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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #176

"Decisions"
December 1983

In a Nutshell 
Cyclops and Madelyne are attacked by a giant squid on their honeymoon. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Romita Jr.  
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
In the South Pacific, Scott and Madelyne are flying their seaplane towards their honeymoon destination, hoping to avoid an oncoming storm. As Scott contemplates his father's offer to join the Starjammers, the plane is suddenly struck by lightening, sending it crash towards the ocean. Meanwhile, in Japan, Wolverine visits Mariko, asking why she sent him the Yashida Honor Sword. She explains that while it is his by right, she refuses to marry him until she's severed all the criminal ties she forged while under Mastermind's influence, thus restoring her family's honor. In the Pacific, Scott and Maddy work frantically to repair their plane before the storm blows in, with Scott narrowly avoiding a shark attack. In Washington DC, Henry Peter Gyrich attends a meeting held by the president's National Security Adviser, during which the NSA's assistant, Val Cooper, gives a presentation discussing the imbalance of power between nations created by mutants. She urges the government to consider drafting mutants to work for them, something Gyrich worries would only trigger further attacks from mutants like Magneto.


In the Morlock tunnels, Caliban returns home to find Callisto, Masque and Sunder waiting for him. Callisto tells him she intends to ensure that Kitty Pryde honors her promise to stay with Caliban. In the Pacific, Scott and Maddy finish their repairs as the storm intensifies, but Maddy is suddenly dragged underwater by a giant squid. Scott dives in after her, and blasts the creature, freeing her but losing his glasses in the process. Maddy helps guide him back to the plane, where he dons his visor. Safely aboard, they fire up the engines and manage to take off before the waves from the storm capsize the plane. Back in the air, Scott declares his intentions to stay on Earth and simply enjoy his life with Madelyne.   

Firsts and Other Notables
Valerie "Val" Cooper makes her first appearance, as an assistant to the president's National Security Advisor. She will become a significant supporting character during Claremont's tenure, and remains one to this day.


Her comments here regarding the need for the US to back its own group of mutants is a setup for the eventual creation of the government-sponsored Freedom Force, though it's likely that at the time, Claremont wanted the readers to think Val had the X-Men in mind. 


Similarly, the interlude with the Morlocks is setting up the events of issue #179. 

This is John Romita Jr.'s first full issue as the regular penciller of the book.  

The first issue of X-Men Classics, a limited series reprinting, on higher quality Baxter paper, the Roy Thomas/Neal Adams run on the title, went on sale the same month as this issue. It is a precursor to the later Classic X-Men series which will eventually reprint a good chunk of Claremont's run (including this issue).

A Work in Progress
Cyclops decides, having experienced enough fighting and near-death experiences, to enjoy his life with Madelyne and not join the Starjammers.


It's revealed that Callisto, Caliban, Sunder and Masque founded the Morlocks.


It's made clear that Mariko's actions in issues #172-173, including her rejection of Wolverine, was due to Mastermind's influence, an influence Professor X has since eliminated.


I Love the 80s
Scott is rocking some pretty rad cutoff jean short-shorts throughout the issue.


Similarly, Maddy spends most of the issue in a bikini, a condition which was not lost on Teenage Teebore...


The animal which attacks Scott and Maddy is referred to as a squid, yet Romita has clearly drawn an octopus.


Artistic Achievements
This is one of my favorite X-Men covers. 

Young Love
Free of Mastermind's influence, Mariko still refuses to marry Wolverine, insisting that she needs to restore her family's honor, on her own, before she'll be worthy of marrying him. 


Like a Phoenix From the Ashes
Madelyne makes a joke about how it's too bad she isn't really Phoenix, for which Scott promptly scolds her. 


Human/Mutant Relations
Val Cooper mentions the idea of mutants supplanting humans biologically, then goes on to say that the real problem with mutants these days is the possibility that other governments are using them against the US, and that the US needs to do the same.


For Sale
Time for the new Saturday morning cartoon lineups! Featuring Menudo!


It's in the Mail
Instead of a letter column, this issue features an odd letter from Jim Shooter discussing the cover. 


John Romita Jr. on being assigned X-Men
"The editors wanted someone to fill the gap temporarily until they brought in another regular artist. They thought I could handle it from my previous work at Marvel and asked me to fill-in. I filled the gap and ended up staying on for a pretty lengthy run."

Gagnon, Mike. "The X-Traordinary John Romita Jr." Back Issue August 2008: pp73-74. 

Chris Claremont on John Romita Jr.
"I think Johnny, at the point he was drawing the book, was still a work in progress, He was evolving into the Johnny we know today...While his term on X-Men was successful, I think it was more along the lines of refining his craft and planting the seeds  of what was to blossom into something really magnificent on other books. We were sort of like Johnny's farm team."

DeFalco, Tom. Comic Creators on X-Men. London: Titan Books, 2006. p74

John Romita Jr. on Chris Claremont
Chris had worked with John Byrne and now Paul Smith and Dave Cockrum and I was relatively inexperienced compared to these guys. I'm sure Chris, without any malice in his heart, just preferred other people. It's funny, but now that Chris and I are friends I don't think of it in any bad way. I'm sure at the time I probably gritted my teeth a little bit, maybe took an extra shot of whiskey at night [laughs]

Gagnon, Mike. "The X-Traordinary John Romita Jr." Back Issue August 2008: pp73-74.

Teebore's Take
I called last issue Cyclops' swan song on the title, but this issue perhaps deserves that distinction more. While it doesn't feature the tour de force of Cyclops single-handedly defeating all the X-Men, it does feature Cyclops' last regular appearance in the title for some time, resolution to the lingering question of whether he'll be joining his father aboard the Starjammer, and the best showcase yet for his relationship with Madelyne. Thankfully for anyone who isn't as big a Cyclops fan as I am, Claremont also works in a handful of subplot scenes, wrapping up past plot points and setting up future ones (including the introduction of Val Cooper, who in addition to becoming a significant and long lasting supporting character, plays a role in the continued re-contextualization of the human/mutant conflict begun in earnest in "Days of Future Past"). The end result isn't quite in the model of the Claremont/Smith "all subplot and character development" issues that appeared regularly over the last dozen issues, but it is close enough to indicate that Claremont isn't abandoning his looser, day-in-the-life narrative approach just because Paul Smith left.   

Next Issue
New Mutants #11 finds the kids still in, you guessed it, Nova Roma, while Uncanny X-Men #177 features the return of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

24 comments:

  1. even as a child, i recognized the ridiculousness of the shark attack and then the giant squid attack.
    I mean. W. T. F.

    BUT! I don't remember Scott wearing those "awesome" cutoffs

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  2. @Sarah: i recognized the ridiculousness of the shark attack and then the giant squid attack.

    I love the complete randomness of the squid attack, like, they're just preternaturally evil or something.

    BUT! I don't remember Scott wearing those "awesome" cutoffs

    And now you'll never be able to forget them. Never.

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  3. "Scott declares his intentions to stay on Earth and simply enjoy his life with Madelyne."

    Frankly, if Scott wanted a simple, peaceful life with Madelyne it sounds like going into space with the Starjammers may have been the better option.

    They can't even go on a honeymoon without getting struck by lightning, crashing a plane and gettings attacked by two various, non-related sea creatures!

    But seriously, those kind of plots always annoy me. Obviously comics need action and a superhero will put themselves in danger trying to save the world and thus become a target themselves due to villains seeking them out. But a superhero should be able to do ordinary things without wandering into some sort of life threatening situation that has nothing to do with them or who they are. If Marvel's Earth is THAT dangerous, how do ordinary citizens survive a quiet walk on the beach or a hike through the woods?

    It's like how Jessica Fletcher can't go to a dinner party without somebody dying under mysterious circumstances, it's too much of a suspension of disbelief. That's right I brought up Murder, She Wrote. What are you going to do about it? Now I'm going to eat dinner at 4:00 PM and be in bed by 7!

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  4. Based solely on this issue, I would've enjoyed an Adventures of Cyclops and Madelyne limited series or one-shot or something. Despite Cyclops's questionable motives in falling for and ultimately marrying her, this issue shows that they really do work together as a loving, well-adjusted couple.

    To continue last week's John Romita conversation, I would like to use the panels you've posted to toss out a few of my opinions on his art. First off, I think he looks better here under Bob Wiacek than when he's inked by Dan Green later on, for the majority of his run.

    The cover: I really like it, aside from Cyclops's lips. Also, it's worth noting that Romita himself revisited this cover for the X-Men Classic reprint of this same issue.

    In the first panel (the Valerie Cooper extreme close-up), I need to note that I love the way Romita draws women's eyes, and I always have. He can make a pair of eyes with nothing else attached look quite fetching.

    In the panel trio featuring Valerie and Henry Gyrich, I still like the way Romita draws Valerie, but I don't like the emphasized cheekbones, which were something he did quite a bit around this time on most of his female characters.

    In the panels featuring Cyclops and Madelyne in their plane (with pink haired Madelyne), I love the expression on Cyclops's face in panel 1, and I like how Romita drew his visor more squared than anyone else ever did. Jim Lee borrowed that shape for his pouches n' buckles Cyclops costume years later.

    I love the shadows on Wolverine in the panel where he confronts Mariko.

    I like Cyclop's kissy pucker, but Madelyine looks kind of hideous in that same panel, mainly because of the same cheekbones that afflicted Val earlier.

    I still like the use of shadows in the three-panel Wolverine/Markio sequence. The cheekbones also somehow work on Mariko for me here. Though she never struck me as the type to sleep nude, as she appears to have been doing in this scene.

    It's not noticeable yet in the Cyclops close-up you posted here, but I just want to note that as time goes on, Romita will become pretty much the best artist ever at drawing pouring rain. No one can match his skill in that department.

    Lastly, I'm not a fan of that group shot of the X-Men. Romita hasn't quite got all of them down yet, and there's just some awkward poses all around.

    I will be back with my comments on some of your specific points tomorrow...

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  5. Was there a sale on cheap spray tan in Washington? Val & Frank are awfully orange in some of those panels.

    Yeah, that's an awesome cover. Unfortunately, it's like an '80s video cover; the contents inside can not possibly live up to it. The sqidopus fight is rather lame.

    Alternate universe plan for '80s Cyclops: he tries civilian life and finds out it doesn't suit him. He feels out of place with the X-Men, so he joins the Avengers. In a time of flux that sees members leaving ( Thor, Iron Man, Hank Pym), being unable to commit (Cap), and joining (Captain Marvel, Starfox), Scott's skills and experience make him invaluable to the team. He shares leadership duties with the Wasp. Best of all, he gets written by Roger Stern for a few years. The natural exit point is his finding Jean Grey's cocoon at the bottom of the Hudson.

    @ Matt: those Wolverine panels are my favorite part of the comic. I detect a bit of a Frank Miller vibe. I agree that Wiacek's inks suit '80s JR Jr. better than Green's.

    - Mike Loughlin

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  6. JRJR coming on the book was a pretty shocking change from the run of "pretty" artists for me... the overemphasized cheekbones kill me to this day.

    The sea animal attacks are hilarious now looking back on this issue.

    They continue the "is she/isn't she" with Maddie here but I still love the character.

    Val Cooper is also a great addition to the book and gets really interesting later on down the line.

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  7. @Teebore

    "I love the complete randomness of the squid attack, like, they're just preternaturally evil or something."

    Prejudice we face our whole lives, I'm sorry to say. And even when they're painting us a voracious predators, they still can't be bothered to check up on what we look like, as you've noted. Octopus, squid, cuttlefish, what's the difference? We're all as shifty as each other...

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  8. Okay, I'm back.

    "Scott is rocking some pretty rad cutoff jean short-shorts throughout the issue."

    Should've mentioned this yesterday as I was giving my impressions of Romita's art -- one thing I can't stand about him is how he draws everyone in "contemporary" clothing. I know all artists do this to an extent, but for some reason it sticks out really badly with Romita, possibly because the 80's were filled with such awful fashions which he seemed to embrace. I still recall the issue of Amazing Spider-Man where Peter was wearing a pair of short-shorts much like these, with a midriff-baring workout shirt to complete the ensemble. Ugh!

    And of course in the 90's, he was big on drawing mullets, too.

    "The animal which attacks Scott and Maddy is referred to as a squid, yet Romita has clearly drawn an octopus."

    I'm curious who made the mistake here. Did Claremont's plot call for a squid and Romita drew an octopus? Or maybe the plot was vague so Romita drew whatever he wanted and Claremont misidentified the squid as an octopus in the script? One of the things I love about the Marvel method is that it's fun to try and figure out who did what (for good or ill).

    The comments by Claremont and Romita regarding one another are very interesting, and seem to fit with a lot of speculation I've seen. I had no idea they'd ever had anything to say about one another in interviews, but I recall Jason Powell, or perhaps commentors on his blog series, speculating that Claremont didn't care much for Romita since he rarely ever talks about him when singing the praises of his many collaborators. Jim Shooter also stated on his blog that Claremont had Romita "removed" from Uncanny, though he also says that it was Claremont who originally recruited him.

    It does sound here like Claremont thought of Romita as a lesser artist than the ones he'd previously worked with. And it sounds like Romita realized Claremont thought of him that way. I'm glad to hear they're currently friends, though if so, I'm surprised Claremont has never worked with the "new, improved" Romita.

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  9. Cyclops got back.

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  10. Mike -- I forgot to mention that I love your "alternate universe" plan for 1980's Cyclops. I would've loved to have seen that. Especially if we could couple it with my fantasy world where John Byrne wrote and drew X-Factor when it launched. Stern and Byrne being good friends in real life, it seems like a natural transition.

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  11. I love Romita Jr's UXM run, but I gotta agree with resident Romita Jr hater Matt that his clothing design choices are almost universally AWFUL.

    Look at this shit!

    http://i.minus.com/jHhk2hiKR42Sg.jpg

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  12. Jeremy -- I hope I don't come off like I hate Romita! I'm a big fan of his work most of the time, especially on Spider-Man, but I was just tossing out my likes and dislikes regarding some of his more obvious tendencies.

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  13. Put me in the same camp as those who rather liked Romita’s pencils. I’m really surprised by his and Claremont’s comments. I had always assumed that they had a good working relationship. Admittedly that was based on them appearing on British breakfast television together back in the ‘Eighties. I suppose they were unlikely to wash their dirty laundry on air. Still, I wish Romita had given some specific examples of when he “gritted his teeth”.

    During Romita’s run, there was a really bold stylistic change to the X-Men. They looked scruffier, more beaten-up, their clothes were much darker – they really stood out from their glossy contemporaries. Now, after reading the above comments, I really interested to know whose idea that was. Did Claremont want the X-Men look more like traditional superheroes?

    Jim Shooter claims that Claremont got Romita thrown off the X-Men? Surely that can’t be right. Is there anyone on earth, who prefers Marc Silvestre’s scratchy egg-head versions of the X-Men to Romita’s?

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  14. @Dr. Bitz: If Marvel's Earth is THAT dangerous, how do ordinary citizens survive a quiet walk on the beach or a hike through the woods?

    Normal people in the MU do just fine, so long as they avoid the big superhero battles (so, you know, most of the country outside New York). It's only dangerous if you're a superhero. Danger is drawn to them, and alpha predators are their mortal enemies (little known fact: Cyclops spent most of his time away from the X-Men defending his home in Alaska from a constant barrage of of grizzly bears, eagles and wolves). :)

    @Matt: He can make a pair of eyes with nothing else attached look quite fetching.

    Agreed.

    Jim Lee borrowed that shape for his pouches n' buckles Cyclops costume years later.

    Hmm, that could be another reason I like Romita's art. While it was never my favorite Cyclops' costume, the Lee-designed one is the one with which I was most familiar in my formative years.

    I just want to note that as time goes on, Romita will become pretty much the best artist ever at drawing pouring rain.

    He really does.

    for some reason it sticks out really badly with Romita, possibly because the 80's were filled with such awful fashions which he seemed to embrace

    Yeah, I think a lot of it was that fashion of the 80s was just so bad. I mean, Byrne did some of that during his run, but stuff like Kitty's bell bottoms don't stick out quite so badly as leg warmers and mullets.

    Or maybe the plot was vague so Romita drew whatever he wanted and Claremont misidentified the squid as an octopus in the script?

    And could we blame the letterer for not correcting it, or an editor for not catching it? Like you, I to remain fascinated by how the Marvel method can muddy the assignment of credit/blame.

    @Mike: Val & Frank are awfully orange in some of those panels.

    I'm curious if that's a function of the coloring, or the aging of the comic?

    The natural exit point is his finding Jean Grey's cocoon at the bottom of the Hudson.

    Love it.

    @David: the overemphasized cheekbones kill me to this day.

    I'm honestly starting to think I find high cheekbones on women attractive simply because of Romita. :)

    Val Cooper is also a great addition to the book and gets really interesting later on down the line.

    Agreed. She's one of my favorite supporting characters.

    @SpaceSquid: Octopus, squid, cuttlefish, what's the difference? We're all as shifty as each other...

    Ha! It's the tentacles. Freak people out. ;)

    @Anonymous: Cyclops got back.

    Yeah he does!

    @Jeremy: I love Romita Jr's UXM run, but I gotta agree with resident Romita Jr hater Matt that his clothing design choices are almost universally AWFUL.

    I kinda like Xavier's costume in that panel, but man, I'd COMPLETELY forgotten about that Colossus outfit. I've been thinking of his other red one, which I'm not a big fan of either, but this one is even worse.

    And yeah, as Matt said, he's not our resident Romita Jr. hater, though we di have a few of of those around here. ;)

    @(other?)Anonymous: Put me in the same camp as those who rather liked Romita’s pencils.

    Huzzah! Another one.

    Is there anyone on earth, who prefers Marc Silvestre’s scratchy egg-head versions of the X-Men to Romita’s?

    Yep. I'm not one personally (though I have gained a greater appreciation for Silvestri's X-Men work thanks to Jason Powell), but there definitely are fans who prefer Silvestri to Romita.

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  15. I received an e-mail that another Anonymous had posted, but I can't see the post here. However, he or she questioned Claremont's "removal" of Romita from X-Men. Shooter is prone to exaggeration sometimes, but here is his exact quote, from a comment attached to this post:

    "If anti-John Romita, Jr. stuff made it into the lettercol on my watch, then I apologize for letting it slip through. I think he was/is great. Loved his stuff. Chris, after recruiting him in the first place, eventually wanted someone else on the book. Whatever. I was a fan."

    Also, I think that Silvestri is a better fit for the X-Men than Romita. At least, the Silvestri of the 80's. As I said last week, I felt that Dan Green was a much better pairing with Silvestri than with Romita, and I love Silvestri's somewhat cartoony style.

    What's funny is that I didn't really like Silvestri when I read his original issues, but I've since learned that's because of the awful printing Marvel was using at the time (flexographic or something?). I've seen a good chunk of his work in some more recent reprints, and -- to my eye, at least -- there is a world of difference.

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  16. That's right I brought up Murder, She Wrote. What are you going to do about it? Now I'm going to eat dinner at 4:00 PM and be in bed by 7!

    Quoted for truth!

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  17. Cyclops and Madelyne are attacked by a giant squid on their honeymoon.

    When you put it like that... Actually, never mind, the story itself is just about as ridiculous.

    It's revealed that Callisto, Caliban, Sunder and Masque founded the Morlocks.

    Plus, Callisto and Caliban were enjoying some "Hammer Time" (either that or dancing "Gangnam Style" 30 years early), although Sunder is confused and Masque wants no part of it.

    Scott is rocking some pretty rad cutoff jean short-shorts throughout the issue.

    Yet neither that nor Maddie's bikini are the most risqué things in the issue. They apparently have a quickie between Panels 1 and 2 on Page 2, judging from the dialogue and the contextually hilarious "Later..." caption.

    This is one of my favorite X-Men covers.

    I think the cover is mostly a great design unappealingly rendered (to my tastes). Cyclops' optic blast breaking apart the logo is neat but would work a lot better if there were considerably more space for his force beam — either if his head were farther away or if his figure were smaller. I'm kind-of left wondering why he's shooting at that innocent logo up there when there's a tentacle right next to it strangling him.

    Instead of a letter column, this issue features an odd letter from Jim Shooter discussing the cover. 

    Which is weird — the content, in this instance, more than the practice. I have to agree with Jim Shooter, however, even though his letter comes off as a major case of CYA; he really seems to think that folks won't like the cover and is disavowing himself. The bottom, overlapping cover rough is my favorite over both the other sketch and the actual cover.

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  18. eXtras:

    Romita is definitely picking up some cues from Smith, like the way he does Scott's hair. Overall the lines aren't unlike what we'd been getting from the Smith/Wiacek team, which may be due to Wiacek; I just feel like the art really suffers by comparison.

    I so kept wanting Scott to say "Ah, superhero luck. Sorry. This kind-of reminds me of the time I was shipwrecked with Le... uh, with little to eat."

    When the fridge will Scott learn to wear ruby-quartz eyepieces with a wraparound headband?

    Scott Tice via the GCD confirms my belief that Joe Rosen takes over the lettering midway through the story. The art looks different, too, like another inker steps in for Wiacek, but I can't place the style.

    Having read the issue I'm aware of why Scott is wearing his visored mask and no shirt, and also aware of the fact that Maddie's hair was randomly miscolored pink in one of the panels, but in those panels as excerpted by you it looks like we've wandered into some kind of weird X-Men punk/BDSM/role-play story.

    Pages from the annual are shown in the "Beware: It's Assistant Editors' Month!" panel on the not-a-letters-page page.

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  19. @DrBitz: a superhero should be able to do ordinary things without wandering into some sort of life threatening situation that has nothing to do with them or who they are

    Word.

    @Matt: I would've enjoyed an Adventures of Cyclops and Madelyne limited series or one-shot or something.

    She'd have needed a codename, though.

    "I'm Cyclops. This is Madelyne."
    "Well, I do see how you appear to have but one wide red eye, Cyclops."
    "Yes. It's actually a visor that helps me control my optic force beams."
    "Mm-hmm. And Madelyne, I suppose, projects sponge cake from her fingertips?"
    "..."

    @Matt: First off, I think [Romita] looks better here under Bob Wiacek than when he's inked by Dan Green later on, for the majority of his run.

    I second that. I'll agree with you on the women's eyes. I hate not just the cheekbones but the faces overall in those panels; Maddie and Mariko both look like creepy China dolls. I like the idea of the chiaroscuro window patterns on Wolverine but find the execution lacking.

    @Mike: Alternate universe plan for '80s Cyclops:

    Nice. If only. Sigh.

    @Teebore: as Matt said, he's not our resident Romita Jr. hater

    "Hater" might be a little strong. Unless we're just talking about his X-Men work from here to #200. Then, yeah, I'm a "hater". 8^)

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  20. @Blam: When you put it like that...

    I honestly, I kind of grappled with the idea that the squid attack was some kind of thinly-veiled sexual innuendo, but the whole thing just didn't hold together well enough for that. :)

    They apparently have a quickie between Panels 1 and 2 on Page 2, judging from the dialogue and the contextually hilarious "Later..." caption.

    They do indeed seem to be...in the throes of marital bliss in those early pages.

    Romita is definitely picking up some cues from Smith, like the way he does Scott's hair.

    I too thought the hair was very Smith-ian, especially in the early pages, which could lend further credence to to your switching-inkers theory.

    "Ah, superhero luck. Sorry. This kind-of reminds me of the time I was shipwrecked with Le... uh, with little to eat."

    Ha!

    Unless we're just talking about his X-Men work from here to #200. Then, yeah, I'm a "hater". 8^)

    Don't worry, you weren't the only one I had in mind. :)

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  21. @Teebore, Matt, & Blam:

    Thanks! I have no idea why Cyclops was never an Avenger (or Storm, but she was one for 5 minutes a few months ago, apparently) other than Marvel keeping the 2 lines separate. For that matter, why weren't Scarlet Witch or Quicksilver ever X-Men (not counting Pietro's stint in X-Factor)? Avengers membership seems to be handed out in Crackerjack boxes these days, but I don't see why a couple unused X-characters couldn't have bolstered their ranks in years past. Just imagine Cyclops being spoken of in the same breath as D-Man! Or Dr. Druid! Or even Deathcry!

    - Mike Loughlin

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  22. @Mike: For that matter, why weren't Scarlet Witch or Quicksilver ever X-Men (not counting Pietro's stint in X-Factor)?

    I've often wondered that myself, especially with Quicksilver. There was a period there around fatal attractions, when he was more or less done with X-Factor but hanging around the mansion and whatnot, when it seemed like he was an X-Man in all but name.

    Just imagine Cyclops being spoken of in the same breath as D-Man! Or Dr. Druid! Or even Deathcry!

    Ha! The Avengers don't seem to have much luck with the letter "D", do they?

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  23. I have to say, as much as I love Romita Jr's art, his overuse of those cheek lines on his women is a negative for me...it would be ok if he consistently used it on a few of his female characters, but not all.

    I think, with regards to the Jean/Maddie debacle down the line, they should have just admitted that Maddie was Jean re-incarnated.

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  24. Claremont's two prologue scenes in Uncanny #176, "Decisions", each flag up dubious moments from Claremont's own run: the Valerie Cooper scene gives a detailed recap of Uncanny #150, which featured Magneto attempting to force the countries of the world to disarm - a somewhat noble goal, albeit tyrannical in execution. The X-Men stopped him, effectively allowing the governments of the world to keep on building bombs and weapons.

    The Morlock scene reminds us of a much more recent adventure, wherein the X-Men encountered a group of underprivileged, disenfranchised, self-loathing mutants and reacted to their plight with no compassion.

    The very premise of the X-Men - protecting humans from other mutants – is "explicitly counter revolutionary." "They were not created to fight for civil rights; rather they were created to fight against those who did so."

    With these prologue scenes, Claremont is deliberately flagging up problematic moments in the story of the X-Men - moments that Claremont himself is responsible for - in order to plant the first seeds of a new kind of X-Men. In the coming issues, Claremont would upset the status quo in significant ways. Valerie Cooper would eventually recruit Mystique's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants - ironically rechristened "Freedom Force" - and THEY, not the X-Men, will be the "counter-revolutionary" force of the series.
    Meanwhile, the Morlocks would transform into a much more sympathetic group - often acting in the story as allies of the X-Men rather than enemies. Eventually, the X-Men are forced to seek shelter in the Morlocks' underground catacombs after a particular catastrophe, and soon after, the X-Men fight to defend/avenge the Morlocks during the ambitious "Mutant Massacre" storyline.

    Granted, it will turn out to be a slow transition (the X-Men will still live in a mansion for the next three years plus) but as early as this we see Claremont laying the groundwork for a significant reorientation of the overall premise's skewed politics.

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