X-Men #110 (1978, April)
Brian Wood will be writing X-Men, featuring Kitty, (Mohawk) Storm, Rachel, Jubilee, Psylocke and Rogue. I am so happy. (Also, I forgot the Claremazon Moment Tracker for the past two issues. Storm got to show off last issue, and Jean saved the frigging universe the issue before that, so they’re both at 4.) Today’s story is “The X-Sanction!”
Tony DeZuniga does the art here, with an assist from Dave Cockrum. It starts innocently, with something that I’m sure was meant as a one-off, throw-away idea – the X-Men are playing softball. It’s a fun scene. Wolverine’s a dick, as usual, of course. We also get some mention of Banshee and Moira both being deeply in love, and both thinking of settling down. Moira goes to meet a guy from the phone company, since their lines are down. He drugs her. He talks to himself about his master wanting information on Xavier’s School.Warhawk (who debuted in an Iron Fist comic) starts working on the computer systems, before his mysterious master assaults him telepathically as a reminder to serve faithfully.
The X-Men head back inside, with Scott bringing them into the Danger Room. Jean and Xavier head upstairs, and Jean thinks about how the Phoenix power scares her. They both get taken down by Warhawk’s drug gun. Downstairs, Scott gets hit through Jean’s telepathic rapport. Then they come under attack from the Danger Room. We get another Fastball Special (Fastball Special Tracker: 2) so Wolverine can free Storm and Nightcrawler from a net. He then saves Cyclops’s life, even though letting him die would pave the way for Wolverine to hook up with Jean. Cyclops has Nightcrawler and Wolverine teleport outside to cut off the power, where the two promptly pass out.
Inside, Storm gets trapped in a small box, but refuses to give in to her fear. I gotta say, giving her claustrophobia was a great idea. It humanized her a lot, made her more relatable. She was always the most different member of the team, so giving her a common phobia really helped her be a more likable character. Anyway, the X-Men continue to be picked off.
Outside, Wolverine slices up the control panel, turning the Danger Room off. He’s attacked from behind by Warhawk, and they fight. Wolverine doesn’t do well. But then the X-Men show up, and he’s quickly taken down. Jean decides to stay with the X-Men, but Scott notices that she had a fear in her voice.
This is a good issue. It continues Jean’s character arc, with her fearing her powers, and wondering why they failed her against Warhawk. It sets up a new mystery threat with Warhawk’s unknown master. It gives some good characterization. And it also introduces one of the most beloved X-Men traditions: Softball. There’s no way Claremont could’ve predicted how popular that would become. But it’s easy to see why it became so popular: Seeing superheroes engaged in normal activities is fun. Seeing how they relax, how they use their powers for passive pursuits – that sort of thing is really neat and interesting.
Warhawk was a pretty lame villain. I didn’t much care for him in Iron Fist (actually, Marvel Preview, which featured Iron Fist for a little while), either. He’s just kind of a silly concept, and has no real personality. Wolverine continues to pine for Jean, while she continues to show no real interest in him. I still don’t quite get where the idea that she wanted him came from, because there’s still no hint of it.