossus, so I guess Nightcrawler gets to be useful by suddenly being an expert at everything.

    And now he's dead.

    Also, what is with Colossus, anyway? How many times does Kitty practically have to molest him only for him to do his "KITTY!!!!" thing and recoil in terror? I'm seriously starting to wonder about that guy, maybe he's got something in common with his Ultimate self? I kid...

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  13. What a great cover!

    Tears on the last page of #173, tears on the first page (and cover) of #174...

    As part of her recent changes, Storm has removed her plants from the attic.

    (1) This is one of those sentences that's perfectly matter-of-fact if you've read the issue and/or are following the saga but which is hilarious out of context. (2) I perhaps blessedly don't remember much of what follows after this, but it's also hard to buy that even urban-chic "Yukio's my new bestie" Storm would ditch the foliage. (How funny would it have been if she'd just given all of her plants mohawks instead?)

    Nightcrawler tends to her, furthering his role as the X-Men's medic.

    And dressing for the part, all in white. That's, like, one shade away from a Scooby-Doo situational instant costume change.

    One of the passengers on Scott and Maddy's flight is smoking.

    While dozing off! He looks like he's auditioning for Eric Powell's The Goon, too, 20 years early.

    Scott asks Maddy point blank if she's Jean reincarnated, and she responds with a right cross.

    I can't deny that this is a valid reaction from Maddie's perspective, but at the same time Scott just asking her if she's Jean/Phoenix reincarnated is actually one of the most mature things to happen in a superhero comic to date — even if, thinking it through, he couldn't possibly get a reasonable answer either way.

    Kitty surprises Colossus with a kiss, and the pair proceed to make out in Storm's attic.

    Peter's face is a bit off on that first panel of Pg. 11 that you reproduce, but — no snide remarks, now — Kitty's figure is perfect. Her body language and positioning on Pg. 10 are great as well. Smith really conveys the physical tension in her dragging Peter away from his painting; Smith and Wiacek also do a great job with the clothing folds, something too few superhero artists can muster properly. And Kitty's hair remains fabulous.

    We learn Cyclops always keeps a spare pair of ruby quartz glasses in his pocket.

    As well he should, given that the pair he usually wears don't have a wraparound elastic band. I get wanting to look as normal as possible, but that's a risky thing.

    Marvel runs a house ad illustrating their new cover design.

    Which still doesn't help the cover of New Mutants #9 from having way too much dead space up top, although come to think of it that could actually be because of the switch.

    You left Corsair and Hepzibah off your round-up of romantic couples. Even if their relationship is not in flux like most of the others, I think that their bawdy exchange counts, bringing me to my...

    Unspoken dialogue of the issue: "So. Your dad sleeps with a cat-lady."

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  14. @Matt: I feel like I've said it non-stop since Paul Smith arrived, but this is another issue that I really like.

    You're excused. And if you like this, that's one more reason to give New Teen Titans a try sometime.

    @DrBitz: it certainly feels like a dick move

    Hell, I remember thinking that when the issues came out. It wasn't just a sudden engagement in overall story terms; in the context of the previous issue, it's like you (and Hugh Jackman) said. At this stage in my life I know that weddings can spark engagements — although it's usually the weddings that actually result in a marriage — but still, yeah, lack o' sensitivity, bub.

    @Dan: And now he's dead.

    Whaaat?!?

    Eh, I shouldn't be surprised. I haven't followed the X-Men for years 'n' years, and I suppose there's no reason for Nightcrawler to be any different from the other X-Men in that regard. He'll get better.

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  15. It just occurred to me how similiar the Madelyne/Jean Mastermind revenge plot is to the Madelyne/Judy plot in Hitchcock's Vertigo. I always thought the whole thing was left dangling in #175. Maybe initially Claremont had Maddy complicit in MM's scheme?

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  16. @Bernard the Poet: I’d always assumed that the similarity between Jean and Maddy was as much in Cyclops’s mind and not meant to be taken as literally true.

    Other people see it too, though. Lilandra straight up attempts to murder Maddy with a lightsaber on sight because she thinks she's Phoenix, the resemblance is so stong, and Maddy's just wearing a dress and probably has a different hairstyle.

    I like the idea that Maddy simply bears a strong resemblance to Jean, one that's heightened to the point of being identical in Scott's mind, but Claremont really seems to want to sell the idea that everyone sees her as identical to Jean (an idea that is further strengthened when we find out she is in fact a clone).

    With everything that was happening on the Blue Area of the Moon, there is no way that Cyclops could know that exact instant she died.

    Agreed. I can't remember if it was mentioned on an earlier post or something I discussed offline, but when that little detail was first revealed, I remember thinking, "so, what, Cyclops checked his watch the instant after Jean killed herself?"

    That probably was just a case of Claremont over-egging the pudding

    Definitely. You can maybe kinda squint and come up with a reason for attacking White Queen (though you'd think he'd go after Shaw, too) but to this day, I have no idea why he targeted Mystique. I assume Claremont had an "untold story" to tell about it, but I've never seen anything indicating what it was.

    As for the malevolent force Destiny senses, in hindsight, I just attribute that to the Beyonder. :)

    PS - I've seen you comment over at Comics Should Be Good for years now, and I've always wanted to say that I love your internet moniker.

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  17. @Blam: I perhaps blessedly don't remember much of what follows after this, but it's also hard to buy that even urban-chic "Yukio's my new bestie" Storm would ditch the foliage.

    Particularly since we know she believes (correcty or incorrectly) that they communicate with her, so it's roughly the equivalent of her tossing out a bunch of cats or something.

    He looks like he's auditioning for Eric Powell's The Goon, too, 20 years early.

    The look of him and the guy next to him is so distinct I wondered if it was an intentional homage to some comic strip characters or something, but I've never seen anything to indicate Smith did that sort of thing and they didn't jump out to me as anyone recognizable.

    Scott just asking her if she's Jean/Phoenix reincarnated is actually one of the most mature things to happen in a superhero comic to date

    True. He may have avoided the right cross if he had A. Asked at some other time than suddenly before a planned romantic dinner B. Asked before he proposed marriage and/or C. Prefaced his question with some greater measure of "I know this is going to sound crazy but I have to ask to get it off my chest and be comfortable in our relationship together"

    Smith and Wiacek also do a great job with the clothing folds, something too few superhero artists can muster properly.

    We've talked about their work with hair before (and Kitty's does indeed look fabulous once again), but I honestly think they also draw some of the best non-superhero costume clothes of anyone. It is, as you say, a rare talent.

    Even if their relationship is not in flux like most of the others, I think that their bawdy exchange counts

    Yeah, I should have included them. That was an oversight.

    Unspoken dialogue of the issue: "So. Your dad sleeps with a cat-lady."

    Ha! "Play your cards right, 'Lynne, and that cat-lady could be your new mother-in-law."

    Whaaat?!?

    Yeah, he was the "big" death to come out of the...let's see...carry the one...THIRD most recent X-Men crossover event, depending on how you count them. Like you, I believe it's only a matter of time before he returns (and he was being more or less underused at the time anyway; hopefully his eventual return will lead to a slightly-higher profile).

    @Dan: I think this illustrates one of the problems with the character; there's just nothing for him to do.

    I was thinking along those lines too (and failed to say as much due to laziness). Of all the new X-Men, Nightcrawler has been the one without a real strong "thing", so he gets saddled with all the random stuff (mechanic, medic, etc.) that comes along. So now his thing is that he's the X-Men's jack of all trades, I guess. :)

    @Chris: It just occurred to me how similiar the Madelyne/Jean Mastermind revenge plot is to the Madelyne/Judy plot in Hitchcock's Vertigo.

    I've never actually seen Vertigo(I know, I know) but I read something from Claremont where he said the Maddy plot was inspired in part by the film.

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  18. @Dan: "I think this illustrates one of the problems with the character; there's just nothing for him to do."

    @ Teebore: "I was thinking along those lines too (and failed to say as much due to laziness). Of all the new X-Men, Nightcrawler has been the one without a real strong "thing", so he gets saddled with all the random stuff (mechanic, medic, etc.) that comes along. So now his thing is that he's the X-Men's jack of all trades, I guess. :)"

    Nightcrawler is the most well-adjusted X-Man (except when someone decides to angst him up) and has a sense of humor. He has an extremely useful power.

    If you want to put him in Wolverine & the X-Men, he's every kid's favorite teacher. He's a role model for inhuman-looking mutants everywhere. He's a leader, a spy, an acrobat, and a skilled fighter.

    Not to mention medic, mechanic, pilot, priest, and, for all we know, he gives a fabulous manicure.

    If the current X-writers can't think of something to do with him, maybe they're in the wrong line of work.

    - Mike Loughlin

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  19. @Mike: If you want to put him in Wolverine & the X-Men, he's every kid's favorite teacher. He's a role model for inhuman-looking mutants everywhere. He's a leader, a spy, an acrobat, and a skilled fighter.

    Don't get me wrong: nowadays (at least when he wasn't dead), he was a well rounded character with lots of potential for stories.

    I just think back in the early days of the new X-Men, he didn't have the same "hook" that most of the other characters did. He was reasonable comfortable with his abnormal appearance, enjoyed being a superhero, etc.

    All of which are unique and acceptable character traits, but don't suggest a lot to hang stories on, so I think that might be why he became the go-to character when a new specialty was needed.

    But I definitely I agree: bring back Nightcrawler today and there's plenty of storytelling opportunities for him in the current books.

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  20. @Anonymous
    Nightcrawler is the most well-adjusted X-Man (except when someone decides to angst him up) and has a sense of humor. He has an extremely useful power.


    I agree, but those are just his character traits. In context of the comic book, though, he's often given little to do. Ask yourself, why is he so well-rounded? What about him or his backstory would lend itself to that? Not a damn thing, really. He's a jovial guy with a sense of humor. Beast was constantly made into a jack of all trades but at least it made a little sense (he's smart). How did Nightcrawler learn all this stuff after such a short time in America and with the team? And better yet, why? Did the X-Men designate a previous medic / mechanic / whatever? Did they ask him to take these roles? They don't even seem to care when he does. If Nightcrawler hadn't learned to be a medic in his spare time, would Rogue have just died in her sleep?

    Not trying to argue with you. I think Nightcrawler's a great character but one that a lot of writers, including Claremont seemed to struggle with. When did he begin getting his first strong character arcs or solo stories (besides "I'm weird looking and afraid to go to town without an image inducer")? Anyone know?

    @Teebore
    All of which are unique and acceptable character traits, but don't suggest a lot to hang stories on, so I think that might be why he became the go-to character when a new specialty was needed.

    But I definitely I agree: bring back Nightcrawler today and there's plenty of storytelling opportunities for him in the current books.


    I think you got it. Lots to work with, but not necessarily enough to carry an entire book. Or at least, nothing that we've seen from many writers.

    There are moments, even in recent years, where they almost tried little things. The Great Joe Casey (lol) even had this thing around #400 where he starts to get a little disillusioned and becomes a little darker. Led to a great conversation with Logan. Then came Austen and exploding wafers and the whole thing went nowhere.

    And about bringing him back... Oh dear lord. You know the real pisser? He was killed a year or two ago; since then, they've brought the AOA version over to our universe as a starring character in X-Force (which has been one of the more popular books lately). Seriously, what the hell? We can't think of something to do with Kurt so he dies, and then we bring over an alternate reality version so we can still, you know, draw him in all these cool scenes without actually bringing the real one back to life. Just dumb, dumb, dumb.

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  21. @Dan: When did he begin getting his first strong character arcs or solo stories (besides "I'm weird looking and afraid to go to town without an image inducer")? Anyone know?

    The first solo adventure I can think of is X-Men #204, which came out, I think, around the same time as his original miniseries. But that was pretty much it for him until Excalibur, the early issues of which I haven't read much, so I have no idea how prominently he featured in that group's ensemble.

    The Great Joe Casey (lol) even had this thing around #400 where he starts to get a little disillusioned and becomes a little darker. Led to a great conversation with Logan.

    His work with Nightcrawler is actually one of the things I think of (fondly) when I think of Casey's run.

    He was killed a year or two ago; since then, they've brought the AOA version over to our universe as a starring character in X-Force

    I haven't gotten there yet (my "current" reading takes me right up to the launch of that series), so I can't judge it for myself, but I knew that had happened, and in general, I tend to not like it when they bring in alternate versions of existing characters for extended periods of time. So I have a feeling I won't enjoy that particular plot point when I get there. But we'll see.

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  22. Dave Cockrum's widow, Paty, has a bit of a conspiracy theory that Marvel killed off the real Nightcrawler so they could stop paying her royalties. Marvel apparently set up some sort of retroactive royalty agreement with the Cockrums shortly before Dave's death, which remains in effect until they both are no longer with us.

    Not saying I agree with her, but I thought it was worth noting.

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  23. @Matt: Paty, has a bit of a conspiracy theory that Marvel killed off the real Nightcrawler so they could stop paying her royalties.

    A. I have no idea the details, so maybe they still got screwed, but good for Marvel for reaching some kind of agreement with them.
    B. I really, really, really hope Paty is wrong in her theory. And now want regular Nightcrawler back more than ever.

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  24. @ Teebore & @ Dan:

    Definitely, Claremont & Co. had a hard time using Nightcrawler effectively. I also agree that they could have fleshed him out more in the early years. I'm sure that's why he kept playing so many roles. I think they could have done way more with him, especially pushing his status as "out & proud" inhuman-looking mutant, but they didn't.

    My main point is that there's no real reason to kill him off or write him out. A good writer can give him a larger role. Hell, Aaron & Gillen are very good writers, and I hope one of them brings Kurt back. We all agree there, and I'll shut up about this now, as I'm not trying to highjack this thread.

    @ Dan: Kurt's best stories are generally Excalibur stories. In the best Excalibur issues (most of which are by Alan Davis or Warren Ellis), he's a good ensemble player, a leader who never overwhelms his co-stars but is still effective. He went through a believable character arc in Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn. In Excalibur 42-55, he grew into a leadership role. In Excalibur 61-67, he was a solid leader, tough and resourceful. All the while he was recognizably the same Kurt as the one from X-Men, but grown up a bit. Excalibur 96-100 saw Nightcrawler lead the team against Black Air. If you haven't read the Davis Excaliburs, I highly recommend seeking them out. The art's gorgeous, of course, and the stories bounce along nicely.

    @ Matt: Oh man, I wish Paty Cockrum's theory wasn't so plausible. If it's true, that's just depressing.

    - Mike Loughlin

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  25. @Teebore
    I haven't gotten there yet (my "current" reading takes me right up to the launch of that series), so I can't judge it for myself, but I knew that had happened, and in general, I tend to not like it when they bring in alternate versions of existing characters for extended periods of time.


    It's becoming an odd trend, actually. They also just did it with the AoA Blob (not much of a spoiler, and the 616 Blob is still alive). It was a fun novelty when they brought AoA Beast over years and years ago, but I'm not sure I understand why they're suddenly pilfering AoA for more lately. Don't they realize how dreadfully confusing this will be, if it isn't already? Two Blobs? A Nightcrawler that isn't really Nightcrawler? I really wish this company would show some restraint from time to time.

    @Matt
    Dave Cockrum's widow, Paty, has a bit of a conspiracy theory that Marvel killed off the real Nightcrawler so they could stop paying her royalties.


    Not sure I understand. AoA Nightcrawler is legally considered a separate character?

    @Anonymous
    My main point is that there's no real reason to kill him off or write him out. A good writer can give him a larger role.


    Banshee and Colossus had the same problem. Now we can add another name to that list as of the end of AvX. I'm in a good mood so I won't spoil it in case Teebore or anyone else has yet to get to it.

    Also, I did read a few Excalibur's from around the 50's through the 70's, and I actually remember 100 because of it's weak tie to the Onslaught story. But I remember liking the story, the art, and the team at that time. I thought Pete Wisdom was kinda bad ass, not gonna lie. Not sure if Colossus fit, but at least they tried something besides killing him. :) I wish more of the series was reprinted.

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  26. Dan -- "Not sure I understand. AoA Nightcrawler is legally considered a separate character?"

    I don't entirely understand it myself, which is why I labeled it a conspiracy theory. All I know for certain is that Mrs. Cockrum says her royalty checkes have shrunk considerably since Nightcrawler was killed off.

    Her original statement is here, on a site dedicated to Bowen Designs' Marvel statues. Posts 19 and 20 are the pertinent ones.

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  27. Oh, also -- speaking of Excalibur, a decent chunk of the series is available in trade format. The Excalibur Classic series collects the full Chris Claremont run (#1-34), the Alan Davis Visionaries series collects Davis's full run as writer/artist (#42-67), and the Warren Ellis Visionaries series collects Ellis's full fun (83-103).

    That's close to 80 issues out of a total of 125 collected. Not bad, when you think about it.

    Also, Warren Ellis's Excalibur was, and I say this with no hyperbole whatsoever, the only work by Ellis that I've ever enjoyed. And I like it a lot!

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  28. @ Dan:
    "Also, I did read a few Excalibur's from around the 50's through the 70's, and I actually remember 100 because of it's weak tie to the Onslaught story. But I remember liking the story, the art, and the team at that time. I thought Pete Wisdom was kinda bad ass, not gonna lie. Not sure if Colossus fit, but at least they tried something besides killing him. :)"

    You know how Pete Wisdom said he did whatever awful thing was required of him because the job "needed doing?" That's one of my favorite understated badass lines ever. I liked the character an awful lot. If you haven't read Paul Tobin's Wisdom mini or Captain Britain & Mi6 series, they're very good. Wisdom is a bit more nuanced, and the supporting cast is cool.

    @ Matt:

    "Oh, also -- speaking of Excalibur, a decent chunk of the series is available in trade format. The Excalibur Classic series collects the full Chris Claremont run (#1-34), the Alan Davis Visionaries series collects Davis's full run as writer/artist (#42-67), and the Warren Ellis Visionaries series collects Ellis's full fun (83-103)."

    Good to know! I'd hate to see those rund fall through the cracks.

    "That's close to 80 issues out of a total of 125 collected. Not bad, when you think about it"

    The rest of the series didn't exactly deserve the label "Classics," I'm afraid.

    "Also, Warren Ellis's Excalibur was, and I say this with no hyperbole whatsoever, the only work by Ellis that I've ever enjoyed. And I like it a lot!"

    When that run came out, I was buying everything with Warren Ellis's name on it. His style appealed to my late-teens/early 20s self.I came to recognize his tics a few years later, and haven't sought out much of his recent work.

    - Mike Loughlin

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  29. @Mike: If you haven't read the Davis Excaliburs, I highly recommend seeking them out.

    I didn't start reading Excalibur until after "Fatal Attractions", so I missed all the Davis stuff. I have the issues, I've just never gone back to read them. One of the reasons I'm hoping to work something out so I can read them as part of this blog series.

    @Dan: I'm not sure I understand why they're suddenly pilfering AoA for more lately

    I know there was a 15th (?) anniversary not too long ago, and a new hardcover omnibus, so that might be why. I also gather that the storyline is still insanely popular with both fans and creators, so that could be part of it too. Heck, there's an AoA ongoing right now, isn't there?

    Now we can add another name to that list as of the end of AvX. I'm in a good mood so I won't spoil it in case Teebore or anyone else has yet to get to it.

    I haven't read it yet, obviously, but I'm aware of what happens.

    I tend not to get too riled up about spoilers personally (even if you know what happens, it's all about the execution of the idea), but it's not like I seek them out either. The big newsworthy stuff I just usually end up hearing because everyone's talking about them and I'm not anti-spoiler enough to go into total internet blackout or anything. I'm usually so far behind I forget most of it by the time I get to the stories anyway.

    (That said, I have no issue with maintaining a certain spoiler-free atmosphere around here, so your candor is appreciated).

    I thought Pete Wisdom was kinda bad ass, not gonna lie.

    Ditto.

    @Matt: That's close to 80 issues out of a total of 125 collected. Not bad, when you think about it.

    Especially since, as Mike points out, the stuff they haven't collected isn't very good.

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  30. The Amanda doll is wearing the same outfit Amanda is wearing a few issues back. Maybe it was supposed to be a costume?

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  31. @Anonymous: Maybe it was supposed to be a costume?

    Ah, good catch. I bet that was what Smith had in mind to serve as her costume, though he probably never made that official, since JRjr uses something else in her next appearance.

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