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X-Men #133 (1980, May)

March 17, 2013

Let’s do it. “Wolverine: Alone!”

Wolverine: Alone!

I’m not sure how much sense those motion lines make. But it’s still a badass cover.

The Hellfire mercenaries are in the basement, looking for Wolverine. They find him. He takes a couple down, but then gets blasted and lands in some boxes. It almost kills him, but he’s still alive, so he kills the guy who shot him. That leaves one last. Wolverine ends up scaring him into dropping his gun and answering some questions.

We then cut upstairs, to where the Inner Circle hold the captive X-Men. There’s plenty of chilling stuff there. Scott thinks back to the butte, where Jean created a permanent psychic rapport with him. He figures it might help them get out. Nightcrawler asks Shaw why the X-Men are still alive, and Shaw explains that they plan on experimenting on them, in order to isolate the genetric quirk that creates mutants, and then custom-build mutants at will.

We cut to Muir Island. Sean’s on an early morning jog, and sees the lights on in Moira’s lab. He goes to talk to her, and she talks about Jean. Jean’s got the power of a god, but the experiences of a young woman. She activated a series of psychic circuit breakers to limit her powers to something she could handle. But something’s been releasing them, causing Jean to once more tap near-infinite power levels. This sounds very, very bad.

Then to Arizona, and Angel’s Aerie, even though last issue established it in New Mexico. Well, chalk it up to forgetfulness, I guess. He talks to Xavier about the X-Men being missing. Xavier talks about how he trained Cyclops to take over as leader of the X-Men, but when it finally happened, Xavier resented it, and caused him to make terrible mistakes.

Back to the Club. Wolverine took a dumbwaiter from the basement to the first floor, bypassing guards. He’s trying to figure out how to get to the stairs without making a fuss, and a gun is put to his head. Upstairs, Scott uses the rapport to enter Jean’s mind. He’s forced to conform to the 18th century reality Mastermind’s trapped her in. Wyngarde is there, knowing of the rapport, and counting on Scott trying to reach Jean through it. They have a sword duel, and Wyngarde is much better.

Downstairs, Wolverine easily deals with the guy holding a gun to his head. He runs across the hall, and gets attacked by some guards with clubs. He’s not sure if they’re normal staff or mercenaries. Sadly, at no point does he get some turkey. Oh well. Back in the astral plane, Wyngarde kills Scott, while in the real world, he lets out a scream and falls to the ground, seemingly dead.

Things continue to escalate. Wolverine’s solo battle is really cool, and his terrifying the mercenary is hilarious. We get another hint that Jean’s story is going somewhere very, very bad. We get a moment of Xavier realizing how he’s been acting since he returned. We get Jean’s taunting of the captive X-Men (and specifically Storm, whom she even calls a slave, much to Storm’s surprise). Another hint of the political machinations of the Inner Circle. And Scott’s attempt to reach Jean through their psychic rapport. There’s a lot here, and a lot of it’s great. And still, still, there’s a sense of this all being little more than a prelude. It’s quite the achievement, really. No other comic was even coming close to doing what X-Men was doing. Claremont and Byrne were just on another level entirely. At Marvel, at least, there was just no comic at the time that could compare. Maybe Teen Titans at DC was close, from what I’ve heard about it. But other than that, this was just storytelling on an entirely different level than any other comic on the market.

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