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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #211

"Massacre"
November 1986

In a Nutshell
"Mutant Massacre" begins. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: John Romita Jr. & Bret Blevins
Inker: Al Williamson
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
In the Morlock Tunnels, the Marauders begin mercilessly slaughtering everyone in sight, but one Morlock manages to escape and reach the X-Mansion, alerting the X-Men to the attack. The X-Men are teleported into the tunnels by Illyana, and immediately set upon by Riptide and Vertigo. Nightcrawler is able to subdue Vertigo through a series of teleports, but the effort leaves him open to an attack by Riptide, who severely injuries Nightcrawler before fleeing with Vertigo. Storm sends Illyana back to the mansion along with Nightcrawler and other wounded Morlocks, then splits the X-Men up to search for more survivors. Colossus and Shadowcat locate one group of survivors but are attacked by Arclight and Scalphunter, while Rogue, Storm, Wolverine and Callisto attempt to lead another group of survivors out of the tunnels. They are nearly hit by a stray optic blast, and Wolverine senses the presence of all the original X-Men nearby, including - inexplicably - Jean Grey. But before they can investigate, they are rejoined by Colossus and Shadowcat, having escaped from Arclight and Scalphunter, just as Harpoon, Riptide and Scrambler attack.


Riptide begins decimating the surviving Morlocks as Rogue and Scrambler's powers cancel each other out, leaving Rogue vulnerable to an attack from Harpoon. But Shadowcat intercepts the blast intended for Rogue. Just then, Colossus, fighting through a hail of shrapnel hurled by Riptide and enraged at the carnage around him, reaches the Marauder and snaps his neck, then turns to Harpoon, telling him he's next. However, Harpoon and Scrambler have retreated, and the X-Men realize Kitty is unable to unphase and become solid. Though Rogue wants vengeance on the Marauders, Storm says saving lives is still the priority, and orders the X-Men and wounded Morlocks back to the mansion. However, she pulls Wolverine aside and tells him they need a prisoner to interrogate, to learn more about the Marauders. One prisoner, she repeats. The rest are his. 

Firsts and Other Notables
The Marauders make their first full appearance in this issue, as a group and individually: Scalphunter (creates weapons out of his costume), Riptide (spins really fast while hurling various sharp objects), Harpoon (throws harpoons that transform into energy), Arclight (creates seismic shockwaves), and Scrambler (negates super-powers by touch). Vertigo (creates vertigo in her opponents) is also a member, though she previously appeared as one of the Savage Land Mutates in Marvel Fanfare #3. Future issues of X-Men and X-Factor will reveal other members of the team as well.  


The X-Men suffer some significant injuries in the course of this issue. First, Nightcrawler, finding himself unable to teleport, is set upon by Riptide and gravely injured, which will lead to his departure from the team for quite a well (he'll eventually end up starring in Excalibur).


Secondly, Shadowcat is struck by one of Harpoon's, er, harpoons, and the resultant energy feedback prevents her from being able to return to a solid state, a condition which will force her to lead the team, serve as the focus of the upcoming Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men limited series, and, ultimately, lead to her joining Excalibur as well.


Finally, an enraged Colossus kills Riptide, but in the process sustains injuries that, as revealed next issue, will lead to him being paralyzed, removing him from the team as well (though Colossus will return to the book much sooner than Kitty and Nightcrawler).


Additionally, countless Morlocks are killed, mostly off panel, with the only Morlocks of note whose deaths we see being Annalee, the older woman who kidnapped Power Pack in issue #195, and Piper. We also learn that Scalphunter killed Annalee's children (whose deaths were discovered in issue #193), prompting her actions with Power Pack.


Though they go unseen, at one point, the X-Men are almost hit by a stray blast from Cyclops (who is also in the tunnels, as we know from X-Factor #9), while Wolverine also picks up what he believes is an impossible scent (Jean's), making this the most direct crossover yet between the two books (though of course neither team actually meets the other).


This issue includes a "map" for "Mutant Massacre", detailing the issues involved in the crossover and a reading order for the entire story (though I've never been able to make hide nor hair of the order based on this map myself). Though such guides to crossovers will eventually become common place (eventually landing almost exclusively on the internet), this is the first time a crossover featured anything like it.


This is John Romita Jr.'s final issue as the book's regular penciller (for now - he'll return in the 90s), ending a run that stretches back to issue #175 and almost matches John Byrne's in terms of longevity. However, he shares artistic credit for this issue with future New Mutants penciller Bret Blevins (in fact, the GCD credits the pencils to Blevins, with Romita only providing layouts) while Al Williamson fills in on inks, lending JRjr's final issue a look different than the the usual Romita/Green fare.

Part of Marvel's 25th Anniversary celebration, this issue gets the anniversary trade dress and portrait cover image.

"Mutant Massacre", overall, has a somewhat jumbled origin. As detailed here and discussed in the post on issue #200, it was born in part from the ashes of Claremont's intended follow-up to Alan Moore's "Jasper's Warp" storyline (as was parts of the later "Fall of the Mutants" crossover). It's also been said that this storyline was motivated in part by a desire to decrease the number of Morlocks, as Claremont never intended for there to be as many as appeared in their initial appearance (with Paul Smith taking artistic license and drawing larger numbers of Morlocks in the background of issues #169 and #170 than Claremont wanted).

The Chronology Corner
Following this issue, Wolverine appears in Power Pack #27 (which we'll look at in a few weeks), before appearing along with the rest of the X-Men in New Mutants #46. 

A Work in Progress
There is now a straight-up barn on the mansion grounds.


It's noted that both Nightcrawler and Wolverine are recovering from their recent injuries, with Nightcrawler eventually taxing his power to the point that it fails, leaving him at the mercy of Riptide.


In one of the book's last nods at the fact that Xavier's is a school for some time, as the issue opens, Kitty is working on a term paper for Magneto.


Sharon Friedlander is on-hand to help the injured Morlocks, appearing for the first time in Uncanny X-Men, while Psylocke also makes her first appearance in X-Men proper, but does not accompany the team into the Morlock Tunnels.


Nor does Magneto, who stays behind to watch over the New Mutants, a perfectly reasonable action that nonetheless deprives the X-Men of significant power while battling the Marauders. 

Teebore's Take
This issue kicks off "Mutant Massacre", the first linewide crossover amongst the X-books. Being the first, it is very prototypical: the connections between the books are tenuous, at best, and one could very easily only read one title's contributions and not be completely lost. And while the idea of a crossover, linewide or otherwise, isn't anything new at this time (crossovers between titles had existed since the earliest days of the Marvel Universe, and both Marvel and DC had experimented with sprawling crossovers previously, albeit ones built around a central miniseries rather than a line of titles), the tremendous commercial success of "Mutant Massacre" will lead to annual X-Men crossovers, and the continued success of those will lead to crossover pulling in more and more titles. Thus, the event-driven focus of the modern Marvel and DC Universes, in which each nearly every year has given us at least one linewide X-Men crossover and one that spans most of Marvel's publishing output, and in which it seems like every event doesn't so much end as setup the next one, for better and worse, can be traced back to "Mutant Massacre".

But as much as "Mutant Massacre" can be credited with/blamed for the event-driven focus of modern mainstream superhero comics, that wasn't the intention of Claremont. Rather, Claremont merely wanted the story to shake up the book (with the recently-arrived X-Factor writer Louise Simonson and a few others joining in on the fun, making the crossover element of the story almost an afterthought), and in that regards, he succeeds, making this issue, in terms of the construction of the team, arguably the most significant since Giant-Size X-Men #1. For all the changes the title has undergone since that issue, a core group of "New X-Men" has remained. The events of this issue disrupt that core, ultimately sending two of the longest-tenured X-Men (and Claremont's pet character) away. While one of those characters will eventually return to X-Men under Claremont's tenure, the other two, spun off into a new title, won't be back amongst the X-Men proper until long after Claremont is gone (in fact, their return will fall more closely to Claremont's initial return than his departure). The end result of this issue and "Mutant Massacre", then, will be a period of mutation for the team, with what emerges being an entity that barely resembles the status quo of this issue, one that will set the stage for some of Claremont's darkest, most ambitious and atypical (and, at times, maddening) stories yet.

But for all this issue's significance, both in terms of the future of the X-Men and comics in general, it's important to remember it's still a story first, and a cracking good one at that. In addition to its prototype feeling, "Mutant Massacre" is an odd storyline in that it's very front loaded: the battle between the X-Men and the Marauders is essentially confined to this issue: next issue, and the one after that, largely deals with the immediate fallout to these events, and features one-on-one battles over another huge confrontation between the teams (we also never learn the motivation behind the massacre, beyond the Marauders being ordered to do so, and won't for quite a long time). In that sense, the story (at least in the X-Men portion) begins and climaxes in one issue, but it's one heck of an issue.

While it lacks the artistic verve and clever action choreography of the previous storyline, there is a palpable sense of dread and despair hanging over this issue, as the Marauders callously slaughter the Morlocks with little reason, and the X-Men, in the face of such brutality, seem genuinely threatened, both in terms of their physical well-being and their principles, for the first time in a long time. Nothing sums this up more than the five panel sequence in which Colossus strides through a barrage of projectiles to reach Riptide, then angrily and easily snaps his neck. After pages and pages of death and defeat, it's a visceral "F&@% yeah!" moment, but at the same time, it's a moment of sadness, as Colossus, often called the gentlest of the X-Men, who once agonized over his part in the death of the insane Proteus, has killed with satisfaction. As the issue ends, countless Morlocks are dead. Nightcrawler is gravely injured. Shadowcat is unable to become solid. Colossus, injured himself, has killed in anger. The X-Men are reeling. Nothing, for comics or the X-Men, will be the same.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, the New Mutants get drawn into the massacre in New Mutants #46, followed in turn by X-Factor in X-Factor #10. 

22 comments:

  1. Great write-up! Strangely, given the fact that I try to keep zeitgeist in mind whenever I read older comics, it never really occurred to me just how different this crossover must have been for readers at the time. As you say, such an event was really unheard of. As someone who grew up with annual X-Men crossovers, I never thought of "Mutant Massacre" as anything more than another one, even if I knew it was the first. Maybe because, again, as you noted, it's structured so differently from later crossovers with clearly labeled chapters.

    I never minded the annual X-events when I was younger. I expected them and eagerly awaited them. Some of my fondest comic book memories are of the year or so between "Age of Apocalypse" and "Onslaught". We learned the name "Onslaught" in the first Uncanny issue back from the AoA, and then we had to wait until the following summer to learn what his deal was. Likewise, immediately after "Onslaught", we met Basition -- but it was close to another year until his crossover kicked in.

    (The above reminsiscenses are in no way meant as commentary on the quality of the crossovers in question. I don't hate them as much as some, but I fully recognize their problems. Nonetheless, my recollections of the time are, as I said, some of my fondest comic-reading memories.)

    But anyway -- though I loved those events as a kid, I find the annual Marvel crossovers now tedious and annoying. Not that I've read many current Marvel comics in the past few years, but I was reading for "House of M", "Civil War", "World War Hulk" (which I actually did enjoy), "Secret Invasion" and "Siege", and I didn't enjoy any of them as much as the nineties X-Men crossovers, or, for that matter, "Inferno" and "Acts of Vengeance" in the eighties, which were line-wide (though X-Men and Avengers-centric, respectively).

    Maybe it's just that tastes change as you grow up, but I tend to feel that the modern crossovers just get in the way of the individual titles, killing any momentum the writer is building, and robbing the books of their individual identities. It could have something to do with the fact that back then, crossovers were limited to their "family" of titles, while nowadays every event seems to touch every Marvel title, which -- in my opinion -- just adds to this feeling that the Marvel Universe is smaller and sort of... inbred, if that makes any sense.

    Anyway -- I didn't intend to come in here and write an essay about crossovers. This is actually stepping on the toes of a post I'll be tossing on my own blog this weekend, so I should probably quit now!

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  2. Regarding the actual issue: I just read recently that apparently Claremont intended Colossus to join Excalibur as well, but the evolution of the team eventually included Captain Britain, so when it was decided they only needed one "strong man" type, Colossus returned to the X-Men (which actually explains a great deal with regards to his last-minute inclusion in "Fall of the Mutants").

    Also, I don't want to go on another anti-Alan Moore tirade, but the guy really gets me worked up sometimes. The following quote, from the Comic Book Legends Revealed link you posted, is ridiculous: "Moore, as you might imagine, was outraged. Marvel had not asked him for permission and they had not paid him."

    Outraged? That the company who owned his work-for-hire chose to reprint it? He had no rights to the stories or characters! The article goes on to state that copyright law between the U.S. and U.K. was "sketchy", but in the end, Marvel would likely have been okay to do what they did (and Claremont would've been okay to proceed with his plans). It's the company bending over backwards to please one disgruntled ex-employeed that irritates me. He provided work-for-hire, and the company owns it. End of story. And if Moore were really as principled as he claims to be, he would understand that.

    Anyway, that said -- I've never understood why Claremont put Jaspers in issue #200 to begin with. Our Jaspers, the one from the main Marvel Universe, died at the end of the "Jaspers' Warp" storyline in the U.K. comics! The fact that he exists at all in #200 is a huge continuity error. Perhaps Claremont had a reason for his survival and appearance, but I guess we'll never know.

    Anyway -- I didn't intend to come in here and write an essay about Alan Moore and James Jaspers. I should probably quit now!

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  3. Regarding the actual issue:

    ...

    Well, I guess I don't really have anything else to say. Other than that, when I looked at your scan of Magneto holding the soda cans in mid air, my first thought was, "Why is Magneto 'saying' a picture of a six-pack?"

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  4. @Matt: My question would be why are those soda cans not made of aluminum like every other soda can in existence?

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  5. "Outraged? That the company who owned his work-for-hire chose to reprint it? He had no rights to the stories or characters! The article goes on to state that copyright law between the U.S. and U.K. was "sketchy", but in the end, Marvel would likely have been okay to do what they did (and Claremont would've been okay to proceed with his plans). It's the company bending over backwards to please one disgruntled ex-employeed that irritates me. He provided work-for-hire, and the company owns it. End of story. And if Moore were really as principled as he claims to be, he would understand that."

    Just... no. First, Moore didn't sign a work-for-hire document for any of his Marvel UK work. Further, English copyright law has no specific "work for hire" clause, and while anything made by an employee still belongs to the employer, works made by independent contractors are the IP of the contractors. That's why Moore and Davis had a say in the publication of stuff like Miracleman- it wasn't something they had to get a special exception to, it was just the law in the UK. When Marvel approached Moore as to whether he'd sign an agreement that would pay him in exchange for American reprints of some of his work, Moore said no, in part because he felt it would be a validation of Marvel's work-for-hire method (Marvel likely wanted him to sign over his rights to the US reprints in exchange for a royalty type lump sum). And then some other person at Marvel went ahead and published material that Moore had done, this time explicitly without his permission. It was probably just an honest mistake by a corporation that didn't always have the best oversight in this period, but Moore was well within his rights to be pretty annoyed that Marvel straight up wasn't paying him for his work, and was using his material without permission. Any "bending over backwards" Marvel did had more to do with making sure they weren't in a position to get sued, because they knew they were at least somewhat in the wrong (they did the same thing with Kirby, eventually releasing much of his "lost" material, although with bogus limitations on his ability to redistribute it). So while Moore can certainly be a bit prickly, there's no reason to act like somehow Moore is the bad guy for Marvel publishing stuff without his permission or paying him.

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  6. Thanks for setting me straight, Dobson. I just assumed copyright law was the same in both countries, or that U.S. law, since Marvel is a U.S.-based company, would supersede British law.

    Plus I have two irrational knee-jerk topics in comics, one being creators moaning about their rights when they knowingly did work for hire, and the other being Alan Moore. So I tend to run off at the mouth on either subject. Put 'em both together, and this is what you get!

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  7. @Dobson,

    Thanks for the explanation of the Moore/ Jaspers situation.

    @Matt,

    I get the "they knew what 'work-for-hire' meant!" menatality, but any instance of a company making lots of money of the creative people who came up with the concepts and not properly compensating them when the IP becomes big rubs me the wrong way.

    Bill Finger dying poor after doing a lot of the heavy lifting on Batman? Siegel & Shuster being impoverished for decades until Time-Warner is shamed into throwing them a bone? Kirby having to jump through hoops just to get his art back, and getting peanuts after being promised he'd "be taken care of" by (IIRC) Goodwin & Co? Gary Freidrich being counter-sued over a character he created? Appalling. Legal, maybe, but absolutely disgusting.



    Er... good issue, that Uncanny X-Men 211. Real game-changer. That Colossus scene was awesome. Yup.

    - Mike Loughlin

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  8. Eek, I knew I shouldn't have opened my fool mouth! I have opinions which, I'm well aware, most would view as wrong-headed, narrow-minded, and overly simplistic. I've never considered myself an Objectivist by any means, but I do have some Ditko-esque views on the subject of comic creators and work-for-hire. The way I look at it, the "old guard" creators did what they did under the working conditions of the time, and were paid the going rate for their work, and that should be the end of the story.

    I can't believe, for example, that people cry foul over DC buying Superman from Siegel & Shuster for $1,000 or whatever it was, and giving them nothing more over the years. The purchase was made. From that moment, DC owned Superman. They were under no obligation to keep paying his creators. As you note, Mike, it may not be morally correct, but I don't think it's morally wrong, either. It's just a business decision DC made, just as Siegel & Shuster made their choice to sell their creation. I feel bad for the guys, but I don't think they were owed anything more from DC, even after Superman became Superman. I dislike Bob Kane for many reasons, but his (or, I believe, his father's) foresight in signing a more lucrative deal with DC is not one of them (leaving Finger out of the deal was despicable, though).

    Would I be happy if Kirby or Siegel & Scuster or Finger or whoever else had been paid royalties or even a pension or something for all their years of creative service? Sure. But even as most seem to believe it's not right for the companies to whithhold such payments, I don't think it's right for creators to sue over characters they created as work-for-hire. They had no way of knowing their creations would become as iconic and enduring as they have. If the company chooses to throw them some cash, I think that's great and well-deserved. But I don't believe they have any obligation to do so.

    Also, I am aware of all the back-and-forth on whether or not certain things back then were even considered "work-for-hire" since there were no official contracts until years later -- but I always just look at Steve Ditko, who worked under the same conditions as everyone else, and who has never tried to claim an ownership stake in Spider-Man (creatorship, yes, of course, but not ownership), and I can't help believing he's doing the right thing. I assume it has to bug him, even if he won't admit it, that Spider-Man is a huge franchise now and he gets nothing out of it -- but I believe the fact that he abides by the compensation he received in the sixties and never goes after more is a great show of character.

    The whole situation changed with the introduction of royalties on new characters, of course, and I certainly understand creators making a stink if they aren't paid what they're due in that situation, but it's a different situation in my mind.

    (And of course my last point contradicts my earlier Alan Moore post, but I was basing that entire rant on the Comic Book Legends article which said Marvel U.K. had no royalty plan in place for foreign reprints. I didn't consider until Dobson's clarification -- though I should have realized -- that the whole thing works differently over there.)

    Anyway, sorry for derailing the comments, everyone. I do like this issue. I think it's the only Claremont-written Uncanny I had never read until relatively recently, due to the fact that when I was collecting back issues in my early teens, the trade paperback edition didn't exist yet and the single issue was too expensive for me (I got #210 really beat up for something like $10, and I got #212 and 213 as reprints in the Sabretooth Classic) series. I only read it for the first time in the Mutant Massacre hardcover Marvel released a few years ago.

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  9. I too cheer when corporate monoliths make millions of dollars while creative personnel who actually generate the money-making ideas languish in poverty. It's the very ideal on which America was founded.

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  10. Finally! Someone who understands me! ;-)


    But seriously -- I didn't say I was cheering. As I said, if the companies sent some money the creators' way, I think that would be great, but that's not how things were done back then.

    Plus, I readily admit that in almost any dispute, I tend to side with management. Probably because in my lifetime, my dad has spent his entire career as upper management for a large corporation, so that's how I'm conditioned.

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  11. Understandable, Matt. This also explains your previously inexplicable sympathy for Bob Harras. :)

    You are quite level-headed in your points of view, but I have definitely seen folks online who get downright giddy when expressing similar viewpoints, which is where it becomes strange to me. They take a weird kind of delight in pointing out that ha ha, DC won and you lost, sucker. Odd to me.

    But I don't mean to lump you in with that sadistic lot. :)

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  12. Thanks, Jason. I'm really not as big an asshole as I come across on the internet, I promise!

    I've seen the same people you talk about, and I don't get that either. It's comes across as, like... vicarious sadism or something. I can't stand it.

    Anyway, as long as we're all still friends here! Sorry again for stirring things up, Teebore! There are certain issues where I'm on the less popular side, so I should probably just keep my virtual mouth shut.

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  13. I just wanna say that I love the comic booky metaphor of Colossus getting "harder/tougher" after the Riptide incident, in that its really difficult for him to go back to human form. He slides right in with the darker, rule-breaking X-Men of the Silvestri/Outback era, where the more lighthearted pranksters of Kitty and Nightcrawler wouldn't, and are more at home in the wackier comedic adventures of Excalibur. I feel this worked out rather well for everybody involved.

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  14. @Matt,

    After I posted, I thought, "crap, it's going to get ugly because I couldn't stop my fingers from typing my opinion!" I appreciate you being mature enough to not escalate things, and I respect your opinion even if I disagree with it. As this is Teebore's blog, the last thing I want to do is cause stryfe.

    Wait, is that word supposed to be spelled with a "y?" Stupid '90s comics ruining my edjacashun.

    Anyway, we can agree on the fact that Steve Ditko is awesome, yes?

    - Mike Loughlin

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  15. No problem, Mike. I respect your opinion as well, which does, from what I've seen, seem to represent the majority side of the matter. In all honesty, though this may make me sound even more callous, I don't really lose any sleep over creators' rights. I have an opinion, but I only present it when something gets me going (in this case it was the mention of Alan Moore, whose name sends me into an auto-contrarian spiral).

    And yes, Ditko is awesome.

    ...

    Though at the risk of starting an entirely new debate, I actually prefer John Romita's Spider-Man stories over Ditko's.

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  16. @Matt,

    "I actually prefer John Romita's Spider-Man stories over Ditko's."

    Now them's some fightin' words :)

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  17. Jason/Matt, I think that corporation over creator support is at least in part due to Marvel/DC being the instrumentality that actually puts product in fan's hands, so the fans feel like they owe loyalty to the corporation first, as backwards as that actually is. Like if the Superman heirs somehow won their lawsuit, all the rights would revert to them and you couldn't read Superman stories or cartoons anymore, so you have to support DC if you like Superman. The reality is that just wouldn't happen; if DC really thought they'd lose, they'd just throw money at them to settle.

    Anyway, back to X-Men: it's kind of a shame that JRJR is on his way out, as this is the kind of storyline his art style has seemingly been leading us to ever since Paul Smith left. As much as I love Davis's art, he's not really the natural choice for such a serious storyline. It's also probably the transition-point in superhero comics, as things across the board get dark in '86, with Born Again and DKR from Miller, and Watchmen from Moore. I'm not sure to what extent Claremont was directly influenced by those books, or if he was just tapped into the zeitgeist of the time, but Colossus, the "nice guy" of the old team straight-up murdering a dude is about as grim and gritty as it gets.

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  18. I had missed this one originally, as it was probably already out by the time I'd gotten the big Marvel grab-bag which had #210 in it--but it was quickly resolved with an early back-issue purchase. It's unfortunate that the art is the JRJR/Blevins mash-up that it is, and it's unfortunate that JRJR didn't get a bigger send-off. It's also amazing to me that by this issue, the "classic" X-Men line-up and existence (living in the mansion, fighting in the Danger Room, etc.), is essentially done with. On one hand, I feel I jumped on board at an ideal time to start a whole new era to call my own--and on the other hand, I feel I completely missed out--aside from collecting all those back issues, trades, and digital comics--on the X-Men's "heyday". Just how long Claremont would keep the X-Men away from "home" is pretty astounding. Pretty much between this issue and adjectiveless-X-Men #1 or so, right?

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  19. Well, thanks to the slog of real life and the unrelenting posting schedule of the blog, I missed my window to chime in on the whole creators rights discussion.

    Rather than raise it back up, I'll just say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, learned some new things (like Matt, I was unaware of the differences in British copyright law relative to the US, and was somewhat surprised to see that the UK laws seem more creator-friendly), and appreciate the civil tone everyone struck throughout.

    Oh, and Matt, no worries on launching the tangent - I've often said, half the fun of these comments sometimes is seeing the tangents we end up on.

    @Matt: I never minded the annual X-events when I was younger. I expected them and eagerly awaited them. Some of my fondest comic book memories are of the year or so between "Age of Apocalypse" and "Onslaught".

    Me too. "Zero Tolerance" was probably the first one where I was excited, but ultimately let down, and my zeal for the crossovers diminished after that (coinciding with me getting a better understanding of how they came about and realizing they weren't all part of someone's grand plan).

    ...which actually explains a great deal with regards to his last-minute inclusion in "Fall of the Mutants"

    It really does. I hadn't heard that before.

    @Dr. Bitz: My question would be why are those soda cans not made of aluminum like every other soda can in existence?

    Um, all metal is magnetic. Anyone who reads comics knows that.

    Seriously though, if you'd like a serious albeit Handbook-y explanation, anytime Magneto is levitating something that isn't magnetic, he is using his power to reverse the pull of gravitons on the object, which is apparently something he can do via magnetism (and was clearly established as a way to cover for all the time he affected non-magnetic things).

    @Jeremy: I just wanna say that I love the comic booky metaphor of Colossus getting "harder/tougher" after the Riptide incident, in that its really difficult for him to go back to human form ... I feel this worked out rather well for everybody involved.

    Agreed. I really love the symbolism in Colossus being unable to "un-armor" himself during his time as one of the darker Outback-era X-Men. Really clever bit on Claremont's part.

    @Dobson: it's kind of a shame that JRJR is on his way out, as this is the kind of storyline his art style has seemingly been leading us to ever since Paul Smith left.

    Definitely. Intentional or not, you get a sense that Claremont was building to something like this throughout his run with Romita, as the universe of the characters got darker and darker. It's a shame Romita wasn't able to see it through.

    @Johnny: Just how long Claremont would keep the X-Men away from "home" is pretty astounding. Pretty much between this issue and adjectiveless-X-Men #1 or so, right?

    Pretty much, yeah. The X-Men'll make brief pit stops at the mansion between now and "Fall of the Mutants", the climax of "Inferno" is set there, and the re-formed X-Men will return there briefly in issue #273 before heading off into space and subsequent stories that keep them away until the launch of Adjectiveless, but that's about it. And the days of the team seeking out new mutants, training in the Danger Room, all the classic trappings, pretty much end with this issue and won't return until 1991.

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  20. So those are the Marauders.

    I didn't know they had superpowers and codenames. Having seen them at last, I realize I thought they were just mercenaries along the lines of the Hellfire Club goons but with better equipment, although honestly I never thought about them much at all. As curious as I am to finally read this era of X-Men, I also have to admit that so far the Marauders are in looks and in aliases much of what I hate about what I think of as the '90s phenomenon of, well, this stuff.

    "Wha'chu talkin', man -- This some kind'a ha-ha, hey?" — Sunder

    Da fuh?!?

    // I've never been able to make hide nor hair of the order based on this map myself //

    I can't say it's simple but it really does hold together. Or I should say that I understand what's it's telling us; I can't vouch for whether the stories in the issues indicated actually overlap and/or follow one another as indicated.

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  21. "It's a shame Romita wasn't able to see it through."

    True, but...we do get to see Alan Davis draw Wolverine vs. Sabertooth, so that more than makes up for it.

    I always liked the Marauders, even though none of their future appearances convey the danger that they do here. Part of the reason why they work for me is that CC does at least give some them personalities, which makes them more interesting than they need to be...

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  22. It's funny to me how this is ancient history for so many readers, or the praxis of their X-Men reading. This is right in the thick of my fandom, with weekly trips to the comic store where I was spending $10-20 a week on X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants, later Excalibur, Iron Man, and for some reason West Coast Avengers. This issue marked the end of the team as I so well knew and loved it. Heck, a Rogue, who many people think is the poster child X-Man, was a newbie to me. I'm one of those hipster readers who loved Wolverine before it was cool and he became Marvel's version of overexposed Batman.

    I kept reading for years, through Inferno and Fall of the Mutants. The relaunch with Adjectiveless was essentially the end for me. And this was the beginning of it. I liked Dazzler, the old-school Psylocke, but it was never the same.

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