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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
August 6, 1985

At the movies:


On the radio:


Nightcrawler 1 of 4

Kurt trains in the Danger Room, Kitty and Illyana observing in the control booth. He's testing his ability to evade missiles without teleporting, so he hops around and completes the sequence by slipping under a falling gate just in time for the pursuing explosives to crash into the barrier: 'When you're born with a tail, you learn to go through doors fast!'

The girls ask why he puts himself through "'no-bamf' routines," so he tells them about that one time he found himself unable to teleport:



Kitty gets excited about the Well and has Kurt describe it to her so she can recreate it using the Room's holograms:



Good job, Kitty; you weren't supposed to summon the real inter-dimensional portal!

Kurt tells Kitty to stay back and leaps to the dragon's rescue, hoping he can bamf back to safety once he's got a grip on Lockheed. The Well disappears before he can pull the tentacles off, though, leaving the girls staring slack-jawed at an empty chamber. They run back up to the control booth, where Kitty gets to work trying to recreate what she did to bring the pair back. The narrator tells us that time passes at different rates across universes, so while minutes pass for the girls in Westchester, weeks go by in the world where Kurt and Lockheed find themselves.

They first thing they do when they get there is get away from the squid-like creature that's grabbed them:



Lockheed hurts the squid-thing with his flame, causing it to scuttle off at high speed, Kurt losing his footing and tumbling over the side at once. Lockheed tries to keep him from falling, but he's too heavy for the little beast to carry. Their luck turns when Kurt spies something else in the sky, however: an airship, complete with mast and sails. He bamfs over to the vessel, and though the initial welcome he gets is less hospitable than he'd like:



he's eventually able to explain to the captain that he's not a Boggie, whatever that is, and that he comes from another world. The captain, Long John McGurk, has heard of that happening before, and so they get to talking:



The crew of the T'ai Javinee take a liking to Kurt after a while, though they make the mistake of letting him teach them poker:



Raza? Is that you?

The fun comes to an end when another airship comes in sight -- I'm not sure what Kurt thought these guys did for a living, but the reality is that they're pirates who attack other ships to rob them. McGurk is enthused to see from the flags flown by the barge that it's carrying a member of a royal family for him to ransom, and all the pirates man the guns, ready to mow down any opposition. Kurt is horrified; his love for pirates goes as far as the aesthetic and no further. Unwilling to allow the cutthroats to cut any throats, he first tries reasoning with McGurk. This is literally their job, though, so that goes nowhere. Seizing control of one of the ship's big energy cannons and blowing the mast off is more successful in ending the assault, as is pointing the gun straight at McGurk and ordering him to turn the T'ai Javinee in the opposite direction. McGurk vows revenge, promising Kurt that he won't get away with this betrayal, but Kurt just bamfs over to the royal barge with Lockheed.

He has to go through the "It's a Boggie!" routine again on the other ship, but once he's explained things to the captain he asks for passage to his port of call. The captain allows it, but when Kurt gets a look at the Jinjav (i.e. Princess) Sabree:



and tries to speak with her, he's pulled away and told to keep his distance. He's distracted from the lack of respect or gratitude briefly when their destination comes into view:



However, when he sees the Jinjav disembarking with her retinue and tries one last time to befriend her, he's once again forced aside. He objects to this treatment and reminds Sabree's chief handler that he saved them from a pirate attack, so the guy offers him a bag of gold for his trouble: "Accept this most generous payment; we have no further need of your services." Big mistake:



Kurt bamfs off in a huff, mere moments before another of the Jinjav's men runs up to report that Sabree was kidnapped as soon as she got off the ship.

Making his way down to the bazaar, Kurt is forced once again to confront prejudice based on how he looks:



He finally gives up and steals a robe hanging off a clothesline so he can walk around without causing mass hysteria:



Just then a pretty girl runs out of an alleyway begging for help. She and her brother were mugged, and he's seriously injured. Kurt, of course, leaps to her assistance, only to discover once in the alley what it feels like to be clubbed over the head from behind. The girl works for Long John McGurk, who's determined to "turn a profit" on the subdued traitor. Lockheed tries to protect him, but one of the pirates BLONG!s him with a serving tray. They wake up on the deck of a boat hitched to a squid-thing and told by the guy in charge that the pirates sold them to him as slaves. Kurt doesn't like the sound of that, but the guy's got magic powers and is a shark:



So that's going to be a problem.

Script and Pencils: Dave Cockrum
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Next Time:

 

Erik Sieurin

Translemurist
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Did anyone ever in real life say "hot dog"? As an exclamation, I mean, not as a food order?

(I'm not Americanese, I get most of my Amerilanguage from various pop culture...)
 

Slickpuppy

Another Gentleman Loser
Validated User
The Nightcrawler mini remains one of my favorite comics ever. I'd give my eyeteeth for a nice TPB collection. Dave Cockrum didn't do a lot of writing (this, a few shorts, and his irregular Futurians series), but when he did he was by-god having fun!
 

Count_Zero

Game Master
Validated User
So, with Revenge of the Living Monolith, I wonder if Hirohiko Araki had read it before he wrote the Battle Tendency arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
Did anyone ever in real life say "hot dog"? As an exclamation, I mean, not as a food order?

(I'm not Americanese, I get most of my Amerilanguage from various pop culture...)
I've never heard anyone say it in person, only seen it in fiction.
The swashbuckling begins!
The Nightcrawler mini remains one of my favorite comics ever.
Nothing of real substance happens in it, but it's a vehicle for Kurt to do his thing in the spotlight and for Cockrum to run amok in his silly Barsoom/Oz/Wonderland mashup. The story is paper-thin, leaving the character writing and visuals to do all the heavy lifting. They do exactly that, though, so there's no problem -- I'd say it's a successful version of what that one Annual with the Impossible Man wanted to be.

Meanwhile in Secret Wars II . . .

The Beyonder spends the fourth issue of the series looking for love. After getting some advice about what makes for a satisfying relationship from Owen, he settles on Alison, certain that her love "cannot be bought at any price!" He whisks her away from out of the middle of a story from her solo series to romance her. She's not unwilling in principle, but he comes on way too strong for comfort, inundating her with gifts, trips to exotic locales, an obsequious staff to take care of all her needs, and even a sold-out concert with a huge crowd of cheering fans -- real people, not facsimiles created for the purpose.

She doesn't feel right letting him do all that for her, though, worrying she won't really be living her own life with him, so he tries a new tactic -- he creates copies of the Avengers and has them attack him without provocation, hoping Alison will object and act to protect him. She does, having grown somewhat fond of the guy, but after helping him fend off the team and getting away safely, she figures out what he did. He admits it, and in response to her telling him she's still uncomfortable with the power difference between them gives her half of his:



The experience freaks her out a little, and she gives back all the energy The Beyonder gave her while flying away at high speed and telling him she doesn't want his power or the life he offers. She doesn't remember to land before exhausting all the extra power, though, and so falls to her death. Her admirer is distraught; he resurrects her at once, and when she gets up again she's suddenly turned all the way around on him, asking him to marry her right away. He's forcibly changed her mind to be in love with him, but decides he can't justify overruling her true wishes and restores her to the way she was:



As Secret Wars II #5 opens, the Beyonder is walking on a set of railway tracks when a train comes up behind him. Annoyed and unwilling to just move out of it's way, he disassembles it with a thought, setting the passengers and crew on the ground behind him unharmed. One of them, an adolescent girl, intuits that he made the train fall apart and thinks he must be a mutant like her. She's on her way to a place she's heard rumours about:



So the X-Men's school and location are basically open secrets, then. That mission to cyber-attack the computers at the Pentagon looks dumber and dumber in hindsight, if thirteen-year-olds hundreds of miles away have heard about the school and know almost precisely where it is.

The girl turns out to be a runaway, looking for a place to go after leaving an abusive home:



She shows off her mutant power, the ability to create energy orbs that explode after a countdown she sets:



She gets her companion to open up as well; he explains that he blew up the train because he's been feeling down since Alison rejected him. Tabitha is more understanding than you'd think a thirteen-year-old would be, commiserating with the alien about how much rejection sucks:
First, you think it's your fault, like you're the jerk! So you try to fix yourself -- and since that never works, you just feel more useless and stupid! So you pretend it isn't happening -- you cover it up! Like, "Open For Business As Usual During Our Disaster," you know? Or else you wallow in it -- like, you turn it into a game where you get ten points for each rejection and whoever is the most miserable wins! Sometimes you get mad and try to hurt 'em back! I did that to Daddy -- which is why he punched my lamps out! I should have put a bigger time bomb in his lasagna! Oh, well . . . . Any way you slice it, it leaves you lonely! You just want so bad for somebody to want you!
The Beyonder seizes on desire again, seeing it as the base of all his woes. He claims he's ready to go back to his home dimension where he won't have to deal with it anymore, but Tabitha thinks that sounds like hiding from life and likens it to suicide. She knew someone who killed herself, and has other friends "vegged out on drugs and stuff." The Beyonder doesn't think that applies to him and insists on leaving, so she gives him a goodbye hug and thanks him for "the company and food and stuff!"

Back in his original universe, the Beyonder puts off disincorporating, feeling a little regretful he didn't bring anything from the other universe with him. He knows he can just create anything he wants, of course, but that thought leads to another:



Then the time bomb in his back pocket goes off, reminding him of his other friend. He picks her up the next day and drives her to the mansion, healing her face along the way. She figured he'd be back, guessing correctly that he's "not ready to quit yet!" When they arrive, the people there don't exactly meet her expectations:




Deciding he doesn't need this headache again, the Beyonder drives away. Rachel orders the team to pursue the entity, telepathically influencing them to obey. Left behind, Tabitha decides this place isn't for her after all and takes off into the woods. The team loses their quarry and returns, Logan more than a little peeved about Rachel's stunt:



The X-Men are total failures at their own raison d'etre in this comic.

While that's going on, Tabitha's calling out to the Beyonder in the woods, but he doesn't come. Dejected, she makes as big a bomb as she can and hugs it to her chest, claiming aloud she's ready to "quit . . . this time for real," but she's unharmed when it goes off. The Beyonder wasn't fooled, and chides her for the "stupid stunt" intended to bring him to her. He invites her to come on a ride with him, and as they take off she admits that while she isn't all-the-way ready to die, she's not exactly content either:



They go to the big space station built around the Celestials and eat alien mall food, then the Beyonder decides to give Tabitha a show and picks a fight with the big guys:




Tabitha didn't think that was fun, though; she's really scared of him now. He tries to calm her down by making one of her inner desires come true, first changing her face to be "prettier," then aging her body to adulthood, and finally taking away her mutant power and making her normal. That only makes it worse, and she angrily demands he change her back to the way she was and put her back on Earth. He does, grumbling about her ingratitude. He returns to Earth as well, holing up in his mansion. While he sinks back into his rejection-induced funk, Tabitha calls for help:



She goes back to the campsite from the previous night and calls for him, and this time he returns right away, desperately happy she still wants to see him. He shares that he's begun seriously thinking about "quitting," but Tabitha only runs off in response, a bunch of superheroes launching themselves at the universal threat as she flees:



They eventually notice he's not fighting back, though, and don't seem to know quite what to do without their opponent putting in his share. Steve asks him why he doesn't just go back where he came from, but the Beyonder only tells him he already tried and found he couldn't go back to how things were before. Dejected at Tabitha's betrayal, he walks away lower than he's ever been before:



Issue #4 sucks a whole hell of a lot -- whatever Shooter saw or imagined in pairing his very weird protagonist with Alison, it didn't translate to the page -- but I'm actually impressed with how #5 turned out completely the opposite, with Tabitha and the bond she has with the Beyonder both carrying the drama really well. The discussion of suicide is surface level, but it doesn't feel inauthentic or anything, and both principal characters leave the comic friendless and homeless, having come close, but ultimately failing, to make a connection. Shooter can put this one in the win column.
 
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JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
August 27, 1985

At the movies:


On the radio:


New Mutants 34

Warlock attacks Illyana ferociously, believing himself the only remaining hope to save his friends. Not wanting to hurt him, Illyana tries to keep her distance and get him to calm down, but is unable to convince her demonic minions not to fight to protect her. They should've listened to her; Warlock reasons that even though Dani told him he needed her permission to transform living creatures into techno-organic material, it's necessary under the circumstances:



Thinking better of it, Illyana doesn't fight the alien, instead making herself appear younger than she is -- shorter and flat-chested , wearing a knee-length dress that accentuates her innocence. She tells him she could kill him, but doesn't want to and asks him to believe her actions will all make sense when he hears her plan. He's not sure if he should trust her:



Ultimately he can't go through with hurting her, though, and backs down in the face of her puppy dog eyes. Distraught at his weakness, Warlock is tempted to allow himself to discorporate, a fitting punishment, he thinks, for failing to either save or avenge the team. Illyana convinces him she's not evil and they still have a chance to rescue the others, to his relief and delight. Together they spy on everyone at the nightclub, hoping Xi'an will let something revealing slip while she revels in her domination over her puppets. She does, but also puts a timer on how long Illyana and Warlock have to act:



Illyana takes Warlock into the past "nearly twenty years ago" to witness the events originally shown in Uncanny X-Men #117, a younger Ororo pickpocketing a vacationing Charles followed by his encounter with Amahl Farouk. It's not made clear how she knew to come there, but I guess it's possible she knows a spell that can tell her when Charles went to Cairo or something. Apropos of nothing, Warlock apes another alien child here:



Farouk's death plays out pretty much like it did before, with only one significant difference. Here's the Byrne-drawn scene:



And here's Leialoha:



Rather than just being shocked, the women are clearly relieved by the fat man's death. Illyana explains how the two had a psychic duel to Warlock and works out the rest, which is pretty much what I'd guessed back when Xi'an first disappeared:



Of course, you guys let me know Farouk would be coming back sometime and become a big deal way back when, so that's less an intelligent deduction than a random guess that turned out right.

To answer Warlock's question, they have no time to wait for anyone else to come; it's all up to them. Now, they could set up a message for the X-Men to receive in time to get and come to their aid in the present right when and where they are, but I guess that doesn't occur to either of them.

Farouk is preparing to get to work on Ororo, pausing to savour the moment with a villainous soliloquy, when Illyana intrudes onto the scene:




She pretends to accept "Karma's" offer of friendship, and the villain invites her to shake on it. It's only a pretext to get her in arm's reach, however. Farouk assault's Illyana's mind as soon as the distance is closed between them, attempting to overpower the psychic defences that keep telepaths out of her mind. While the struggle goes on, the mutants already under his control, put to sleep so he can concentrate on Illyana, disappear into her teleport discs one by one. Illyana resists mightily, but eventually weakens under the pressure, revealing that she's actually Warlock in disguise!



The trip to Limbo has freed the others of Farouk's control, and they all return and attack at once, tossing the rotund rapscallion about with no chance to catch his breath. He's somehow able to grab control of Rahne under the furious assault, so Dani tries the trick that worked to paralyze him last time, but now the vision she creates is completely different, a scene from the war in Vietnam. Realizing the truth, both she and Illyana stop Warlock from transmuting Xi'an to techno-organic matter, for Xi'an it is, freed from the villain's control for the first time in a long time.

They all rush to comfort her and assure her she's going to be okay now, but Farouk is now possessing one of them. He telepathically knocks out Rahne, fearing she might be able to sniff him out, leaving the others unsure who among them to trust, while around them the club burns, set alight by Amara's power during the battle. Illyana accuses Ororo, and summons her Soulsword; she claims it can kill if she focusses hard enough and swings, but changes her target to Doug at the last moment, prompting a response that outs him as Farouk's actual host:



Wow, Dani and Amara. I mean, are you trying to make the guy feel bad?

Farouk claims they'll have to kill their friend to kill him, so Ororo unsheathes her knife and goes for it, willing to pay that price. Xi'an isn't going to let that happen, though -- if anyone's going to swoop in and get the final victory in the place of the one who did basically everything, it's going to be her, damnit! They duel on the astral plane, Farouk making himself look powerfully muscled, while Xi'an appears as fat as his use has made her physical body. He tries to psyche her out, telling her he only ever "provided the excuse you needed to unleash your true nature," and that everything he did as her, she was complicit in. He intends to retake her body now, so he can get all his plans back underway, and invites her to give up and let him win, offering her a gilded cage inside her own mind "where you can dream the loveliest of dreams and live happily ever after." Encouragement from her friends allows her to see through the bullshit, of course:




So we basically have this:


But with bees in place of ghosts.

Xi'an intends to imprison Farouk within her mind until Charles can deal with the villain for good, but he slips away to the astral plane before she can wrestle him into the cell next to Tran's. Once he's out of her sight, the fear comes back and she's suddenly afraid he'll come for her again in a moment when her defences are down. She asks her friends to leave her for the fire, which is now out of control, but naturally they refuse:



Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Steve Leialoha
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

This is a big win, replicating the first time the kids' mentor took out a villain right as he's about to exit the picture. Much like when the X-Men beat Proteus, though, readers aren't allowed to gloss over the trauma suffered by characters in the course of things, instead ending on a bittersweet note. I was only kidding about Xi'an stealing Illyana's thunder, by the way -- it's a good thing for her to get to be a rescuer as well as the rescued here, and I appreciate that the victim who's suffered most at the villain's hands is the one who sends him packing. Xi'an and Illyana have a lot in common, now that I think of it, so it'll be interesting to see how they're compared/contrasted going forward.

That bit about Kirinos at the very end twigged something for me -- Ororo was probably supposed to be Charles originally. He recovered from his breakup with Moira there, whereas Ororo's never been linked with the place before, and having the kids' teacher and Farouk's actual nemesis, not a stand-in for him, would've punched up the drama a bit. I can only guess at the reason he wasn't ultimately included. As is, the story holds up just fine, though again I wish Sienkiewicz had stayed on just a little longer so he could go out with more of a bang.

Next Time:

 

Spatula

More Ideas Than Time
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Though the superheroes come out of it (the SW II issue) looking like tools.

That’s an unusual “origin” for Tabitha that I had quite forgotten. I wonder if she ever referenced that she went into space and saw the Beyonder beat down the Celestial Host when she was in middle school, later on in her career. Probably in Nextwave if anywhere...

I don’t think the bit about Tabitha knowing of Xavier’s school should be taken as anything other than Shooter wanting to move the Beyonder there, continuity be damned. It’s not like any other mutants have turned up on the mansion’s doorstep during this period. It seems like Shooter could have instead had her disclose her mutant-ness to the Beyonder and he could have suggested the school, achieving the same end. The Beyonder (I want to call him “Steve” in his human guise) had undoubtedly observed the place at various times and would know of Xavier’s mission, even if he didn’t understand it.
 
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Evil Midnight Lurker

What Lurks at Midnight
Validated User
The Beyonder (I want to call him “Steve” in his human guise) had undoubtedly observed the place at various times and would know of Xavier’s mission, even if he didn’t understand
John Byrne, in his Superman reboot, had Mxyzptlk first appear looking like the Beyonder and calling himself, I think, "Ben DeRoy." :p
 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
Though the superheroes come out of it (the SW II issue) looking like tools.
They do, especially the X-Men.
I don’t think the bit about Tabitha knowing of Xavier’s school should be taken as anything other than Shooter wanting to move the Beyonder there, continuity be damned. It’s not like any other mutants have turned up on the mansion’s doorstep during this period. It seems like Shooter could have instead had her disclose her mutant-ness to the Beyonder and he could have suggested the school, achieving the same end.
Don't expect any more strays to show up on the porch, got it.
 
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