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

Spatula

More Ideas Than Time
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I remember being confused by the pinfeathers thing as a kid. Everyone is so upset by it but no one ever says what it would mean for them to be cut. Or do they?
 

Pazu

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I remember being confused by the pinfeathers thing as a kid. Everyone is so upset by it but no one ever says what it would mean for them to be cut. Or do they?
I think Storm says something like “without them, he cannot fly!” Which of course would refer to the primary and secondary flight feathers (the primaries are also called pinions), rather than pinfeathers, which have no direct connection to flight ability.

In birds, removing the primaries keeps them from flying off, but only until the next molting season when the new feathers come in.
 

Greenygal

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Somebody actually pointed out the pinfeathers thing on the letters page; that particular column was being answered in the persona of Warren himself, and he blamed it on Ororo’s knowledge of wing anatomy being pretty shaky.
 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
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February 22, 1983

At the movies:


On the radio:


New Mutants 4

Stevie gets a threatening phone call, and not for the first time:



Xi'an tries talking her into letting the New Mutants help, but she insists she'll handle the problem herself. The younger woman would continue to argue, but a conscientious member of Stevie's dance class shows up early to help out, cutting their talk short:



What a thoughtful young man.

When Xi'an returns to the mansion Charles summons the students and addresses the big issue hanging over them -- the fact that he was host to a malevolent alien that subconsciously manipulated him into gathering them all close by so she could harvest them for her conquest of humanity. He acknowledges that "while that original decision [to form their team] was tainted," he now wants to continue working with them anyway "for your own welfare -- as well as society's." He admits that they may be unable to trust him after all that's happened, but asks them to stay if they can. Dani feels that his words come from the heart, and so assures him that she and the others don't blame him for that thing with the alien and are willing to give the school a fair chance.

Xi'an then tells everyone about the crank caller harassing Stevie, and says she intends to intervene to help her despite being told to stay out of it. All the kids are with her, so Charles tells them to come up with a plan and submit it to him for approval. Their plan goes into effect that evening, and apparently involves inventing *69:



Stevie grumbles about the kids prying into her affairs, but goes along with them since they're so determined. Eventually the guy calls again, and they trace it to a pay phone not far away. Rahne shifts to her wolf form to get his scent, succeeding, though not without difficulty: "Och, the stench! How . . . how could people be so disgusting?!" The trail leads to the local public high school, where the mixer those kids from issue #2 invited the team to is going on. Rahne sneaks up to a window to observe the crowd with her wolf-senses, and Sam goes with her so no one can pressure him to go inside:



The others head in, hoping Stevie's presence will shock the caller into revealing himself. She's not sure this will work, but Roberto is certain it will, just like in Magnum, P. I. last week. Wouldn't you know it, though? It does -- Rahne communicates to Dani which of the teens reacts with fear to the dance instructor's presence:



The unassuming guy from before! What are the odds?! Naturally, the well-trained teens manage the situation calmly the New Mutants incite a public panic:



Peter gets away in the ensuing mob for the exits and speeds away in his car, directly toward a woman and her child. Sam grabs them, saving them from the car but now on a collision course with a building. It's made clear that his passengers aren't in danger -- 'the same effect that protects me, protects them as well' -- but he doesn't want to cause any damage, or, worse, hit someone. With a mighty effort, he succeeds for the first time in making a sharp turn, avoiding the building by wrenching upward. This gives him a different problem, but Charles helps him through it:



Peter crashes into a derelict building and tries to escape through it, but Rahne is right on his heels, almost enjoying herself:



Roberto is charged with keeping the fire from the wrecked car from spreading, so he moves it away from the building before the fuel tank explodes. However, the danger is not yet past:



No explanation is offered for why there are enormous quantities of TNT sitting in an abandoned building in Salem Center, New York, so we'll just have to live with the mystery. The girls hear Rahne call out in pain and rush in to see Peter standing over her with a pipe, confused that the wolf has turned into a girl. Xi'an shuts him up with a possession, but just then the explosives go off. Sam smashes through an escape route and takes the unconscious Rahne with him on his way out, and Roberto holds it open for the other three long enough for them to follow.

At Stevie's apartment she and the team confront Peter over what he's done. He acts tough at first, but when Stevie mentions his parents he starts begging them not to tell them, which goes to a predictable place:





"Editing" memories, Charles? Falling back into old habits, I see.

In the wrap-up Charles praises the kids for exposing Peter's problems and says he'll help with his therapy, but assigns them to write reports on the incident and how they could've done better for the next day.

Rebel, Rebel

Dani exhibits confrontational behaviour toward Charles throughout the issue, with the notable exception of offering her support to him when he bares his soul to the group. Otherwise she's on the lookout for a pointless fight, which reminds an amused Lilandra of herself. She asks her guy what he plans to do about his snappish student, and his answer suggests he's put some thought into it:



In private he'll admit that he may well send these kids into serious situations, and that there's no shortcut to earning their trust; it'll have to be done step by step.

Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Sal Buscema
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

Bob McLeod steps down as artist after only three issues (and the preceding graphic novel) explaining years later that he couldn't work good enough fast enough to satisfy his self-imposed standards:
"This was my first regular penciling assignment, and I wasn't prepared to knock out the pages as fast as I had to. That's what led me to deciding to leave penciling it after the third issue. I wasn't happy with the quality of my work. I needed more time to do good work."
He'd been doing a lot of the inking of his own work so far, so he seamlessly moves into the role of regular inker for the title with this issue. The art really doesn't look much different here than previously, and far superior to how Sal Buscema's work has looked to me up to this point, so this arrangement seems promising.

The plot is obviously very "after-school special," but the strong character writing distracts from that a bit. There's no saving the ending, though. Sam's pride in himself for "finally d[oing] something right!" is endearing, as is Roberto's emulation of his hero, Thomas Magnum. That said, I'm hoping this kind of adventure is a one-time thing.

Next Time:

 

igelixo

Registered User
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Slade doing the "No really, Ororo didn't crush a bunch of para-demons to death, the rocks are just conveniently trapping them" is such a transparent cover by Claremont to make sure that Ororo remains pure and innocent. Which, I get, as we don't want to have the DARK ORORO SAGA, but man, is it awkward.
I think at some point it was established that killing para-demons doesn't count as killing people. Don't known if this had already happened, or Claremont did not know (or did not like the idea).

January 11, 1983
Heiße Nacht in der Stadt

Kurt surprises Amanda in her apartment, letting her come home to a candlelit romantic setup, complete with suggestive pose:

The image reminded me of the Stan Lee's naked centerfold photo.

NSFW

The pose is not the same, but curiously the dates coincide (January 1983).
 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
March 8, 1983

At the movies:


On the radio:


Uncanny X-Men 170

The Morlocks' leader, having captured the X-Men, readies herself to enjoy the spoils of victory:



With the prospect of losing their CCA approval looming, the team burst their bonds and once again take on the tunnel-dwellers. Kurt grabs Callisto and takes her on a ride:



She's disoriented to the point of helplessness, but before they can get Warren released and make their escape Plague sneaks up on Ororo and gives her a fever. Its effect is only temporary, but she's off her feet and at Plague's mercy. She threatens to touch her again, this time lethally, so the others submit again. Kurt considers going for help, but decides he can't abandon Ororo and Peter, so he'll stay and look for an opportunity to act. He asks the once-again-upright Callisto just what the Morlocks even are, and she confirms they're also mutants:



No mansions or special training to control their powers for these guys. The class divide between the people outright naming themselves after H. G. Wells's dystopian people and the ones from on high they prey upon is Dickensian in its subtlety. Callisto doesn't explain her personal history beyond what's in the above panel, she has no disfigurements other than scars that a normal person could have, and it's not clear how her power (enhanced senses) would go out of control sufficiently to expose her as a mutant. Is her exile from mainstream society self-imposed? Or perhaps I'm underestimating how quickly people can jump from "That woman has sharp eyesight," to "Mutie scum!"

Meanwhile, Caliban explains that the correct term is "ephebophilia" gets Kitty to promise she'll stay with him:



He's nervous about challenging Callisto, but Kitty's condition worsens, so he screws up his courage and carries her to the Alley. He interrupts Callisto and Kurt having a spirited debate between separatism vs. integration:



Caliban begs Callisto to save Kitty, and Kurt wants to take her to the mansion right away, but the Morlock leader threatens to hurt his friends if he leaves with her. Caliban lays it out -- Callisto won't back down and can only be overruled if she's deposed as leader, which can only happen by defeating her "through trial by combat!" This is no doubt a rule made up by Callisto herself, given she gathered together the Morlocks to begin with, but this is a pulpy action-centred soap opera, so everyone accepts it as legit. Kurt challenges Callisto, but Ororo interjects, insisting that as leader of the X-Men, she gets dibs on all private duels.

The "trial" takes the form of a knife fight. Callisto warns that if Ororo uses her elemental powers Kitty will be killed immediately, then tosses her her weapon:



Despite the cool moves Callisto quickly takes the advantage, the narrator explaining that "her enhanced physical abilities rival Wolverine's." Ororo is still slow due to Plague's fever, but she has one advantage over her opponent that proves decisive -- her cape, which she whips around Callisto's knife hand and raises it high, leaving her wide open:



The matter is settled -- capes > no capes.

Ororo cuts Warren out of his harness and picks him up, announcing she's taking her friends with her out of the tunnels and anyone who wants to object can "challenge me as I did Callisto . . . and risk the same fate." She invites (not commands, which she could) the Morlocks to come with her to the surface and accept sanctuary from Charles, as the X-Men have, but Caliban answers for everyone, telling her they "belong" down in the underground tunnels. Kurt ascertains that the Morlocks have a healer who's saved Callisto's life, though it will be some time before she's 100% again. He asks Ororo if she meant to kill her, and she says she did, because there was no other way.

Meanwhile, Two Hundred Years Ago . . .



Raven's being chased by foxhunters in a repetition of Jean's vision from #126, Raven taking the role of the victim. She experiences her throat being slashed open, then awakens in her bed. She can tell that was no ordinary dream, though -- some psychic asswipe is mentally attacking her. Irene is waiting for her in the kitchen with fresh coffee, anticipating she'd wake up early and unsettled. Raven asks why she didn't see the nightmare attack coming, and Irene responds that she should've, "but some force occludes my perceptions." They continue discussing it, but are brought short by another crisis:



She's not in her room upstairs, and Raven blames herself for letting her develop an obsession with defeating Alison Blaire. She's been increasingly withdrawn since the most recent time the singer beat her, and now she's left without so much as a note. Irene tries, but like before something is keeping her from seeing Rogue's future:



So that's in the works.

Coming Clean

Several weeks have passed since Scott's arrival in Alaska to meet his grandparents. Who cares about those old fogies, though -- Scott only has eyes for the new redhead on the block. She and Scott spend all evening together dancing in a friend's chalet. Scott's enjoying himself, at least until he realizes just how much he is. He ruminates on how messed up it is to get involved with someone who looks so much like Jean, admitting that 'each time I see Madelyne, I feel the knife twist deeper into my heart.' She senses him closing himself off and asks what's up, so he tells her about Jean -- that he was in love with her, and that she died. Then he shows her a picture:




At dawn the following morning the couple are enjoying a lovely makeout session when Maddie "Lynne" offers to cook some breakfast. The sun gets in her eyes, so she reaches for Scott's shades and asks to borrow them, but he slaps her hand away. He apologizes for hitting her, but she's angry now and demands he tell her why he always wears those glasses, day and night, so he shows her:



She tells him if she ever wants him to go, she'll let him know, then kisses him again. This is all happening on their first date, by the way. Let it not be said that Claremont can't get a plot rolling quickly when he wants.

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

Kitty never regains consciousness after fainting halfway through, and Caliban doesn't raise the promise she made to her friends, so that's left hanging for now. Likewise Warren never speaks once during this whole two-parter, playing the role of a MacGuffin and nothing else, which one can read as a self-aware parody of the damsel in distress trope. The approach of Rogue's reunion with the team has me intrigued, and I approve of Scott's openness with Madelyne.

I'm less impressed with the heroes' easy acceptance of Caliban's statement that the Morlocks "belong" underground. Caliban is not exactly someone with the strongest sense of self-worth after all, and as a group the Morlocks are pretty much entirely defined as victims of oppression and circumstance. Xavier allows alumni of the school to make their own way, but these guys have been driven underground by hate and fear. It's totally against the values the team was founded on to acquiesce to this kind of "separate and extremely unequal" arrangement. Storm's usurpation of the group's leadership makes the X-Men more than a little responsible for these guys, but it seems as though no one thought through the implications of that, or how badly the heroes might look if they seem not to care about helping these people.

I'm going to hold off on commenting on Ororo until I see more of where this is going.

Next Time:

 

Wakshaani

Cheesey Goodness
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Validated User
Man, I wish I knew what the original plan with Maddie was. Was she really there as a way to write out Scott? Was she Claremont trying to sneak Phoenix back in, kinda like Binary or Storm's cosmic flashes? Something else entirely?

I know how her story turns OUT, but I'm damned curious what it was *designed* to be.

Also, the Calliban-Ariel combination has … issues … but also shows some big talk from Kitty. "If you save my friends, I'll stay with you." That's a BIG promise. Flashes of Disney's Belle, only, what, 15 years earlier? Still.

(Also, Wolvie's back? I thought he was on safari for a few more issues...)
 

Spatula

More Ideas Than Time
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Storm having a responsibility to the Morlocks comes up in just about every time they appear in the book, IIRC.

That's an interesting point about Callisto not needing to live in a sewer, unlike the more disfigured Morlocks. But you know, there are people who choose such things on their own. I'm guessing she was big into a whole anarchist rebel F-the-world bit, which being a mutant of any kind probably didn't help. And then she has a healthy appetite for ordering people around on top of that. Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven, and all of that.
 

Spatula

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Man, I wish I knew what the original plan with Maddie was. Was she really there as a way to write out Scott?
Yes, according to Claremont (mild spoilers for future issues/events):

Spoiler: Show
Asked about his intended plans for Madelyne's character, Claremont said:

The original Madelyne storyline was that, at its simplest level, she was that one in a million shot that just happened to look like Jean Grey [a.k.a. the first Phoenix]! And the relationship was summed up by the moment when Scott says: "Are you Jean?" And she punches him! That was in Uncanny X-Men #174. Because her whole desire was to be deeply loved for herself not to be loved as the evocation of her boyfriend's dead romantic lover and sweetheart.​

I mean, it's a classical theme. You can go back to a whole host of 1930s films, 1940s, Hitchcock films—but it all got invalidated by the resurrection of Jean Grey in X-Factor #1. The original plotline was that Scott marries Madelyne, they have their child, they go off to Alaska, he goes to work for his grandparents, he retires from the X-Men. He's a reserve member. He's available for emergencies. He comes back on special occasions, for special fights, but he has a life. He has grown up. He has grown out of the monastery; he is in the real world now. He has a child. He has maybe more than one child. It's a metaphor for us all. We all grow up. We all move on.​
Scott was going to move on. Jean was dead get on with your life. And it was close to a happy ending. They lived happily ever after, and it was to create the impression that maybe if you came back in ten years, other X-Men would have grown up and out, too. Would Kitty stay with the team forever? Would Nightcrawler? Would any of them? Because that way we could evolve them into new directions, we could bring in new characters. There would be an ongoing sense of renewal, and growth and change in a positive sense.​

Then, unfortunately, Jean was resurrected, Scott dumps his wife and kid and goes back to the old girlfriend. So it not only destroys Scott's character as a hero and as a decent human being it creates an untenable structural situation: what do we do with Madelyne and the kid? ... So ultimately the resolution was: turn her into the Goblin Queen and kill her off.​

 
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