Wednesday, May 7, 2014
X-amining Uncanny X-Men #232
In a Nutshell
The Brood are back, and on Earth.
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Marc Silvestri
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editors: Ann Nocenti & Bob Harras
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
Not too long ago, Harry Palmer and a group of friend are camping in the Rio Diablo Mountains when they witness a Star Shark crashing to Earth. Investigating the crash, everyone but Harry is killed when Brood emerge from the crashed shark. Harry seemingly escapes unharmed, though he frantically runs Alex Summers and Lorna Dane off the road as he drives away. In the present, Harry is in Denver, working as a paramedic. Responding to a call involving a fire-breathing mutant, Harry unknowingly infects him with a Brood egg. In Australia, Madelyne returns home to find the X-Men away. Suddenly, the computer system displays a clip of Cyclops and Marvel Girl at a press conference. Realizing that her husband left her for the resurrected Jean Grey, Madelyne punches the screen, triggering an explosion that knocks her out.
In Denver, Harry returns to his apartment to find the X-Men waiting for him. Using enhanced abilities he didn't realize he had, he escapes into the night. The X-Men regroup, and Wolverine assures them that the Brood they tracked from New Mexico is Harry. Storm insists they capture Harry alive to learn how many he's infected, saying the presence of the Brood on Earth is a plague that must be stopped. When Rogue tracks down a frightened Harry, the Brood inside takes over again, trying to infect her. But Wolverine intervenes, prepared to kill Harry, just as a pair of cops appear on the scene. Without hesitation, Wolverine tries to kill the cops as well. As the rest of the X-Men arrive, Wolverine declares that the cops are Brood too. Harry, now visibly showing signs of his transformation, agrees, adding that they aren't the only ones, as the X-Men find themselves surrounded by humanoid Brood.
Firsts and Other Notables
Madelyne spots the resurrected Jean for the first time this issue, as she sees footage of a press conference including her and Cyclops, and realizes why Scott left her and abandoned their son (not that she's doing a whole lot to find him herself at the moment).
Psylocke's body armor/new costume appears for the first time in this issue, and will remain her default look until her transformation into an Asian ninja circa issue #256, with a future story in Wolverine's solo title revealing that he acquired it for her. I've always been fond of this look for the character: it ties in with her desire to be more of a warrior, and it makes sense to give the character with a less overtly-offensive power body armor.
Cyclops and Marvel Girl's appearance is credited as being from X-Factor #29, though the image doesn't line-up exactly with anything from the press conference in that issue.
Bob Harras shares editorial credit with Ann Nocenti this issue, as he begins the transition in as her replacement, a matter that is discussed in the Bullpen Bulletin this issue.
I kinda feel like the phrase on the cover should be "The Brood are back", not "is". There are more than one of them, after all.
A Work in Progress
Returning via Gateway, Madelyne notes she'd much rather fly. She's also sporting a new look.
Noting she could return naked and Gateway wouldn't bat an eye, she wonders how the other X-Men would react, and wonders why the idea of freaking out Havok in that way is so intriguing.
Deciding the X-Men need a symbol of sorts (akin to Zorro's "Z") to mark their presence, Madelyne begins designing their star logo.
It's also noted that the Reavers' former computers are so user-friendly, they basically taught her how to use them.
Rogue notes the X-Men have tracked the Brood from New Mexico to Denver, but it's never established what led them to begin the hunt after all this time.
Throughout this issue, posters for a Reverend Connover's ministry appear periodically in the background, setting up his future role in this story.
I Love the 80s
Harry compares his chances of successfully losing the X-Men to that of the Broncos winning the Super Bowl.
Harry thinks of mutants via the old "they are to humans as Cro-Magnons were to Neatherthals" analogy.
The transition from frantic past Harry to cool, collected (and Brood-infected) present day Harry is handled in a neat two panel sequence.
We have clearly pulled out of the mid 80s crash of the home video game market, as pretty much every issue now contains at least one or two ads for a video game again. This time, we get the classic Double Dragon.
And later, an ad for a Rambo game.
It's in the Mail
Sans editorial responses, this issue's letter col covers issues #222, #223 and Annual #11. A "coming attractions" box previews the other two X-books along with Uncanny for the first time, though it teases X-Factor #31 (which is on sale the same time as this issue) and New Mutants #68 (which is two issues ahead of the contemporaneous issue).
After a series of issues that fell somewhere between "enjoyable diversions" and "pointless filler", Claremont finally follows through on his promise of more proactive X-Men, in the process returning to a plot thread that's been dangling since issue #218 and bringing back the villains which dominated the title from issues #154 to #167: the Brood. Structurally, Claremont wisely begins the story in media res, circling back to issue #218 to tell the story of the Starshark crash and the motorist who ran Havok and Polaris off the road, before seamlessly transitioning to the present day and unfolding the story from the perspective of Harry as he's stalked and confronted by the X-Men.
Not only does this allow Claremont to sidestep the question of why the X-Men waited until this moment to go after the Brood, but it adds to the sense of impending horror that quietly builds throughout the issue, casting the X-Men as unknown Others, while playing with the idea of the X-Men as figures of legend, mysterious beings emerging from the mist and striking with impunity. The end result is an atmospheric, briskly-paced start to a great little three-parter, one that finds the X-Men outside of Australia (barring their jaunt as Santa Claus) for the first time since "Fall of the Mutants", and finally delivering on the promise of the Outback Era's status quo.
Illyana battles Forge (for real) in New Mutants #66, and Infectia tries to kiss Iceman in X-Factor #31. Next week, the X-Men battle the Brood in Uncanny X-Men #233.