X-Men #114 (1978, October)
Young Avengers debuts this week. Squee. It’s going to be so awesome. But for today, “Desolation.”
We start with Beast in Antarctica, carrying an unconscious Phoenix. It’s a powerful splash page, even frightening. He sees a helicopter, and wakes Jean up. She lets out a pretty impressive flare as she tries to bury down into the ice to rescue Scott and the others. Beast calms her down and tells her the X-Men are dead.
Or not, since we see them emerge in the Savage Land. Banshee cheers Storm up after her experience in the tunnel by inviting her flying. We learn she’d created an ice storm that cooled the lava long enough for Cyclops and Banshee to blast a way to safety. Banshee gets grabbed by a giant pterasaur, but luckily he’s saved by a Fastball Special (Fastball Special Tracker: 3). The others catch up with Wolverine, who says he’s going to like the Savage Land. I think these days, he often complains about hating the Savage Land. Oh well. They’re being spied on.
A week later, in Westchester, Jean and Beast return to the school. Jean goes to talk to Xavier. The three panels are simple, with relatively minimal narration, and brutally effective. The third panel in particular, since it’s one of the occasions where Claremont let the art do the job, without comment. Anyway, back in the Savage Land, Banshee is sad at the deaths of Hank and Jean, and confused at Scott’s composure. He’s also impressed by Ororo in her new robes. We then see Scott shaving over a lake, wondering why he’s not more hurt by Jean’s death. As he shaves off the beard, he notices how the moustache makes him look like Corsair. Some memories of his childhood start to fall into place, but Ororo interrupts him, and he loses them. He mentions to her that he doesn’t feel grief over Jean, and Ororo snaps at him. Logan is angsting about Jean’s death.
Storm goes swimming, and the guy who spied on them earlier grabs her to feed. He starts to change as she lets out a scream and a lightning bolt. When the others get there, they run into Sauron.
This is a character-focused issue, and it gives some really cool insights into most of them. Nightcrawler and Colossus don’t get much, but Scott, Banshee, Storm and Wolverine all get a chunk. It’s very good. This issue also starts two storylines that run beside each other: One dealing with the X-Men trying to get home, the other dealing with Jean getting over Scott’s death. On another note, this issue is the first time “The Uncanny X-Men” appears on the cover. The name of the comic itself remains “X-Men” for a while longer, though.
I may as well also mention Incredible Hulk Annual #7. It features Angel and Iceman, no longer Champions, hanging out with Candy Southern (whose last name has mysteriously sprouted a ‘u’) and a one-off girlfriend of Bobby’s named Teresa Sue Bottoms, who promptly ignores him in favour of Warren. They’re attacked at Warren’s summer home, by a guy who turns out to be Master Mold. The Master Mold captures Iceman, and chases Angel out to Gamma Base, where he finally catches him. The Hulk catches a ride on the Sentinel as it flies out to an asteroid with a base inside it. Fighty-fighty time through the base, we learn the Sentinel actually possesses Steven Lang’s mind. As he died, his mind was transferred. Angel tells him Lang is still alive, but as a vegetable. For some reason, this freaks the Sentinel out, even though it actually doesn’t disprove his assertion – he’s still Steven Lang. Anyway, the Sentinel’s destroyed.
This month also had Avengers #176, with one of the funniest moments in Avengers history: Iron Man dramatically shouting, “Avengers Assemble – uh, on the corner outside.”
There’s also Marvel Team-Up #74, featuring – sigh – the cast of Saturday Night Live. And Ms. Marvel #20 has the debut of the iconic blue Ms. Marvel costume.