Wednesday, January 23, 2013
X-amining Uncanny X-Men #183
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
Bill Seinkiewicz's arrival to New Mutants is featured in a house ad.
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
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.
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.