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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

X-amining Uncanny X-Men #307

"Night and Fog: Part Four of Bloodties"
December 1993

In a Nutshell
Sersi fights Exodus.

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Dan Green
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulis
Colorist: Buccellato/Somers
Editor: Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

Plot
As Beast, Professor X & US Agent fight to protect the mutates from the Magistrate Elite, above them, Sersi battles Exodus. At the UN, Black Widow officially withdraws the Avengers from their charter. Back in Hammer Bay, the X-Men enter the city, as Sersi & Exodus' are blown apart by their fight. Beneath the capital citadel, Quicksilver & Jean Grey search for a way inside, hoping to get to Cortez & Luna. They run into Scarlet Witch & Crystal, after which Cortez appears, using Luna as a human shield, and frightened of retribution at the hands of Exodus. Just then, Exodus blasts into the tunnels, and Cortez shrieks to Crystal & Quicksilver that if they ever want to hold their daughter again, they must destroy Exodus.

Firsts and Other Notables
The Avengers officially withdraw from their UN charter in this issue. On the one hand, this isn't really that big a deal - the whole UN charter came about after the Avengers lost their US government clearance in the wake of Vision trying to take over the world, but it's not something that has come up often or been used to generate a lot of stories. On the other hand, it's the kind of thing that is a significant enough development that it should probably have occurred in an issue of actual Avengers comic.


Also, it is Black Widow (the current chairperson of the East Coast branch) who formally withdraws the team. Hawkeye is shown to be looking on approvingly, but the previous chapter seemingly set him up to be the one to cancel the charter, which could have been used as additional justification for the upcoming dissolution of the West Coast Avengers.

Phillip Moreau and Jenny Ransome, who went to Genosha with Xavier but then got left behind when Xavier & Beast were "kidnapped" by the rebel forces in X-Men #26 (which in turn disappeared between that issue and Avengers West Coast #101), are suddenly with Xavier, Beast & US Agent at the mutate concentration camp in this issue. Moreau also realizes Xavier is a mutant, calling him "one of us" (ie a mutant), despite not being a mutant.


Black Knight recognizes Exodus, though he's not sure from where. This establishes a minor dangling mystery that won't be resolved for a few years (eventually, it will be revealed in a Black Knight/Exodus oneshot that also serves as Exodus' origin, that they met during the Crusades when Black Knight was living in the past).


Cortez, speaking of Exodus says he (presumably Magneto), "wouldn't have recruited jim if he suspected...". Another shot in the volley of "vague Exodus mysteries" launched in this crossover, I don't believe anything ever really comes of this (unless it's retroactively meant to be a reference to Exodus ties to Apocalypse, as revealed in that later Black Knight oneshot).


A Work in Progress
Exodus says that he has been sequestered, planning and preparing for his role as mutantkind's messiah.


He also says his powers are "beyond psionic".


Narration once again refers to Genosha as having once been a "green and pleasant land".

As the X-Men enter Hammer Bay in this issue, Revanche is shown amongst them, despite not appearing on Genosha in the previous two chapters.


Cortez believes that if Magneto hadn't returned from the dead, he would have won the Upstarts competition.


He also calls Exodus a "red-faced devil", another suggestion that Exodus is American-Indian (ultimately, he won't be).

For Sale
Remember Mortal Kombat? Remember K-Mart? Well, the former is at the latter!


Austin's Analysis
Despite being the penultimate chapter of "Bloodties", this issue is a lot like the previous chapter: there's another centerpiece battle between Exodus and an Avenger (with Sersi tapping in for War Machine) in the skies above the city, another character randomly appearing alongside Xavier & Beast (here, Jenny Ransome & Phillip Moreau are suddenly on hand in the mutate camp, despite not appearing there in the previous chapter), and more curious turns for Cortez (last chapter, "Cortez" turned out to be a shapeshifter posing as him; here, he appear suddenly in the tunnels beneath what is ostensibly his citadel, looking disheveled and desperate for the Avengers to protect him against Exodus, reading very much like we missed an issue in which the character's circumstances changed). Relative to the previous one, this chapter gets a little boost from John Romita Jr., who is very good at depicting the kind of "crackling energy pouring out of two figures" panels that comprise most of the Exodus/Sersi fight, and from the narrative momentum that comes just from leading into the conclusion, but there's no denying this chapter is treading water as the story limps to its conclusion.

Next Issue
Tomorrow, Haven makes herself known in X-Factor #97. Friday, Wolverine goes home in Wolverine #76. Next week: "Bloodties" concludes in Avengers #369.

Collected Editions


15 comments:

  1. The title, "Night and Fog", on first sight seems to be referring to Hitler's 1941 directive that saw his political opposition just disappear from the face of Earth and a kind of haphazard throw-at-the-wall reference to Genosha's more naziesque qualities,

    but actually, it's also the name of a well-known French New Wave Holocaust documentary film by director Alain Resnais, who also directed Hiroshima Mon Amour, from which film the previous part of Bloodties paraphrased its name.

    Someone was feeling fancy.

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    1. Night and Fog were also a supervillain duo in a 1985 issue of All-Star Squadron, which is how I first learnt of the phrase’s Nazi dimensions.

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    2. Knight and Fogg were also Spider-Man villains created by Gerry Conway and Sal Buscema, and I don't believe those versions had anything to do with Nazis. Conway probably just liked the phrase.

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    3. Hitler apparently got the alliterative phrase Nacht und Nebel from Richard Wagner’s Das Rheingold, which might have made it even more enticing to Roy Thomas. (Could be the connection is explicitly referenced in that issue, which I haven’t read in years.) Upon reflection it’s surprising, or at least ironic by Alanis Morissette standards, that Roy didn’t use the title in his own Bloodties chapter.

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  2. Oneliner turner into a storyline, er: Cortez dropping "House o' Magnus" right in front of Wanda, in Genosha, while people are contemplating on killing a descendant of Magneto will have serious consequences one day when Pietro isn't decisive enough to curb back her power usage.

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    1. So House of M was planned all along? Or did Bendis get the idea for House of M from this one scene?

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  3. "more curious turns for Fitzroy (last chapter, "Fitzroy" turned out to be a shapeshifter posing as him"
    Yes, these are curious turns for Fitzroy- apparently he's been somehow turned into a duplicate of Fabian Cortez. :)

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    1. Dur. Looks like I mixed up my mostly-interchangeable kewl 90s Upstarts villains! :P

      Thanks, I updated the post.

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  4. I’m slightly fascinated by how JRJr.’s art improves in ways that are foundationally solid and stylistically appealing to me yet retains certain quirks that are complete turn-offs. Example: How the worm’s-eye view of ranting Cortez you show and the partial view of Black Knight’s helmeted face above it are really geometrically pleasing but he still does that cheekbone thing with Black Widow that makes her look more like the Black Dahlia victim. Plus the sideways pages are an indulgence that frustrates the reader experience.

    // a significant enough development that it should probably have occurred in an issue of actual Avengers comic //

    That’s weird, yeah.

    // He also calls Exodus a "red-faced devil //

    I read that simply as a literal reference to Exodus’ unusual skin color, which I’ve assumed was inhumanly pink — he reminded me of the JLA villain Starbreaker when he first appeared — as the result of his mutation rather than any human ethnic signifier. Of course he appears to be normally pink-skinned, i.e. like a so-called white guy, on the cover.

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    1. re: Exodus' skin color.

      Also, (at that point) weren't they still heading in the direction that Exodus was a human/Shi'ar hybrid? During that period (when the comic originally debuted), I had interpreted it as deliberate hint that his skin color and facial markings were supposed to remind us of his similarity to that alien race.

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    2. He's definitely more orange than pink in Avengers West Coast #101, which'd fit with that, but I'm the wrong guy to ask (not that you were, specifically) about most X-Men plans in this era...

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    3. Blam: LoL. Yeah, my question was more for everyone/anyone reading those titles at that time. But I should've made that more clear in my phrasing. :)

      To Everyone: I was in HS at the time this came out and was an avid X-Books and Wizard magazine reader. I swear I can remember reading an interview or comic that strongly implied that Exodus was meant to be part Shi'ar.

      I remember being fascinated by this because over in Bob Harras' run on the Avengers, he seemed to imply that Deathcry was an illegitimate Shi'ar Royal.

      And as I was fascinated by the Shi'ar then, I wondered (hoped!) if a crossover featuring the X-books and Avengers were on the horizon as both books had previous ties to the Shi'ar (the X-Men & Charles with Lilandra and the Avengers via the recent Kree/Shi'ar War).

      As you can see, I was way, WAY off. LOL.

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    4. @Blam: For what it's worth, the whole "red-skinned devil" thing mostly stuck out because of comments in X-FORCE #25 in which Warpath suggested Exodus could be Native American. Without that, I'm not sure if would have stuck out as a possibly suggestion of the character's ethnicity.

      @J. Mays: I've never heard the "Exodus is Shi'ar" theory before, but it certainly fits some of the available evidence at this point in time.

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    5. @J.Mays: Yep, Hero Illustrated referred to the writer intending Exodus being Shi'ar, suggesting he might have been an early Third Summers Brother candidate.

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  5. The plot holes are annoying, but overall I enjoyed this issue. I still think Lobdell writes a good Xavier, and I really liked the Sersi/Exodus fight. It does seem extremely odd that the Avengers backed out of their charter in an issue of UNCANNY X-MEN, though...

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