X-Men #131 (1980, March)
We continue the Hellfire Club arc, with “Run For Your Life!”
Kitty’s running through an alley in Chicago, being chased by Hellfire goons. She’d been evading them for hours, but she’s finished. Luckily, right after she trips and falls, Phoenix shows up to wreck the car the goons were chasing her in. Then Nightcrawler grabs Kitty and carries her to safety. Scott chastises Jean for destroying the car instead of just stopping it, but she snaps back that she felt Kitty’s terror, and the thoughts of the killers, and that they got what they deserved. Kitty’s broken away from Nightcrawler and is hiding out in a warehouse, so Jean goes in, in normal clothes, to talk to her. Back in the plane, Jean mind-scans one of the prisoners, and gets the location of Emma’s base, and information about the Hellfire Club. That part throws her off, since her timeslips had her ancestor marrying a member of the Hellfire Club, but she shakes it off.
The car Jean wrecked earlier pulls up, with the X-Men as prisoners. Emma’s wary, so sends out some guards in case of deception, while she goes back to mentally examining Storm. Kitty sneaks in through the back, and when she phases her hand through the lock on Wolverine’s cage, it pops open. She gets blasted from behind. Wolverine is not amused. Out front, the car is stopped and held up while the guards wait for reinforcements. Cyclops blasts off the roof of the car, rather spectacularly, then Dazzler blinds the two guards. Emma orders all her guards to stop them, and then turns to Ororo, figuring she still has time to reduce Storm to a mindless vegetable. Phoenix gets there first, however, and the pair begin a psychic duel.
The X-Men are making their way through the base, wrecking it as they go along. They reunite with Wolverine, Colossus and Kitty, and then head to find Storm. Scott hopes Jean hasn’t run into any trouble. As it turns out, of course, Phoenix outclasses Emma by a landslide. Ororo’s awed but terrified by Jean. Emma makes one last attempt, channeling all her power into one mind-blast. The building is destroyed in the process. Scott worries about Jean, but she just blasts off the debris and walks out with Storm.
They return to Chicago. Dazzler declines to join the team.Kitty’s parents yell at Xavier about Kitty’s disappearance, until he suddenly changes his mind mid-rant and invites them in for brunch. Xavier’s as shocked as everyone else. Jean says she did it, which Scott and Ororo find very concerning.
Great. Sadly, Kitty won’t appear again until the end of #138. In the meantime, though, the next part of the Hellfire Club story is awesome. Jean and Scott are the focus of the series right now, particularly Jean’s continued slide. She loves using her powers, and she’s becoming a lot more aggressive. It’s cool to watch. And Scott’s concern for her is well-done. So is Storm’s concern, actually. Emma makes a return in late 1981 – she was too good a villain to stay down for long. Now, of course, Emma’s solidly on the side of the angels. Honestly, it’s almost tough reviewing these comics, because they’re just so good that it’s hard to say anything about them I haven’t said already.
I have to comment on one of the letters, too. A David Stallman wrote in about #125, and more specifically, the resemblance between Magda and Wanda. The response was that the resemblance was intentional. The response also makes reference to things to look forward to: “Ariel and Caliban, ‘What ever happened to Mesmero?’, the absolutely (we promise, Scout’s honor!) last Sauron story . . . Plus, the return of Alpha Flight, Juggernaut and Black Tom, Arcade, and the Sentinels.” I guess Claremont and Byrne tried to plan quite a bit in advance, since Caliban wouldn’t make his debut until August 1981.
I actually want to mention a couple other great issues that came out the same month. Daredevil #163, by Roger McKenzie and Frank Miller, had a great story about Daredevil trying to get the Hulk to leave the city. It’s somewhat reminiscent of DD’s first encounter with Namor, back in Daredevil #7 (April 1965), with DD knowing he’s going up against a foe he can’t stop, but refusing to stop trying. Great story, with great writing from McKenzie, and great pencils from Miller. There was also Incredible Hulk #245, Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema, featuring an extremely angry Hulk attacking Gamma Base to find the body of Jarella. The main benefit of the story is that, for once, the Hulk was being proactive, acting rather than reacting. Also, he was angrier than he’d been for a long, long time, so his rampage was rather impressive. Finally, there’s Iron Man #132, by David Michelinie, Jerry Bingham and Bob Layton. Another Hulk appearance (he had a busy month), Iron Man actually manages to knock the Hulk out, by channeling every bit of energy in his armour into one massive punch. Even better, this leads into the events of the next issue, where Scott Lang, as the new Ant-Man, has to make his way through Iron Man’s armour to help Iron Man to not die.