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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #235

"Welcome to Genosha...a Green and Pleasant Land..."
Early October 1988

In a Nutshell 
The X-Men come in contact with the Genoshans, and Wolverine & Rogue are kidnapped. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Rick Leonardi
Inker: P. Craig Russell
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
On the island nation of Genosha, a runaway mutant manages to stash his baby aboard a plan bound for Sydney, drawing off the pursuing magistrates so that the plane takes off without incident, just as the mutant is killed. A few days later, the Press Gang, a group of mutants employed by the Genoshan government, arrive in Sydney, sent to retrieve both the baby and Jenny Ransome, a mutant and nurse who has fled the country. Working with the Service Auxiliary, Jenny and her pilot, Madelyne Pryor, are attacked by the Press Gang. When the Hawkshaw is unable to get a read on Madelyne, both she and Ransome are sent back to Genosha via Pipeline, who is able to digitize and electronically transmit individuals. Later, the X-Men arrive in Sydney, looking for the missing Madelyne. Wolverine and Rogue track the Press Gang to a nearby hospital, where they discover the Press Gang kidnapping the mutant baby. Pipeline teleports in a group of Magistrates who proceed to battle the X-Men. Though the X-Men defeat the Magistrates, the Press Gang is able to escape back to Genosha thanks to Pipeline, with the baby, as well as Wolverine and Rogue.

Firsts and Other Notables
Genosha, an island nation off the coast of Africa whose economy, we'll soon learn, is built on the back of mutant slaves, appears for the first time this issue. Genosha is another of Claremont's significant contributions to the X-mythos, as the setting and the characters within will become a major player across the X-books, and will be the setting for one of the franchise's annual crossovers in the future.

This issue also marks the first appearance of the Press Gang, a group of mutants tasked with apprehending fugitive Genoshans: Hawkshaw, who can sense mutants, the super strong Punchout, and Pipeline, who can essentially teleport people by breaking them down into a digital signal, transmitting them via a modem, and reconstituting them on the other side.


Jenny Ransome, a fugitive Genoshan emigrant, nurse and mutant, also appears for the first time; she'll remain a regular fixture of future Genoshan stories as well.

The Genegineer, the man responsible for maintaining Genosha's dominance over mutants, is mentioned for the first time; he'll make his first actual appearance next issue.   

We get our first look at Genoshan Magistrates this issue, the paramilitary police force responsible for maintaining order in Genosha and protecting its interests abroad. 


Rick Leonardi is back on pencils, and he and Silvestri will alternate artistic duties throughout this arc (presumably to enable Silvestri to pencil all of "Inferno" without interruption).

A Work in Progress
It's revealed that Madelyne has signed up for the Service Auxiliary, filling in as a pilot when needed. 


Even Hawkshaw's enhanced senses are unable to get a read on Maddy.


It's established that the Genoshan government does not recognize any other citizenship; if you're born in Genosha, you're considered Genoshan for life.


Rogue's natural resistance to telepathy is mentioned.


Havok finds himself surprisingly defensive about Madelyne when Dazzler teases her for knowing the computer system so well.


Later, Psylocke realizes that Havok is angry enough to kill at the idea of Madelyne being harmed. 


It's revealed that no patients at the hospital died during the X-Men's fight with the Marauders in issues #221 and #222.


The X-Men leave their calling card behind in Sydney.


I Love the 80s
Pipeline's power, while pretty cool, does make me wonder what he did with it before modems and the internet came about. 


Mad Max is named dropped, and one of the Australian cops is named Mick Dundee, a reference to Crocodile Dundee.


Claremontisms
This issue introduces two new terms into the book's lexicon: genejoke and Genegineer. The first is a harsher, more gutteral alternative to the 60s-era "mutie" as a derogatory slur for mutants, while the second is fantastic portmanteau on Claremont's part for the title of the person responsible for creating Genosha's mutant slave population.  

Artistic Achievements
In a neat trick, several times in this issue we see Gateway's teleportation effect from the perspective of the location to which the X-Men are being teleported, the effect being a big circle which opens up out of nowhere and contains a glimpse of the Outback. 


For Sale
There's an ad for, amongst others, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Nintendo game, in which Donatello was the most powerful turtle and it was ridiculously difficult just to get past level three (I don't think I ever made it past level four). 


It's in the Mail
The letters page continues to tease an Ann Nocenti/Rick Leonardi Colossus graphic novel, which is, I believe, what ends up being the Colossus story in Marvel Comics Presents

Teebore's Take
This issue kicks off the title's final story before "Inferno", a four-parter which introduces the island nation of Genosha to the world of the X-Men. We'll discuss the significance of Genosha in future issues, (it's arguably Claremont's most thematically-significant contribution to the series since "God Loves, Man Kills"), when the gist of their setup is revealed. For now, this is simply an effective introduction to the arc, hinting at the greater evil that resides in Genosha, as well as giving each member of the X-Men a chance to showcase their personality and power as they track down the kidnapped Madelyne Pryor and come into contact with the Genoshans who took her. Taking place entirely in Sydney, it's also one of the rare glimpses we get at the idea of the Outback X-Men as Australia's local heroes.

Rick Leonardi is back on art, and while his more cartoony style might seem at odds with the darker material, the juxtaposition between his more exaggerated work and that material actually works quite well, lending the whole thing an air of creepy paranoia, and his knack for body language gives us a sense of some of these new characters even before the writing does. As we'll see over the course of the next three issues, "A Green and Pleasant Land" is a highlight not only of the Outback Era, but of Claremont's entire tenure on the book; with its introduction of Genosha, teases of its true nature, and showcase for the X-Men as as a whole, this issue helps that story to hit the ground running.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, the New Mutants play dress-up in New Mutants #68, and Friday, Beast returns in X-Factor #33. Next week, Wolverine and Rogue find Genosha to be less than pleasant in Uncanny X-Men #237.

21 comments:

  1. I thought Pipeline's powers were pretty cool, too. I'm still not into Leonardi's art, though. Everyone looks like puffed up steroid people.

    Off topic, but has anyone read X-Men: No More Mutants? I picked it up this week and thought it was the best X-Men comic probably since Whedon left Astonishing. Good art, an epic scope and some interesting moral dilemmas for the team and everyone is in character!

    I also saw Days of Future Past this week. I seem to be in the minority because I was kind of disappointed with it. I'll try avoid any spoilers, but I wish they had gotten Matthew Vaughn to stick around. I thought First Class had a lot of energy that was missing in Singer's X-Men movies. Also, I feel like they've done the exact same thing with Magneto in all five X-Men films. Move onto some other villains already!!!!

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  2. Rogue's "natural" resistance to telepathy is really because there's Carol Danvers' psyche residing in her head, right? It's not as natural as her tendency to, ha, fall asleep when she inhales dust, right?

    But the Press Gang, did they actually say it somewhere they are mutants? Because, I don't remember Claremont addressing why exactly they are essentially betraying their own kind by working for Genosha, or why Genosha allows them to go around without being genegineered, and he's the kind that would. Hawkshaw's "special senses" not registering Maddy would suggest they are technological rather than natural by their nature.

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  3. @Jeff: Off topic, but has anyone read X-Men: No More Mutants?

    I haven't, though it sounds like maybe I should. I do like Larocca's art most of the time. Not that this matters all that much if the story is good, but is it in-continuity?

    I seem to be in the minority because I was kind of disappointed with it.

    I liked it but didn't love it. Definitely right in the middle of X-movies for me. I'll write something up about it for this week's "Last Week in Pop Culture" post.

    @Teemu: Rogue's "natural" resistance to telepathy is really because there's Carol Danvers' psyche residing in her head, right?

    Correct. It's natural in that she's resistant to telepathy without trying, not natural in that she was born that way.

    But the Press Gang, did they actually say it somewhere they are mutants?

    Not in this issue, but I'm pretty sure that's established somewhere, though I can't swear that Claremont is the one to establish that. Certainly, Marvel's websites/handbooks/etc. considers them mutants.

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  4. Also, "Mad Max fireworks"? And Mick Dundee? Them Ozzies must be really pissed by now because that's pretty much what everybody every time references when there is an Oz connection.

    Mad Max is also the sneakiest 80's movie there is in the gay portrayal. Wez's (?) backseat boy getting killed by a sharp boomerang felt like an intentional stab at gays played for laughs back in the day, but nowadays I find the awesomest scene in the whole film is the one that comes right after when Lord Humongous lovingly chokeholds enmaddened Wez and soothes him down telling him "We've all lost people we loved", which suggest that even rapist murderous biker gangs in post-nuclear war Australian desert surpasses lots of 2010's people in their tolerance and acceptance. A message brought to you by the emissary of such things, Mel Gibson.

    At that time in the comics Northstar was still having merely a... secret (well okay Mystique and Destiny had a kid together but, alas, not openly).

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  5. (and when I say Mad Max, I of course mean Mad Max 2: the Road Warrior, because no one really ever saw the first)

    (also, the Aussies were supposed to be "pissed off" instead of "pissed", but hilariously it's pretty correct as is, too. yet again your resident non-English speaker pulls a sandrabullock.)

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  6. Not that this matters all that much if the story is good, but is it in-continuity?

    It is, but not overwhelmingly. So, for instance, the time-displaced original X-Men are in it, but I haven't read any of All-New X-Men and didn't feel lost.

    It reminded me of how much I liked Carey's original run on X-Men and how disappointed I was when Brubaker and Fraction got control of the franchise instead of him. His take on the characters seems fairly in line with Claremont's, I think.

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  7. Psylocke can cast illusions in peoples minds? Well, I guess prof. X can too...soo, does that mean Mastermind is a telepath?

    Like Teemu, I also wonder if the press gang had any work done..on their genes.

    When Rogue absorbed Punchout's power, why didn't she turn evil? I thought that's what happens when she touches an evil person...?

    I agree that Leo draws everyone (within the same gender) with the same physique..."it stinks, & I don't like it!" lol

    I can see Pipeline maybe digitizing people's thoughts or even consciousness...but the whole body?? Bandersnatch! & since he didn't do it wirelessly, he's automatically a lame dated "villain"

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  8. So everyone was ok with Maddie going on a side gig?

    Reese T: Mastermind's powers aren't telepathic because it has been noted that his two eldest daughters both use telepathy to make their illusions more real.I guess he could be a very specific telepath, like Karma, where he can everyone in a certain radius experience whatever he wants them to.

    Both Charles and Betsy can alter other people's perception, but usually they have to focus on one or two minds at a time.

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  9. "as the setting and the characters within will become a major player across the X-books, and will be the setting for one of the franchise's annual crossovers in the future."

    As well as directionless allegory (It's South Africa! No, it's Bosnia! No, it's Israel!), since whatever status quo was set for it never stuck pre-Decimation.

    "The Genegineer, the man responsible for maintaining Genosha's dominance over mutants, is mentioned for the first time; he'll make his first actual appearance next issue."

    With Sugarman hanging out in the background! Which, ugh.

    "Rick Leonardi is back on pencils"

    And missed the memo on Rogue's new costume. At least he got it right on the cover.

    "Havok is angry enough to kill at the idea of Madelyne being harmed"

    Well, you've killed a few sleazoids, it's a slippery slope to officers supporting a racist regime...

    "Pipeline's power, while pretty cool, does make me wonder what he did with it before modems and the internet came about."

    Pipeline's power, while pretty cool, does make me wonder how the computers he uses are able to "read" the X-men and Maddie.

    "But the Press Gang, did they actually say it somewhere they are mutants?"

    Maybe not in this issue, but it does get brought up in future issues, I believe. Not sure if it's by CC, but we'll see when the Genoshans attack X-factor's ship in the #260s and the X-tinction Agenda if he does bring it up.

    "I don't remember Claremont addressing why exactly they are essentially betraying their own kind by working for Genosha"

    Well, some Jews worked for the Nazis, some African-Americans owned slaves...it's not a huge stretch. And for them, it wasn't much of a choice, either work as free mutants loyal to government, or under-go the mutate process.

    "So everyone was ok with Maddie going on a side gig?"

    I can imagine a client of hers:
    "Wow, you look exactly like that redhead who died with the X-men in Dallas! I saw that on TV. And she was called Maddie as well! And gosh, wasn't she wearing some sort of pilots uniform as well? What a coincidence!"

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  10. Also, how is Punchout's outfit NOT included in the "I Love the 80s" section?

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  11. "When Rogue absorbed Punchout's power, why didn't she turn evil? I thought that's what happens when she touches an evil person...?"

    Other than picking up some speech patterns, no she wouldn't. It would happen only if the mind itself is more powerful/dominant than hers. And while Punchout (who really is Frenzy's twin sister separated at birth) is superstrong, I doubt her mind is her strongest muscle ;)

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  12. wwk5d: Well, some Jews worked for the Nazis, some African-Americans owned slaves...it's not a huge stretch. And for them, it wasn't much of a choice, either work as free mutants loyal to government, or under-go the mutate process.

    Oh, I'm not saying it's not plausible, I just wanted some inner/external dialogue, people spilling out all their conflicting emotions, thatsortofthing. Judging by what people nowadays are disparaging my hero Claremont with, one would expect there should be plenty.

    Well, you've killed a few sleazoids, it's a slippery slope to officers supporting a racist regime...

    I applaud you, sir, for that one. :D

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  13. While I appreciate the significance of the concept of Genosha, this has never been one of my favorite storylines. The Press Gang bore me, and the Magistrates are equally uninteresting, at least until Jim Lee gets his hands on them. Plus I've never liked when Carol would take over Rogue's body, as we'll see in upcoming chapters.

    Teebore, I agree with you that the original TMNT Nintendo game was insanele difficult. I also never got very far. I still well remember the day I got it, though. It's one of those childhood memories that's burned into my brain.

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  14. "Wow, you look exactly like that redhead who died with the X-men in Dallas! I saw that on TV. And she was called Maddie as well! And gosh, wasn't she wearing some sort of pilots uniform as well? What a coincidence!"
    To be fair, we don't know how widespread the X-Men's deaths were televised in Australia. Roger Stern once had Norman Osborn recruit a nurse from Europe who never heard the allegations that he was the Green Goblin.
    Besides, it's difficult to recognize someone from television if you've only seen a couple of broadcasts of them. I don't think I could recognize Edward Snowden if I met him in real life. Plus, Maddie was flying in doctors and nurses- if you need a doctor or a nurse, the last thing you think of is who the pilot looks like.

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  15. I think we have to assume that the footage of the deaths (and the whole event itself) was broadcast worldwide. I mean, if Psylocke is clouding people's perceptions of the X-men whenever they appear in public, wherever they appear, then people in Australia probably have a good idea of who these people are. And Maddie did a close up of her plea to Scott, and an interview as well, so it's not like she was just in the background the whole time.

    Besides that...how did she even get the job in the first place? What documents did she use to get the job? Did the Reavers computer print out everything for her? And you'd think, given how much the X-men want to preserve the illusion that they're dead, going so far as to mind-fudge people in the Savage Land of all places, Storm would have at least told Maddie that maybe using a wig and an alias if she's adamant about working on the side might be a good idea...

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  16. But Betsy only clouds people's perceptions of the X-Men when they're using their powers and appearing in costume, which are fairly distinctive. We've seen Maddie go shopping and will see the X-Men go out in civvies on several occasions. (Although, I've never understood how Storm and Rogue can go out in civvies without being recognized. Are there really that many young women with stripes in their hair and blue-eyed silver-haired black people in the Marvel Universe?)

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  17. @Matt: I've never liked when Carol would take over Rogue's body, as we'll see in upcoming chapters.

    I liked that plenty. Carol couldn't just stay inside Rogue's head forever without something happening to the whole setup, plus it did good for Rogue's character too by showing with contrasting her persona with that of older and experienced Carol that she's essentially still a girl in her teens trying to manage it with very unfortunate sort of uncontrollable powers... which Carol didn't seem to have trouble controlling in few specific panels.

    The next issue is awesome.

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  18. Great questions and replies here. This is a good set up issue. But Next issue is my fav of this arc. When a certain someone goes crazy on some guards.. Love it.

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  19. Branden "Mastermind's powers aren't telepathic because it has been noted that his two eldest daughters both use telepathy to make their illusions more real."

    At first I was flabbergasted to learn that good old Jason had a third daughter. Seriously, if you have to make a family connection (which is already quite cliché), aren't there enough X-Villains to choose from ?.
    Then I checked who it was, got angry at the twist... and then realized I had read that miniseries but didn't register that family fact at all.

    Been reading your great reviews for 2-3 years now and my first comment is about Mastermind's fertilty...
    At least it's a Oz-men review, which remains one of my favorite runs.

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  20. Ye Gods, Colossus, cover yourself up, man.

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  21. I didn't realize Genosha came in this early. Then again, I've said that about other stuff that I associate with the '90s, and it's dawning on me that, just as the very early '60s were still the '50s, the '90s started in the late '80s.

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