Wednesday, June 29, 2011
X-amining X-Men #115
In a Nutshell
The new X-Men fight Sauron
Rabelaisian Raconteurs: Chris Claremont & John Byrne
Illuminatin' Inker: Terry Austin
Looney Letterer: Rick Parker
Crafty Colorist: Francoise Mouly
Edifyin' Editor: Roger Stern
Earnest Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
As Sauron gloats over the fallen Storm, Wolverine charges him and is quickly hypnotized. Seeing the X-Men as monsters, Wolverine turns on them, but is taken out by Cyclops. Working together, the X-Men weaken Sauron, forcing him to seek out more mutant energy. He finds Colossus and begins to absorb his energy when Cyclops tells Colossus to transform into his armored form. The sudden rush of energy is too much for Sauron, who breaks the connection and runs off, transforming back into Karl Lykos. Just as a recovered Wolverine is about to attack him, Ka-Zar arrives, telling the X-Men he and Lykos were seeking out the X-Men's help.
Back at the village of the Fall People, Lykos tells the X-Men of how he survived their last encounter and made his way to the Savage Land, where he found peace subsisting on the life energy of lower animals. One day he came across Zaladane, high priestess of the Sun People, leading an arcane ceremony in which a man named Kirk Marston was transformed into the reincarnation of Garokk, the sun-god. Ka-Zar then tells the X-Men of how Garokk has been spreading his power across the land, and asks the X-Men for help in defeating him. However, worried that Professor X may be in danger from Magneto, Cyclops refuses for the time being, insisting the X-Men must return home. Understanding, Ka-Zar leads the X-Men to a tunnel out of the Savage Land, but they find the tunnel to be snowed over. Ka-Zar says this must mean that Garokk has disrupted the ecological balance, which means the end of the Savage Land.
Firsts and Other Notables
Garokk and his high priestess Zaladane make their first appearances in X-Men. Both will continue to be minor Savage Land-based villains, popping up occasionally throughout Claremont's run (future stories will suggest that Zaladane may be Polaris' sister, but that relationship remains unconfirmed).
It's a Savage Land story, so Ka-Zar makes his obligatory appearance.
A Work in Progress
Sauron hypnotizes Wolverine into viewing the X-Men as monsters, just as he did Angel in issue #61, and the panels depicting Wolverine's view of the X-Men mimic the same panels from that issue.
It is revealed that Karl Lykos survived the apparent fall to his death in issue #61 by landing on a ledge a few feet from the top, out of sight from the X-Men. He journeyed from there down into the Savage Land, where he managed to keep himself alive by feeding on the energy of animals, and found peace believing that, with no mutants around, Sauron was safely locked away inside him.
When Cyclops, worried that Magneto may have also survived the destruction of his base, refuses to help Ka-Zar against Garokk until they know Professor X is safe, Wolverine gets pissed off that the X-Men are once again "buggin' out".
Ka-Zar's telling of the X-Men about his last confrontation with Garokk, in which the sun-god casually wiped out a force of Sheenarians with which Ka-Zar was allied, wraps up a plot that was left dangling following the cancellation of Ka-Zar's book.
The Classic X-Men back-up story recounts Colossus' adventure with Nereel and two other Savage Land women, which was setup last issue. By the end of the story, it's made pretty clear (without outright saying so) that Colossus has a threesome and loses his virginity in the process. So, you know, good for you, Colossus.
That 70s Comic
When Garokk is reborn in the body of Kirk Marston, he ends up wearing Marston's jeans.
Byrne draws a very modern "widescreen" two page splash on pages 2-3. Also, I'm fairly certain the image of Wolverine on page 2 was lifted for use in merchandising/licensing images.
Nereel bids Colossus a fond farewell.
Our first Lego ad, though I was never as much a fan of these "make real stuff" kits as I was the ones with spaceships, knights, pirates and junk.
Years before their crossover with the X-Men, Micronauts!
There's an awfully wordy ad for a Milk Duds contest. I don't want to take the time to read it NOW; I can only imagine how many kids in 1978 skipped right past it, giant Dr. Doom or not...
John Byrne on the Thomas/Adams homage
"At that point, Chris had only read the Roy Thomas/Neal Adams stuff. It was quite a while later that he sat down and read all the stuff that went before it. But, yeah, we both wanted to do the Roy and Neal stuff. I think that somebody pointed out that we did the Roy and Neal stuff in reverse order. We did the Savage Land and then Sauron and then Sentinels. Yeah, talk about influences."
DeFalco, Tom. Comic Creators on X-Men. London: Titan Books, 2006. p106
Claremont and Byrne continue their Savage Land story, and with the action once again limited to the opening pages of the issue (the fight with Sauron, which is spectacularly staged by Byrne), we settle in for another relatively quiet issue. However, whereas last issue's downtime was devoted to characterization, here the majority of the issue is handed over to exposition: first, we learn how Karl Lykos/Sauron came to be in the Savage Land, then we're introduced to the villain of this story in Garokk, and finally Garokk's threat is spelled out at the same time that a dangling plot from Ka-Zar's canceled comic book is wrapped up. As a result, this issue is almost drowning in exposition (only a third of which really matters much to the characters or the reader). As the second part of a three part story, it does its job in setting up the finale next issue, but after the initial confrontation with Sauron, it's a bit of a slog to get through, which is something of a rarity during the Claremont/Byrne run.