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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #181

"Tokyo Story"
May 1984

In a Nutshell 
Returning from Secret Wars, the X-Men defend Tokyo from a dragon attack. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: John Romita Jr.  & Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
In Japan, a group of school children witness the sudden arrival of a massive dragon, followed by the X-Men, transported to Earth following their encounter with the Beyonder. The dragon, a female whom Lockheed befriended on the Beyonder's Battleworld but arrived on Earth significantly larger, heads for Tokyo. Professor X and Storm send Rogue back to New York to check on Kitty and the New Mutants, then the rest of the X-Men follow the dragon into the city. As she approaches Tokyo, the Japanese military engage her, but are turned back. The X-Men arrive and, assisted by Sunfire, do their best to help save bystanders from the dragon's rampage.


Meanwhile, Cyclops, also returning from the confrontation with the Beyonder, appears in Tahiti, alongside a worried Madelyne. Back in Tokyo, Wolverine rescues a young girl from a collapsed building, promising her mother he'll raise her as his own. Lockheed finally confronts the dragon, making it clear he doesn't love her as she loves him. Heartbroken, she flies off before disappearing in a burst of energy. The X-Men continue to help the city recover, and that night, Lockheed returns. Though Professor X is unable to decipher his thoughts, Wolverine believes it's clear that the female dragon was destroying the city in order to gather material to build a nest for her and Lockheed. Meanwhile, in Washington DC, Senator Kelly works to generate support for his latest bill: the Mutant Affairs Control Act.

Firsts and Other Notables
Amiko, the young daughter of a dying Tokyo woman, makes her first appearance, with Wolverine vowing to raise her. Amiko will appear as Wolverine's foster daughter sporadically throughout Claremont's tenure in the X-universe, though he'll ultimately do little with her. After time as Mariko's ward, eventually Wolverine will name Yukio her legal guardian, and like Yukio, Amiko more or less becomes one of those characters who pops up whenever Wolverine winds up in Japan.


The X-Men are in Japan, so Sunfire makes his requisite appearance, his first in the book since the last time the team was in Japan, in issues #119-120.


Three of the five Japanese school children who appear throughout this issue will appear again in Uncanny X-Men #222.  

Though she does not appear in the issue (she's busy being held captive by White Queen over in New Mutants), Kitty is present on the cover.

A Work in Progress
Madelyne's conversation with Scott makes it clear the X-Men have been away on Battleworld for a week.

Not only has Lockheed's lady friend gotten bigger in transit from Battleworld, but Rogue's new costume as gone from green to orange. Her mission to check in on Kitty and the New Mutants will be the subject of next issue. 


Following up from Secret Wars, Xavier continues to take a leadership role in the field.

Wolverine notes the tension that is creating in Storm, and, musing that perhaps her recent changes are a result of her struggle with Cyclops for the job, worries what a fight with Xavier over it could do to her.


Momentarily trapped under some rubble and unable to move his legs, Professor X, fearing he's been paralyzed again, briefly panics, unintentionally psi-blasting the team.


I Love the 80s
Fittingly, considering Marvel published an in-continuity licensed Godzilla comic, Japan as depicted in this issue is, amusingly, clearly familiar with being attacked by monsters. The children at the beginning of the issue have a monster guide, featuring, amongst others, a variety of classic Japanese characters (and the Hulk).


Later, military officials insist that this is the off season for monster attacks.


They then confirm that all the monsters on Monster island are accounted for, and bemoan that the dragon is attacking Tokyo instead of LA.


Wolverine even notes that the military's had a lot of practice dealing with monster attacks.


Mariko finally appears wearing regular, modern clothing, as opposed to a kimono.


Scott returns to his honeymoon wearing his cutoff jean shorts, while an easy-on-the-eyes Maddy is wearing a swimsuit along with one of those off-the-shoulder tops.


Claremontisms
Colossus drops a "boszhe moy". 

Young Love
Cyclops is shown rejoining Madelyne following Secret Wars, during the longest honeymoon ever.


Mariko, watching the X-Men from afar, yearns to be by Wolverine's side. 


In a surprisingly touching scene, it's revealed that the female dragon was only attacking Tokyo in order to obtain material to build a nest for her and Lockheed, but Lockheed ultimately rejects her, prompting a great line from Wolverine that calls back to both his conversation with Colossus last issue and his own complications with Mariko.


The Best There is at What He Does
Wolverine notes that he can't seem to stay out of Japan, a tongue in cheek fourth wall breaking comment (and boy, if he thinks it's bad now...).


Human/Mutant Relations
The issue ends with Senator Kelly proposing the Mutant Affair Control Act, the piece of legislation which, in the "Days of Future Past" timeline, led to the imprisonment and near-extinction of mutants, and which the X-Men believed they averted by saving Kelly. Interestingly, "DoFP" stated the Mutant Affairs Control Act was passed in 1984; while even Claremont at the time didn't seem to be writing these issues as if they occurred in real time, and while the current idea of "Marvel Time" completely throws it out the window, it's worth noting that this issue was on sale in February of 1984, furthering the in-story implication that the dark future of "Days of Future Past" is destined to occur, even if some of the details (like Kelly surviving) have changed.


It's in the Mail
Wolverine takes his turn at answering the letters, this batch pertaining to issues #172-173. One of the letters questions, as I did, the assertion that Rogue is half alien; Wolverine explains that because Carol Danvers was half alien (a result of the accident which gave her super powers), Rogue absorbed that along with Carol's powers, memories, etc. 

Teebore's Take
This issue is a nostalgic favorite. Shortly after I first started reading X-Men, and comics in general, in the early 90s, this was the issue reprinted by the first issue of X-Men Classic that I picked up alongside contemporaneous issues of the series. As a result, it was my first introduction not only to the Claremont/Romita Jr. run that would quickly become a favorite, but the work of Claremont in general and a world of X-Men without Gambit and Bishop or big guns and pouches. It helped create the feeling, so instrumental in sucking me into the world of comics, that each issue was but one chapter in a narrative tapestry that not only continued to unfold each month, but stretched back years. There was a time when Professor X was walking and leading the X-Men, a time when Storm had a mohawk. These characters had a history, and not only did I want to pick up the new issues to find out what happened next, I wanted to go back and find out what happened then, how events and circumstances like those came about and then led into and informed the new stories coming out each month.

Nostalgia/fortuitous reprint scheduling aside, there isn't anything particularly special about this issue. It's almost a throwback to a Silver Age done-in-one, with the X-Men principally concerned with saving Tokyo from the attack of a giant dragon which begins and ends in the course of the issue. Claremont does connect it to the then-forthcoming fallout from the conclusion of Secret Wars, as well as remind readers of the contemporaneous story running in New Mutants while setting up the next issue. The end result is a fun if slight story that, thanks to the timing of X-Men Classic's reprint schedule, happened to capture the imagination of this young reader at just the right time.   

Next Issue
Tomorrow, we meet the Hellions in New Mutants #16, while Rogue gets the spotlight next week in Uncanny X-Men #182.

17 comments:

Matt said...

Hmm, I totally forgot that Sunfire was in this issue. Though as you noted, it's required to happen when the X-Men travel to Japan.

I've said before that I don't think Romita ever quite had a handle on Wolverine's mask. For examples among your scans, see the panel where Wolverine is thinking about the changes in Storm and the panel where Wolverine explains the Japanese military's experience with monsters. It just looks too fat somehow. I think it's that he has the "wings" starting way down at the bottom of the chin, instead of just below the ears as Byrne, Cockrum, and Smith did it. Alan Davis draws it in much the same way as Romita.

"Following up from Secret Wars, Xavier continues to take a leadership role in the field."

I guess it could just be because Rogue is new, but it seems weird that anyone is second-guessing Xavier here by looking to Storm for approval. Isn't that like asking the first officer if it's okay to do what the captain just told you to do? In the field or not, Professor X is the final authority for the X-Men.

"Wolverine notes the tension that is creating in Storm..."

I absolutely love the line about Storm "tryin' to be better'n Cycke at the job he did better than anyone". That pretty much sums up Cyclops for me; not to mention Wolverine's respect for him.

"The children at the beginning of the issue have a monster guide..."

A very, very funny bit. Which, with all apologies to Claremont, makes me wonder if it was Romita's idea. Either way, I love that Claremont carries on the running gag throughout the issue.

"Cyclops is shown rejoining Madelyne following Secret Wars, during the longest honeymoon ever."

Weird that most of the X-Men appeared in Japan, while Cyclops went right back where he came from. I know the end of Secret Wars makes it clear that the other dragon flying into the teleportation field disrupts things, but you would think that would either A.) send the entire group to some random location, or B.) scatter everyone to separate locations. It's painfully clear that Claremont just wanted to get Cyclops back to the sidelines by returning him to the exact spot he had left, while the rest of the group went off on an adventure. He's not even wearing the costume he left in, while the rest of the group is wearing theirs!

Matt said...

Though to my own last point, I guess Claremont didn't know how the end of Secret Wars was going to play out. If he had known the entire group of X-Men was going to teleport away together, he might have included Cyclops, in costume, among them here.

Teebore said...

@Matt: I've said before that I don't think Romita ever quite had a handle on Wolverine's mask.

Probably because this issue/run was my first exposure to this version of Wolverine (he was back in the original blue-and-yellow in the contemporary issues I was reading), that's never really bothered me. I rather like the fatter mask with the shorter "wings" that Romita does.

Isn't that like asking the first officer if it's okay to do what the captain just told you to do? In the field or not, Professor X is the final authority for the X-Men.

You could make the argument that it's more like asking the captain of the ship if it's okay do what the fleet admiral who just came aboard and is usually stuck behind a desk back at headquarters said to do.

And while I have no idea how often that would happen in the real navy, it sure seemed to happen on Star Trek every time an admiral came aboard and started bossing people around.

Otherwise, yeah, chalk it up to Rogue's relative rookie status.

That pretty much sums up Cyclops for me; not to mention Wolverine's respect for him.

Yeah, I love that line too. I should have highlighted it more.

I guess Claremont didn't know how the end of Secret Wars was going to play out.

That's what I've always chalked it up to as well.

Blam said...


Here's a rare JRJr. cover that I like, in composition and execution, at least without looking too closely at the figures on the logo. On the one hand, I find Lockheed breathing fire into the big dragon's eye stupid; on the other hand, when I just glanced at the cover again I saw the flame blast as a spark in the big dragon's eye, creating an interesting cause-&-effect tension both in terms of the actual visual of the flame blast and as a metaphor for the attraction/repulsion going on between the pair in the story (not that I'm at all convinced this effect was intentional). The lines and crosshatching are nicely done.

Why is Kitty up there? It's funny that this is how they debut Colossus' new costume, too — which I'd totally forgot about and don't hate the way I did the red-flap-across-the-chest one that follows.

The GCD notes that Dan Green confirmed in 2006 that he did finishes over Romita's breakdowns.

I love the kids with the monster book, even though it's a little weird that TV creatures (well, actually a TV spaceship and TV/manga robot boy) are mixed in with real-in-the-Marvel-U figures like Godzilla, Red Ronin, and the Hulk.

So Mariko and Shiro/Sunfire just happen to be getting a VIP tour of "the war room of the National Command Center, Japanese Combined Self-Defense Forces" right when the X-Men and the dragon appear over Tokyo, because comics.

Blam said...


Madelyne's conversation with Scott makes it clear the X-Men have been away on Battleworld for a week.

So does Xavier's mind-read of the kids in the opening pages. Not to nitpick; I just figure, y'know, for the eventual book... 8^)

Mariko finally appears wearing regular, modern clothing, as opposed to a kimono.

I think she went to the Stereotype Dry-Clean Service and accidentally got a blaxploitation pimp suit instead of her usual stuff.

Nice one with "Welcome to the '80s Mariko" though... Speaking of which, Have you seen this yet? [plug plug]

Scott returns to his honeymoon wearing his cutoff jean shorts

And a sleeveless half-tee!

Mariko, watching the X-Men from afar, yearns to be by Wolverine's side

... still displaying the Heath Ledger Joker scars that are one of my least favorite JRJr. trademarks ever.

I appreciate your closing thoughts on what this issue meant to your development as an X-Men fan and comics reader — even if it makes me feel old thinking of the story appearing in an X-Men Classic. For me, on this re-read, the issue is not just a straightforward done-in-one as you said but — almost contrary to how you're downplaying it — as good a representative (or, to harsh the era at large from which it's plucked, nonrepresentative) issue from the JRJr. run as I can remember. Honestly, slight though it may be, I think it's some fairly, well, classic X-Men.

Blam said...


@Matt: Isn't that like asking the first officer if it's okay to do what the captain just told you to do?

Yeah. I might argue with the "in the field or not" part when it comes to actual on-the-fly battle strategy, but in terms of logistics having Rogue fly to Westchester is no different than deciding which threats to investigate or which new mutants to track.

Teebore said...

@Blam: ...at least without looking too closely at the figures on the logo.

I too like this cover but don't like the figures - Kitty especially once more suffers from being generic.

It's funny that this is how they debut Colossus' new costume, too — which I'd totally forgot about and don't hate the way I did the red-flap-across-the-chest one that follows.

I actually did a double take in the issue to make sure he wasn't wearing a new one that somehow magically appeared during the transit from Battleworld.

As for the costume itself, I'm not a big fan of either this one or the more military red flap one. This one is okay when he's armored up, but looks a little too "himbo" for my taste, especially when he's flesh and blood.

@Blam: So does Xavier's mind-read of the kids in the opening pages.

What's funny is that I put "one week" in my notes while reading the issue, then when I was going through and writing up the post, I couldn't remember where that was stated. I just happened to have the issue open to the Scott/Maddy page, saw her comment about it having been a week, and thought, "well, that's where it was established." :)

Speaking of which, Have you seen this yet?

I had not! I'm actually ashamed to admit the realization that 2013 is the DoFP year came to me far, far later than I would have liked, well after others had pointed it out.

Though your link reminded me I hadn't been to your blog lately (I'm woefully behind on all my blog reading), so I appreciate the reminder!

Incidentally, how do you find Tumblr? I've considered starting one, probably something comic book and image related (since that seems to be Tumblr's deal) but I'm not entirely sure I "get" Tumblr. And I find the lack of an ability to comment.

And a sleeveless half-tee!

For another random aside, last night I caught a bit of an old King of the Hill episode in which, amongst other things, during a hot summer Boomhauer realizes the definition of "cool" has passed him by and he's no longer into the cool things.

Throughout his journey, he's wearing cutoff jean shorts and a sleeveless half tee, making him more or less Scott's glasses-less doppelganger.

as good a representative (or, to harsh the era at large from which it's plucked, nonrepresentative) issue from the JRJr. run as I can remember.

In an earlier draft of my comments, I actually had a few lines to that effect, that this issue is a good representation of the Claremont/JRjr run, even beyond its personal impact on me.

I ultimately cut that line of thinking entirely simply so as not to detract from my main point and because such an observation probably deserved more space than I was affording it, but rest assured, I agree with your sentiment entirely.

Matt said...

I don't like this costume for Colossus either, and it seems evident that Romita himself must not have been satisfied with it because he changes it to the red "Star Trek TOS movie uniform" (which is what it's always reminded me of, anyway) look pretty quickly.

I don't mind the STTOSMU costume all that much, though it just doesn't seem to fit Colossus. It might be okay on another character.

Regardless, Romita must have eventually decided neither of his designs could improve on Cockrum's original, since he puts Colossus back in it just in time for the "Mutant Massacre".

As far as Colossus costumes go (not that anyone asked), his original Cockrum look is by far my favorite, followed by the Jim Lee costume, since it's just Cockrum with some tweaks -- though sadly without the magically appearing/disappearing blue pants. My third favorite is the Marc Silvestri look, where he's just wearing trunks, a belt, and boots. Everything else ranks far below those three.

Teebore said...

@Matt: I don't mind the STTOSMU costume all that much, though it just doesn't seem to fit Colossus. It might be okay on another character.

Yeah, my problem with it is more how it looks on Colossus than how it looks, period. I actually really like the STTOSMU costumes (which, thanks for the heads up of what it reminds me of; I could never quite make that connection).

Everything else ranks far below those three.

Same for me as well. I might put the tweaked Jim Lee one first, just because I remember it so fondly from the art on the old X-Men Arcade game, but as you say, it pretty much is just the Cockrum one with some adjustments.

And I like the Silvestri era one simply because it was during the time where he couldn't switch back to human form (easily or regularly), so it made sense to give him a minimalist costume that highlighted his armor. If he was going back and forth a lot it probably would have bugged me for how exposed it left him in human form.

Blam said...


@Teebore: As for the costume itself, I'm not a big fan of either this one or the more military red flap one. This one is okay when he's armored up, but looks a little too "himbo" for my taste, especially when he's flesh and blood.

Yeah, I agree on that score. Sure, Peter's Russian, but he can't be that used to the cold. I think that on guys especially, double-standard though it may be, any costume with bare arms or legs looks especially BDSM-sketchy if there's a collar/turtleneck involved.

I never liked that the blue leggings on the original Colossus costume just disappeared — not that I minded their absence when he was armored up, just that it didn't compute. Why didn't he have sleeves, too, then, and with the later costumes why didn't they cover his arms and legs when he was powered down?

@Teebore: Incidentally, how do you find Tumblr?

You type in www.tumbl—

For me Tumblr is a mostly mercenary adjunct to my main blog. I had a growing number of those "Pictogags" and wasn't on Facebook yet and knew that Tumblr was all (or largely) about sharing memes of that sort, animated GIFs and LOLZitude. So it was a good place for a gallery of that stuff of mine in terms of sharing it with a new audience or just having a dedicated place to direct people if I want to drum up some work in that direction. I've made a conscious decision to keep it pure to my creations and not use it to reblog things I like from around the Tumblrverse even though that's exactly what I hope people will do with what I posted.

I picked a template that shows graphics bigger than I have 'em on Blogger, although I tweaked it considerably within my limited HTML knowledge; I do need to contact the guy who created the template, though, because I want to make some more adjustments — labels don't show up, although they exist, and the year doesn't appear in the date header. Having scrolled through many a template, I believe that commenting is possible with some templates. I'm really not sure what the value is in not having it be at least an option in every template.

One of the first Tumblr blogs I saw, a couple of years back, was actually mostly text, and it seemed weird — a reaction that I find I still have to text-heavy Tumblr blogs (at least those that haven't been customized to within an inch of their lives). Comicologist, which I really need to open up to the public in beta soon given all the content that's going past its relevancy date, has daily covers but I'm leaning away from mirroring that content on Tumblr not only because I don't want to split focus but because I'm leery of running copyrighted content without contextual analysis in a venue that, as I said, is structured around sharing content, even though covers are generally considered promotional and there's certainly no shortage of that kind of thing throughout the Internet.

Blam said...


Possibly new since you visited: This one. (Also here if you want to comment.)

Mike Bunn said...

I only recently discovered this blog and I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying the nostalgia of it all. This issue was my first look at The X-Men. I was in sixth grade and saw the book at our school's book fair. I was hooked. I became a rabid fan, seeking out all the back issues I could find. I picked up Giant-Size #1 about four or five years later while on a family vacation for 60 bucks. My second best X-Men moment. The Claremont/JRJR run will always hold a special place in my heart. I read the issues today with the same love I had so long ago. Thank you so much for your work here. You have my attention!

Teebore said...

@Mike: Thank you so much for your work here. You have my attention!

Thank you, for the kind words and for sharing your "first time" story. It's especially good to know I'm not the only one with a fondness and appreciation for the Claremont/Romita Jr. run!

Teebore said...

@Blam: That, my friends, is a really bad cover top to bottom

No arguments here. It is pretty awful.

Are we honestly supposed to believe Ororo's thought bubble that she's only trying to save Forge so that she can "have [her] vengeance"?

Apparently. It's a good point though. You do have to wonder just how bloodthirsty we're meant to assume that vengeance to be, and/or what Claremont intended for it to be.

I'd never known any of that stuff about the Adversary, probably because I've never read "Fall of the Mutants"

Eh, it's never really made all that explicit, even in that story. I mean, it becomes clear that the Adversary possessed Naze, and there might be a foonote back to this issue or the next, but Claremont never really draws a strong line between this story and "Fall of the Mutants", even in the letters page.

You have to give points to Claremont for taking a line-wide continuity bit and using it to help put Ororo in situations ... that drive home to both her and us her new lack of connection to and protection from the elements.

And I have to give points to you for pointing that out, cuz I totally missed it.

This probably should feel like a bit of a shoehorned-in cheat, but doesn't to me, maybe just because it makes sense

Yeah, while I agree with Matt that the idea of superheroes, in general, using guns just seems off, the fact that Wolverine would have taught Storm for all the reasons he mentions in that panel, doesn't seem shoe-horned in at all.

My assumption was that Naze was the "Dire Wraith" that Ororo locked out in the cold.

That Wraith is returned to next issue, I believe.

Which is why I don't get him having a "sanctum sanctorum" that is "the seat and nexus of his might" in his tower.

Claremont seems to realize this too; If memory serves Forge makes an offhand comment about it in the next issue.

Order a $1,320 diamond ring for your lady from a comic book. What could possibly go wrong?

I wonder what's more preposterous: stuff like the sea monkeys or hypno coins from the Silver Age, or that?

wwk5d said...

Ummm...what are u guys talking about, with regards to the Storm and Forge stuff?

Teebore said...

@wwk5d: Ummm...what are u guys talking about, with regards to the Storm and Forge stuff?

Huh. Apparently I replied to Blam's comments on issue #187 in this post. And apparently, I never noticed. Until now.

So that's that. The Storm/Forge conversation belongs in the comments to the post on issue #187 (I've just added them there).

Harry Sewalski said...

Although I don't hate Romita Jr. as much as I did a few years back - nowadays I'm fairly indifferent to him - he only ever seems to be able to draw a few expressions on people. Some of those pictures of Mariko are simply awful.

On Colossus' costumes, as far as I'm concerned, Cockrum's is the definitive version. I've yet to find a costume for Colossus which can top it. Oh, and I think I read somewhere that the magically disappearing blue pants was due to handwavi- I mean, unstable molecules.