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Uncanny X-Men #144 (1981, April)

April 29, 2013

I should do a Claremont/Byrne retrospective one of these days. But I’m not in the mood for it today. So instead, we get the pencils of Brent Anderson, for “Even In Death . . .”

Even In Death . . .

Man-Thing is great.

It starts in the Man-Thing’s swamp, with a man dying of cancer trying to decie whether he should fight it or just kill himself. The guy ends up shooting himself, at the urging of D’Spayre. Man-Thing attacks D’Spayre, but then catches fire from his own fear. Then D’Spayre takes on the form of Jock Forrester.

We cut to the fishing trawler, the Arcadia, and Scott Summers. Another crewman asks to see Scott’s glasses, and when Scott refuses, the guy tries to pick a fight. Lee breaks it up. Her thoughts reveal she’s got a thing for him. At a local bar, she gets a call from her father, while Scott reads a letter from the X-Men.

We then cut to the X-Men repairing some of the damage Kitty’s fight with the N’Garai did. Kitty brings sandwiches, and Nightcrawler and Wolverine joke around, but it makes her feel miserable. She runs out, and Nightcrawler feels horrible.

Back down in Florida, Scott’s invited for a game of pool. She sets up for some practice shots. Everyone else looks at a football game on TV, so he uses an optic blast to sink every ball on the table with one shot. Then Lee asks him to join her for a trip to her dad’s place in Citrusville. When they get there, Lee runs to hug her dad, but he turns into D’Spayre.

And now we get a glimpse into Scott’s childhood. He relives the (apparent) death of his parents. His family was one a small plane, which was damaged. His mother tossed him and his brother out with a parachute. Unfortunately, the parachute caught fire. Then Scott wakes up in costume, seeing the original X-Men, all dead, as Sentinels of the new X-Men attack. He and Alex destroy them, but Alex dies in the process. While he thinks about what happened, Alex and the new X-Men rise as corpses. Then he finds himself on the butte where he shared his last happy moment with Jean. Then he’s suddenly in a church, about to marry her. She removes his visor, and his blast kills her.

Scott dives out of D’Spayre’s tower, and wakes up on the ground outside Lee’s father’s house. He sees the Man-Thing, and almost blasts it, but then stops himself. He switches to costume and follows Man-Thing back into the house, where Man-Thing catches fire again. Cyclops comes up with a plan, bringing up his memory of Dark Phoenix to attract D’Spayre, then tackles him. Man-Thing’s inspired by Cyclops’s courage, and grabs D’Spayre while Cyclops rushes out with Lee.

It’s a good issue. Man-Thing stories were always weird, but usually fun. It was nice seeing Scott again. But overall, this ended up feeling a lot like filler. Which it almost certainly was – Byrne had just left, and Cockrum was just joining, so this was probably just to bridge that period. As filler, it was adequate. I’d come to expect better of the series, though.

There’s a couple more X-Men appearances to bring up from this month. First up, Rom #17, by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema, starts with the X-Men responding to an alert from Cerebro. It detects a new mutant in Clairton, West Virginia. Which happens to be the town Rom took up residence in. Skipping ahead through the issue, Rom confronts the mutant, Jimmy Marks, who calls himself Hybrid, since he’s the result of a relationship between a human and a Dire Wraith. He’s got a few powers, including telekinesis, and also shows a resistance to Rom’s Neutralizer. The X-Men show up again on the last page, thinking Rom is a robot threatening a child.

Then, there’s Spider-Woman #37, by Claremont and Steve Leialoha. Black Tom, Juggernaut, and Tom’s niece, Theresa, are planning to steal some Vibranium being held in San Francisco. Xavier detects a new mutant out in San Francisco, and sends the X-Men out to investigate. (We also get references to the damage Kitty did. Claremont kept some consistency between the books he wrote.) Spider-Woman reacts to a sonic assault over the city, and finds Black Tom. She takes care of him, then confronts Siryn. It’s an exciting fight, and Spider-Woman wins. Then Juggernaut knocks her out. This is another story continued next issue.

  1. As you already know, last year I bought Essential X – Factor Vol. 5 TPB.
    When I buy a trade, I usually read it in a single session, and then I put it on the shelves and that’s it. In this case, I’m reading this Essential trade in a LOT of sessions, because the pages, being in black & white, are very tiring to read.
    I’m writing you all this to tell you that last week I read an issue collected in that volume: X – Factor Annual # 6. It consisted of 3 short tales, and one of them, “Tribute the third”, was incredibly beautiful.
    It was written by Peter David. Once you told me that he is particularly famous for being able to write very enjoyable character driven stories: well, “Tribute the third” proves how deeply true your statement is.
    I recently read nother issue collected in that volume: New Mutants Annual # 7. It had a main story and a backup story. The main story was quite insubstantial, but then it came the backup story: it was so sweet and heart warming! I think I’ll read it again in the next days.
    I do suggest you to read again the issues I mentioned in this comment: I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. : )

    • Yeah, that X-Factor story is definitely amazing. I’ll be rereading it eventually, but honestly, it’s stuck with me well enough that I don’t feel the need. A sure sign, to me, that it was effective.

      The New Mutants one was definitely sweet. Didn’t quite stick with me the same way, but it’s a really cute story.

      • I’m glad that you appreciated these 2 stories too. Thank you for your reply! : )

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