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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #182

"Madness"
June 1984

In a Nutshell 
Rogue rescues Michael Rossi from the SHIELD helicarrier.

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

Plot
Rogue, having flown directly from Japan, arrives at the mansion in record time. She finds the place deserted, and checks Xavier's messages. When she hears one from Michael Rossi, aboard SHIELD's helicarrier, that is cutoff midsentence, she races off to rescue him, missing a message from Illyana explaining the New Mutants intent to rescue Kitty from the White Queen. Aboard the helicarrier, Rossi is roughly interrogated by two SHIELD agents, one of whom, Garwood, is actually a mole working for Sebastian Shaw. When he reports to Shaw that Rossi was discovered scanning SHIELD's computers for data on Shaw, Shaw orders Rossi killed. Meanwhile, Rogue storms the helicarrier, fighting her way to Rossi. She arrives just as Garwood has shot his partner, intending to kill Rossi himself and claim he died in an escape attempt. Rogue knocks out Garwood and escapes with the badly beaten Rossi.


Fleeing SHIELD, she takes him to a house in Cape Cod. It is a place that seems familiar to Rogue, though she's uncertain why. When Rossi awakens, Rogue is confused by the fact that he doesn't recognize her, and eventually they realize with horror that Rogue is behaving as though she were Carol Danvers, who was once Rossi's lover. A mortified Rogue tells Rossi about her attack on Carol, and how she absorbed her memories and emotions along with Carol's powers. Now, those memories and emotions are overriding Rogue's own due to exhaustion. As Rogue struggles to hang onto her self, Rossi admonishes her for the cruelty of her attack on Carol, even while Rogue continues to feel Carol's love for Rossi. Declaring that he wished he had the power to kill her for what she's done, Rogue sadly agrees with Rossi. Meanwhile, back at the SHIELD helicarrier, a recovered Garwood pins the death of his partner on Rogue, prompting Nick Fury to issue an order for Rogue's arrest.

Firsts and Other Notables
In this issue, Rogue manifests Carol Danver's (the former Ms. Marvel, currently Binary) stolen memories and personality for the first time, speaking with Carol's accent and diction, and behaving as though she is Carol. It's something that'll happen periodically in the years ahead, usually when Rogue is under stress or injured.

Colonel Rossi pops up again following a pair of appearances in New Mutants; we learn he's infiltrated SHIELD at Xavier's behest, and has discovered something about Shaw that confirms he and Xavier's "worst fears". This is presumably a reference to Shaw's involvement with the government's anti-mutant Project: Wideawake, though that's never made explicit, and Rossi disappears from the X-books after this issue, leaving this plot (as well as the one involving Shaw's mole inside SHIELD) more or less unresolved. 


As with the last issue of New Mutants, future X-Men editor Ann Nocenti shares duties with Louise Jones on this issue. 

The opening page declares this issue to be starring Rogue, and sure enough, she's the only member of the team to appear. This marks the beginning of an era in which Claremont will do this sort of thing more regularly, handing over an issue to showcase a specific character, in a way he hasn't really done before (at least in terms of frequency and focus).

Sales continue to climb; per the Statement of Ownership in this issue, the average number of copies of each issue sold per month in the previous year was 336,824 copies, with the single issue nearest to the filing date selling 359,219 copies, up from the previous year's per month average of nearly 314,000 and single issue nearest to filing date of slightly more than 327,000.
 
A Work in Progress
Rogue notes that she flew from Japan to New York in "record time", though it's never made clear exactly how quickly she made the trip.


We see that Maddy did call the X-Men after Scott disappeared for Secret Wars

We also learn that Sebastian Shaw has at least one mole within SHIELD.

In a scene setting up the next issue of New Mutants, the White Queen telepathically contacts Shaw and asks him to join her at the Massachusetts Academy to meet her new students.


It's established that Rogue is 18 years old in this issue, officially completing the de-aging from her earlier appearances, where she looked quite a bit older than that.

Rogue, speaking as Carol, mentions the time that Rossi and Wolverine rescued Carol from the KGB's Lubyanka prison against orders, shedding more light on the shared past between her and Wolverine. More details of her rescue from Lubyanka will be revealed in a future story as well. 


I Love the 80s
Professor Xavier's answering machine is a large high tech gizmo embedded in his desk. 


Claremontisms
In a nice bit of subtle writing, Claremont has Rogue's dialogue and thought patterns shift into and out of her Southern drawl as Carol's personality asserts itself several times before Rossi comments on it (thus pointing it out to the readers).


Claremont also refers to the past battle between Rogue and Ms. Marvel as one "with quarter neither asked nor given". 

Bullpen Bulletins
A note from Jim Shooter declares that Marvel will not be raising its prices because everyone is buying enough Marvel books. 

It's in the Mail
Storm answers the letters in this issue, most of which pertain to the unveiling of her new look in issue #173. The reaction then, as now, was decidedly mixed. 


Teebore's Take
Though we're several years removed from her first appearance and coming up on her one year (publishing time) anniversary with the X-Men, this issue is really the first one to spend any significant time examining Rogue. In the process, it sets up one of her most defining characteristics for years to come. Though she came to the X-Men for help in controlling her powers, this is the issue that makes it clear just what a toll those powers are, establishing that as a result of her attack on Ms. Marvel, she is forced to struggle with the thoughts, feelings and memories of an entirely different person inside her mind. The toll this takes on Rogue is clearly intended by Claremont to function as penance for Rogue's attack on Carol, as she took from Carol the very thing that is now tormenting her. It also serves as an effort by Claremont to further move Rogue away from her villainous past and integrate her more fully with her heroic teammates: Rogue was a villain and did bad things, but she is paying a price for those actions even while serving alongside the X-Men. For better and worse, that penance (along with her inability to physically touch anyone, which hasn't been spotlighted quite yet) will come to define her character for years.  

Next Issue 
In New Mutants #17, the New Mutants battle the Hellions for Kitty Pryde, and next week, Uncanny X-Men #183 has the X-Men back at the mansion, as the fallout from Secret Wars continues.

15 comments:

  1. I believe I noted this around the New Mutants issues in which he appeared, but I'll repeat it here: As I was not reading New Mutants back issues alongside my Classic X-Men back issues, Rossi's appearance here totally confused me. Last I knew, he had died at the hands of Stephen Lang, and here he was working for Professor X as if nothing ever happened. Why was there no footnote pointing us to his New Mutants appearances?!?

    "It's established that Rogue is 18 years old in this issue, officially completing the de-aging from her earlier appearances, where she looked quite a bit older than that."

    Though according to Claremont, she was always supposed to be younger, but she wasn't drawn that way. And I still don't think she looks 18 under Romita's pencil either. Rogue didn't truly look young to me until Silvestridrew her. Though it's Jim Lee who really made her look like she was in her early twenties.

    "Rogue, speaking as Carol, mentions the time that Rossi and Wolverine rescued Carol from the KGB's Lubyanka prison against orders, shedding more light on the shared past between her and Wolverine"

    Not to mention him and Wolverine! People make fun of the 90's for ret-conning and revealing far too many coincidences in Wolverine's past, but we often forget that Claremont started it, and was honsestly pretty shameless about it in his time.

    "In a nice bit of subtle writing, Claremont has Rogue's dialogue and thought patterns shift into and out of her Southern drawl as Carol's personality asserts itself several times before Rossi comments on it (thus pointing it out to the readers)."

    But does she frequently call everyone she meets "chum"? Something she only did when written by Claremont, by the way. Probably because everyone else realized how silly it sounds.

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  2. Also, I forgot to mention how odd I've always found it that there were, in a way, two Carol Danverses running around the Marvel Universe for a while. Starjammer Carol had the original body and all the memories, though without the emotions attached to those memories, while Carol-in-Rogue's head had all the memories and accompanying emotions. But somehow, in all the years they both existed, no one, to my knowledge, ever had them meet!!

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  3. @Matt: Why was there no footnote pointing us to his New Mutants appearances?!?

    That's a good question, especially since this issue included a largely superfluous footnote to New Mutants #17. It really does seem like the footnotes (at least when they used to be used) were fairly arbitrary, left to the whims of the editor.

    Rogue didn't truly look young to me until Silvestridrew her. Though it's Jim Lee who really made her look like she was in her early twenties.

    Agreed. Jim Lee is also when she really became the busty sexpot she was throughout most of the 90s (then again, Lee made most of the women, sans Jubilee, busty sexpots), though there was a certain sexiness to Silvestri's work as well.

    People make fun of the 90's for ret-conning and revealing far too many coincidences in Wolverine's past, but we often forget that Claremont started it, and was honsestly pretty shameless about it in his time.

    It might just be splitting hairs, but I don't think Claremont was too shameless about it. Or maybe it's just that he doesn't seem as shameless compared to what happens in the 90s (or, in other words, Claremont introducing an old friend of Wolverine's we've never met before in every solo story doesn't seem really egregious until the fifth or sixth friend).

    But I see this particular revelation as a fairly logical one: we know Carol and Wolverine have a history, we know Carol and Rossi have a history, so its not too outrageous to reveal that Wolverine and Rossi bumped into each other in the past, especially if it involved their shared connection.

    Something she only did when written by Claremont, by the way. Probably because everyone else realized how silly it sounds.

    "Chum" is one of those words I associate almost exclusively with comic books (granted, that could be in part because of Batman '66). I'm pretty sure I've never heard an actual person in real life use it sincerely. Similarly, the affectation of referring to a friend in dialogue as "my friend" is something I think only happens in comics - have you ever turned to your buddy and said "where should we get dinner tonight my friend? :)

    But somehow, in all the years they both existed, no one, to my knowledge, ever had them meet!!

    It is kind of surprising that Claremont, at least, who set this up and prevented it from happening by sending Binary into space, never worked out a way to bring Binary back to Earth to play with the idea.

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  4. Is this the first issue of a "team book" at the Big Two to publish a solo story, with no other members of the team appearing at all? I know this became common in Bendis's New Avengers, but is this the first instance?

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  5. @chasdom: Is this the first issue of a "team book" at the Big Two to publish a solo story, with no other members of the team appearing at all? I know this became common in Bendis's New Avengers, but is this the first instance?

    I suppose it depends on how stringently you want to define "solo story".X-Men @143, #144 and #162 featured solo adventures (for Kitty, Cyclops and Wolverine, respectively), though other X-Men appeared in some capacity in all of them (at the very beginning and end, in a subplot scene, and in an illusory flashback to the implantation of Brood eggs in the later), while the only regular character this issue deals with his Rogue.

    That said, even if we discount issues #143, 144 and 162, I'd find it hard to believe this was the first issue anywhere from the Big Two to feature a solo adventure in a team book. I haven't read it in a while, but doesn't the classic "This Man, This Monster!" from Fantastic Four #51 only feature Thing? Anyone out there know, or can think of a specific example of an issue earlier than this one that fits the criteria?

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  6. I like this cover, which makes a surprising thumbs-up for two JRJr. efforts a row. The orange shirt, pink circles, and orange/red background shouldn't work but they do. The layout is great and the line art itself is rendered very nicely.

    Of course, Rogue looks entirely different on the splash page — so much of what I hate about the Romita/Green style. Although I will say that except for a few bum faces the interior art is really good this issue, from the figures down to all the furniture at the mansion and the beach house (the stuff so many artists consider drudgework).

    How the heck did Rogue find the helicarrier? She's really putting that super-speed to good use. Neat trick with the Susan B. Anthony dollar coins, too — and there's some "I Love the '80s" for you!

    I'd completely blanked on this story, from Rogue going aboard the helicarrier to Carol Danvers' memories overwhelming her — which actually is very nicely done. We're definitely in that era of issues I only read once or at least haven't re-read since they were published.

    Rogue notes that she flew from Japan to New York in "record time", though it's never made clear exactly how quickly she made the trip.

    Given that she says she's 18 years old, as far as I'm concerned she flew fast enough to turn back time.

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  7. @Matt: Also, I forgot to mention how odd I've always found it that there were, in a way, two Carol Danverses running around the Marvel Universe for a while.

    The Vision did it first. He was imprinted with Simon Williams' memories, but then Simon came back to life. Not to mention that Ultron supposedly built Vision from the original, android Human Torch's body, and then he came back too.

    @Teebore: It really does seem like the footnotes (at least when they used to be used) were fairly arbitrary, left to the whims of the editor.

    While I can't argue with that, I disagree that the New Mutants #17 footnote was "largely superfluous". I think that it was both savvy from a marketing perspective and welcome from a pure reading perspective without being too intrusive.

    @Teebore: [D]oesn't the classic "This Man, This Monster!" from Fantastic Four #51 only feature Thing?

    Sorry, chum. 8^) I suspect that there are older issues than X-Men #182 that do this, though; then again, if we're talking spotlighting just one member and really, truly not having any others appear at all, no cameos even in flashback, I just don't know. One might jump out at me at the most random of times.

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  8. "When she hears one from Michael Rossi, aboard SHIELD's helicarrier, that is cutoff midsentence, she races off to rescue him, missing a message from Illyana explaining the New Mutants intent to rescue Kitty from the White Queen."

    How embarassing would it be if the message Rogue missed was Rossi calling back explaining he accidently dropped the phone?

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  9. @Blam: Neat trick with the Susan B. Anthony dollar coins, too — and there's some "I Love the '80s" for you!

    Yeah, I've always liked the idea of her using the Susan B. as a weapon. As Jason Powell pointed out, it's especially neat considering Ms. Marvel was Marvel's first overtly feminist character.

    And I definitely should have included that in "I Love the 80s"!

    I think that it was both savvy from a marketing perspective and welcome from a pure reading perspective without being too intrusive.

    "Largely superfluous" might be a bit harsh. Maybe "slightly superfluous"?

    You're right thought that it's definitely savvy marketing (which, you know, is probably what Marvel would have wanted all their footnotes to be). Sometimes I forget that it's not a given that everyone at the time was reading both books, largely because I read something like that now and think, "yeah yeah, we'll cover that tomorrow." :)

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  10. @Dr. Bitz: How embarassing would it be if the message Rogue missed was Rossi calling back explaining he accidently dropped the phone?

    The comic itself did a pretty good job of establishing that Rossi was cutoff forcibly/was in some kind of danger.

    My recap, not so much...

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  11. @Teebore: Don't let the truth get in the way of a good joke!

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  12. @Teebore: As Jason Powell pointed out, it's especially neat considering Ms. Marvel was Marvel's first overtly feminist character.

    Ooh... I appreciate the reminder to catch up on his posts again.

    @Teebore: You're right thought that it's definitely savvy marketing (which, you know, is probably what Marvel would have wanted all their footnotes to be). Sometimes I forget that it's not a given that everyone at the time was reading both books, largely because I read something like that now and think, "yeah yeah, we'll cover that tomorrow." :)

    I definitely find footnotes a dated thing, especially the more conversational "-- Rascally Roy" types, but when both I and the comics themselves were younger I just accepted if not enjoyed them as being part of the whole deal. At once they were a reminder of how disposable and not-too-serious the medium was yet how rich and interconnected the fictional universes therein could be. Plus the ones that pointed out that certain stories were taking place alongside, before, or after other stories were helpful for the continuity-minded.

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  13. I miss footnotes. I think they were overdone in the past, especially in the era of the writer-editors, but they served a valuable purpose in those pre-internet days for those of us who wanted to collect every appearance of a given character, or read key stories that were referenced later on.

    I also see their disappearance as another in a long list of signs that today's comic creators are somewhat embarassed about the history of their profession. You only see them now as deliberate attempts to be kitschy and silly.

    That said, there was a period around the late 90's/early 00's where Avengers switched briefly to using end-notes on the letters page. I thought that worked well too, though it left less room for letters. But if the choice was no references vs. references on the letters page, I would vote for the latter.

    Also, fun trivia: According to John Byrne, back around this time, the writer usually wrote the footnotes under the editor's name. Not sure when that changed, but I suspect that by the 90's, editors were probably providing them instead.

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  14. @Blam: Plus the ones that pointed out that certain stories were taking place alongside, before, or after other stories were helpful for the continuity-minded.

    I have never understood the argument that footnotes turn off new readers. I read SO MANY comics because they were referenced in a footnote when I first got into comics, and kept reading because of, as you say, the sense of a shared fictional universe they help foster.

    @Matt: That said, there was a period around the late 90's/early 00's where Avengers switched briefly to using end-notes on the letters page.

    Though you're right that it would cut into the letters, I also liked those end notes. Better than nothing, for sure.

    I remember Avengers Forever had a ton of annotations on the back cover of every issue, and I LOVED those. But then, I'm a total nerd that loves annotations and footnotes and the like in general.

    Also, fun trivia: According to John Byrne, back around this time, the writer usually wrote the footnotes under the editor's name.

    I did not know that, but it makes sense.

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  15. This is presumably a reference to Shaw's involvement with the government's anti-mutant Project: Wideawake, though that's never made explicit, and Rossi disappears from the X-books after this issue, leaving this plot (as well as the one involving Shaw's mole inside SHIELD) more or less unresolved.

    It's almost as if Claremont is introducing so many subplots that he's forgetting to resolve them! Oh well, at least this won't happen in the 90's when he leaves the X-Books. Right?

    It's established that Rogue is 18 years old in this issue, officially completing the de-aging from her earlier appearances, where she looked quite a bit older than that.

    Thank Celestia for this; the idea of a middle-aged Rogue just feels...wrong. Although this is coming from someone used to her being depicted as a teenager/young adult virtually all the time, so some bias is to be expected.

    @Matt:And I still don't think she looks 18 under Romita's pencil either.

    I agree, although I think that she definitely looks in her early 20's; maybe mid-20's at worst.

    People make fun of the 90's for ret-conning and revealing far too many coincidences in Wolverine's past...

    And with good reason. Whilst I'll definitely agree that two characters having an unforeseen history together can work really well, it's gotten to the point of ridiculousness with Wolverine (and still probably won't stop for a while). I'm still waiting for the issue in which it's revealed that he worked with Odin in enchanting Mjolnir for Thor.

    @Blam:Given that she says she's 18 years old, as far as I'm concerned she flew fast enough to turn back time.

    You win one internet for today, good sir.

    On the topic of footnotes, I too agree that they're sparsely used today, along with thought bubbles. What on Earth is wrong with either of them?

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