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Uncanny X-Men #161 (1982, September)

August 26, 2013

Well, this is a minor issue. A calm between storms. Cockrum rejoins Claremont for a story called “Gold Rush!”

Gold Rush!

One of those shots is actually hitting Xavier.

Xavier’s having Brood-related nightmares, as the Brood inside him is taking him over. He’s still catatonic, and everyone is feeling sad. Scott is angry. Storm goes to talk to him, and he chews her out for the Pentagon battle a couple issues back, then apologizes and talks about how he feels about Xavier, while Lilanda cries over Xavier’s body and asks him to fight.

And then we go inside his mind, and his memories. He’s in Haifa, in Insrael. He’s taken to a mental hospital with Holocaust survivors. One of the volunteers is Magnus. Xavier’s introduced to Gabrielle Haller, who’s totally catatonic. Xavier goes into her mind in order to bring her out of it, thinking about how precious a gift life is. Then we get some weird images of how she viewed the Holocaust – demonic Nazis, being transformed into gold. Haller wakes up.

Over the next few weeks, Xavier, Magnus and Gabrielle spend a lot of time together. Xavier and Magnus talk about mutants, Xavier and Gabrielle become romantically involved, though Xavier knows she doesn’t really love him the way she thinks she does. Then some guys – former Nazis – attack and capture Haller. Magnus destroys one of their ships, but the one with Gabrielle escapes. Xavier mentally interrogates one of the few survivors, and gets their base.

Later, at the Hydra base, Baron Strucker is told that a cave has been found. Xavier and Magnus are there, wearing Hydra uniforms. They follow Strucker into the cave, and learn that during the war, a lot of gold was hidden there in case of defeat. The gold is revealed, and Xavier and Magnus are found out. Fight time! They manage to get the Hydra troops distracted, but Gabrielle retreats back into her mind, until Xavier talks her back. Magnus deals with Strucker in the meantime. He takes his friends and the gold, and then collapses the cave with Strucker still inside. Gabrielle wakes up again, deciding it’s good to be alive.

And then Xavier wakes up. Lilandra invites the X-Men to a banquet on her ship before she leaves. Xavier’s too weak to go, and Illyana’s just had a traumatic experience so she also stays behind. At the banquet, Lilandra suddenly goes into a trance. Deathbird shows up, and blows up the X-Men, knocking them all out. The Brood come out and talk about how the X-Men will serve as hosts.

The main story is kinda weak. It feels like filler. It was nice seeing how Xavier and Magneto met, I suppose, This is the first time we learn that they actually knew each other before Magneto became a terrorist. It slightly contradicts some earlier scenes, but nothing major, and nothing that can’t be handwaved away. Magneto stealing all that gold was kinda cool. Strucker obviously survived the cave-in. Gabrielle becomes a recurring character over the years, as Legion’s mother and as an Israeli ambassador. And now she’s dead. A shame, that. Much more interesting are the beginning and ending of the issue. At the start, we get that interesting scene between Scott and Ororo; I do wonder if Claremont had been considering having them hook up. They had good chemistry. It’s probably for the best that they didn’t. They make for very good friends. Though it may have been interesting to see what would’ve come of it if they had hooked up. The truly important part of the issue, though, is the ending, with the X-Men being captured by Deathbird and the Brood. This leads into the second part of the Brood Saga, one of the all-time great X-Men stories.

The letters page, as an aside, includes a letter from WaRP Graphics, the creators of Elfquest. Pretty neat.

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