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X-Men #129 (1980, January)

March 5, 2013

And we now enter the decade where the X-Men became a full-on franchise. It would be another year before the first spin-off title (Dazzler’s ongoing starts in March 1981), but it’s coming. But for today, we kick off the Dark Phoenix Saga, with “God Spare the Child . . .”

God Spare the Child . . .

Pretty cool action cover.

The X-Men are saying farewell to Moira, Sean, Alex, Lorna and Jamie. As the X-Men fly back home, they pass a plane carrying Jason Wyngarde, and Jean once again slips back in time. This time, she’s on a ship sailing for America.The strength of what she feels for Jason scares her, and she excuses herself from his company while she tries to figure out what’s going on. She snaps back to the present when Scott comes to talk to her. He has some things he wants to tell her. She assumes he means Colleen Wing, but he says Colleen’s just a friend. He tells her that when he thought she died, he couldn’t take it. He blocked off his feelings, because he knew if he’d let himself feel anything, it would’ve broken him. It’s a really sweet scene. Very moving. The explanation for why he felt nothing about Jean’s death was pretty obvious a while ago, but it’s nice to have the confirmation.

When they get back to the school, the sensors register an intruder. They bust in expecting a fight. They find Xavier. The next few days are pleasant, until Scott and Jean see Wolverine exit the Danger Room in a huff. Scott goes in to talk to Xavier, who tells him to let Wolverine know that his outburst will cost him ten demerits. Which is hilarious. Scott points out how totally meaningless that is, and explains that Xavier can’t treat the team like children. Xavier retorts that the lack of fine-tuning on the team suggests a failure of leadership. Cerebro then picks up two new mutants, one in Chicago, one in New York. Xavier sends Scott and Jean to the New York mutant, while he brings Storm, Colossus and Wolverine to Chicago.

Xavier has no idea he’s actually being monitored by the Hellfire Club. Oh, that reminds me: This is the first appearance of the Hellfire Club. Most, we only see in shadow, except for the White Queen, as Jason talks to them. We also learn that Warhawk was working for them, way back in issue #110. That’s some long-term planning from Claremont. (Speaking of that issue: Jean still has yet to show any romantic interest in Wolverine, and Wolverine himself has moved past her in favour of Mariko. So I still don’t know where people got the idea that Jean secretly loved Wolverine or whatever. Oh well.)

Cut to Chicago. More specifically, the suburb of Deerfield. Katherine Pryde, 13 years old, is returning home from dance class. Ms. Frost is there, talking to her parents about enrolling Kitty in her exclusive Massachusetts Academy. Kitty tells her mom she had another headache, then goes up to her room and thinks about how her parents must be serious about splitting up. She lays down on her bed as another headache comes on. When she opens her eyes, she’s on the living room floor. Her parents walk in and wonder what she’s doing. She says she went down for a glass of water, then tripped. She runs upstairs.

Ms. Frost leaves, and passes by Xavier, Ororo, Peter and Logan. Kitty thinks Peter’s a hunk. Her father says he has business to discuss with Xavier, and sends her to the Malt Shoppe with the other three. Kitty and Ororo hit it off, and Ororo tells her they’re the X-Men. In the background, Wolverine is looking at porno mags as Peter looks over his shoulder. The shop is then attacked by three guys in battle armour. They seem to be equipped to deal with the X-Men. One has a force field to block Wolverine’s claws. Kitty pushes herself right through the wall, into the alley, where she passes out. Inside, the fight continues, and Wolverine suggests they trade partners. The fight ends quickly after that.

And then they all pass out from a sudden telepathic attack Emma Frost walks in, and has her men load the unconscious X-Men onto a hovercraft. As they leave, she blows up the armoured units. The Hellfire Club’s way of dealing with failures. Brutal. The X-Men are stripped and searched as the hovercraft heads for their base, and the White Queen says they can get Pryde later. She doesn’t know that Kitty actually slipped on board the craft, and is hiding behind a bulkhead right behind her.

The X-Men had been a strong series ever since Claremont started writing it, and got even better when Byrne started drawing it. It was one of Marvel’s best books at the time – probably the best. But this issue pushes it to yet another level. This issue starts off the Dark Phoenix Saga, and it starts it off with a bang. Scott and Jean finally being totally reunited. Jean’s continuing timeslips. The return of Xavier, and his inability to look at the X-Men as anything more than students. The introduction of the Hellfire Club, who quickly present themselves as a legitimate threat. Even better, the introduction of Kitty Pryde. And what a great character she is, right off the bat. Smart, eager, and fairly witty at times. She and Storm have a nice chemistry, as Storm thinks she might have been like Kitty at that age, if things had been different. The fight is well-done. The whole thing is fantastic. It seems impossible for this book to keep getting better, but they manage it.

Also this month, Nightcrawler showed up in Marvel Team-Up #89, written by Chris Claremont. Michael Nasser did the pencils for the first 13 pages, Rick Buckler did 14-17. Nightcrawler meets his girlfriend, Amanda Sefton, at the airport. They see Arcade’s plane, and Nightcrawler decides to check it out. Arcade is telling off some guy named Amos Jardine for breaking a deal. Nightcrawler takes Amanda and slips into the trunk of Jardine’s car with her. During the ride, Nightcrawler explains to Amanda that Jardine bought the circus Nightcrawler used to be in, and took him off the trapeze and put him in the freak show. He ran away that night. The car stops, and Nightcrawler and Amanda find themselves at another circus. A hired killer is in the audience to kill Spider-Man. Nightcrawler decides to flush him out by imitating Spidey. Spider-Man manages to save Nightcrawler from a shot fired by Cutthroat. Amanda tells them she saw a muzzle flash, and the pair go to beat up Cutthroat. He turns out to be tougher than he looks, but they still beat him. Then they beat up Jardine. They find a narcrodart on Jardine, with an ‘A’ – perhaps for Arcade. It’s a fun issue. Spider-Man and Nightcrawler make for a fun pairing. They really should’ve teamed up more often. They have compatible personalities, what with all the joking during fights. It was always fun when they would meet up.

  1. The Warhawk issue wasn’t originally planned to be a part of the Hellfire Club story. Claremont had that as a stand-alone that could basically be slotted in anywhere as a fill-in (I don’t remember the reason he gave for needing the buffer between more continuity-heavy issues). When he debuted the Hellfire Club, it just happened to be a good time to tie it back together.

    I think all that info may have been in the Uncanny X-Men Omnibus, but I can’t say for sure where I read it.

    • I actually kinda had a hunch it was something like that. Still, he tied the Warhawk issue in quite well.

      • He did! It wasn’t until this issue that I even cared about that Warhawk story, which I always thought was terrible. Did that guy ever come back? I want to say no.

      • He had a couple more appearances, but not many at all.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. X-Men #138 (1980, October) | xmenxpert
  2. Uncanny X-Men #151 (1981, November) | xmenxpert
  3. Uncanny X-Men #246 (1989, July) | xmenxpert

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