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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #189

"Two Girls Out to Have Fun!"
January 1985

In a Nutshell 
Magma and Rachel fight Selene at the Hellfire Club

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Romita Jr.  
Guest Inker: Steve Leialoha
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
Rachel and Amara are visiting the Statute of Liberty. As Rachel gazes out over the city, she remembers her time as a Hound in the future, tasked with hunting down fellow mutants. Nearby, the X-Men have gathered on a cruise ship bound for Africa to say goodbye to Storm. At the South Street Seaport, Jamie Rodriguez chases off two dock workers trying to steal the necklace he found. The necklace tells Jamie that in exchange for his soul, it will grant him the world, but he resists the temptation and decides to destroy the necklace. Meanwhile, after some shopping, Rachel and Amara visit a recreation of the Roman baths at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Suddenly, Rachel senses the presence of Selene, and rushes out into the street to see a limo pulling away. Rachel realizes Amara knows Selene as well, and Amara tells her that Selene killed her mother. The two women follow the limo to the Hellfire Club and sneak inside, dressing themselves as staff to blend in better.


Below, in the building's secret catacombs, Friedrich von Roehm introduces Selene to Sebastian Shaw as a candidate for the title of Black Queen. Sensing the presence of Rachel and Amara, Selene disappears, then proceeds to mentally enslave both girls, presenting them to Shaw as a gift. Unable to break free of Selene's control, Rachel enters Amara's mind and picks a fight with her. The ensuing confrontation causes Amara's power to manifest in the real world, breaking Selene's control. Amara attacks Selene, but Rachel realizes they're in over their heads and telepathically calls for help. The X-Men arrive shortly and defuse the situation, with Xavier and Shaw agreeing to part amicably. That evening, as Jamie Rodriguez waits for the subway, he's stabbed by a mugger, who takes the necklace. Once he does so, he bursts into flames, and the voice of Kulan Gath declares he is free to make the world his forever. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Rachel is revealed to have been a Hound in her future, a mutant used by the government to hunt other mutants. In a flashback, she is seen wearing the studded full body suit that will become the inspiration for her costume in Excalibur, and sporting her facial tattoos (future stories will established that she normally uses her telepathy to hide them) for the first time.


Storm attempts to leave the X-Men as of this issue, in light of her power loss, though next issue will reveal she will be less than successful in that attempt. 


Selene appears dressed as the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, the same attire once worn by Jean Grey, for the first time, a look that will become her default one, even when not directly working with the club.


The events of the next two issues will cause Dr. Strange to cast a spell rolling back and altering time; as a result, the very end of this issue, in which Jamie Rodriguez is killed by a mugger, which releases the ancient sorcerer Kulan Gath, is technically occurring in an alternate timeline, though we don't know that yet. 

The corner cover box has been changed so that it only contains heads of Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Rogue.

When Amara and Rachel are at the Statue of Liberty, it's shown being repaired. I'm not sure if that's as a result of a story in another comic, or a representation of actual work that was performed on the statute circa 1984.


Steve Leialoha, who previously penciled, amongst other things, Spider-Woman #37 and #38, fills in on inks. He gives Romita's pencils a somewhat more angular and cartoonish look, though it doesn't seem entirely out of place alongside the Dan Green-inked issues.  

The Chronology Corner
This one gets a little dicey - Illyana and Amara appear here following the story in New Mutants #22-25 and Rom Annual #3, yet Selene is shown being introduced by Friedrich Von Roehm to Sebastian Shaw and Tessa, despite having been inducted into the Inner Circle in New Mutants #23. It's possible that the Selene/Shaw scene occurs prior to Selene's induction while the rest of the story takes place after it, but as Selene's presence at the club forms the crux of Amara and Rachel's actions, that seems unlikely. More likely, Selene's audience with Shaw in this issue is a more private one (the rest of the club, present in New Mutants #23, is absent), intended to serve as her official bid for the title of Black Queen, having already been accepted into the Inner Circle (as Selene did not appear wearing the Black Queen garb in New Mutants).

Or, you know, Claremont and Nocenti were less than careful about all this, and ended up depicting a variation on the same scene in two different places...

A Work in Progress
We learn that not only was Nova Roma cut off from the modern world, but that, after its founding, it also cut itself off from Rome itself, as they had no knowledge of the rise of the Roman Empire.


Storm mentions having developed a taste for champagne, having first drank it with Forge in issue #186.

As with Professor X, Amara is angry when Rachel accidentally reads her mind. 


Rachel mentions that she learned burglary skills from Storm, presumably in her future.

Rachel appears, in a mental image of herself, wearing a costume, though aside from this issue it never appears again.


Amara is referred to as "Amy" by Rachel.

Once again, Colossus and Rogue burst through a wall to rescue Rachel, a pattern mentioned by Rogue.


Professor X reminds Amara that his students do not kill. 


Shaw and the X-Men part ways in the wake of Rachel and Amara's attack on the Hellfire Club, with Shaw stating he has no quarrel with the X-Men at this time.


Rachel is able to telekinetically alter the clothing of the X-Men, just as Jean Grey did as Phoenix, though the effort takes considerably more out of Rachel.


I Love the 80s
In an eerily prescient moment, Rachel mentions the destruction of the World Trade Center as occurring in her future. 


Kitty and Wolverine's absence is once again noted (along with a helpful footnote pointing readers to the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine limited series). The absent Kitty is somewhat awkwardly referred to as "Kitty Pryde" by Professor X. It's almost as though he's aware of the possibility that someone ignorant to the lives of the X-Men, someone who perhaps is checking in on their adventures for the first time, might be overhearing the conversation and would be confused should he refer to his absent student by the far more logical and simple "Kitty"....


Jamie Rodriguez is watching a portable "Watchman" TV while waiting for the subway when he's attacked.


Like a Phoenix From the Ashes
Tessa notes the resemblance between Rachel and Jean Grey.


Rachel Summers, Crybaby
Remembering her future, Rachel promptly bursts into tears.


Human/Mutant Relations
Jamie watches am anti-mutant news report motivated by the events of "Dazzler: The Movie". 


For Sale
There's an ad for the Marvel Try-Out book in this issue, essentially a contest run by Marvel to help identify new up-and-coming talent. The book promised that the winners' work would appear in a future special issue of Amazing Spider-Man, and though that issue never actually saw print, the winner of the penciling portion of the contest, Mark Bagley, would go on to become a superstar artist at Marvel, with a lengthy and definitive run on first Amazing Spider-Man and then Ultimate Spider-Man, amongst others. 


Presumably, beating this game involved more than just not drinking the water.


Bullpen Bulletins
John Romita Jr. is named Marvel's "Hunk of the Month" in this issue. I don't believe this ever becomes a monthly thing.  


Teebore's Take
This is a rather odd issue. Structurally, it fits with the "day in the life" vignette approach of this era, featuring a variety of subplots and character moments, including Storm's apparent departure from the team and more information about Rachel's background alongside a done-in-one plot that stands alone while still connecting to previous and forthcoming issues. Yet that plot mainly involves Magma, from New Mutants, and Rachel. The latter, at least, is one of this book's supporting characters, albeit a relatively new one. Magma, however, would be totally unknown to any readers at the time who weren't also reading New Mutants. And with Uncanny still the senior and better-selling title, there certainly were plenty of readers in that boat (though it should be mentioned that if you were/are reading both titles, Claremont's growing comfort in sharing characters and plots between his two X-Men titles is a lot of fun, and adds to the feeling of it all being one large narrative tapestry).

While the New Mutants as a group and many of their members have at least been mentioned or appeared in previous issues, Magma had not. Claremont gives readers all the necessary info to understand the character (she's from a hidden city based on ancient Rome, has volcanic powers, Selene killed her mom, etc.) and pairing the two young women together makes thematic sense (both are fish-out-of-water struggling to understand a world that it is strange and new, and both have a personal beef with Selene) but I imagine it must have been terribly difficult for readers unfamiliar with Magma to really care about her past with Selene. While Rachel's vendetta is far less significant (Selene killed some random dude who was nice to Rachel), at least readers of X-Men saw that happen; here, they are merely told about Magma's vendetta with Selene, and as a result, it lacks emotional weight. Couple that with the fact that Rachel, who is still a rather underdeveloped character whose defining characteristic at this point is getting upset that the world around her is different than her past, is forced to carry the narrative, leaving the rest of the X-Men to literally burst through a wall to save her at the last minute once again, and the vast majority of the issue becomes rather unsatisfying. 

Next Issue
Tomorrow, its more "fun" with Cloak and Dagger in New Mutants #24, and next week, one of my favorite stories kicks off in Uncanny X-Men #190, as Kulan Gath remakes the world in his image.

14 comments:

  1. I think others have mentioned it, but this is really an example of Claremont's narrative style being more annoying than successful. I love that he doesn't open every issue of X-Men with a wide shot of the mansion and a cut to three X-Men in the danger room (ironically enough this sequence happened all the time in other comics where the x-men made guest appearances). But here we just get a big "character" issue between a character never seen in the title and one of the most irritating characters Claremont ever created (way worse than Gambit or Jubilee). I want to read about the X-Men! It's also pretty clear Claremont considered "Nightcrawler as leader" to be a non-starter, as he's continually given little to no more screentime than normal- I think Storm still appears more while she's not a member of the X-Men.

    Also, while I think Claremont's fetishist reputation is a bit over-blown, this issue would've blown Dr. Wertham's mind. It's been brought up elsewhere (although I don't think here), that Rachel's "dark secret" and haircut make her at least a metaphorical dyke, but then you've got her studded black leather costume (later red), Selene copying Jean Grey's fetish-wear (which in turn was just a rip-off of The Avengers episode "A touch of Brimstone"), Amara and Rachel disguising themselves in "French Maid" costumes, and then Selene trying to possess Rachel "body and soul," which, for Rachel, wouldn't be the first time. It's all right there, barely as subtext.

    I loved JRJR's run with Stern on Spider-Man, and his Daredevil run that I think came after this, but his art doesn't always seem to work with the material here. It doesn't help that that Phoenix outfit is one of many hideous, short-lived outfits we see during his tenure.

    I am excited for Kulan Gath though, as he's always a good "break" from the action for a couple of issues. My first exposure to the character was his story in Busiek and Perez's Avengers, which I enjoyed. Even though, come to think of it, the Morgan LeFay story was very similar. I think both were excuses for Perez to re-design every costume.

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  2. @Dobson: It's also pretty clear Claremont considered "Nightcrawler as leader" to be a non-starter, as he's continually given little to no more screentime than normal

    Yeah, I'm pretty sure there's all of one issue where he's stated/shown to be in charge. Otherwise, it's pretty much just Xavier, Storm or Cyclops stepping in until he gets injured and leaves the team.

    I think Storm still appears more while she's not a member of the X-Men.

    Definitely. It's interesting that Claremont was willing/wanted to write Cyclops out, but couldn't quite let go of Storm. Obviously, he liked both characters and clearly was writing two different kinds of stories with them, but still interesting that Storm remained in the spotlight even after she left the team.

    It's all right there, barely as subtext.

    Yep. A lot of the Hellfire stuff can be written off as being a carry over from the initial arc (I mean, once you've established their schtick, any time they get used you're going to end with lots of fetish and frilly lace outfits), but Rachel's past/future attire is definitely another nod in that direction.

    It doesn't help that that Phoenix outfit is one of many hideous, short-lived outfits we see during his tenure.

    I generally think Romita is better suited to this material than he gets credit for, but that costume is definitely worthy of inclusion in his "Hall of Shame" collection, alongside far too many costumes from this era. No surprise it never pops up again.

    I think both were excuses for Perez to re-design every costume.

    Ha! Yeah, pretty much. My first exposure to Kulan Gath was actually this next story. It's one of my favorite, so I'm glad someone else is excited for it as well.

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  3. "The X-Men arrive shortly and defuse the situation, with Xavier and Shaw agreeing to part amicably."

    Well, it should come as no surprise that that outcome doesn't impress me very much.

    "When Amara and Rachel are at the Statue of Liberty, it's shown being repaired. I'm not sure if that's as a result of a story in another comic, or a representation of actual work that was performed on the statute circa 1984."

    This sounded familiar so I checked Wikipedia: In the early 1980s, it was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that a major restoration was required. While the statue was closed from 1984 to 1986, the torch and a large part of the internal structure were replaced...

    "Jamie Rodriguez is watching a portable "Watchman""

    So we have our answer!!!!!

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  4. @Dr. Bitz: Well, it should come as no surprise that that outcome doesn't impress me very much.

    I actually thought of you when I read it. You'd better get used to it: we're about to head into a prolonged period where the X-Men more or less have a permanent truce in place with the Hellfire Club.

    In the early 1980s, it was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that a major restoration was required.

    Huh. I did not know that. Thanks for doing the work for me. Also, kudos to whomever it was on the creative team that thought to add that detail.

    So we have our answer!!!!!

    Nicely done. Nicely done. :)

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  5. I think I've mentioned a few times that I like this issue. I really don't know why. I can't stand Rachel, and I was one of those readers you mention who didn't also read New Mutants at the same time, and therefore had no idea who Magma was. Maybe it's the presence of the Hellfire Club? Also, I enjoy Selene, so that's probably part of it, too. The guest inking by Leialoha might be part of it as well.

    "Storm attempts to leave the X-Men as of this issue, in light of her power loss, though next issue will reveal she will be less than successful in that attempt."

    Ah! I was going to mention that I didn't think Storm left for Africa quite this early. That would be why. This feels like one of those instances of Claremont changing his mind about something between issues.

    "Steve Leialoha, who previously penciled, amongst other things, Spider-Woman #37 and #38, fills in on inks."

    And we'll be seeing more of him following the Bill S. run on New Mutants.

    Leialoha is best known to me as Jim Starlin's "finisher" on Warlock in the 70's. As Starlin got too busy to fully pencil that series, he switched to breakdown and Leialoha provided the finished art. They were a fantastic team, and their moody, atmospheric work is a big reason why I love that run of comics.

    "Rachel appears, in a mental image of herself, wearing a costume, though aside from this issue it never appears again."

    It seems strongly influenced by the Phoenix costume, with the thigh-high boots, sash, and "V" shapes on the torso. Rachel's showing a bit more skin than Mom did, though.

    "Shaw and the X-Men part ways in the wake of Rachel and Amara's attack on the Hellfire Club, with Shaw stating he has no quarrel with the X-Men at this time."

    It's weird to me that Shaw calls Xavier "Charles". Seems like, as a villain, he should be calling him "Xavier", doesn't it? Unless they have some heretofore unknown history together!

    (Which I'm pretty sure they do, though I don't know when it was ret-conned in.)

    "Tessa notes the resemblance between Rachel and Jean Grey."

    Since she's Professor X's deep cover agent in the Hellfire Club, you'd think she could just ask him about this later.

    I'm sorry, but that "revelation" is one of the stupidest Claremont ever came up with, and I will always bring it up when given the chance.

    "Rachel, who is still a rather underdeveloped character..."

    Don't worry, she really fills out when Alan Davis starts drawing her.

    ...

    Oh, that's not what you meant, is it?

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  6. Dobson -- "Selene copying Jean Grey's fetish-wear (which in turn was just a rip-off of The Avengers episode "A touch of Brimstone")..."

    To be fair, both Claremont and Byrne admit that episode was the inspiration for the Hellfire Club story.

    Teebore -- "still interesting that Storm remained in the spotlight even after she left the team."

    Are you talking about the first or the second time Cyclops left? Because the first time, he continued to appear in sub-plot pages and had that solo story with D'Spayre. The second time, I think it was pretty clear he was retiring, so it's understandable that he didn't continue to appear. I liken Storm's departure here to the "leave of absence" Cyclops took the first time.

    Teebore -- "I generally think Romita is better suited to this material than he gets credit for..."

    I agree that Romita is suited to the stuff Claremont was doing around this time, which was mostly "street-level" stuff with the characters fighting, more often than not, in their civilian clothes. But I'd rather see him drawing Spider-Man or Daredevil if he's going to be doing "street level"!

    Dr. Bitz -- "While the statue was closed from 1984 to 1986, the torch and a large part of the internal structure were replaced..."

    I feel like this figured into more than one comic book plot around that time. Maybe Spider-Man or something. I think there was a reference to it in an issue of Transformers, too, where Decepticons Runabout and Runamuck graffiti-tagged it (in Cybertronian) after the cleaning was done.

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  7. @Matt: This feels like one of those instances of Claremont changing his mind about something between issues.

    This one I feel like was planned - Storm's role in the next story picks up pretty much right where she leaves off in this one (aboard the cruise ship), so it seems like it was planned. Though I suppose Claremont might have originally intended for her to miss out on the Kulan Gath story, then decided to include her after all.

    They were a fantastic team, and their moody, atmospheric work is a big reason why I love that run of comics.

    I've read woefully little of Starlin's Warlock, especially the 70s stuff. I'll have to check that out sometime.

    Rachel's showing a bit more skin than Mom did, though.

    True. The times, they are a-changin' :)

    Which I'm pretty sure they do, though I don't know when it was ret-conned in.

    Yeah, I'm pretty sure they do, too, though I forget the details. I'm fairly certain that retcon came along well after this issue, though.

    I've always taken Shaw's "Charles" to be an indication that, whether Xavier likes it or not, Shaw considers them colleagues on the same level, both leaders of mutants, albeit ones with different agendas and goals (though I suppose it would make more sense for Shaw to feel he's superior to Xavier. One could probably read his "Charles" as being condescending).

    Since she's Professor X's deep cover agent in the Hellfire Club, you'd think she could just ask him about this later.

    Whose to say she didn't? ;)

    Seriously though, the Tessa retcon (and moreover, Claremont's general obsession with the character after his return) bugs me too.

    Don't worry, she really fills out when Alan Davis starts drawing her.

    *rimshot*

    Bravo.

    I liken Storm's departure here to the "leave of absence" Cyclops took the first time.

    I was thinking of Cyclop's second absence, and yeah, you're right, Storm's imminent departure is more akin to his first departure, when he was still more or less a fixture in the book even if he wasn't part of the team or in every issue.

    I think there was a reference to it in an issue of Transformers, too, where Decepticons Runabout and Runamuck graffiti-tagged it (in Cybertronian) after the cleaning was done.

    We really need to do something with Transformers on the blog at some point, because I have a feeling the discussions between you and Dr. Bitz on the subject could put our X-Men discussions to shame in terms of the level of geekiness on display. :)

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  8. @Teebore
    Seriously though, the Tessa retcon (and moreover, Claremont's general obsession with the character after his return) bugs me too.


    Anyone know if Claremont ever elaborated on this? I hope he never claimed that this was something he always wanted to do because I wouldn't buy that for a second.

    Claremont's most recent return to X-Men was so weird. It's strange, it's almost as if he assumed he could still define these characters in the early 2000's as he had done when they were new. One could argue that he might have more right than anyone as he was so instrumental in defining them over 17 years, but I just don't think it works that way. "Tessa was a spy", "Nightcrawler is in love with Rachel and Storm but is sad because Storm is actually in love with Wolverine", "Gateway is Bishop's grandfather", etc. I just don't think you can breeze in nearly twenty years later and do this kind of thing with such established, over exposed characters. And why bother it all? None of these new twists or back stories went ANYWHERE.

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  9. @Dan: Anyone know if Claremont ever elaborated on this? I hope he never claimed that this was something he always wanted to do because I wouldn't buy that for a second.

    I've never seen anything that elaborates on it. I agree: there's no way he could even try to pretend this was his plan all along. Which, fine, I don't have a problem with unplanned retcons in principal, but this one was just so ill-conceived and generally pointless.

    None of these new twists or back stories went ANYWHERE.

    Part of the problem there is that he got moved off the books before he could do anything with them (presumably he expected to have more time to explore that stuff than he got).

    But yeah, it definitely felt like he came back on the book and immediately tried to recapture the magic, failing to realize part of that magic was the fact that those sort of twists and back stories developed gradually over years, and didn't just appear out of nowhere.

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  10. Teebore -- "I've read woefully little of Starlin's Warlock, especially the 70s stuff. I'll have to check that out sometime."

    I cannot recommend this enough (after you finish Stern's Spider-Man, of course). When I was about 13 or so, around the time Infnity War came out (I missed Gauntlet initially), Marvel published re-reprints of their early 80's Baxter paper reprints of Starlin's Warlock and the stuff I read in those issues blew my mind. Not just the stories themselves, but the artwork and even the style was different from any comic I'd ever seen. It all seemed (bearing in mind I was 13 then) so much more sophisticated and mature than any comic I had read previously.

    The funny thing is, I think I picked the series up for Thanos, but those stories made me a Warlock/Starlin fan for life. No one writes Warlock as well as Starlin, and Starlin never wrote him as well as in those original issues.

    If you have money to splurge with, Warlock Masterworks volume 2 contains the full Starlin run. If you'd rather stay budget conscious, Essential Warlock just came out recently, with all the original Warlock stuff, including the pre-Starlin material (obviously in black and white). I've never read the pre-Starlin issues, though I plan to get to them someday.

    Teebore -- "We really need to do something with Transformers on the blog at some point..."

    Bring it! And G.I. Joe, too!

    In the meantime, for those who would like to read full reviews of every American Marvel Transformers comic ever published and many of the U.K. issues as well, I highly recommend the Disciples of Boltax blog.

    Dan -- "Claremont's most recent return to X-Men was so weird. It's strange, it's almost as if he assumed he could still define these characters in the early 2000's as he had done when they were new."

    The strange thing is, this had already happened previously. When he returned to Wolverine in the late 90's, he basically acted as if nothing had happened in the eight or so years he'd been gone. Everyone reverted to their 1991 characterizations. That didn't fly with the fandom, and you could tell by the time he came back to the main X-titles with "Revolution" and then moved on to X-Treme X-Men that he had done some homework and was now going to adapt to modern continuity.

    Then somehow when he had his second return to Uncanny with Alan Davis, in the issues you mention, it was like he decided to jump back in time to 1991 again (or to some alternate universe or something).

    Even weirder is that X-Men Forever, which should have felt more like 1991 than anything he'd written since, really just felt like modern Claremont trying to recapture the way he used to write. But I've gathered that editorial interference may have had something to do with that.

    Which is idiocy in its own right -- why hire a guy to step back in time and write the stories he "would have" written if you're then going to tell him what to do?? The same thing happened when Howard Mackie and Tom DeFalco returned to Marvel a few years ago to tell the "real" Spider-Man Clone Saga -- the one they'd intended to do way back in the 90's before marketing stretched out the story for two years. But current Marvel editorial got involved and mucked about with the "true" story, kind of defeating the point. Another recent example was with Michelinie and Layton's Iron Man Forever, which according to Layton was meddled with so much that it barely resembles the original story. It's finally coming out a few months from now, years after they finished it.

    Sorry... my mutant power is to turn almost topic into a rant about how much Marvel sucks these days. Ask me how my breakfast was, and it will become a diatribe against Spider-Man and Wolverine being on the Avengers.

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  11. @Matt: If you have money to splurge with, Warlock Masterworks volume 2 contains the full Starlin run.

    My local con is coming up in about a month and a half; I'll have to see what I can find. I may also check and see if any of it is available on Marvel Unlimited.

    I highly recommend the Disciples of Boltax blog.

    I've had that on my "too read" blog list for awhile (heck, you probably brought it to my attention the first time). I've definitely enjoyed the little I've read.

    Ask me how my breakfast was, and it will become a diatribe against Spider-Man and Wolverine being on the Avengers.

    Ha! :)

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  12. The corner cover box has been changed so that it only contains heads of Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Rogue.

    I was planning to comment on that. Rachel's head isn't up there, even with Storm departing, but she is part of the main cover image — unrecognizable to anyone save a dedicated reader. The action is rounded out with Magma and Selene, both of whom have been seen almost exclusively in New Mutants; as you point out in your analysis neither character can possibly be the reason why X-Men readers are picking up the issue. How was this cover supposed to sell copies? Apart from the bizarre cheesecake, I mean.

    Steve Leialoha ... gives Romita's pencils a somewhat more angular and cartoonish look, though it doesn't seem entirely out of place alongside the Dan Green-inked issues. 

    I've never been the biggest fan of JRJr.'s pencils (during this era in particular) nor of Steve Leialoha's art, but I have to say that — while it's not perfect; there are some awkward poses and trademark Leialoha "fashion"-style faces — I think I like the combo better than Romita/Green.

    We learn that not only was Nova Roma cut off from the modern world, but that, after its founding, it also cut itself off from Rome itself, as they had no knowledge of the rise of the Roman Empire.

    I'm aware that we spent an extended period there when it was introduced, but every time I read about Nova Roma being "founded nearly 2,000 years ago by a party of expatriate Romans, in the Andean highlands" [caption] my head still hurts. Romans, from before the time of Jesus (based on Amara not knowing of any Caesars after Gaius Julius), made their way to what's now called South America, retained their ancient culture and kept hidden from the outside world and intermingled with the indigenous people. Not having kept in contact with Vetus Roma is at least consistent with their isolation, but honestly I was kind-of betting that a transglobal wormhole was involved.

    Rachel mentions that she learned burglary skills from Storm, presumably in her future.

    I just realized reading that how many (weird, to be sure) parallels there are between Illyana's time in Limbo and Rachel's past life in an alternate future — both saw the X-Men grow old, mentor them, and/or die, in Storm's case all three for both girls.

    Shaw and the X-Men part ways in the wake of Rachel and Amara's attack on the Hellfire Club, with Shaw stating he has no quarrel with the X-Men at this time.

    Translation: "Xavier's in his astral form. Crap! He could totally beat me right now. Don't think that don't think that don't think that."

    I enjoyed your "the butler did it" filename, Teebore. Not only is Tessa (retroactively) undercover, apparently, but Alfred is as well.

    What the hell is Rachel laughing about when she leaves the room with Shaw et al.?

    Nicely done indeed, Dr. Bitz. You too, Matt.

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  13. @Blam: I just realized reading that how many (weird, to be sure) parallels there are between Illyana's time in Limbo and Rachel's past life in an alternate future — both saw the X-Men grow old, mentor them, and/or die

    Great observation - I'd never made that connection before. Note also that Illyana is the first member of the extended X-Men family that Rachel meets after arriving in her past/the present.

    What the hell is Rachel laughing about when she leaves the room with Shaw et al.?

    I don't think she's actually leaving Shaw's room (rather some other random member), but I've often wondered the same thing. Given her vague reaction to it and what the club caters to, it was likely some kind of sexual kink Claremont felt better left to the imagination, but I'm having a hard time imagining something that would both be inappropriate enough to avoid direction mention and still cause Rachel to laugh that hard (instead of being grossed or creeped out by it).

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  14. "Tessa notes the resemblance between Rachel and Jean Grey."

    You'd think Cyclops would have at some point as well, no?

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