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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #188

"Legacy of the Lost"
December 1984

In a Nutshell 
The Wraiths are defeated and Nightcrawler questions the purpose of the X-Men. 

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

Plot
In Eagle Plaza, the X-Men and Forge are attacked by a mass of mystical Shadowbeings called forth by the Dire Wraiths. In Forge's sanctum, the Wraith who has taken Naze's form attempts to contact the Great Spirit, offering Earth in exchange for its help, but another entity reaches out, destroying the Wraith and claiming Naze's form. Nightcrawler teleports into the building along with Amanda Sefton, followed shortly by Illyana, who are able to disrupt the Shadowbeings enough to free the X-Men. However, they aren't able to seal the rift in reality through which the Shadowbeings are coming to Earth. Storm suspects the Wraith she stranded on the roof is still alive and countering Amanda's magic. Nightcrawler teleports Forge to the roof, and he slays the Wraith, ending the threat. Storm tells Forge the X-Men are leaving and not to try and find them. She says she and Forge will meet again, though he may well wish they had not.


Meanwhile, in the Bermuda Triangle, Lee Forrester's fishing boat comes across a man in the water. Rescuing him, she discovers he's Magneto. Back in New York, Nightcrawler calls a special meeting of the X-Men. In the wake of Storm's depowerment and escalating anti-mutant sentiment in the government, he questions what purpose the X-Men serve, and whether they'd all be better off living their lives for themselves. When he mentions the death of Jean Grey, an eavesdropping Rachel flies into a rage, briefly attacking everyone before calming down. She explains that in her timeline, Jean is her mother, and tells the X-Men about the harsh realities of her future, in which mutants have been hunted to near extinction. She insists that though they may be doomed, it's important that the X-Men continue to make a stand and keep Xavier's dream alive. Accepting he has a responsibility to do so, Nightcrawler agrees to stay. Meanwhile, at a New York fish market, a worker named Jamie Rodriguez discovers an ornate necklace inside a fish, one which speaks to him with offers of power.  

Firsts and Other Notables
It's made explicit that Rachel is the daughter of Jean Grey in this issue, and we also learn a little bit more about the events between the end of "Days of Future Past" and her arrival in the present day (events which will be elaborated upon in issue #192).


Though unnamed, the Adversary technically makes his first appearance in this issue, as a disembodied burst of energy.


The Adversary notes that an alien has taken Naze's form, confirming last issue's hint that a Dire Wraith killed and replaced Naze's form (though of course it's eventually revealed that Naze is alive and well after all). Forge comes across Naze's injured form, believing it to be his mentor, but from this point forward, Naze is considered to be the Adversary using his form.

Colossus learns about his sister's magical abilities in this issue. 


In one of those "only in comics" coincidences, Magneto, after being blown out of Asteroid M by Warlock in New Mutants #21, ends up in the Atlantic ocean, and is fished out by none other than Lee Forester, marking her return to the series. Their story will continue in New Mutants before returning to this book.


Nightcrawler's relative ennui regarding the superhero lifestyle and the purpose of the X-Men's fight will be touched on again in about a year, and then again many years later.

Jamie Rodriguez, a minor character who will play a role in the upcoming Kulan Gath and Nimrod storylines, appears for the first time. He discovers a necklace which will kick off the Kulan Gath two-parter in issue #190.


Not sure exactly how to categorize this, but Forge has Storm blast off his cybernetic leg to free him from the Shadowbeings, at which point he goes for help, depicted in a panel as doing so in a way that is obviously (and hilariously) hoping on one leg.


The Chronology Corner
Illyana and Roberto (who is eavesdropping on the X-Men's discussion along with Illyana and Rachel) appear in this issue following New Mutants Annual #1 and before New Mutants #22. 

The events of the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine limited series are referenced for the first time, and Xavier's call to Wolverine in issue #4 of that series is considered to occur off panel during this issue.


A Work in Progress
Amanda debuts a new costume.


Like Storm last issue, Colossus uses the Brood as the benchmark against which to compare evil aliens.


Illyana says that her sorcery doesn't work well on Earth, leaving her Soulsword as her best weapon against the Shadowbeings.

Also, her armor pops up again, carrying over a lingering plot from New Mutants, and Illyana wonders what will happen when it's complete.


Given his aversion to using magic, Forge wonder to himself why he even built a mystical sanctuary into his home.


Nightcrawler is taken aback at Forge's willingness to kill a Wraith. 

Back at the mansion, Storm affirms that she is no longer a mutant following some tests run by Xavier, and wonders if she still belongs with the X-Men. 


While arguing that the X-Men are essentially useless and should leave superheroing to groups like the Avengers and Fantastic Four who are accepted by the public, he does concede there is still a place for Xavier's school in the training of young mutants in the use of their powers.


Following Rachel's description of her future, there's a neat bit where each of the X-Men (except for Storm) react to it.


I Love the 80s
In a bit I've always loved, this issue reveals that the unseasonable blizzard hitting Dallas in this issue and the last is caused by the opening of the Casket of Ancient Winters in Thor. I have no idea how widespread that event was in other titles, but I've always looked upon it as a great example of the Marvel Universe done right: when something happens in one title that would logically affect the events in other titles, it gets referenced, not necessarily as the centerpiece of a three part crossover miniseries, but just an offhand reference in the context of all these books being part of a shared universe.


The first class cabin in the 80s apparently included an area to sit around a table.


Nightcrawler notes that despite all that humanity has accomplished in 20th century, when Xavier first found him, he was being hunted by a mob for being a demon.


Nightcrawler apparently likes to quote Spider-Man's famous "with great power comes great responsibility" line, though at this point I believe that's a bit of metatextual work by Claremont and not a suggestion that Nightcrawler picked it up from Spider-Man himself.


Claremontisms
Soulsword, ultimate expression, etc.

Artistic Achievements
The art team really knock it out of the park with this issue, from the cover, to the raw energy in the fight scenes (notably Illyana getting hurled across the room by the Shadowbeings), to the way Romita draws the energy effect around Amanda (I've always loved the energy halos he draws around hands), to the coloring in the panel as the X-Men's meeting begins, with everyone illuminated by firelight, and the way Nightcrawler's argument is framed in a very traditional six panel grid before Rachel bursts in and disrupts the proceedings (and the layout). 

Young Love
In Rachel's future, Nightcrawler and Amanda are married.

Rachel Summers, Crybaby
Upon hearing the news that Jean Grey is dead, Rachel promptly freaks out.


Human/Mutant Relations
Nightcrawler notes that Senator Kelly's Mutant Affairs Control Act, while once largely scoffed at, is on the verge of becoming law.


In order to show the X-Men that as bad as they thinks things are, it could be worse, Rachel tells them about her future, in which mutants are hunted down, imprisoned and exterminated by the government, and insists that the X-Men are important not because they're superheroes, but because they are mutant superheroes who serve as an example to other mutants and help keep Xavier's dream alive.


For Sale
Time for a new lineup of Saturday morning cartoons. 


There's also a full page ad for the Secret Wars action figures.


Bullpen Bulletins
The Bullpen Bulletins pays tribute to the recently departed Sol Brodsky.


It's in the Mail
Nightcrawler answers the letters in this issue, pertaining to issue #177. He mentions the upcoming Nightcrawler limited series by Dave Cockrum, and explains that "Jimaine" is Amanda's "soul name", making it pretty obvious that Claremont is the one writing these responses. 

Teebore's Take
This issue is packed full of stuff, and it's one of my favorites from this era for that reason. The front half concludes an ongoing story influenced by another series, Rom, set against a backdrop triggered by events in yet another title, Thor. Then there's a brief interlude following up on a plotline from a third book, New Mutants. The back half then questions the very existence of the X-Men, functioning not quite as the culmination but certainly a benchmark in Claremont's ongoing "Days of Future Past" references and allusions (and revealing, in part, the events which led Rachel to the past, answering that lingering question), and concludes with an epilogue that is setting up a future story (that will be told two issues hence).

A case can be made for that kind of density and casual references being a turnoff, but reading this issue for the first time as kid, I was blown away at the level of interconnectedness on display. This wasn't just one more chapter in the ongoing X-Men narrative, it was another chapter in a narrative tapestry formed by dozens of other worlds, a whole, at the risk of being twee, universe of characters that existed as part of the same overall story. When a snowstorm that covered the country was unleashed in one book, that snowstorm would be referenced in other books. When a character is blasted out of the sky in one book, he'll be rescued in another. It was unlike anything else I'd encountered before, and this issue (and others like it, from this era and others) became the foundation for my love of the shared universe, a narrative device that really only exists within superhero comics. And while, through the years, Marvel (and others) hasn't always lived up to the possibilities I saw in this issue, it stands as a great example of the Marvel Universe done right (which isn't to say it isn't also a cracking good issue of X-Men).

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Rahne and Roberto's connection to Cloak and Dagger comes to light in New Mutants #23, and next week we look at Marvel Team-Up #150, the final issue of the series, guest starring the X-Men

27 comments:

  1. This is a really solid conclusion, wrapping up a Dire Wraith/Storm losing her powers arc that is starting to wear thin, but considering the story basically began in 184, we've covered a ton of narrative ground in 5 issues.

    I too really love the shared universe aspect from issues like this. It's self-contained enough that you don't need to read Thor or Rom or 50 issues ago to remember Lee Forrester, but it feels rewarding if you do know what's going on. I remember the Cask semi-crossover also happened in Spider-Man, so it was likely pretty wide-spread.

    For me, the "continuity" line in the sand is where it starts to feel like I'm missing important stuff because it's happening in other books. I know it's jumping the gun, but if you're reading UXM and not New Mutants the way I did, UXM 189 is somewhat inscrutable because a major protagonist is a member of that other book and I don't believe had ever been introduced to UXM readers.

    I think Secret Wars is kind of the bridge that brings the X-Men back into the fold, and we start seeing more and more incorporating of the team and everyone else into the bigger world. Obviously they never stopped being part of the MU, and crossed over with Iron Fist/Luke Cage characters and Spider-Man and Cloak and Dagger, but there's more of a sense of being part of a cohesive whole after Secret Wars. Of course, setting X-Factor in New York and then Excalibur's incorporation of Captain Britain stuff fits into that too.

    This was also a mini-renaissance of quality at Marvel across the line, only somewhat marred by Secret Wars 2 doing exactly the thing I just said I hated (while being pretty awful). But the same month as this issue, you've got Thor #350, which is the middle of the amazing Surtur story that followed up the amazing "Cask" story, Cap "killing" Red Skull, a status quo that lasts 50 issues, Danny O'Neal's hiccup of a run between two great DD runs, Stern's Avengers, Byrne's FF and Alpha Flight, there was just a lot of great stuff at the time.


    Switching gears, I always wondered if Claremont had some reason for keeping Sefton out of more than the occasional story. She gets pulled into this story and shows up occasionally for a bit, then disappears until the Muir Isle Saga. Maybe he felt like Magik was the special snowflake magic user, so having another one around, even a less powerful one, was unnecessary. Still, it's weird that she didn't end up part of Excalibur. She sort of joined the group with Ellis' run, and I seem to recall her calling herself Magik in the 90's, which would seem to confirm my suspicions.

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  2. @Dobson: It's self-contained enough that you don't need to read Thor or Rom or 50 issues ago to remember Lee Forrester, but it feels rewarding if you do know what's going on.

    Very well said. That's what I love about this level of continuity: you don't need to know it to understand the story/enjoy the issue, but if you do know it, it feels special, like you're "in the know".

    ...Danny O'Neal's hiccup of a run between two great DD runs...

    Heh. I've never actually read those issues so I can't speak to their quality, but your description, along with what I know of the general regard for those issues (that they are as you described) made me chuckle.

    Agreed that this was a really strong time for Marvel, line wide. If Marvel's Silver Age stuff was their Golden Age, then this vintage really seems their Silver Age (if that makes any sense).

    Still, it's weird that she didn't end up part of Excalibur.

    Yeah, it was. I've not read Claremont's Excalibur; is she referenced at all (I know she and Kurt had broken up by then, but it seems odd that she'd never even get mentioned)?

    I could certainly see Claremont finding two magic users derivative, but at the same time, I could also him frankly forgetting about Amanda for large chunks of time.

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  3. I kind of like this style of comic book storytelling, where a cliffhanger is resolved with a big action sequence, then the remainder of the story goes into "quiet" mode.

    Not that I'm saying I like this particular issue, mind you -- other than working as some distant foreshadowing of "Fall of the Mutants" (which I do enjoy), it doesn't do a lot for me.

    Also, I really like most of the artwork you've shown here. I had to scroll back to the top to make sure this really was Dan Green inking. Maybe the Classic X-Men reprints just had lousy reproduction or something, because, as I've said before, I was never blown away by Romita's work during this run. But his Nightcrawler in partuclar looks outstanding in all these panels -- particularly the one you called "Demon".

    But then I got to that very last close-up you posted of Rachel, and... ugh. All the great Nightcrawlers in the world can't make up for that! I've always wondered if Romita made Rachel intentionally homely (to borrow a term from my mom). She just looks extremely unattractive pretty much all the time during his run. I think the first time she becomes good-looking to me is when Alan Davis draws her in Excalibur!

    "...Magneto, after being blown out of Asteroid M by Warlock in New Mutants #21, ends up in the Atlantic ocean, and is fished out by none other than Lee Forester..."

    I guess turnabout is fair play -- Magneto is paying Lee back for that time she and Cyclops washed ashore on his island, out of all the doggone islands in the ocean!

    As I said previously, having never read New Mutants alongside Classic X-Men, I never realized Magneto's splash landing here was continued from an issue of NM. I just assumed he was making a late return from the Secret Wars somehow. A footnote would've helped (unless there was one and I missed it).

    Also, was Lee wearing that sexy off-the-shoulder shirt before she dove in to rescue Magneto, or does she really go out on her fishing trawler dressed that way?

    "Jamie Rodriguez, a minor character who will play a role in the upcoming Kulan Gath and Nimrod storylines..."

    Another Classic Claremont Coincidence at work!

    "...this issue reveals that the unseasonable blizzard hitting Dallas in this issue and the last is caused by the opening of the Casket of Ancient Winters in Thor."

    I know that at the very least, Spider-Man encountered the blizzard (I see Dobson already mentioned this). And I agree; I like this continuity nod as well. It's a far cry from nowadays, when Thor can move Asgard to Oklahoma, and there's not so much as a peep about it in any other title until fans start complaining about it!

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  4. Dobson -- " It's self-contained enough that you don't need to read Thor or Rom or 50 issues ago to remember Lee Forrester, but it feels rewarding if you do know what's going on."

    This tends to be my outlook on continuity as well. I admit that I enjoy some good "continuity porn" once in a while -- I loved Kurt Busiek's Avengers and Avengers Forever, which were basically all about repairing continuity I didn't even know about! I like 90's X-comics for the same reason. But overall, I prefer to be able to follow a story without footnotes if I can, but to have the option of pursuing those footnotes for more detailed backstory.

    I totally agree with you on UXM 189. Like you, as I mentioned above, I read these issues without the New Mutants stuff that ran alongside them. The issue you mentioned (even though I kind of like it) is very confusing if you haven't read New Mutants. Likewise, the issue where Magus shows up to fight Warlock. It's like you were expected to be reading both series side-by-side. I don't even think 90's X-books were quite that bad. It was pretty much assumed you were reading both Uncanny and X-Men (which is justifiable in my opinion since they shared a title and were basically one bi-weekly publication), but, for example, you weren't expected to also read Generation X or X-Force to get the full story.

    Dobson -- "I think Secret Wars is kind of the bridge that brings the X-Men back into the fold, and we start seeing more and more incorporating of the team and everyone else into the bigger world."

    I don't think this lasted long, though. By the end of Claremont's tenure, the X-Men are more removed from the Marvel Universe than ever, except for guest-spots by Nick Fury (and Ka-Zar, but he started out as an X-Men character to begin with). Heck, in the Outback years, Claremont even seems to consciously try to remove the X-Men from the main Marvel Universe! I've always sort of assumed he was tired of everyone else playing with his best-selling toys, so he did what he could to isolate and protect them for his exclusive use.

    Teebore -- "Heh. I've never actually read those issues so I can't speak to their quality, but your description, along with what I know of the general regard for those issues (that they are as you described) made me chuckle."

    The final part of O'Neil's run was collected in a trade called "Loves Labors Lost" a few years back. The stories were kind of pedestrian, but the moody artwork by David Mazzucchelli was outstanding.

    I feel sort of bad for Denny O'Neil at Marvel. Somehow he did a Daredevil run sandwiched between tenures by DD's definitive storyteller, Frank Miller, and he did an Iron Man run sandwiched between tenures by Shellhead's definitive storytellers, David Michelinie and Bob Layton!

    Plus his Amazing Spider-Man run came right before Roger Stern, making it pale by comparison.

    But on the other hand, O'Neil will always be one half of O'Neil and Adams, so whatever he did at Marvel is pretty much wiped away by that.

    "Yeah, it was. I've not read Claremont's Excalibur..."

    I don't know the answer to your question, but this brings up something I've been wondering: will you review Excalibur when it begins? I know you've already said you plan to cover X-Factor, so that would be yet another item added to your plate. But at least with Excalibur, you can pretty much read only the Claremont issues and ignore all the fill-ins between, since they're about as irrelevant as can possibly be.

    Have you read Alan Davis's solo run? I love those issues! By far my favorite stretch of Excalibur.

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  5. This is crazy. Books with interconnected events, characters who take an absence from UXM because they appear elsewhere and cannot be in two places at once, and footnotes tying the whole thing together so that, if you wanted, you could read the entire line and most everything would fit together.

    So what the hell happened?

    Oh yeah, the 90's, I was there for that.

    Something like this isn't even possible today, is it? Because of that, what do you guys think will eventually befall the MU? The X-Men are just turning 50. Another 10 or 15 years of this, won't the whole thing just collapse on itself continuity wise (if it hasn't already)? Marvel seems to have taken a "soft" approach to continuity these days, with all of the VERY loose references to the silver age (First Class, All-New X-Men, etc.) which is a little bizarre considering how readily available that stuff is in reprints. So is that what will keep happening? Marvel will say, yeah, these were the original five, it was more or less like you remember, but not exactly? How dumb. I guess it would work but jesus, doesn't seem like a good fix.

    And how the holy hell will they still explain Magneto in 20 years? I know he's been de-aged, but the people around him haven't. Eventually, it ain't gonna fly anymore.

    They need to reboot. Do it like DC, only do a good job (unlike them).

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  6. I feel like the issue should've opened with Kurt talking in the study and flashed back to the end of the fight, just to make it a cohesive unit, 'cause otherwise — and I'm sorry — that part of what you love about the issue is to me haphazard, undisciplined storytelling.

    The Dire Wraith on the roof wasn't Naze? So why the heck was it pointed out that it banged on the door when Ororo locked it out last ish? And where is the real Naze?

    This is a really small thing, but if Claremont's gonna go out of his way to name-check "the X-Men's specially modified SR-71 Blackbird aircraft" then he could've worked in a caption giving us Nightcrawler's handle so that Amanda didn't have to call him "Nightcrawler" instead of "Kurt" in dialogue when Kurt bamfnapped her.

    I hadn't remembered it before you brought it up a while back, and I'd barely kept it in mind since then, but Lee finding Magneto is just ridiculous.

    Okay, Peter is huge in that "group hug" panel on Pg. 22.

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  7. The Chronology Corner

    A nice addition!

    Meanwhile, at a New York fish market, a worker named Jamie Rodriguez discovers an ornate necklace inside a fish, one which speaks to him with offers of power.

    To paraphrase Mr. Stephen Colbert, "Great sentence, or the greatest sentence?!?"

    Forge has Storm blast off his cybernetic leg to free him from the Shadowbeings, at which point he goes for help, depicted in a panel as doing so in a way that is obviously (and hilariously) hoping on one leg.

    Yet we cut to Fake Naze in the sanctum sanctorum, and the next time we see Forge he's back in the fray to catch a ride to the roof with Nightcrawler — with a cybernetic leg on — only after which do we see Forge encounter unconscious Fake Naze in the sanctum.

    Like Storm last issue, Colossus uses the Brood as the benchmark against which to compare evil aliens.

    Claremont isn't alone in doing this, but it's a little weird/lame/deflating to set up a certain villain as the most evil, ruthless, morally bankrupt being(s) ever and then negate their ne plus ultra status by saying "oh, here's a plus ultra".

    Upon hearing the news that Jean Grey is dead, Rachel promptly freaks out.

    I think just this once she's entitled. Had you not reproduced that psi-bolt panel, by the way, I was going to grab and link to it, because I do not understand what Xavier is doing with his arms folded while standing in that position.

    There's also a full page ad for the Secret Wars action figures.

    "How can we stop them, Captain America?"
    "That's our secret, Spider-Man!"
    "Please tell me it involves those old Ricochet Racers, Cap."

    I love how Zeck's art of Dr. Doom is so faithful to the figure that you can tell that the casts for Iron Man's arms and legs were reused for Doom's.

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  8. Matt: Maybe the Classic X-Men reprints just had lousy reproduction or something

    There's definitely a difference between those issues and the originals - I seem the recall the reprints being both brighter and...flatter, I guess is the word? I dunno. I do think there is a subtle difference between the two, so that could be what you're responding to.

    But his Nightcrawler in partuclar looks outstanding in all these panels -- particularly the one you called "Demon".

    I've always loved Romita's Nightcrawler, particularly the way he draws his fingers as being especially thick, and that panel is one of my favorite depictions of him.

    I've always wondered if Romita made Rachel intentionally homely (to borrow a term from my mom). She just looks extremely unattractive pretty much all the time during his run.

    I feel like he has to have been. I mean, Romita is capable of drawing attractive women, so whether at his own direction or Claremont's, I feel like he must have been intentionally making her homelier (which certainly fits with her origin, at least at first).

    A footnote would've helped (unless there was one and I missed it)

    There was not, and yes, its absence is odd.

    Also, was Lee wearing that sexy off-the-shoulder shirt before she dove in to rescue Magneto, or does she really go out on her fishing trawler dressed that way?

    She really goes out on her fishing trawler dressed that way. I guess it was the 80s (and I probably should have noted as such...).

    Another Classic Claremont Coincidence at work!

    I dunno, I don't think we can penalize Claremont too much for this one. I mean, someone had to find the Kulan Gath necklace, and he just made it a random person. I mean, it isn't like Stevie Hunter found it, or someone like that. And then Jamie's involvement with Nimrod stems directly from his having found the necklace, so that ties back in to the original incident.

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  9. @Matt: It's a far cry from nowadays, when Thor can move Asgard to Oklahoma, and there's not so much as a peep about it in any other title until fans start complaining about it!

    And when the other titles do reference it, it's as the centerpiece of a line-wide crossover...

    It's like you were expected to be reading both series side-by-side.

    I'm really curious to read the next issue and #192 (the Magus issue) because I remember originally reading those without reading New Mutants and following along okay. I think I probably assumed Amara was just a character from an older issue I hadn't encountered yet, as opposed to one appearing concurrently in another series, whereas I seem to recall Magus' appearance in #192 worked kinda like the references in this issue: you didn't need to know about Warlock to understand the story (techno organic villain comes to Earth, attacks X-Men), but if you did, it added to things.

    But I could be remembering it wrong, so I'm going to do my best to re-read both those issues with an eye towards how it would read to someone not reading New Mutants.

    will you review Excalibur when it begins?

    Right now, the answer to that is yes, at least in some form.

    I didn't start reading Excalibur regularly until issue #71 (the "Fatal Attractions" tie-in) and haven't yet gone back to read anything before that. Similarly, I didn't start reading Wolverine's solo series until #70. So I definitely want to cover both those series in some fashion, as much to just read those issues for myself as well as for how they tie-in to the ongoing X-Men narrative.

    But that would mean I'd be doing five of these posts a week in about a year or so, and I'm just not sure if I can do that (unless I strike it rich or find a way to get paid to write them). So I'm trying to think of maybe a slightly different way to cover those two series, at least until they reach the point where I originally came aboard, that might involve slightly less time/effort, perhaps something playing off the fact that I'm reading them for the first time or that they're both largely ancillary tie-ins to the main books for a good portion of their runs.

    But I haven't come up with any terribly good ideas yet. And I'm waiting to see how doing three posts a week goes when X-Factor comes along. Maybe I'll just suck it up and commit to five full posts. We'll see.

    I just keep telling myself I just have to make it to the 90s, and then the posts will start to get a lot easier to write because less happens each issue and thus, there will be less to write about per post, on average. :)

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  10. I generally don't like magic mixed in with my X-Men, but Fall of the Mutants is just so damn good.

    One thing I've noticed about Claremont's run is his biggest stories generally run 30-40 issues. The Phoenix Saga is issues 98-138. Adversary runs 184-226. Mr. Sinister is 210-243. The team splitting up is 251-280. He seems to plan roughly three-year arcs.

    Good luck with reviewing the other spinoffs. Maybe you could review Excalibur and Wolverine in chunks? X-Factor and New Mutants are really the main tie-ins until X-Force debuts. As much as I enjoy your reviews, keep some free time and sanity!

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  11. Dan -- "So what the hell happened?

    Oh yeah, the 90's, I was there for that.
    "

    I guess the 90's can shoulder some of the blame, since Marvel really exploded during the speculator boom and there was no possible way to coordinate all the events in all the books -- but I personally blame the early Quesada-Jemas period, where it was basically all but declared officially that continuity was dead. I don't think Marvel has ever quite recovered from that, though they try to make it appear otherwise.

    And I would love to see Marvel start over, if -- as you say -- they did it right. Unfortuantely we all know they wouldn't. Just like DC, they would be too scared to wipe everything clean. Wolverine would still be an X-Man and an Avenger, even if meant starting him as one from Day One of a new Marvel Universe.

    Blam -- "I love how Zeck's art of Dr. Doom is so faithful to the figure that you can tell that the casts for Iron Man's arms and legs were reused for Doom's."

    To be fair, in Secret Wars, Doom wears the action figure armor for the final few issues. Check out the covers of issues 11 and 12 for quick examples. I wonder if this ad was drawn before or after those issues? Secret Wars is still running at this time, right?

    Teebore -- "There's definitely a difference between those issues and the originals..."

    Well then, maybe I just don't like the reprints of Romita's work. I've actually never seen original copies of most issues all the way up to the end of Classic X-Men. It was all Marvel Masterworks, trade paperbacks, and Classic X-Men for me, up until Classic ended and I was forced to start buying Uncanny back issues. Which, by that point, was pretty much post-Romita.

    Teebore -- "I dunno, I don't think we can penalize Claremont too much for this one."

    I wasn't really calling out the mere fact that Jaime finds the necklace as coincidence -- rather, I was noting the fact that the same guy finds both the necklace and Nimrod! But I had forgotten that his meeting Nimrod is tied to the necklace, so in this case it makes sense. Carry on.

    "But I could be remembering it wrong, so I'm going to do my best to re-read both those issues with an eye towards how it would read to someone not reading New Mutants."

    I don't think I was particularly confused by the Magma/Rachel issue... but I do recall being distinctly confused by the Magus one. But maybe I'm mixing up the feelings in my head. It's possible I wasn't confused so much as frustrated that the reprint story I was reading did not have a companion reprint running alongside it to better explain all the New Mutants' lore.

    But then I was buying Classic X-Men as back issues to begin with, and I would guess that New Mutants back issues would've been of comparable prices. The New Mutants just held no interest to me as a kid.

    Also, I had forgotten till just now that the very month I started reading Classic X-Men regularly (not in back issues) turned out to be the final issue of the series!

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  12. Teebore -- "Right now, the answer to that is yes, at least in some form."

    Well like I said, the non-Claremont issues of Excalibur are totally unnecessary. It's painfully obvious that they're fill-ins designed to keep the series going while Claremont was busy with the X-Men. He writes the first several issues regularly (though Davis doesn't draw all of them), but near the end, I assume when he was having his issues with editorial, he pops in and out and the stuff between is pretty atrocious.

    I haven't read much of Wolverine's solo series either. I've read the very early Claremont/Buscema run (I think they only did about a dozen issues or maybe even less), and I've read the brief Goodwin/Byrne run... but that was mostly it outside of picking up the occasional crossover tie-in or anniversary issue. I did read Erik Larsen's run and the Steve Skroce stuff right after, but I think I dropped it again after Skroce.

    I've always wanted to read Larry Hama's run in its entirety. Someday I will.

    Jeff -- "He seems to plan roughly three-year arcs."

    "Plan" might be a bit of a strong word, where Chris Claremont is concerned. I think he came up with rough ideas of where things would wind up, but he let them get there in their own time. I would suspect it's just coincidence that the major storylines you mention turned out to be about three years each.

    Likewise, Jason Powell pointed out that Claremont tends to have the X-Men encounter their major villains in a series of three acts -- it happens with Magneto, with the Hellfire Club, and with the Marauders, usually with a loss the first time, a stalemate the second time, and a victory the third time -- but with all due respect to both Powell and Claremont, I just don't think Claremont is that organized. Most of the evidence I've seen over the years actually points to him being quite disorganized, in fact.

    But I could be completely off-base on this one.

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  13. @Dan: Oh yeah, the 90's, I was there for that.

    I was actually going to say almost exactly what Matt said: that while the 90s certainly share some blame, I tend to hold the Quesada/Jemas regime responsible for the bulk of this problem (as much as I genuinely enjoyed some of what they did).

    To use an example: if the Rhino gets arrested in an issue of Spider-Man and then shows up a month later fighting the Hulk, and there's no issue establishing his release from jail between them, then the Hulk issue should reference him having escaped or something.

    Now, at all times in Marvel's history, something like that could and did slip through the cracks, but the general attitude seemed to be one of avoiding that mistake whenever possible. With Quesada and Jemas, it wasn't just that mistakes like would happen more often, it was that Quesada and Jemas specifically said they didn't care if they happened.

    (I'll also freely admit I give the 90s more of pass because at that time, I was in position where I could still take the time to figure out the reading order of all the various X-titles in such a way that their various appearances across the line all made sense. Whereas by the 00s, I just didn't have the time anymore).

    Marvel seems to have taken a "soft" approach to continuity these days, with all of the VERY loose references to the silver age (First Class, All-New X-Men, etc.)

    Yeah, that does seem to be their approach. In general, I prefer that soft/sliding timeline approach, but it does cause problems for characters like Magneto. Once upon a time, the idea of linewide reboot at Marvel would have freaked me out, but now I don't think I'd mind, so long as, like you said, they managed to do a much better job of it than DC did (and frankly, it wouldn't be hard to do it better - I'd still like them to do it better AND well).

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  14. @Blam: I feel like the issue should've opened with Kurt talking in the study and flashed back to the end of the fight, just to make it a cohesive unit

    I can't deny that would have been effective, though the disconnect obviously doesn't bother me.

    So why the heck was it pointed out that it banged on the door when Ororo locked it out last ish? And where is the real Naze?

    I believe the banging was to establish that it was still alive. As for the real Naze, according to this story, he's dead: when the Wraith took his form (off panel), it would have reduced his original body to a pile of goo (which is what happens when the Wraiths take someone's form). Then the Adversary took control of the Wraith-as-Naze, killing the Wraith in the process and essentially stealing Naze's form for itself.

    As to what happened to the real Naze in light of the later X-Factor story that revealed he didn't die here, I don't recall, but probably "magic".

    he could've worked in a caption giving us Nightcrawler's handle so that Amanda didn't have to call him "Nightcrawler" instead of "Kurt" in dialogue when Kurt bamfnapped her.

    Agreed, but your point also reminds me that we're in a chunk of issues I've read so often that I tend to gloss over the Claremontisms because they've become so familiar to me. Because "modified SR-71 Blackbird" definitely deserves a mention.

    Okay, Peter is huge in that "group hug" panel on Pg. 22.

    Yeah, he is. I made a note of it then forgot to mention it.

    A nice addition!

    Thanks! For awhile there, the two books followed one another pretty well, but now we're at a point where multi-part arcs in one book are getting slotted between single issues of the other, and it's only going to get worse. While I'm very much committed to maintaining the idea of covering these issues as they would have been on sale together, I figured it was worth pointing out some of the trickier chronological points as we go along.

    To paraphrase Mr. Stephen Colbert, "Great sentence, or the greatest sentence?!?"

    Ha! It's amazing what can seem perfectly ordinary within the context of a comic until you try to summarize it...

    Yet we cut to Fake Naze in the sanctum sanctorum, and the next time we see Forge he's back in the fray to catch a ride to the roof with Nightcrawler — with a cybernetic leg on

    I honestly just assumed he was hoping down to his workshop to attach another leg (perhaps because, having re-read issue #184 recently enough, I remembered that his workshop was "downstairs") before returning, but it's definitely an odd transition, and one worth pointing out. If anything, it's probably a victim of the density of this issue - not enough space to depict Forge putting on a new leg.

    it's a little weird/lame/deflating to set up a certain villain as the most evil, ruthless, morally bankrupt being(s) ever and then negate their ne plus ultra status by saying "oh, here's a plus ultra".

    Yeah, it's a pretty common trope throughout comics, and yeah, it is all those things you said it is.

    I think just this once she's entitled.

    Definitely. Still, I wanted to point it out, and that felt like the right place. Really, it's all her freakouts after this that become tiresome, because once you've learned your mom is dead in this era, you should probably be ready to deal with whatever other variations you encounter from that point forward.

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  15. @Jeff: He seems to plan roughly three-year arcs.

    I tend to agree with Matt that it's likely more coincidental than planned, but there definitely is a pattern. Maybe it's just that three years worth of issues works out to be the amount of time it takes for Claremont to tire of/feel it's time to move on from a particular villain/idea/story arc?

    Maybe you could review Excalibur and Wolverine in chunks?

    That is one idea I had, at least after the initial Claremont-penned issues of those series, and then keep that up until Excalibur ties more directly into the rest of the line (or maybe until the Alan Davis run?) and Larry Hama comes aboard Wolverine. We'll see. Nevertheless, I appreciate the plea for my sanity. :)

    @Matt: I don't think Marvel has ever quite recovered from that, though they try to make it appear otherwise.

    Like I said, you took the words right out of my mouth.

    But then I was buying Classic X-Men as back issues to begin with, and I would guess that New Mutants back issues would've been of comparable prices.

    I pretty much read X-Men from Giant Size to about #200 via Classic X-Men, then from ~#200 up to the current 90s stuff as back issues (and I've since gone back and got copies of the original issues that got reprinted).

    As someone who was buying both Classic X-Men, regular Uncanny, New Mutants and X-Factor back issues at the same time, I can tell you that all the prices were roughly the same (barring the random "special" issues, like the first appearances of Archangel or Gambit) at the time, though X-Factor, for whatever reason, was the cheapest/easiest to find, which is why I have lingering affection for that series, as it was one of the first I was able to read in its entirety.

    I had forgotten till just now that the very month I started reading Classic X-Men regularly (not in back issues) turned out to be the final issue of the series!

    Ha! That's pretty funny.

    I've always wanted to read Larry Hama's run in its entirety. Someday I will.

    I'll definitely cover it in some form, so maybe you can read along then.

    Incidentally, I think Claremont's run on Wolverine only lasted nine issues (#1-8, then #10).

    Jason Powell pointed out that Claremont tends to have the X-Men encounter their major villains in a series of three acts -- it happens with Magneto, with the Hellfire Club, and with the Marauders, usually with a loss the first time, a stalemate the second time, and a victory the third time

    I love that observation, but yeah, I tend to think it's more a happy coincidence/unintentional consequence than an actual plan. That is, I think Claremont was aware that he liked to use that pattern with his villains, but I don't think he ever sat down and said, "okay, the X-Men lost the first encounter. In twenty issues we'll have the second, stalemate encounter, then fifteen issues after that, the third victorious encounter". He probably just ended up following that pattern because he liked it.

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  16. @Teebore
    I'll also freely admit I give the 90s more of pass because at that time, I was in position where I could still take the time to figure out the reading order of all the various X-titles in such a way that their various appearances across the line all made sense. Whereas by the 00s, I just didn't have the time anymore.


    The more I think about it, the more I recall you actually could connect most of the dots in the 90's if you cared too. There were lots more books and things like the Thor event didn't really happen, but most everything fit (or at the very least, there were few outright contradictions - although I remember some particularly glaring ones around Onslaught). The biggest in-story problem the 90's had were dangling mystery plots that went nowhere. Claremont is seen as the poster boy for this, but in my opinion it got really bad long after he was gone, especially toward the middle of the decade.

    Yeah, that does seem to be their approach. In general, I prefer that soft/sliding timeline approach, but it does cause problems for characters like Magneto. Once upon a time, the idea of linewide reboot at Marvel would have freaked me out, but now I don't think I'd mind, so long as, like you said, they managed to do a much better job of it than DC did (and frankly, it wouldn't be hard to do it better - I'd still like them to do it better AND well).

    I agree. I think it's eventually the best way to go, I just don't know how to do it. If it was a hard reboot, I think there would be a tendency to fall into the same problem the Ultimate Universe had: familiar story lines and characters with ironic, post modern spins put on them. Some of the twists were need, but eventually all they did was remind readers how much better the original stories were. Things would HAVE to stay somewhat familiar, but that's very hard to do without just remaking everything from the past 40 years.

    In terms of a soft reboot, my imagination really took off with Claremont's X-Men Forever series. If Marvel came out and said that nothing after UXM #280 counts and we're making a new #281 to launch our official continuity, I think I would be completely okay with that. Although I'd miss Bishop, so maybe we could bump it up to #300.

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  17. And a thought on DC's reboot. I was never really a DC guy (beyond the Reign of the Supermen and Knightfall type events), and I would have loved to get in on the ground floor with the new DCU. I was close, but the barrier of entry was, in my opinion, just too high. Some old DC stories still count, but I don't know which ones. And I would have loved to have read the new Batman books, but barely a year after beginning, all eight or so of them (which in itself is insane) are crossing over with each other. Sorry, but I ain't biting. I'd love it if I could just buy Action Comics or Batman with their first issue and read one continuous story for years, but it's clear that that just ain't happening. Because of this, I'm out of the DCNu before I even tried it.

    The idea of long running series with a single narrative is completely buried. I accepted years ago that books now bounce back and forth (90's X-Men), but they restart their numbering CONSTANTLY now. If you've been out of the game for a couple years, it's practically impossible to trace which book goes where. Seriously. UXM got a relaunch, was replaced by All New X-Men exactly a year later, but was then relaunched again a couple months back. Which is the flagship title? Does it matter? Will any of them even exist in two years? Just awful, and very sad. Oh, and I'm convinced that a book will never have longevity when its first issue launches with ads for a digital copy or AR scans plastered all over it. Ugh.

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  18. ... And this is the last issue of the JRJr era before the series loses all sense of direction until the Mutant Massacre. (Not that I like the MM much, but I can't deny it brought some well-needed direction back to [i]Uncanny[/i].)

    What are the major plotlines from now on ? Freedom Force and Magneto joining the team ? Nimrod ? But both of them combined barely account for half of the issues, if that ; most of them are more concerned with Rachel being annoying, random crossover storylines from New Mutants and Secret Wars II, and inane time-fillers such as the Kulan Gath story or most of the "solo issues".

    The series becomes such a mess that we get some really absurd stuff such as the X-Men permanently relocating to San Francisco for three whole issues... This is clearly the sign of some massive backstage confusion.

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  19. Speaking of continuity, there is a gap in this issue, between the battle in Dallas (the Casket of Ancient Winter-blizzard) and the Kurt argument/Rachel revelation scene at the school where the X-Men assist Thor, Beta Ray Bill, the Avengers, and the Asgardian forces in the battle against Surtur and his demon hordes in THOR#350-353. There is a scene in THOR#352 of Storm wielding a sword. I think the Dire Wraiths War in ROM also happens around this time.

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  20. @Matt: To be fair, in Secret Wars, Doom wears the action figure armor for the final few issues.

    I do recall the new armor — green chest-plate, no tunic or cloak — but in the comics it doesn't mimic Iron Man's down to the bands on the gloves and boots.

    @Teebore: I believe the banging was to establish that it was still alive. As for the real Naze, according to this story, he's dead: when the Wraith took his form (off panel), it would have reduced his original body to a pile of goo

    Apparently I was reading dramatic foreshadowing that wasn't really there into the fact that the caption points out that Ororo "half-expects Wraith-spells to rip the doors off their hinges, but there is merely a frantic pounding" followed by a scene in which, rather than turn Ororo to goo, a Wrath takes her form and transforms Ororo into the form of a Wrath.

    @Teebore: I didn't start reading Excalibur regularly until issue #71

    While I read all of "Fatal Attractions" thanks to working at a comics shop at the time, I have little memory of it. The early Claremont/Davis Excalibur is all I really know of the series, and I dropped it during the interminable "Cross-Time Caper" due to the meandering story, lack of Davis, and lack of funds as a college student. On general principle as good comics I'd recommend at least the first year, although I haven't read it in ages, but it's true that it doesn't factor much into the main X-Men stuff.

    Maybe the way to deal with Excalibur, Wolverine, and anything else relevant is to do a weekly or monthly "X-amining the X-Men Elsewhere" post that's sort-of an expanded take on "The Chronology Corner". You could recap what, say, Wolverine is up to in his own series, mention how if at all it syncs with his presence/absence in the team title(s), and expound upon plot details if they're germane to the whole mutant/X-Men aspect of the Marvel Universe and/or you just enjoyed reading the story. If you don't own the issues (or collections) to read, you can simply go by the Marvel Chronology you're using. Once you get to the '90s, you're on your own with a series to review every day of the week (X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force, Wolverine, Excalibur, and Generation X, if memory serves), since they really do all feed into each other, but I take your word for it that the storytelling is decompressed enough that you won't be overwhelmed.

    Not convinced? If you had a post like this in place now, you wouldn't have to devote a whole post to Iceman. 8^) And I must say that while your reread doesn't exactly suffer from not having stuff like Wolverine's guest appearance in Alpha Flight #17 "right now" covered, since I know about it the completist continuity nut in me kind-of wants at least a mention of it.

    @Teebore: though X-Factor, for whatever reason, was the cheapest/easiest to find

    'Cause it sucked?

    I was so excited for X-Factor, albeit guardedly (the return of Jean Grey had potential, but it did take some of the power away from a classic storyline, plus of course it turned Scott Summers into a man who left his wife and newborn child), and it just got so bad so fast. Honestly I'm curious to read the Simonson/Simonson issues one day — I guess I read some when I picked up the first couple months of the "Inferno" stuff when it came out, but literally all I remember of those issues is all the characters fighting amongst burned-out old buildings with gargoyles in Manhattan, confusion over this Mister Sinister guy, and my disbelief that they were only now getting around to revealing (retcon-revealing, I realize) who Madelyne Pryor was; I considered the decision to have dropped X-Men with #205 and X-Factor with #5 or #6 right after that a good one.

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  21. @Matt, @Teebore, @cetera — I can't speak to the Classic X-Men issues that would've reprinted these issues, but at least when the series debuted it was in the early days of the brighter Mando paper for semi-upscale projects like that (not as dull as newsprint, not as white or heavy as the Baxter paper used for the high-quality reprints we discussed recently and some other stuff like, at Marvel, Amazing High Adventure). Colorists in particular but I suppose also inkers had to adjust to how much of the paper absorbed, or more to the point didn't absorb, compared to newsprint — and if the color guides were simply reused from these original issues rather than redone to adjust CMYK percentages for the Mando paper, then you'd definitely get garish colors as well as that ugly separation/overlap between the black set down by the inker and the black marked by the colorist.

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  22. @Dan: Claremont is seen as the poster boy for this, but in my opinion it got really bad long after he was gone, especially toward the middle of the decade.

    I agree - I've often said that Claremont gets a lot of blame for the things his successors did while trying to emulate his style. Of course, when you set stuff up to payoff later and then leave the book/get canned, the number of unresolved plotlines start to pile up fast...

    Some of the twists were need, but eventually all they did was remind readers how much better the original stories were. Things would HAVE to stay somewhat familiar, but that's very hard to do without just remaking everything from the past 40 years.

    Yeah, that would be my concern as well. I mean, there were plenty of good things to come out of the Ultimate line, but at the end of the day, I'd have been bummed if that was the rebooted Marvel timeline because it got so hung up on just slightly twisting existing stories to be more modern. Not only does that get old fast, but intentionally modern stuff tends to date itself faster as well.

    If Marvel came out and said that nothing after UXM #280 counts and we're making a new #281 to launch our official continuity, I think I would be completely okay with that. Although I'd miss Bishop, so maybe we could bump it up to #300.

    That's the other approach, though as you've pointed out, whatever the cutoff, there will always be fans angry their favorite character/storyline didn't make the cut.

    I'd love it if I could just buy Action Comics or Batman with their first issue and read one continuous story for years, but it's clear that that just ain't happening. Because of this, I'm out of the DCNu before I even tried it.

    Action is pretty self contained, I think. At least, I'm reading it and the confusion I have comes from the fact that it's a Grant Morrison comic and I'm not spending enough time reading it carefully to get everything.

    I read the first hardcover of Snyder's Batman, and I have it on good authority that's the only Nu52 Batman book worth reading. I even think the big crossover is more akin to something like the non X-Men "Inferno" tie ins: a similar backdrop across the various titles, but no real need to read each one, nor read them in any particularly order (I'm also reading All Star Western, which got lumped in with that Bat book crossover, but it simply involved the same group of villains (a centuries old secret society, hence their presence in both the 19th and 21st centuries) and I didn't miss anything in that book by not reading the others, not that DC wants you to know that).

    Now, they're doing some other Batman crossover, but I have no idea how involved that is. It hasn't impacted my reading yet, at least.

    but they restart their numbering CONSTANTLY now. If you've been out of the game for a couple years, it's practically impossible to trace which book goes where.

    That drives me nuts. Just a few days ago Dr. Bitz and I were talking about the future of comics and I jokingly mentioned reading the 1,342 issue of X-Men on my deathbed, then quickly corrected myself and said the way things are now, it would actually be the 17th issue of the 32nd volume.

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  23. @JD: What are the major plotlines from now on ?

    I don't disagree that there aren't much in the way of major plotlines, but we'll have to agree to disagree about that being a bad thing.

    That's one of the things I love about this era, that every issue isn't just a chapter in a three or four part story, but rather reads more like just another chapter in the lives of the characters. And the stretch from this issue up to #200 contains some of my favorite issues: I love the Kulan Gath two parter, just because it's old school comic book fun, issues #193, #194 and #196 are some of my favorite single issues of the series, and I love the Magneto trial in #200, goofy costume aside. Plus, we've got the return of Paul Smith in the X-Men/Alpha Flight limited series and the fantastic Art Adams-drawn Asgardian annuals right before #200.

    I could take or leave the Arcade story in issue #197 or the Nightcrawler one in #204, "LifeDeath II" bores me to tears, and I agree that things go a bit off the rails after #200 with all the back and forth and whatnot (Claremont seems to flounder a bit here, perhaps in response to getting his planned James Jaspers storyline aborted, much like how he floundered a bit after Byrne left), but all things considered, I really love this upcoming stretch of issues.

    @angmc43: Speaking of continuity, there is a gap in this issue ... where the X-Men assist Thor, Beta Ray Bill, the Avengers, and the Asgardian forces in the battle against Surtur and his demon hordes in THOR#350-353

    I think the Marvel Index officially puts Storm's appearance in Thor #352 as occurring after this issue, but it makes a certain amount of sense to put it in the middle of the issue, especially considering there's no blizzard when Nightcrawler calls his meeting (since Storm is swimming in the pool at the time).

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  24. @Blam: but there is merely a frantic pounding" followed by a scene in which, rather than turn Ororo to goo, a Wrath takes her form and transforms Ororo into the form of a Wrath.

    If memory serves, I believe the Wraith isn't close enough to Storm to do the whole "barbed tongue sucks out their essence" thing that results in the goo pile, hence the spell instead, but I freely admit I'm hand waving at this point.

    Maybe the way to deal with Excalibur, Wolverine, and anything else relevant is to do a weekly or monthly "X-amining the X-Men Elsewhere" post

    That's not a bad idea - I'd been circling around something like that in my head, but you put it into words in a way that made more sense. Like I said, I'd probably devote full posts to the Claremont-penned initial issues, but then maybe do a group post until a good or relevant run of issues begins again. Heck, I could eventually even do full posts for the stuff I cover en masse as bonus content in the future collected editions I dream of doing. :)

    In any event, it's a good idea and something to think about.

    Once you get to the '90s, you're on your own with a series to review every day of the week

    We'll see how things pan out, but right now one thing I'm considering is that when the second X-Men title launches, I may alternate the Wednesday posts between Uncanny and Adjectiveless (since they very quickly end up going hand in hand), which would then allow me to alternate the spinoffs each week, so I could do, say, Uncanny, X-Force and Excalibur one week, then X-Men, X-Factor and Wolverine the next, and so on (and then work in Generation X, and probably Cable eventually, but again, I'm hoping decompression will help in that regard).

    But we'll see. Thankfully, that's still a little ways off. And I'll probably try the alternating spin-offs thing out of necessity for those times when Uncanny eventually goes bi-weekly after "Fall of the Mutants".

    'Cause it sucked?

    Hey now, that's...well, that's true of the initial Layton issues, certainly, but once Simonson comes aboard (almost immediately after you dropped it, from the sounds of it) it gets better (especially once she starts earnestly working to dismantle Layton's terrible initial premise), and eventually, pretty good. I'd even argue there's a stretch there where it's consistently the best of the three books, though it certainly is also the most overtly soap operatic of them all, which has always appealed to me but can be troublesome for others.

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  25. Good thing Illyana was stuck in limbo, and made into Belasco's magick slave..or else, the X-Men might not have made it out of this hairy situation.

    Why do they spell it "magick"?

    Sooo....does Lee Forester just hang out in the Bermuda Triangle's general vicinity on a regular basis?

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  26. @Reese: Good thing Illyana was stuck in limbo, and made into Belasco's magick slave..or else, the X-Men might not have made it out of this hairy situation.

    True, though we can say that about a lot of things: it's a good thing Jean Grey died/almost died on that shuttle and became Phoenix, otherwise the whole universe would have died, etc.

    Why do they spell it "magick"?

    "Magick" is, I believe an older spelling of the word, one coined to differentiate stage magic from occult/"real" magic, a distinction that has mostly fallen by the wayside in everyday/modern usage, but something I'm not surprised to see Claremont pick up and use.

    Sooo....does Lee Forester just hang out in the Bermuda Triangle's general vicinity on a regular basis?

    Presumably; her fishing trawler sails out of Florida, after all. Plus, she has the power of comic book coincidence to draw these things to her. ;)

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  27. Great point about shared universes. While I detest event-crossovers, the shared universe is a simple trick that is rarely done right nowadays.

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