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Thursday, May 7, 2015

X-amining Excalibur #22

"Shadows Triumphant?"
May 1990

In a Nutshell 
Excalibur foils the Shadow King and Iron Man's plot to assassinate the world leaders. 

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Chris Wozniak & Al Milgrom
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Colorist: Brad Vancata
Editor: Terry Kavanaugh
Chief Interrogator: Tom DeFalco
Creators: Chris Claremont & Alan Davis

Plot
Nightcrawler is interrogated by Dai Thomas and a sympathetic Alysande Stuart, who is inclined to believe Nightcrawler's repeated assertion that he is not from their world. Meanwhile, Crusader X visits Xavier's Mansion in the wake of the Shadow King's attack, and learns from Security Chief Cable that they have no idea who is responsible, but that Jean Grey's car was spotted leaving the grounds after the attack, and Crusader X vows to track her down. Outside the Hellfire Club, Rachel recalls her past experiences with the Shadow King in her home reality, and finds herself scared to face him again. On another Earth, Kitty Pryde checks on the Warwolves, still imprisoned in London's zoo. Back on Crusader X's world, Courtney Ross is attacked by a group of muggers and saved by Excalibur, who believe her to be this world's version of Kitty based on their shared appearance.


At the Hellfire Club, the Shadow King presents Tony Stark with a subdued Rachel, while at the Tower of London, Nightcrawler escapes from his cell just as his teammates arrive to rescue him, which leads to a fight between Captain Britain and Crusader X. Meanwhile, Iron Man and Phoenix infiltrate the World Summit with the goal of assassinating the world leaders gathered there, but Phoenix reveals her subservience to be an act, and attacks Iron Man, telepathically alerting the rest of Excalibur to help. Meggan responds, and after Lockheed breaks up the Captain Britain/Crusader X brawl, the rest of the heroes do as well, foiling Stark and the Shadow King's plans. However, no evidence of the Shadow King or any wrongdoing is uncovered by WHO at the Hellfire Club, and Nightcrawler assures a dejected Phoenix that though the villain got away, the good guys still won the day. 

Firsts and Other Notables
Rachel reveals that it was the Hellfire Club who led the attack on the X-Men in the Days of Future Past timeline from which she hails (as seen most dynamically in New Mutants #18), and that they, in turn, were under the control of the Shadow King, something that, for all the play the "Days of Future Past" timeline gets in the years to come, isn't ever really referenced all that much outside of this story.


In her flashback, the Shadow King tells Rachel he's been waiting a long time to meet her, with a footnote pointing us to Excalibur Special Edition #3 and #4 (on sale this summer!) for the explanation to his comment; that story, in a slightly revised form (it takes place in the past of the main 616 universe, not the alternate timeline from which Rachel hails), will actually be told in the True Friends limited series in 1999, with the next Excalibur pseudo-annuals featuring different stories entirely, for reasons of which I'm unaware.


Rachel's flashback also suggests a link between Shadow King and Mojo (in that the former seemingly handed Rachel over to the latter at some point), another plot thread that I don't think gets much traction outside this issue. 


The Courtney Ross of Crusader X's world resembles Kitty, another piece of the larger "Kitty/Courtney Ross/Sat-yr-9 storyline that ultimately goes nowhere.

Cable (albeit an alternate reality counterpart) makes his first appearance outside of New Mutants, as the security chief of the alt X-Men in this story, suggesting that either Claremont was paying attention to New Mutants and already had a feeling that Cable was going to be a big deal, or that someone suggested he used the character here (please note: Bob Harras is not the editor of this series).  


A Work in Progress
Continuing the Stuart gender swap of the previous issue, this world's Archangel is female.


Crusader X is confirmed to be Brian Braddock, though it's suggested in a couple places he is of American Indian descent.

The Reference Section 
The novel Quiet Pools by Michael Kube-McDowell is referenced as something akin to a scientific text/theory (he's a professor on Crusader X's world).

Claremontisms
Shadow King claims he's transformed Jean Grey "body and soul".


Teebore's Take
As with the previous issue, this is another one with a pretty good story let down by average (at best) art. The wrapup to the Crusader X portion of the larger, neverending "Cross-Time Caper", there's some really interesting things in this one. The implication that the Shadow King is at least in part responsible for the dystopia of "Days of Future Past" has ramifications not only for one of the X-Men's all time great stories, but also for the story currently unfolding in Uncanny X-Men (ie if Farouk had a hand in creating the DoFP world, what could his present day counterpart, currently ensconced on Muir Island, do to the X-Men - a question that is probably meant to be read as setup for the then-upcoming but ultimately-aborted "Mutant War" storyline, of which Excalibur was meant to play a larger part). Dropping Excalibur in a world not unlike its own, in terms of having superheroes with a passing familiarity with the tropes of the genre gives us a neat sequence where Nightcrawler and Alt-Alysande Stuart argue that Nightcrawler is in fact from another world, plus we get Lady Archangel and the first acknowledgement of Cable outside of New Mutants. It's just a shame the issue doesn't feature better art.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, fill-in fun in Wolverine #24. Next week, Uncanny X-Men #262 and New Mutants #90.

Collected Edition


34 comments:

  1. Soo... anyone managed to catch that movie where Robert Downey jr was tasked to prevent an assassination plot in a Summit of Victorian era sort of world setup? Shadowy games, we play here.

    Crusader X is confirmed to be Brian Braddock, though it's suggested in a couple places he is of American Indian descent.

    Bran Braddock, I believe. Sir James has been sowing some wild oats among the natives in the colonies, I gather.

    Continuing the Stuart gender swap of the previous issue, this world's Archangel is female.

    Before it was mainstream. This world's Apocalypse really went all in on this one. "Warren!!??"

    Fun bit Cable showing up here. Probably Louise Simonson. Commander X (no relation).

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  2. "Rachel reveals that it was the Hellfire Club who led the attack on the X-Men in the Days of Future Past timeline from which she hails (as seen most dynamically in New Mutants #18), and that they, in turn, were under the control of the Shadow King, something that, for all the play the "Days of Future Past" timeline gets in the years to come, isn't ever really referenced all that much outside of this story."

    Interesting, as they seemed to clearly hint it was the government. Personally, I prefer that over what is suggested here.

    "Rachel's flashback also suggests a link between Shadow King and Mojo (in that the former seemingly handed Rachel over to the latter at some point), another plot thread that I don't think gets much traction outside this issue."

    It could be argued that it isn't really a link, more her jumbled memories subconsciously linking the two. You know CC and his corpulent bloats who like to own people BODY AND SOUL for their own hedonistic and kinky pleasures. And it happened to Rachel twice!

    The Hellfire Club/Shadow King aspect of Rachel's future does get pretty much ignored by future writers. Not that I mind too much.

    "The Courtney Ross of Crusader X's world resembles Kitty, another piece of the larger "Kitty/Courtney Ross/Sat-yr-9 storyline that ultimately goes nowhere."

    Why would CC introduce this anyway, since we already established our world had a (now dead) Courtney Ross?

    "It's just a shame the issue doesn't feature better art."

    Yeah. Imagine if Leonardi had done this story instead. Or, imagine, if Davis had stayed around...

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  3. Rachel recalling her past experiences with the Shadow King would seem to suggest he was around at the time of her transmodation into a Hound, wouldn't it?

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  4. wwk5d: Interesting, as they seemed to clearly hint it was the government. Personally, I prefer that over what is suggested here.

    Government-mandated assault, but executed by the mercenary forces of Shaw Industries is my take out of it. It kind of would have to be, really, because I doubt even on DoFP timeline they could use official military for an assault on the American soil.

    The Hellfire Club did the pretty similar Sentinel assault to X-Mansion on our timeline in UNCANNY #152, and Shaw of course in any case has his tentacles very deeply in the Project: Wideawake. Let's not forget Project: Nimrod is also one of his, at least on our timeline, and residue from Kate's and Rachel's infiltration there is already among us on EXCALIBUR.

    Rachel's memories here may be somewhat symbolic, and the hound bit may have not have been quite so Hellfire Club oriented in reality but they (=Shaw) have been behind it too in the larger sense of things.

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  5. "It kind of would have to be, really, because I doubt even on DoFP timeline they could use official military for an assault on the American soil."

    Given how much a fascist and totalitarian government that ends up ruling in DOFP (even before the Sentinel takeover) it wouldn't be that farfetched.

    "The Hellfire Club did the pretty similar Sentinel assault to X-Mansion on our timeline in UNCANNY #152"

    Somewhat. They definitely weren't sanctioned by the government, and it did seem like they were out to capture, not kill, the X-men.

    It's too bad CC never got around to fully revamping and retconning things to retrofit his vision of the Shadow King/hellfire Club/Hounds. We just get some hints and some dialogue thrown around here and there. In retrospect, this is a (frustratingly) interesting era of the mutant titles as a whole.

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  6. Re:the discrepancy between the X-men of Rachel's future being killed by the Hellfire Club vs them being killed by the government- that never bothered me. Emma and the Shadow King are both telepaths- they could have easily mind controlled a general into obeying them.
    Rachel being unable to defeat the alternate Iron Man because his armor was automated never made sense to me. Rachel was able to change Kitty's clothes as a prank in Excalibur 6- why couldn't she just change the armor into feathers or something?
    I also didn't like how easily Meggan was defeated considering how powerful she is- I guess she was caught off guard?
    Re:Courtney/Kitty- Alan Davis didn't know what Claremont intended, so he had Sat-yr-9 explain that she wanted Kitty as her heir. Of course, that doesn't explain why alternate Courtney physically resembled Kitty.
    Why were the bigots attacking alternate Courtney, anyway? Because she was dating alternate-Brian, who's only half-human?

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  7. Anonymous: Why were the bigots attacking alternate Courtney, anyway? Because she was dating alternate-Brian, who's only half-human?

    Because she's dating Bran, whose ethnicity isn't to their liking. "Wog", did they call him.

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  8. "Red-skinned woggy", to quote exactly, is the phrase used by the harassers.

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  9. Other than that, I don't get what you guys have against the art. Is at least a part of it a memory from past days and the hurt of seeing Alan Davis replaced ? I kind of perversedly like those open white mouths.

    And, for a non-essential two-parted, the story certainly seems to have been strip-mined by the later generations of creators with the colonial Avengers vs. the Hellfire Club, evil Iron Man rifting from "his dearest friend" Cap America (which I read as 'leman' said in other words, and seeing how things have gone lately Marvel might be outing that pair too soon enough), all the way to the non-white Captain Insert-Country-Here.

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  10. I didn't remember that Crusader X was identified as Bran Braddock. Weird. Put together with the other clues about his ethnicity, does that mean he's meant to be a Brian counterpart with different lineage? That doesn't seem to me to be the way that alternate universes work. (If you have different parents, wouldn't you just be an entirely different person?)

    The Courtney/Saturnyne/Kitty thing is one of Claremont's weirdest and most headscratchy flights of fancy to me -- and he does keep coming back to it in various ways. As someone said above: Saturnyne already has a 616 counterpart-- Courtney. Furthermore, Kitty looks nothing like Courtney OR Saturnyne. I suppose I could sort of buy that Kitty is meant to be some kind of successor to Saturnyne, or has some kind of cosmic connection to the various Saturnyne counterparts, but that doesn't begin to explain why she would be physically mistaken for them. She looks nothing like them! (Especially since it's repeatedly emphasized that Courtney Ross's insane platinum hair color is natural.)

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  11. But hey dudes. Go check UNCANNY #189 (Rachel and Amara fight Selen one) and specifically the splash on page 16 where Rachel is as a hound cooking in some hellish fires and wearing a costume that's something from between a Hellfire Club look and Dark Phoenix. Mental adjustment for her peccadillo as Hellfire Club's captive here now or throw-back symbolicque memories from her days as a hound in the future past?

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  12. Claremont was planning to have Kitty become the next Omniversal Majestrix, and this would be why Sat-yr-9 took such an interest in her.

    In Back Issue #4 Claremont reveals that Wolverine's mentorship of Kitty was part of a larger, panoramic tapestry that X-Men: True Friends would have put into a lot more of a context had it been released when he originally intended. He explained that the whole relationship between Kitty and Logan (Wolverine) to be more complicated and far-reaching than had been suspected up until that point. That is, Kitty was someone that CC intended Logan to have taken under his wing because he knew things about her that she doesn’t know, a linkage between them that goes back well before she was born. He intended Logan to have been thinking about Kitty since the 1930s, and that the fact that the X-Men went to Deerfield in X-Men #129 (1980) was not an accident. That is, Claremont revealed he intended Charley had not, as believed, used Cerebro, but that it was Wolverine’s idea to go seek her out and Xavier followed it up due to Wolvie whispering something in his ear. Hence she became part of the team because Wolverine set it up. Did Otherworld become aware that the Shadow King had corrupted Carmen so he could get his clutches into Kitty to groom her to become Sat-Yr-9 (explaining Sat-Yr-9 becoming White Queen of the Hellfire Club when masquerading as Courtney Ross), so they, through cover company, LL&L, recruit Wolverine as an agent to prevent these plans? Was the plot where Ogun brainwashed Kitty to become a ninja another step toward this corruption when you consider she adopted the codename SHADOWcat thereafter?

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  13. Wow. Now I'm not so sad that CC left the titles when he did. Not everything needed to be retconned into being related to the Shadow King, and I'm kind of glad none of these retcons became cannon. Heck, just having Wolverine pointing Charles to Kitty's direction circa the Dark Phoenix Saga on it's own, forget all the other retcons, is very Daniel Way, with all of the negative connotations that go with that.

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  14. Yeah, Wolverine pointing Charles towards Kitty is a bad idea?

    Nathan, is there a source on Claremont planning to make Kitty the next Majestrix? (In the first CrossTime World, the fairy-tale one, the Courtney/Saturnyne analogue is the mother of the Kitty analogue, right?)

    I actualy asked Chris (as I call him, now that we're best buds) about this, since I knew Teeb was coming up to the relevant Excalibur issues. He was tight-lipped about it. He didn't explain the whole "lookalike" thing at all, but he said the story was going to play out as a "last temptation of Kitty" kind of deal, and he hinted that the Soulsword would perhaps have tied into it.

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  15. Sorry, typo in that first sentence. Didn't mean it as a question, I was agreeing with wwk5d that it's a bad idea.

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  16. I agree on Kitty, something gets taken away if it wasn't just for a freak chance that the X-Men landed on that little gold piece. Though, as a Claremont apologist, I have always found it curious that all of the sudden the Cerebro would bleep on both her and Dazzler at the same go. Especially with Dazzler her disco gig most certainly can't have been the first time she was using her powers, why didn't Cerebro home on her earlier (in-universe...)?

    Re: Thunderbird, I've been binging on JRjr UNCANNY/Sienkiewich NM, and noticed that somewhat a big deal was made of the fact that James Proudstar returned for his revenge in specifically the 100th issue of the All-New X-Men, in "Warhunt II", #194. Makes one wonder if #294 was scheluded for Thunderbird's return, if the bookend thing is what Claremont was going after.

    Also, don't know if it got mentioned (or if will be brought up), but in the Kulan Gath story Dani digs up what Callisto is fearing the most and it's her lost life as a beautiful woman. The dude's so riffing on the materials from that era!

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  17. @Jason: Claremont revealed it in his 1995 interview with Tue Sorensen and Ulrik Kristiansen for seriejournalen.dk

    When did you ask Chris and where? What's this about being best buds!? I knew I knew I knew the Soulsword would be connected to Kitty's corruption! Is Opal Luna Saturnyne an alternate reality Illyana? Her job as Omniversal Majestrix was charged with guardian the crossroads, and the Rasputin surname means the place where the roads converge/ diverge! Our reality's Courtney Ross could have been a young Illyana that tumbled through a stepping disk to the past!? But I am rather fond of the idea that "The Courtney's" were future Katherine Pryde's who had travelled back in time to step in and influence young Kitty to become them.

    I always wondered if the scenes in Uncanny X-Men #194 and #260 were intended by Claremont to suggest Callisto was originally a beautiful model who was getting raped by a gang which caused her mutant powers to manifest, transforming her body into that of a hardened warrior able to defeat them!

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  18. I've never really understood how Cerebro is meant to work. From the 60s it's never made sense. "Cerebro is suddenly noticing the Blob for the first time, even though his mutation clearly first manifested a long time ago!"

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  19. @Jason: Just what was the truth behind the creation of Cerebro? Was it just another invention of Charles's? And just why was Magneto unable to repair it using his powers after its destruction by Sabretooth in Uncanny X-Men #213?

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  20. "somewhat a big deal was made of the fact that James Proudstar returned for his revenge in specifically the 100th issue of the All-New X-Men, in "Warhunt II", #194. Makes one wonder if #294 was scheluded for Thunderbird's return, if the bookend thing is what Claremont was going after."

    Well, if you are going to celebrate the 100th issue of the All-New X-Men, it makes sense to include references to that issue (a Proudstar, NORAD, etc). At least we didn't get Count Neferia. One has to wonder if it was CC's idea or someone at marketing. It does seem strange that CC would want to have a bookend that included James. What else could he have added to that? Warhunt II was a nice coda as it was, and CC didn't focus much on James after that, even within the New Mutants titles, besides a potential romance with Dani, even though he did give James an interesting personality.

    "Is Opal Luna Saturnyne an alternate reality Illyana?"

    No, she is an alternate Courtney Ross.

    "Our reality's Courtney Ross could have been a young Illyana that tumbled through a stepping disk to the past!? But I am rather fond of the idea that "The Courtney's" were future Katherine Pryde's who had travelled back in time to step in and influence young Kitty to become them."

    But that would have to mean that each and every single version of Courtney is an older version of that reality's Illyana, which would be a bit much. Plus the plot mechanics of Illyana growing up, falling back in time, being adopted by a British family, gaining a British accent, going to a British university and meeting Brian and graduating, would be very, very messy and involve so many retcons even Geoff Johns would be jealous. Plus, Kurt and Kitty would have made some Clarmontian comment about Courtney looking like an older Illyana at some point.

    I think the easiest explanation is the best; for some reason, Sat-yr-9 wanted to replace Opal Luna Saturnyne with Kitty. Why and how, we don't know, unless CC plans on revealing more. As CC would say, "Them's the breaks."

    "I always wondered if the scenes in Uncanny X-Men #194 and #260 were intended by Claremont to suggest Callisto was originally a beautiful model who was getting raped by a gang which caused her mutant powers to manifest, transforming her body into that of a hardened warrior able to defeat them!"

    There were always hints that Callisto was beautiful long before this storyline was printed, but it was never revealed how Callisto lost her eye or gained her scars. Her mutant powers were heightened senses, if her body was transformed into that of a hardened warrior, I don't think it had much to do with her powers; life in general seems to have hardened Callisto into what she became.

    "I've never really understood how Cerebro is meant to work"

    I always saw it a device with limited scanning potential. It scans certain areas in a pattern, but doesn't register someone unless they're in that area during the specific scan.

    Then, best not to put our faith in Cerebro, it did freak out when it scanned for Juggernaut, and he's not even a mutant!

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  21. Yeah, but that's reacting to a non-mutant, which is different than failing to react to a mutant. Roy Thomas handwaved that away in the El Tigre arc, right?

    Still, Cerebro is lame. There, I said it.

    Nathan, do you have a full transcript of that 1995 interview? I've read that one .... or at least I thought I have, but don't remember that bit about Kitty. Maybe I've only read an excerpt.

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  22. My no-prize for Juggs is that Xavier programmed the Cerebro to home on not only mutants but also his own genetic proximities, in the vein of f. ex. his half-brother. Just in case he has an unknown illegitimate child somewhere or something.

    No, there's no fundamental flaw in my suggested argument. Move on now.

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  23. ...except Juggernaut was his step-brother, not half-brother...

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  24. @wwk5d: Did Callisto have heightened senses under the pen of Claremont, or were they introduced by later writers, since she needed Caliban's powers to track down mutants for her underground community!?

    Re: Cerebro freaking out at Juggernaut, the Stranger in X-Men #11 revealed he journeyed "from planet to planet, taking specimens of mutants back to my world –". So there's nothing to say that Juggernaut might have survived mystical empowerment… I actually believe Kirby originally intended all the X-threats introduced during his run on the title to have a direct connection to mutants, and that he intended Lucifer as an ancient mutant (and father of Wanda and Pietro as like them he was first shown in the Balkans and perhaps the original master of Mount Wundagore), and the Cyttorak had created mystical sentinels to prevent mutants being a threat to his power.

    But back to Cerebro, thoughts on why Magneto couldn't repair it?

    @Jason: I can't find the full interview online anymore but will check if I have it backed up on my old Zip disks and email through to you:/

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  25. It was during the Claremont era. It was even listed in the Marvel Handbooks as her power.

    I'm not sure what Lee & Kirby's original motivations were, other than, lets be honest, laziness. The whole reason why there were mutants was because Lee didn't want to keep coming up with origin stories. And as for the Balkans...again, other than the occasional South American baddie, it seemed like everyone was from Eastern Europe. Even Dr. Doom. Other than a few really good stories here and there. And no, not everything Lee and Kirby introduced here was mutant related (see the Stranger and Ka-Zar).

    Why couldn't Magneto repair Cerebro? I'm guessing the Plot Contrivance Fairy wouldn't allow him to at that point. I know, I know, we're all dying to say the Shadow King was somehow involved...

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  26. @wwk5d: When the Stranger was introduced by Kirby he was specifically referred to as coming from a race that "collected mutants".

    And you can back down on the Shadow King comment as I wasn’t going to suggest it. I am more curious if it contains Vibranium.

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  27. Yeah, but that's hardly a direct connection to mutants. Your mileage might vary, of course.

    And I thought all roads led to the Shadow King! Sorry, the Shadow King made me say that. Just kidding ;)

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  28. Well, Shadow King honestly was bubbling under for quite a time. When Empath went to sell Amara and Roberto for the L.A. gladiator scene, the one revealed to be controlled by SK, the contact person he went to was residing at the Hellfire Club building.

    Magneto vs. Cerebro was good house-keeping as far as I'm concerned, as the X-Men abandoned the school anyway right after that. I remember telepathyless Jean using it though at some point (after X-tinction Agenda?), so someone must've fixed it.

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  29. The mind-tap machines though... Cerebro; the one Mastermind used that came from Emma Frost; the dream-tapping comp of the Reaver base; and who indeed could forget Hellfire Club's mind-switcheroo gun. They are a thing.

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  30. Well, with enough headcannoning, fanwanking, whiskey, squinting, and side-eye, anything can be a "thing" ;)

    Did we ever see Cerebro used by Magneto or the New Mutants during Simonson's run? I can't remember.

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  31. @Teemu: Yes Jean was shown using Cerebro again in Uncanny X-Men #273. Since this was before Charles returned to Earth, the most likely candidate to have fixed it would seem to be Forge. So if he could reassemble it, why couldn't Magneto? I always wondered if Claremont intended that scene in New Mutants #52 to suggest Vibranium and the reason Cerebro was able to enhance/ extend a telepath's power was due to it being composed of a "pure" sample of the metal, as we had seen exposure to it provide T'Challa with ESP in Black Panther #10 by Kirby.

    And yes, Empath was definitely a pawn of the Shadow King from early on, IMHO. Do you think the whole Hellfire Club was under his control at the time Empath was in contact with them, or just one member? If so, which member would you propose?

    @wwk5d: While Magneto was seen trying to repair it in New Mutants #52 (with art by Rick Leonardi), he was shown attempting to use it in X-Men: Heroes for Hope in the scene written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Richard Corben (a beautifully-written scene I might add).

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  32. Given the way the Hellfire Club was written at the time and after, it is a bit hard to see anyone being under the Shadow King's influence until much, much later.

    As for Empath, well, he is a amoral asshole, so his involvement isn't that shocking (if anything, the Shadow King, had he been involved with the HC and Hellions at that point, probably wouldn't have to do much to corrupt him). As for the guard, well, they do tend to occasionally lead lives outside the HC (they even date Morlocks!).

    I'm not sure of the fixation on Magento not reassembling Cerebro, other than "CC and Wheezie didn't want him to at the time". Rereading some of the summaries on uncannyxmen.net, it seems Magneto repaired Cerebro's analyzer (circa Bird Boy), even if he didn't patch up the whole system. X-Men: Heroes for Hope happened continuity-wise long before FOTM. Once we get to FOTM, the X-men are gone, and the NM don't last much long at the mansion either.

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  33. I started to nod off while reading this the other night. Which is more a function of how tired I was than a commentary on the material, but it did make things even more confusing.

    Here’s the rest of what I said before it dawned on me to check something:

    I think Claremont using these alternate worlds to reveal or set up bits of storylines in the main universe (or, in Rachel’s case, yet another alternate universe that’s more directly linked to the main one) is a neat idea in theory. Yet it’s a decidedly strange one in point of fact, as Excalibur was likely selling considerably less than X-Men at this point, especially after Davis left; I was one of the few who’d been reading Excalibur only, and I had given up by this point. I can still see a parallel reality of ours in which that could work, particularly if Davis were still aboard, but the quality of the issues was low enough and the whole of the series to date had been incidental enough to the X-Men family that it’s no surprise fandom apparently wasn’t abuzz with how Claremont was seeding and hinting at big things to come for Marvel mutantdom in this would-be boutique title off in its own more whimsical, perhaps sexier corner of the universe/multiverse.

    What it dawned on me to check was the actual Statements of Ownership. X-Men at this time was selling 408,925 on average per month over the past year and 436,200 the month nearest to filing; Excalibur, 317,320 on average and 292,300 the month nearest to filing. I don’t know if the recent-month figures are indicative of trends, as they skew down from the average of Excalibur selling 77% of what X-Men did to 67%, but 2/3 is still higher than I would have guessed. It’s possible that the difference was due as much or more so to Excalibur being in an upscale format that cost a full 150% of what X-Men and other standard titles did, $1.50 versus $1.00, than to disinterest in a series that despite being written by Claremont wasn’t as immediately linked to the X-Men family as the other spinoffs nor even as linked to the more general, NYC-based Marvel superhero fraternity.

    I suspect that if Claremont were laying the groundwork for big things that would affect the wider mutant subgroup (whether or not that’s actually what he was doing or wanted to do here) and that paid off, as I gather little to nothing did, this era of Excalibur would be considerably more in demand.

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  34. Last paragraph got left out in cut-and-paste...
    I meant to add that the SOO for X-Men came from Teebore’s post on #261, while the one for Excalibur, run in this very issue, came via the GCD’s scan. So they’re not only the most recent available numbers but about as recent as you can get for annual reports.

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