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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #183

"He'll Never Make Me Cry"
July 1984

In a Nutshell 
Colossus and Kitty break-up, after which he gets into a bar fight with Juggernaut. 

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

Plot
On a hill top overlooking the lake, Colossus tells Kitty that while he and the X-Men were away on the Beyonder's planet, he fell in love with an alien woman. He admits that while he still cares for Kitty, he no longer feels the love and commitment for her he once did, ending their relationship. Kitty puts up a brave front until she returns to the mansion, where she bursts into tears, and is comforted by Illyana. Meanwhile, Storm watches as Rogue puts herself through a grueling Danger Room exercise and offers to help her deal with her emotional situation, but is rebuked. That evening, Wolverine takes Colossus into the city, accompanied by Nightcrawler, while Kitty tells Storm she'll be leaving the school for awhile to visit her dad and clear her head. In Dallas, Val Cooper and Raven Darkholme discuss Senator Kelly's Mutant Affairs bill on their way to visit Forge, a colleague of Raven's. At a bar in Manhattan, Wolverine talks to Colossus about his break up with Kitty, insisting that Colossus really ended things because he was scared of how serious their relationship was becoming.


Suddenly, Wolverine senses Juggernaut in the bar, hitting on a woman, and tries to get the X-Men to leave surreptitiously. But an angry and inebriated Colossus accidentally spills his drink on Juggernaut. As a fight breaks out, Wolverine holds Nightcrawler back, telling him they'll join in if Colossus gets in trouble, but for now, he wants him to take some lumps. Destroying the bar in the course of their fight, Juggernaut eventually overcomes Colossus, then pays for the damage and leaves in peace. Colossus admonishes Wolverine for not helping him, saying the X-Men are meant to stand by each other. Wolverine reminds him that Kitty did just that, willingly agreeing to live with the Morlocks in exchange for Colossus' life, yet Colossus never even said thank you. As the X-Men depart, they are watched from a nearby rooftop by the woman Juggernaut was trying to pick up, who turns out to be the ancient sorceress, Selene. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Colossus and Kitty break up this issue, with Colossus telling Kitty about falling in love with the healer Zsaji during the events of Secret Wars. I've seen it said in several places (though I've been unable to source it) that Claremont asked Jim Shooter to include the Colossus/Zsaji romance in Secret Wars as a means to break up the pair.

As a result of the break-up, Kitty takes a leave of absence from the X-Men following this issue, to visit her dad in Chicago. This leads into the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine limited series, and with this issue, Claremont effectively writes the pair out of the book to be featured in that series (in a stunning bit of continuity you'd never see these days, neither will appear in X-Men again until issue #192, following the completion of the miniseries). As a result, this marks the final appearance in the book of the more innocent Kitty who is constantly changing costumes and code names; following the events of this issue and Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, she'll return more mature, with the code name Shadowcat, which will stick with her more or less permanently.


(Technically, the X-Men make an appearance in Marvel Graphic Novel #12, aka Dazzler: The Movie, between this issue and the next. We may or may not cover it (I haven't decided yet), but if we do, we'll look at it in a few weeks, closer to the issues on the stands when it went on sale, even though, chronologically, it fits after this issue).

Juggernaut makes his first appearance in the book since a cameo in issue #122, and one of his best, depicting him as both an unstoppable force and three dimensional character. His last appearance preceding this issue, referenced via footnote, was in the classic Amazing Spider-Man #229-230, in which Spider-Man goes one-on-one with the Juggernaut, ultimately trapping him in concrete.


Forge, who will make his first appearance next issue, is mentioned in passing.


Mystique, in her secret identity of Raven Darkholme, deputy director of DARPA, is shown to be friends with Val Cooper.

Selene returns, following her apparent defeat in New Mutants #11, having survived (as Roberto suspected) and fled Nova Roma for New York. It's worth noting that, as Selene mentions she had hoped to consume Juggernaut's life energy, by spilling his beer and provoking Juggernaut into a bar fight, Colossus may have saved his life.


Ann Nocenti takes over for Louise Jones as editor of the book with this issue. Louise left the book to become a full time freelance writer (under her married name of Louise Simonson, reportedly so that if her work sucked, she could go back to working as Louise Jones). Her first series, Power Pack, launches around this time, but she will remain involved in the X-Men universe, eventually taking over for Claremont on New Mutants as well as the next X-Men spinoff, X-Factor.

Nocenti is considered to guide Claremont with a less firm hand than Jones, leading to a greater number of dropped and unfinished characters and plotlines during her tenure, making this era particularly frustrating for some fans, while there are other fans who credit her for spearheading one of Claremont's most creatively fertile (if nontraditional) runs on the book.

A Work in Progress
Sometime following her return from the Massachusetts Academy and the beginning of this issue, Kitty appears to have gotten a haircut.

Rogue makes a point of the fact that she's incapable of physically touching anyone without harming them.


Storm notes that she wishes Xavier were on hand, saying he's away with the New Mutants, though we'll see in New Mutants #18 that the New Mutants are at the mansion sans Xavier, meaning whatever trip he's on with the New Mutants during the events of this issue has gone unchronicled.

Upon detecting Juggernaut, Wolverine notes that he doesn't sense Black Tom.

In a neat bit that always made me feel better about the collateral damage caused by superhero/villain fights, we learn that insurance in the Marvel Universe covers such events.


Wolverine, however, eager to see Colossus take some lumps from Juggernaut for hurting Kitty (and himself), tells Nightcrawler he'll pay for any damage.

In the end, though, Juggernaut, who mentioned the bar was one of his favorite's, gives Wolverine a roll of cash for the owner to cover the damages.


I Love the 80s
At the bar, Colossus is carded by the bartender; he says that he's nearly 20, which Wolverine describes as being legal (which, of course, wouldn't be true today). It's also not clear why the term "carded" gets quotation marks, unless that's one of those terms we use today that was still considered slang in 1984.


Artistic Achievements
There's a great series of panels as Kitty embraces Storm and confesses her feelings, with each subsequent panel getting smaller, creating the sensation that we're "zooming out" on the scene, such that when Kitty utters her final "I love him" it creates the impression of it being a sorrowful, whispered admission even though the lettering itself is the same size as the other dialogue.


Later, there's another great bit that visually depicts Wolverine using his sense of smell to zero in on a specific person, with everyone appearing hazy and unclear except for the person emitting the scent he's after.


Young Love
In a fantastic use of thought bubbles, the early pages feature a sequence in which Kitty's dialogue to Colossus is paired with a thought bubble depicting how she's really reacting to his words.


Human/Mutant Relations
Mystique, as Raven, tells Val that this is the year for mutant paranoia, perhaps another nod to the fact that the series has reached 1984, the year which kicked off the events of the "Days of Future Past" story (and also, as Val's mentions, a reference to George Orwell's 1984).


For Sale
Bill Seinkiewicz's arrival to New Mutants is featured in a house ad.


Bullpen Bulletins
The first trade collection of "The Dark Phoenix Saga", one of Marvel's first trade paperback collections of a specific story, is solicited.

Louise Jones on leaving X-Men to freelance
"While I was on staff, Shooter had been after all of us editors to do freelance work. In the beginning, I was editing lots and lots of books, and I really didn't have the time [to] do a proper job of freelancing. Besides, I didn't want to take work away from writers who depended on the freelance for their livelihood; who had families to support and so forth. If I had a fault as a neditor, it was maybe that I was too aware that the artists and writers who worked with me were human beings. Anyway, Shooter hired a bunch of new editors ... and I went from doing maybe eleven books a month to five and I was bored. So I thought, 'Now I do have time to freelance, and if I create something new, I won't be stealing work from other writers.' I told Shooter I had this idea for this story about four little kids who became supheroes, called Power Pack, and he rolled his eyes and told me to write up as an outline and we'd maybe get a miniseries out of it...So I wrote Power Pack, and you know, this writing thing is fun. It's actually a lot more fun than editing...Anyway, once I was doing the equivalent of two books a month I quit editing and just went freelance."

DeFalco, Tom. Comic Creators on X-Men. London: Titan Books, 2006. pp140-143

Chris Claremont on why Louise Jones was his favorite editor
“Because she’s smart enough to leave me alone, and to trust that Dave and I – or John and I – know what we’re doing. And smart enough to know that if there is something that bothers her, she should ask about it. When she asks about it the questions she asks are invariably intelligent and the comments she makes are invariably accurate and to the point. The relationship between myself and herself as the editor is one of the collaboration and trust whereas all too often in the past, relationships with editors have been characterized by mistrust and an adversary nature. She cares about the book.”  

Sanderson, Peter. The X-Men Companion II. Stamford: Fantagraphics Books, 1982. p31

Teebore's Take
This is one of my favorite issues. Though it lacks the personal nostalgia of issue #181, in many ways it is a quintessential Claremont/Romita Jr. issue. The focus is on character interaction, while the super hero action, featuring one of the classic X-Men villains who dates all the way back to the book's early issues, is largely incidental, featuring no costumes or evil plots to foil. That action is self-contained, though the issue itself is connected firmly to the preceding and following issues, following on from Kitty's story in issue #179 and the fallout of Secret Wars, continuing the subplot involving the escalation of anti-mutant activity within the government and setting up Forge's introduction while re-introducing Selene for the events of next issue.  

It's also an achingly poignant depiction of the end of a teenaged romance. Colossus does what he thinks is best, but fails to see just how much he's hurting Kitty and the real reason he's ending their relationship, while Kitty is determined to keep the depths of her pain from him even while she's being destroyed inside. Both Claremont and Romita (with some tremendously effective coloring from Wein) are in top form in depicting Kitty's emotional state. Her subsequent reactions to the breakup, silently breaking down into tears, comparing the end of her relationship to her parent's divorce, wondering if she'll ever love again, and admitting that despite the pain she still loves Colossus, are all very melodramatic (she is, after all, only fourteen, their relationship at most only a few months old and still largely chaste), but they're also blisteringly honest and real in the way they create the sensation of many break ups, the sensation that, to Kitty, the world is crumbling around her, and she suddenly finds herself in a familiar yetcompletely different place.  

Next Issue
Tomorrow, we welcome aboard new artist Bill Seinkiewicz as "The Demon Bear Saga" kicks off in New Mutants #17, and then Uncanny X-Men #184 introduces the world (for better and worse) to Forge.

19 comments:

  1. PART ONE IN A 2-PART COMMENT

    Okay, this is a Claremont-Romita issue that I like quite a bit. I've probably read this issue alone more than the rest of their run. I agree with you on the depiction of Kitty's first break-up. Say what you will about Claremont not always writing believable teenage dialogue, but his ability to write believable teenage emotions was usually outstanding.

    As I've mentioned numerous times, I didn't read New Mutants contemporaneously with Classic X-Men. As a result, I think I thought this was Selene's first appearance for a while. There certainly wasn't anything here that indicated she had ever appeared before (unless I missed a footnote somehow). I think I realized she had appeared prior to this issue when I read the Magma/Rachel team-up issue.

    "(in a stunning bit of continuity you'd never see these days, neither will appear in X-Men again until issue #192, following the completion of the miniseries)"

    This is insane to even consider nowadays. And it's especially crazy because Kitty Pryde & Wolverine was six issues long, but it sounds like they're absent from the main series for nine issues! That sounds to me like there was no Wolverine being published at all for about three months! Unthinkable. Even in the 90's when he was written out of the main titles after "Fatal Attractions", he still appeared every month in his own series.

    "Juggernaut makes his first appearance in the book since a cameo in issue #122..."

    His description of the Spider-Man appearance is indeed, as the footnote says, biased. He was not in New York for a visit. He and Black Tom were there to kidnap Madame Web. Also, at the end of the story, Black Tom was very concerned that Juggernaut might be dead. Too bad we never saw their reunion. For that matter, does anyone know when they next appear together? I know that the next few times Juggernaut pops up in X-Men, he's solo. Do they not team up again until the early X-Force issues?

    "Nocenti is considered to guide Claremont with a less firm hand than Jones..."

    As noted before, I think Ann Nocenti is my least favorite Claremont editor, for precisely the reasons you mention: dropped plots and nontraditional stories. There is definitely some good stuff to come out of their time together, such as this issue, the Kulan Gath 2-parter, and the "Mutant Massacre". I even like "Fall of the Mutants", though as I've said before, I don't really like it as an X-Men story.

    My feelings on the later Claremont/Nocenti collaboration are that I don't necessarily like what they're doing to the X-Men, but I enjoy how they're doing it. Everything from "Mutant Massacre" to "Fall of the Mutants" is basically one long epic story, and it's very well crafted and fun to read even if it does feature mohawk Storm and Longshot and no sign of Cyclops.

    But I guess we'll get to all that in due time.

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  2. PART TWO IN A 2-PART COMMENT

    "In the end, though, Juggernaut, who mentioned the bar was one of his favorite's, gives Wolverine a roll of cash for the owner to cover the damages."

    We've seen earlier under Claremont that Juggernaut might not be as unrepentant as we originally thought, when he dove into the sea to save his only friend from certain death. This gesture continues that evolution, as we see that Juggernaut feels some responsibility for damage he causes. He will continue to be softened under Claremont and other writers in the 90's, which I guess is what led to Chuck Austen reforming him many years later (let's all just ignore that Liefeld X-Force issue where he gleefully demolishes the WOrld Trade Center).

    By the way, how was Wolverine going to pay for the damages? Does he have a nest egg we don't know about? This suddenly makes me wonder how the X-Men make money. None of them have real jobs. It seems odd to me that their headmaster might pay them a stipend, but I guess it's possible. There's a line in the Byrne era where Cyclops notes that getting the mansion back together cost him almost his entire savings, so he was obviously making money somehow.

    "Louise Jones on leaving X-Men to freelance
    'While I was on staff, Shooter had been after all of us editors to do freelance work
    ...' "

    Shooter eliminated the writer-editor position, but he still encouraged his editors to do freelance work for other editors. Under Shooter's iron thumb, I can see that working. But by the time DeFalco takes over as E-i-C, I think some cronyism began to seep into this system. You had Mark Gruenwald writing Captain America under the editorship of his best pal, Ralph Macchio. You had DeFalco, the E-i-C, writing Thor and Fantastic Four, and while he had editors, were they really going to say no to whatever the E-i-C wanted to do??

    We certaily got some good stories out of all of those runs, but I just can't see that sort of stuff happening under Shooter's watch. Bob Harras apparently agreed, because when he became E-i-C, he did not allow any of his editors to do freelance writing. That practice has continued under Quesada and Alonso, as far as I know. Except of course when Quesada decides he wants to write something.

    "Chris Claremont on why Louise Jones was his favorite editor
    “The relationship between myself and herself as the editor is one of the collaboration and trust whereas all too often in the past, relationships with editors have been characterized by mistrust and an adversary nature.
    ' "

    Do you suppose he's talking about Roger Stern? I understand where he might have viewed that relationship as adversarial because Stern was a friend of John Byrne's and it probably seemed like they were teaming up to undermine Claremont on occasion... but didn't the reverse happen when Simonson took over from Stern? She was friends with Claremont, so I could see them teaming up to undermine Byrne. This is all speculation though, of course.

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  3. I guess Juggernaut and Black Tom hit a rough patch.

    Colossus and Kitty break up this issue

    Were they ever actually together?

    I feel like Peter's only confessing how he felt about Kitty in retrospect (which is a little weird, although that's how it goes in real life sometimes). Not long ago we saw her smooch him in a "heck, you only live once" kind of way; I was under the impression that they were each just realizing that she wasn't merely playing at a crush and that he might truly reciprocate. Maybe the depth of their relationship isn't news to Kitty, but it seems like it is to the readers unless I'm forgetting something — and I well could be. 

    I'm pretty sure that this is the first we see of Kitty's new, shorter haircut, by the way, if you don't count her figure on the cover of #181.

    Why does the abort switch instead send the robot in for the kill? I feel like there should be more to Storm mentioning that than just "Another day in Professor X's Unreliable Danger Room of Deadly Unreliable Danger!" because Claremont easily could've had Rogue take the safeties off and Storm not get to the controls in time or something. Do we get any follow-up on sabotage there?

    And why is Storm walking around the mansion in a jacket and gloves even after, as she tells Kitty, dinner is on the table?

    Has Selene just come to New York because it's New York or is she following the New Mutants' trail? I suppose we'll find out in upcoming issues, so you don't have to answer, but I don't remember — and, while Juggernaut ending up in the same bar as the X-Men is excusable in part because Wolverine actually mentions the "Murphy's Law" of the situation, having Selene there at the same time is overkill.

    I have a feeling that the faces in the crowd in the panel you showed of the bar patrons reacting to the fight are based on Marvel staffers or other real people, but I don't know who.

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  4. The colors on the cover are garish, but Glynis Wein does a great job on the opening pages; I'm glad you called out her work.

    Orz's stuff is solid as usual. Just seeing a splash page with his display lettering on a story title and those perfectly rounded letterforms in a credit box can make me happy.

    I find the sloppy lettering on that New Mutants promo at the end unfortunate, by contrast, given how awesome the Bill Sienkiewicz art is. You can actually see how he's started to push the photorealism in a more stylized direction just by comparing that promo to the older Power Man and Iron Fist one in this same issue.

    For the most part the Romita & Green art is underwhelming at best. I did appreciate the dynamics of the scene you spotlighted between Kitty and Storm, as well as the earlier one between Kitty and Illyana, but the figures themselves aren't to my taste.

    You're right about the sequence of panels with Logan singling out Juggernaut, too, which reminded me of the kind of thing we get in Daredevil. Hmm... I wonder if a Wolverine/Daredevil amalgam would have "radar scents".

    I really can't help but think what this dawning JRJr. era could've been like penciled by Paul Smith or Power Pack's June Brigman and inked by Bob Wiacek — some art team I like better. 'Cause what you say in your take on the issue holds true for me as far as the writing. This feels like a very latter-day traditional issue, although it's been so long since I've read material from this era in a contextual way that it could be a vanguard from a contemporary perspective; there's sub- and uber-plot development, character stuff, and organic fight scenes, yet no crime to foil or disaster to avert, no attack on or from the heroes in costume.

    How is Kitty only 14 if, per a caption, she's been at the mansion for nearly two years? Didn't we determine recently that she was 15 now? Wasn't she 13½ when she showed up on the doorstep in #138?

    I wonder if Wolverine and Kitty being absent for so long contributed to my dissatisfaction with the main series. My general fervor for all things X-Men, only brought to a real boil during the Paul Smith days (prompting me to re-read the back issues I had and snap up more), certainly waned quickly as spinoffs like the Obnoxio the Clown one-shot and the Iceman, Beauty and the Beast, and even Kitty Pryde and Wolverine limited series were a letdown. The change in Storm, the addition of Rogue, and the absence of Cyclops all played a part, and while I don't remember Wolverine and Kitty being out of X-Men proper as long as you say it makes sense that the title would feel even less like itself.

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  5. "Nocenti is considered to guide Claremont with a less firm hand than Jones, leading to a greater number of dropped and unfinished characters and plotlines during her tenure, making this era particularly frustrating for some fans..."

    Naturally I just blame the writer for this. Not the editor. Writers...keep track of your plot lines!

    "In a fantastic use of thought bubbles..."

    Awww....thought bubbles...

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  6. I'm also not a big fan of JRJR's run, which is weird considering how great I thought his Amazing Spider-Man from just before this was when I went back and read that recently. But this is one of my favorite X-Men issues ever and made me a fan of Wolverine even if I didn't enjoy his solo book and he was hugely over-exposed. Not even the Selene reveal can ruin it for me (and like Matt, I had no idea who Selene was at this time). Some of Claremont's best writing, as we get great characterization from everyone, but especially Kitty and Wolverine. Maybe their absence plus how awful I found Rachel Summers is why I turned on JRJR's run when I did? Also it's no surprise that my favorite issue wouldn't feature Professor X at all, as he had long, looooong outlived his usefulness on the X-Men. Fortunately the New Mutants gave him something to do.

    As far as what happened to Black Tom, Claremont must've thought of him as a Banshee enemy first, as he disappears until Claremont's basically out the door.

    As far as Selene's appearance being overkill, I disagree. In addition to being a fun little twist- that the X-Men did something good even when they weren't trying to, it makes sense in-story that Selene would track down the surest source of energy she could find: a magically powered giant.

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  7. Blam -- "How is Kitty only 14 if, per a caption, she's been at the mansion for nearly two years? Didn't we determine recently that she was 15 now? Wasn't she 13½ when she showed up on the doorstep in #138?"

    Yes, and this is why I've said previously that I think it's a bad idea to specifically mention characters' ages on the page. Give them birthdays, fine, but dance around just exactly how old they are. I'm also not a fan of stating exactly what year it is in a comic.

    But Claremont did it, so I'll try to play along. Kitty was 13.5 years old when she joined the X-Men. During the first half of the Brood saga, Colossus was explicitly stated as being 18, and here he is "nearly twenty". So unless he's rounding up from 18, which is possible, he's probably 19 at this point. Kitty turned 14 during the second part of the Brood saga.

    So only six months passed from the time Kitty joined until the time the X-Men spent in space?? Cyclops was away for less than six months? That doesn't sound right.

    Moving on, now that Colossus is presumably 19, that means less than a year has passed since the X-Men fought the Brood. Which means Kitty should still be 14, right? But she's lived at the mansion for two years, since she was 13.5? And beyond that, Kitty turns 15 someplace in the 20's of Excalibur, published years from now!

    It just makes your head hurt. Claremont was trying to have his cake and eat it at the same time. He used "Marvel Time" in the case of ages, but he used something closer to real time when describing how far apart certain events occurred. It can't be both.

    So, given that I apparently have to choose one or the other for myself, I prefer to go with the timeframes Claremont mentions, rather than the dates. In my opinion, it has been two years since Kitty joined the X-Men. If that means she's actually 15, despite what the characters (and narration) claim, then that's how old she is. Romita certainly draws her older than 14, to my eye at least. And we all know that Claremont writes her older than 14!

    In the Arcade/Dr. Doom trilogy, narration notes that it has been three years since the forming of the "new" X-Men. Since that story takes place shortly after Kitty joined, I believe that means it's been between four and five years since Krakoa. That seems reasonable to me. How old that makes most of the characters, I don't know. Like I said, I don't put a lot of stock in the ages they claim to be on the page. As far as I'm concerned, they all range nebulously from their mid to late teens (Kitty and Colossus) to their mid to late twenties (Nightcrawler and Storm). Wolverine is, of course, another matter.

    So that's how I look at it. Not that anyone asked. No one should have to think so hard about this sort of thing, but when you're as continuity-anal as I am, you kind of have to.

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  8. I suspect Chris's comments about Weezie are referring to his previous X-Men editor and Dr. Strange writer Roger Stern, who commented in Back Issue #29 that he wouldn't let Claremont reveal Nightmare as Nightcrawler's father because he didn't like characters being revealed as secretly related to one another, preferring mutants to be revealed as having normal parents. Claremont would have been pissed that Stern would then go on to let John Byrne do it for Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver by planting the seeds that would lead to the Magneto-as-their-Dad retcon.

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  9. @Matt: Say what you will about Claremont not always writing believable teenage dialogue, but his ability to write believable teenage emotions was usually outstanding.

    Well said.

    There certainly wasn't anything here that indicated she had ever appeared before (unless I missed a footnote somehow)

    No, there's no footnote, and you're right that there's a definite call for one (the first time I read this issue, I don't think I'd read her first appearance yet, but I was somehow aware this wasn't her first appearance).

    That sounds to me like there was no Wolverine being published at all for about three months!

    I did a double take when I realized that when writing up this issue - I knew Wolverine was written out for K&P, but I never quite realized there was an additional three months added onto that. Near as I can tell, it was just a matter of logistics, of Claremont having to write him out at a certain point and then having to wait for the appropriate time to write him back in, which is conscientiousness to narrative flow on the part of a writer on a level that seems as odd today as the fact that was a time where Wolverine didn't appear anywhere for several months.

    For that matter, does anyone know when they next appear together?

    Near as I can remember, I think those early X-Force issues are their next onscreen team-up (when Juggernaut next appears in #217/218, it's said he's causing a distraction while Tom robs a bank).

    I know Juggernaut appears elsewhere between #218 and X-Force #3 (like in Excalibur), but I don't think I've read those appearances so I have no idea if Tom is in them.

    This suddenly makes me wonder how the X-Men make money

    I've often wondered that too. I mean, it's not like they need a lot, what with room and (presumably) board covered, but at the same time, who's buying Wolverine and Nightcrawler's beer? Do the X-Men get a say in what they eat for meals, or does Xavier just buy oatmeal and deli meat in bulk? What about when they go to concerts and stuff?

    I could see Wolverine having a nest egg stashed away somewhere (presumably he was paid something as a Canadian government operative, amongst other things) but the others must get some money from somewhere.

    Shooter eliminated the writer-editor position, but he still encouraged his editors to do freelance work for other editors.

    That's one of the things Marvel Comics: The Untold Story touches on during its discussion of the early Shooter years, his struggle to eliminate the writer-editor position that was so entrenched because of Stan Lee. Good point that Harras nixed the idea of editors writing freelance at all and how that continues to this day; I'd never really noticed that before.

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  10. @Blam: Maybe the depth of their relationship isn't news to Kitty, but it seems like it is to the readers unless I'm forgetting something

    It's definitely been under-played, arguably to the point of "telling, not showing". Kitty's feelings (and to a lesser extent, Colossus') have been well documented, but you're right that there isn't much in the way of a formal declaration of a relationship.

    There's the smooching/implied making out in #174, while they're clearly on a date together in #177. Then there's Colossus talking about how in Soviet Russia, they could be husband and wife by now in issue #180, and mentioning his jealousy of Doug, prompting Wolverine to ask whether Colossus really is that serious about their relationship (a conversation he's clearly recalling in this issue).

    Then it's pretty much just Colossus mooning over Kitty on Battleworld until he meets Zsaji and then their break-up in this issue.

    Yet for all that, it's a relationship that more or less defines the characters for decades to come, including to this day.

    I'm pretty sure that this is the first we see of Kitty's new, shorter haircut, by the way, if you don't count her figure on the cover of #181.

    Indeed. Which is why I made mention of it under "A Work in Progress". :)

    Why does the abort switch instead send the robot in for the kill?...Do we get any follow-up on sabotage there?

    I don't believe so, though you're right that it's odd that "abort" apparently means "finish them off" in Xavier Robut Speak. Professor Xavier is a jerk, indeed...

    And why is Storm walking around the mansion in a jacket and gloves even after, as she tells Kitty, dinner is on the table?

    Because she's just that badass, apparently.

    Has Selene just come to New York because it's New York or is she following the New Mutants' trail?

    Mainly the former (because it's filled with people, powered and otherwise), though there is some notion suggested that her tussle with the New Mutants ended her exile in Nova Roma, while next issue has her drawn to Rachel due to how powerful Rachel is, though it's unclear (and unlikely, given the timing) that Rachel in and of herself is what lured Selene to the Big Apple.

    I have a feeling that the faces in the crowd in the panel you showed of the bar patrons reacting to the fight are based on Marvel staffers or other real people, but I don't know who.

    You're probably right, but like you, I don't recognize them either (and the Index doesn't call anyone out specifically).

    I wonder if Wolverine and Kitty being absent for so long contributed to my dissatisfaction with the main series.

    That could very well be. There's a few issues in that stretch that I really love (mainly the Kulan Gath two-parter), but this is definitely a stretch where the concept of the X-Men as a team is about as nebulous as it can get (at least until Claremont actually disbands the team in the 250s).

    It really isn't until issue #193 that it feels like the full team comes together for anything approaching a traditional mission, so much so that Nightcrawler being appointed leader always felt kinda half-hearted, like, "leader of what?"

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  11. @Dr. Bitz: Naturally I just blame the writer for this. Not the editor. Writers...keep track of your plot lines!

    While I generally agree with you, a case could be made that the writers are simply behaving as the industry has taught them. That is, that if they're told the editors will keep track of their plotlines, why bother (though I really don't think that's what happens, and in the end, Claremont can just be sloppy in handling his plots)?

    Awww....thought bubbles...

    And it's even a good example of how they can work in a way a narrative caption can't.

    Maybe their absence plus how awful I found Rachel Summers is why I turned on JRJR's run when I did?

    Rachel Summers is definitely another circumstance of the Claremont/Romita Jr. run one must overcome to enjoy it.

    Also it's no surprise that my favorite issue wouldn't feature Professor X at all, as he had long, looooong outlived his usefulness on the X-Men. Fortunately the New Mutants gave him something to do.

    You can really watch Claremont realize this too, as he begins sidelining Professor X again, presumably after realizing he's too powerful to put out in the field, before writing him out for a good long time.

    @Matt: In my opinion, it has been two years since Kitty joined the X-Men. If that means she's actually 15, despite what the characters (and narration) claim, then that's how old she is. Romita certainly draws her older than 14, to my eye at least. And we all know that Claremont writes her older than 14!

    That's generally how I read it as well, not that I've ever given it as much thought as you have. :)

    So that's how I look at it. Not that anyone asked. No one should have to think so hard about this sort of thing, but when you're as continuity-anal as I am, you kind of have to.

    For what it's worth (if you haven't checked it out already), Space Squid's Year X blog is an attempt to tackle just the sort of math you wrangled with in your comment, to mathematically apply some kind of real time (in terms of dates and passage of time) to the overall narrative of the X-Men.

    He hasn't gotten as far as this issue yet (he covers Alpha Flight and Dazzler, while I do not), and I haven't caught up on all his posts yet either, but I'm curious to see how he handles Kitty's age as we move forward.

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  12. @Nathan: Claremont would have been pissed that Stern would then go on to let John Byrne do it for Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver by planting the seeds that would lead to the Magneto-as-their-Dad retcon.

    Good point. Byrne, of course, would probably argue that he never intended for the Magneto-as-their-dad thing to become explicit, which is what made it okay for Stern to approve, but I doubt Claremont would buy that argument, and he probably has a right to be irked.

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  13. @Blam: I have a feeling that the faces in the crowd in the panel you showed of the bar patrons reacting to the fight are based on Marvel staffers or other real people, but I don't know who.

    So as fortune would have it, I just happened to come across an interview with Romita in an issue of Marvel Age that I wish I'd read a week ago, as in the interview he specifically mentions this issue and how the bar is based on one he frequents, and all the patrons in that panel are based on the regulars he'd see at the bar.

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  14. @Matt: As noted before, I think Ann Nocenti is my least favorite Claremont editor, for precisely the reasons you mention: dropped plots and nontraditional stories. ... My feelings on the later Claremont/Nocenti collaboration are that I don't necessarily like what they're doing to the X-Men, but I enjoy how they're doing it.

    While I don't really know the later Claremont/Nocenti collaboration, I'm looking forward to finally reading it. And I appreciate what you mean.

    @Matt: Do you suppose he's talking about Roger Stern?

    I can't speak for Claremont, naturally, and I'm not sure that he'd go so far as to call his relationship with Stern "adversarial" — but he might.

    Byrne contrasted Stern and Louise Jones in a 2000 Comicology interview with me (among other places, I'm sure). Claremont, JB said, "felt he was losing control of the book. Roger and I worked out ways to always get Chris to do what we wanted." Also, Byrne pointed out that he "left the book shortly after Weezie came aboard, and this was not entirely coincidentally. Unlike Roger, who understood the important part that I was playing in the creation of the stories, Weezie came from that school which assumed that the writer did all the work and the artist just drew the pictures; at least, that was how she seemed to operate with Chris and me, so I very quickly lost such control as I had over the characters and the story directions, and I did not like where they ended up going."

    In the same interview, Byrne actually called Jim Salicrup, who served between Stern and Weezie, "my best-trained editor". Yet it must be said that he spoke of Salicrup and also "Zen editor" Archie Goodwin as being very much the kind of editor that Claremont describes Jones as being in the quotes Teebore ran, both largely keeping their distance and knowing when it was necessary to step in. Of course there's more than one kind of editorial activism: leaving the creative team as a team alone, and/or meddling with it, versus siding with one member of the creative team against the other.

    For his part Claremont told Kim Thompson in a 1985 Amazing Heroes interview from which I quoted in the 2000 article for which I talked to Byrne (and which I've sent to Teebore, but I assume he won't mind my running these quotes here since they cover ground trod in older posts) that "it seemed [Stern] was more simpatico to John, whereas Louise and I seemed more simpatico than she and John — or John and I — at that time."

    @Matt: I think it's a bad idea to specifically mention characters' ages on the page. Give them birthdays, fine, but dance around just exactly how old they are. I'm also not a fan of stating exactly what year it is in a comic.

    Agreed.

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  15. @Teebore: Yet for all that, it's a relationship that more or less defines the characters for decades to come, including to this day.

    Oh, no doubt. I think that "Days of Future Past" cemented — actually, maybe launched and cemented — the idea that they were meant to end up together. My point was that I was surprised upon rereading it that there wasn't more there before it ended and it was largely defined as a being an actual relationship in hindsight, because I carry Peter & Kitty with me as a cornerstone of classic X-Men.

    @Teebore: Indeed. Which is why I made mention of it under "A Work in Progress". :)

    Your Jedi mind tricks won't work on... Huh. There it is. Maybe I was just expecting it to be under "Firsts and Other Notables" and if not that then "I Love the '80s"; whatever, I obviously missed it.

    @Teebore: I don't believe so, though you're right that it's odd that "abort" apparently means "finish them off"

    Just in case you read the issue for this post longer ago than I did, I'll remind you that Storm herself is surprised that the button sends the robots in for the kill — hence my own wondering about if that was a plot point rather than an oddly clumsy bit of action.

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  16. @Blam: My point was that I was surprised upon rereading it that there wasn't more there before it ended and it was largely defined as a being an actual relationship in hindsight, because I carry Peter & Kitty with me as a cornerstone of classic X-Men.

    Yeah, it's definitely a relationship that became stronger than it ever was in hindsight.

    Maybe I was just expecting it to be under "Firsts and Other Notables" and if not that then "I Love the '80s"; whatever, I obviously missed it.

    For what it's worth, I did debate where to put it. Ultimately, I decided a new haircut (at least one not tied to an ongoing character arc, like Storm's mohawk) wasn't notable enough for "First and Notables" while the style itself wasn't crazy/stereotypically 80s enough for "I Love 80s" (had it been a perm, though...).

    I'll remind you that Storm herself is surprised that the button sends the robots in for the kill — hence my own wondering about if that was a plot point rather than an oddly clumsy bit of action.

    I had forgotten about that. Oddly clumsy bit of action indeed, then.

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  17. "Because she's just that badass, apparently."

    Goddess be praised, yes she is.

    I was always under the impression Shooter wanted the Peter/Kitty relationship to end, due to the age difference and her being a minor, and forced Claremont into it.

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  18. (in a stunning bit of continuity you'd never see these days, neither will appear in X-Men again until issue #192, following the completion of the miniseries).

    Nowadays you'd be more likely to see Wolverine in two separate series travelling to Japan for two completely different adventures at the exact same time without either referencing the other.

    At the bar, Colossus is carded by the bartender; he says that he's nearly 20, which Wolverine describes as being legal (which, of course, wouldn't be true today).

    Depends which country you're in ;) I've been legally drinking since 18. (Although obviously since they're in Ameria your comment still stands).

    @Teebore:There's a few issues in that stretch that I really love (mainly the Kulan Gath two-parter)

    Really? I hated the Kulan Gath arc; probably my least favourite of this run (that I've read so far). It felt like another "Look! Alternate versions of characters you know!" realities, and there were so many characters swapping sides and being introduced that I found it frustrating to follow. There was also a fairly big deal made about Spider-Man not being affected, yet he does virtually nothing throughout the arc.

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  19. I realize this thread is old and this may have already been covered elsewhere, but whenever I read all these theories about why Selene went to New York, I thought it was simply because von Roehm was there, and she would logically contact him (her old high priest) as soon as she decided to start a life out of Nova Roma.

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