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Thursday, September 4, 2014

X-amining New Mutants #75

"King of the Hill!"
May 1989

In a Nutshell
The New Mutants quit Xavier's school. 

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Bob McLeod 
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
At the remains of the X-Mansion, the New Mutants are shocked by all the damage. Spotting a death glow amidst the rubble, Dani directs Roberto, who frees a badly injured Sabretooth. After a brief tussle, the villain seemingly dies of his injuries, but Dani doesn't see death coming for him. Just then, Magneto, along with the rest of the Inner Circle, arrive. Roberto impulsively attacks Magneto, and a fight between the two teams breaks out, which ends when Magneto encases his students in a ball of metal wreckage. He then learns what has happened to Illyana. Angry that he's lost the most powerful of all the New Mutants, Shaw attacks Magneto, declaring he be removed as White King. As they battle one another, the New Mutants learn that Magneto started bossing them around in the hopes of molding them into better soldiers, and that he made a conscious decision not to help the X-Men in Dallas. Having heard enough, the New Mutants endeavor to break out of their prison, but are unable to do so.


Magneto ultimately defeats Shaw by overloading his power, then moves that it is Shaw who be removed from the Inner Circle. Backed by both the White Queen and Selene, Shaw is voted out, and Magneto assumes both male titles, christening himself the Hellfire Club's Grey King. He then releases the still-defiant New Mutants and gives them leave to go, asking only that they remember what they've learned there, and declaring that, in time, some of them will return to join him in his conquest. As the New Mutants leave, the White Queen telepathically learns they're aware of the Hellfire Club's connection to Amara and her father's kingdom. Magneto isn't bothered by this revelation, confidant the New Mutants will eventually go there to try and save their friend, and in doing so, weaken Selene, such that soon, there will be only one queen of the Hellfire Club, as there is now but one king. 

Firsts and Other Notables
The New Mutants, having already decided to do so last issue, formally quit Xavier's school and remove themselves from Magneto's tutelage this issue, beginning a short period in the title's history in which the characters, along with the integrated X-Terminators, are formally wards of X-Factor but essentially operating on their own, setting the stage for the debut of Cable and his assumption of the mentor role for the characters.


This issue marks, if not the full on return, then the beginning of Magneto's return to outright villainy. Largely credited to John Byrne (who will use the character as a villain in his "Acts of Vengeance" issues of Avengers West Coast and who fairly publicly turned up his nose at the idea of Reformed Magneto), Simonson certainly lays the groundwork for Magneto's heel turn here, definitively cutting his ties with the New Mutants and Xavier's school and positioning him as, more or less, the head of the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle (Claremont, of course, will have some things to say about all this in the pages of X-Men eventually, and his work developing Magneto as a character is far from over).

To that end, like X-Factor #38, this issue doles out a fair number of retcons as Simonson tries to transition Reformed Magneto to Villain Again Magneto. To that end, Magneto says that he considered the X-Men, already steadfast in their devotion to Xavier's dream, to be mutantkind's first line of defense against extinction, which is why he allowed them to face the Marauders in the Morlock Tunnels during "Mutant Massacre", but held himself back.


Furthermore, in order to better mold the younger New Mutants into worthy soldiers in the war for mutantkind's survival, he treated them with a firmer hand, what Sam describes as "bossing them around", which actually works as a halfway decent in-story explanation for the shift in Magneto's characterization that occurred when Simonson took over the title from Claremont (as Magneto did indeed become more tyrannical and less reasonable when Simonson took over, which was shortly after "Mutant Massacre").


It's revealed that Magneto didn't go to the X-Men's aid in Dallas and he let them die (as far as he knows) because they proved themselves too devoted to Xavier's way of thinking, and thus wouldn't be useful in his expected war.


Finally, Magneto successfully leads the ouster of Sebastian Shaw from the Inner Circle in this issue, assuming the mantle of Grey King (both White and Black). Though no longer a member of the Hellfire Club, Shaw will continue to pop up from time to time before ultimately regaining his position.


This issue also establishes that Magneto is aware of Genosha (a country whose existence would, one would assume, cause Magneto no small amount of rage), and that the Hellfire Club has interests there as well.


Selene's Amazon holdings and the threat to Amara, first mentioned in New Mutants Annual #3, are referenced again, though Simonson won't ever get around to fully exploring this idea.

The New Mutants pull Sabretooth from the wreckage of the X-Mansion (where Wolverine presumably left him after X-Factor #39) and battle him briefly before he apparently dies, though Dani notes there's no death image hovering over him, presumably another hint at his clone nature.


As was noted in the comments to last issue, Bom-Boom and Rictor have been added to the corner cover box, even though the X-Terminators aren't considered to have formally joined the New Mutants until next issue, and even though when they do join, Rusty and Skids join as well (suggesting the ultimate separation of those two from the rest of the team may have been planned from the outset of the merging of the teams). 

John Byrne provides the pencil art to this issue, making this, I believe, the first time he's contributed to an X-book since leaving X-Men. He is inked by returning series co-creator Bob McLeod. While Blevins' art is not without its charms, it's still refreshing to see the characters, particularly four of the original five members, drawn to look more like real people than bobbleheaded imps for a change.

A Work in Progress
As teased last issue, the New Mutants discover the X-Mansion has been destroyed.


It's noted that Illyana no longer speaks English, as her past self had never learned English prior to being captured by Belasco (as noted in X-Men #153, Professor X telepathically taught the X-Men Russian so they could communicate with her, rather than the far easier route of teaching Illyana English).


Dani's head is still aching.


Magneto learns that Illyana has been restored to childhood this issue, something which Shaw uses against him, saying that Illyana was the most powerful of the New Mutants and the one most likely to serve the Hellfire Club's interests.


Magneto mentions that a human woman fostered hope in him, a reference to Lee Forester which really just begs the question of where the heck she is (I believe she was last seen in X-Men #199).


The rest of the Inner Circle is made aware of Shaw's involvement with the government's Sentinel program.


This prompts the White Queen to recall the battle with Nimrod from X-Men #208-209, and the deaths of Leland and Von Roehme (though the White Queen herself was not at that battle).


The White Queen telepathically learns that the New Mutants are aware of the Hellfire Club's designs on the Amazon, and she and Magneto conspire to use them to weaken Selene.


Teebore's Take
This issue does two significant things which affect the future of this series. First, it effectively restores Magneto to outright villainy, or, at the very least, removes him from his position as the New Mutants' mentor and, combined with the apparent death of the X-Men, severs his ties as an ally of Xavier's pupils, freeing up the character for more traditionally villainous portrayals in other series. Simonson's retcons to the conditions of Magneto's alliance with Xavier's school work about as well as the Madelyne Pryor retcons from "Inferno"; they mostly fit, though they require a bit of squinting to do so, and they don't ultimately leave the character in the best of places. Certainly, the idea that Magneto has been giving the New Mutants tough love in order to make them more soldiery and obediant fits with Simonson's depiction of Magneto once she took over the title, but it doesn't quite gel with the Claremontian Magneto who expressed genuine affection for the New Mutants and was wracked with sorrow over their Beyonder-inflicted malaise.

Secondly, this issue formally severs the New Mutants from their tutelage at Xavier's school, meaning that none of the characters involved in the now five X-books are operating, however tenuously, out of Xavier's mansion, a condition that hasn't existed since the brief Bermuda Triangle stay of the X-Men. More importantly, following in the wake of "Inferno", it moves New Mutants out of the second phase of its existence ("students of Magneto") and into its third phase ("wards of X-Factor, but mainly just on their own"). While this third phase will be relatively short (and dominated by one exceedingly long story), it will in turn lead to arguably the most significant phase of the title's history. For whatever plans Simonson had for the series going forward, she will ultimately get only about ten issues to explore them on her own before the arrival of Rob Liefeld and thus the beginning of the series' fourth, and final, phase. As such, this issue is both the end of an era for the series, and the beginning of its end. 

Next Issue
Tomorrow, X-Factor buries Maddie and battles Nanny in X-Factor #40. Next week, Cyclops goes solo in Marvel Comics Presents #17-24, followed by Excalibur #8.

27 comments:

  1. I've wanted to read this issue for some time, but I still haven't. Magneto vs. Shaw, drawn by John Byrne, is a pretty big draw for me, though. And the inks by McLeod look quite nice with Byrne's artwork; certainly better than Byrne's own inks on the cover!

    Do we know who designed Magneto's new costume? It's basically his original outfit, but the boots and gloves are different and there's that goofy "M" on his chest. I don't know how long he keeps it. It's still there for most of "Acts of Vengeance" (though I think Erik Larsen igonres it for Magneto's appearance in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN), but I know Jim Lee returns to the classic model circa UXM 275.

    As noted many times before, I like Magneto the villain, though I prefer the "anti-hero" villain who sees himself as a mutant freedom fighter more than a conquering warlord, so his reversion here is fine with me in theory. But as you note, Claremont has presented the character in an extremely sympathetic light prior to Simonson's arrival. I can't help feeling a better revelation than "I was just pretending" might have made this change easier to swallow.

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  2. Hm. I don't remember what inspired it exactly, but it seems that immediately following Inferno, my interest in (or finances for) the increased X-Men universe was on the wane. I stopped buying Excalibur, Wolverine, and New Mutants within about a month of each other. It took a little longer for my interest in the flagship title to drop--and then get rekindled just a few months later.

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  3. Just like with X-Factor 38, the revelations don't make sense if you think about them too carefully.
    Magneto claims he planned for Xavier to hand over the X-Men and New Mutants to him. But he turned himself in to go on trial for his crimes, and only got to lead the New Mutants because the trial was attacked by children of Nazi war criminals and Charles had a heart attack.
    Next, Magneto claims that he let the X-Men face the Marauders to test them. But we saw in X-Men 211, that Magento's thoughts showed he was only staying behind to protect the New Mutants.
    Next, Magneto claims that he joined the Hellfire Club as part of a plan to build his power base. But we saw in New Mutants 49 that he was uncertain about joining and only agreed to in New Mutants 51 to protect the kids.
    There's a recurring pattern here of Simonson sticking retcons in places where it requires a lot of mental gymnastics to explain them- Maddie claiming she was altering videotape when she was surprised to see Jean and Scott, Magneto claiming that he stayed behind during the Massacre to test the X-Men when his thoughts show differently, Maddie claiming she didn't care about the baby when her thoughts show differently, Magneto talking about joining the Hellfire Club to build a power base when his thoughts show nothing of the sort, Maddie claiming she saved herself and let the baby go when we saw she wound up in a coma, etc.
    But I do like the way that Emma and Magneto set up the New Mutants to go after Selene and it fails because the New Mutants are really crappy heroes.

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  4. I massively like the goofy 'M' on villain Magneto, mostly because of the nice touch of villain Scarlet Witch flipping it over for a 'W' on her own villain costume. Magneto, Witch, Magnus, Wanda. Family that flips together...

    In the Hellfire club the white seems to have prevailed over black. I don't know if something should be made of the fact that during the extremely evil times of Dark Phoenix Saga it was the show of the Black King Shaw, while the more redeemable white section of the Hellfire royalty now taking over has been or will be guiding some X-youngster team, and as part of his turn-to-villainy Mags absorbs the black to make grey.

    Though, I have hard time seeing the White Queen redemption being there in the cards for Claremont and his portrayal of the character, even if she did have an amount of affection for her students.

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  5. I agree with pretty much everything Anonymous says regarding the retcons of both Maddie and Magneto. It takes much more than squinting, it takes a whole lot of mental gymnastics to arrive at these conclusions. Another point to add to the counterargument: Magneto never sought to establish ties to the HC...they asked him and the X-men for an alliance, not the other way around.

    Magneto's heel turn could have worked had it been the original plan, and they had been building up to it all along. All the stuff that had happened recently - the Mutant Massacre, the deaths of the X-men and Cypher, Magneto knowing what he does about Genosha, Illyana's reversion, etc - could be what caused Magneto to maybe rethink Xavier's dream, and that it would not have been the right path for him. Instead we had Simonson writing Magento as a dick, Byrne coming along and wanting him as a villain, the Simonson throwing in some retcons to make it work.

    With that said, this version of Megneto is still better than the mustache twirling EVIL MUTANT!!! Silver Age version of Magneto.

    As for the title itself, yeah, this is probably even more of a "end-of-era" issue than the previous one. The status quo with X-factor lasts a few issue before they go off on the Asgard story, and as soon as they get back, they hook up with Cable.

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  6. I have a soft spot for the reforming Magneto, but I wouldn't be averse to him functioning in a more morally grey area (his current solo, for one, manages to portray him as an interesting and sometimes sympathetic figure using questionable means for sometimes noble ends). However, derailing Claremont's work with the character here and making it that he was lying all along, even in his own private thoughts as seen in thought bubbles, feels a bit of a cop-out. Like wwk5d says, recent events such as the Mutant Massacre, Genosha, the deaths of the X-Men and Cypher and so on could have caused him to reconsider his position, and to move from a genuine attempt at reformation to a more hardline stance, and that would have worked fine.
    The art is gorgeous, however.

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  7. Add me to the people seconding Anonymous's comments about how none of Louise Simonson's retcons can be held to the light of day. She does decent stuff, but in both of these cases, they completely break any suspension of disbelief even for comics.

    "it's still refreshing to see the characters... drawn to look more like real people than bobbleheaded imps for a change."

    The art on the kids is interesting. You can see where Byrne may have been working off of Blevins' designs (since they still have some gangliness & he may have thought that was a trait), but you can also see where McLeod was trying to return them to their original designs. I didn't like McLeod when I first started reading, but as I get older, I appreciate him more.

    "Professor X telepathically taught the X-Men Russian so they could communicate with her, rather than the far easier route of teaching Illyana English."

    I always figured he did that because she was too young to handle it. But that was me filling in the blanks.

    I've gotta say, part of me would like a book that was Magneto & Emma training the combined New Mutants/Hellions, especially since the most toxic Hellion was off the table. That could've made an interesting series, but sadly not in these hands.

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  8. Oh. I guess we all agree 'simonsonism' is not a thing we should acknowledge but damn if it doesn't grate me when someone dances into the title of the younger mutants in purpose of "training them as soldiers".

    Especially as the X-Men had to return to their school because the more proper student material was out there somewhere being trained as soldiers. Stupid Bob.

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  9. The end of an era - for the title and Magneto, but the last few issues have given is some great moments for the latter, with perhaps my all-time favourite from NM #73 featuring Magneto laying the smack down on Sebastian Shaw for being a capitalist pig.


    But man, I don't know if it's the state of John Byrne's pencils in '89 or McLeod's inks to blame, but I could barely recognise his work. It looks pretty rough to me - but par for the course in the title lately.

    Say what you will about Rob Liefeld, but he is a definite breath of fresh air on the title. Bird-Brain and Gossamyr may be behind us, but descent into mediocrity continues...

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  10. I think with any ret-con, there's a certain level of "just suck it up and move on" involved. But I agree that ignoring previous thought balloons is beyond what a reader should be expected to accept.

    As others have noted, it seems odd that Simonson had to go out of her way to state that not only was Magneto returning to villainy, he had secretly always been evil. I like Magneto as a villain, but I would have no problem if he had seriously tried to be good for a while before ultimately reverting. My main issue with headmaster Magneto is that he becomes so much softer under Claremont. If he had been depicted as a well-meaning dictator running the school all along, that wouldn't bother me as much.

    James -- "But man, I don't know if it's the state of John Byrne's pencils in '89 or McLeod's inks to blame, but I could barely recognise his work. It looks pretty rough to me - but par for the course in the title lately."

    I would suspect that he was just overworked. Not that it means he did all this work within one 30-day span, but looking at Marvel comics with May 1989 cover dates, it appears he:

    -Drew the (highly detailed wraparound) cover to MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #18
    -Drew NEW MUTANTS #75
    -Wrote and drew SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK #1
    -Wrote and drew WEST COAST AVENGERS #44

    Plus, two months later he would take over as regular writer of AVENGERS, so it's entirely possible he was gearing up for that as well around this time.

    Say whatever else you will about the guy, but Byrne sure was a workhorse in the eighties!

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  11. @Matt: Do we know who designed Magneto's new costume?

    I don't know for sure, but I'd guess Byrne. It has that retro feel to it and, as Teemu points out, he uses it later in AWC.

    I like Magneto the villain, though I prefer the "anti-hero" villain who sees himself as a mutant freedom fighter more than a conquering warlord, so his reversion here is fine with me in theory.

    As much as I like Claremont's Reformed Magneto, I also don't mind this reversion, in theory. The execution of it ("I was just pretending! Mu-hah-ha!") leaves something to be desired, but Claremont does try to smooth it over and incorporate it into his arc for the character.

    Basically, I like Claremont's Magneto, and the arc he puts the character through (from softening villain to reluctant headmaster to someone who's walked both paths and just throws his hands up before being dragged back in), and taking him away from Xavier's is part of that arc. I just have to do my best to disregard some of the specific details put forth in this issue, which is pretty much what Claremont does himself.

    Say whatever else you will about the guy, but Byrne sure was a workhorse in the eighties!

    Yikes! That is a ton of work for one month. I'd love to see an artist churn out that much material nowadays. And that's coming after his stint on the Superman books, where he wrote and drew a ton of stuff each month too.

    @Anonymous: Next, Magneto claims that he let the X-Men face the Marauders to test them. But we saw in X-Men 211, that Magento's thoughts showed he was only staying behind to protect the New Mutants.

    Those aren't technically mutually exclusive - he could also have been thinking that this made for a good time to test the X-Men, while also wanting to protect the New Mutants, and we just weren't privy to the first thought at the time.

    But yeah, for the most part, I feel like most of these retcons are even worse than the Maddie ones, since in many cases they contradict not only previous actions, but previous thoughts.

    But I do like the way that Emma and Magneto set up the New Mutants to go after Selene and it fails because the New Mutants are really crappy heroes.

    Sadly, I don't think the New Mutants even *mention* going to the Amazon after this, do they? Like, obviously stuff comes up that prevents them from doing so, but I don't even think they bemoan the fact that, say, they're stuck in Asgard while Amara is still a target. They just straight up forget about it.

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  12. @Teemu: Though, I have hard time seeing the White Queen redemption being there in the cards for Claremont and his portrayal of the character, even if she did have an amount of affection for her students.

    Yeah, I don't think Claremont ever intended to fully redeem Emma, I think he just figured that having her actually care for her students made her that much more interesting of a villain, giving her some added depth.

    Reformed Emma was brought about by later writers who built on what Claremont had setup, that all-too-rare case of multiple writers on a serial narrative indirectly working together.

    Especially as the X-Men had to return to their school because the more proper student material was out there somewhere being trained as soldiers. Stupid Bob.

    In Harras' defense (kind of), I don't think it would have mattered to him even if the New Mutants were still at the school being trained. He (and Lee) wanted the X-Men operating out of the X-Mansion because that's what the classic/default status quo for the characters. It wasn't "we need some mutants operating out of the school, getting trained" it was "the X-Men need to be operating out of the school, because that's what the X-Men traditionally do".

    @wwk5d:With that said, this version of Megneto is still better than the mustache twirling EVIL MUTANT!!! Silver Age version of Magneto.

    True.

    @Harry: Like wwk5d says, recent events such as the Mutant Massacre, Genosha, the deaths of the X-Men and Cypher and so on could have caused him to reconsider his position, and to move from a genuine attempt at reformation to a more hardline stance, and that would have worked fine.

    As I understand it, that's pretty much what the "official" explanation for his return to villainy/leaving the school nowadays. Like, if you read summaries onlines and whatnot, it's pretty much "after Cypher died and with rising anti-mutant tensions, Magneto realized this path wasn't working any better than his previous one", and most of Simonson's specifics from this issue are mostly ignored.

    @Mela: I didn't like McLeod when I first started reading, but as I get older, I appreciate him more.

    Ditto. I think he suffers from his work running alongside Paul Smith's and JRjr's and followed up by Sienkiewicz's, and while I still wouldn't put his stuff ahead of those guys, I have gained a greater appreciation for it.

    @James: Say what you will about Rob Liefeld, but he is a definite breath of fresh air on the title.

    Definitely. Like I said over on this week's X-Factor post, I can't deny my appreciation for Liefeld's art on this title, even while I fully recognize it's fundamental flaws.

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  13. It's... Magneto and the Hellfire Club #75 — co-starring the New Mutants trapped in a sphere of scrap metal!

    // Roberto, who frees a badly injured Sabretooth. //

    Whom nobody seems to recognize. Sam and Rahne both asking who Sabretooth is just dumb, and comes off as even dumber when Sam later mentions that the team learned on the school's computers that the only way to defeat Shaw was to overload him. I know they've neglected their studies, but geez.

    // a fight between the two teams breaks out, which ends when Magneto encases his students in a ball of metal wreckage ... the New Mutants endeavor to break out of their prison, but are unable to do so //

    Now that they don't have "their" Illyana they're reeeeeally crap on ditching him.

    // John Byrne provides the pencil art to this issue, making this, I believe, the first time he's contributed to an X-book since leaving X-Men/. //

    If you don't count 3 pages in the Heroes for Hope one-shot, a special situation, I think you're right.

    // He is inked by returning series co-creator Bob McLeod. //

    So the issue was penciled by Byrne, co-creator with Chris Claremont of the Hellfire Club; inked by McLeod, co-creator with Claremont of the New Mutants; written not by Claremont but by Louise Simonson, the editor of X-Men and New Mutants when Byrne and McLeod, respectively, left those series; and edited not by Simonson but by somebody else. For whatever reason, I always enjoy weird permutations like that.

    // Shaw attacks Magneto, declaring he be removed as White King. //

    They each pulled an Oberyn Martell by stupidly approaching the other closely after knocking them down from afar. Magneto, at least, should be smarter than that, and him reaching out to touch a downed Shaw is all the harder to swallow given how he was obviously, shrewdly, keeping his distance during the battle. Also, Shaw just speed-walking away in a wide shot after the vote is taken is hilarious.

    // Claremont, of course, will have some things to say about all this in the pages of X-Men eventually, and his work developing Magneto as a character is far from over //

    Is there popular opinion and/or common knowledge among X-fans that Claremont trusted Simonson to deal with these characters since she was now shouldering the burden of at least three-fifths of the Marvel mutant franchise, that he had no interest in them at this point because he was steering the flagship title in new directions and so didn't really care what she did, or that editorial had a preference for Magneto taking this turn and that it was easier to get Simonson to make the move than argue with Claremont?

    // Selene's Amazon holdings and the threat to Amara ... are referenced again. //

    One look at her in that G-string and it's rather obvious Nova Roma isn't her only preoccupation with Brazilians.

    // a reference to Lee Forester which really just begs the question of where the heck she is //

    Holla.

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  14. Teebore: In Harras' defense (kind of), I don't think it would have mattered to him even if the New Mutants were still at the school being trained. He (and Lee) wanted the X-Men operating out of the X-Mansion because that's what the classic/default status quo for the characters. It wasn't "we need some mutants operating out of the school, getting trained" it was "the X-Men need to be operating out of the school, because that's what the X-Men traditionally do".

    Yeah. It's just so... blatant when at the same time Liefeld wants, and gets, by Harras' approval, to turn the New Mutants into a proactive group to assault their enemies in the shadows. Not that it necessarily would have been the right call for the X-Men and not that Claremont really did pay it more than lip service, but bankruptcy really was too good for Marvel for letting the likes of Lee and Liefeld dance in out of nowhere with nothing to show and redefine the X-books from under the feet of Claremont and then ditch the boat within a year because they felt they weren't reimbursed enough for their hard work.

    Kind of makes me wonder how much there was very intentional meta in Wolverine gruesomely ramming his claws into the gut of the supposed Charles Xavier in UXM #275 amidst the editorial-mandated treasure hunt after that particular default status quo building block.

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  15. "They each pulled an Oberyn Martell by stupidly approaching the other closely after knocking them down from afar. Magneto, at least, should be smarter than that, and him reaching out to touch a downed Shaw is all the harder to swallow given how he was obviously, shrewdly, keeping his distance during the battle. Also, Shaw just speed-walking away in a wide shot after the vote is taken is hilarious."
    It's not as ridiculous as the conclusion to the Superior Spider-Man- Green Goblin's powers have been neutralized and his weapons taken away. But when a brainwashed Liz Osborn triggers a device that gives Spider-Man a headache, he somehow manages to escape, despite several first responders and at least 1 other superhero being on the scene. People were joking he must have just briskly walked away.

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  16. @Anonymous: // People were joking he must have just briskly walked away. //

    What's so funny to me here, though, is that we see him do it. "Fine! Be that way! I'll be sending someone for my dickeys, hairbands, and tickle feathers!"

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  17. @Blam: Sam and Rahne both asking who Sabretooth is just dumb, and comes off as even dumber when Sam later mentions that the team learned on the school's computers that the only way to defeat Shaw was to overload him.

    Good point.

    For whatever reason, I always enjoy weird permutations like that.

    Me too.

    Also, Shaw just speed-walking away in a wide shot after the vote is taken is hilarious.

    I love that. Like, they all arrived there via Magneto - how is Shaw getting home (wherever that is, if not the Hellfire Club itself)? Is he going to take a bus? Find a payphone? Just walk far enough away from the rest of the Inner Circle for dramatic effect before pulling out a high tech doohicky and calling a Club Goon to come pick him up?

    Is there popular opinion and/or common knowledge among X-fans that Claremont trusted Simonson to deal with these characters since she was now shouldering the burden of at least three-fifths of the Marvel mutant franchise, that he had no interest in them at this point because he was steering the flagship title in new directions and so didn't really care what she did, or that editorial had a preference for Magneto taking this turn and that it was easier to get Simonson to make the move than argue with Claremont?

    I can't say for sure. Given the way Claremont will soon have Magneto very offhandedly hand-wave away most of what Simonson has him saying in this issue and then later outright ignore it, I'm guessing it was a case of editorial (in the X-office or elsewhere) wanting the change to happen, and then going to Simonson to carry out thinking she'd be more amenable to doing it. Heck, it may have even been a case of them arguing that even if Claremont *wanted* to do it, Simonson was the one writing the book featuring the character nowadays.

    But that's all just speculation on my part. I've not read anything from anyone involved either way, and I've never really gotten a sense if the fandom at large has a preferred explanation for how it went down.

    One look at her in that G-string and it's rather obvious Nova Roma isn't her only preoccupation with Brazilians.

    *rimshot*

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  18. And here's the kicker: despite much being made about the new stats quo of the Hellfire club and Shaw getting kicked out, Magneto never appears with the Hellfire Club again. I mean you'd think that now that Magneto is a "bad guy" there would be even MORE interaction with the villainous Hellfire Club. But no, after all this build-up this plotline is simply dropped like a stone by all the x-writers. The only time it'll even be referenced is in an issue of Captain America.

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  19. Not so! He and Emma appear chairing a meeting of the HC at the end of a Marvel Comics Presents story (with a bunch of faceless and never identified other members) wherein the Hulk (grey version) boinks Selene. I kid you not.

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  20. "But man, I don't know if it's the state of John Byrne's pencils in '89 or McLeod's inks to blame, but I could barely recognise his work. It looks pretty rough to me - but par for the course in the title lately."

    My favorite period of Byrne art was from about 1978-82. His X-Men work is amazing and I can see why he was a fan-favorite.

    But after leaving the X-Men and writing and drawing the FF and doing double duty on many more books I could tell he was getting stretched thin. What drew me to his work the most was the line quality, which was thin and delicate yet powerful all at the same time. But after about 1986 it just got really loose and thick and killed the energy for me.

    Of course, this blame could also be put on his inkers. Like Jack Kirby, John Byrne's art was HIGHLY affected by whoever inked him. Terry Austin was my favorite of his inkers, and I have no doubt that Austin's inking style was what drew me to Byrne's X-Men work.

    And in my opinion, Byrne's worst inker is himself. I've never seen a page or drawing he did that he inked himself that I liked. Inking is more than tracing, it's about light and shadow and line weights. But Byrne's inking is fairly ham-handed and kills the subtleties of his work. I've heard he sometimes inks with Sharpies, and looking at some of his recent work that sounds about right.

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  21. Growing up I always assumed that Sabertooth had been a worthy adversary of Wolverine and the X-Men for years. When I was 8 in 1994 Marvel put out a reprint title called "Sabertooth Classics" that featured some older stories with him (I think the issue I had was from Spider-Man drawn by Rich Buckler).

    But judging from these reviews I guess Sabertooth was a B- or even C-level villain that popped up in the 70's a few times and that was it.

    I find it almost funny in hindsight that this vicious killer who is like the evil equivalent of Wolverine and perhaps even more deadly has, up to this point, been nothing more than a flunky for Mr. Sinister and keeps dying in every appearance. The first hints as to Sabertooth's history with Wolverine will show up around issue 10 of Wolvie's solo series, and I'm assuming that's where Sabertooth starts to be taken seriously.

    I've also heard that the Sabertooth we've seen in the X-Men so far is only a clone, while the real Sabertooth is somewhere else. I've also heard that if Sabertooth appears and he's a badass, then it's the real Sabertooth. If he shows up and gets his ass kicked like a chump, he's a clone. It's a bit like trying to figure out if a Dr. Doom appearance was the real guy or just a Doombot.

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  22. "I've also heard that the Sabertooth we've seen in the X-Men so far is only a clone, while the real Sabertooth is somewhere else. I've also heard that if Sabertooth appears and he's a badass, then it's the real Sabertooth. If he shows up and gets his ass kicked like a chump, he's a clone. It's a bit like trying to figure out if a Dr. Doom appearance was the real guy or just a Doombot."
    That was Claremont's plan but it never became canon.

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  23. @Ian: // Growing up I always assumed that Sabertooth had been a worthy adversary of Wolverine and the X-Men for years. //

    As we've discussed here before, not that I can point you to specific posts, Sabretooth loomed large in X-Men mythology in part thanks to interviews with the creators — and fan discussion surrounding them — raising the possibility of him being Wolverine's father. I too have been surprised that Mutant Massacre and following, stuff I'm reading for the first time now, doesn't have any more Sabretooth (in terms of both frequency and depth) than the classic stories I read. Even after dropping Uncanny, I bought the first couple years or so of Classic X-Men since my early issues were spotty or beat up and because the interstitial/backup material was neat, and I recall assuming from the short tale of Wolverine being stalked by Sabretooth on his birthday that some forward progress on their relationship was finally being made in the parent series.

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  24. Jonathan Washington: And here's the kicker: despite much being made about the new stats quo of the Hellfire club and Shaw getting kicked out, Magneto never appears with the Hellfire Club again. I mean you'd think that now that Magneto is a "bad guy" there would be even MORE interaction with the villainous Hellfire Club. But no, after all this build-up this plotline is simply dropped like a stone by all the x-writers. The only time it'll even be referenced is in an issue of Captain America.

    X-writers, yes, but I was just eyeing my early 90's Spidey books and there on the Spidey's take on Acts of Vengeance the guest villain for Spidey is none other than Sebastian Shaw, who mentions being offered by the prime movers to have the Inner Circle removed from his way by them in exchange for Shaw taking care of Spidey for them. Which he tries by first hiring Grey Hulk to do it and, that failing, releases the Sentiles who merge into Tri-Sentinel.

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  25. D'uh, half-baked my comment there. Magneto was one of those primer movers, that is, and Shaw makes explicit notion of the relationship between them, namely that Mags deliberately set Shaw after Spidey thinking Shaw would fail to pull it off.

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  26. Technically I don't think Shaw really sends the Tri-Sentinel after Spider-Man. As I recall, he's just touring a Sentinel plant when Loki merges the three robots together as a "parting gift" to the heroes who beat him. The Tri-Sentinel rampages out of the factory and Spider-Man fights it, fulfilling the reason he was granted the Uni-Power. Shaw's role in the story is minimal.

    He definitely does, however, play an active role in hiring the Hulk to take out Spider-Man.

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  27. Yes, well, I was speedily skimming the issues during time which I should rather have used to get some eye-shut prior my up-coming night shift, and anyway I was distracted and shocked by Acts-of-Vengeance Magneto not having the cute little 'M' on his costume.

    Your point about Loki and his motivation for doing it is valid, of course. Especially so as as crossovers go, I find myself having great affinity for Acts of Vengeance and its whole setup and execution and expect an enormous amount of fun to being had when the Mandarin arc of Uncanny is to be X-amined.

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