Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #195

"It Was a Dark and Stormy Night
July 1985

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men rescue Power Pack from the Morlocks.

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

Plot
Awoken by a thunderstorm, the Power children realize their parents don't know who they are, and discover that all traces of their existence have been removed from their home. Remembering they recently met a Morlock who could alter peoples memories, they change into their costumes and head into the sewers. However, a group of Morlocks is waiting for them, and all but Katie are captured. However, Masque manages to disfigure her face before she gets away. Fleeing through the subways, Katie is found by a police officer and taken to the hospital. The next morning, Kitty overhears a news report about Katie, and recognizing Masque's work, realizes the Morlocks have broken their word not to attack surface dwellers. She brings Rogue, Rachel and Wolverine to the hospital where they rescue Katie and learn what happened to her siblings.


In the Morlock Tunnels, the X-Men and Katie discover a a bedroom that resembles Katie's, at which point Annalee enters, along with Katie's siblings, all of whom have been brainwashed to think they're Annalee's children. A fight breaks out between the X-Men, the Morlocks and the Power Pack kids, but when Callisto learns what happened, she orders her errant followers to return everything to normal. However, Katie, seeing how sad and lonely Annalee is, forgives her and declares that she can be Power Pack's special grandmother, and promises they can visit one another. Just then, Rachel receives a telepathic alert summoning the X-Men back to the mansion, sent not by Professor X, but by Magneto!

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue forms a loose crossover with Power Pack #12, which detailed the initial attempt of a specific group of Morlocks to replace Annalee's murdered children with Power Pack. 

It ends with the X-Men being summoned home by Magneto; we see their return in Secret Wars II #1, but this marks the first time Xavier's request of Magneto to lead the X-Men in his stead is referenced in X-Men


It's noted that Nightcrawler is not with the team because he is away on another mission, though it's not clear what that mission is. It's not a reference to his adventures in the Nightcrawler limited series, as that series also featured Kitty working feverishly throughout to bring him home. Colossus is also absent from this issue, though his lack of presence is not commented on.

Bill Sienkiewicz provides the cover to this issue.

The Chronology Corner
This issue occurs immediately after Power Pack #12, and before Secret Wars II #1.

A Work in Progress
In an effort to help connect the world of the X-Men to that of Power Pack, Claremont has Kitty reference a a paper she's working on for a class with Dr. Power, Power Pack's father. 


Kitty scoffs at the suggestion that Katie Power could be a mutant, saying she's not old enough, suggesting once again that mutant powers don't manifest until adolescence (though there are plenty of stories, prior to this one and following it, that contradict that notion). 


Kitty's costume gets closer to her classic Shadowcat look.


In Nightcrawler's absence, Kitty acts as team leader, a job for which Wolverine believes she is best suited. In a recurring bit, Kitty is equal parts embarassed and proud at Wolverine's continued references to her as "Boss".  We also learn that she's become capable of phasing multiple people along with her at once.


Kitty notes that the X-Men and Morlocks are friends at this point.


I Love the 80s
Katie professes to thinking that being a superhero would lead to fun adventures like Luke Skywalker had, though Wolverine, apparently a Star Wars fan, points out that his adventures weren't all that fun for him either. 


For Sale
There are house ads for Secret Wars II and Dazzler #38. 

Teebore's Take
Picking up where Power Pack #12 left off, this issue introduces the characters of Louise Simonson's Power Pack to the world of the X-Men. As much as I understand that series to work on its own merits, Power Pack has always seemed like an odd fit with the X-Men universe: At a time when Claremont is making his series increasingly more dark and complicated, with the escalation of anti-mutant sentiment and the government's efforts to target mutants, bringing his characters into contact with Simonson's pre-teen characters aimed at kids is a strange decision (I've never known for sure if this crossover was editorially-mandated, or if Claremont of his own accord threw a bone to his friend and former editor).

The discrepancy between the increasingly-edgy X-Men and the more family-friendly Power Pack isn't yet that apparent in this issue, however. Set in the dingy Morlock tunnels and featuring a pretty creepy setup (the Power children having been forgotten by their parents), this story doesn't feel entirely out of place amongst the more recent issues of X-Men. Romita Jr. and Green turn in some of the strongest art of their run, and the X-Men remain center stage throughout the story (it helps that it can be enjoyed entirely on its own, without reading the preceding Power Pack issue; I'd read this issue several times before ever reading its lead-in). Though it doesn't deal much with Claremont's recent efforts to heighten tensions between the X-Men and the government, this is nevertheless another enjoyable, if not entirely essential, chapter in the Claremont/Romita Jr. run.  

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Secret Wars II continues in New Mutants #31, and then again next week in Uncanny X-Men #196.

7 comments:

  1. I'm a big Bill Sienkiewicz fan, but I hate that cover. Wolverine just looks weird and the teal background doesn't help.

    I have to admit I've never read this issue, although I do own it. I'm just behind in my Claremont reading.

    I do love the next appearance of Katie Power in the series. Issue 205 is pretty great. Although that has less to do with her than with Deathstrike and Wolverine.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Jeff: I'm a big Bill Sienkiewicz fan, but I hate that cover. Wolverine just looks weird and the teal background doesn't help.

    Agreed. The teal background certainly does not help anything.

    I do love the next appearance of Katie Power in the series. Issue 205 is pretty great.

    Yeah, I'll get into it when I cover that issue, but that's a case where the dichotomy between the darker X-Men and the more sunny Power Pack works to the story's advantage.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The bad cover art is external evidence of Sienkiewicz's internal struggle to stop himself from drawing Wolverine's cowl wings four and a half feet long.

    ReplyDelete

  4. Colorist: Glynis Wein

    She's been "Glynis Oliver" as of #193, FYI.

    Bill Sienkiewicz provides the cover to this issue.

    He penciled and Dan Green inked, to be precise. Even though Wolverine isn't really proportioned right, in line with Sienkiewicz's (and Brent Anderson's) earlier X-Men work, I'm of the apparently minority view that the cover's pretty sweet.

    On the other hand, I kind-of hate the smaller and very rounded flaps that JRJr. draws on Wolverine's mask — with apologies, Teebore, since I think you've said before that you really like this version.

    Claremont has Kitty reference a a paper she's working on for a class with Dr. Power, Power Pack's father. 

    Which might've been nice to establish in an issue that doesn't guest-star Power Pack. It still makes sense for Kitty to be taking classes at a nearby college or something, though, given that she's a genius and that no matter how smart Xavier might be he only has so much time.

    Kitty and Rachel are both really good with Katie, I have to say — as is Wolverine in his own way. Claremont's dialogue amongst the kids, per his usual, comes off a little too precious; the X-Girls, however, sound just the right note with Katie not only in terms of realistic dialogue but impressively sympathetic realistic dialogue given that neither has a sister (although Kitty at least used to have a younger Illyana around).

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Anonymous: The bad cover art is external evidence of Sienkiewicz's internal struggle to stop himself from drawing Wolverine's cowl wings four and a half feet long.

    Ha! "Must...control...urge...to cut loose...powers...fading..."

    @Blam: She's been "Glynis Oliver" as of #193, FYI.

    D'oh!

    I knew that, really. Her being "Oliver" is actually more familiar to me, since I read these later comics before I read the earlier ones when she was still Wein.

    Anyways, once again, I blame that on a failure to update my template. ;)

    I kind-of hate the smaller and very rounded flaps that JRJr. draws on Wolverine's mask — with apologies, Teebore, since I think you've said before that you really like this version.

    I do, but no apologies necessary. :)

    Which might've been nice to establish in an issue that doesn't guest-star Power Pack.

    Agreed. It always works better when that kind of stuff is setup before it becomes necessary.

    the X-Girls, however, sound just the right note with Katie not only in terms of realistic dialogue but impressively sympathetic realistic dialogue given that neither has a sister

    Great observation. Claremont also does a nice job with the Wolverine/Katie interactions in #205, if memory serves.

    ReplyDelete
  6. To be fair though, lots of "unlikely" guest stars hung out with Power Pack in an attempt to boost sales (they had team-ups with such "darker and edgier" fare as Cloak and Dagger, Typhoid Mary, and the Punisher, for Pete's sake.) Compared to that, a gratuitous Wolvie team up isn't so implausible. Of course, "Logan teams up with spunky lil' representation of perky innocence" has become such a of cliche with him, that this is probably easier to take in hindsight.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Jon: To be fair though, lots of "unlikely" guest stars hung out with Power Pack in an attempt to boost sales

    That's a good point. Power Pack certainly got dragged into more than its fair share of stories with seemingly discordant tones through the years.

    Of course, "Logan teams up with spunky lil' representation of perky innocence" has become such a of cliche with him, that this is probably easier to take in hindsight.

    True, and the upcoming story in just such a vein is arguably one of the best such examples of that trope.

    ReplyDelete

Comment. Please. Love it? Hate it? Am mildly indifferent to it? Let us know!