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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #222

"Heartbreak!"
October 1987

In a Nutshell
The X-Men vs. the Marauders, round two. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Marc Silvestri & Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Plot
As Polaris threatens Dazzler and Rogue, Havok unknowingly blasts her from afar, knocking her unconscious. Rogue flies Polaris and Dazzler to the beach, as Psylocke and Havok arrive alongside Lt. Morrell. As Rogue flies off to find Madelyne, Havok is shocked to discover he blasted Polaris, only a moment before she wakes up and attacks him. Meanwhile, in the Rockies, Storm and Naze are attacked by a pair of demons. After they're defeated, Naze suggests Forge may have loosed the demons by opening the gateway between worlds, prompting Storm to swear to kill him. Back in San Fransisco, Psylocke is able to temporarily free Polaris from Malice's control, but when other Marauders attack, Malice reasserts control, trapping all but Havok, who grabs hold of Polaris as she flies off, in the sand. Meanwhile, on the Golden Gate bridge, Scalphunter targets Rogue, but is distracted by Longshot and attacked by Wolverine.


As Longshot plummets off the bridge, Wolverine's power is taken away by Scrambler just as Sabretooth attacks, but Wolverine painfully reminds him that Scrambler can't affect his claws. As Scalphunter unleashes another volley, Wolverine leaps off the bridge and is caught by Rogue. They return to the bridge to find the Marauders gone, but Wolverine spies Longshot and Madelyne in the water, the pair having luckily rescued each other. As he fishes them out, he speculates that the Marauders fled, believing Madelyne to have died. A few minutes earlier, Polaris drops Havok on Alcatraz after seeing Scalphunter's signal to retreat. She tells Havok he could always try to stop her, at the cost of the life of the woman he loves. A tormented Havok ultimately does blast her, but Polaris easily blocks the attack, flying away saying that while he failed to kill her, what matters is he tried.  

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue features the first rematch between Wolverine and Sabretooth, following their first (publication-wise) encounters during "Mutant Massacre" in issues #212 & #213, and even though their battle is less than two pages long, said rematch led to back issue prices for this issue skyrocketing in the 90s (even higher than the price for the previous issue featuring Mr. Sinister's first appearance). I actually read it for the first time in the short-lived Sabretooth Classics reprint series (yes, there was a time in the 90s when Sabretooth warranted his own series reprinting past appearances) before tracking down a reasonably-priced back issue at a convention after some of the Wolverine/Sabretooth hubbub had died down.


Havok learns Polaris has been possessed by Malice this issue, his shock at this turn of events suggesting that he hasn't spoken to her since he left for New York to seek out the X-Men in issue #219, and thus never bothered discussing his decision to re-join the team with her, nor contacted her in any way during his ensuing time with the X-Men (including time, such as in X-Men vs. the Avengers, when he was seen actively pining for her). Alternatively, it's possible that he did call her, and Malice just played along, pretending to be regular old Lorna until she could reveal herself to him dramatically, but I have a hard time picturing Malice hanging around their house waiting for Alex to call. 


Police lieutenant Sabrina Morrell, whom the X-Men befriended while staying in San Fransisco circa issue #206, returns, accompanied by a decidedly less mutant friendly partner.


Also, the group of Japanese kids who witness the X-Men's return from the Secret Wars in issue #181 are at the beach, this time using their guidebook to superheroes (rather than their monster guidebook, as before) to identify Dazzler.


In the subplot, Storm and Naze battle the Eye Killers, a pair of Native American demons vulnerable to fire. They first appeared in a Claremont-penned issue of Dr. Strange (vol. 2 #38).


The intro caption on the first page (the box that sometimes appears above the title, spelling out the premise of the series for first time readers) has been replaced by new text seemingly written from the perspective of Polaris/the Marauders.


It's Statement of Ownership time again, and in the past year, sales climbed over the half a million mark, as this issue lists the average number of copies sold per month in the preceding year to be 630,020, with the total number of issues sold in the month nearest to the file date being 622,105, up from the ~450k on average per month and 474K nearest to the filing date previously reported. 

The Chronology Corner
The Official Marvel Index also notes Dazzler as next appearing in the flashback during issue #228, even though it also noted the same thing following issue #218. I'm not sure what's going on there (dual flashbacks?), but I've only read that issue once, so maybe it'll become more clear once I read it again.

A Work in Progress
A couple of dialogue boxes in this issue are clearly re-lettered, though its unclear why. 

Dazzler, absorbing all the sound in the immediate area, fails to realize how much it spooks the crowd, prompting her to admit that while she's not exactly a rookie to the superhero game, she still has a lot to learn.


Scalphunter's mutant ability is hinted at, as he says he can craft a weapon to kill anything.


Sabretooth refers to Wolverine as "Logan", revealing that he knows his real name.


I Love the 80s
A man on the beach is reading Wild Cards, an anthology series about a world that becomes populated with superheroes and supervillains, created and edited by "Song of Ice and Fire" author George R.R. Martin, to which Claremont contributed stories.


Spectators watching the X-Men/Marauders fight dust off that old chestnut of believing Lucasfilm or Steven Speilberg is filming a movie. 

At issue's end, Polaris has Havok at her mercy, yet the villain allows him to live (of course), saying that allowing him to live with the knowledge that his lover has been corrupted is more painful than death.


Artistic Achievements
There's a neat "only in comics" visual representation of Dazzler's "absorb all the ambient sound around me" trick, in which she sucks the dialogue right out of their speech bubbles.

  
The Best There is at What He Does
Something that isn't always pointed out when showing Wolverine in combat, when Sabretooth punches Wolverine he breaks his hand, with Wolverine comparing punching him to punching steel.


Bullpen Bulletins
G.I. Joe mastermind Larry Hama gets the profile treatment in this month's Bullpen Bulletins.


Teebore's Take
The issue concludes the Marauders/X-Men rematch in exciting fashion, turning over the vast majority of its pages to straight-up action, giving Silvestri one of his first chances to cut loose with the entire team since joining the book. As Wolverine points out, this battle is more of a draw, with both teams getting in their licks, but with the X-Men technically emerging victorious as not only is Madelyne Pryor saved, but the Marauders are led to believe she's dead, freeing her from future attacks (all the better for her to start hanging out with the X-Men again). The fight choreography is inelegant, at times - Rogue, Psylocke and Dazzler disappear halfway through the issue, for example, and it's not always clear how certain characters are moving through the city - especially compared to last issue, but this nevertheless wraps up a fun and engaging little action-oriented two parter, one which effectively lays the several seeds for future stories.  

Next Issue
Tomorrow, you will know mutants by their whacky antics in New Mutants #57, followed by the reading of Angel's will in X-Factor #21 on Friday. Next week, Storm retakes center stage in Uncanny X-Men #223.

34 comments:

  1. " this time using their guidebook to superheroes (rather than their monster guidebook, as before) to identify Dazzler. "

    I love the little detail that Daredevil is on the opposing page to Dazzler in the guidebook.

    "has been replaced by new text seemingly written from the perspective of Polaris/the Marauders. "

    Hm. Really? I never would have thought that. It's kind of off-the-cuff and ironic in tone, but I never saw it as being written by a villain. But either way, I love it and wish there were more examples of these kind of intros. (Claremont did another such one for Classic X-Men 22, where he wrote a new intro for the opening splash that hadn't appeared in the issue it was reprinting.)

    "to which Claremont contributed stories."

    Technically just "story," singular, although in addition to the single story, Claremont did contribute several characters to that universe who appeared in stories written by other writers, such as Mazeryk and Molly Bolt. He also contributed the premise to a group of villains who featured as the primary antagonists in a whole sequence of books (Volumes 8 to 11). They were called the Jumpers, and they could switch bodies other people. (And if that ain't an iconically Claremontian concept ...)

    Long story short, Wild Cards is awesome.

    " accompanied by a decidedly less mutant friendly partner. "

    Perhaps worth noting that the cop in question looks like Clint Eastwood and is named "Harry" ...

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  2. @Jason: Hm. Really? I never would have thought that. It's kind of off-the-cuff and ironic in tone, but I never saw it as being written by a villain.

    I think its the reference to the X-Men being "noble hearted lunatics" that led me to think that it was written from the perspective of someone who would consider heroes as such and would bristle at the way the X-Men try to stop would-be world conquerors, but you're right that it could just be somewhat sardonic.

    They were called the Jumpers, and they could switch bodies other people. (And if that ain't an iconically Claremontian concept ...)

    Ha! Indeed. I really need to check out Wild Cards someday both for the GRRM and Claremont connections, and because I've always heard good things.

    Perhaps worth noting that the cop in question looks like Clint Eastwood and is named "Harry" ...

    Ah, I never made connection before. Neat!

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  3. Havok not communicating with Lorna in any way shape or form after trying a few times and finding the phone line disconnected just proves that he comes from pure Summers stock.

    "The intro caption on the first page (the box that sometimes appears above the title, spelling out the premise of the series for first time readers) has been replaced by new text seemingly written from the perspective of Polaris/the Marauders."

    Whose-ever perspective this is, it's hilarious, and I wish CC did it a few more times (unless he did and I just don't remember).

    "Scalphunter's mutant ability is hinted at, as he says he can craft a weapon to kill anything."

    So he's like Forge, but invents stuff to kill people. And they're both Native Americans...

    A good, fun issue, though it does make the Marauders a bit less scary, no? Then again, I suppose they can't wipe out half the team each time they fight (and at least the X-men are better prepared and know who they are in this round).

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  4. @wwk5d: Havok not communicating with Lorna in any way shape or form after trying a few times and finding the phone line disconnected just proves that he comes from pure Summers stock.

    Seriously. What terrible accident involving phones befell those boys, to leave them so scared to use one?

    So he's like Forge, but invents stuff to kill people.

    Yeah, my understanding is that his power is to "build weapons". Ostensibly from the components on his costume, but I don't believe they're necessary for his power to work, just a case of him carrying around the material needed to create weapons.

    Then again, I suppose they can't wipe out half the team each time they fight (and at least the X-men are better prepared and know who they are in this round).

    Yeah, the progression of their fights does at least make logical sense, even if it does make the Marauders a little scary as a result (which makes sense: the unknown is often scary). Plus, whatever his plans, in the end, Claremont doesn't end up using the Marauders all that much, taking off their edge a bit here isn't all that detrimental.

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  5. Heatbreak? Who's that? Sound suspiciously nineties. Is it the redheaded chick from MLF?

    (Sorry, but now that we have made a point of the intro box leading right into it... ;) )

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  6. And Summers boys and phones... they should make a Classic X-Men type of decompressed back-history comic of the time when the Shi'ar hijacked the Summers' plane and Corsair yelled at Scott and Alex to call the radio for help while he fought the hijackers but the boys just were looking with stupefied Simonson-drawn look on their faces and then Corsair just pushed them off the plane with the only parachute cursing "Ach, shiver me timbers!"

    The story would then cut to present time with Scott remembering the thing in his blue and white X-Factor costume with the same silly face, the phone is ringing on backstage and someone walks in to ask if he's not going to answer it.

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  7. Well, my criticism of Scott and Alex is more them just giving up after trying 1 or 2 times to call their wife/GF...and then commenting about their own lack of follow-up later lol

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  8. @Teemu: Heatbreak? Who's that? Sound suspiciously nineties. Is it the redheaded chick from MLF?

    Ha! "Heartbreak" does have a very proto-90s sound to it as a character name.

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  9. Teeb, there's a typo in the title is what I was trying to point out... :)

    Talking of heat instead of heart here now gives all the wrong idea of Alex/Lorna relationship. "Mr. Sinister got your heat broken, bro boy? Here, have a redhead, I got spares..."

    I really am a bad person to come enjoy your awesome blog and rip your favorite character while I'm at it. :)

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  10. Y'know, it used to be I could show up a few hours after a Wednesday post and often leave the first comment. Now I'm the tenth. You've hit it big, Teebore!

    Anyway -- the finale of this issue has always rung a bit false to me. I guess maybe Havok is just desperate enough to give in to Polaris's taunts and blast at her, but every time I've read that scene, it's felt wrong to me. Like it's manufactured drama just to give Havok some angst fuel for future installments.

    In all, I find Havok to be a very underwhelming addition to the team. It's weird because I figure Claremont brought him in as a way to sort of redeem the Summers family after Cyclops's dickish actions, or maybe to build him up as the better brother now that he no longer controls Cyke, but if memory serves he comes across as an extremely indecisive wimp, prone to occasional bouts of irrational rage, during his tenure with the group.

    Larry Hama says, "Tell me, does a sane person who wants to write for adults, choose comics as his or her medium? Give me a break!"

    That's great. I wonder what the likes of Bendis, Millar, et al think of it. Do they want to write for adults? Because they are. I suppose it can be argued that the entire medium has changed since Hama's quote, though. Hama himself must write for adults these days too, after all. I doubt tons of kids are picking up his continuation of the G.I. Joe series that ended in 1994.

    Jason -- "Long story short, Wild Cards is awesome."

    I've never read it, but it occurs to me that, between the current superhero movie craze and the fact that the series could be marketed as coming from "the creator of HBO's acclaimed Game of Thrones", I'm surprised no one is rushing it into development as a TV series. I'd watch it.

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  11. I can't believe you forgot to mention Dirty Harry shows up in this issue, complete with Smith & Wesson. "The most powerful handgun in the world"

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  12. Maybe Malice left a message on Alex's phone or sent a letter to the X-Men saying that she'd be unavailable for some reason. If Malice's SOP is to possess people, she probably does that a lot whenever she doesn't want her target's friends or families to get suspicious.
    @Matt- Claremont has made it clear that Inferno wasn't what he had in mind when he had Alex join the team and talk Maddie off the ledge. We're probably never going to know how Claremont's original plans for Alex would have worked out.

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  13. Given Claremont's claim the rest of the Marauders were cloned from genetic samples Mister Sinister had obtained/ purchased from the originals, there's an outside chance Scalphunter was cloned from Forge!

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  14. @Matt: if memory serves he comes across as an extremely indecisive wimp, prone to occasional bouts of irrational rage, during his tenure with the group.

    Poor guy never survives loosing Lorna and is on a downspiral until Siege Perilous, but people have rightfully commented on just how awesome Alex really can be when he will two issues from now blast a gangster mobile without even taking his other hand out of pocket.

    I also like him seemingly taunting his brother boy in the Inferno finale while secretly powering him up whole he goes at it. Magister Sinister never saw that one coming which must not have done good things for healing him up from his Summers obsession.

    He did have that 'little brother in the shadow of the elder one' going but I'm in understanding he made quite a competent leader for the government sponsored X-Factor.

    Larry Hama says, "Tell me, does a sane person who wants to write for adults, choose comics as his or her medium? Give me a break!"

    That's great. I wonder what the likes of Bendis, Millar, et al think of it. Do they want to write for adults? Because they are. I suppose it can be argued that the entire medium has changed since Hama's quote, though.


    Well, um. The ages are such that the boys arguing about this stuff at their sandbox are no longer nine but thirty and something... ;)

    I'm actually genuinely a bit perplexed how I should relate to Wertham and Comics Code. The accepted truth is that it was the most terrible thing ever, but... well, without them clearing the market from most of other things, it may be the Silver Age of superheroes would never have come and everything we love is really built on it.

    Of course, thus was it also cemented that comics are a kids' medium which has then had to go great lengths to grow up from that mandated adolescence. And that really was an awesome journey mostly because of the writers who refused to write deliberately for kids and instead just wrote great stories around the banned themes like sexuality. Now that soft porn covers starring Emma Frost are a go, it's like they don't have to put in the effort anymore.

    The medium really has changed and the readership too. External factors like comics changing from being the only available and affordable form of entertainment for kids and now having to compete with other forms of entertainment with much less welcoming price tag are probably a much bigger reason than the inner developments of the medium.

    I should be on my way to the other post to comment on your post regarding commercial viability. I don't want to go there because in 2014 commercial viability, profits by other name, would probably mean that Marvel Cinematic Universe movies is the product to go with and the comics medium foundation under it should be harnessed to serve MCU. Keep your eyes open for the upcoming summer event Marvel Universe CSI, starring "the biggest heroes of Marvel Universe like ... Black Widow". I fear it will go as badly to Marvel Comics, qualitywise, as did putting emphasis on illustrations rather than writing in the 90s.

    On the other point, I hate how all the other guys spot Dirty Harry and here's me thinking about how in the X-Men mutants are hated everywhere but are repeatedly welcomed to San Francisco since the 80s, not unlike a certain real-life minority some feel the X-Men are standing in for.

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  15. @Nathan Alder: Given Claremont's claim the rest of the Marauders were cloned from genetic samples Mister Sinister had obtained/ purchased from the originals, there's an outside chance Scalphunter was cloned from Forge!

    A totally non-PC but hauntingly awesome idea!

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  16. Wait no. Didn't Scalphunter have a WWII back history? Forge is a different war's child from later period.

    Plus, Scalpy is explicitly Comanche, while Forge is a Cheyenne.

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  17. There's also the fact that nobody commented on the fact that Forge and Scalphunter looked alike. I mean, you'd think at least Storm would have brought it up.

    It makes sense that nobody would have mentioned Vertigo showing up with the Marauders, even if a few of the X-men would have been mildly curious as to how a Savage Land mutate was on a new team of murderers. But had "Forge" been with them? You can bet they would have wanted answers.

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  18. "It's probably Mystique. Or Changeling's back. Oh well."

    Though they were mightily pissed for a prolonged period when "Cable" shot Prof Xavier so your point is a valid one.

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  19. Aaaand of course the very motivation for Storm to go look for Forge to get her powers back was the Marauder massacre and Storm is looking Forge as we speak so there being such sinister forgery aloof is senseless.

    You know what. I think Nathan here is just keeping us busy while his partner Black Tom Cassidy is robbing a bank somewhere.

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  20. I wish Silvestri was still doing interior art. He's done a couple one shots in the last five years and he's definitely still got it. The Messiah CompleX one is gorgeous and gave him chance to draw the Marauders and Mr. Sinister again.

    Since you mentioned the fight choreography, can anyone explain where Havok was supposed to be when he fired his initial shot at Polaris at the beginning of the issue? The next time we see him he's in a police car in the city heading toward the scene. I realize he's got range, but it seems like he would have had to blast through some buildings or something.

    Anyway, another great issue and a pretty awesome two-parter.

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  21. Speaking of Dirty Harry -- the original Harry Callahan film featured a scene where Harry kills a bunch of black bank robbers (it's the scene including the famous "make my day" speech which Wolverine cribbed some years later). Famously, the studio had a scene inserted immediately afterward, showing Harry palling around with a black co-worker, to let viewers know he was not racist when he gunned down those black robbers. It might've been funny to see this story's "Harry" sharing a drink with a filthy mutie following his disparaging remarks earlier on.

    Teemu -- "He did have that 'little brother in the shadow of the elder one' going but I'm in understanding he made quite a competent leader for the government sponsored X-Factor."

    I think you spoke to this yourself earlier in the same post when you mentioned the Siege Perilous. The Havok who led X-Factor had experience as a Genoshan Magistrate. He had surely become harder and more disciplined than he was previously.

    Teemu -- "Well, um. The ages are such that the boys arguing about this stuff at their sandbox are no longer nine but thirty and something... ;)"

    Oh, I don't dispute that. But the fact is, these comics were written primarily for a juvenile audience. Claremont just happens to be one of those comic book writers -- perhaps the best, when you think about it -- who can write a kids' story while infusing it with plenty of subtext for adults to enjoy, too. I tend to believe that today's writers are writing adult stories for adults. But, as I've said before, I haven't read a ton of recent Marvel in the past few years.

    Teemu -- "...Marvel Cinematic Universe movies is the product to go with and the comics medium foundation under it should be harnessed to serve MCU"

    Black Widow as one of Marvel's "biggest stars" is certainly a product of the recent movies, but for an even better illustration of what you're talking about, look no further than the bizarre and convoluted hoops Marvel has navigated through in order to replace the "real" Nick Fury with something resembling his cinematic counterpart!

    Jeff -- I loved seeing Silvestri reunited with Mr. Sinister and the Marauders in that "Messiah Complex" one-shot. That whole storyline gave me some hope that the X-Men might be returning to something I liked -- you had a classic X-artist in Silvestri, you had the return of my favorite nineties X-villain in Sinister, and you had a 12-part crossover between the four X-books, along the lines of one of my favorite nineties events, "X-Cutioner's Song". But then the story itself was pretty awful and really marked the beginning of the end of my association with the X-Men, though I held out for a bit longer before dropping the series entirely.

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  22. @Matt - Yeah, Messiah Complex was kind of the end for me, too. I actually enjoyed that crossover, but it didn't end up resolving anything or leading into anything interesting. I dip my toe in every now and then, I'm thinking about trying to follow Amazing X-Men right now because I like Jason Aaron and Ed McGuiness, but there's so many X-books now and a lot of them feel directionless.

    I also agree with you about Claremont being able to write really well for children and adults. I don't think I would have enjoyed a lot of the comics out today as a kid and I think that's a real shame. One major exception: Dan Slott is doing really good work on Spider-Man right now that I think can be enjoyed by anyone.

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  23. Jeff -- I've seen covers and preview art for Amazing X-Men, and McGuinness's Nightcrawler looks outstanding. I'll try it out when it hits Marvel Unlimited. I subscribed to the service in December and, in addition to looking at old stuff, which was my main purpose for doing it, I've also been perusing random newer comics. I'm mostly underwhelmed by what I've seen, but I have to say that I really like Uncanny Avengers. It reminds me of my beloved nineties in a lot of ways -- the plot involving "the Apocalypse twins" and several resurrected characters filling in as Horsemen feels like something that could've come out of the mid-nineties X-Office, and I mean that as praise. Ozymandias is even involved!

    I want to read Slott's Spider-Man, too. I had dropped Spidey around "Civil War", but picked him up again for "Brand New Day" and stuck it out all the way through to the beginning of "Big Time". Slott wrote so few issues in the BND era that I had no real opinion of him on Spider-Man -- my favorite BND issues were by Bob Gale (who also wrote very few), Marc Guggenheim, and Mark Waid.

    To be honest, the main reason I've avoided looking at Slott's run is that I think Humberto Ramos is one of the worst possible choices to illustrate Spider-Man. Among the many BND era artists, they had so many better choices! My ideal modern day Spider-Man would be a twice-monthly Amazing artistically tag-teamed by Marcos Martin, my absolute favorite of all the BND artists, and his high highly compatible fellow artist, Paolo Rivera.

    But anyway.

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  24. Great minds. Martin and Rivera would be my dream team, too. I think they'd struggle to meet deadlines even splitting a monthly book, though. Maybe throw in Javier Pulido and just have them each draw 4 issues a year.

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  25. @Matt: for an even better illustration of what you're talking about, look no further than the bizarre and convoluted hoops Marvel has navigated through in order to replace the "real" Nick Fury with something resembling his cinematic counterpart

    Oh, yes. Fury, Jr. A friend of Phil Coulson's, I see. I haven't read anything after early 2000s, but had seen something of this somewhere. I think my brain was actively trying to block it.

    I hate superhero filmatisations. No colorful spandex, 33 % of Avengers without superpowers, well 50 % if you don't count supersoldier serum effects in, well, 67 % if Iron Man's armor is not a "superpower"... are these people sure at all they want to make superhero movies?

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  26. @Matt: But the fact is, these comics were written primarily for a juvenile audience. Claremont just happens to be one of those comic book writers -- perhaps the best, when you think about it -- who can write a kids' story while infusing it with plenty of subtext for adults to enjoy, too. I tend to believe that today's writers are writing adult stories for adults.

    The main point I was trying to go for was that the writers, like Claremont for example, didn't write down at the kids. The audience without a doubt was juvenile and the books were written for them or at least them in mind but there are thematics going on there that could as well be on adult works, like Spider-Man's constant collision course with his responsibilities or the whole basic setting of the X-Men.

    I feel subtext is wrong word for what I'm going after and anyways it's something that's mainly fodder for the Claremont Mind Control Central anyway... I'm actually not a fan of such subtext that has been deliberately written to be hidden from the kids in these sort of works because the kids will grow up one day and then think their once-heroes Captain America and Iron Man were pussies after all for keeping their mutual love hidden.

    Though, the turn Uncanny takes from #205 forward with the slashfest with Lady Deathstrike and Hellfire cyborgs to Wolverine ramming claws into Rachel's gut to Nimrod disintegrating von Roehm to Marauders massacring a sewerful of people... not everyone would describe it as kids' stories. Acknowledging of course that I was eight myself at the time and just llLLloving it.

    Makes me wonder: could it just be that the nineties weren't especially gorish and violent after all but the lack of deeper thematics in the stories and writers failing to give reason for the reader to really care about the characters just made it feel like it? "No Wolverine, not Rachel, nooo!!" and "That Leland sure went out with style" vs. "Oh look, another gratuitous death".

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  27. I see at least as much Dan Green here than last issue, on the interior pages anyway. He signed the cover, too, but I'm wondering if maybe Silvestri didn't do full(er) pencils there than on the story.

    // Wolverine painfully reminds him that Scrambler can't affect his claws. //

    Here's a geeky, academic question for you: Should he be able to pop his claws? Of course at the time they were still canonically implants of solid adamantium rather than adamantium-sheathed bone. That aside, though, working from later revelations and present continuity, I just wonder how much they're a "power" rather than irreducible mutant biology. Leech doesn't make Angel's wings fall off or get rid of Nightcrawler's furry blue skin and tail; Nightcrawler wouldn't be able to teleport, but as a matter of physics (Marvel Universe physics, granted) Angel should still be able to fly. Wolverine's claws, similarly, would still be there in his forearms. Could he just not pop them? Or do they fall on the physical-mechanics side of the mutant-power-negating divide?

    // This issue features the first rematch between Wolverine and Sabretooth //

    That backup in Classic X-Men #10, on sale the same month as Uncanny #218, had seen print since they first met (publication-wise, as you say) in #212 & #213. I'm still kind-of stunned that, since I was picking up Classic but had dropped Uncanny, the backup was actually my first experience with Sabretooth and Wolverine in the same story. Their presumed relationship had been discussed so many times and/or so long ago via interviews with Claremont, Byrne, and whomever else that I distinctly recall the backup feeling like a neat little grace note expanding on known continuity rather than setting it.

    // [Alex] hasn't spoken to [Lorna] since he left for New York to seek out the X-Men in issue #219, and thus never bothered discussing his decision to re-join the team with her //

    Like brother, like brother, as I am not the first to point out. Maybe it's something they learn at Xavier's? I'm thinking of that sequence of panels in X-Factor #1 with Angel just standing there in his underpants giving the telephone the Andrew Weiner treatment as the sun sets and rises while he debates whether to tell Scott that Jean is back.

    // Dazzler, absorbing all the sound in the immediate area, fails to realize how much it spooks the crowd //

    I'm still wondering about this new thing of Dazzler absorbing sound. Admittedly I didn't read her solo series past the first issue, but like I've said before I don't recall Dazzler's powers ever being described that way (including by Claremont when she was introduced) until this stint of hers in the X-Men. I'm not saying it isn't a neat idea, mind you, just that it's out of the blue and has all kinds of ramifications for her career as a rock star whose shtick was turning the band's sound into a lightshow.

    // [Malice/Polaris] allows [Havok] to live (of course), saying that allowing him to live with the knowledge that his lover has been corrupted is more painful than death. //

    I thought it was more, or as much as, him living with the knowledge that he was willing to kill Polaris to stop Malice.

    Claremontism: We have another crowd scene in which snippets of chatter are heard/seen as the superheroes make a rude landing on the beach. At this point, I really hope "Lucasfilm New World Spielberg" is self-parody, inclusion of Marvel's latest boss entity notwithstanding. Nate Powell, incidentally, credits youthful reading of X-Men with prompting him to use a similar overlapped-balloon technique in March Book One, which I finally reviewed a few weeks ago.

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  28. @Matt: I think you spoke to this yourself earlier in the same post when you mentioned the Siege Perilous. The Havok who led X-Factor had experience as a Genoshan Magistrate. He had surely become harder and more disciplined than he was previously.

    Ummm... that may have been someone else. For me personally X-Tinction Agenda was the first crossover that was completely skipped by my local X-Men book. One moment there was Storm kid and whoosh, the next an adult Storm and too many mutants. I never found out the rationale for that one because later on they went on to show all of X-Cutioner's Song. I literally took the problem of finding out what happened in X-Tinction Agenda just less than a month back.

    So I never got Havok as a Magistrate and generally talking from the first Genoshan saga experience for an elite squad they seemed like pretty undisciplined bunch.

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  29. @Teemu: Teeb, there's a typo in the title is what I was trying to point out... :)

    Whoops! Fixed it, thanks.

    I really am a bad person to come enjoy your awesome blog and rip your favorite character while I'm at it

    No worries. You've got to have a thick skin to be a Cyclops fan on the internet. :)

    @Matt: but if memory serves he comes across as an extremely indecisive wimp, prone to occasional bouts of irrational rage, during his tenure with the group.

    Yeah, it's hard to figure what Claremont's intent was, as Havok doesn't really come across all that great in this run (then again, maybe that was Claremont's intent).

    I do love me some "leader of X-Factor" Havok though, and a lot of this informs that.

    I'm mostly underwhelmed by what I've seen, but I have to say that I really like Uncanny Avengers. It reminds me of my beloved nineties in a lot of ways

    I'd recommend giving the Kyle and Yost post-Messiah Complex X-Force (and the subsequent Uncanny X-Force follow up to it) a look when you have a chance - once you get past the dubious idea of Wolverine leading an X-Men kill squad, it has a decent "90s vibe" (in a good way) to it, and features of a lot of characters/villains from that era that often get overlooked.

    Also, in terms of more recent stuff, Bendis' All New X-Men is pretty good, making a terribly premise on paper work pretty well in execution (assuming you can get past his writing tics). I haven't read all of it, but have mostly enjoyed what I have read.

    Even if you end up hating that stuff, at least with Marvel Unlimited, all it costs you is time...

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  30. @Jeremy: I can't believe you forgot to mention Dirty Harry shows up in this issue, complete with Smith & Wesson.

    Yeah, I completely missed that until you and Jason pointed it out.

    @Jeff: Since you mentioned the fight choreography, can anyone explain where Havok was supposed to be when he fired his initial shot at Polaris at the beginning of the issue?

    That would be an example of the wonky fight choreography. Maybe he's, like, up on a hill, just prior to racing down to the beach with the cops?

    Agreed as well about Silvestri interiors. It'd be nice to see him back on something, even semi-regularly.

    @Blam: Should he be able to pop his claws?

    Well, all evidence suggests he *can* pop them, even if rendered powerless (though there is the issue of his popping of them creating open wounds that, when healing factor-less, pose more of a problem), as he's done that on repeated occasions.

    Whether he *should* be able to...I think his ability to do so is consistent with how power blockers affect other physical mutations, such that, as you say, Angel doesn't lose his wings or Nightcrawler his tail. The claws are still there, and nothing about his power enables him to use the muscles to extend them.

    That backup in Classic X-Men #10, on sale the same month as Uncanny #218, had seen print since they first met (publication-wise, as you say) in #212 & #213.

    Ah, good point. I'd forgotten about that, even though Claremont's depiction of their relationship in that backup will be returned to again in the Wolverine series.

    Maybe it's something they learn at Xavier's? I'm thinking of that sequence of panels in X-Factor #1 with Angel just standing there in his underpants giving the telephone the Andrew Weiner treatment as the sun sets and rises while he debates whether to tell Scott that Jean is back.

    Ha! "Wait, do I pick up, then dial? Or dial, then pick up? Or do I just...say the name of who I want to talk to? Damn you Xavier, we were so busy learning telepathic communication we never learned how to use a telephone!"

    I'm still wondering about this new thing of Dazzler absorbing sound. ... I don't recall Dazzler's powers ever being described that way ... until this stint of hers in the X-Men.

    Hmmm...I've always interpreted Dazzler's ability to "convert sound into light" to mean she takes the sound in, then converts it and releases it as light (similar to how we take in food ad convert it to energy), and that her power has always worked that way, but then again, my first exposure to the character was these issues from this era, so it makes sense I'd read it that way.

    I'd never really considered the impact that would have on her singing career, nor even the idea that she could convert the sound into light without absorbing it. Maybe it's a matter of degree? When performing, she sings at an eleven volume so that when she absorbs the sound to make her light shows, the audience hears it at an eight volume? But here she's taking all the sound around her down to zero?

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  31. Man, I was hoping someone else would leap in so I'd not have to out myself as someone who has read far too many Dazzler comics ...

    See, the "Dazzler: The Movie" graphic novel changed the way Dazzler's power works. Before that, the way Dazzler's power worked is that she couldn't do sh*t if there wasn't sound going on around her. Silence was, essentially, her kryptonite. Early issues featured her having to deal with situations like, fighting villains in a "soundless" nether dimension, or being locked in a soundproof room and thus having no way to use her light powers.

    It was also established that any noise charged her up, but that music -- because of the regularity of rhythms and pitches -- was the easiest for her to "metabolize."

    It was also implied, like you guessed Tee, that while she COULD absorb ALL the sound around her, she never needed to. Hence she could play concerts and still use her powers.

    The first time she soaks up "all the sound" is when she fights Klaw, who is made up of "solid sound" or something. Klaw shoots her with soundwaves, and she soaks them up, becoming stronger, and eventually she can't control it and she just soaks up Klaw's entire being, which leaves her supercharged -- overcharged, in fact, to the point where she is a danger to those around her.

    Luckily Galactus comes along, so she has a target at which she can blast all her excess light energy. (And since it's Galactus, it doesn't hurt him at all. This all ends up being referenced in Secret Wars.)

    Point being, at this point, she can't "store" any sound energy. If there's no sound around, she screwed, and if she soaks up too much, she's made very uncomfortable until she shoots out the excess energy as light. This is why her power never makes her concerts go silent ... if she were to absorb ALL that sound, it would be too much for her.

    Dazzler: The Movie sees her power mutate so that she can store excess sound energy, and I think the idea is that she does so unconsciously, so silence is no longer Kryptonite to her, UNLESS she completely exhausts herself (like in X-Men 217/218).

    It's also in Dazzler: The Movie that she now starts causing silence when she absorbs sound, specifically because she is now able to absorb MORE than she needs in that moment. She doesn't have to suck in so much that things become silent around her, but she CAN with no ill effects, because she can now store the excess for later use.

    See, it's really quite simple. :) ( It sickens me that I just typed all that. Gah.)

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  32. @Jason: // Man, I was hoping someone else would leap in so I'd not have to out myself as someone who has read far too many Dazzler comics ... //

    I understand, but I'm glad you spoke up and I shall not judge. In fact, I'm trying to conjure up an equivalent admission, because if this were a television series that's what I would do in solidarity. I have read plenty of awful comics, but one person's nadir is another person's childhood favorite.

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  33. @Jason: Man, I was hoping someone else would leap in so I'd not have to out myself as someone who has read far too many Dazzler comics ...

    Ha! Well, I appreciate the sacrifice - I had no idea Dazzler's powers went through all those permutations. I have to admit, it's kind of neat to learn those changes were part of a story and not just a case of poor editing.

    Some day, when I have the time (hah!) I'd like to go back and do "retro" X-aminations for all the non-spinoff series that featured past or future X-Men or are tangentially related to the book, like Champions, New Defenders, Dazzler and Alpha Flight.

    Maybe for the collected edition. ;)

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  34. "Champions, New Defenders, Dazzler and Alpha Flight. "

    Of those four, I would strongly recommend placing Dazzler fourth in priority. :) I've read the first 12 issues, and then 20-22 and 28 or 29 (the ones where she fights Rogue), as well as Dazzler: The Movie. I'd not recommend any of that material.

    "I have read plenty of awful comics, but one person's nadir is another person's childhood favorite. "

    I don't even have that excuse. I bought and read those Dazzler comics as an adult, in a mild case of X-fan completist compulsion. And I knew they were not good, but I had to read them. Particularly the ones where she fights Rogue. Because of ... well, this very two-parter, the one in UXM 221-222.

    Had to see the start of the rivalry, y'know?

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