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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #230

"'Twas the Night..."
June 1988

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men return the Reavers stolen loot. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Inker: Joe Rubinstein
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
In their new Australian home, the X-Men train, with Madelyne tracking their actions via the town's computer system. As their exercise completes, Madelyne swears to track down the Marauders and make them pay for stealing her baby. Elsewhere in the town, Longshot is drawn through some tunnels by strange voices and discovers the Reavers' vault, containing all the loot they'd stolen through the years. His psychometric abilities making all the objects in the room come alive like ghosts and tell their stories, he is overwhelmed and falls unconscious. Days later, the X-Men attempt to clean up the mess left behind by the Reavers, while Rogue brings Gateway a picnic lunch. Shortly thereafter, Longshot awakens, telling the X-Men they need to return the objects stolen by the Reavers to their rightful owners as best they can.


Though Wolverine argues that the X-Men have better things to do, he ultimately acquiesces, and the X-Men set about cataloging the objects, using a combination of Longshot's psychometry, Psylocke's telepathy, and Madelyne's computer skills. On Christmas Eve, they return all the stolen goods whose owners they could identify, via Gateway's teleportation portals. Passing over Salem Center, Storm creates a snowfall for the caroling New Mutants. Returning to their headquarters, the X-Men celebrate Christmas, with Storm and Wolverine giving the restless Dazzler a motorcycle left over from the Reavers' stash. Meanwhile, Rogue visits Gateway once more, bringing him a slice of cake and a flute. Though Gateway remains mute, he motions for Rogue to join him, and plays the flute for her. 

Firsts and Other Notables
In addition to the X-Men returning the Reavers' stolen goods, this issue depicts the X-Men making the Reavers base feel more like a home. It also establishes that Madelyne has taken charge of running the computers at the X-Men's new base, and has already taken a shine to them.


We also get what is essentially (in retrospect) the first "Inferno" tease.


Storm debuts a new look and costume this issue, combining elements of both her original costume and her punk attire (this is also the costume worn by her first action figure). With some subtle variations, this will remain her default appearance throughout the Outback Era, until her apparent death and reversion to childhood. 


As discussed in the post on X-Factor #27, this issue is set at Christmas despite being on sale in February. 

The Chronology Corner
Storm spots the New Mutants singing carols in Westchester; they appear here after issue #66 of their series.

Psylocke next appears in X-Factor Annual #3 (which we'll look at in a few weeks), before returning for issue #232. 

The Official Marvel Index credits the woman appearing with Magneto and the New Mutants as being Moira, while I've always assumed it was the principal of the local school.

A Work in Progress
Dazzler spends most of this issue raging against the dirty, desolate town in which the X-Men are now living. Later, Wolverine and Storm give her a motorcycle found amongst the Reaver's loot (whose original owner couldn't be identified), which she'll be seen using on occasion during the Outback Era.


Longshot's psychometric powers (established in his limited series but little used thus far or after this issue) play a pivotal role in this story.


Wolverine justifiably argues that the X-Men have more important things to do than return all the Reavers stolen loot.


Using Gateway to teleport them somewhere for the first time, the X-Men question whether they can trust him.


Storm, overhearing Illyana mourning Doug and the X-Men, thinks it's better to cause her this pain than the pain of another dead teammate, and I'm not sure I follow her logic here. As far as Illyana is concerned, the X-Men, including her brother, are dead. If that belief saves one life, great, but that won't lessen Illyana's grief over the seven dead X-Men.


I Love the 80s
Rogue refers to aborigines as "you people". Stay classy, Rogue!


Claremontisms
After Wolverine defeats Rogue during their training sessions, he tells her "you dead".


Artistic Achievements
This issue serves as a nice showcase for Silvestri's knack for body language: the triumphant way Madelyne kicks her feet up on the computer console after the training session, Havok's somewhat-signature "hand in one pocket, blasting with the other" look as he nonchalantly blasts the trash pile, Dazzler's physical disgust at the filth in the Reavers' town, Longshot's weariness after waking up.

Human/Mutant Relations
Wolverine observes a young boy vandalizing an X-Men wanted poster with the word "live".


For Sale
The inside cover of this issue contains an ad for the Steel Brigade, a do-it-yourself GI Joe figure (comprised of, if I remember correctly, an Airborne body with a new head). Though I can't remember my figure's name, I do remember filling out the form and mailing away for one (I still have it with my other Joe figures, too).


There's also a house ad for the current Avengers story arc, written by Walt Simonson (with, if memory serves, a lot of editorial direction), a lackluster affair in which Dr. Druid takes control of the team, leading to its effective dissolution for a time (you just know it's going to be a winning Avengers story when Dr. Druid and Marrina are involved...).


Teebore's Take
By all accounts, this story really shouldn't work. The X-Men, resurrected, rendered invisible to detection, newly-headquartered and thus prepared to strike out with impunity against their many foes, decide, for their first act as freshly-minted legends, to...play Santa Claus. But, for the most part, it does work, mainly because Claremont acknowledges (via Wolverine, of course) that it shouldn't, that the X-Men have better things to do. But in the end, it's decided that restoring the Reavers' stolen goods to their owners is a good thing worth doing (whether it's worth doing over tracking down Madelyne's son is more questionable, but we're edging ever closer to "Inferno" and Madelyne's transformation into a demon-inspired plot device, so it's hard to determine how much she should be pushing for that).

It also helps that this story is backed up by a character arc for Dazzler, as she, the least-isolated member of the team prior to becoming an X-Man, struggles with her new surroundings. It's your standard "upset at what you don't have but learn to appreciate what you do have" Christmas arc, but, again, I'm a sucker for these kinds of "spirit of the season" stories, and it does add a little something more to the story. I certainly wouldn't begrudge anyone who would rather the X-Men get about to punching the bad guys again, but this story is a nice reminder that sometimes, it's important for the heroes to do something beyond fighting the villains-du-jour, a rare chance for the X-Men to spread their legend by doing good instead of just battling evil.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, the New Mutants lay Doug Ramsey to rest in New Mutants #64, and Friday, Infectia makes her move in X-Factor #29. Next week, Colossus fakes a reunion with Illyana in Uncanny X-Men #231.

15 comments:

  1. It's kind of crazy that the X-Men have no real urgency to go looking for baby Nathan, who is in the hands of killers who just murdered an entire underground community. That really should be their central focus, right? They don't even seem overly concerned!

    That scene with Storm and the New Mutants really stuck out to me, too. I don't really follow her logic at all with that one.

    Nitpicks aside, I did enjoy the issue. Claremont does do well with the "X-Men are a family" issues. And the art is great. Rubenstein's inks definitely give it a little bit different of a feel than Green's, but not in a bad way.

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  2. While I believe Dan Green looks much better paired with Silverstri than with Romita Jr., I have to say that I like Rubinstein over Silvestri way better than Green. This looks more like a traditional comic, but still with the Silvestri flair.

    I've never been a big fan of this story, though it fits the Claremont tradition of a "breather" after a big event. I guess #228 could've been considered one too, but, while it was a smaller story than the crossover, it was still an action-adventure story. Then come the Reavers, then finally, we get this issue to really show some downtime and establish the new status quo.

    "With some subtle variations, this will remain her default appearance throughout the Outback Era, until her apparent death and reversion to childhood."

    If you look closely, it really remains her costume well into the nineties. Jim Lee just removes the lightning bolt and adds the twin "X's" to replace it -- and generally spots much less black into the whole outfit -- but the base design is pretty much identical.

    "Rogue refers to aborigines as "you people". Stay classy, Rogue!"

    She is from the Deep South... we may be lucky that's all she called him.

    "Though I can't remember my figure's name, I do remember filling out the form and mailing away for one."

    Me too. I thought the Steel Brigade guy looked like a pilot, so mine was named Condor. Then a year or two later, Hasbro came out with a Cobra jet called the Condor. Oops!

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  3. @Jeff: That really should be their central focus, right? They don't even seem overly concerned!

    It should have been, yes. Some of it you can chalk up to the Madelyne retcon (that she's subconsciously influencing them), but that can only take it so far (especially since, even as the Goblin Queen, she has a desire to find her son).

    @Matt: I have to say that I like Rubinstein over Silvestri way better than Green

    Heh. I don't. I just don't think I like Rubinstein's inks - I didn't like them much over Cockrum, I don't like them here. He seems to have a heavier line that I find weighs everything down.

    Then come the Reavers, then finally, we get this issue to really show some downtime and establish the new status quo.

    I do think this would read better (and fit the calendar better) if #228 hadn't gotten wedged in there.

    She is from the Deep South... we may be lucky that's all she called him.

    I had a similar thought. :)

    Then a year or two later, Hasbro came out with a Cobra jet called the Condor. Oops!

    He's a Cobra spy! Get him!

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  4. "It should have been, yes. Some of it you can chalk up to the Madelyne retcon (that she's subconsciously influencing them), but that can only take it so far (especially since, even as the Goblin Queen, she has a desire to find her son). "
    First, it was never said that Maddie was subconsciously influencing the X-Men before she became the Goblin Queen- that's fanon. All that was said was that she caused Scott to lose the duel with Storm and caused the Marauders to fail at killing her.
    And no, the idea that Maddie is subconsciously keeping the X-Men from finding the baby doesn't work, since in this issue, the narrator informs us Maddie has a heartfelt desire to find Nathan and of course, after she becomes the Goblin Queen, her plan involves using the X-Men to get the Marauders and stealing the baby from Sinister.
    In issue 240, Alex explains the X-Men have been using the Reavers' computers to try to track down the X-Men. How else were they supposed to find them? (It should be noted that even after Maddie became the Goblin Queen, N'astirh needed Hodge to tell him where the baby was, so clearly Maddie had no clue how to find the baby.)

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  5. Nothing says "Christmas" like a shadowy purple figure in leather and a bandolier flinging knives at transparent wraiths over a heap of ancient treasure against an orange-red background. In February.

    I wonder if the fill-in on #228 was a fairly last-minute decision — meaning that what we got in #229 was intended for #228 and so this story in #230 was planned for #229. Were that so, Claremont might've expected his Christmas story to come out no later than a week or so after Christmas. I'm totally spitballing here, but it's possible that even the story in #229 could've made it out towards the end of the publishing window for #228 but that this issue would still have been too late to publish as #229; you wouldn't want the Dazzler flashback of #228 coming out as #229 between the first Outback issue and this issue, so if the seasonal story was going to be late anyway it made sense to publish the fill-in as a break after #227 before the new era began in #229.

    // Storm debuts a new look and costume this issue //

    I'm familiar with this look from her action figure (and random glimpses of the comics of the era), except for the sides of her head being shaved. Given that Storm came back from her time on the Adversary's uninhabited alternate Earth with hair grown out again, I was surprised by that. Does the style last long? I think I like it even less than the actual mohawk.

    // Wolverine justifiably argues that the X-Men have more important things to do than return all the Reavers stolen loot. //

    "You shall know us by our deeds, except that, um, we're doing this in secret."

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  6. // Storm, overhearing Illyana mourning Doug and the X-Men, thinks it's better to cause her this pain than the pain of another dead teammate, and I'm not sure I follow her logic here. //

    That line made zero sense to me. You can argue that there's a reason for the X-Men not to reveal their survival (or resurrection) to the kids — in fact, the scenario is questionable enough that you, the writer, pretty much have to argue it even if just with some throwaway dialogue — but I was totally baffled by Storm's thought balloon here.

    // Wolverine observes a young boy vandalizing an X-Men wanted poster with the word "live". //

    And it's an impressively up-to-date poster, too, given how briefly the new lineup has been together and how seldom they operated in the open before Dallas. The only member missing is Colossus, Roma's surprise addition to the roster during the big battle.

    I get that the story puts the brakes on the forward momentum of finding Scott and Madelyne's son, which is a giant urgency to ignore, but otherwise it feels very much appropriate to have the group settling into their new digs by cleaning up the Reavers' mess both literally and somewhat metaphorically. The art looks good to me, too; Rubenstein's inks over Silvestri are more up my alley than Green's, although I think he's best suited to someone like Cockrum. Silvestri does offer up some nice body language here, even if overall I don't find his work anything special. Whatever our respective preferences, though, I'm just happy to see Teebore discussing the art.

    The Bullpen Bulletins page's "Pro File" on Jim Salicrup reveals that he wrote the Marvel Comics toilet-paper roll starring Hulk and Spider-Man, which I still have packed away somewhere.

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  7. Fret not over the February publication, my friends. I never got to read this one, because for some reason they skipped the publication of the issue in the Finnish X-book.

    Also, if you remove the flaps, thigh parts and the sleeves from Storm's outfit, you are only one red scarf short of the classic Carol Danvers uniform. The women of X steal just everything from her!

    And then Betsy and Rogue will spend half of #246 berating the original.

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  8. "In addition to the X-Men returning the Reavers' stolen goods, this issue depicts the X-Men making the Reavers base feel more like a home. It also establishes that Madelyne has taken charge of running the computers at the X-Men's new base, and has already taken a shine to them."

    It also shows us the Reavers base seems to be the one place detecting the X-men. I know CC gives us hints the Reavers computers are alive, but it's funny how Ship during Inferno wasn't quite able to "see" the X-men but the Reavers base can.

    "Dazzler spends most of this issue raging against the dirty, desolate town in which the X-Men are now living."

    Too bad they don't have a (convenient) teleporter living with them in case they ever feel the urge to clubbing or whatever. And why is Wolverine calling her Songbird and not Lightengale? Heck, why doesn't he just call her Alison? ;)

    "This issue serves as a nice showcase for Silvestri's knack for body language"

    Yes it does, and while it's an overall nice issue, it's also nice to see all the women arching their backs and thrusting their asses out too! :D

    "There's also a house ad for the current Avengers story arc, written by Walt Simonson"

    Which kind of sends the title into a tailspin, more or less, until the Busiek/Perez era almost a decade later.

    "By all accounts, this story really shouldn't work."

    And yet it does, for many of the reasons you point. It's also other little scenes, like the scene in the kitchen, that also lends itself to the family feel of the title rather nicely.

    "And it's an impressively up-to-date poster, too, given how briefly the new lineup has been together and how seldom they operated in the open before Dallas."

    It's the same poster Colossus sees in #225, no? I guess FF distributed those wanted posters worldwide or something.

    "The women of X steal just everything from her!"

    Sugah, imitation is the sincerest form o' flattery. Goddess be praised!

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  9. wwk5d: Sugah

    Please don't go there... I've been biting my lip for a week now after someone typoed the demon name to N'astrah on the comments for #229.

    I really don't want to be the guy who makes bid deal out of honest mistakes, but damn if I don't get the big Inferno fighting scene between Rogue and N'astirh flashing on my mind.

    It also shows us the Reavers base seems to be the one place detecting the X-men. I know CC gives us hints the Reavers computers are alive, but it's funny how Ship during Inferno wasn't quite able to "see" the X-men but the Reavers base can.

    That was explicitly mentioned by Roma that the computers in Aussie base will detect them. I always thought it was just her doing, because home is home and things like that.

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  10. "I really don't want to be the guy who makes bid deal out of honest mistakes"

    And, yet, you do anyway. But hey, someone has to win the Gold medal at the Passive/Aggressive Olympics, I suppose.

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  11. Why were the treasure ghosts wearing tattered clothing?

    Storm washed out the outback "mansion?" with a monsoon, without even warning Colossus & Dazzler first!...Storm is a dick to her friends.

    Havok was wearing a hilariously ridiculous "XAVIER" hat...whadda dweeb

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  12. wwk5d: But hey, someone has to win the Gold medal at the Passive/Aggressive Olympics, I suppose.

    Yeah let's just put it more on the defunct sense of humor. A Finnish saying has it that a snot-nosed kid will yet make it a man but not the laugher of empty, and, well, it is a funny book site and here's me clocking towards my forties...

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  13. 'Havok's somewhat-signature "hand in one pocket, blasting with the other"'

    Where are the corresponding panels referenced in this paragraph?! I had to search online to find the issue but I can't find this panel of Havok :p

    PS: I'm re-realizing how great Silvestri's art was in this era.

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    Replies
    1. It's on Page 15, Panel 4. Havok is wearing a baseball cap and some kind of khaki suit.

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    2. Okay thanks! I kept skimming past image because he wasn't in costume :P

      Delete

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