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

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
The crossover with the motocross heroes, especially so early in the run, struck me as a very weird choice.
Yeah, no doubt.
So, Team America. They had their own licensed comics series, based off some toy line. As much as I can discern, it had just gotten cancelled after 12 issues, with the abrupt reveal of the Dark Rider/Marauder (a series-long mystery) while they were fighting HYDRA. (The last few issues smack a bit of desperation, guest-starring the likes of Iron Man and Ghost Rider.) The cover to the last issue includes a "Because YOU demanded it... the End of Team America !" blurb, which kinda tells you everything. While the first issue was written by Jim Shooter (who also came back to co-write a few more), most of the series was written by Bill Mantlo, of ROM/Micronauts fame.
Hmm. . . .

Thus, their guest-starring in a couple of early issues of New Mutants feels all the more incomprehensible. I guess it's an alright excuse to get the kids to fight actual supervillains such as Viper and Silver Samurai (since HYDRA had just been tied to Team America's origins), but it doesn't speak well for the book having any kind of long-term direction or consistent tone.
Agreed.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
I always considered New Mutants kind of a heartbreaker; I really liked many of the characters, but the storylines were all over the place. It probably doesn't help that we're not-so-slowly approaching the point where in the X-Men they decided everything would be better if everyone had Wolverine's attitude, without (as others have noted) realizing that Wolverine's attitude toward killing and violence was far more nuanced early on than he's given credit for. We've got a bit to go before I bailed on New Mutants, but there'll be a pretty good giveaway when its getting close, but I'll avoid spoilering it.
 

Peter Svensson

Reads Too Many Comics
Validated User
My understanding is that for legal purposes, Marvel wanted to have the Team America characters show up in another comic to solidify their stance that they owned the specific characters they created for that licensed book, probably because Shooter demanded it. (He worked on it, he wanted to keep it in Marvel continuity.)
 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
April 5, 1983

At the movies:


On the radio:


Uncanny X-Men 171

Ororo and Kurt return to the Alley, where the Morlocks' new leader takes advantage of the weakness of their political system (one person who doesn't even go here wins knife fight, becomes all-powerful tyrant -- what is this, Wakanda?) to lay down the law:



She tells them they can "have peace and a secure future" so long as they obey her instructions, a promise I will remember she's made. On her way out she's waylaid by Callisto, who promises that once she's recovered they're totally going to redo their duel and she'll win next time for sure! Not concerned in the slightest, she picks up her "rival" like a baby and hands her off to Sunder with the order to keep her in bed this time. Kurt's unhappy to see his friend behaving this way, all the more so because she appears to enjoy indulging her aggressive side:



Back at the mansion Kitty once again rants against the "X-Babies" and Illyana once again points out she's being a baby:



Kitty's tantrum annoys Charles -- he's in PT again and has trouble screening out the others' thoughts when he's moving his legs. He's still troubled by his phantom pain, and Lilandra's so impatient that it hasn't started to abate yet that she wants to check to see if there really isn't something physically wrong with the new body. Meanwhile, the most contemplative X-Man prepares to take on his mightiest challenge yet:



The day starts to go sideways when a certain Southern Belle shows up on the doorstep. She begs for help, saying she's "as good as dead!" if the X-Men won't take pity on her. Rogue hasn't had a lot of appearances thus far, and in all of them she's been depicted as confident, unrepentant, and brash, so her jittery, cringing demeanour here is quite a change. She's brought inside and everyone (Charles, Lilandra, the four on-deck X-Men, and even Illyana) gather in the living room to ask what she wants. Given the circumstances Charles would just read her thoughts, but he can't decipher them due to there being "two diametrically opposed thought patterns, one of them alien" in her head:



Yeah, these guys are good friends with the woman Rogue crippled, so they're not going to jump at the chance to play therapist/parole officer. That line about how "the slightest touch triggers the transfer" is evidence that her "powers are out of control" thanks to her new state of mind suggests that Claremont may not yet have decided her powers have worked that way since they first manifested. Rogue continues to explain why she's desperate enough to reach out to the team for help, and the X-Men's negativity is so palpable that Charles has to kick everyone but Lilandra out just to clear the air:



Exiled from the proceedings, the team resort to the Danger Room to vent their frustrations. Illyana programs the session, surprising everyone, including herself, with a representation of Belasco's throne room. She didn't intend for that, but somehow created the scenario without being aware of it. Moreover, one look at the place she called home for seven years triggers a rage she's never expressed before:



This is just going to be one of those days, huh? Kitty gets behind her and kicks the sword from her hand, whereupon it disappears instantly. Illyana snaps out of it and breaks down sobbing, so Kitty holds her and tries to comfort her:

Illyana: "Kitty . . . ? Where am I?"
Kitty: "With friends. You're home. You're safe."
Illyana: "I saw Belasco -- I -- remembered!"
This is the point where it all comes out, yes? Nope! Illyana may have been repressing some or all of her memories of Limbo, and she may have a clearer remembrance of them now, but Kitty asks the others to let her have some space, so it's not followed up. Ororo does reflect that it might possibly be time to overcome her reluctance to pry into Illyana's experiences, but her thoughts then turn inward. She acknowledges that her actions in the Morlock tunnels 'fly in the face of all I have ever believed about myself.' She believes her 'metamorphosis' is making her a better leader (uh, citation needed) and so looks at it as a dilemma between her responsibilities and her values:



Her mental turmoil manifests as a mini-thunderstorm in her attic suite -- before she realizes it her plants are damaged or dead. The professor concludes his meeting with Rogue and summons the team just then, and Ororo takes out her anger on his astral projection, throwing a knife through it. He senses she's upset, but he's focussed on Rogue just now, so he'll rely on her to come to him if it's serious.

Once everyone's gathered again (including Illyana, sitting calmly on the couch next to Kitty just as though everything is completely fine) Charles announces that, since he's convinced Rogue is telling the truth, she'll be joining the X-Men. Ororo objects:



I wear the Golden Jammies; my word is law!

Naturally, this is the moment when Carol gets home after a day with her parents. Her memories of them have mostly been recovered, but to her despair she can't muster any strong emotions to go with them: 'Where once I loved them with all my heart, I feel a vague affection.' She tries to keep positive and look forward to heading into space to fight Deathbird and the Brood, but she's still in a foul mood when she walks into the mansion and sees Rogue. Given that, I think it's understandable that the skunk-stripe gets a taste of what hard vacuum is like:



She saw that Charles and the X-Men were surprised by Carol's attack too, so she figures the red lady must be some trouble-maker. She gets back to the mansion and flings herself at her, but Carol easily fends her off. The others intervene to break up the fight, much to her dismay:

Carol: "I want vengeance. Is that so wrong?!"
Charles: "So long as Rogue remains under my roof, Binary . . . she has my protection."
Carol: "How can you say that, Charles?! You know better than anyone what she did to me!
Ororo: "The child repents, my friend, and has been forgiven. Behold our newest X-Man."
Ororo's sarcasm game is on point today.

Rogue's confused; she lacks context for all this, so Carol helps her out:



Charles responds with an impassioned speech about how the X-Men's whole reason for being is to abandon mutants down in the sewers help mutants achieve their full potential, citing the fact that everyone present has felt uneasy about Logan's violent nature on one occasion or another, but all see him as a brother and would never abandon him. Rogue is in great need, and to send her away is to condemn her to a bad end; he won't do it. Peter is the first to buckle, agreeing to give Rogue a chance out of respect for his judgement, followed by Kitty, then Kurt. Carol is unmoved, though, and lets everyone know she's not interested in giving Rogue any opportunity to rectify things -- she just leaves, without any real goodbye.

What A Coinkeedink!

Last issue there were some . . . evocative moments that seemed like teases of a real link between Madelyne and Jean:



I can accept that these are just intended as red herrings, though. This issue, however, goes a stretch further.

Madelyne has a nightmare and wakes up screaming, causing Scott to come running. He comforts her, and when she's ready lends her an ear to a rather hair-raising tale:



That is pretty difficult to swallow as just a coincidence.

Script: Chris Claremont
Pencils: Walt Simonson
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

So of the two violent freakouts in this issue, neither was caused by the superstrong villain to join the X-Men's ranks. I choose to interpret that as a hopeful sign -- I mean, you can never tell for sure, but somehow I think this recruitment is going to turn out alright.

Can we please give Illyana a juicebox and hash out what happened in Limbo, though? Keeping spoilers from The Magik miniseries from getting out is less important than helping that poor girl work through her trauma, dammit!

Next Time:

 

Spatula

More Ideas Than Time
RPGnet Member
Validated User
That's the revelation of Madelyne's that I was thinking of. It fits with the story grafted onto her, much later, in Inferno. But it's kinda crazy on its own. Piloting a passenger plane that has a freak accident and everyone but her dies, and she doesn't have a scratch, is by itself an incredible story and one that would probably be widely known (granted, the X-Men were in space that day). That all that happened on the same day that Jean died... and Madelyne a ringer for Jean... and apparently has a similar chemistry with Scott... well, it is a lot to swallow if there's not something behind it all.

This is where I start to not like Ororo so much. I get that Claremont felt she was too perfect and unchanging, and wanted to do something interesting with her character, but I didn't (and still don't) like the direction he takes her.
 

Pazu

Registered User
Validated User
This is where I start to not like Ororo so much. I get that Claremont felt she was too perfect and unchanging, and wanted to do something interesting with her character, but I didn't (and still don't) like the direction he takes her.
This issue is where my more-or-less continuous UNCANNY run starts (because I was a huge Rogue fan in the late '80s and decided to grab all the back issues starting with her joining the X-Men), so I only realized much later that we were getting Edgy(tm) Ororo before Edgy was a big thing.
 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
April 26, 1983

At the movies:


On the radio:


New Mutants 6

The New Mutants smash their way into Nguyen Ngoc Coy's penthouse apartment in San Francisco. He orders his bodyguards to kill the intruders the instant he recognizes his niece, but she possesses them and makes them fall asleep easily while Rahne subdues the crimelord:



So far so good, but things quickly go pear-shaped -- Uncle Nguyen refuses to cooperate, and Xi'an unwisely marches him up to the roof and threatens to send him to the ground. Coy's spooked for a moment, but realizes she's bluffing and challenges her to do it:



Classic rookie mistake. Now if she'd thought to film him committing crimes while under her control she might be able to blackmail him, but she's on her back foot now and on top of that has to restrain Roberto from taking him up on his offer. Coy makes a counter-offer, which Xi'an is too flustered, and too desperate to help Dani, to reject:



At the villains' lair Ophelia and Harada discuss just killing Dani -- he points out she may be dangerous, but she wants "her death to be artistic, that takes some thought." Ophelia picks up on her partner's mood that something's bothering him, so he admits that his dad just died, and as if that isn't bad enough, he's inheriting exactly nothing from him -- everything will instead go to his half-sister, Mariko Yashida. Not to worry, though; Ophelia's got his back:



Under Charles' direction those Team America guys successfully sneak into the target facility, a place in Mexico with a funny-in-hindsight name:



Make your own joke here.

The place is run by AIM, so two of the team knock out a couple of the beekeepers and use their awesome outfits to get to the prize: a shiny white rock. They grab the crystal and run, but are still inside when the lab explodes a moment later:



The two of them are knocked out by the mind-whammy, and so are unavailable when the New Mutants call for instruction after they get Dani's location. Unwilling to wait any longer, the team approach the hideout the villains are using with as much stealth as they can manage, Xi'an hitting snooze on all the guards they come across, until something makes her cry out:



Having alerted the bad guys to their presence just as they came near the facility, the team is forced to fight their way in. A great deal of damage is done as a result, including part of Dani's cell wall collapsing. She gets out and joins the battle, coming upon a badly-wounded Rahne just in time to get skewered by Harada alongside her, at least until Sam takes him on a trip in the nick of time. When Roberto socks him a good one, he worries his boss might be in trouble and teleports to her side, ironically causing her to lose her fight with Xi'an:



Xi'an is hurt by the blow Ophelia takes, which Harada notes for future reference, but rather than kill her while she's reeling he takes his boss and teleports to the getaway vehicle. The victorious team converges, and it turns out Rahne's healing ability is just as strong as Logan's, or even stronger:



Dani's been informed of the deal Xi'an made with her uncle and demands she be the one to honour it, since she was the one it was made to benefit, but Xi'an reassures her that she has no intention of abiding by a contract made with a friend's life hanging in the balance insists it's her responsibility. The professor contacts them at that point, mad that they attacked a bunch of supervillains without his permission, but unable to scold them too much given he was out of commission when they called to ask if they could. As he tells the kids he and Team America -- all of them, the ones in the AIM lab when it exploded included, having survived with a single fig-leaf line about how amazed they are that they weren't killed -- are flying to their position and will arrive shortly, Xi'an sees Charles's astral image distorting before her eyes:



She screams again and starts babbling in Vietnamese, prompting the others to decide to grab her and Rahne and get away from that place. Ophelia decides to hell with artistic deaths, just get rid of the loose ends, so Harada activates the abandoned base's self destruct function. Xavier's mindlink with the New Mutants is cut off -- were the kids still there when the lair exploded? Charles is frightened that "something terrible has happened!"

Also, if anyone cares, Team America manages to manifest the Dark Rider in one of themselves during their escape to the Blackbird:



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

Thankfully the New Mutants handle the important stuff in this issue, saving Dani and defeating the villains themselves, relegating Team America to serving as a vehicle for a new subplot to begin. Not a great story, though.

The powerful mutant telepath encountered here might be the one that attacked Emma, and Jhiday hinted we've seen that character before, so I'm going to guess this person is Amahl Farouk, last seen in flashback in #117; his lines to Xi'an seem sleazy enough to be him.

Next Time:

 

Master_Forcide

Registered User
Validated User
The Cavorite Crystal is a recurring Claremont MacGuffin, previously seen in Ms Marvel and Marvel Team-Up. Claremont was planning to follow up on this with a graphic novel staring the New Mutants, but that didn't end up happening.
 

Wakshaani

Cheesey Goodness
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Wonder if it's related to the mysterious Sentinel-killing Crystal from oh-so long ago?

(Yes, I'm still bitter about that.)

Also, while I love Karma as a concept, and who she eventually became is VERY interesting, her power set is problematic for a hero. Mind Control is a kind of I-win button with lots of troublesome aspects. I like her as deputy leader, tho.

(And a brief shout-out, here, for Rahne Sinclair... just an awesome character for the entire New Mutants run. Who she eventually becomes is … less interesting. Of course, I always thought her name was 'Ronnie' growing up, not 'Rain'... Gaelic names are befuddling!)
 

JJ Hall

Last Red Hot Swami
Validated User
May 10, 1983

At the movies:


On the radio:


Uncanny X-Men 172

The X-Men arrive at Mariko's luxury apartment in Tokyo and are greeted by the happy couple. Logan's a little suspicious of the new addition to their ranks, though:



He's also hostile to Rogue, who looks to be as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs:



Only one skunk stripe this time -- must've lost the other going through customs. An observer wearing silver armour watches from the rooftop across the street; his listening devices tell him no one suspects anything unusual. He decides to attack that night, while everyone's guard is down, but the young woman in the black outfit who's been watching him watch Logan the last few days has a few questions for him first:



Kurt and Logan teleport to the roof and save Yukio, driving Harada away for now. Yukio doesn't stay to chat, instead flipping away without a word, only to slip and fall from dozens of stories above the street. Ororo sees and catches her, lowering her to the ground gently. The ronin thanks her for the ride: "One in a million -- I loved it!" When her saviour points out she almost died, she sticks to her story:



The team discuss the situation back in the apartment, including a sad detail from the next issue of New Mutants:



RIP Xi'an. Hope when she comes back it's not as a zombie or clone or anything too embarrassing like that.

Mariko's received a note from her half-brother summoning her to meet him, alone, so she does as her murderous sibling asks, sneaking out of the apartment without alerting the others. Mariko's not that bright, huh? While she heads out, Ophelia sneaks in and dresses as one of the Yashida servants to serve tea to the X-Men and Logan catches up with Ororo:

Logan: "You're . . . different, 'Roro."
Ororo: "So are you, my friend."
Logan: "That f'r sure. Whatever road I figured my life'd take, I didn't count on it leadin' here. Look at me -- a roughneck Canadian mountain man, about t' marry the daughter of one of the oldest, most respected families in Japan. I still don't believe it's really happenin'. This has gotta be a dream."
Ororo: "Why?"
Logan: "Because part o' me doesn't think it's right. To shame me, Shingen asked me if I was worthy. I guess deep down inside, I still have doubts about the answer."
Ororo: "If Mariko accepts you, what else matters? But I sense deeper concern, Logan."
Logan: "Yah! The clan's involvement in criminal affairs -- thanks to Shingen -- is far more extensive than Mariko suspects. Those ties won't be easy to sever. I wanted carte blanche to deal with the problem, but M'iko said no. She's got courage, 'Roro, an' more smarts'n me, but she's out of her depth. I'm scared she'll be corrupted, shaped by circumstance into her father's image. I've seen it happen before. I feel so flamin' helpless! This kinda scrap's too subtle f'r me, I don't know how to handle it."
Logan's not usually half so chatty, so this stuff must really be weighing on him. And don't think I didn't notice you deflecting your friend's question back on him to change the subject, Ororo. Before Logan can get anything else off his chest, "Viper" lives up to her name:



Mariko arrives at the dockside warehouse Harada summoned her to, where he, Ophelia (who shadowed her from her apartment) and a "Nabatone Yokuse, Grand Oyabun of the Yakuza" wait for her. The Oyabun is there to arbitrate the siblings' power struggle, but Mariko is undiplomatic, haughtily refusing to acknowledge any legitimacy in her brother's claim and claiming she knows "no authority save the Emperor. Your rulings mean nothing." Nabatone, seemingly amused, reveals that the woman insulting him and Harada is not Mariko Yashida, forcing Yukio to drop her disguise -- she was the driver of the limo Mariko took to the area and must have switched clothes with her before she came in. Ophelia rushes to the car to deal with the real thing while Harada takes on the ronin. When she finds the limo -- a challenge, due to the thick fog that's suddenly sprung up -- Ophelia orders Mariko out at gunpoint, but is sent flying backward in response. Ororo is concerned that her powers are out of whack again; she only intended to disarm Sarkissian, but she was flung with such force that she was knocked out against the nearest wall, only still alive by sheer luck. Disturbed, she orders Mariko to get away from there and call the police, then heads inside to help Yukio. Harada's got the upper hand, so Ororo risks summoning her lightning. Something goes wrong, though:



That Nabatone fellow is setting traps for the X-Men, hmm? Yukio tackles Ororo into the harbour just before the warehouse blows, and the fiery inferno it sets off is quite a sight:



Ororo tries to tell herself the image is just that, a resemblance to Phoenix and nothing more, but she can't help but wonder if 'she has somehow restored herself?' The women help each other out of the water, then stagger off to where Yukio says they can rest. Harada emerges from the wreckage, somehow still alive, and finds Ophelia similarly spared, though injured. He takes her in his arms and declares his "deathmark" upon Ororo and Yukio, swearing to kill them as soon as he's ridden himself of his sister.

At the hospital where the X-Men are being treated, Logan has recovered sufficiently to get out of bed and suit up. Mariko tries to forbid him from going after Harada until he's back to full strength, but her lover insists he can't afford to wait that long. Rogue is on her feet as well by then, and she's coming with him, like it or not:



Small World, Huh?

Scott is looking through the employee personnel records of his grandparents' company (Hey, remember when Scott was excited to meet them? They haven't shown up in one panel.) late at night. Alex finds him poring over a file and asks if it's Madelyne's; Scott tries to tell him to mind his business, but his brother has the shipper's disease and doesn't want Scott to lose out on a chance at happiness, no matter how crazy suspicious the circumstances are:



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

There's more clarity to Ororo's situation now than before, so let's go there. Ororo blames her lack of control over her powers on her unsettled emotional state -- she needs to be inwardly serene to have unimpeded command of the elements, and maybe she doesn't want to be perfectly calm all the time anymore, which is understandable. I'm still a little concerned that Claremont will stray into "To be a great leader, I must act like an asshole! Hard Woman Making Hard Decisions!!!" territory, given that we're inching ever closer to the "Dark Age." This issue made me feel a little reassured that that's not where this is headed -- Ororo doesn't want to dominate anyone else, at least not here -- she just wants to dominate her own life, to not have to govern herself every moment of every day.

It's been hard to judge Rogue, given how subdued she's been, but next issue should force her to drop the mask and let us in her head, so I'm looking forward to that.

Next Time:

 
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