• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

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

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
September 3, 1985

At the movies:


On the radio:


Longshot 4 of 6

The security cameras at the power plant got clear views of Longshot's face; since they were unable to register the other aliens there, he alone is blamed for the blackout and theft in media reports:



Our hero, meanwhile, is walking the streets of New York, trying to give away the diamonds he took. You'd think that would be easy, but everyone refuses to take any -- some reject them assuming they're fake, others for being too hot. Longshot's confused by that complaint: 'Geez, they feel cool to me!' Regardless, the only ones who take any are some kids he comes across in an alley.

They're introduced playing as a crew of space heroes reminiscent of a certain group; they've kitted out an abandoned junkheap of a car on cinder blocks with star and planet decals and cardboard tube rocket engines and almost succeed in wiping out the bad guys before falling to infighting over whether they're the Starrammers or Starslammers. The argument escalates until they're all outside the car in a pile on, exchanging "Puke-Breath," "Sludge-Head," and other charming insults. A pair of one of the kids' parents come along, forcing them to stop and letting Nocenti slip in more social commentary:



They pool their funds to see if they can buy comics, but find that between them they can only manage ninety cents, not even enough for two. (For reference, ninety cents in 1985 is $2.15 today, i.e. less than what I paid for my digital copy of Bizarre Adventures #27.) Naturally, when Longshot overhears them and offers them some diamonds, they happily accept and chat for a bit, the oldest kid taking quite a shine to the fellow before he moves on:



Longshot wanders through Central Park next, reflecting on how strangely unreal the world seems to him. He wonders how much of his experiences have actually happened, even questioning whether the monsters he's fought are real, but his ruminations are cut short by a large green crimefighter:



He tries to keep his distance and asks her to stop and let him explain, but she tosses him around like a rag doll, obviously way out of his league. Jen hears him babble about a dead baby and a portal and decides he must be an escaped mental patient; realizing his attacker isn't listening to him, he focuses his spirit, making his left eye glow brightly. His luck comes through for him, letting his knives and a scrounged power cord distract Jen just long enough for him to get away from her. Peter catches his tail not long after, however:




Our hero gets away by pulling off a crazy trapeze stunt with a clothesline, not certain either Peter or Jen was real.

Coming upon the kids again, he notices they seem frightened and asks them what's wrong. One among them, a boy named Butch, glimpsed Magog after they met Longshot earlier, and then once again, so they're on a quest to slay the monster. They show him the gun they're planning to use on it, a snub-nosed revolver. Using his psychic power to "read" the past of objects, he can tell they traded the diamonds he gave them for it and that it was used to kill someone before that. The tableau jogs a buried memory within him; he was involved in a rebellion against the rulers of his homeworld, but was captured and mindwiped:



Left reeling by the memories he doesn't quite trust to be the truth, he asks the kids to lead him to their monster, promising if they do he'll "show you the difference between fantasy and reality!" They take him to an old monastery, where Magog, now grown to a massive size, is busily feasting on a recently-killed policeman or security guard. He assures himself he won't need to wait long for Longshot to find him, as he's consumed so much magic that his luck will inevitably bring them back together, then realizes he's behind the program, as it's already happened:



The kids all insist desperately that the monster isn't real, it can't be, and Longshot seizes on the idea that "reality is what you make it!" He tells Magog he can't believe in him if he's going to be a monster, but if he wants to go back to being a friendly pup, that would be okay. Magog's response?



Magog looms menacingly, his eyes wild, crowing that Longshot has no choice but to face his reality.

Uh, Hi

Our villain, the main one, finally makes his debut:



He uh, certainly makes a strong impression. His grip on reality, even just on a moment-to-moment basis, is weak in the extreme -- at one point, he angrily orders all in his presence to wear masks of his face so that he won't have to look at ugly people, then two pages later is insulted and kills one of his minions for the perceived act of mockery, insisting he has to be unique. When he gets too excitable to function, Major Domo suggests a therapy session to calm himself, which consists of locking himself in a room filled with screens showing him video of himself and everything he owns, driving him to literal orgasmic joy:



The hunters inform Mojo about Earth, a planet full of creatures just like the slave race engineered to serve the Spineless Ones, and that they decided to leave Longshot behind because he possesses a miraculous kind of luck that would make him too dangerous to return with. Mojo decides to go after Longshot himself, and calls upon Spiral to help him:



The two of them working together can teleport across dimensions on their own, Mojo providing the magical energy to fuel Spiral's dance.

Meanwhile:



Rita's practicing in her backyard; going inside for some cold pizza, she wonders how Longshot is doing. Hitch told her he's been released from the hospital, but he hasn't come by to see her. Saxophone starts growling and shaking, and at first Rita tells him there's nothing to worry about, but then she notices the smell. Her parrot, Wifferdill, notices it too, and by that I mean he falls over dead. She turns and finds Mojo and Spiral in her living room, the smelly guy marveling at Rita's appearance. Seeing that reports of a race of people much like the slave race of his world are accurate, he muses about exterminating the whole species, then decides he needs to kill the runaway slave before he can return and inspire another rebellion:



He looks down at Rita and tells her she'll lead him to Longshot.

Script: Ann Nocenti
Pencils: Arthur Adams
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

On the plus side, this issue introduces Mojo, successfully establishing him as not just creepy, but frightening -- like the Joker or Green Goblin when they're handled well. He's repulsive and more than a little ridiculous, but Adams keeps him from coming as pathetic or contemptible. I'm happy to see Rita again, and her pet names are adorable. #justiceforwifferdill

This one feels more disjointed than the last three, though. I get that the conversation between the parents tries to put a relevant real-world spin on the fantasy-vs-reality theme, but it seems like a thin reed to hold up something that seems a little random in its other applications -- why does Longshot suddenly doubt if everything he's experienced is unreal? What, other than presumably providing a sales boost, are Spider-Man and She-Hulk even doing here? Doctor Strange shows up in the next two issues, but that seems a lot more justified than these cameos.

I liked the kids, though, so on balance I'm still onboard.

Next Time:

 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
Some very impressive costumes in this next installment -- I'm having trouble deciding which is my favourite new look.

Ororo:



Illyana:



Or Warlock:

 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
Warlock is the best. He's so endearing
He's a very good boy.
Was your choice of that Tina Turner video intentional, given Ororo's new look?
I actually assign the songs to their respective comics way in advance, based on whatever's at the top of the charts on the release date. The Jennifer Rush version of The Power of Love will play us into Uncanny X-Men #208, for example.

September 17, 1985

At the movies:


On the radio:


New Mutants Special Edition

Loki gazes into his crystal ball at images of Ororo battling a group called the Sons of Muspell (she had a one-page cameo in a recent issue of Thor, where she was one of many heroes pitching in to help in the Surtwar storyline). He's smitten with her, of course, "despite her dusky color," and notes she's been deprived of the weather-controlling powers that resemble Thor's. He hatches a plot to transform her into a replacement God of Thunder as part of a scheme to claim the throne, and calls one of his allies to go get her for him:



He specifically asks her to capture Ororo's companions, who he assumes will be the X-Men he's been told to stay away from, and make "their agonies as long-lasting as they are exquisite," so anyone hoping he'd be showing off how clever he is weaving around his oath will have to be satisfied with, "I'll ask my friend to get revenge for me."

On Kirinos the New Mutants are enjoying their vacation, hanging out at the beach:




Most of them, anyway -- Xi'an has hidden herself away in her room, hating how she looks and feels in the body Farouk left her in:



Adams's realistic style renders Xi'an's body a lot differently than the exaggerated way Sienkiewicz and Leialoha drew it -- she actually looks like a human being here. Ororo holds her and encourages her to hold onto life, if only to spite Farouk.

After having Rahne confirm there's no one around to see, Dani uses her illusions to put the others through a makeshift training sequence, putting the mutants through their paces with a water serpent and an avalanche. Warlock encases Doug within himself as he takes the form of a tank, making the super-linguist angst about how the others treat him like a child because he'll "never be any good to them in a fight!" After she's satisfied the team has kept its combat edge, Dani drops the illusions, and Roberto lets her know he doesn't think it's right for their training to intrude on their lives all the time:



She says she knows what he means, but as team leader has to grapple with the fact their lives won't ever be normal. As unfair as it is, mutants have to be ready to throw down at the drop of a hat. As if to punctuate her point, an obviously supernatural storm whips itself up to herald the arrival of the horde of mounted demon warriors sent to gather up the mutants. They all put up a fight, but this is page thirteen of a sixty-four page monster of a comic, so of course they're rounded up and knocked out.

Ororo finds herself in Loki's place, where he encases her in a "Crystal Chrysalis" and puts her in that awesome outfit. The New Mutants wake up in the dungeon of Amora's castle; she thinks it's weird that a bunch of kids she doesn't recognize are the X-Men now, but is prepared to kill them all as per request anyway. Illyana tries teleporting to safety, but Amora's got protective wards around her place that foul it up -- Illyana falls to the floor, smarting from smacking into the barrier, while the others have been scattered all over Asgard.

Xi'an finds herself in a swelteringly hot desert -- nothing resembling shelter or signs of water or even landmarks are anywhere in sight. Hopelessly lost, she sees no point even trying to survive and lies back, welcoming death by heatstroke.

Doug is zapped into the hall of a human lord who resembles a certain sailor man:



Give this guy a can of spinach and he'll solve this Loki problem.

Doug unwisely tries getting physical with the big burly guy and can't back it up, leading to his getting thrust into service as a kitchen thrall.

Warlock appears in a rocky wasteland and is immediately attacked by a dragon, and not a Lockheed-sized one. It provides him with enough energy to fully recharge his batteries, though, so it's all good. The excitement draws the attention of the one in charge, Hela, who asks what he's doing there:



Hela thinks he's neat (so she's perceptive of basic facts, at least) and decides on a whim she'd like to steal him and keep him for herself.

Roberto ends up in a tavern:



The woman is unwilling, so Roberto makes him let her go. This triggers a brawl, and Roberto is delighted and confused to find himself the last man standing -- Asgardians are tough, so given how many of them there were he shouldn't have lasted long. He concludes that since he's solar-powered, he must get a lot more out of Asgard's sun than Earth's. The victory makes him very popular with the ladies of the establishment, who swarm the young champion.

Rahne emerges in a wooded area menaced by a trio of giants on the hunt:



The big guys see her and immediately attack, but a wolf saves her by biting their ankles, making them all pratfall on top of each other. Tears come to Rahne's eyes as she laughs at the foolish sight, and thanks the wolf responsible:



Sam's not very sure where he is, but wherever it is, he's there for a long time and doesn't like it:



He finally runs into other people, a group of dwarfs, and asks for help. Food and water aren't easily parted with where he is, so the leader asks if he's willing to work in exchange for them, but cries from behind the dwarfs interrupt. A bunch of Dark Elves are attacking their town, killing everyone in sight, so Sam pitches in to rescue civilians. He saves the daughter of the dwarfs' leader, but takes a wound in the moment he picks her up and falls to the cavern floor after getting her to safety, a spearpoint sticking out of his back.

Amara meets some elves, too. They ply her with food and drink freely, unlike those stingy dwarfs:



I suppose they don't have stories about the Unseelie in Nova Roma.

Dani wanders a grassy plain, alone until she hears the distressed whinnies of a horse in trouble. It turns out to be a Pegasus, wrapped up in netting and barbed wire and half-submerged in a bog. She approaches and calms the animal, then gently frees it from its bindings and the swamp. They're both exhausted by the time the beast is out, and so they're in no shape to run when the hunters who're after him catch up. Dani uses her power to create an image of what they fear most, which turns out to be their boss, Hela. Their leader figures out it's a trick, though, and goes for the kill, but a girl on another Pegasus intervenes and sends the hunters packing. Dani thanks her and introduces herself; the other girl is surprised to hear she's from Earth and invites her to come home with her:



Amora's pissed about losing the mutants, and takes it out on the one she still has. While torturing the prisoner, however, she discovers her demonic corruption. She separates Illyana's dark side from the rest of her and gives it it's own body, but they're still linked -- any injury Dark Illyana suffers will go to the real Illyana, leaving the evil one's body unharmed. Amora gives Dark Illyana a mission: collect the escaped New Mutants for her.

To Be Continued

Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Arthur Adams
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
Xi'an is roused from her heat-induced stupor by a young girl calling out for help -- it turns out this desert is Arrakis:



She possesses the worm and forces it to leave, earning the child's gratitude and, as she realizes right away, signing up as guardian of the kid until they can find their way out of the wasteland. We never get a name for the girl, and the only backstory she has is that she's lost and needs help to find her way home, which Xi'an reluctantly promises to provide. They spend what feels like months travelling through the sands, scavenging weapons and supplies from the dead bodies they occasionally come across and living off small desert creatures until finally making their way to the edge of the desert:



The weight loss makes sense under the circumstances, but how did she find a plastic surgeon to cut off the folds and folds of excess skin that would be left over?

Sam recovers from his injury in the Dwarf King Eitri's own home, his daughter, Kindra, growing close and obviously taking a shine to him. Eitri explains that ever since Odin disappeared after the Surtwar the elves have been trying their best to conquer his people and force them to make weapons for them. He admits that the elves' ultimate goal, to end the Asgardians' rule over them, doesn't sound so bad, but the whole "Let's Enslave the Dwarfs!" part of the plan sours him on the rest of it. For a different perspective, a brand-new slave of the elves pops over to press their case:



Amara causes a lot of damage, but Eitri's hall is well-equipped to defend against fires:



With her down and out, Sam dispatches the elves that came with her and sends them packing. He and Eitri work out what must have happened to Amara, and the dwarfs' magic soon has her back in her right mind, though they can't change her body back to what it used to be -- she's still a 4'0" Vulcan. Not only that, but she's certain that she can never go back to Earth again as she is: "I am bound, body and soul, to the faery-folk! To even set foot on Earth again would destroy me!" The memories of her human life are fading as well. All Sam can do is try to stay positive about getting everything back to normal, but it clearly doesn't have much effect.

While they're dealing with that, Loki drops by Eitri's place to commission a new hammer for Ororo. He brings her along, apparently wanting to keep her close at all times, but he doesn't want anyone there to see her, so he drapes a magic cloak over her that turns her into a hawk:



A hawk with a mohawk.

He sees Sam in the crowd at court (he sticks out a bit in his present company) and levitates him over where he can get a look at him. I don't think he realizes who Sam is -- Eitri claims he's "an idiot nephew whose dam dallied o'ermuch with one of thou Aesir, hence his unnatural stature" -- but he intuits that Eitri and Kindra care about him, so he muses about killing him, then spares him for their sake. Having "done thee a kindness," he asks about that hammer, and the dwarf has no choice but to agree:



Dani and her Pegasus, Brightwind, fly alongside the other Pegasus riders on the hunt for the other New Mutants:



Mist calls Dani to leave the men alone, telling her they can't help, and refuses to answer her when she asks why they flee from them, so obviously terrified. Returning to their home, a mountaintop castle accessible only via flight, the sisters privately debate Dani's status among them. Thinking to herself how much it'll break her heart to part with Brightwind when she leaves, she chances by the room where the meeting is held and overhears enough -- that her fate is bound with theirs, and that it needs to be "sealed . . . in blood!" -- to scare her into running off with Brightwind.

Doug is treated cruelly by Lord Harald and his people and is about to be flogged for spilling some soup when Dark Illyana Kool-Aid Mans her way inside at the head of a band of Nightgaunts. They slaughter everyone, and Doug only escapes by jumping out the window and running into Warlock. He punches Dark Illyana back and the two fly off to search for the others.

Roberto's been retained by the innkeeper to be the bouncer for his winesink, and his prowess in keeping the patrons in line has got enough people talking to gain the attention of the Warriors Three. Volstagg challenges the kid to lift him if he's so strong, and is surprised to see he can:



Impressed with the "babe," the Three take him under their wing. He tells them about his friends -- he'd be searching for them, but doesn't know where to even start. They assure him they'll find the mutants for him, but One of them tracks him down first:



She casts a spell that traps him in a suit of armour like hers, except it takes away his free will, bringing him under Amora's control as well.

Rahne stays with her new friend as he shows her his home in the woods. He transforms into a bipedal form like Rahne's interstitial one between human and wolf, and reveals he's the Prince of Wolves in this realm:



Aww -- baby's first make-out session! It's 100% in-character for her to freak and run off, too. The Prince tries to change her mind, howling a sad song to show how sincere his feelings are and inviting him to stay with him, but Illyana and Roberto show up to cockblock, trapping her in enchanted armour as well.

Doug and Warlock make contact with Xi'an next to the pool she and her companion discovered; after embracing happily, she starts to introduce them to the girl, only for her to be gone. Illyana explains that the white string tied around her finger is a sign that the Norn, the Fates of Norse Mythology, took pity on her and sent the child to be her salvation in the wasteland. She also is there to enslave them all to the will of the Enchantress, so there's a fight. Warlock, perhaps sensitive to Doug's feelings of insecurity in combat situations, takes the form of a mech-suit Doug can fight in:



Advised of where to go by a creepy old soothsayer, Sam and Amara barrel right into the thick of things to help out, and Dani's not far behind. She's got a bow with her and puts three arrows in Illyana's chest before realizing who she is. Amora is observing from her castle, astonished that one of the mutants has bonded with a Pegasus, immediately grasping what it must mean:



The demons are all slain, leaving the enemies as just the ensorcelled New Mutants. Evil Illyana challenges Dani to a one-on-one fight, but Xi'an successfully possesses her, disrupting Amora's view of the proceedings. She doesn't understand what Xi'an did, but decides that she -- and Dani, since the Valkryor have a claim on her soul and therefore she can't steal it -- are too dangerous to enslave and will be killed on sight at the next opportunity. That comes up right away, as the next morning dawns on Dark Illyana leading the New Mutants in through her front gate. She enters the courtyard to see them, musing about replacing her trolls with the superpowered humans, and is caught off-guard when the kids reveal it's a ruse:



Dani sends most of Amora's trolls running with a vision of a giant Odin rising from the earth, and the team easily handles the few who stick around. Doug finds himself having a pretty good time:



I'm with him -- half the panels look like metal album covers.

Xi'an walks the demonic Illyana down to the dungeon where the real one is, deeply grossed out by her disgusting nature: "The demon's essence is so foul -- so utterly evil -- my mental link between us sickens me. But I must maintain it. This wayward piece of Illyana's soul must be returned to her body." She thinks that of the two of them, Illyana's got it worse -- whatever she might have done as Farouk's pawn, ultimately all the pain she caused was caused by an outside force using her as a conduit. A piece of Illyana's core self, on the other hand, acts as her own personal corruptor, making Xi'an admire her friend for being able to endure what must be a torturous existence.

She's using the memories of the demon to guide her to Illyana, and she definitely couldn't access the memories of her hosts when she debuted, so either it's something she can do this one time because this Illyana isn't a complete psyche by itself, or she's better at using her power now.

Arriving in the dungeon, the horribly wounded mutant (the demon took a skull-crushing blow from the troll on guard just moments before) is a sight to behold, but Xi'an figures merging the Illyanas will act like a Full Restore:



We're on page sixty-one now, so it works. That also means it's boss fight time, so first Amora shows up to zap the two some, then the rest of the kids join in:



Under Xi'an's control she lifts all her spells, allowing Illyana to move everyone to Limbo. She drains Amora of her magic the same way hers was, then gifts her to S'ym in a rather non-heroic way:
Illyana: "I could kill you now -- but I'm not that forgiving. Instead, I'll leave you to S'ym's tender mercies. He's my pet demon. I truly believe you two are made for each other. She isn't to be physically harmed, S'ym. Beyond that . . . use your imagination.
S'ym: "Yum!"
Killing a merciless villain -- beyond he pale.
Giving a female captive to a merciless villain not currently in opposition to the heroes to be presumably raped -- hilarious and badass.
-- Marvel Comics, 1985

Illyana's satisfied with the win, but Sam lets everyone in on Ororo's plight. She suggests heading home to Earth and calling in the X-Men, but Roberto counters that they can save her themselves, plus who needs that stupid mudball where everyone hates them anyway?



Others bring up reasons for staying in Asgard as well; Dani doesn't want to leave Brightwind, Rahne wants to see the Prince again, Xi'an wants to see the Norn and ask why they helped her, and Amara wants to not die, which would happen to her if she went to Earth. Sam's shocked to hear this (I mean, I'm sure he agrees that Amara needs to get her problem sorted out, but the inclination to look at Asgard as a potential long-term home is throwing him off) but puts off the argument until after they save Ororo, a plan Dani and the others all embrace:



Yeah, ending things on an image of S'ym gazing upon a powerless Amora with hearts rising up from him is exactly the perfect tone, well done, no problems there.

Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Arthur Adams
Editor: Ann Nocenti
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Well, that was a lot. Revenge of the Living Monolith is actually longer by fourteen pages, but there's way more densely plotted story here. This was originally going to be a forty-eight page Annual, but it grew in the telling so large that it had to be relabelled as a Special Edition, as there were (and maybe still are) rules about what constitutes an Annual. Not all of the characters have interesting stories -- Amara's is the most obvious "Needs Something To Do: Here's Something" -- and the intensely creepy punishment the villain is subjected to speaks for itself, but there's a lot to love as well. Rahne falling for the Wolf Prince is cute, and while I can't shake the sneaking suspicion that Doug and Warlock's partnership in combat is one-sided, their becoming battle-buddies is fun as well. I'll wait until we see more of the full implications of Dani's new calling before saying anything, as there's nothing to really say so far except that giving her a flying horse is an obviously correct decision, especially since it facilitates this image:



Overall, I'm pretty happy with it.

Next Time:

 
Top Bottom