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[WIR] X-Men II: Focussed Totality Is A Song Within Her When Ah'm Blastin'!

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
December 18, 1984

At the movies:


On the radio:


Kitty Pryde and Wolverine 5 of 6

Kitty spooks Shigematsu in his office, threatening him to return control of her dad's bank back to him or else. That done, she drops down into the street below, leaving the loose-fitting ninja clothing she wears over another outfit embedded in the ceiling of the subway station and slips into the restroom to apply makeup to obscure her eyes so no one will think she looks suspicious:




Whatever you say, kid.

She gets on a train and looks at her reflection on the ride, considering all the changes she's gone through. Not just since coming to Japan, either: 'If I'd never joined the X-Men, I wouldn't be in this mess. Would it have been so bad to live a normal, ordinary life? Is it too late to try?! Go to college, meet some guy, have 2.4 kids, live happily ever after. That's what other women do -- lots of 'em -- why not me?!' The thought that she'd have to give up the good parts of having powers stops her from following that train of thought:



VAPE LYFE!

I don't know exactly what being the Daimyo of an ancient Japanese noble family entails in a modern context, but it apparently includes a lot of office work, as Mariko returns to her Tokyo penthouse late after a long day. She's greeted by the little girl Logan rescued in Uncanny #181, so it seems he got Mariko to adopt her:



She's called Akiko here, though she was Amiko previously. That's nothing new, of course -- Bobby's last name was Blake in several Silver Age issues, and Scott's mom's name is either Anne or Kate.

They chat as Mariko relaxes in the bath, her dialogue warning the young girl about sexism in the workplace while the art lingers on the tops of her breasts, the nipples just out of view under the water. A noise makes Mariko get out and check for an intruder, but she doesn't find anything. We see that someone is there, though.

Logan, Yukio, and Carmen follow after Kitty, having confirmed she hasn't returned to the school. Carmen wonders what she's doing, so Logan explains:
Carmen: "Why is she in Tokyo?! Why didn't she go home -- you cured her, didn't you?!"
Logan: "Ain't that simple. The kid figures she has to prove to herself that she's free by confronting her demon -- Ogun -- face to face. If she's right, he'll probably kill her. If she's wrong -- if Ogun takes her again -- I will."
Yeesh. First he fills her head with the idea that getting help from friends is for babies and that if she doesn't orient her whole life around getting back at an asshole who victimized her she's letting him win; now he's going to kill her if the coming confrontation goes horribly wrong.

Ogun, wearing his red oni mask, slips silently into Mariko's bedroom and decapitates her as she sleeps, or would have if she weren't Kitty in disguise. Surprised, he's off balance for a moment, allowing Kitty to fight him on even terms for a few pages, though she can't access the skills he taught her anymore:



Ogun slips out of sight, though, and before Kitty can find him again he imitates a woman's scream, tricking Kitty into running for the place she hid her and Akiko away. He bursts in behind her, and one of his shuriken finds her leg. She phases her friends through the floor and orders them to run while she holds off Ogun, but the poison coating the throwing star soon deprives her of her mutant power, so the "fight" after that is mostly just him toying with her while she refuses to give up. He easily directs the battle onto the roof and backs her up against the edge, then makes his offer -- either death, or immortality as his "favored child." He tries the mind meld thing again, but Kitty's able to resist it this time. Forced to acknowledge her as an "honored foe," he draws his sword and is about to kill her when he's interrupted:



"I mean, you'll clearly miss her completely if you don't aim more to the right. Also, I'm four feet tall now and have no neck."

Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Allen Milgrom
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The art's not great, the character writing's worse, and Kitty doesn't even have her 1337 ninja skillz anymore, which I kinda thought was the whole point of this exercise. I guess not.

Next Time:

 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
December 25, 1984

At the movies:


On the radio:


New Mutants 26

Tom Corsi is showing off to Sharon how he can lift a ridiculously heavy barbell in his new body, awed at the near-superhuman physiques they got out of the encounter with the Bear:



An astral image of a teenage boy neither recognizes appears before them and tries to talk to them, but he speaks a language they don't know. The boy, who Tom says "looks like an Arab," begins to scream and vanishes, and at that moment an alarm goes off. David, Charles's son, is throwing a fit in his room, tossing everything inside around in every direction telekinetically while hovering over his bed begging for someone to "make it stop!" The pair try to get to him, but they find themselves pinned in the middle of the room unable to move, and then the kid starts to laugh:



Charles takes the Blackbird out to Muir Island the next day; with him are half the New Mutants (Dani, Rahne, Doug, and Warlock) and Sean Cassidy, who's returning to the island after his rescue from a kidnapping that happens in X-Men two issues from now:



Rahne is disappointed that "Lady Moira" seems more happy to see her boyfriend, who has recently survived a life-threatening experience, than she is to see her. She scolds herself for being a brat (which, yeah) but can't help feeling as she does. Moira comes over and reassures her she loves her too, while Warlock makes a spectacle of himself:




I'm with Doug; that's cute.

Moira tells Charles she needs his help with a patient and shows him Tom and Sharon, who are comatose in her lab. There's no physical damage to their bodies, but they won't wake up. He asks what happened, and Gaby Haller shows herself to say she's kind of responsible. The reunion is warm, and Gaby asks Charles to help her son, who, like her whe she was younger, resists any interaction with the outside world:



Sadly, Claremont has characters throwing around words like "catatonic," "schizophrenic," and "autistic" interchangeably, seemingly more interested in getting across the general idea that David's not normal to an audience presumed to be unable/uninterested in grasping the finer details than in representing the neural-atypical. I'm not exactly surprised, given when this was created, but it's still less-than-great.

Charles delves into David's mind, but as with his mother, a wall blocks him from entering past the surface:



A face appears in the wall, and as before Charles notes he looks Arabic. The face tries to speak, but fire suddenly bursts out of the mouth and eyes, hurling Charles from his son's mind:



Sienkiewicz is clearly having a ball with this story, and the art gets even better next issue.

As the trio of adults pick themselves up, Charles feels his heart 'pounding so hard it hurts. I shouldn't be surprised, Callisto warned me what to expect. I . . . I mustn't let the others see. They're depending on me. They mustn't know.' Whatever that might mean, he takes it easy in front of a roaring fire after that, reflecting on the experience. Gaby joins him after a bit, giving him an opportunity to say he's sorry about that whole "violating a sacred trust" thing:



[cringe] "Trauma that made him autistic," yikes.

Rahne goes to see Moira in her lab that night, seeking comfort after an unpleasant encounter with Reverend Craig earlier, which her godmother is happy to provide, though their bonding time is soon interrupted by the ghost of Proteus that psychic Arabic kid:



Then the lab explodes.

Hail to the Queen

Manuel de la Rocha is summoned to Emma's office, where she makes her displeasure concerning recent events known:



He makes mealy-mouthed excuses about only wanting to help, but Emma doesn't accept a word of it. She takes him to task for his obnoxious behaviour, telling him he's made a burden of himself to everyone and is a total disappointment. He responds by using his power on her, gloating about how awesome he is for not holding back in fear as she writhes in desire for him and leans in close for a kiss. He should really have held back in fear, though:



If Manuel is going to get treated like this when he shows up, I might begin to enjoy his presence after all.

Meanwhile, in R'lyeh

Lee wakes up to the sound of Magneto screaming in fear, apparently gripped in a nightmare. Objects all through the palace float in the air, including the bed Lee's companion is sleeping in, and when it goes out the window she leaps onto it, worried he'll drop into the sea if she doesn't wake him up. She succeeds, and the experience leaves the pair feeling frisky:




Ullapoolooza

The kids go sightseeing in the town of Ullapool, taking pictures and exploring, though Warlock needs to be scolded for grabbing a quick snack:



Dani snatches his hand as she reminds the alien he's not allowed to eat in public, then half-panics as she realizes she might not want to touch someone who can casually infect her with a life-altering virus:



Warlock apologizes and promises he'll never do anything to hurt his friends; Dani accepts, but tells him he's not allowed to eat anything without her, Sam's, or the professor's consent "until you understand our world." As if that wasn't stressful enough, one of Marvel Earth's ready-made mobs pops up out of the aether to harass them, led by Rahne's old friend:



Not wanting a confrontation, Rahne asks that they just leave.

Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Bill Sienkiewicz
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

It's been a while since #1, but David finally shows up, and the result is promising. The terrible mental health vocabulary aside, the mystery presented is engaging, the visuals are striking, and Warlock is present and accounted for. Thumbs up.

Next Time:

 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
As the trio of adults pick themselves up, Charles feels his heart 'pounding so hard it hurts. I shouldn't be surprised, Callisto warned me what to expect. I . . . I mustn't let the others see. They're depending on me. They mustn't know.' Whatever that might mean, he takes it easy in front of a roaring fire after that, reflecting on the experience.
This is referencing something that happened to Xavier in Uncanny #192-193 ; as you noted, New Mutants is getting slightly ahead of the main book for this arc.
 

darkgloomie

Un-jiggly
Validated User
Am I the only one finding Rahne somewhat annoying? It seems every time she's on page, she has to find something to be miserable about. Either she's not pretty enough, or her BFF is hanging around somebody else, or she hates someone, or she hates herself, or her mom doesn't instantly go for a hug.

At least Moira quickly puts to rest that one line of thought. And I do understand she's screwed up due to her being raised by/around bigots, but it feels such a downer.
 

Scurrilous

Registered User
Validated User
I always liked Rahne but I'd stopped reading by this point as I didn't like the art. Still, looking back now, it's pretty clear she's a one note character which seems sad since she has a pretty clear growth arc right in front of her. But then she goes to Genosha and thereafter pretty much only shows up to suffer and get killed and stuff.
 

Wakshaani

Cheesey Goodness
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Meanwhile, for some of us, the self-loathing and doubt of Rahne is rather on-point and familiar. You have no idea how much self-sabotogue you'll do when an escape is *right* *there*.

At the end of the day, if you feel like you *deserve* to suffer, then you won't take the door out.
 

Master_Forcide

Registered User
Validated User
But then she goes to Genosha and thereafter pretty much only shows up to suffer and get killed and stuff.
I think you're being unfair to the 90's here. After Genosha she heads to X-Factor and then Excalibur, and she's no worse off than any of her teammates. In general, though, I'll agree that she's stuck as a "recovering trauma survivor" and rarely a "recovered trauma survivor."
 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
December 25, 1984

At the movies:


On the radio:


Secret Wars 12 of 12

In Marsha's apartment, currently hurtling through space back to Earth just like the rest of the piece of Denver scooped over to Battleworld, Amora secludes herself in the bathroom and fills up the tub. She summons a water elemental and forces her to fill her (and us) in on some lingering questions concerning the Beyonder -- he comes from a universe where he makes up all of existence, so when he became aware of their universe, with countless independent lifeforms, he was confused and wanted to understand it. Naturally, his attention was especially focussed on Earth, and so its inhabitants were selected for his first experiment, meant to let him study the nature of desire. Amora wants to know what's happening on Battleworld, too, and by supercharging the spirit with her own power learns of events that have taken place since the villains left, including what the Beyonder's up to now:



Deciding she needs to get back to Asgard right away, Amora takes advantage of an altercation between Otto and Owen to lure Marsha out of the apartment. She calls in the favour Marsha promised to do for her, demanding her "life-force" so she can gain the energy to teleport back home.

Otto's issue is that he despairs of ever making it back to Earth, what with the vast distance separating them and all. Owen assures him he has the power to overcome the problem, but when he proves it, the scale of the implications sort of breaks Otto's brain:



Owen insists on not being killed, and also on Otto getting some help:



The Lizard, who's gotten close to Marsha in the last little while, tells Owen that Amora took her away and goes with him to find her. They burst in on the scene before Amora's finished, forcing her to flee back to the only place still in range, Battleworld. Fierce in his desire to protect his friend of (counts) five pages, Lizard leaps upon the Asgardian as she disapparates, and so zips back to the planet with her. He slashes her face in the next moment, marring her beauty and driving her to a murderous wrath. She drains him of his life, leaving him a burned-out husk, then chances that the energy she gets is enough to get her to Asgard and is gone in a flash.

Meanwhile, Victor very nearly dozes off, the Beyonder-possessed Klaw poised to seize the opportunity, but rouses himself just in time. Deprived of that chance, Klaw creates another, putting the idea of reviving the heroes in his boss's head under the guise of warning him how they might have been brought back:



Victor insists the whole thing is stupid, angrily shouting that they're all dead right up to the point when Mjolnir bashes a hole through his living room. The villain powers up, but he's too worked up to control it, putting all of reality at risk. At Klaw's suggestion, he gives him some power -- only "enough to blacken ten thousand suns" -- and sends him off to deal with the problem while he composes himself. Steve, armed with a torn-up shield, leads the others in an attack:



To meet them Klaw creates Ultron and an army of monsters, some giant, others person-sized. Wrestling with one of the smaller ones, Ben starts to turn back to his human self, but wills himself to stop and reverse the change. Dispatching the creature with a mighty blow, he tells Jen he knows now he can control the transformations, and though he keeps fighting, he can't help but cry tears of joy at the revelation. Another big bruiser has worse luck, though:



Janet is able to render Ultron inoperable by getting inside and yanking wires. While the bulk of the heroes contend with the beasts at the entrance, Steve makes for Victor's sanctuary. Klaw lets him pass, then follows, gleefully reacting to Victor powering up and vaporizing the Avenger. Worried he might do something unwise because of a stray thought, he then starts to power down, but stray thoughts are pretty fast:




Victor just freaks right out at this point, falling to his knees as his power fills the room with light, apparently struggling with keeping it from atomizing all existence. Steve senses how boned he might be if Victor loses control and offers his hand, wanting to share the struggle with his enemy. The Beyonder sees his moment and acts, evacuating Klaw and grabbing back his power. Klaw immediately confesses and explains what the Beyonder did, but it's too late. He rushes to the boss's side just as the omnipotent being zaps himself and Victor away, leaving Steve in possession of the field. I think that makes him the winner.

Eight pages of wrap-up follow: Peter (R) mourns Zsaji; Curt Connors, purged of the Lizard persona, wanders in without having a clue where he is or what's happening; some of the heroes make new costumes for themselves:



Rogue's new costume looks pretty good in these variant colours, too.

Bruce is forced to endure a leg brace due to the injury Ultron inflicted on him, which doesn't do his mood any favours:



He's surly as he hobbles off, making Clint worry he might be "losing it!" Lockheed returns with a female admirer in tow; Peter (P) notes the others didn't get their costumes out of the same machine he got his from; Reed comes up with a theory for the happy coincidences of late (Doctor Connors and Lockheed finding their way to Doombase just before the heroes leave for Earth) -- there's a "wish-fulfillment" field around the planet that responds to strong force of will, which in turn gives Steve an idea:




The heroes transport back to Earth in groups, a power surge resulting from the other small dragon inviting herself along complicating the X-Men's transference. Reed hopes it doesn't cause any problems for the group when they materialize on the other side. The Avengers are next to depart, but Jen isn't going to leave with them, instead having decided to join the Fantastic Four:



Ben wants to stay on Battleworld, where he can be "regular ol' Ben Grimm again whenever I want!" He feels he can't just pass on the opportunity to realize a years-long dream, though he asks Reed to leave him the device that will transport him back to Earth, a low-key admission this is just a sabbatical, not a permanent move. Reed has a suspicion that there's something "that might shatter [Ben]" at the root of his transformations, but won't dare share it with his friend, and so he, Johnny, and Jen bid him farewell and return home. The series closes out with Ben taking the Thinker's pose on a rock butte and declaring he ain't afraid of no solitude.

Script: Jim Shooter
Pencils: Mike Zeck
Editor: Tom DeFalco

And there's Secret Wars! Like Giant-Size X-Men, in that it's much more important than it is a good comic. It's not terrible, but it's definitely hurt by the meat of the series getting backloaded into the final four issues, not to mention being at least twice as long as it should be. Zsaji is weirdly promoted as important despite barely being a character at all, other characters having to provide readers with what they think she might be saying due to neither they nor us being able to understand anything she says -- a bizarre choice. The Beyonder is just as much of a cipher; we come out of this knowing he doesn't understand non-cosmic entities and wants to, but that's it. We don't even get any kind of first-person reaction to his being humbled by one of the lesser lifeforms he wanted to study. The strengths of the series are in the downtime scenes between the various heroes and villains just chilling out and talking, some of the action beats (like Hulk holding up that mountain) and some of Victor Von Doom's material.

Victor's arc is alright, going from being humiliated by cosmic gods, to humiliating them in turn, to defeating himself with Steve Rogers looking down at him, but I wouldn't call it a top-tier Doom story.

For the X-Men specifically, this is the first time the team has been presented as more natural allies to Magneto than to other superheroes, which I like in one way (spotlighting how the mainstream can have trouble relating to/understanding minority cultures) and dislike in another (serves as an easy, which may lead to lazy, source of cheap conflict with other heroes).

If people are wondering about Secret Wars II, I've pretty much decided what I'm doing: I'll read the series and share any relevant events with the thread, but will refrain from full write-ups unless I'm wrong about how central the X-Men will be to the event.

Next Time:

 

Davies

Registered User
Validated User
If people are wondering about Secret Wars II, I've pretty much decided what I'm doing: I'll read the series and share any relevant events with the thread, but will refrain from full write-ups unless I'm wrong about how central the X-Men will be to the event.
Uhhhh ... without giving spoilery details, Secret Wars II introduces a major change to one group of mutants, sooo ... it's your call, you are the one who has to read through this ... stuff.
 

Wakshaani

Cheesey Goodness
RPGnet Member
Validated User
To my knowledge, that's the first time that Cap's shield has ever been broken. It's become a sort of Worf Effect thing these days, but back then it was HUGE.

I never *did* find out what the "terrible secret" of Ben's transformations was.

I also don't know if theres ever been any followup with Molecule Man and Volcana to Enchantress or Lizard/Enchatntress, Lizard/Wasp, or many other short encounters that came from this.

Absorbing Man and Titania became a major thing, getting married at one point, and have been effectively inseparable. Her beating by Spidey has come up tho and her rivalry with She-Hulk's a regular feature. I feel like there should have been blowback between Jen and the Wrecking Crew and/or Doc Ock but I don't think there ever was. Doc being BROKEN by this experience resulted in a *fantastic* Spider-Man story tho. One of the best ever featuring him even.

So, lots of fallout from here.
 
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