Wednesday, October 8, 2014
X-amining Uncanny X-Men #246
In a Nutshell
Master Mold returns, and ends up targeting Rogue.
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Beneath the X-Men's town, Dazzler gazes into the Siege Perilous, seeing images of her potential lives and deaths. In New York City, Nimrod busts up a drug deal, vaporizing the criminals. Back in Australia, Wolverine tells Storm he needs to take a leave of absence from the team. In Washington DC, Rogue, with Carol Danvers in control of her body, visits the Vietnam Veterans memorial, honoring her brother. In the desert just outside the X-Men's town, Havok, Longshot, Colossus and Dazzler train. At the Hellfire Club, Sebastian Shaw meets with Robert Kelly, who tells Shaw resurrecting the Sentinel program is too risky. Downtown from the club, Carol retrieves some of her things from her old apartment, and is met by Psylocke. The pair discuss Carol and Rogue's unique situation.
Further downtown, Nimrod is working in his secret identity as a construction worker and comes across a piece of Master Mold, which manages to co-opt Nimrod's systems and rebuild himself using construction material, then sets about exterminating humanity, the progenitor of mutants. Psylocke directs Carol to Master Mold, who knocks her into a car carrying Senator Kelly and his wife Sharon. Back in control of her body, Rogue manages to help Sharon and and the Senator escape, but is trapped in the wreckage of the car. Sharon goes back to help her as Master Mold zeroes in on the car. Sharon is caught in the ensuing blast, which frees Rogue but leaves her weakened and in Master Mold's sights.
Firsts and Other Notables
This issue kicks off an unofficial story arc which will find Claremont slowly dismantling the team over the course of the next half dozen issues, writing some characters out, killing some others, and sending the rest through the Siege Perilous, and then reposition the series to focus on supporting characters or the remaining X-Men's adventures without a formal team. I've seen the story referred to as both "Dissolution and Rebirth" and "The Shattered Star"; I prefer the former (it's the title I first encountered) but I'll be labeling these issues with both names.
The first victim to be written off the team as part of the storyline is, surprisingly, Wolverine, as not for the first time, he takes a leave of absence as of this issue, and we won't see him in the pages of X-Men again until issue #251, at which point the team will no longer exist. As with the previous instance (during the mid 180s and early 190s), this is an astonishing nod to continuity on Claremont's part, as he's effectively writing his money-making character out of the book in an effort to create a chronological window during which the events of Wolverine's solo series can take place. a consideration no writer nowadays would give (or be allowed to give) any thought (of course, it also works into Claremont's larger plans for the series as well, as it makes less narrative sense for the team to split up if Wolverine is still around).
Hey guys, remember Nimrod? And how he had sort of accidentally positioned himself into becoming something of a vigilante for the average man on the street? Well, he's back this issue, still doing his vigilante thing, though his system is ultimately co-opted by Master Mold and he ceases to physically exist, though his programming lingers. More on his fate next issue.
Master Mold, last seen being blown up over Scotland in Cyclops' Marvel Comics Presents serial, returns as well, after Nimrod encounters a stray piece of the older Sentinel left behind from the events of Power Pack #36 (which technically makes this a slightly different Master Mold than the one Cyclops battled, though his ability to rebuild himself from the smallest piece makes the distinction effectively moot).
Master Mold mentions the Twelve, the first such reference in Uncanny X-Men, though Claremont won't ever really add much to that storyline.
Hey guys, remember the Siege Perilous? Claremont reintroduces it here after not really doing much with it since the X-Men received it in issue #229, and it will feature heavily in the break-up of the team. To that end, the opening pages of this issue find Dazzler gazing into the Siege Perilous and receiving a vision of her apparent death. Reportedly, Claremont had plans to kill the character as part of the X-Men's dissolution, but backed away from that idea at the last minute and instead sends the character through the Siege Perilous along with her remaining teammates. Hence, the hint in this issue ultimately goes nowhere (though, I suppose, you could argue that Dazzler as we know her dies when she merges from the Siege a different person, though she eventually returns to normal).
Senator Robert Kelly pops up in this issue, and we learn he's recently gotten married to a woman named Sharon, a former Hellfire Club waitress, who is making her first appearance.
The Statement of Ownership lists the average number of copies sold during the preceding 12 months as 432,745, with the actual number sold of the issue nearest to filing date as 392,750, compared to 430,158 and 460,011 in the last Statement.
The Chronology Corner
After this issue, Wolverine next appears in issue 19-23 of his solo series, as well as Captain America #363, before returning in issue #251.
A Work in Progress
Wolverine pokes fun at the depiction of his hair in the Meltdown limited series, styling his hair wings to resemble the longer, more pointed style from that story. We also see his patch from when he's acting as Patch in his solo series.
Without fanfare or explanation, Carol is back in control of Rogue's body as this issue opens, and even dons an old Ms. Marvel costume in the course of the story.
The X-Men are seen training in the Outback, since they have no Danger Room in Australia.
Senator Kelly and Sebastian Shaw (still seemingly a leading member of the Hellfire Club even though he's been ousted from the Inner Circle as of New Mutants #75) discuss the reopening of the Sentinel program, with Shaw ironically arguing for a Sentinel which is, essentially, Nimrod, despite the fact that Nimrod's attack on the club led to the death of Leland and nearly Shaw himself.
Carol mentions Psylocke's affinity for skiing, a reference to Captain Britain's solo series, where she was said to be a championship skier.
Master Mold's reads Rogue as a "nonexistent entity", and chalks up his inability to detect her as a possible malfunction caused by his integration with Nimrod.
Rogue's figure on the cover of this issue seems especially porn-y.
There's a house ad for the Asgardian Wars trade paperback, still one of the best collections out there.
It's in the Mail
The letter column is back, running letters discussing the pre-"Inferno" Genosha story. One letter writer questions the X-Men being okay with Maddie and Havok shacking up; the response says that Maddie was using her telepahy to subtlely influence the team, making it acceptable to them.
After a pair of standalone issues with a comedic bent and a mostly forgettable annual, this issue kicks off the book's first post-"Inferno" storyline. Of course, that storyline will find Claremont at his most experimental, as it culminates in a new status quo for the series in which the team as we know it no longer exists. But that atypical ending isn't telegraphed by its start, at least, as this issue reads like one of the most traditional issues of the series seen in years: the X-Men are training, or musing on their fate, or having heart-to-hearts with each other, there's superhero action set in New York City, and Master Mold, one of the series' oldest and most overtly metaphorical villains, returns to cause trouble. The only direct hint at the upcoming shakeup (Dazzler's visions aside) is the writing out of Wolverine, but while such a move would be unprecedented nowadays, this also isn't the first time Claremont's done it. With the dust settled following the relocation to Australia and the table-clearing that came about via "Inferno", Claremont is once again poised to kickoff a new era for the series. But despite the back-to-basics feel of this issue, that era will ultimately be one the series' strangest and most unique.
Tomorrow, there's strange things afoot in New Mutants #77, followed by more trolls (and more Art Adams) in X-Factor #42. Next week, Wolverine gets drawn by Jim Lee in Punisher War Journal #6 & 7.