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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #178

"Hell Hath No Fury..."
February 1984

In a Nutshell
The X-Men battle the Brotherhood, and Kitty is seemingly killed.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Romita Jr.  
Inkers: Bob Wiacek & Brett Breeding
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Horrified by what happened to Colossus and realizing she's no match for the Brotherhood on her own, Kitty telepathically alerts Professor X. Xavier sends Storm and Wolverine in response, but neglects to tell Rogue about the attack for fear of testing her loyalty too soon. Suddenly, he's hit by a tremendously powerful psionic scanning wave which leaves him wracked with pain. Back in New York, Kitty remembers reading about a recent invention of Mr. Fantastic's that could help Colossus, but when she contacts the Fantastic Four, she's told they're unavailable. Hoping to find the device herself, she takes a cab to the Fantastic Four's headquarters in the Baxter Building. Meanwhile, Callisto, Sunder and Masque find the body of a dead homeless girl, and Masque begins to work on her. Back at Lincoln Center, the Brotherhood attacks Nightcrawler and Amanda, but they manage to hold their own until Wolverine and Storm arrive.


As the X-Men and the Brotherhood fight, Kitty sneaks into the Baxter Building and locates Mister Fantastic's device. Emerging on the roof, intent to air walk over to the next building, she's startled by something behind her and seemingly falls. At Lincoln Center, the X-Men defeat the Brotherhood, at which point Blob reveals their confrontation was just a diversion. At the mansion, Mystique attempts to kill Professor X, but Rogue intervenes, insisting that she came to the X-Men of her own free will, and that she needs Xavier's help to control her powers. Mystique relents, and agrees to spare Xavier's life in exchange for the Brotherhood's freedom. As they leave, Destiny warns the X-Men of dark events surrounding Kitty, while at the Baxter Building, police respond to the apparent suicide of a young girl. 

Firsts and Other Notables
For the first time, Professor X is hit by a debilitating psionic wave; this will happen again in future issues (and to characters in other titles), as part of the run up to Secret Wars (we'll learn the scanning wave is being caused by the Beyonder).


Destiny mentions that she sees Kitty at the center of something ominous; this is clearly meant to emphasize the issue-ending cliffhanger, but given what we'll learn about that next issue (spoiler: Kitty's not really dead. Shocking, I know), it's not clear what Destiny is predicting here.


A Work in Progress
Cyclops mentions, in a letter to Professor X, that he's gotten a job as a pilot for his grandparents airline.

Storm is wearing her cape again in this issue, along with her punk attire. We also get a look at the developing dynamic between Wolverine and Storm, as the later becomes more like the former.


Callisto notes that even if mutants were accepted, she and some of the other Morlocks would still be outcasts by choice, perhaps a further attempt by Claremont to rationalize the X-Men's shoddy treatment of them.


In an amusing bit, Kitty muses that perhaps she can repay Mr. Fantastic for stealing his device by babysitting his kid.

Amanda notes it's a good thing for the Blob that her mother never taught her any death spells; Nightcrawler is glad she didn't.


Rogue explains her vendetta against Dazzler, from her appearances as a villain in that title.


I Love the 80s
That seems like an entirely inappropriate picture of your honeymoon to send to your father-like teacher. Also, who took the picture?


Wolverine is still smoking.


Between issues, Kitty has managed to change from a dress to pants/some kind of jumpsuit. 


Kitty phases through and disables the Fantastic Four's robot receptionist Roberta.


The average citizens of the Marvel Universe are considerably savvy when it comes to sci fi devices.


Young Love
Nightcrawler and Amanda skip the ballet to make out.


For Sale
A James Bond RPG has been advertised in this and the last several issues.

"Who throws a shoe? Honestly!"

Bullpen Bulletins
The Bullpen Bulletins page features a rundown of the current assistant editors, and it's interesting to see how many of them go on to become notable creators and/or editors in their own right.


It's in the Mail
Angel answers the letters in this issue (most of which pertain to his appearance in X-Men #170), and even he is charmed by Kitty.


There's also a letter from Colleen Doran, a prolific writer and artist and creator of the sci/-fi/fantasy series A Distant Soil.


Teebore's Take
Claremont wraps up the X-Men/Brotherhood fight, and while the action lacks the strong choreography of Paul Smith's action scenes, the end result is at least more of an actual X-Men vs. the Brotherhood fight than we got last issue. Intercut with the actions are scenes with Kitty which setup next issue's story, which will be, like this two-parter, an attempt to clear up a dangling plotline from Claremont's collaboration with Smith. In the end, this two-parter serves to cement Rogue's place on the team. Uncanny X-Men #172-173 integrated her into the X-Men; here, her place on the team is affirmed. Many readers might have wondered, as Kitty does in this issue, if Rogue's placement on the team was part of a long-term plan on the part of the Brotherhood. Rogue's confrontation with Mystique is intended to put an end to any such speculation (it also makes it clear that Rogue's decision to seek Xavier's help was not due to Mastermind's influence, something heavily implied by both issue #170 and the dearth of people who were influenced by him in the course of "From the Ashes"). While her relationship with her villainous mother will remain complicated and, at times, regain the book's focus, never again will Claremont entertain questions of her loyalty to the X-Men.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, the New Mutants finally return to the mansion in New Mutants #13, and next week, we find out whether Kitty is really dead in Uncanny X-Men #179.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

The relationship between Wolverine and Storm becomes a highlight of this era. I like that they're both seasoned veterans, each watching each other's back while training and managing the rookies. Wolverine genuinely respects her while Storm relies on his experiene. I wish that post-Claremont writers had picked up on the nature of their friendship.

Plus, they totally make out in that Alan Davis-drawn anual. HAWT!!!

- Mike Loughlin

Matt said...

PART ONE IN A 2-PART COMMENT

I really have no impressions of my own regarding this issue, since I haven't read it in so long, so I'll just comement on your review like I usually do:

"...Professor X is hit by a debilitating psionic wave; this will happen again in future issues ... as part of the run up to Secret Wars..."

It never really occurred to me before now that John Romita Jr. got to draw both Spider-Man and Professor X sensing the Beyonder's approach, as Spidey first detects in Amazing Spider-Man #250, cover dated a month after this issue (which also means Romita was apparently drawing Uncanny and Amazing at the same time for a couple of months. I had always thought he took over the former directly after leaving the latter. I never knew there was overlap (even though as I implied above, I was aware that Romita had drawn both characters reacting to the Beyonder -- I just never put two and two together).

"...it's not clear what Destiny is predicting here."

Obviously this is just Claremont being dramatic, but to satisfy myself I'm going to assume that Destiny was sensing Kitty's fate at the hands of the Marauders, thirty-some issues from now.

"Callisto notes that even if mutants were accepted..."

Callisto is one of those female characters who became "glamorized" over the years. Look at her here! And in the previous Paul Smith issues. She's hideous! Years later, she becomes a kinda hot chick who just happens to have some scars and an eyepatch. I guess we could chalk this up in-story to Masque around the 260's, but still.

"Kitty muses that perhaps she can repay Mr. Fantastic for stealing his device by babysitting his kid."

Which is something Claremont tried to actually do when he was writing Fantastic Four in the late 90's. But Kitty was deemed off-limits for some reason, as I recall. Probably for the best.

"Also, who took the picture?"

Again -- Mr. Sinister.

"Between issues, Kitty has managed to change from a dress to pants/some kind of jumpsuit."

Which again, thanks mainly to the coloring, looks like a prototype of her Shadowcat costume.

"The average citizens of the Marvel Universe are considerably savvy when it comes to sci fi devices."

To be fair, that guy looks a lot like Claremont/Byrne/Cockrum (they all tend to look alike to me when drawn into comics).

"A James Bond RPG has been advertised in this and the last several issues."

I was a big RPG player when I was a kid, and as a huge Bond aficionado, I would've totally tried this if it was around in the early 90's, at the height of my gaming. But I never saw it at the local gaming store, so it was probably out of print by then.

Matt said...

PART TWO IN A 2-PART COMMENT

"The Bullpen Bulletins page features a rundown of the current assistant editors..."

First -- it's kind of sad to me that Marvel didn't show Owsley's real face. I can only assume they felt the world wasn't ready for a black editor. I may be wrong, but why else conceal him?

"...it's interesting to see how many of them go on to become notable creators and/or editors in their own right."

Second -- not that anyone asked -- I see:

- Ann Nocenti, who went on to edit X-Men and had a popular/acclaimed run writing Daredevil with JR jr. on art.
- Jim Owsley (a.k.a. Christopher Priest), who went on to edit the Spider-Man line, and had a popular/accalimed run writing Black Panther.
- Mike Carlin, who went on to edit Fantastic Four and then the Superman line for years over at DC, where he was eventually made Executive Editor.
- Bob Harras, who went on to edit G.I. Joe and X-Men, had a decently-regarded run writing Avengers, became Marvel's Editor-in-Chief, and then recently became DC's Editor-in-Chief (to my knowledge, the only person ever to be EiC at both of the Big Two).

I really know nothing about Linda Grant and Bob Denatale, I know Eliot Brown mainly from his techincal illustrations in OHotMU, and I've seen Mike Higgins's name here and there over the years, but I don't know that he's especially well-known for anything.

Blam said...


"Hell Hath No Fury..."

Who exactly is the implied "woman scorned"? I can only suppose it's Mystique, but in the root and general usage of that phrase the one doing the scorning is not an adopted daughter, so it just strikes me as weird.

Dan Green inked the cover. I did a GCD search to see if it was his first work with John Romita Jr. or not. As it turns out, it's the pair's first collaboration on the X-Men but they'd worked together a handful of times before, starting in 1978 with the cover of Iron Man #114 and the interiors of #115.

That seems like an entirely inappropriate picture of your honeymoon to send to your father-like teacher

No kidding!

Also for I Love the '80s: Good money says that Rogue's skinny headphones at the top of Pg. 3 lead to a Walkman. (I'm kinda wiped, so let's just pretend that I came up with a really good "This Walkman... This Walkmonster!!!" joke here.) Plus: Didja see the ad for Pac-Man watches?!?

In an amusing bit, Kitty muses that perhaps she can repay Mr. Fantastic for stealing his device by babysitting his kid.

I like that. Frankly, I liked most of her internal monologue and her initiative. The phrase "Mary Sue" wasn't in common usage, at least that I know, when I was younger and at no point did I ever equate Kitty Pryde with not-much-later, mostly insufferable Wesley Crusher, but I take it from other comments here that eye-rolling at Kitty Pryde, Girl Genius became a thing in X-Men fandom. I will take it on faith that later stories cast the totality of her character in such a light; honestly, though, stuff like Kitty's part of the story in this issue strikes me as standard, even above-average superhero comics.

Kitty phases through and disables the Fantastic Four's robot receptionist Roberta.

Earlier, when Kitty's on the phone with Roberta before heading over to the Baxter Building, I so wanted Roberta to tell her, "Mr. Richards has just returned from being put on galactic trial by your headmaster's ladyfriend and is quite exhausted. Click."

A James Bond RPG has been advertised in this and the last several issues.

I will lay odds that "role playing" means something entirely different to James Bond.

The Bullpen Bulletins page features a rundown of the current assistant editors, and it's interesting to see how many of them go on to become notable creators and/or editors in their own right.

I had the same reaction. Even though I knew that, say, Mike Carlin had started out as Mark Gruenwald's assistant, I was surprised to see it all laid out like that, especially since many of those folks move up the ranks in short order.

Blam said...


@Matt: PART ONE IN A 2-PART COMMENT

It's been too long, Matt.

@Matt: Callisto is one of those female characters who became "glamorized" over the years. Look at her here!

Ha! I had the same reaction from the opposite direction, as it were. This is the only way I've ever known Callisto to look. I did a quick Web search to remind myself just what her powers were, however, and was floored to see that the pic that leads off her Wikipedia page depicts her as, like you say, a hot chick.

@Matt: Bob Harras, who went on to edit G.I. Joe and X-Men, had a decently-regarded run writing Avengers

?!?!?!?!?

Just to be clear, I'm not disputing that he edited G.I. Joe and X-Men.

SpaceSquid said...

So, here's a question. How come Mystique's holo-message involves her threatening Xavier's life, even though we know Rogue has shut her down on that score.

Did Mystique retreat to a safe distance before phoning in? Did Rogue let her send the message in retaliation for being benched (and without even being told a game was on, to boot). Or did Mystique just pre-program the message, figuring that her colleagues were bound to get their heads handed to them?

Matt said...

Blam -- "?!?!?!?!?"

Well I didn't say it was critically acclaimed or anything. I personally have never read Harras's Avengers stories, and I can't defend the "stubble and bomber jacket" look of that era -- but I have heard generally good things from people regarding a long storyline called the "Gatherers Saga", and it's been my understanding that the Black Knight was never more interesting than when Harras wrote him.

This is all based on hearsay as noted above, though I do intend to read Harras's Avengers someday.

Anonymous said...

@spacesquid

I've always liked that bit. When Mystique sends her holo-message to the X-Men, Rogue must be standing nearby. Clearly, she is complicit in Mystique's plan.

I always thought that was a nice piece of characterisation from Claremont. Rogue may be a X-Man now, but she still feels still enough loyalty to the Brotherhood to help them escape.

Teebore said...

@Mike: The relationship between Wolverine and Storm becomes a highlight of this era.

Agreed. It really comes to define the X-Men, right up through "Dissolution and Rebirth" in the 250s. It's a shame it was abandoned so thoroughly post-Claremont.

@Matt: I had always thought he took over the former directly after leaving the latter. I never knew there was overlap

Ditto. I've always assumed he went from one to the other. Maybe that speaks to our bias as modern readers, where we know it's simply IMPOSSIBLE for an artist to work on more than one title a month. ;)

Obviously this is just Claremont being dramatic, but to satisfy myself I'm going to assume that Destiny was sensing Kitty's fate at the hands of the Marauders, thirty-some issues from now.

Works for me.

I guess we could chalk this up in-story to Masque around the 260's, but still.

Yeah, that's definitely part of it, though Blam's link to her wikipedia page, featuring a contemporary drawing clearly meant to represent the character during her earliest appearances, makes no effort to depict her with her pre-Masque ugliness.

Which is something Claremont tried to actually do when he was writing Fantastic Four in the late 90's.

I did not know that (though I've read only snippets of his FF run).

Again -- Mr. Sinister.

Ha! Disguised as a helpful bellboy named Nathan, no doubt.

To be fair, that guy looks a lot like Claremont/Byrne/Cockrum

I wondered about that (it's the beard), though the Marvel Index doesn't list any creators, and they're usually pretty good about catching that kind of stuff.

I can only assume they felt the world wasn't ready for a black editor.

Aw man, I hope that's not the case (though it probably is). That would be really sad. Call me naive: I never even made the connection that Owsley specifically was the one depicted as Galactus; I just thought "cute, they portrayed Galactus as one of the editors".

Teebore said...

@Blam: I can only suppose it's Mystique, but in the root and general usage of that phrase the one doing the scorning is not an adopted daughter, so it just strikes me as weird.


Me too.

Good money says that Rogue's skinny headphones at the top of Pg. 3 lead to a Walkman.

Good catch! We've already crossed into the era where there's stuff like that I personally was familiar with, thus making it more difficult to catch some of the more subtle things like that (intellectually, I know Walkmans are a thing of the past, but at the same time, because I had one once, it doesn't stick out as a historical anachronism the way, say, an 8-track player would). But at the same time, I try to avoid pointing out every time someone uses one of those crazy phones with a cord attached to it, i.e. those "quieter" designators of the era. ;)

Plus: Didja see the ad for Pac-Man watches?!?

Clearly, I need to pay more attention, cuz I skipped right over that ad thinking it was just another one for the Pac Man video game.

honestly, though, stuff like Kitty's part of the story in this issue strikes me as standard, even above-average superhero comics.

Yeah, I don't think I'd classify her actions in this issue as a case of Mary Sue-ism. I mean, she IS a member of the team, and thus, can be expected to be capable and effective. Plus, she's focused on a relatively small goal (healing Colossus, though I'm sure it's a big goal for him) as opposed to saving the whole team or the world or something. And, in the end, she fails.

"Mr. Richards has just returned from being put on galactic trial by your headmaster's ladyfriend and is quite exhausted. Click."

Ha!

Now that you mention it, how is it that Lilandra was in a position to put Reed on trial in that story, considering she's en route to regain her throne? Even assuming she'd arrived in Shi'ar space by the time of that story, how did she have the clout to convene the tribunal (it's been awhile since I read the story, so maybe something in there addresses it)?

Teebore said...

@Blam: ?!?!?!?!?

@Matt: I have heard generally good things from people regarding a long storyline called the "Gatherers Saga", and it's been my understanding that the Black Knight was never more interesting than when Harras wrote him.

I can't speak to the general critical consensus of the run (I've encountered both the typical "if it's from the 90s, it's bad" style criticisms, which are the ones that like to mock the bomber jackets, as well as more favorable reviews from nostalgic fans like myself or younger critics who encountered it as a thing of the past), but I really like it (it's my favorite run on the book after Stern's).

I'll freely admit a lot of it comes from nostalgia, as, coming to the Avengers later than I did the X-Men, the Harras run was the first run of the title I bought off the shelves, and thus was kinda my introduction to the team. I agree with Matt's understanding that Black Knight was never better than under Harras (though Sterns work with him was pretty good too), and I will defend the bomber jacket look: a certain uniformity amongst the team made sense, and matching jackets provided that while still allowing characters to have individual looks (the stubble I can't defend; that was definitely a 90s thing).

Harras definitely a brought an X-Men sensibility to the book, complete with angst, but that never really bothered me; after all, I clearly like the X-Men a lot. The whole Sersi/Crystal/Black Knight love triangle, Hercules' relationship with Taylor Madison, and the whole Gatherers storyline, in which the Avengers come under attack from alternate reality versions of themselves (which were nicely understated)? Man, Teenage Teebore ate that stuff up.

Objectively, it's probably doesn't hold up as well as I remember, but the few times I've revisited it recently, it still read pretty well.

@SpaceSquid: Did Rogue let her send the message in retaliation for being benched (and without even being told a game was on, to boot).

@anonymous: Rogue may be a X-Man now, but she still feels still enough loyalty to the Brotherhood to help them escape.

I've always read it like anonymous did; that Rogue looked the other way while Mystique negotiated the release of her former team, especially since they were captured in an ill-advised attempt to "rescue" her.

Blam said...


@SpaceSquid: How come Mystique's holo-message involves her threatening Xavier's life, even though we know Rogue has shut her down on that score.

I found that odd too, but rationalized it pretty quickly as a bluff. Mystique had struck a deal with Rogue, but the X-Men didn't know that, so she could appear to concede — leaving and letting Xavier live — even though she'd already resolved to do so.

That much I could actually read into the story. Why Rogue either allowed Mystique to go ahead with the bluff or didn't stop her after being surprised by it is the only part that calls for real speculation to me. My No-Prize bid is that Rogue wasn't complicit in the bluff but that after Mystique sprung it on her she feared that venturing "on camera" would expose her as a mutant.

I don't know whether it was at Claremont's direction or wholly Romita's doing, but I appreciated that Xavier was seen at Mystique's feet in the hologram facing the opposite direction and so not easily identifiable.

@Matt: Well I didn't say it was critically acclaimed or anything.

And I have to admit that I didn't read much of it. That's largely because what I did read didn't lead to me wanting to read more, but there's a grain of truth in the fact that it was the style as much as the content — or, more to the point, how much of the style informed the content — that turned off a lot of long-time fans. Darn near everything about The Crossing was terrible, however.

@Teebore: I agree with Matt's understanding that Black Knight was never better than under Harras

Nostalgia excuses pretty much everything, as we've discussed before. So does (not quite the same thing) being a certain age, coming to a series or property's status quo that might be something of an outlier in the big picture but is How Things Are to you.

I'm curious to read the Gatherers storyline based on what you guys have said, actually — not anywhere near curious enough to clear my schedule for it, but curious enough that I kind-of wish I owned those issues to get to eventually as I methodically read through my collection. There's a fair amount of stuff from that era in longboxes of mine that I've actually never read. (Mark Waid lived not far from me once upon a time and dumped a bunch of his '90s comps on me during a move. It's all so continued and/or just so bad that it's not the kind of stuff you can give away at Halloween if you don't want it, especially since it's not current either.)

Maybe if you ever do examine (or assemble) the Avengers issue-by-issue, Teebore, I'll get to read the Harras stuff seriously, although we'll all be old(er) and gray(er) by then; I definitely want to get ahold of the Avengers CD-ROM to complement this X-Men one. Last year Amazon had a crazy sale on CD-ROMs of the complete Gold Key Star Trek as well as Archie, Jughead, and Betty and Veronica in the '70s that I couldn't pass up. For sanity's sake I don't think I'll be including them in my collection read-through, but they're nice to have for reference, posterity, indexing for the GCD, especially taking up so little space.

Teebore said...

@Blam: Darn near everything about The Crossing was terrible, however.

Here, I definitely agree with you and the general sentiment. Frankly, I had to go back and confirm that Harras was still writing the book during that storyline. For whatever reason, I recalled that he stepped down as writer after the end of the Gatherers story in issue #275.

Apparently, that's just when I stopped enjoying his run, because pretty much everything after #275 until "Heroes Return" is dreck.

So I guess I'm actually a big fan of Harras' run through issue #275. :)

(And Avengers is definitely on my short list of titles to give the X-aminations treatment to, if I can find a way to juggle all the X-books as well as other titles...)


wwk5d said...

"The relationship between Wolverine and Storm becomes a highlight of this era. I like that they're both seasoned veterans, each watching each other's back while training and managing the rookies. Wolverine genuinely respects her while Storm relies on his experiene. I wish that post-Claremont writers had picked up on the nature of their friendship."

What he said. The bond becomes even stronger post Mutant Massacre. And yes, it's another strong/interesting relationship that gets dropped once Claremont is gone.

""...it's not clear what Destiny is predicting here.""

Either she was fooled by Callisto and co.'s deception with the body make to look like Kitty, or she was bluffing.

""The average citizens of the Marvel Universe are considerably savvy when it comes to sci fi devices.""

And provide helpful exposition as well!

""Mr. Richards has just returned from being put on galactic trial by your headmaster's ladyfriend and is quite exhausted. Click.""

Please. This is a CC comic. The correct phrase is "...your headmaster's ladylove" ;)

"I've always read it like anonymous did; that Rogue looked the other way while Mystique negotiated the release of her former team, especially since they were captured in an ill-advised attempt to "rescue" her."

That explanation works for me as well.