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Friday, August 8, 2014

X-amining X-Factor #38

"Duet!"
March 1989

In a Nutshell 
Madelyne Pryor and Jean Grey fight to the death. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Walt Simonson
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Tom Vincent
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
Atop the transformed Empire State Building, with Marvel Girl her prisoner, Madelyne prepares to sacrifice her son to permanently bond Limbo with Earth. Madelyne sets the remaining demons against the X-Men and X-Factor, then turns Longshot, Dazzler and Angel to her side and tasks Havok with bringing her his brother's heart. But Angel, fighting Madelyne's influence, manages to free Marvel Girl as Storm deals with Longshot and Dazzler. Their powers useless against each other, Havok and Cyclops resort to throwing punches as Marvel Girl attempts to rescue Christopher, but Madelyne stops her, containing the women inside a massive bubble of telekinetic energy. As the X-Men probe the force field, Havok falls off the building, but is rescued by Angel. Together, Storm and Cyclops reason that if the two teams can apply enough force to the bubble to tax Madelyne's concentration, a well-placed blow could then shatter the field. As Madelyne telepathically links her mind to Marvel Girl's, showing her how she was born the day Jean Grey rejected the portion of her soul stolen by the Phoenix, Longshot overcomes the demonic influence long enough to use his luck power to pinpoint the weakest spot on the force field.


Cyclops, Dazzler and Havok, now convinced the Maddie he loved is gone, blast the force field, destroying it, and Cyclops manages to get his son away from Madelyne. Accepting that the only way to kill Marvel Girl, Cyclops and the baby is to destroy everyone, including herself, Madelyne triggers an enormous blast, but the two teams shield themselves from the explosion. Dying, Madelyne, her mind still linked to Marvel Girl's, is determined to at least take Marvel Girl with her. But Marvel Girl, wanting to live, reclaims the rejected piece of herself stolen by Phoenix and is pulled back from the brink of death. In the wake of Madelyne's death, the Empire State Building, and the rest of the city, returns to normal. As Cyclops and Havok mourn Madelyne, Marvel Girl points out it was Mr. Sinister who made her, who used her and caused her destruction. Combined with his leadership of the Marauders, both teams agree it's time to find Mr. Sinister, and make him pay for all the lives he's destroyed. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Madelyne Pryor dies this issue, bringing to an end the reign of the Goblin Queen and her role in "Inferno". She is killed in battle with Marvel Girl, when she realizes she's about to lose and refuses to live in the world alongside Jean. It's an ignoble end for the character, a once-strong woman essentially giving up because she refuses to let go of her sudden villainy (and, ultimately, just because the plot demands it). Of course, this being superhero comics, this won't be the last we'll see of Maddie, as she's since returned in various forms to varying (but never very high) levels of success in the intervening decades since "Inferno", none of which have ever really stuck for very long.

Though not made clear in this issue, we'll shortly learn that in the process of dying, Madelyne's consciousness and memories are absorbed by Marvel Girl, a condition which will have both immediate and longer term ramifications for the character, and which will ensure that Madelyne is, at least, not entirely and immediately forgotten in the wake of this issue.   


This issue is filled with tons of Maddie-related retcons, as, leading up to her death, Simonson attempts to craft a cohesive history for the character that takes into account the recent clone revelation and ties up any remaining loose ends so as to allow the X-books to move forward Maddie-free. To wit, we learn that, unknownst to her at the time, Maddie subconsciously altered the outcome of the Storm/Cyclops leadership duel in X-Men #201 to ensure that Cyclops would lose. While I don't appreciate what happens to Maddie in this issue, as a Cyclops fan, part of me has always appreciated this retcon most of all.


It's also established that while living with the X-Men, Maddie worked to keep the two teams apart, an in-universe explanation for the baffling amount of time it took to bring the two teams together.  

Suggested in X-Men #241, this issue comes right out and says that Mr. Sinister gave Maddie the last name of Pryor, because she had a "prior" existence as Jean, which, as a lover of puns, I've always appreciated as well.


It's revealed that after Phoenix died on the moon, the Phoenix Force tried to awaken the comatose Jean Grey healing at the bottom of Jamaica Bay, but Jean rejected the memories of Phoenix, at which point they went to Madelyne (as she was a genetic duplicate of Jean), which triggered her awakening (as seen in X-Men #241) and explains how Maddie has some of Jean's memories (such as the death of Annie Richards). These Phoenix memories, along with Maddie's, are absorbed by Jean at the end of the issue, which means that Jean now possesses the memories of everything Phoenix did while posing as her, effectively integrating the two so that things only Phoenix experienced, like the bulk of the Storm/Jean friendship (which, thanks to the Phoenix retcon, was now more of a friendship between Storm and Phoenix) means as much now to Jean now as if it was actually her that experienced it and not the Phoenix Force.


The Phoenix-triggered awakening then led to Mr. Sinister creating the cover story of Madelyne surviving the plane crash at the same time of Jean's death to explain her memories prior to her awakening at that point in time.


It's confirmed that Mr. Sinister did indeed arrange the sale of Cyclops' grandparents' airline, while Maddie's escape from the Marauders (as seen briefly in X-Men #215) is fleshed out a bit, including the retcon that she once again subconsciously used her powers to help fight them off.


When Cyclops asks Storm why she keeps bringing up the mutant hunter stuff when X-Factor blew the lid off that ruse months ago, it's revealed that Maddie has been censoring the news she gives to the X-Men, as part of her efforts to keep the teams apart and opposed to one another.


She also specifically says that the demons only came later, after she was already working against the X-Men, something which Claremont and Simonson herself more or less contradict in earlier issues of "Inferno".


Marvel Girls says that as a creation of Sinister, Madelyne was doomed to her fate from birth, another bit that seems more egregiously designed to somewhat repudiate Cyclops' behavior, as he's now just guilty of abandoning a villainous pawn whose purpose was to harvest his genetic material rather than a devoted wife who had done nothing wrong.


Warren/Angel/Death/Dark Angel receives the codename "Archangel" from Beast this issue; this is the name usually associated with his blue skin/metal wing appearance, and will be used almost exclusively moving forward, at least until the late 90s when writers start playing around with his wings again.


Al Milgrom fills in on inks this issue, and to the surprise of no one, his work does Simonson's no favors, his chunky thick lines sapping Walt's pencils of energy and distorting the figures.

The Chronology Corner
This issue follows on directly from X-Men #242 and leads directly into X-Men #243.

A Work in Progress
Though Illyana called all the demons back to Limbo in New Mutants #73, a few remain on Earth, ones which Maddie says are loyal to her. They also deliver her a few more babies, whose sacrifices are a warm-up to the planned death of Christopher.

Maddie says that she brings out the demon in people, a further suggestion as to why the X-Men have been acting more demonic than X-Factor (as they've been around Maddie longer).


Wolverine tells Havok the woman they're battling is no longer Madelyne, a convenient bit of lip service to wipe away any guilt the X-Men or X-Factor may have about fighting a former colleague and friend.


Jean rightly points out that when Roma resurrected the X-Men, Madelyne could have been reunited with her son, but Maddie says at that point she was just focused on revenge against Scott. 


Longshot's jacket changes throughout the issue, with the sleeves torn off at the beginning, then back on when he pinpoints the spot to attack Maddie's shield, then it's back to sleeveless at the end.

Jean's parents resume their human forms in the wake of Madelyne's death, and it's noted that even though the portal to Limbo has closed and the city is back to normal, which, combined with Illyana's spell, effectively ends the demonic invasion of Earth, the X-Men's altered costumes remain.


Scott Summers, Husband of the Year
Cyclops finally admits that pretty much all the bad stuff Maddie has said about him is true, as far as his abandoning of her and his son for Jean.


Marvel Girl later points out that he went looking for Madelyne only to find all existence of her and the baby (save a rattle) to be wiped away, though she leaves out the part that it took him thirteen issues of X-Factor to finally do so.


Later, Jean does her best to absolve Scott of blame for what happened to Madelyne and how he treated her. 


Like a Phoenix, From the Ashes
Marvel Girl notes that Maddy took over her life just like Phoenix did, and later, the Phoenix Force itself shows up to once again pull Jean back from the brink of death and restore the memories of its time living as her.


Teebore's Take
With that, the sad story of Madelyne Pryor comes to a close, as the final details of her past come to light just before she dies, her consciousness integrated into the mind of her genetic source material. It's an effective end for the character, in that, via the retcons established here, it dots the i's and crosses the t's of Maddie's past, taking all the teases and red herrings Claremont established involving the character and using the recent clone revelation to create a cohesive history for the character, one that, while almost entirely a complete retcon, is nonetheless tightly structured, to the point where it would be easy enough to assume this had been the plan all along. But it's an end that also does an unfortunate disservice to a character who, before X-Factor was launched, was a surprisingly well-developed supporting character and who, post-X-Factor, could have still had a place in the narrative despite what Cyclops did to her.

It's a shame that Chris Claremont, who is pretty much chiefly responsible for everything interesting about Maddie as a character, was unable to write her departure from the narrative. Obviously, he had a hand in crafting this resolution, and likely worked closely with Simonson in terms of deploying it (and will get his own chance to say goodbye in the next X-Men). But, even as someone who tends to appreciate Simonson's X-Factor work more than most, there's no denying that he probably could have handled Madelyne's departure, even as it appears in this issue, a bit more deftly. Claremont was always very careful to suggest that Maddie's villainous actions were a result of demonic corruption, dating any evil acts on her part to roughly post-X-Men #234. Though Maddie's characterization throughout "Inferno" took a hit, she was, for the most part, an agent of righteous anger twisted by forces outside her control, a character through whom readers could vent their own frustrations for the way Cyclops was forced to treat her.

Here, though, Simonson suggests Maddie's villainy goes back even further, saying that Maddie began resenting Scott shortly after the birth of their son, that she subconsciously affected the outcome of his duel with Storm and kept the X-Men and X-Factor apart, thus muddying Claremont's (and even, at times, Simonson's herself) presentation of the Goblin Queen as a force of corrupted, albeit justified, anger. Obviously, Simonson's tweaks paint Scott in a kinder light: he wasn't running from his wife, he was running from a burgeoning supervillain. But it also retroactively casts Maddie as a vindictive, catty shrew, someone attacking her husband for daring to want a bit of a life outside of her, instead of attacking her husband for genuinely awful way he treated her. 

While this depiction was probably necessary to distance Cyclops as much as possible from the mess created by the early issues of X-Factor (something which will ultimately help the character, X-Factor the series, and the overall franchise) and while the end result is a surprisingly cohesive series of retcons that binds together much of the characters' established history with the new revelations, it's still a shame that all that had to come at the expense of a character who managed, despite her brief page time, to rise above the role of "token girlfriend of the hero" and become a well-rounded and interesting character in her own right. 

Next Issue
Next week, the third batch of "Inferno" tie-ins, followed by Excalibur #6 and Wolverine #5.

25 comments:

  1. I have to grudgingly agree that Maddie with her peculiar strength of character starting to fight, subconsciously, against the unfairness of it all the minute she has fulfilled her Sinister-given purpose of existence kind of makes sense. A woman rebelling against her given role has some Claremontian all over it.

    Also, hilariously, the X-franchice in a way started getting screwed over by the little boy that was to become Cable as soon as he first saw the light. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the omniverse, the elderly Peter Parker of Reign can draw some condolence from the fact that as bad a turn his cursed spider semen did to Mary Jane she still got out easy compared to what Summers semen did to Maddie.

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  2. I'm astounded that in the years following this issue, no one ever did a storyline in which Madelyne's consciousness asserted itself in Jean's head and turned her bad. That seems like a much more interesting way they could've brought her back than what they ultimately did in X-MAN.

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  3. By Jove...! Something starting with an 'M' turning Jean to darkness... it might have some vague potential. Wait, no... didn't that Whedon already do that to the Willow girl?

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  4. The Maddie retcons this issue made no sense. Maddie claimed that she wanted Scott to be defeated and humiliated in his fight with Storm but her dialogue that issue makes it clear that she wasn't sure who she wanted to win. Besides, she wasn't daydreaming that issue- she was pointing out the weather was changing with Storm's emotions. (And if accidently using your powers against your lover the first time they manifest is a crime, then Rusty Collins and Jessica Drew should receive life sentences.)
    The idea that Maddie didn't ask Roma to send her to her baby also has its problems. For starters, none of the X-Men thought to ask Roma to send them to Nate and Lorna either. Also, in Uncanny X-Men 230, Maddie says to herself "I mean to find my baby" and the omniscient narrator declares it a heartfelt promise. Also, in Uncanny X-Men 229, Roma gives the X-Men the Siege Perilous and says that it's only trusted to the most brave and worthy. If that's the case, one would think it shouldn't be trusted to a vengeance-obsessed psycho.
    Then there's the fact that if they hadn't gone to Australia, Jessan Hoan would have become irredeemably evil. Is Simonson suggesting that the X-Men should have let that happen? But the biggest problem is that the first time Maddie went up against the Marauders, she got put in a coma and the second time she was almost drowned by a mind-controlled friend. It's entirely understandable for Maddie being reluctant to risk going up against the Marauders again in that situation.
    Then there's the retcon that she was tampering with the computers to distort coverage of X-Factor before Uncanny 232, which makes no sense, since she was obviously surprised at seeing Scott and Jean in that issue. Plus, when S'ym tempts her in issue 234, she replies that she loves Scott and implies she doesn't want to hurt him.
    Maddie also implies that Scott was her only purpose in life, which is odd, since in X-Men/ Alpha Flight, she refused to let the X-Men leave the plane to save Scott and Rachel.
    Plus, there's the moral issue- if Scott thought Maddie was losing it before X-Factor 1, he's a pretty crappy father for leaving her alone with his child.

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  5. "Of course, this being superhero comics, this won't be the last we'll see of Maddie"

    Good thing we have such shitty X-man stories in the 90s featuring her to look forward to...

    "as a Cyclops fan, part of me has always appreciated this retcon most of all."

    Storm would have still kicked his ass.

    "It's also established that while living with the X-Men, Maddie worked to keep the two teams apart, an in-universe explanation for the baffling amount of time it took to bring the two teams together."

    Which doesn't make much sense, but whatever. I guess the Contrivance Fairy was off limits to be blamed, huh?

    "The Phoenix-triggered awakening then led to Mr. Sinister creating the cover story of Madelyne surviving the plane crash at the same time of Jean's death to explain her memories prior to her awakening at that point in time."

    Which is a wonky retcon, since, had anybody bothered to investigate the crash, they would have figured out it was all staged after the fact.

    "as part of her efforts to keep the teams apart and opposed to one another."

    Which is one of my least favorite aspects of the retcon; that Maddie was a scheming manipulative bitch BEFORE S'ym corrupted her.

    "another bit that seems more egregiously designed to somewhat repudiate Cyclops' behavior, as he's now just guilty of abandoning a villainous pawn whose purpose was to harvest his genetic material rather than a devoted wife who had done nothing wrong."

    Maddie wasn't just thrown under a bus...she was thrown under a fleet of buses!

    "Al Milgrom fills in on inks this issue, and to the surprise of no one, his work does Simonson's no favors"

    I think next issue looks ever worse.

    "Cyclops finally admits that pretty much all the bad stuff Maddie has said about him is true, as far as his abandoning of her and his son for Jean.'

    Because Cyclops can sometimes be a JERK!?!? ;)

    "though she leaves out the part that it took him thirteen issues of X-Factor to finally do so."

    And more or less promptly gives up after that.

    "Later, Jean does her best to absolve Scott of blame for what happened to Madelyne and how he treated her."

    Isn't that more or less the whole point of the X-men and X-factor's involvement in Inferno?

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  6. Also, word to everything Anonymous said.

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  7. This was my first time reading this issue and, man, it pissed me off. Maddie's character is obviously destroyed, but even more maddening to me was Simonson going out of her way to make the current X-Men look like chumps so X-Factor can be absolved of all wrongdoing. The X-Men got mind controlled by Maddie, Cyclops should have beat Storm, and X-Factor treats the X-Men like idiots for not knowing the Mutant Hunter thing was fake, which ignores the fact that it was still an awful idea. Scott has one line about mistreating Madelyne that is immediately glossed over.

    I thought this was awful.

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  8. The Phoenix stuff is all really convenient but also kind-of necessary, as the "actual" Jean being ignorant of both the facts and the feelings of had-been-then-wasn't Jean's life would become a largely needless complication if the splintered groups of X-Men were ever to hang out (let alone reunite). So I'm thankful that even as it's inescapably blunt it comes off surprisingly elegant as well — mostly, I suppose, because the genre lets one make up rules to this sort of thing as one pleases.

    As for the stuff that Maddie has done and/or been doing with the X-Men, well, it's likewise probably for the best given the context even if that context is unfortunate for its own reasons. Infuriatingly, even apart from the dismantling of a strong female character whom the readership had every reason to dislike in concept yet grew to appreciate before Jean's return turned Maddie's whole existence upside-down, it's pure retcon that sometimes egregiously contradicts the stories as first presented. What keeps it from being completely unacceptable, for me, is that so much of what Scott did between the birth of his son and Inferno was poorly conceived, badly written, and entirely unlike him.

    Jean presumably now has maternal feelings for Christopher — as well as memories, each painful in their own way, of childbirth and the intimacies of the Scott/Maddie relationship in better days. I guess being touched by the Phoenix force will always be a double-edged sword.

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  9. wwk5d: Which is a wonky retcon, since, had anybody bothered to investigate the crash, they would have figured out it was all staged after the fact.

    Hey... Scott did, finally, in an early issue of X-Factor when he finally went to seek Maddie in Alaska and couldn't find her. And from microfilms in a library, because 80's.

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  10. "and the intimacies of the Scott/Maddie relationship in better days"

    Not to mention the "intimacies" of Scott/Phoenix-posing-as-Jean. It must have been wonderful to get memories of both her doppelgangers getting it one with Scott long before she ever did...

    "Scott did, finally, in an early issue of X-Factor when he finally went to seek Maddie in Alaska and couldn't find her."

    I meant pre-X-factor #1...

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  11. @Teemu: Maddie with her peculiar strength of character starting to fight, subconsciously, against the unfairness of it all the minute she has fulfilled her Sinister-given purpose of existence kind of makes sense. A woman rebelling against her given role has some Claremontian all over it.

    Good point. I've never quite thought of it that way, but it makes sense.

    @Matt: I'm astounded that in the years following this issue, no one ever did a storyline in which Madelyne's consciousness asserted itself in Jean's head and turned her bad.

    *I'm* astounded I never thought of that myself. But yeah, sure seems like an easy idea, and (a brief moment during the "Judgment War" arc when that happens aside) I'm surprised it never happened.

    @Anonymous: Maddie claimed that she wanted Scott to be defeated and humiliated in his fight with Storm but her dialogue that issue makes it clear that she wasn't sure who she wanted to win

    The idea, I think, is that she was influencing it subconsciously, without even knowing she was doing it.

    Also, in Uncanny X-Men 230, Maddie says to herself "I mean to find my baby" and the omniscient narrator declares it a heartfelt promise.

    That's clearly a case of Claremont writing something before all these retcons had been hammered out. All things considered, an errant contradictory caption here or there isn't the worst inconsistency rendered by a retcon.

    Roma gives the X-Men the Siege Perilous and says that it's only trusted to the most brave and worthy. If that's the case, one would think it shouldn't be trusted to a vengeance-obsessed psycho.

    Presumably the goodwill of the X-Men as a whole counterbalanced whatever vindictiveness Maddie was feeling at the time. I mean, Wolverine presumably still had some pretty awful thoughts in his head, but Roma still entrusted them with the Siege Perilous.

    Is Simonson suggesting that the X-Men should have let that happen?

    I've always read it as Simonson suggesting that while the X-Men were sent to Australia, Maddie could have asked to be sent to her son (or for her son to be brought to her). Roma never said they all had to go to the same place.

    Then there's the retcon that she was tampering with the computers to distort coverage of X-Factor before Uncanny 232, which makes no sense, since she was obviously surprised at seeing Scott and Jean in that issue.

    I don't think we're meant to believe she was censoring the news prior to that - she was clearly shocked by the footage, suggesting none of the other X-Men had seen it yet either. And from that point forward, then, Maddie made sure no one else ever did.

    Plus, when S'ym tempts her in issue 234, she replies that she loves Scott and implies she doesn't want to hurt him.

    This is another example of how Claremont clearly tried to draw a line between pre- and post-demonic possession Maddie, something which Simonson even paid lip service to in issues #36 & #37, even though she throws out that idea in this issue.

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  12. @wwk5d: Good thing we have such shitty X-man stories in the 90s featuring her to look forward to...

    We'll see. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to subject myself to any X-Man beyond the first four issues.

    Storm would have still kicked his ass.

    No she wouldn't! Shut up, that's why! :)

    Which is a wonky retcon, since, had anybody bothered to investigate the crash, they would have figured out it was all staged after the fact.

    Yeah, but that's a pretty standard super-villain move, faking records, etc.

    Which is one of my least favorite aspects of the retcon; that Maddie was a scheming manipulative bitch BEFORE S'ym corrupted her.

    Ditto. What happens to Maddie is bad enough, but it goes down a lot easier if her villainy can be traced specifically to S'ym's influence. Going back before that rankles.

    I think next issue looks ever worse.

    Me too.

    It must have been wonderful to get memories of both her doppelgangers getting it one with Scott long before she ever did...

    Indeed. Now Jean has memories of Phoenix's butte sex with Scott (yes, I worded it that way on purpose, and yes, I'm sorry for that).

    @Jeff: The X-Men got mind controlled by Maddie, Cyclops should have beat Storm, and X-Factor treats the X-Men like idiots for not knowing the Mutant Hunter thing was fake, which ignores the fact that it was still an awful idea.

    I don't read it so much as Maddie outright mind controlling the X-Men as subtly influencing them, and Cyclops *should* have beat Storm. But otherwise, your point stands. :)

    I agree overall this is not a very good issue. I admire the effort made in crafting a cohesive history for Maddie, and putting the combined Maddie/Phoenix memories into Jean is a good move just for the sake of future simplicity, but otherwise, it's pretty much a mess.

    @Blam: The Phoenix stuff is all really convenient but also kind-of necessary, as the "actual" Jean being ignorant of both the facts and the feelings of had-been-then-wasn't Jean's life would become a largely needless complication if the splintered groups of X-Men were ever to hang out (let alone reunite).

    Exactly. If nothing else, it spares us having to cry out in the future "but wait, *Jean* wasn't there for that encounter with Villain X; that was Phoenix! She shouldn't remember him!"

    What keeps it from being completely unacceptable, for me, is that so much of what Scott did between the birth of his son and Inferno was poorly conceived, badly written, and entirely unlike him.

    Yeah. It's a shame that Maddie had to be sacrificed to move Cyclops past all that crap, but it's also a shame he was ever written that way to begin with, and I think that's where Claremont and Simonson were coming from in crafting this story.

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  13. "I've always read it as Simonson suggesting that while the X-Men were sent to Australia, Maddie could have asked to be sent to her son (or for her son to be brought to her). Roma never said they all had to go to the same place."
    But if Maddie did agree to go to her son, and she encountered trouble, then she would have had nobody to help her. And besides, wouldn't it have made more sense to send Logan or whoever in after her son since they actually have powers?
    And if she asked for her son to be brought to her, where would they go? Would they stay in Otherworld? And besides, it's not clear if the X-Men would have let Jessan Hoan go if Maddie hadn't gone with them to Australia.
    Besides, the X-Men definitely couldn't ask Roma to bring people back AFTER they went to Australia, or else they would have asked to bring the Reavers back.
    Besides, again, why didn't any of the other X-Men think of this?
    And if they could have asked for anyone to be sent to them, why didn't anyone think to ask for Leong, Nga, Sara Grey, her children, etc.?
    "That's clearly a case of Claremont writing something before all these retcons had been hammered out. All things considered, an errant contradictory caption here or there isn't the worst inconsistency rendered by a retcon."
    But the point is that Maddie seemed to be talking to HERSELF in that scene.
    "Presumably the goodwill of the X-Men as a whole counterbalanced whatever vindictiveness Maddie was feeling at the time. I mean, Wolverine presumably still had some pretty awful thoughts in his head, but Roma still entrusted them with the Siege Perilous"
    But the idea seems to be that Maddie was actively betraying the X-Men by not suggesting it. Why give a device that hasn't been entrusted to a group in a thousand years to a group with a known traitor in it? And why wouldn't Roma word her statements more carefully to make it clear they excluded Maddie?
    So let's review here- if the Goblin Queen is telling the truth, we have to assume that Maddie for some reason changed her mind about wanting her son back between Uncanny 227 and 230, for some reason none of the X-Men considered that they could use this to rescue their loved ones, for some reason Roma knew of Maddie's duplicity but instead of telling the X-Men used ambiguous language that could be interpreted as Maddie being a good person, for some reason the X-Men are not angry at Roma about this, for some reason Jean wasn't angry at the X-Men for not rescuing Sara, even though Sara died, etc.
    This is what TV Tropes refers to a Voodoo Shark- an explanation that raises more questions than answers. It's a lot simpler to assume that the Goblin Queen was lying, like with Magneto's explanation in New Mutants 75.


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  14. Have the X-Men even done anything with the Siege Perilous?

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  15. Blam: Have the X-Men even done anything with the Siege Perilous?

    Only the original Reavers upon receiving it from Roma. Since then they have conveniently forgot it home every time it could have been used to avoid imposing some angst-inducing deaths on the Brood and Marauders.

    I guess Dazzler will be mirroring herself on it at some point.

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  16. wwk5d: I meant pre-X-factor #1...

    Did she actually tell her story to anyone else but Scott? I've seen her reference walking out of the wreck of 747 to the X-Men sometime after Mutant Massacre but then no one had time to go any library anymore.

    Pretty funny that Scotty not checking up her story upon hearing the remarkable coincide with Jean-Phoenix's date of death may be the single most decent thing he ever did to her.

    Now this got me thinking did Maddy reference it to the X-Men only after Scott had already found out in X-Factor that such crash never took place.

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  17. ... and then I learn that apparently he did check on Madelyne's file at his grand-parents' airline's office in #172 on a "meanwhile" page they apparently cut off from my local publication. So, nevermind.

    He chats about the timing of the plane crash with Alex then too, but instead of looking it up he goes on to ask Maddie and gets a mouthful of fist.

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  18. Oh but wait. uncannyxmen.net issue summary on X-Factor #13:

    "After a sleepless night, Scott heads to the library, still wondering who could do this – systematically erase all evidence of Maddie’s life here. Who and why? He recalls that, before Maddie came to work for his grandparents, she was a commercial pilot. Her plane crashed in Los Angeles. That must have made the papers. He begins checking the microfilm of the L. A. Times. September 1st… he finds news of the crash but nothing about Madelyne, even though she had told him she was the sole survivor. She had walked from the flames without a scratch. That must have made the papers. The pages flash by at almost blinding speed as Scott searches for a sign. He thinks to himself he will find her. Instead he finds… Jean."

    So there was an actual crash that day. Only the Maddy bit is fabrication. Chances are if someone did look it up he might have been satisfied with Maddy's story holding up even if her part wasn't verifiable.

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  19. "Have the X-Men even done anything with the Siege Perilous?"

    They will 2 times in the very near future.

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  20. @Anonymous: Besides, again, why didn't any of the other X-Men think of this?
    And if they could have asked for anyone to be sent to them, why didn't anyone think to ask for Leong, Nga, Sara Grey, her children, etc.?


    Yes, but that's a flaw in that story regardless of whether or not Jean calls Maddie out for not having Roma take her to her son.

    But the point is that Maddie seemed to be talking to HERSELF in that scene.

    Right. But Claremont still wrote it. My point is just, yes, there are inconsistencies on the page between what was written and what this issue revealed; I'm just saying those thoughts in that issue are, as far as sweeping retcons go, not the biggest of problems.

    for some reason Roma knew of Maddie's duplicity but instead of telling the X-Men used ambiguous language that could be interpreted as Maddie being a good person

    We don't know that Roma knew of Maddie's duplicity. We can equally assume she did or didn't. For that matter, she may have known about it but decided keeping Maddie around was important to her overall plans despite that duplicity.

    for some reason the X-Men are not angry at Roma about this

    They could be. They did just learn all this about Maddie. Of course, *we* know they won't ever express any anger about this, but that's more a failing of future issues than this one.

    for some reason Jean wasn't angry at the X-Men for not rescuing Sara, even though Sara died, etc.

    Again, she could be, and whether she is or not, Maddie secretly being evil has nothing to do with the fact that the X-Men never bothered to check in on Sara Grey, at least as presented to us (ie we never see a scene, then or in this issue, in which the X-Men say "let's go find Sara Grey" and Maddie dissuades them).

    This is what TV Tropes refers to a Voodoo Shark- an explanation that raises more questions than answers. It's a lot simpler to assume that the Goblin Queen was lying, like with Magneto's explanation in New Mutants 75.

    I certainly won't argue these retcons are perfect, but I don't think they cause quite as many problems as you do. That said, it is entirely possible that at least some of what Maddie says in this issue *is* a lie, the trumped up rantings of a woman on the fringes of sanity. I mean, for all she says she kept the X-Men and X-Factor apart, we haven't and won't ever actually see that, so maybe she's just puffing herself up while battling Jean.

    @Teemu:So there was an actual crash that day. Only the Maddy bit is fabrication. Chances are if someone did look it up he might have been satisfied with Maddy's story holding up even if her part wasn't verifiable.

    I still maintain that Mr. Sinister faking a crash (whether the entire thing or just Maddie's involvement in it) isn't *that* big a stretch in terms of super-villainy. Seems like a pretty standard move, especially for a behind-the-scenes schemer like him.



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  21. Teebore: I still maintain that Mr. Sinister faking a crash (whether the entire thing or just Maddie's involvement in it) isn't *that* big a stretch in terms of super-villainy. Seems like a pretty standard move, especially for a behind-the-scenes schemer like him.

    You're right about that, yes, and in any case he did give Maddie the fake memories of being the pilot of the 747 (the personality of whom you might expect to become public knowledge in such an accident, but we'll let tha one fly). Though in this particular case my stance is that there really was a 747 crashing that day, on pretty the same moment Jean-Phoenix died... and, possibly, that the cause of the accident was some sort of disruption in the plane's electronics that might have been caused by, oh, I don't know, the plane getting in the way of an ultra high speed burst of cosmic power emanating from the Blue Area of the Moon and going to the cellar of a Nebraska orphanage.

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  22. Teebs, I'm with you on this one. I think the solution presented here is the most economical and efficient, given the start conditions that Simonson was working with.

    The idea that Maddie had some dark things roaming in her subconscious, and her latent telepathy was influencing things here and there all along the way since UXM201, is just vague/believable enough to work.

    One of my favorite "clues" to all this was the bit in the Genoshan arc wherein Wipeout says that he used his power on Maddie, but you can't "wipe out what doesn't exist" and Maddie had now powers ... and yet she did. That paradox allows for a lot of wiggle room, really.

    (For instance, it's possible that she subconsciously influenced all the X-Men to go to Australia rather than be transported to Lorna, Nathan Christopher, Karma's siblings, Sara Grey, etc. ... again with no one realizing it, including even the cosmically aware Roma, since -- again -- this was telepathy that wasn't *really* telepathy ... a power that did and didn't exist, according to Wipeout.) It's plausible given that Maddie's got some Phoenix in her. Phoenix trumps all other cosmic stuff, in Claremont's cosmology.

    I also like your notion that here, at the end, demonized Maddie is "trumping up" (great phrase) all her previous doings, making it sound more deliberate than it actually was. Retconning the retcon, as it were. (Mind-blowing!)

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  23. Let's start from the beginning. In X-Men 227, Roma's exact works are "I can return you to your Earth, at the moment you left it, free to pick up your lives as you left it or begin them anew. Or transport you to any other world, any era, any reality." I have a feeling Claremont didn't intend that to be read as "I can transport you to any person you want, even if you don't know where they are."
    All of the X-Men agree- the last one is Maddie, who only agrees after Alex promises that they'll use the new status quo to "pay back some scores", by which he clearly meant the Marauders. She says "If this is the way we can make a difference, please let's do it." And Roma praises their decision, and calls them heroes and legends.
    X-Factor 40 published a letter from a reader that disliked the X-Men arguing that Maddie could have used Roma's offer to send herself to Nathan. Unfortunately, that's not a reasonable reading of the surrounding issues- no one reading X-Men 230 would interpret the "heartfelt promise" line as "Maddie could have gone to Nathan but didn't". But Simonson apparently decided to use that at the last minute, and then realized that just raised the question of why the other X-Men didn't use Roma's offer to go directly to the Marauders.
    Sometimes the question is raised of why a writer doesn't use a McGuffin to resolve an ongoing plot. In Secret Wars, the heroes were able to use a wish-fulfillment affect to restore Captain America's shield but nobody thought to use it to cure Rogue's inability to touch people. As a Scott fan, do you think it would be a legitimate interpretation that Scott refused to cure Rogue because he's a sadist? Of course not- that would just raise the question of why nobody else thought to use it to cure Rogue. Surely there had to be some other reason why Rogue couldn't be cured.
    Getting back to the question of sending Maddie to the baby, Maddie said it herself in X-Men 224 why she couldn't be away from the X-Men- she was afraid the Marauders would find her and she would be killed. That would almost certainly have happened had she went to rescue Nathan by herself. In fact, it would make no sense for the X-Men to send her instead of Wolverine:
    Storm: Maddie, you must go to rescue your baby by yourself.
    Maddie: Me, but I have no powers! If I encounter a Marauder I could be killed. And if Lorna kills me, she'll have to live with that forever. Wouldn't Logan make more sense?
    Storm: Do you not love your baby?
    Maddie: And if I do get my baby back, what then? My face has been splashed all over national television. What if someone recognizes me? Wouldn't it make more sense to send Logan or Alex, who wear masks? Plus, I've got no identification or money. How am I supposed to make a living?
    Logan: You could try stripping or hooking.
    I don't think the X-Men could have just asked Roma to bring Leong, Nga, etc. to them, wherever they were. The dialogue says "She could have sent You to your son.", not she could have brought your son to you. But even if Maddie had asked that, the baby would have been in the middle of a battle with the Reavers. When Jean tried to bring baby Nate into battle with her, as we'll see in a couple of issues the results were almost disastrous.

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  24. "That said, it is entirely possible that at least some of what Maddie says in this issue *is* a lie, the trumped up rantings of a woman on the fringes of sanity. I mean, for all she says she kept the X-Men and X-Factor apart, we haven't and won't ever actually see that, so maybe she's just puffing herself up while battling Jean. "
    Full disclosure- that's what I thought the first time I read it. Maddie's rantings didn't make sense, especially since she claims that she saved herself and let the baby go, which certainly isn't the whole truth, since we saw that she was in a coma in Uncanny 215 and 223.
    "(For instance, it's possible that she subconsciously influenced all the X-Men to go to Australia rather than be transported to Lorna, Nathan Christopher, Karma's siblings, Sara Grey, etc. ... again with no one realizing it, including even the cosmically aware Roma, since -- again -- this was telepathy that wasn't *really* telepathy ... a power that did and didn't exist, according to Wipeout.) It's plausible given that Maddie's got some Phoenix in her. Phoenix trumps all other cosmic stuff, in Claremont's cosmology."
    So now we've got Maddie subconsciously influencing the whole team- but at the same time not able to influence the Press Gang to let her and Jenny Ransome go. Oh, and Roma isn't aware Maddie has powers but some very minor demons are. And Maddie's subconscious goes to such lengths why? Simonson implied she merely didn't *care* where she went.
    And let's not forget than Uncanny 221-222 made it clear Betsy could read Maddie's mind before she became the Goblin Queen.
    "We don't know that Roma knew of Maddie's duplicity"
    But Jean seem certain Roma knew where the baby was.
    Yes, it's possible to explain all of this if you do some mental gymnastics but that's true of anything.

    "I don't think we're meant to believe she was censoring the news prior to that - she was clearly shocked by the footage, suggesting none of the other X-Men had seen it yet either. And from that point forward, then, Maddie made sure no one else ever did. "
    But then why did she say that the demons came later?
    My point is this is all awful sexist character assassination- Maddie didn't go to the baby because there was a chance she and/or the baby might have been killed.

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  25. I'll just agree with all of the people here talking about how horribly, offensively mishandled Maddie's character arc was. It really bothers me that Louise Simonson & her time of this title did the lion's share of it; even before "Inferno", there were all those scenes of Jean bad-mouthing Maddie for no reason other than to make Scott look better (and Jean look worse, since that always struck me as super out-of-character). The "Surprise, I was always evil!" is the kind of thing that always bothers me, and to have it attached to a character who was so mistreated by the plot & by editorial mandates and really should've been used better is just frustrating.

    That said, I have a weird love for this cover. If I were an artist of any kind, I'd probably be homaging it all the time. It's not perfectly symmetrical, but that almost makes it more striking.

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