X-Men #139 (1980, November)
And we now begin a new era for the X-Men. Phoenix is behind us. Scott has exited (more or less). Kitty has entered. And Wolverine gets a new brown-and-yellow costume. Today’s story is titled “. . . Something Wicked This Way Comes!”
It starts with a Danger Room session. Angel almost gets hit by some rods fired from the wall. As he moves to avoid them, he runs into Nightcrawler, knocking him off his trapeze. Wolverine tears off a piece of the wall to throw over the fire pit before Nightcrawler lands in it. Nightcrawler’s startled and teleports away, right into the path of a robot Colossus has just thrown. Storm grabs Nightcrawler before he’s hit (“Have no fear, Storm is here!” – when did Ororo get a sense of humour?), but she’s grabbed by some steel tentacles. She drops Nightcrawler into Colossus’s waiting arms, then uses a mini-rainstorm to short-circuit the traps controls. We learn that Xavier appointed Storm as team leader in Cyclops’s absence. We also learn Xavier doesn’t like being called “Charley.” So Wolverine calls him Chuck instead. It’s worth noting that this one-off gag has ended up becoming a pretty notable aspect of the relationship between Xavier and Wolverine. Others call him Professor or Charles, but Wolverine still calls him Chuck.
After Angel apologizes for messing up, Nightcrawler swings in with some lemonade. Kitty’s still freaked out by his appearance, and has trouble hiding it. Another aside: A caption box accidentally refers to Colossus as Cyclops when he changes back to flesh. They try to come up with a codename for Kitty. Xavier suggests Ariel, but Kitty doesn’t like it. Storm suggests Sprite, which is accepted (with her making a bad pun about people pulling her tab – Xavier winces). Wolverine wants to go back to Canada to clear up his situation with Department H, and Nightcrawler goes with him.
Storm then takes Kitty into Salem Centre, to Stevie Hunter’s dance school. Kitty explains that she loves dancing because it puts her on the same level as other kids her age. She’s a genius, taking college-level courses while her peers are in ninth grade, but her intellect doesn’t help much with dancing. It’s an interesting insight into who she is.
We then skip up to Ottawa – Laurier Drive, specifically – where Heather Hudson is getting home from her job as an Executive Secretary for Yukon Oil. She finds Wolverine and Nightcrawler in her kitchen. She calls him Logan. Nightcrawler never knew that was his name. Because he never asked. She sends them up to Hudson Bay to meet with Mac (Vindicator). He meets back up with Shaman and Snowbird, both still in their civilian clothes. They’re hunting something. Wolverine and Nightcrawler show up, and Nightcrawler’s terrified of Snowbird’s bear form.
Shaman explains why the three of them are up there. A family was camping, and they were attacked by something. It killed the father, and the mother and infant haven’t been found. Only the six-year-old escaped. Vindicator showed a mold of the beast’s footprint. Wolverine recognizes it as belonging to the Wendigo, and offers to help find it. When Nightcrawler goes out to get their gear, he thinks about Jean, and starts to cry. Then he’s attacked by the Wendigo.
Like I said, this is the beginning of a new era, and it’s treated as such, and it’s handled well. Kitty shows herself as being a deep and complex character, reasoning like an adult but still trying to hold onto her childhood. Storm’s protectiveness of Kitty is also a really nice, interesting touch. Wolverine continues his rise in prominence, though Nightcrawler’s up there beside him. The characterization’s solid all around. Snowbird’s a bit off, here, from how she’ll be portrayed in Alpha Flight.
Another nice thing about this issue is, aside from Nightcrawler’s angst near the end, this isn’t an emotional issue. It’s a lot more calm and relaxed, after the last few months. It’s giving readers a chance to catch their breath. That’s always good, after something as big as the Dark Phoenix Saga. Something nice, simple, and relatively low stakes. Of course, we’ll be getting back to crazy stuff soon, with Days of Future Past.