[WIR] X-Men: The Strangest Super-Heroes of All!

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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The "Kitty tries to convince Xavier" montage page is very good, with impressive use of negative space in the layout.
The Madelyne Pryor psychodrama begins, and from what I understand it's going to get weird. It builds up slowly, I hope? I don't have to worry about her trying to kill/seduce her progeny in the next few issues, right?
The big thing with Madelyne Pryor is that her opening storyline is a perfectly decent piece of soap-opera, with a very cool resolution that comes fairly quickly ; but then Jean's eventual return for X-Factor (which is a complicated topic and won't happen for a couple of years anyway) derails everything until its eventual resolution in the 1989 Inferno crossover. (And even then, contrary to what Spatula stated, nearly all of it happened in Uncanny and not X-Factor, as Madelyne felt a lot like Claremont's vehicle to protest against the consequences of Jean's return.) Then, for unfathomable reasons, some writers kept bringing weird versions of Madelyne back later on ; the less said about her use in X-Man, the better.

So, while we're all now aware of Madelyne Pryor as a vortex of weird creepy bullshit and impenetrable retcons any writer would do right to steer away from, she didn't start that way, and I still enjoy her introducing storyline very much.

Now, the weird thing for me is that Paul Smith draws her nothing like how Jean Grey was previously depicted (especially her hair) ; leading to my initial reaction of "uh, that's just a red-head, what's the big deal ?"

Illyana’s story of spending her childhood in a hellscape and then having to readjust to normal life deserved more space than just being a background detail in X-Men.
Maybe it just took that much time to greenlight ? As you say, it's a story that deserves more space than Uncanny can currently allow for, and derailing New Mutants for nearly half a year so close to the book's creation just to detail the weird esoteric background of a new member would be madness. So offloading it to its own miniseries makes sense ; but with miniseries being such a novelty at the time, I can understand the suits would need some time convincing granting one to the backstory of a minor supporting character, even considering the X-Men's rising star power. (Which is presumably why the book's actual title gives Storm co-headliner status.)

As for her re-adjusting to normal life, it definitely won't be glossed over ; it's going to become one of the most consistent running subplots in New Mutants from her joining the team to it coming to a head in Inferno (i.e., for most of the book's run). It's just that, as implied in a recent issue of Uncanny, her experiences have made her crafty and secretive, and she's good at hiding how deep her trauma runs.
 
In view of the title of this issue - "Professor Xavier is a Jerk!" - it would be interesting to see other ridiculously on-the-nose titles in the same vein, but featuring other X-characters. Maybe that would be the alternate universe where the X-Men are written like The Tick.

The "Kitty tries to convince Xavier" montage page is very good, with impressive use of negative space in the layout.

[snip]

Now, the weird thing for me is that Paul Smith draws her nothing like how Jean Grey was previously depicted (especially her hair) ; leading to my initial reaction of "uh, that's just a red-head, what's the big deal ?"
I really like the montage's visual storytelling; the words are almost superfluous. With respect to Madelyne's look, I've seen the suggestion that it would have helped if the issue had come up with a reason to see Smith's version of Jean so that the match between Maddy and Jean was easier to see. That seems like a decent idea in retrospect, given that Smith's style (which I really like) is so different from what came before.
 

s/LaSH

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In view of the title of this issue - "Professor Xavier is a Jerk!" - it would be interesting to see other ridiculously on-the-nose titles in the same vein, but featuring other X-characters. Maybe that would be the alternate universe where the X-Men are written like The Tick..
"Piotr Is Unsure How To React To These Events"

"Scott Summers Has A Firm Unyielding Stick"

"Ororo Is Nice"

"Deadpool Is Also On This List"
 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
January 25, 1983

At the movies:


On the radio:


New Mutants 3

Dani wakes up during a thunderstorm and sees the creature from the Danger Room peering at her in the window. She draws her knife and runs to open it, but it's gone by then. She wonders if the thing isn't her own illusion power acting up on her:



That seems not to be the case, though, as the shadowy figure that bursts through the window and gabs her is plenty corporeal:



She races to the others' rooms, but finds her classmates all dead -- Roberto's been shot by his dead girlfriend; Xi'an's implied to have been sexually assaulted (which, can that not be her "thing", please?); Sam buried under rubble; Rahne burned at the stake. The monster mocks her distress and boasts that e is her "most anguished memory" and that she has "no escape from one who knows your innermost thoughts." It grabs her and pulls her toward its evil jaws, and in desperation Dani jerks free its Mission: Impossible mask:



She wakes up again, for real this time, screaming her head off. Everyone rushes to see if she's okay, and Charles checks her temperature and pulse. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with her physically, so he sends the kids back to bed, insisting that Dani merely had a nightmare. She tries to believe it, but can't. She resents that the professor won't believe her about this or the monster she saw in the Danger Room, and feels certain that someone really is trying to kill her:



She runs to show Charles, but overhears him talking to Moira on Muir Island over the phone, singing quite a different tune from what he said in her room. He claims to suspect Dani's sanity is slipping and that he's not sure he can help her. Hearing him say it out loud fills Dani with doubt and making her wonder if she is crazy or cursed. By the time she's finished her morning swimming routine, though, she's come to a different conclusion:



What do you know -- it is possible to draw a nude female body without making it sexualized! This is a good thing for an artist responsible for drawing teenagers to know.

After training in the Danger Room, Sam finds himself asked to join the girls in an unorthodox way:



Dani asks him not to be angry with Xi'an and lets everyone know what she thinks is going on: someone, either Xavier or someone influencing him, is trying to get rid of her. Sam points out the professor can kick her out of the school anytime he wants, so she probably really is sick and should accept that Xavier knows what he's talking about. He's about to storm off, but the area around the boathouse has changed in the minute since he entered from "normal lakeshore" to "desolate hellscape." The air smells foul out there, so Roberto thinks it must be real, and Xi'an points out that even if it is an illusion, they'll surely get lost if they try to get back to the mansion overland. Luckily Dani's been exploring the tunnels running underneath the property (and, equally fortunately, never stumbled over the Sidrian nest). She opens the vault-door to the tunnel network in the cellar, but the Brood is waiting for her:



Dani can't contact its mind to draw on the thing's memories, so the others rush in to help. The alien is surprised their physical attacks can hurt her and disappears. The kids debate running, but decide they can't abandon the professor, not even when the tunnel changes from metal to organic matter. Pressing on, they get back to the mansion and can recognize the layout of the house, even though everything appears to be cloaked in an alien disguise. A tentacle attack distracts everyone long enough for the Brood to grab Dani in a flyby. She struggles, but her head feels like it's on fire, and she passes out. When she comes to, the Brood tells her she's decided that rather than kill her, she'll turn all the New Mutants into Queens of the Brood like her and enslave all humans, sowing her an astral projection of her friends turning into Brood to illustrate the point. Dani's head aches, and she realizes what's actually going on:



The team burst in on the scene to help out, but when Xi'an does as Dani asks and possesses her mind, the Queen just attacks her mind and has her attack Roberto. In desperation she asks Sam to knock her out, and the monster's opposition convinces him to do it:



They all explain what's happened to Charles, who believes them after a mindscan. He gets to work on trying to track down the creature, and Roberto talks Dani through her leftover doubts and fears as 8:00PM approaches:



Kids These Days

After telling Charles he's being subconsciously manipulated by a malevolent alien ridiculously premature to consider giving up on Dani, Moira ruminates on how unfair it is that the child she had was such a monster and that it's up to her to save the kid Charles doesn't know he had -- These Are the Days of Our Lives! -- so Sean pitches her on making a family with him:



She won't accept his proposal, though. Sean takes a dawn stroll to lament his lover's pain and fear and comes across their young guest chanting a prayer:



She says Ororo taught it to her and that she "promised my best friend I'd honor her memory on her birthday." Sean figures she means that she thinks Kitty and the others won't make it back and reassures her that the X-Men can't be counted out easily. However, what Illyana was really thinking is of her life in Limbo, where 'Some [of the X-Men] died at Belasco's hand. Some died at mine.'

Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Bob McLeod
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

And now you know the rest of the story! The Xavier-Brood didn't seem all that tough or smart in these three issues -- when you have total control over the subconscious mind of a powerful telepath and gain access to someone who can make astral projections manifest physically and still lose, you might suck at being an evil overlord. Illyana's secret-keeping will no doubt come to some kind of head soon, but for now it works as a mystery to tease that there's something not right about her.

Next Time:

 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
February 8, 1983

At the movies:


On the radio:


Uncanny X-Men 169

Candy Southern and her Eighties perm arrive at their and Warren's Manhattan penthouse to find him missing and bloody feathers all over the floor. Someone turns out the lights, and so Candy pounces for the phone, which has the X-Mansion on speed dial. She gets through to Charles, who's refreshing himself on some lore before bed:



Wouldn't want to fall behind on what Ghost Rider and Daredevil are up to; you might say something terribly ignorant/insensitive in the next crossover.

Candy relates the emergency and asks for help, so Charles mentally contacts the nearest X-Man, Kurt. He and Amanda are sipping some bubbly in a tub I am 100% certain can't be found in any apartment a flight attendant could afford -- I'm thinking magical enhancement of the base object -- and seem to be circling around the idea of marriage. He quickly makes tracks to get over to Warren's:



He sees Warren being carried into the subway below, but Candy is thrown out the window next to him just then, so he grabs her and brings her to Amanda's:



This relationship is a source of two things so far: creepy incest undertones, and now gratuitous-but-funny nudity. I think I'm warming to it.

The team gathers and helps Candy get settled, then prepare to rescue Warren. Logan's not with them -- he's off in Japan of all places! -- so Amanda offers to accompany them. Ororo tells the sorceress who sucked Stephen Strange into another dimension against his will that she should stay behind and protect Candy, preferring instead to ask Charles to send Rahne over to track Warren's scent for them. He says no, fairly emphatically:



Kitty feels just as protective toward Lockheed, insisting that he stay where he'll be safe "help Amanda protect Candy." The mage assures Kitty her friend won't be any trouble:



Nice robe.

As the team descend underground, their psychic link with Charles deteriorates. He speculates before losing them completely that 'some force is generating psychic interference of a type I've never encountered.' The trail leads to a solid wall, so Kitty, now wearing her God Loves, Man Kills costume, checks to see what's on the other side, mentioning as she does that she doesn't like her codename anymore:



They're set upon by vagrants before they make it far into the hidden tunnels; Kitty phases past them to try to scout the place out while the others fend off the homeless army. Observing from the shadows are the big mutant who tossed Candy out the window, Sunder, and a handful of others:



Kitty sights them and tries to edge close enough to eavesdrop, but the leader can smell her and sends the one in the blue toque, Plague, to get her. Kitty gets away through a wall, but Plague's touch tingled when it passed through her, and the group leader is confident that "if a single molecule of the disease plague manifested remains on the girl's person when she solidifies . . . she's as good as dead." The vagrants halt their attack on the others and make tracks, even taking their wounded with them to deny the heroes anyone to interrogate. Ororo, irritable and edgy due to the need to be underground despite her claustrophobia, shuts down Kurt and Peter's suggestions to call for help or go looking for Kitty peremptorily. The excuse given for leaving Kitty is a tad contrived -- she claims the mini-Cerebro she has can't be recalibrated to look for anyone but Warren -- but her reasoning on the other question is more interesting, as it seems flawed:
Kurt: "Storm, we're badly outnumbered. Might reinforcements not be advisable?"
Ororo: "How do we summon them? Our psionic and radio links with Professor Xavier are being jammed. And if we retreat to the surface -- assuming that is even possible -- what then happens to our friends? Finally, Kurt, who do we summon? X-Men are few and far between . . ."
Kurt: "So we're on our own . . ."
Ororo: "As always . . ."
Amanda and Lockheed are capable allies who had to be talked out of coming with them when they set out, so her fixation on feeling trapped and alone comes across as a self-fulfilling prophecy. This isn't a complaint, mind; in fact, it's the best character writing for Ororo I can recall.

The team keep heading downward, finally arriving in a tunnel that "reeks of age, [yet] it is so well-maintained that it might have been constructed only yesterday." Floodlights blind the trio as the leader of this band of kidnappers rolls up on a railcar to challenge them. Ororo keeps it diplomatic at first, but is as shocked as her companions when they see what she's done with their former teammate:



. . . Claremont, you cheeky little bastard:


Ororo thinks back to when she was a kid and noticed a man looking at her the way Callisto looks at Warren for the first time:
Had I fought, my spirit would have been broken. I would have been used, then slain. So, instead, I ran away. From all that I knew and loved. Never to return.
So I guess the yearning from someplace deep within her calling her away coincided with an attempted rape? There's been a lot of sexual assault brought up recently, which this two-parter kind of addresses on multiple levels. Anyway, Callisto's a little clingy, so she pulls out a switchblade and starts clipping Warren's pinfeathers. The X-Men naturally take issue with that, so the Morlocks engage with the grand strategy their leaders staged the previous fight to plan. Having taken the measure of their opponents and seen what they can do, their cunning attack is to . . . send a wave of unarmed homeless people who don't seem to have powers -- not combat-helpful ones, anyway -- to bury the heroes in flesh. Ororo would be able to pacify them by herself, but Callisto beans her:



With a slingshot. Meanwhile, Kurt and, eventually, even Peter, are overwhelmed by the sheer weight of numbers, so neither side of this fight impresses me.

Happily Ever After

Kitty emerges from a wall feeling terrible and collapses. She falls face-first into the perfectly clean water that flows through fictional sewers and might be in danger of drowning, but a saviour comes to her aid:



Caliban takes her back to his place, telling himself that if he helps her, "She will come to see how much he loves her. Then, she will love him, too." She wakes up in an unfamiliar bed, still feeling like garbage. Also, she wasn't wearing this before:



The kid doesn't last long on her feet, falling unconscious again right when Caliban gets back with some supplies. He realizes her condition is grave, and vows that he'll do whatever it takes to save her:



For a given definition of "save," at any rate.

How Dare You Do an "Underworld" Story Without Inviting Us?!

Sebastian Shaw enters his office in the Hellfire Club and ducks through the secret entrance hidden in the bookcase to the stone chamber beyond. Tessa explains she sent her urgent summons because Emma Frost is in dire straits:




Whoever this is, she's already on my bad side -- Emma's awesome:



Ergo, anyone who wants to puff herself up by sidelining her can piss off. Don't try to pull that "I'll show I'm top-tier by forcing the villain everybody likes to job out to me!" shit. Has that ever worked to make a new character popular?

Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Paul Smith
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Next Time:

 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Oh, dear, the Morlocks. So unloved that there have been multiple attempts to wipe them out. (None of them took.)

The more interesting part of the story happens next issue ; for now, it's an exercise in moving everyone into position. This means one of the smallest X-Men teams in ages (with both Cyclops and Wolverine written out), Storm making some bad decisions, a very annoying benching of the guest stars, and everyone just not making a good showing.

On the other hand, we're introduced to some very major characters. Callisto, their leader, of course. Masque, the asshole who hates everybody, will unfortunately have tons of staying power. (That their powers enable some of Claremont's fetishes must be a coincidence.) Plague, aside from allowing the Kitty subplot to exist, will have one major storyline not too far in the future... except it's mostly as a forgettable henchperson for a big supervillain. As for Sunder, despite not being much more than muscle, he will stick around for long enough to technically become an X-Man... for all of one issue before getting killed. And of course you've already met Caliban.

Has that ever worked to make a new character popular?
That's assuming it's a new character, of course... :p

Next Time:
A very special episode of New Mutants !
 

Wakshaani

Cheesey Goodness
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Validated User
MAN I loves me some Morlocks. They've never been used to their full potential and there's the old undercurrent that Xavier uses them sometimes without telling the X-Men, but … man I love these guys.
 

Kreuzritter

Registered User
Validated User
Oh, dear, the Morlocks. So unloved that there have been multiple attempts to wipe them out. (None of them took.)
Of course not, because the Morlocks are a fantastic and plausible expansion of X-lore that their inclusion's almost inevitable the second someone asks "so, what happens to those with crummy/uncontrolled powers or just rolled gorram ugly on the mutation table, and just want to be left alone?"

I honestly had to check that Wild Cards won't be published for another 4 years, because with the Morlocks, Claremont pretty much recreates that franchise's concept of Jokertown

explanation for those unfamiliar with Wild Cards: alt-history setting where an alien virus is released in earth's atmosphere. 90% of those infected die horribly, 1% get superpowers of varying power/utility, and the other 9 percent gain some variety of physical deformity. this seeming randomness leads to the virus being called the Wild card Virus, with the powered being dubbed "Aces" while the freaks get stuck with "Jokers"
 

Pazu

Registered User
Validated User
I always loved how aghast they were at Callisto clipping Angel’s “pinfeathers”, since it gave me a mental image of Warren molting periodically. (I suspect Claremont meant “pinions”, i.e. the large flight feathers, rather than “pinfeathers”, which are newly developing feathers which emerge on growing chicks or after molting.)
 
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