Late November 1988
In a Nutshell
The X-Men rescue Wolverine, Rogue & Maddy and inspire a revolution in Genosha.
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
In Genosha, the Genegineer and Chief Magistrate Anderson watch a psychic transcript of the telepath who scanned Madelyne, seeing what was in her mind moments before she killed everyone in the examining room. The Genegineer confronts Madelyne in her cell, but she claims ignorance of the attack. Elsewhere, Wolverine, Rogue and Phillip Moreau reach the Mutant Settlement Zone where the enslaved mutants live, and Phillip is horrified by the conditions. However, when Wolverine and Rogue are discovered, Phillip is arrested alongside them and taken to the Citadel. There, Madelyne comforts Jenny Ransome as Phillip is brought before his father, where he argues on behalf of mutants. Meanwhile, the rest of the X-Men infiltrate the Citadel, attacking Magistrates and searching for their captured teammates.
In the chaos, Madelyne escapes her cell, and the Genegineer finds her where mutant babies are created, holding the infant retrieved by the Press Gang, and she notes that the place seems familiar to her. The Genegineer prepares to shoot her, but Phillip intervenes, disrupting his shot and demanding his father take him to Jenny. In the aftermath of the attack, Psylocke forces Wipeout to restore Wolverine and Rogue's powers, and though Wolverine advocates burning the country to the ground, Phillip argues that the people of Genosha need to be given a chance to set things right, that if they learned the truth they'd be as revolted as he is. He and Jenny pledge to lead a mutant rights movement, and Storm urges the Genegineer and magistrates to listen to the boy as Havok destroys their Citadel. As the X-Men leave, Wolverine warns the Genoshans that if they don't change their ways, the X-Men will return.
Firsts and Other Notables
The X-Men defeat the Genoshans, as much as they can, this issue, with Phillip Moreau, his eyes opened to the true state of mutant affairs in his country and reunited with Jenny Ransome, pledging to lead a mutant rights movement, with the X-Men threatening to return to Genosha if things don't get better. Shockingly, things don't get better, and Genosha will return as an antagonistic presence before too long, with most of the characters introduced in this story returning.
There are lots of "Inferno" teases seeded throughout the mindscan of Madelyne: she threatens to engulf the world in flames a la Phoenix, and casts the Genegineer in the attire of Mr. Sinister.
She then appears in her Goblin Queen persona, threatening to create an inferno
Later, Madelyne finds the creche where the Genegineer creates mutant babies familiar, a hint at the upcoming reveal of her true origin.
The mutant baby who kicked off this storyline in issue #235 resurfaces, and is rescued from the Genoshans by Madelyne, only to disappear later, with Madelyne making a cryptic comment as to his whereabouts. Future stories will imply that she gave the baby to N'astirh, as part of his quest to attain mutant babies (as seen in contemporaneous issues of X-Factor).
As the Genoshan's watch the recordings of the mindscan performed on Madelyne, they hear a song playing in her mind from Steeleye Span, which is the group whose lead singer (Maddie Prior) inspired the character's name.
As reluctant as I am to bring it up, it's worth noting that later stories will establish that the technology involved in the creation of Genoshan mutates and the Genegineer's specific know-how in that field came from Sugar Man, one of the four characters from the "Age of Apocalypse" storyline who jumped into the "main" reality in the course of that story and landed some twenty years in the past (which is what allows for Sugar Man to be able to monkey with Genosha's development in the past). It's a stupid and unnecessary retcon, but it is officially canon, and thus worth mentioning.
The Chronology Corner
Between this issue and the next, Colossus appears in Marvel Comics Presents #10-17 (which we'll look at next week), along with most of the rest of the X-Men in issue #16. Wolverine then appears in issues #9-10 of his solo series (even though they technically haven't been published yet).
A Work in Progress
In arguing with Madelyne, the Genegineer pulls out that hold chestnut that the mutant slaves are well cared for, and arguably have a better life than some free people. He also stresses the importance of keeping Genosha's mutant slaves a secret, because the rest of the world would both condemn Genosha and covet the process, suggesting that while Genosha is known to be an economic powerhouse around the world, the true source of that wealth remains a secret.
Wolverine, Rogue and a shocked Phillip visit the mutant settlement facility, the concentration camp-like place where the mutates live.
In a clever touch, the fact that Wolverine and Rogue, posing as magistrates, didn't appear next to Phillip on security equipment, gives them away.
Jenny Ransome has begun the transformation into a mutate, and has grown larger and stronger as a result, but the X-Men prevent the Genegineer from finishing the process.
Madelyne mentions that she had healing powers once, a reference to the X-Men/Alpha Flight limited series.
Wolverine offers up "Patch" as his name to the Genoshans, the first time that alias is used in X-Men.
It's revealed that Wipeout can remove memories as well as powers.
The Genegineer makes it clear he'd sacrifice his son to protect Genosha.
Phillip, though opposed to the Genoshan regime, prevents the X-Men from destroying the country, arguing that it's still his home, and he wants to work to make it a better place.
However, as a symbol of their dissatisfaction with the country and reminder of their power, Havok blows up the Citadel for the X-Men.
Phillip and Jenny are also forced to leave with the X-Men, out of fear that the Genoshans will immediately suppress their mutant rights movement, and vows to begin the fight from Australia.
Psylocke once again covers up the involvement of the X-Men, using her telepathy to alter the Genoshans memories specifically of the X-Men (though later stories will suggest this alteration doesn't take).
Dazzler uses the "solid light" aspect of her power to essentially create a battering ram, thinking in the process that "she can't fail - won't fail".
The Best There is at What He Does
Wolverine mentions that he's been a slave before, though I don't think this particular cryptic hint of his past has ever been tagged to a specific event/story.
Upon being reunited, Havok and Maddy kiss, with Maddy earlier casually referring to Havok as "lover".
Phillip, explaining why he never questioned Genosha's approach to mutants before, says that he was taught that "like keeps to like", and that the mutants preferred to be isolated.
The X-Men can't ever win completely. Not just because they're the stars of a long-running serial narrative predicated on regular doses of conflict, but because, at the end of the day, you can't punch away prejudice. Hence, so many of the X-Men's greatest foes are metaphorical: they can't blast away bigotry, but they can blast Sentinels. They can't make humanity love mutants, but they can save humans from the latest attack of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. All of which is to say the biggest failing of the otherwise spectacular Genosha storyline is the ending. Because on the macro level, the X-Men can't just believably uproot the entirety of Genoshan society and force equality between humans and mutants, while on the micro level, there's not a singular foe who can be defeated cathartically in lieu of full-on societal restructuring.
Claremont does the best he can to end the story on a satisfying note, and for the most part, he succeeds. Havok destroys the Genoshan citadel, set up as a symbol of their oppressive regime, while the Genegineer's son and his fiancee, rescued from the mutate process, vow to lead a mutant rights movement on the island. It's the best ending we can hope for in a narrative that can't realistically support the societal change we'd like to see nor deny future stories the use of the Genoshans as villains (and, as that mutant rights movement develops and the nature of Genoshan society changes in future stories, so too does the nature of its metaphor, to mixed results), and it doesn't take away the power of the initial metaphor on which Genosha is built nor this well-executed story. Still, there's no denying some level of disappointment at Wolverine being unable to follow up on his threat from last issue to "bring this flamin' country down", however unlikely that may have been.
Tomorrow, Excalibur battles the Warwolves in Excalibur #2 and Friday, Wolverine's march to sales dominance begins in Wolverine #1. Next week, the Colossus serial in Marvel Comics Presents #11-17.