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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #191

"Raiders of the Lost Temple!"
March 1985

In a Nutshell 
The transformed X-Men and Avengers attempt to overthrow Kulan Gath.

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

Plot
Kulan Gath tortures the captive Spider-Man, telling him the blood of innocents will provide the power to spread his spell over the entire planet. He then sends the New Mutants and Morlocks out in search of the rebels. The rebels arrive at what was once the New York Public library, seeking weapons and knowledge to use against Kulan Gath. Just then, they're attacked by Gath's soldiers. Rogue is killed, while Storm is rescued by Warlock. As the remaining rebels head towards Kulan Gath's temple via the Morlock tunnels, Warlock attempts to help Storm remember the real world. That evening, the rebels sneak into Gath's temple, but are discovered. They fight their way into Gath's throne room, both sides taking heavy losses. Watching the melee, Spider-Man summons the strength to break free, intent of stopping Gath once and for all, but is quickly killed by the wizard. Above, Storm and Warlock arrive at the temple, and Warlock is able to make Storm understand that Gath's amulet is the source of his power. Warlock becomes a pair of wings, and together they swoop down, snatching the amulet away.


Just then, Amara snares the amulet from them, revealing herself to be Selene in disguise, while the captured Selene turns into Amara. Selene declares her intention to cast Gath's spell over the world and rule it herself. Amara, controlled by Selene, triggers a volcano which destroys Kulan Gath and injures Storm and Warlock. Storm asks the alien to transform her into a techno-organic being. She then infects Selene in turn, and proceeds to drain her of her life energy. With both Gath and Selene destroyed, Dr. Strange is freed, but the city and everyone within it remains transformed. Dr. Strange combines his abilities with Illyana's power to cast a spell that turns time back and prevents Gath from escaping his amulet prison. However, Strange is unaware of just how Gath's release is prevented, and Storm worries that perhaps they've delivered the world to a worse fate. Elsewhere, an advanced robot named Nimrod appears behind Jamie Rodriguez as a result of Strange's spell, and destroys the mugger about to attack Jamie. Startled, Jamie drops Kulan Gath's amulet, and it disappears into the mud, preventing Kulan Gath from escaping. Nimrod, realizing he's arrived at a place and time where mutants exist, declares he must therefore follow his prime programming: destroy all mutants. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Nimrod makes his first appearance, pulled into the present day as a result of Dr. Strange's spell. Though it's not made clear yet, Nimrod is an advanced Sentinel which hails from Rachel's timeline. He possesses the ability to adapt to different mutants' powers as it encounters them, as well as the ability to look and speak like a regular human. It will eventually be revealed that he followed Rachel back in time, and that Dr. Strange's spell merely put him in a position to prevent the release of Kulan Gath, and isn't responsible for Nimrod's presence in the present day. He'll pop up occasionally in the next twenty odd issues after which his appearances become much more sparse, but he remains a significant part of the X-Men mythos (including, after a fashion, as the main villain of the "Second Coming" crossover event).


Upon arriving in the present day, Nimrod saves the life of dock worker Jamie Rodriguez (thereby preventing the release of Kulan Gath); future issues will show Nimrod, masquerading as a human, living with Jamie and using his home as a base of operations. 

Claremont continues to write Warlock as though he's used him far more in New Mutants than he ever has. Warlock mentions character traits about Storm, despite the two having never met as far as we've seen, and refers to Rahne as his best friend, despite barely interacting with her (though that could at least be chalked up to her being the first of the New Mutants to reach out to him when he came to Earth).


The spell Dr. Strange casts returns the world to the point in time just before Kulan Gath escaped from his amulet and cast his master spell, thereby returning all the characters who died in the course of the story to life (because technically, the story never happened). Only the people still alive and present in Kulan Gath's throne room when Dr. Strange cast the spell will remember the events of the story. As a result, the last few panels of issue #189, in which Jamie Rodriguez is killed and Gath is released, technically occur in the alternate reality inadvertently created by Strange's spell. 


A Work in Progress
Kulan Gath's origin is helpfully provided. 


The transformed Rogue is depicted last issue and this one as being made of green crystal. When she's touched in this issue, she transforms into flesh and blood and becomes vulnerable. 


Nightcrawler teleports Sunspot multiple times as a means to drain his energy.


Dani uses her power on Callisto, and we learn her greatest fear is of the life she might have led.


Xavier finally gets around to asking Dr. Strange about Illyana, but he insists the best help she can receive is amongst the people who know and love her.


I Love the 80s
This being the 80s, most of the blood on display (and there's a fair amount of it in the issue) is black.


Claremontisms
Same song, slightly different verse.


Claremont also uses the "belies" phrase twice in this issue, as well as the phrase "quarter neither asked nor given". 


Artistic Achievements
Romita Jr. and Dan Green do a nice job with Warlock in this issue, depicting him somewhere between the crazy mass of ink he is in Sienkiewicz's hands and the more "normal" humanoid form he's given by later artists. 


Human/Mutant Relations
Storm bemoans that once more the X-Men will have helped save the world, but the general public will have no idea what they've done, though Captain America assures her that he at least knows, and will remember.
 

For Sale
Hey kids! Spider-Man and Power Pack are here to help you prevent sexual abuse! 


After the Marvel RPG last month, now there's an ad for an Indiana Jones RPG.


Teebore's Take
With the conclusion to this story imminent, Claremont indulges in what was, even at the time, a time honored tradition when it came to alternate reality/time travel stories: the death of series regulars who would, under normal circumstances, be relatively safe. Even though we don't know the specifics of how, we, as readers, have an expectation that things will eventually go back to normal, never moreso than when significant characters (not just in X-Men, but the Marvel Universe as a whole) start dying, but that expectation doesn't lead Claremont to pull any punches. As a result we get some genuinely brutal scenes like Callisto needlessly killing Sunder, Storm becoming techno-organic then infecting Selene and draining her life force, Vision solidifying inside Colossus, blowing him apart, and most brutal of all, the torture and eventual killing of Spider-Man as well. The result is visceral and shocking, but the more extreme things get  we can't help but think it's all the more likely these events will somehow get reversed, which keeps things from getting too dark (the relative brevity of the story also prevents Claremont from lingering too long on all the grim deaths). 

Other than that, there's little to say about this story beyond what was said last issue. This issue wraps it all up (in the process introducing a new and long-lasting villain to the world of the X-Men) and the fact that Claremont is able to not only create a fully-realized alternate world but also tell a satisfying and complete story within that world in only two issues is perhaps the most retro thing of all about it.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, we finally meet Professor Xavier's son in New Mutants #26 and next week, Uncanny X-Men #192 introduces the X-Men to Warlock's dad.

17 comments:

  1. This is one of those cases where I feel like the set-up in part 1 is let down by the resolution in part 2. "Turning back time so none of this ever happened" is a tried-and-true cheat, but it's still a cheat.

    Strangely, I remembered that Spider-Man died here, but not that Rogue and Colossus bought it as well. Anyway, showing Spidey summon up the last of his strength to do something dramatic is a classic Spider-Man trope dating back to the days of Lee & Ditko, but the way Claremont flips it on its head here by killing Spidey immediately afterward is both clever in that the reader is not trained to expect such an outcome, and unthinkably awful in execution because there was no point to it. If Spidey has to go out, he should go out doing something that contributes to the good guys' victory, not like a chump.

    I have similar problems with Jim Starlin's treatment of half the Marvel Universe in Infinity Gauntlet -- it's a lot of death for death's sake, and the heroes' tactic of distracting Thanos doesn't even work in the end! And as with this story, it's all undone by turning back the clock (so to speak).

    But anyway -- the point I'm getting at is that there are certain Marvel characters who can die without doing something dramatic as they go out. But there are a very few elite characters who, if they're going to be killed off, must make a difference with their dying breaths. At the top of that list are Captain America and Spider-Man. Any writer who would kill Spidey as cavalierly as Claremont does here just doesn't understand the point of the character. And Claremont has written some Spidey stories I liked, but they don't change my feelings.

    "It will eventually be revealed that he followed Rachel back in time, and that Dr. Strange's spell merely put him in a position to prevent the release of Kulan Gath, and isn't responsible for Nimrod's presence in the present day."

    I wonder if this was intended to the the case from the beginning, or if it was the 1980's equivalent of "it's magic; we don't have to explain it." Meaning, did Claremont or someone else realize that Strange's spell randomly plucking a robot from the future made little to no sense in light of the spell's actual purpose? I can't recall what issue gives us Nimrod's origin, so maybe I'm wrong if there's not enough turnaround time to address the mistake.

    "After the Marvel RPG last month, now there's an ad for an Indiana Jones RPG."

    Wow, TSR was the kind of licensed games in the 80's, apparently. I'm not quit sure how an Indiana Jones RPG would work... Indy is mostly a solo character, but RPGs are usually intended for group play. I guess you could play as a group of adventurers doing Indiana Jones type stuff or something...

    I never understood the James Bond RPG for the same reason.

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  2. @Matt: Any writer who would kill Spidey as cavalierly as Claremont does here just doesn't understand the point of the character.

    Maybe I'm just not big enough a Spider-Man fan, but his fate in this story has never really bothered me. Frankly, I've never even given it much thought.

    I agree in principle with the idea that Spidey (and Cap, amonsts others) should go out fighting, but the fact that he doesn't here doesn't bother me, mainly, I think, because he's guest starring in a fairly non-essential X-Men story (I mean, I love it, but it's not a key part of the narrative or anything) where his fate is clearly going to be reversed in some way because there's no way Marvel would kill off Spider-Man in the second part of a random X-Men story.

    Had Claremont (or anyone else) written this in one of Spider-Man's titles, or as part of high profile event like Secret Wars, even if it was reversed in the end, it might bother me, but here, I just chalk it up to Claremont having messing around in an alternate reality before he blows it all away anyway.

    Also, (and I don't know if this will make you feel better or worse), Captain America more or less bites it like a chump in this issue too. It's never explicitly said that he died, but he gets taken out by the shrapnel that is Colossus' body after Vision explodes him.

    So at least Claremont is disrespecting the two characters you cited specifically equally... ;)

    I can't recall what issue gives us Nimrod's origin, so maybe I'm wrong if there's not enough turnaround time to address the mistake.

    I forget exactly when its made clear he followed Rachel back through time, but it's sometime between now and #209, and I'm pretty sure it's within the next few issues. So it's possible Claremont made a point to clarify it after realizing it seemed like Dr. Strange's spell randomly brought him back, but I think he would have had to make the adjustment pretty fast. More likely, he just didn't have the page space to make it clear this issue and waited til later to elaborate on his arrival.

    I never understood the James Bond RPG for the same reason.

    That one, at least, I could see you being an MI6 agent fighting SPECTRE or some such (I have no idea how the engine actually worked), whereas you're right, an Indiana Jones seems an odd fit for a group based game. It isn't like Indy's part of some adventurers club or something.

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  3. Love the art team's work on this, as I mentioned last week. I'm sad JRJR never got the chance to work with Stern on the Avengers during this time period, as he really drew a great Vision. He does eventually work on the Avengers in the 2010's with Bendis, but his work is sloppier and the writing is mediocre, so it's not really the same.

    Can I just say I hate Nimrod? I love Sentinels, but I hate the design, the fake ID, the fact that the crowds of NYC seem to think he's a new hero, all of it is the worst. The name, too. I get that it's an allusion to a biblical king and its probably a reference to being a "mighty hunter," but in the 20th century it picked up an alternative definition as "moron." But if you're going to make Arnold pastiches, don't make them look like pink lego monsters and give them a name people associate with idiocy.

    Also, as mentioned by Jason Powell's review of this issue, we're sort of going from Conan to Terminator, speaking of Arnold pastiches.

    But there are a very few elite characters who, if they're going to be killed off, must make a difference with their dying breaths. At the top of that list are Captain America and Spider-Man. Any writer who would kill Spidey as cavalierly as Claremont does here just doesn't understand the point of the character. And Claremont has written some Spidey stories I liked, but they don't change my feelings.

    Disagree 100%. "Unthinkably awful in execution"? It's a shocking, brutal moment that shows that the stakes are important. It might be a cheap way to do that, but that's not an issue of execution. The idea that CC must not understand Spidey or Cap's characters because they don't "make a difference" is preposterous. Spidey is completely in character and Claremont has shown a strong grasp when using him, but this isn't his story, so he doesn't get to be the hero. It's Storm, as a relatively normal human female, that is the center of the book at this point, and she's the one that saves the day. If Storm saved the day in an issue of Spectacular Spider-Man, that's something again. The idea that Spidey must make noble, Ditko-esque machine lifting feats of heroism to die is just crazy talk.

    Claremont's treatment of the expected "heroic saving throw" made by Spidey shows a cynical 80's comic touch, but it doesn't mean CC doesn't know what the character means. If anything, it shows that he knows exactly what the character means to Spidey fans, and is using that to further an X-Men story.

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  4. My only problem with this two parter is that the only way to work is for Kulan Gath to take out Dr Strange before he even knows what has happened. I never liked that. Doc is the Sorceror Supreme after all, and his entire purpose is to protect reality from things exactly like this. If the Ancient One was still around, and Doc merely a journeyman based in New York not quite up to that level, I'd be able to accept it much more easily.

    Chris

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  5. Sweet Hastur's toejam, that sexual abuse page is really, really disturbing. If you'd posted that two days earlier, I'd have accused you of taking April Fool's to a tasteless extreme.

    On the subject of TSR, allow me to defend the James Bond roleplaying game. That was awesome, but only if you didn't play it straight. Play your Bond-clones as casually sexist alcoholics with a fetish for implausible technology, and it was great fun. Of course, that meant the only way you could enjoy the source material was to satirise it, but that was a price I was willing to pay.

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  6. Teebore -- "Had Claremont (or anyone else) written this in one of Spider-Man's titles, or as part of high profile event like Secret Wars, even if it was reversed in the end, it might bother me..."

    Yeah, that's why I brought up Infinity Gauntlet yesterday. I love Jim Starlin, but Thanos's massacre of the assembled heroes in that series just makes me fee like I'm reading a "snuff" comic or something. It's so gratuitous and pointless, and much of it is extremely tasteless too, such as Iron Man getting his head ripped off and Spidey bludgeoned to death by a rock. At least Cyclops and some of the others had creative deaths!

    And yet at the same time I've never had any issue with the Wasp's death in Secret Wars. I am bothered a little bit by the heroes' incineration in issue 11, though.

    Teebore -- "Captain America more or less bites it like a chump in this issue too. It's never explicitly said that he died, but he gets taken out by the shrapnel that is Colossus' body after Vision explodes him."

    This is the sort of thing that really bugs me. Cap has an indestructible shield which has saved him from death countless times in his career. But the one time there's a "reset button" coming up, it doesn't quite get the job done. It seems... sloppy, somehow, I guess.

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  7. Dobson -- "Disagree 100%. "Unthinkably awful in execution"? It's a shocking, brutal moment that shows that the stakes are important. It might be a cheap way to do that, but that's not an issue of execution."

    Well, I am known for bouts of outrageous hyperbole, but I stand by my sentiment. I actually tried to think of a good, over-the-top way to describe my feelings, and landed on "unthinkably awful in execution", though I wasn't happy with that wording. But it was the best I had yesterday. I still can't think of something suitably exaggerated to say today, either!

    Dobson -- "Claremont's treatment of the expected "heroic saving throw" made by Spidey shows a cynical 80's comic touch, but it doesn't mean CC doesn't know what the character means."

    I think the "cynical 80's comic touch" is exactly what I don't like about this. I can't imagine this sort of thing happening in the bronze age, and obviously not the Silver Age. But this stuff is exactly why I rarely ever touched What If... -- tasteless, shock-value deaths of major characters -- usually under unnecessarily extreme circumstances -- with the cop-out excuse that it's an alternate universe so it's okay. It's the same thing as I said above regarding Captain America: Spider-Man had survived hundreds of adventures by this point, but the one time he gets into a situation where there will eventually be a "reset button" to push, he dies. It's almost like the writer is winking at the audience, which I can't stand.

    Furthermore, in a way this sort of attitude has led us, more or less, to the grim, disgusting mess modern Marvel has become, where anybody can flip open a mainstream comic to see Sentry tear Ares in half in a display of gory violence that would get cut out of any R-rated movie for being far too graphic!

    (Like I said last week, keep me talking long enough, and I will eventually connect the dots to a tirade against modern Marvel.)

    Anywho, I'm kind of jumping all over the map here, but the point is, I did not like the way Spidey went out. To me -- and admittedly, he is my favorite Marvel character, if not my favorite fictional character, period -- Spider-Man is sacred. Moreso than most of the rest of the Marvel Universe. My opinions on him and how he should be treated are extreme, to say the least. Some small part of me, the part who grew up reading Spidey as a kid, kind of does expect him to become the star of the show whenever he pops up in someone else's comic. Whether that's right or wrong, I can't say -- but the fact that he breaks free only to be immediately killed, without landing a single punch, is what really irritates me.

    Anyway, let's just agree that my tendency for hyperbole can be a little too hyperbolic once in a while, and leave it at that, shall we?

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  8. SpaceSquid -- "Play your Bond-clones as casually sexist alcoholics with a fetish for implausible technology..."

    Sign me up!

    But really, as a Bond fan, I probably would've happily played it if I'd ever encountered it. But no one I knew owned the game, and I don't think I ever saw it for sale anyplace either.

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  9. There's something awkward about that cover, but it caught my eye when I was flipping through back issues all those years ago. Why was Colossus fighting the Vision? This two-parter was good, but I was a bit disappointed that the cover image had very little to do with the story.

    I don't mind "EVERYBODY DIES!!!" I'm a big What If...? fan, so I'm used to alternate universes equalling massive body counts. I completely object to what was done to Spider-Man, however. The idea of graphic, prolonged torture is extremely disturbing, and brought me out of the story. Like rape, I believe torture should be kept out of super-hero comics whenever possible. It's a bit closer to real world atrocities than I am comfortable with.

    That doesn't mean super-hero comics should be nothing but sanitized pap. There's a fine line between violent enough and too violent, and my line of demarcation is different than others'. I thought the Spider-Man torture scenes were an example of a writer wallowing in violence simply because he could get away with it.

    - Mike Loughlin

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  10. Mike L. -- "I thought the Spider-Man torture scenes were an example of a writer wallowing in violence simply because he could get away with it."

    Agreed, though as noted previously, I extend that to Spidey's death as well. I just feel that when a hero is put through the wringer, either physically or mentally, he needs some sort of victory to come out of it in order for the reader to be satisfied. Spidey goes through a lot in this issue, and doesn't get anything for his trouble.

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  11. Oy, Nimrod... I want to get off this train.

    "A Stan Lee presentation, starring the Uncanny X-Men, and guest-starring Spider-Man and the Avengers!"

    The New Mutants could probably use the most exposure, but apparently they can go suck it.

    The transformed Rogue is depicted last issue and this one as being made of green crystal. When she's touched in this issue, she transforms into flesh and blood and becomes vulnerable.

    I say, Huh? Why exactly was Rogue living crystal, why does she not have Ms. Marvel's powers anymore, and why did that dude absorb her crystal form while rendering her flesh again? That dagger to the back wouldn't have pierced "normal" Rogue's Ms. Marvel skin.

    Also: Rogue still has her Southern accent?!? You can of course rationalize that she's "really" speaking in a regional tongue of whatever language is being represented to us as English, with equivalent idioms and stuff, but it's weird to see her familiar speech pattern preserved in this pseudo-medieval world.

    Who the heck is Miss Williams, by the way, a.k.a, Arilynn, "chief archivist of the temple"? Did we see her before she popped up as the historian in the altered world?

    Storm bemoans that once more the X-Men will have helped save the world, but the general public will have no idea what they've done, though Captain America assures her that he at least knows, and will remember.

    I'm not even sure his word lasts until AvX (per your filename). The X-Men vs. The Avengers is just a couple of years away — which, granted, I haven't read, and which appears to revolve mostly around antagonism towards longtime supervillain Magneto. Fights against and alongside the X-Men aside, however, it would be most reflective of Captain America's promise and, indeed, the ideals for which he generally stands if he were more vocal about mutant prejudice in everyday life.

    Hey kids! Spider-Man and Power Pack are here to help you prevent sexual abuse! 

    It might not have been exactly concurrent with this, but there was a newspaper insert produced by Marvel starring Spider-Man and Power Pack on the subject as well.

    The other ad to mention is the one for Star Comics, Marvel's new line of comics aimed at younger kids and girls. Aside from licensed properties and the revived Spider-Ham it had a few, short-lived original series that aimed to pick up where Harvey, which had recently folded, left off, even hiring definitive Harvey artist Warren Kramer to work on such material in that vein as Royal Roy and Planet Terry.

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  12. @Matt: If Spidey has to go out, he should go out doing something that contributes to the good guys' victory, not like a chump.


    While it's clumsily handled thanks to the odd line "Self understands, evil one" [Pg. 20, emphasis in the original but also the part that makes no sense], I believe the idea is that Warlock (up in the rafters with Storm) hears and understands Spider-Man's warning about Kulan Gath's power resting in his amulet, which is a pivotal moment.

    The big issue for me with deaths in alternate-timeline stories like this is that the ways the characters go out aren't usually anything that couldn't or wouldn't happen in the main reality/timeline except that, of course, the same characters won't die in the actual continuity because — stunts aside — that's not how things work. It's somewhat akin to how partly or wholly mechanical characters like Cyborg or The Vision get limbs torn off but flesh-and-blood characters don't because they can't be fixed so easily and that would be traumatic, gross, and not Code-approved. I see you bring this idea up later re Captain America in the story at hand.

    @Dobson: Can I just say I hate Nimrod?

    Please do! I agree with you — except that I don't even really remember the plot details, I just hate the design and the laughable name. "When do his buddies Doofus and Pointdexter show up?"

    @Matt: Some small part of me, the part who grew up reading Spidey as a kid, kind of does expect him to become the star of the show whenever he pops up in someone else's comic.

    Not only are you entitled to feel that way simply because you love the character, but I think that it's a valid expectation as well. Spider-Man is a flagship cornerstone standard-bearer of the Marvel Universe; if anyone could show up in other characters' titles and win the day "merely" as a guest-star, it's him (or Superman, or Batman, by extension), whereas the reverse is much trickier to handle. I can't quite work up your vitriol, however, at least in part because as I said above I don't think he does go out like a chump (even if he doesn't know it); I really do think that Claremont was trying to make his last gasp essential to the heroes' triumph.

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  13. @Dobson: I'm sad JRJR never got the chance to work with Stern on the Avengers during this time period, as he really drew a great Vision.

    I'd have loved to see JRJR of this vintage on the Avengers.

    Also, as mentioned by Jason Powell's review of this issue, we're sort of going from Conan to Terminator, speaking of Arnold pastiches.

    I love Jason Powell's analysis of this issue. I probably should have linked to it, it's just that clever.

    @Chris: Doc is the Sorceror Supreme after all, and his entire purpose is to protect reality from things exactly like this.

    If memory serves, there's a bit in Kulan Gath's soliloquy in the first part of the story about how Dr. Strange was able to slow down the spell or prevent himself from being affected before Gath overpowered him, or something like that. Basically suggesting that Dr. Strange didn't totally drop the ball, just got beaten back. Which is a little better...

    @SpaceSquid: Sweet Hastur's toejam, that sexual abuse page is really, really disturbing.

    It certainly doesn't help that the Power Pack kids are especially dead-eyed in it.

    @Matt: Cap has an indestructible shield which has saved him from death countless times in his career.

    He throws it at Kulan Gath at one point, who uses magic to catch it, after which Cap is hit by Colossus' shrapnel. So at least Claremont got the shield out of Cap's hands before he killed him off.

    @Mike: This two-parter was good, but I was a bit disappointed that the cover image had very little to do with the story.

    This cover is a little better, but still not great (I especially like all the heads in the background, one of those cover techniques I've always enjoyed.). I do always chuckle at the fact that what's on the cover is appears as one or two average size panels in the issue itself.

    The idea of graphic, prolonged torture is extremely disturbing, and brought me out of the story.

    Well, I certainly don't disagree with you about depictions of torture, but at the risk of sounding somewhat disturbed, I honestly never gave Spidey's torture in this issue much thought until you guys brought up in the comments of last week's post.

    So when I re-read it, I specifically thought about why it doesn't take me out of the story. I think, in part, it's because Spidey is still bantering throughout it (which obviously is his defense mechanism, but I think I've always thought "at least he's not so far gone he can't banter"). The other thing, I think, is that I know the reset button is coming (even reading it for the first time, things have reached a point where you know something is going to happen to reverse it), and that the reset button makes it so Spidey never has to go through it all.

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  14. @Blam: The New Mutants could probably use the most exposure, but apparently they can go suck it.

    Dr. Strange, too.

    Why exactly was Rogue living crystal, why does she not have Ms. Marvel's powers anymore, and why did that dude absorb her crystal form while rendering her flesh again?

    Because magic.

    Who the heck is Miss Williams, by the way, a.k.a, Arilynn, "chief archivist of the temple"?

    I've long wondered if she was supposed to be someone who appeared either before or after this story, given her prominence in the story, but to the best of my knowledge, this is her first and only appearance.

    If I ever get to write the X-Men, I'll bring her back (right after Ted Roberts).

    it would be most reflective of Captain America's promise and, indeed, the ideals for which he generally stands if he were more vocal about mutant prejudice in everyday life.

    Yeah, it's one of those few failings of the shared universe: Cap is an Avengers character so you can't expect him to spend a lot of time dealing with X-Men stuff, but at the same time, you feel like, given his character and what he stands for, he should be a more vocal proponent of mutants' rights.

    It might not have been exactly concurrent with this, but there was a newspaper insert produced by Marvel starring Spider-Man and Power Pack on the subject as well.

    I did not know that. I shudder to think...

    I believe the idea is that Warlock (up in the rafters with Storm) hears and understands Spider-Man's warning about Kulan Gath's power resting in his amulet, which is a pivotal moment.

    That's a very good point. I wish I'd thought of it... :)

    "When do his buddies Doofus and Pointdexter show up?"

    True story: the character here was my first encounter with the name, so I never thought much of it until I learned he was named after the biblical hunter (which made sense). Then I encountered the more common present day usage of the name, and the whole thing got a lot more confusing (like, was Claremont trying to undercut the character?).

    Nevertheless, I've never had as much of an issue with the name as a result. But the pink design has always rankled.

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  15. "If Spidey has to go out, he should go out doing something that contributes to the good guys' victory, not like a chump.

    and

    "But there are a very few elite characters who, if they're going to be killed off, must make a difference with their dying breaths. At the top of that list are Captain America and Spider-Man."

    I've never been bothered by that either, and I doubt I ever would. Other than blatant fanservice, I don't subscribe to the theory that certain characters should always die a heroic death while others do not. It gives it a certain realism when some people just die random deaths that contribute nothing to the solution.

    "So it's possible Claremont made a point to clarify it after realizing it seemed like Dr. Strange's spell randomly brought him back"

    Well, Nimrod's arrival could tie into Storm's comment about Strange bringing back something something just as bad...and given CC's original plan for Nimrod, it could have been seen as foreshadowing.

    "but at the same time, you feel like, given his character and what he stands for, he should be a more vocal proponent of mutants' rights."

    Well, he's kind of been behind the times. It's not like there are that many stories of him in the 40s to the 60s promoting Civil Rights, are there?

    "True story: the character here was my first encounter with the name, so I never thought much of it until I learned he was named after the biblical hunter (which made sense). Then I encountered the more common present day usage of the name, and the whole thing got a lot more confusing (like, was Claremont trying to undercut the character?)."

    I wonder if CC would have given Nimrod a different name if he knew so many people would be pointing that out? He does have Selene refer to his biblical name in #209, so maybe he was aware of it even then.

    I forgot how Nimrod's first look was a bit different from what we later see in a few issues. I guess JRjr must have done some tweaking with his look the next time we see him.

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  16. A few points I'm going to share, apropos of nothing:

    On Nimrod, I sort of like him. The idea of a super-Sentinel is a pretty cool one seeing as how meh the regular ones are thought of (even by this point), and let's face it, Master Mold isn't that cool. At the same time, the idea that he adapts to mutant powers gives him a massive flaw, as he should theoretically get to the point where he can defeat all of the X-Men effortlessly, but never does. I don't read DC, but I know that Doomsday similarly adapts - has he too been written into something of a corner by this power?

    Another (recent) thing that bugs me about Nimrod is that in Second Coming, there are mass copies of him. It does make sense, I suppose (unless there's something to suggest that only one Nimrod unit was made that I'm not aware of), but it just becomes even more ridiculous then that they're not decimating the X-Men, due to the Conservation of Ninja rule. Urgh. You can tell I think too hard about this stuff.

    Anyway, as for this storyline, I'm not a fan. I read it in my Essential X-Men Vol.5, and I'll happily admit that I kept mixing up characters due to the combination of John Romita Jr.'s art and the lack of colour, which made the plot annoying to keep track of. Nevertheless, between Spider-Man's treatment (which has probably been discussed enough - I'll just say that I agree with Matt on this one) and the 'magic' stuff, which I'm not the biggest fan of, this really bored me to tears.

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  17. I find Jaime Rodriguez the best sidelines character ever and generally an everyday hero. Upon finding a necklace from a fish, making evil promises of everything to him, he accepts the responsibility of dealing with it and sets out to have it melted at a friend's workplace.

    It was totally deserved to have the continuum throw a somersault just to have his knifing by a thief undone. It is missing from the panel, but it's just heartwarming how after incinerating the perp Nimrod takes time to give Jamie a hand and help him up with some soothing comments. For all the press they have gotten since, I never saw that other time-travelling robot from future or that other future law-keeper robot bother at all with their innocent bystanders. Nimrod is a class act.

    I generally love the whole side plot about Nimrod living with the Rodriguez's and hate only that we'll never get see on-panel the reaction of Mrs. Rodriguez when Jaime came home that night with his new friend and told: "This is Ni... Nick... Hunter, he's moving in with us."

    If you remember, just before Nimrod/Master Mold was blasted into the Siege Perilous later on with Rogue, there was something sentient and human within the robot, siding with Rogue in the fight. I'm willing to go for a total "no quarter asked, none given" fight with anyone not agreeing that is was none other than "Nicolas Hunter", made a better man by the time of his association with the Rodriguez's.

    The world is better place when we have the likes of Jaime Rodriguez watching the Watchmen.

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