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Thursday, April 23, 2015

X-amining Excalibur #21

"Crusader X"
April 1990

In a Nutshell
Crusader X investigates the arrival of Excalibur to his world, while the Shadow King attempts to corrupt Jean Grey.

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Chris Wozniak
Inker: Al Milgrom
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Brad Vancata
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Lord of All He Surveys: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Chris Claremont & Alan Davis

Plot
Crusader X, along with WHO, investigates the sudden appearance of a strange train. He is more curious than anything, but Inspector Thomas becomes concerned when they discover a picture of Nightcrawler, one of Imperial Prussia's top agents, in the train, so Crusader X agrees to use his power to track down Nightcrawler. On a different Earth, Kitty Pryde wakes up in Captain Britain's home to find Courtney Ross tending to her, and Kitty laments having lost another set of teammates. Back on the other Earth, Jean Grey experiences a vision created by Mastermind of herself becoming the Hellfire Club's Shadow Queen, which is detected by Phoenix, preventing Mastermind's corruption of Jean. At the Hellfire Club, Amahl Farouk, the club's Shadow King, punishes Mastermind for his failure, then meets with Tony Stark.


On Excalibur's Earth, the crime lord Vixen meets with Nigel Frobisher and Jamie Braddock, who transforms Vixen into a fox and Nigel into Vixen. On the other Earth, Jean Grey meets with Professor X just as Shadow King attempts to corrupt her. But Jean fights back, endangering her life, and Phoenix senses her struggle, telling Nightcrawler they need to help her just as Crusader X locates the pair. As Phoenix, caught up in her emotions, flies off, Nightcrawler battles Crusader X, but is knocked out and taken away. Later, Meggan, Captain Britain and Alistair come across the scene of the battle. Meggan is able to track their teammates, and insists they go after Nightcrawler, as Phoenix can take care of herself. Elsewhere, Phoenix comforts the dying Jean Grey, and after she passes, Phoenix declares there will be a reckoning for what the Hellfire Club as done to her, life for a life.

Firsts and Other Notables
On the latest world Excalibur visits, the Shadow King is shown to be the real power behind the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle (hence his name), an idea Claremont was presumably going to explore further by establishing the same thing holds true in Excalibur's home reality, though he'll only ever get around to hinting at the idea, here and in a few other places.


Vixen, the crime lord who appeared previously in Captain Britain's solo series and briefly in issues #2 and #3 of this series, pops up again. She is targeted by Sat-yr-9 via Nigel Frobisher and Jamie Braddock, who uses his power to transform Nigel into Vixen and Vixen into a fox. Fox Vixen will appear once more, then never again, and is presumably still a fox.


Kitty casually mentions that her parents are in the Witness Protection Program in this issue, the first mention of that fact as far as I know. Presumably, this is a result of her father's decision to work against the Yakuza at the end of the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine limited series.


In a nice moment of accidental foreshadowing, one of the teachers of the New Mutants on this alternate world is Banshee, who will eventually become the headmaster of Xavier's school and lead the first group of post-New Mutants students, Generation X, in Generation X.


Chris Claremont is back this issue, making this the first X-Book he's written to feature a fill-in writer at some point. He's joined by the latest in the revolving door of artists, Chris Wozniak. The cover is an homage to the first issue of this series. 

A Work in Progress
Even though it's an alternate reality WHO, this issue presents a straight-forward explanation for what WHO is and what it does.


Crusader X has the ability to track people via their auras; I don't believe this is a power our Captain Britain has ever exhibited, but maybe it's a nod to something in his solo series.


Tony Stark is an evil member of the Hellfire Club in this reality. 

Faced with Crusader X, Nightcrawler ponders if things like individual basic looks and combat styles are universal constants.


A footnote refers to the events of issue #19 as having happened last issue; presumably, last issue's fill-in was very last minute. Another references the events of issue #6 as having occurred in issue #7.

The Grim 'n' Gritty 90s
As we've often joked when characters fall unconscious in one scene, then wake up dressed in different clothes in another, when Kitty awakens to find Fake Courtney Ross attending to her wearing different clothes than she fell asleep in, she realizes Fake Courtney must have undressed and dressed her.


Claremontisms
Even Alt-Cannonball feels the need to remind everyone he's "nigh-invulnerable" while blasting.


Shadow King attempts to take control of Jean Grey, "body and soul".


Like a Phoenix, From the Ashes
The Jean Grey of this alternate world is being corrupted by Mastermind as well, only he intends to make her the Shadow Queen of the Hellfire Club, rather than it's Black Queen. 


Teebore's Take
Chris Claremont returns, bringing with him the resumption of the "Cross-Time Caper" and a modicum of quality to the book. In terms of the story, this isn't half bad: the Cross-Time elements are handled well, unfolding the plot at first from the perspective of the alternate characters who are suddenly dealing with a random train and strange doppelgangers showing up on their turf, which is a refreshing take on the usual "Excalibur lands on a new world, tries to make sense of it, shenanigans ensue" routine. Meanwhile, the Jamie Braddock/Nigel Frobisher/Fake Courtney Ross/Vixen material, the closest thing the series has to an ongoing subplot at this point, gets advanced a bit, and there's some interesting stuff to be minded from the idea of Kitty believing she's lost another group of teammates for good (even if we know full well that's not the case). Of course, all of this is undercut pretty severely by the lack of Alan Davis or, really, even a halfway decent artist. Chris Wozniak is far from the worst artist that's worked on the series yet (his biggest problem in this issue is inconsistency, his work sometimes awful, sometimes a passable Art Adams impersonation, even sometimes a seeming JRjr impersonation), but he's also far from the best, so as with issue #18, an otherwise promising chapter in this neverending story is once again undercut by some really lackluster art.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Wolverine battles Spore in Wolverine #23. Next week, Uncanny X-Men #261 and New Mutants #89.

Collected Edition


45 comments:

  1. "In a nice moment of accidental foreshadowing, one of the teachers of the New Mutants on this alternate world is Banshee, who will eventually become the headmaster of Xavier's school and lead the first group of post-New Mutants students, Generation X, in Generation X."

    This "foreshadowing" also shows up again during "Days of Future, Present".

    "I don't believe this is a power our Captain Britain has ever exhibited"

    Some Captain Britains have been known to have extra powers and/or weapons, so not too off model.

    "Tony Stark is an evil member of the Hellfire Club in this reality."

    Tony Stark? Evil? What a truly madcap world this is.

    Ok, in all fairness, I guess back then it would have been something of a novelty.

    "Shadow King attempts to take control of Jean Grey, "body and soul"."

    Forever!

    "Of course, all of this is undercut pretty severely by the lack of Alan Davis or, really, even a halfway decent artist"

    Too bad Rick Leonardi wasn't doing more fill-ins here. Or even Ron Lim. Would have read as a much better story I think had either of them been doing the art.


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  2. @Teebore: Vixen actually appeared in Excalibur #2 and #3 by Claremont!

    It's revealed here that the Shadow King is a "multiversal singularity", as Rachel Grey is in #16, and he also went on to reveal Mojo as one.

    Pretty sure Brian helped Douglock track Karma's siblings, etc. when he was reverted to childhood by Mojo in New Mutants Annual #2!?

    @wwk5d: The foreshadowing in the Days of Future Present occurred in Louise Simonson's New Mutants Annual.

    Re: Tony Stark, this was the first time I twigged how Iron Man's armour was so similar to the Sentinels. Did Claremont have plans this far back to reveal Tony as related to the Trasks?

    The first hint that Mastermind's earlier amped up powers might not have been due to Emma Frost's mind-tap machine, but rather the Shadow King!

    I seem to recall Amahl Farouk having a similar complexion to Mojo when he attempts to take control of Jean "body and soul" in this issue!? Hmmm…

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  3. "The foreshadowing in the Days of Future Present occurred in Louise Simonson's New Mutants Annual."

    I know.

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  4. Vixen, the crime lord who appeared previously in Captain Britain's solo series and was mentioned earlier in this series, appears in Excalibur for the first time.

    Wasn't she shown hunting Colin and releasing Juggernaut in the very first issues? Also, isn't the turning her into a fox bit pretty much verbatim from Alan Moore's CAPTAIN BRITAIN run? Jamie pretty much reads like an ersatz Jimbo for his Jim Jaspers all around.

    So yeah, I got the original issue (and the unconnected previous one) but none of the previous parts, and I was twelve, and not at all capable in English, and damn if I didn't have some deciphering to do to make any sense of this all.

    The art works for me though. In sort of Ron Lim on drugs sort of way.

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  5. @wwk5d: Would have read as a much better story I think had either of them been doing the art.

    Definitely. I'd prefer Leonardi, but Lim would be an improvement as well.

    @Nathan: Vixen actually appeared in Excalibur #2 and #3 by Claremont!

    Ah, right. Chasing Colin and freeing Juggernaut. I'd forgotten. I updated the post, thanks.

    It's revealed here that the Shadow King is a "multiversal singularity", as Rachel Grey is in #1

    Is that revealed here? I don't recall anything in the text making that clear.

    Pretty sure Brian helped Douglock track Karma's siblings, etc. when he was reverted to childhood by Mojo in New Mutants Annual #2!?

    It doesn't ring a bell for me, but could be. I'd have to go back and double check.

    seem to recall Amahl Farouk having a similar complexion to Mojo when he attempts to take control of Jean "body and soul" in this issue!? Hmmm…

    A little bit, I suppose, though Farouk in that panel is transitioning out of, if anything, a form a bit like the Warwolves. Also, even if Claremont did intend a connection between Farouk and Mojo, it's doubtful this panel would be anything more than a bit of coincidental foreshadowing (like Banshee training the New Mutants), as writers rarely gave specific instructions to the colorists, and I doubt that he and Wozniak, a fill-in artist, had enough of a rapport that Claremont would have asked him to help draw Farouk in a way to setup that later connection.

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  6. Nathan: Did Claremont have plans this far back to reveal Tony as related to the Trasks?

    They have put an extra spin on the old 'Alucard' trick
    and mixed the letters in 'Stark' altogether?

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  7. @Nathan: Did Claremont have plans this far back to reveal Tony as related to the Trasks?

    I think he did something with that idea in X-MEN FOREVER. At least, I remember that Stark was involved in that book with Sentinels in some way.

    @Teemu: Also, isn't the turning her into a fox bit pretty much verbatim from Alan Moore's CAPTAIN BRITAIN run? Jamie pretty much reads like an ersatz Jimbo for his Jim Jaspers all around.

    Yeah, Mad Jim did the same thing and yeah, thus far Jamie seems very much like a "you won't let me play with Jim Jaspers? Fine, I'll make my own!" kind of character.

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  8. "Pretty sure Brian helped Douglock track Karma's siblings, etc. when he was reverted to childhood by Mojo in New Mutants Annual #2!?"

    The only tracking Brian does is at the beginning of the story, when he is an adult, after Psylocke has been kidnapped by Mojo and Spiral. It takes him months to track her down, and when he does get close, he is ambushed and then turned him into a child (off-panel).

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  9. "I think he did something with that idea in X-MEN FOREVER. At least, I remember that Stark was involved in that book with Sentinels in some way."

    he was involved with the Consortium (as a double agent, or at least gets a change of heart later), but I don't he was related to the Trasks.

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  10. @Teemu: Yes she was shown after Colin and at Crossmoor prison (both incidents were more dropped threads from Claremont's run). And yes re: the fox, after all she was created by Moore;)

    Whoever the colourist was on these and earlier issues (i.e. Madripoor Knights) was a bit to psychedelic with their palette! I recall my eyes being assaulted;)

    I’m not familiar with the Alucard ref, sorry.

    @Teebore: Re: MS, I'll check the specific text when I get to my notes tonight:) And if appearing more Warwolf shifting, that’s still Mojoworld;)

    I could see the possibility of a Mojo-Shadow King connection, and I actually like it more than the Shadow King being behind the Hellfire Club. The Hellfire Club had too many hidden manipulators and factions and reinventings to be under the control of one villain IMHO. Mojoworld has never been properly explained, but appears to have much to do with perception, belief, and worship. Plus, Ann Nocenti had intended to reveal Mojo as behind the Gladiators during her Beauty & the Beast miniseries, but had to change her intent at the last minute.

    @wwk5d: I still want to know what Claremont planned with Harry Delgado in his last issues of X-Men, and if the Consortium was planned as part of that dropped thread.

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  11. Mojo and the Shadow King are 2 concepts that don't mix well together, and I'm glad CC never really trued to link them.

    I doubt Delgado had anything to do with the Consortium. The consortium was never in any of CC's original plans had he stayed on Uncanny, it just seems like something he came up with for X-men Forever.

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  12. @wwk5d: He claims he had the "mutant burnout" plot planned before his original exodus, so we can't really be sure whether the Consortium wasn't also planned back then.

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  13. re: Crusader X's tracking abilities -- I don't have this issue on hand, so maybe there's something in it that contradicts this, but I wonder if Crusader X is meant to be Thunderbird, with extra Captain Britain Corps bonus powers? He's clearly meant to be of Native American ethnicity, the tracking powers kind of square up, and it would be like Claremont to make sure he's a character we've seen before.

    I actually like this arc a lot, despite the art. Once you figure out what's going on in this universe -- something that took an embarrassingly long time to reveal itself to me -- the world is really interesting and mostly well-constructed. And the idea that the Shadow King may have been behind the Hellfire Club/Dark Phoenix makes so much sense that it's *almost* possible to imagine it's not a total retcon.

    One mystery that I've never been able to solve is why Archangel is a woman in this universe -- it seems like a character's physical sex would remain constant across parallel worlds. So is this a totally different character from the 616 Archangel? Is this Archangel meant to be transgender? Is the answer revealed in some way that I've never noticed?

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  14. @Nathan, when Dracula or some underling feels like being sneaky, he spells his name backwards. Especially I have to mention the Hammer Studios film Dracula A.D. 1972, where Peter Cushing really drives in the connection between the names of D himself and his modern-day henchman Johnny Alucard with pencil and paper in one scene.

    Because whatever else Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing did before their Star Wars career, they did a lot of cheesy vampire films. I love how latter was specifically used to bring esteem to the first movie not very long afterwards.

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  15. @Ben, in the opening pages they say Crusader X in civilian identity carries one of the proudest names in the empire, I doubt Proudstar would fit the bill, especially in this world where the colonies are still colonies. Stark here seems to be a descendant of a signer of the Declaration of Independence (who got hanged by King George and seem to be neefing avenging) and acting behind the back of Captain America assumably in the revolutionary shenanigans. Another novelty right the, those two having a falling-off. In short, an awesome world really.

    The Hellfire Club has kind of always had this pre-independence ethos, what with Wyngarde's hallucinations, but I kind of have to question if Claremont wasn't again a bit inspired from Moore's run of Capt Brit and specifically Sebastian Shaw half-jokingly bringing greetings from the colonies to Hellfire Club London.

    The Stuat siblings seem to have had a role revelsal, at least.

    Also, a howler of sort, courtesy of UXM.net:
    Alysande addresses Crusader X, remarking that Thomas still cannot forget that his wife was killed in a superhero battle. Yeah I don't really think it works like that.

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  16. Oh wait. Crusader's "different ethnicity" is commented on the next ish. So maybe Sir James had gone a bit out of what's acceptable to an English gentleman in this world, as far as his momma choice goes. That'll explain the 'nobody would want to be seen with his civilian identity in spite of his name' bit, at least in his own social circles.

    The thing I love in Claremont the most is that sometimes with the alternative universes he really goes all in with the world building only to see it all burned through in two short issues, throwing in concepts just for the background that other people would milk at least a miniseries straight out of, by the name of X-Men: Hellfire Club. Ditto with the Kulan Gath story.

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  17. "He claims he had the "mutant burnout" plot planned before his original exodus, so we can't really be sure whether the Consortium wasn't also planned back then"

    I've never seen one interview claiming that. And I've read quite a few articles detailing his plans - Wolverine dying and coming back as a Hand Assassin, the original Muir Island Saga with the Shadow King and the final confrontation with the Reavers, Professor X dying and Magneto and/or Gateway becoming the new mentor, etc - and never once does he bring up Burnout.

    He might have been saying that to cover his ass in some interviews once X-men Forever was being published, but given all the interviews he had given before and not one mentioned Burnout and/or the Consortium, I really don't think it was one of his original plans.

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  18. @wwk5d: I'm bound to agree with you on that, but I'd leave a small caveat that Claremont may not necessarily have chosen to open up the sort of plot directions he yet one day might be exploring as an X-Men writer. The window to do UNCANNY #300 the way he meant to was closed so there was no reason to keep cards closed on that one. Regarding Wolverine, didn't he say he might have some stuff he would do should he find himself in the position to be the writer and very specifically didn't disclose what those things might be.

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  19. The stuff CC was referring to regarding Wolverine was stuff about his past. He did have clear and concise plans regarding Wolverine's future storylines, and discussed them at length.

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  20. wwk5d: Re: CC's plans for Wolverine, where and when did he discuss (other than the Dark Wolverine Saga)?

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  21. CC's plans for Dark Wolverine were pretty specific and somewhat contradictory at times. Besides dying and coming back as a brainwashed agent of the Hand a while later, there was also a final confrontation with Lady Deathstrike where they both die with him getting his heart ripped out but he comes back from the dead later, Woverine getting his claws ripped out of his hands by Colossus, his adamantium at some point being forced out of his body but still covering the body so he'd look like Silver Surfer, once the adamantium skin gets removed he either has the same claws he had before but bone now or he has claws like Sabretooth but can extend them like lady Deathstrike but they are still bone...

    Whew.

    Those plans would have made it near impossible for another writer to keep the Wolverine solo title unless that writer was being kept up to date daily by CC, or of CC himself was writing the title.

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  22. @Teemu

    If "proudest names" is the exact phrasing used, it seems to me like a sly indication that it IS Thunderbird, considering that his real name is John Proudstar.

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  23. The Starks and the Trasks are definitely related in X-Men Forever. Mos def. They're cousins or something.

    I'm surprised this is the first reference to Kitty's parents being in Witness Protection, but I confess I don't recall an earlier one.

    Jamie is the new Jaspers, again, mos def.

    Apart from the subplot pages with Kitty and with Nigel, I dislike this issue and the next one. Quite a bit. Some of my least favorite Claremont material. (Though it is interesting, how prescient it is with the "Iron Man is a bad guy" stuff.)

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  24. wwk5d: adamantium at some point being forced out of his body but still covering the body so he'd look like Silver Surfer

    Chrome Wolverine would be the most 90's thing ever But, of course, that sort of thing would certainly kill him!

    he either has the same claws he had before but bone now

    Naah, he would be useless with bone claws.

    @Ben: If they didn't give his civilian name in this issue yet, I could see that tease, yes. Also, I'm horrified to think that if they at the Marvel today were facing the Wolverine/Thunderbird redundancy dilemma of '75, it would be Wolverine they would axe before you could say "I'm the best there...".

    @Jason, different strokes I gather, I'm finally on the edge of getting Marvel Unlimited and tilted to that direction specifically because of this story.

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  25. ... though, I'm a bit titillated over the idea of Claremont/Miller limited series where John Proudstar has to go into everything-changing fish-out-of-water adventure to Wall Street and learn the way of a Yuppie in midst of business shenanigans. Oliver Stone could do some samurai film a couple of years later instead.

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  26. It’s interesting that Chris Claremont stated on Comixfan some years ago that his run began with Thunderbird, and it was going to end with Thunderbird. There would be this huge, twenty year space in between of stories minus John Proudstar, but he had this epic in mind, and wanted Thunderbird appearances to be like bookends to his classic run. So interesting that this story foreshadows the Shadow King behind the Hellfire Club, later revealed in Uncanny X-Men #275, and then Proudstar as possible Crusader X candidate here!?

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  27. Teebore: "you won't let me play with Jim Jaspers? Fine, I'll make my own!"

    "He didn't look Freddie Mercury enough to begin with, anyway!"

    But, but, no commentary on Shadow King possibly finding lack of Iron Man's faith... disturbing? Too obvious?

    I have to say it's really something else to go through these titles concurrently, at last. Back in the day we got two on-goings and even they were off-sync about a year, with the Spidey title mixing and matching from the American books also all by itself. For Mutant Massacre I got the X-Factor bits two years later than the Uncanny bits. Seeing now how Claremont does this alt-universe piece just when the Shadow King story is starting to unwind on UNCANNY, it really adds an layer to that story too and with the retcon-y elements doesn't even stop there.

    But, Thunderbird bookends? Claremont was planning on getting out of UNCANNY sometime after #300 then, after twenty or so years? And emptying the pajazzo as he went?

    Well of course Harras would go handing James Proudstar on Liefeld. Pushing even, most likely. "Just take him now!" "No! He's not cool!" "I don't care! You take him! Bulk him up or some shit!"

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  28. @Teemu: The more you revisit these issues you want to disembowel Harras;)

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  29. @Nathan, I thought I had made my peace with it, but to relive it, to see the ills done every bit by bit, with the veil hiding the behind the scenes drawn all the way aside... I hope, I pray I survive the experience.

    So yeah, I went and got Marvel Unlimited then, and I'm kind of seeing why some would choose to be a tad bit critical towards Claremont's verbosity. I notice now I have been somewhat protected by the translators, emphasis on the plural 's', and totally screwed by the editor snipping a page here and there to fit the issues into our books.

    But, Emma Frost. I happened to skim UXM #169, ge one where she went catatonic upon her arrival to the Hellfire Club, bringing a warning to Shaw, just when Pierce, a confirmed Shadow King agent, had gone active on the NM Graphic Novel (... which is not available). Seeing her here beaten and on SK's leash, and Wyngarde as his pawn too, it's hard not to read this as Claremont undangling those developments a bit here.

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  30. In fact, just you try convince me that Claremont isn't currently very much in midst of quite heftily mining from his own UNCANNY #169 to ~#185 and it'll continue all the way to Rogue Redux. Absolutely nothing wrong in that, mind you.

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  31. @Teemu: I'm sure hints of Proudstar here suggests Claremont would incorporate him into the defeat of the Shadow King.

    According to the Marvel Requirer (Volume 1, Number 11, January 1991, page 3) Magneto was supposed to head for Muir Island after leaving the Savage Land to confront the mounting threat of the Shadow King there. Yet we never saw him show up for the Muir Island Saga. Harras was intent to return him to villainy:(

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  32. @Teemu: I also bet when he faced off against the Shadow King on Muir Island, not only would Charles end up dead but Magneto would end up in a wheelchair ready for his portrayal in Days of Future Past.

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  33. As per CC, the final confrontation with the Shadow King would have taken place in Uncanny #300. Charles dies, with Magneto and/or Gateway becoming the new mentor of the X-men.

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  34. @wwk5d: Re: Gateway, interesting he was enslaved by the Shadow King, and that Lila Cheney, another teleporter was earlier sold into slavery!? We did never find out who Claremont intended sold her to intergalactic slavers?

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  35. Gateway wasn't enslaved by the Shadow King.

    Not sure what Lila has to do with this, but yes, CC never got around to explaining who sold her. Then again, it may have been Louise Simonson who introduced that aspect of Lila's character. I have a vague idea that CC introduced the idea that Lila felt the Earth owed her something, but that was just as vague.

    In any case, I'm sure you're going to find some way to tie it to the Shadow King.

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  36. It's weird that every source I've found on this issue lists the letterer as Tom Orzechowski. I'm pretty sure Chris Eliopoulos lettered this, as it's very similar to his lettering style on Uncanny in the early 90's.

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  37. @wwk5d: If you don’t believe Gateway wasn't enslaved by the Shadow King, you need to go back and re-read Uncanny X-Men #253 where he is shown to be shackled on the astral plane outside the saloon that Farouk challenges Forge in.

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  38. @wwk5d: Re: Lila, I meant with regard to her being a teleporter who was previously enslaved, as Gateway is shown to be in #253. And he is likewise a teleporter;)

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  39. @wwk5d: As for Lila, the enslavement aspect of Lila was introduced in New Mutants Annual #1 by Claremont, long before Weezie wrote her in New Mutants. In that Annual she returned to Earth to sell the planet in revenge for Earth selling her to intergalactic slavers years before. As for why Lila was sold in the first place, fans have previously suggested it could be due to her galaxy-spanning teleportation powers. However, in the above annual her “payback” to Earth seemed naïve as all of the planet’s inhabitants weren’t responsible for her being sold. However, her attitude makes sense if she was a child when sold. This would suggest she was sold before her mutant powers manifested, or she would just have escaped immediately. I’d suggest she manifested her long-ranging teleportation powers as an innate response to return to Earth. So she was likely pre-pubescent when she was sold. When she hit puberty, her powers manifested and she easily escaped her captors. Lila's returning to Earth to sell it in revenge for an earthling selling her therefore makes sense if she was sold when she was a child. So it would seem no mutant powers when first sold. So what was her value if not powered? Her potential? How? Claremont provided some clues. She was revealed to have been sold into slavery (from earth to someone in space), escaped and developed into a universe-wide rock and roll star! Yet, she looked to be somewhere between her late teens and early twenties. How could this be? She must have been much older than she seemed to have mastered her powers, learned to play a guitar & sing and develop such a wide following across the galaxy. The only way that could occur is if she didn't age as quickly as normal humans or mutants. But guess what, there's a very good reason for Lila Cheney apparently being ageless! Back in New Mutants #42 by Claremont (when Sam goes home alone) Lila mentions she's been crystal-sculpting on Ballybran. Now, any Anne McCaffrey fans here will recall that the planet Ballybran has among its native flora (or perhaps fauna) a nifty little spore that gives Type VII bipedal humanoids (e.g. homo sapiens) a vastly extended lifespan. You'll note that Lila hasn't mentioned the first time she went to Ballybran. Assuming it's the same Ballybran, of course;) So anyway back to her beginnings, whoever it was on Earth that sold her into intergalactic slavery would seem to have been intended as a powerful person who also had a method of determining her potential. But since her mutant powers hadn’t manifested in response to her stressful situation of being moved from Earth to the far reaches of another galaxy, what was this potential. Given Claremont name-drops Ballybran (which we know he wouldn’t have done without intention), this leads to a further implication, considering the whole "Crystal Singers" thing. If true, she's lucky she didn't get any of the bad side effects from the spore on that planet, as there was a chance a person could lose the ability of certain senses or speech. But also a chance of enhanced abilities so I’d propose her vocal talent is such an enhanced ability, and wouldn't doubt Claremont intended Lila to be a Crystal Singer. If she were sculpting, she'd have to be, I think (I mean, the Crystal Singer guild controlled that, right?). Could even be how she started in music. So if she was sold by someone on Earth, it is likely that they recognised her as a potential "Crystal Singer", but this still leaves the question of what the slavers they sold her to offered this earthling in return? And what were her slave duties? Providing musical entertainment? So the "slave" and "rock star" periods may overlap!?

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  40. @wwk5d: And I’m not quite that transparent re: the Shadow King, surely;)

    I was thinking the slaver he might have intended her sold to as Tullamore Voge, given the recent revelation in Claremont's Nightcrawler series that he was amassing a stockpile of mutant children.

    Or if Lila is a "Crystal Singer" the slaver, Mojo, would surely be able to make significant profit from her, broadcasting her performances across the galaxies!?

    Thoughts commenters?

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  41. One scene does not make a whole theory valid. Granted, if you factor some CC's unused plans for the title, you could fanwank it with enough squinting and a few shots of whiskey. But, since nothing was ever established in cannon about the SK controlling GW, it's hard to say definitively one way of the other.

    It does make this era extremely frustrating, since you can tell CC was dropping lots of potential hints and introducing sub-plots which do seem like they're building up to something. Sadly, that something never got published.

    As for Lila, she wasn't sold before her powers developed. X-factor (1st series) #110 established that her powers were developed while she was a child, and that even her parents eventually learned about it. Plus, she wouldn't have to be that old to become a rock-star, lots of people do get lucky and become stars at a younger age. Of course, with CC, it is hard to determine of something is a throwaway gag or has a deeper meaning which just got no follow-up later on.

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  42. wwk5d: It does make this era extremely frustrating, since you can tell CC was dropping lots of potential hints and introducing sub-plots which do seem like they're building up to something.

    What subplots, could you summarily point to some examples? Some things seem rather to be picked up danglers from pre-#200 Uncanny and other Claremont material from that era. My mentioning it here was kind of an unspoken wish that someone would tell me, perhaps with a quote to back it up, that it was by the editorial encouragement that Claremont was made to address for example the previously unconnected bit of certain KGB official.

    Of course, I'm more than willling, eager even, to wait for my answer until the X-amination of an issue where such a character might pop up. I got the damn Alex Kingston popping forefront on my mind claiming 'spoilers!' enough as it is.

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  43. This article has some juicy gossip...God only knows what was going on behind the scenes at the time:

    http://www.uncannyxmen.net/secrets-behind-the-x-men/the-final-days-of-the-x-men

    Teebore, it would be very interesting to compare some the plans that were mentioned with what we ended up seeing.

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  44. @Teemu: If by KGB official you mean Colonel Alexei Vazhin, see an thread by CC in Classic X-Men #29 and I can mention more if asked:)

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  45. // Letterer: Tom Orzechowski //

    He’s the only letterer credited, as Ian says, but likewise it’s obvious that he only did the first third and someone else picked up from there. I don’t know Chris Eliopoulos’ early work enough to say it’s him; while this looks sloppier than his later work, styles can change vastly over time.

    I liked the opening that sets the stage for this world, narrated by Crusader X. The issue degenerates into a familiarly relentless Cross-Time Caper morass of too much going on, however, at least for my taste. I don’t mind the Kitty interludes, but I’m sorry to say I don’t care about the stuff with Nigel and Vixen — partly because, like some of the stuff taking place on this latest world, it feels like it’s all supposed to connect what with the multiple killed-off Jean Greys and the unique single Rachel/Phoenix and the sense that we’re supposed to carry some kind of knowledge about Jamie Braddock from one incarnation to another yet I’ll be darned if I know what and thus darned if I can really bother caring. Nor does it help that the art is unfortunate, all the more so when the lettering goes south too.

    The casual mention of Kitty’s parents being in WitSec surprised me as well, but I wasn’t sure whether I had forgotten about it or Claremont didn’t remember he hadn’t mentioned it yet.

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