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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

X-amining Strange Tales #120

"The Torch Meets the Iceman!"
May 1964

In a Nutshell
The Torch meets the Iceman

Deftly Written: Stan Lee
Dazzlingly Drawn: Jack Kirby
Dramatically Inked: Dick Ayers
Distinctively Lettered: S. Rosen

Plot
The Human Torch, reading an article about the X-Men calling Iceman a cold version of him, expresses an interest in meeting Iceman. He then heads out for a date on the Hudson River with Doris. Meanwhile, Iceman, lamenting his lack of success asking Jean Grey out on a date, is given the night off by Professor Xavier. He decides to head into the city and boards the same boat cruise as Human Torch. After Iceman bumps into Human Torch & Dorrie (neither of whom realize he is Iceman), the boat is attacked by pirates led by Captain Barracuda. Human Torch & Iceman spring into action. Working together, they are able to block the pirates' efforts to counteract their respective powers, and Captain Barracuda is defeated and left for the police. As Iceman walks back to shore alone, Human Torch returns to his date with Doris. Both are certain that a guy like Iceman must have dozens of girlfriends.

Firsts and Other Notables
This story features the first meeting between the Fantastic Four's Human Torch and Iceman (Fantastic Four #28, the first full meeting between both teams, occurs after this issue; Human Torch in fact references the events of this issue there. Humorously, both issues begin with the Fantastic Four reading a newspaper article about the X-Men). While "fire man meets ice man" is a pretty obvious story hook once you've got both types of characters in your stable (and Stan Lee, never one to miss out on Might Marvel Marketing opportunity, wastes very little time pairing these characters up once Iceman comes along), a Human Torch/Iceman partnership/rivalry doesn't ever really become much of a thing. They'll certainly team up again off-and-on through the years, but it never really becomes one of those classic Marvel buddy pairings (like, say, Human Torch & Spider-Man). 

Strange Tales at this time was one of Marvel's double feature anthology books (necessitated by a distribution deal with rival DC which limited the number of titles Marvel could publish each month); at this point, the two features consist of a Human Torch story and a Dr. Strange story each month (eventually, Nick Fury would take over for Human Torch, and once Marvel got a better distribution deal, Strange Tales became a Dr. Strange solo book and got renamed).

This issue features the first appearance of Captain Barracuda, a modern day pirate and minor Silver Age villain (he will, appropriately enough, become something of a recurring foe for the Sub-Mariner during his Silver Age series).


Doris Evans, the girl Human Torch goes on a date with in this issue, is his Silver Age girlfriend & something of a staple in his Strange Tales solo adventures.

The Chronology Corner
This story takes place between X-Men #4 and #5 (if we want to get really specific, the Marvel Chronology Project places it between panels of issue #5).

A Work in Progress
Human Torch is concerned with the press calling Iceman the cold version of him.


He also notes that the X-Men zealously guard their secret identities.


Ah, the Silver Age
Iceman, a 16 year old boy in the 60s, heads into the city for a night on the town, in a full suit, like all good Jack Kirby teens.


Barracuda, one panel after noting he’s fighting Iceman, is shocked to find an unseasonable ice jam in the river when he tries to escape.


Young Love
Angel & Jean are going out on a date as the story begins.


Iceman laments losing out on dating opportunities to Angel & Cyclops.


Pun with Peter Stan
Doris tells Iceman no one is a MATCH for her date.


Austin's Analysis
In many ways, this issue is the platonic ideal of a fun, one-off Silver Age story: not overly-long, goofy but not to the point where the plot is incomprehensible or the characters inconsistent, part of a narrative tapestry but not an essential element in that tapestry (which makes the goofiness more endearing/acceptable), and with a clean, recognizable hook (fire guy meets ice guy). Not all comic stories, then or now, should fit this ideal, but if you wanted to hand someone a genuinely entertaining example of what early Marvel Comics were like, you could do a lot worse than this issue featuring Human Torch & Iceman fighting random pirates on a horned-up teen boat cruise along the Hudson River. The shortened page count in these double-feature books keeps Lee from having to fill too much space with long-winded narration or unnecessary plot twists, Jack Kirby is, of course, Jack Kirby, so even a tossed-off and relatively inconsequential story like this has plenty of exciting artistic moments, and the Human Torch/Iceman interactions are pleasantly balanced: no one comes off as an excessive jerk (something which plagues a lot of these early Marvel meet-ups), and both characters are allowed some time in the spotlight to show off their stuff. Maybe I've just been mired in the 90s for too long (and no one could argue that this is an essential piece of even the X-Men's Silver Age story), but I rather enjoyed this one.

Next Issue
Cyclops wanders Australia in X-Men (vol. 2) #44, Boomer makes a friend in X-Force #45, and Guardian & Vindicator stop by in Wolverine #92!

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29 comments:

  1. "Both are certain that a guy like Iceman must have dozens of girlfriends."

    Except...he's gay!

    "Iceman, a 16 year old boy in the 60s, heads into the city for a night on the town, in a full suit, like all good Jack Kirby teens."

    Even the gay ones!

    "Iceman laments losing out on dating opportunities to Angel & Cyclops."

    That's ok, because you're gay!

    Sorry, but isn't that how we are now supposed to look back on all these old issues today? It does make Bobby whining about his lack of a love life interesting. You'd think he'd be heading off to the Village or something if he had free time to go to the city alone...

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    1. Show me a 16-year-old who's fully confident/comfortable with their sexual identity and I'll show you a liar.

      And that's in today's society. Imagine being a teenage with sexually unorthodox thoughts in an era where conformity was still the hip way to behave. Heck if you wanna go a step further, Bobby Drake's already being pressured by Xavier to keep another aspect of his personality hidden from the public. No big surprise that he'd be shy about expressing something else, too.

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    2. Well, we got a 16-year-old who's fully confident/comfortable with their sexual identity once young Bobby came to the present.

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    3. Sure, after being directly confronted with his future self.

      Who wouldn't like the opportunity to tell their teenage selves that they're going to be ok? What teenager wouldn't love to have their future selves show up for some reassurance?

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    4. Is that how it happened? Wasn't adult Bobby outed at the same time as young Bobby by young Jean? And young Bobby seemed much more confident about the gay thing than adult bobby did for a while.

      Plus, yes the original story was published in the 1960s, but going by the sliding timescale, the story would have taken place less anywhere between 15 years and 10 years ago, so sometime between 2005 and 2010. Maybe not as good as things are now but certainly better than the 1960s.

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  2. Interesting that Bobby was lamenting about not getting a date with Jean.
    He was always portrayed as the one member of the X-Men that wasn't interested in Jean.

    The very good reason being that Jean probably isn't going to date the one male character who is younger than her.

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    1. Yeah, I was struck by that panel just because I'm pretty sure it's the first time I've ever seen Silver Age Iceman lament his exclusion from the Scott-Jean-Warren triangle; on the rare occasions he does comment on it in X-MEN itself, it's more a "ew, girls" kind of response.

      Of course, I think Lee was just trying to setup a further contrast between smooth-with-the-ladies Human Torch and Iceman, and/or setup the gag at the end that Human Torch assumes Iceman is as popular with the ladies as he is, and the fact that Lee never referenced Iceman having any interest in Jean before or after this is pretty consistent with Lee's approach to continuity.

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  3. Ahh, Captain Barracuda -- who Sal Buscema would infamously later draw looking through a periscope with his covered eye in an issue of INCREDIBLE HULK!

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    1. Ha! That's even better than his "what is this strange ice doing in the river during my battle with Iceman?" moment in this issue.

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  4. How could Cyclops be faster than Iceman when asking Jean on a date if the whole deal about him in the X-Men comics at this time is that he did not have the courage to ask her out?

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    1. In Stan's defense, that hadn't really come up much yet. This issue was published around the same time as X-MEN #4 and #5. The boys (except Iceman) all ogle Jean in issue #1. In issue #3, Cyclops makes it clear he's interested in Jean but believes he can't ask her out because of his TERRIBLE OPTIC BLAST. Meanwhile, all the boys (including Iceman) but sans Cyclops, vie for the chance to escort Jean out. She picks Cyclops, but Angel butts in and takes her instead (this is also the issue that has Xavier lamenting his inability to act on his love for Jean due to his inability to walk). The romantic stuff is mostly downplayed in issues #4 and #5.

      So the Iceman/Jean/dating stuff in this issue is less an example of Stan breaking or ignoring the trope as it is of Stan still figuring out all the dynamics. Technically, yes, Cyclops has already expressed a belief in his inability ask out Jean despite a clear desire to do so, but the whole Scott-Jean-Warren dynamic is still at this point very much a work in progress.

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  5. I have a two cousins (who are brothers) that one is Pan and the other Gay. The Gay one was married and had 4 kids before switching over because he said he couldn't try to live a lie anymore. This happens. He wanted to date girls and eventually married one but was always attracted to men. Growing up we suspected him of being Gay but because of social and religious norms he was trying to date women. Bobby wanting to date or saying he wants to ask Jean out isn't out of the norm, plus there weren't many other girls he knew at that time.

    I taught middle school for seven years and the amount of kids that I suspected were/would be gay and eventually came out were usually the ones that the girls all loved. They had more girlfriends than any of the popular guys. Not all of them, but I can think of a few, including one who's now on UCLA's dance team on a full ride scholarship for academics and dance. I was not shocked when they made Bobby Gay and honestly, I just don't care that they did it. It's also funny that for all these years no one would even think he was gay within the books, including all these telepaths or his best friend Hank.

    I knew from a young age that both of these cousins I had were gay and was more surpised when the one got married and had four kids than when he divorced and married his husband. He's also much more flamboyant now - so for Bobby to be going to clubs and into gay culture, it's not shocking as I've seen this first hand.

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  6. "It's also funny that for all these years no one would even think he was gay within the books, including all these telepaths or his best friend Hank."

    Or you know, any though balloons showing us readers he was gay...

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    1. Haha for sure. It completely was a publicity stunt to draw in the Gay Community and get media press. But how much did it actually help vs hurt. My thing is, they make all these efforts to bring in this other community but how many people leave because of it. Did sales continue to pick up after that or did it drop? How did those Iceman books do? Oh terrible. I bought mine all in a quarter bin and there were multiples of each issue.

      Just by making someone gay to appease internet champions doesn't mean that anyone is buying more and your probably driving others away that either stick with their Church values or simply don't get why you have to make a character with zero expression this way for 50 years suddenly gay. It's just poor writing. If it's natural progression or you create a new character that it's naturally there and not the whole reason the character exists, great. Make a great story, don't make a point and then have nothing to do with it that anyone cares about.

      I would have loved if they made the 1960's version gay and our universe Bobby wasn't and it was because they aren't the same people exactly, different realities. That would have been much cooler and I think a better story arch overall. The telepaths could check the current day and agree he's not. The old and younger Bobby would have talks about the differences between them yet they are so alike. The older Bobby would try to mentor the younger one and they could try to figure this out. That's actually interesting and something I woudld much more like to see than just the older Bobby being like, yeah, I was too busy, WHAT?

      I’m 39 and the 35-50, Male, demographic are the largest buyers of comics and have been since the 90’s. They are always trying and failing to get in new customers/readers but doing something like this alienates more of your core audience than what’s being brought in.

      Just like the current X-Men books. I liked the 6 issue relaunches for what they were but they create so many issues with the X-Men ever doing anything with the rest of the Marvel U because they aren’t on the same timeline, ever again. The whole past would have been re-written, the coming of Galactus, Kang, Doom, etc. would all be different. The characters themselves like Rachel and Cable shouldn’t exist as those future timeline wouldn’t happen. It’s just a complete cluster. The new books coming out of the relaunch have been just sooooooo baaaaaad! I picked back up for those six issue minis and now I’m back out on all things X-men. They have lost this core group of readers and their numbers continue to climb. The answers all seam so obvious but they just wont do it.

      Then I see a guy like Bret Booth that would be perfect for an X-men book with a great 90’s feel and yet they won’t touch him. It’s beyond frustrating.

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    2. Did sales continue to pick up after that or did it drop? How did those Iceman books do? Oh terrible. I bought mine all in a quarter bin and there were multiples of each issue.

      The problem is, we have no way of knowing how representative that is. You're citing anecdotal evidence, and we (readers/internet wonks) don't have access to evidence that isn't anecdotal. Even Marvel doesn't have a lot more than anecdotal evidence to go off: there's lots of reasons a given series may or may not sell. The creative team, publicity (or lack thereof), events therein (like examinations of a character's sexuality, sure), industry trends, etc. All can contribute to a book's sales. The fact that the gay Iceman book sold poorly isn't proof that fans don't like gay Iceman anymore than low sales on another book means fans don't like a hetero character. Or maybe they do. We just don't (can't) know.

      Or, to put it another way, I bought four copies of X-Men #1, the best-selling comic book of all time (based on very specific metric) for a quarter and see copies of it in quarter bins everywhere, but that doesn't it's a shit comic or didn't sell.

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    3. If it's natural progression or you create a new character that it's naturally there and not the whole reason the character exists, great. Make a great story, don't make a point and then have nothing to do with it that anyone cares about.

      I definitely agree that I'd rather creators make a great story than a great point, and the biggest problem with the whole gay Iceman reveal is that they didn't do much with it. The problem with the "natural progression" argument is that it's inherently subjective. Your natural progression may be my unnatural progression. As far as X-Men characters go, Iceman being gay never sat that wrong with me: yes, there is a lack of thought-bubbles from him proclaiming he's secretly gay, but that's true of every retcon, from Moira X to Xorn-is-Magneto to Dark Phoenix to "it wasn't the professor who died, it was the Changeling!". But Iceman was never a character who got defined by a love interest (he had them, sure, but they were never a defining part of his character the way, say, Cyclops' relationship with Jean is), his "ladies man" schtick is easy enough, in hindsight, to read as overcompensation, and there was, reportedly, a long-agreed-on notion amongst creators that Iceman was gay, but they couldn't do anything with that canonically at the time due to a number of factors. Of course, most fans didn't know that (by design), and there's nothing OBVIOUS about Iceman overcompensating or lacking a strong, defining hetero relationship to say he's gay, so one person's "ah, that makes sense, actually" is another's "that came out of nowhere!"

      And the other problem with natural progression is that creators' hands are often tied due to the fact that they're writing in long-form serial narratives stretched over decades of societal changes for large corporations wary of rocking any boats. Which means whatever progression is there, it has to have been very, very subtle. Which makes it easy to miss, especially if you're not looking for it, desperate to see any self-representation in a fictional world you love. For example, at any point Marvel could officially reveal that Kitty also likes girls (or at least Rachel and/or Illyana), and my reaction would be, "well, duh", but other fans would probably think that was coming out of left field, an unnatural development for the character. Ditto Mystique & Destiny, if Marvel ever lets a creator come out and outright confirms the pair were lovers back in the day.

      For me, Iceman's sexuality has never really been that big a factor in his characterization; I always assumed he was heterosexual, sure, but, in hindsight, this retcon works as well, if not better than, plenty of other retcons. It's not like I'm losing out on some icon of heterosexuality here (and there's still plenty more of those for me, even if I was), while at the same time, maybe somebody else is seeing themselves in a character in a way they never have before, and to me, that's a good thing, and worth whatever the meager loss of Iceman's heterosexuality represents.

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    4. Pivoting to HoxPox...

      The whole past would have been re-written, the coming of Galactus, Kang, Doom, etc. would all be different.

      How so? Hickman didn't fudge the timeline anymore than the long-in-place sliding timeline has done. His "Year One" designations were just meant to indicate the past, meaning the majority of X-Men history fits into roughly ten years. Which is the standard Marvel Sliding Timeline value (the FF went into space perpetually ten years ago). He compressed some of the early Xavier/Moira/Magneto stuff a bit, but not drastically so.

      The characters themselves like Rachel and Cable shouldn’t exist as those future timeline wouldn’t happen.

      This is something I'm hoping gets addressed at some point (maybe in the forthcoming Moira book). Presumably, it means that Moira, in her current 10th life, will survive long enough for those future eras to come to pass (as she did in lives six and nine).

      The new books coming out of the relaunch have been just sooooooo baaaaaad!

      Agree to disagree. I'm not loving every issue of every book or anything (and remain troubled by some of the moral implications of the new status quo), but I am enjoying the way the line is trying to do something other than rehash the same story they've been rehashing since "Decimation". Where it all goes and where it fits into the pantheon of X-stories remains to be seen, but for now, I'm enjoying the ride.

      They have lost this core group of readers and their numbers continue to climb.

      Yet at the same time, sales on the books have been pretty consistently high, even a few months removed from the initial HoxPox buzz. Of course, the pool of readers isn't as big as it once was, but either the hardcore 35-50 male demographic is still buying (even while they may be grumbling), or enough new readers (to the X-Men, if not comics) are checking out the books to offset those in the demographic who are leaving.

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    5. I agree, I'm not bothered by Iceman being the one they turned gay. It doesn't bother me and I see why he was the easiest to make this happen with. As I shared with my cousin above, it happens. But if the most you do with it is you send him to gay clubs instead of the other clubs he used to visit and don't add a lot more than that, what's the drawing point of a series. I read the second mini after picking them up for a quarter and it just wasn't very interesting. It had Sinister in it but even then, I don't really care for how this Sinister is written. I just never thought the character was that interesting for years so adding this to him....still didn't make him interesting. I can't believe I'm saying this but I might have enjoyed him the most with Chuck Austen writing him and he was a complete jerk.

      I haven't read all of the new X-Books yet but I didn't care for Marauders or X-Men. I've still got to read New Mutants and X-Force but they have been on my nightstand for what, two months, whenever they came out and I just haven't gotten the desire to do it. I like that they went in a different direction. I'm just not interested in it. I enjoy buying stocks way more than I do comics at this point and two comics is basically a dividend stock that will continue to pay me back and grow in value. Easy decision at this point in life.

      When I say it doesn't fit into the rest of the Marvel U, Professor X would then know when these big events would happen and then stop them from doing so, such as Galactus coming, he would be able to get it all setup beforehand with the FF and it then becomes an easy fight and the characters from it don't progress the same. The Infinity Gauntlet, wouldn't Xavier just find the stones first and hide them himself or use it to his will. I mean, there's just a lot there that they can't/won't cover that don't fit with what he knew of the MU.

      As I mentioned, you have people like Cable, Rachel, Bishop wouldn't ever come back in time. People like the Marauders wouldn't ever be cloned, some mutants might not ever become bad if they weren't pulled into a group that way, etc. It's changing a lot of fundamentals that don't really all fit. How is Vulcan in this universe.....when his family wouldn't have had the same experiences going to Shi'Ar space.

      It takes away the Phoenix Saga, did Jean never get the Phoenix force? Did she learn to control it? It feels like Darkest Night or Necrosha where if you think about bringing back every dead person ever, it's a much bigger problem for the living than what those books showed and that's why they sort of fall flat, the magnitude really isn't as big as the situational problem.

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    6. I can't believe I'm saying this but I might have enjoyed him the most with Chuck Austen writing him and he was a complete jerk.

      Ha! Chuck Austen is a terrible writer responsible for some of the worst X-Men stories ever, but there are bits and pieces of his run I do actually like.

      Professor X would then know when these big events would happen and then stop them from doing so

      Maybe I missed something, but I don't think that's the case; for one thing, I don't believe events occurred in every Moira timeline they did in the "main"/current one (ie I don't think Galactus always showed up exactly when he did in every one of her lives). For another, I don't think she's shared all the information she has about her earlier timelines with Xavier, so even if Galactus did come in a previous life, I don't know that she would have told Xavier about it.

      People like the Marauders wouldn't ever be cloned

      The Marauder clones definitely take on a new look in light of the Five and the resurrections. Like, Sinister was basically doing that with the Marauders. Hopefully, at some point, we'll get some clarity as to how the Marauder clones differ from any Five-resurrected mutants.

      It takes away the Phoenix Saga, did Jean never get the Phoenix force?

      Yes? I mean, everything that happened, that we can read in back issues, still happened. It just all happened as part of Moira's tenth life. Obviously, when Moira is, say, examining Phoenix on Muir Island in issue #125, we know now that she's doing so having lived 10 previous lives and is in the midst of secretly orchestrating events to ensure the best possible outcome for mutantkind, but all those stories still happened the way they always have.

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    7. So I, watching this back-and-forth with no opinion on most of it since I haven’t touched a new X-comic in probably over ten years now, then I get to this —

      Obviously, when Moira is, say, examining Phoenix on Muir Island in issue #125, we know now that she's doing so having lived 10 previous lives and is in the midst of secretly orchestrating events to ensure the best possible outcome for mutantkind…”

      — and I’m suddenly thinking “Holy cow, this sounds almost as awful and ill-conceived as DEADLY GENESIS!”

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    8. @Matt: The House of X/Dawn of X stuff is not without its faults, but it is VASTLY more interesting and well-executed than DEADLY GENESIS (as you well know, any plotline stated matter-of-factly enough can sound ridiculous).

      That said, just based on what I've come to know about your tastes from comments here and your own writing, I would not recommend you check out the Hickman X-Men stuff. It's definitely not your cup of tea. :)

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    9. Thanks for looking out for me! Obviously I'm sure there's more nuance to it than what you described, but it's just that sort of ret-con that drives me nuts. Professor X forming a team of X-Men between pages of GIANT-SIZE #1 feels completely forced and unnatural, as does the idea that a character who was known to be human for the entirety of her existence, and who has been dead for 20 years now, turns out to be basically an immortal mutant.

      But again, I haven't read the story, so I can't really judge. I'm sure it's well-written. People seem to love Jonathan Hickman. I might even look at it on Marvel Unlimited, if I can suffer through those horrible lower-case letters. But everything I've read about it (not just the Moira stuff, but Krakoa, Apocalypse as an X-Man, and so forth) just sounds awful to me.

      Though I've observed before that the era of X-Men you're reviewing now was the greatest as far as I was concerned when I was a teen, and I couldn't understand why older fans who had grown up in the 60s, 70s, and 80s ragged on it so much. But now I'm one of those older fans, and I find myself in that same role as regards the current material. I guess it's the circle of life or something!

      (I'm also pretty closed-minded about what I want from entertainment at this point in my life, which I fully recognize and acknowledge.)

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    10. Austin you point out Moria would look at Phoenix different in issue 125 but she showed Xavier her mind when they first meet, meaning Xavier knew all of this before issue 1 of X-Men. He would know to talk to Magneto before he forms the brotherhood and show him what he saw. He would prevent all of the terrible things to happen to many of the X-Men. For example, would he allow Magik to still be captured as a 14 year old girl if he knew it was going to happen? If so, that's terrible, so how is she the older Magik in the series?

      Same goes with the Brood egg that implanted him and he formed the New Mutants because of it. He would know about that beforehand. He would also know about how Jean woudl die and get the Phoenix. I don't think any of this would happen if you knew and changed the most basic of things earlier on like getting Magneto on his side to start. We know that Sinister and Apocalypse never did their things so how did Warren become Archangel?

      I don't know if you read DC's 52 when it launched but almost all of their books reset to a certain degree except for Green Lantern. It almost continued exactly how it was before and it made no sense why that happened.

      I feel like this with the reset. The New Mutants basically pick up going to see Sam in space with this Shi'ar wife, except, how would any of that have happened if all these events had changed along the way and the New Mutants weren't even formed the same way and Magik didn't go through what she did to age how she did?

      That's what makes me mad about this reboot, is they should have actually fully rebooted instead of picking up on story threads that happened in the regular universe when none of it had happened the same way when it's on the 10th attempt and there would have been so many things changed along the way.

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    11. but she showed Xavier her mind when they first meet, meaning Xavier knew all of this before issue 1 of X-Men

      I don't think he did. I don't think *Moira* did. She showed him the fact that she'd lived nine previous lives, and (presumably) the details of those lives. Some of the broadstrokes were consistent but not constant (sometimes Xavier formed the X-Men, sometimes he didn't. Sometimes she sought him out, sometimes she sought Apocalypse instead to try for a different outcome. In one reality, she went full on mutant supremacist with Magneto. Wolverine usually showed up in some capacity). In all lives, mutants were eventually wiped out by some combination of humans and human-created artificial intelligence, and that's what shocks this version of Xavier to do the things he did (that we read about), like form the X-Men, and all the things we're only learning now he also did secretly (like compile a database of mutant genetics with the goal of being to revive any mutants who die).

      The events of the what we know as X-Men history constitute the tenth life of Moira, but neither she nor Xavier were aware that specific events were going to happen. Those events didn't happen in Moira's previous lives because she made different choices in those lives. They didn't know Jean would become Phoenix, or "die", or that Illyana would get trapped in Limbo and emerge as a teenager. Xavier still got implanted by the Brood and formed the New Mutants; not because he knew he was going to, but because that was his response to events happening for both him & Moira for the first time. Magneto wasn't on his side from the start, that came later (just like it did in the stories pre-Moira retcon; we just have more context now for WHY Magneto & Xavier teamed up). Apocalypse still did his thing and created Archangel, something he didn't do in Moira's previous lives (there's a note in one of Moira's journal entries specifically about how "arch" this version of Apocalypse is and how he emerged later than he had in her previous lives). The New Mutants went off into space to visit Sam because their entire history happened exactly as we read it in back issue, including Sam going off into space in Hickman's Avengers. But none of that happened in the life of Moira's I-IX, at least not exactly as it was depicted in the stories we've read.

      Moira didn't know she'd give birth to Proteus, he would go insane, be killed by Colossus, etc. She knew she wanted to create an omega level mutant with reality-altering powers to suit her (still ultimately but intentionally vague) efforts to save mutantkind, and sought out Joe MacTaggert because she believed he offered the best chance for her to sire such a mutant, but she didn't *know* it would result in Proteus or that he would do the things he did; none of that ever happened in any of her previous lives.

      There's definitely some hinky continuity on display in some of the retcons (Forge is seemingly wearing an X-Men uniform when he first meets Xavier, for example), which may receive canonical explanations or may just be writer/artist errors, but the whole business with Moira being a mutant with multiple lives, at least as I understand it, is a retcon, not a reboot. Everything we're familiar with still happened, with no specific foreknowledge of any characters who stood by and allowed it to happen. All that's changed is that now we know some of the characters at various times were doing things and working towards goals we weren't aware of when the original stories were published.

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    12. Okay, I was a bit off, I thought her life 1 was all of the previous X-Men stories and then she went through the different lives and made changes and then the current one was the current universe, I see that the current one is the MU that we know, that makes sense a little more, I'm still not sure how Vulcan and these other people that were techincally evil and dead make sense being alive and good, I get they bring them back, but still.

      Also how is the Legacy Virus death of Moria handled then? Was that version a clone to get people to think she was dead?

      So Xavier and Magneto try to recruit Sinister earlier and they get him archiving DNA but don't they make him forget they were there.....and how did he make him more powerful earlier than what we knew as his existence? I read that he combined Thunderbird DNA into his, what exaclty does that do? Also I haven't followed the past few years of Sinister but why were there so many of them when they visited him, only the one with a cape was a mutant....but why so many of them? I liked the Silvestri early versions to mid 90's versions of Sinister so much better than whatever he's become.

      So from what point in our previous X-Men history did this story really divert? Did that last X-Men run happen where most of the team and other mutant groups were killed? When did Krakoa come back? There must be some real divergent points from our current knowledge of the X-Universe that haven't been explained/covered yet. Did the kid of Krakoa still guard the X-Mansion as part of Wolverine and the X-Men?

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    13. I'm still not sure how Vulcan and these other people that were techincally evil and dead make sense being alive and good, I get they bring them back, but still.

      That is definitely a question hanging around this whole new direction. One intentionally left hanging, I believe. The upcoming HELLIONS book is reportedly going to at least address in part what it means to be a villain on Krakoa, while the later X-FACTOR series is going to address some of the questions surrounding the whole resurrection/The Five piece of things.

      Also how is the Legacy Virus death of Moria handled then? Was that version a clone to get people to think she was dead?

      A "Shi'ar golem", actually (aka a fancy clone). But yeah, the idea was, she faked her death to continue her work in (more) secret. It hasn't yet been made clear exactly how much Xavier knew when (there's been some hints that he basically mind-wiped himself at various times for various reasons), but certainly, if Xavier knew Moira was faking her death when she "died" from the Legacy Virus, that doesn't exactly square with its depiction in the original story (in which he is telepathically in her mind while she dies). I am by no means arguing this retcon is perfect. :)

      So Xavier and Magneto try to recruit Sinister earlier and they get him archiving DNA but don't they make him forget they were there

      I believe they did make him forget, for a time.

      and how did he make him more powerful earlier than what we knew as his existence?

      This, I believe, is another case of us not knowing what we didn't know. Like, we just weren't privy to Mr. Sinister's full deal at the time of his first appearance.

      I read that he combined Thunderbird DNA into his, what exaclty does that do?

      I think that's meant to explain how he has shown heightened durability & strength at various times, but it seems like they're deliberately withholding info on Sinister for, presumably, future stories.

      Also I haven't followed the past few years of Sinister but why were there so many of them when they visited him, only the one with a cape was a mutant....but why so many of them?

      That all came about during Kieron Gillen's run. I haven't read much of it yet so I'm not 100% clear on the changes he made to the character.

      I liked the Silvestri early versions to mid 90's versions of Sinister so much better than whatever he's become.

      Gillen's Sinister has a lot of fans online, but yeah, I'm a stan for the mid-90s scheming, always-up-to-something-but-you're-never-sure-what version myself (not that the current Gillen version wipes that out or anything, it's just not as much a part of his schtick these days).

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    14. So from what point in our previous X-Men history did this story really divert? Did that last X-Men run happen where most of the team and other mutant groups were killed? When did Krakoa come back? There must be some real divergent points from our current knowledge of the X-Universe that haven't been explained/covered yet.

      For the most part, there is no point of divergence. Everything that happened through Rosenberg's UNCANNY run that ended right before HOUSE OF X launched, happened. Everything that changed between that and HOUSE OF X - the return of Krakoa as a (more) benevolent entity to serve as a mutant homeland, the pressing-into-service of the Five as a means to revive dead mutants, the return of any mutants who were dead prior to HOUSE but showed up alive in it - happened in an undetermined period of time between the end of UNCANNY and HOUSE OF X.

      Did the kid of Krakoa still guard the X-Mansion as part of Wolverine and the X-Men?

      Yes (and, in a bit of a happy accident, it now kind of serves as a prelude to the current era of greater harmony between the X-Men and Krakoa).

      In general, I believe that anything that happened previously still happened that way, unless we're specifically told otherwise. In some cases, there's bits of story that, in light of new information gained a new context or needs some additional information to explain how the events fit into the larger retcon (like, for example, the All New X-Men fighting Krakoa in GIANT-SIZE #1. Or, it's not yet clear how "Age of Apocalypse" fits into the mechanics of Moira's multiple lives and overall goals). That context/additional info may not have been fleshed out or fully examined in a story yet, but for the most part, very little has changed in terms of what happened in previous stories.

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  7. Also, that X-men for a quarter series lasted 15+ years, while that Iceman issue couldn't get past issue 6 on two different occasions. Part of it could be the character, the writers/artists, etc. but there is a big difference in quarter books, haha.

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    1. Touche (though technically, I think his 2017 solo series made it to 11 issues). :)

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