Uncanny X-Men #168 (1983, April)
Oh, here’s a big issue. Let’s get right into it, by Chris Claremont and Paul Smith: “Professor Xavier Is A Jerk!”
I suppose, before I get into the review, I should get this right out of the way, one of the most famous X-Men splashes of all time:
Kitty’s complaining about being demoted to the New Mutants, and Illyana’s telling her to stop whining. They’re being watched “by alien eyes” who wants to go hunting. Wolverine decides to go on a walkabout, heading out to the Canadian Rockies. Nightcrawler comments on Kitty’s foul mood, and Wolverine says she’s got reason, and Xavier’s giving her a raw deal. We learn that the X-Men argued with Xavier against demoting Kitty, but now Nightcrawler’s playing devil’s advocate (yeah, yeah, I know it’s a typical pun, but it’s a term that works, so let’s just pretend it isn’t a pun, OK?), though he does agree that Kitty’s earned her spot on the X-Men.
In the Danger Room, Lilandra is helping Xavier learn to walk again. It’s slow going. His mind can’t deal with the psychosomatic pain he gets from standing. Lilandra mentions she’s going to join the Starjammers to fight her sister, Deathbird, and asks Xavier to go with her, but he says he can’t. He blames himself for Jean’s death, for leaving the first time he went with Lilandra. At the dance studio, Kitty keeps screwing up. She’s angry, and it’s making her move wrong. She talks to Stevie about how important being an X-Man is to her, and Stevie tells her to keep fighting for it.
The next morning, Storm goes out in the cold air, and once she takes off the fur coat, stands totally naked, trying to reconnect with the planet. But a sudden storm comes up and she gets cold, which bothers her. Then we spend a few days looking at Kitty trying to convince Xavier. She tries logic – which includes beating him at chess; passion – calling him pig-headed; co-operation – practising in the Danger Room; and flattery – she pours it on a bit thick. Nothing works.
Then we cut down to Florida, where Scott takes some time to visit Lee Forrester. They catch up, and make out a bit. In New York, Amanda Sefton gets home to her apartment to find another famous X-Men panel.
At the school, Kitty despairs of ever convincing Xavier. She also has a solved Rubik’s Cube on her desk. Heh, Rubik’s Cubes. This was back when those things were seen as a sure sign of genius. Peter and Illyana ask if she wants to chop wood with them, but she says she needs to do her homework and keep her grades up. By the way, there’s a message on her wall that says “the legion eats quiche.” Comic Book Resources has an article explaining the reference. She runs a quick sensor scan of the house, and it picks up something unusual. She goes to the maintenance tunnel, wearing a school uniform. She finds something’s chewed through some cables, and mind-calls Xavier to let him know. Then she finds her dragon friend. He’s the one who’s been watching throughout the issue.
Then she’s attacked by Sidrian Hunters, the alien creature things who destroyed the house way back when. Kitty gets blasted, and it screws up her phasing power. She and the dragon – whom she now names Lockheed – fight them. Xavier has no clue what the hell she’s talking about when she lets him know about Lockheed. She gets blasted by the last Sidri, but before it can finish her off, Colossus arrives and smashes it. Then they find a nest, with all the eggs destroyed and eaten by Lockheed. Kitty convinces Xavier to let Lockheed stay, since it doesn’t have a home any more and the X-Men are kinda responsible for that, and Xavier also mentions that he’s impressed with how Kitty handled herself. He decides to let her stay on the X-Men on a probationary status, as long as it doesn’t interfere with her education.
We finish in Anchorage, Alaska, at a small airport, where Scott, Alex and his dad are waiting for Scott and Alex’s grandparents. A plane arrives to pick them up, flown by a redhead by the name of Madelyne Pryor.
So, um, wow. This issue really is a big one. The scene with Wolverine leaving leads into his first limited series. Lockheed joins the book. We meet Madelyne Pryor for the first time. We get some ongoing drama in the form of Xavier’s inability to walk, Lilandra preparing to leave Earth again, and Storm losing her connection to the planet. The Storm scene is very brief, but it leads to some major changes for the character. The reunion between Scott and Lee doesn’t go anywhere, and probably could’ve been dropped. Actually, those pages would’ve made a good place to put in the previous issue’s scene where Lilandra threatened Reed Richards. The page of Amanda getting home to Nightcrawler was great – just a wonderful moment. Short, simple, but so good.
And yay Lockheed! I’ve always loved him. He’s awesome. He’s adorable, but he’s also dangerous. He acts like a cat, and I love cats, so it’s only natural that I’d love Lockheed. Actually, Bendis should make more use of him in ANXM.
The art is excellent. Smith delivers some truly memorable moments. He handles expressions well, and he also does a good job with the brief action scene. And Lockheed, as I said, is absolutely adorable. He did give Stevie Hunter a pimp cane, which is maybe an odd choice, but hey, who doesn’t want a pimp cane? I also want to mention that Kitty looks good in the school uniform. It’s funny, for a long time, she was constantly trying to come up with her own costume, something unique for her. She did finally hit on something good with her blue costume, but for a long time, Kitty’s costume actually has been a school uniform, and it works perfectly for her. But that’s another topic for another time.
For now, ‘ll just say that this issue is fantastic. Claremont continued to fire on all cylinders, and with Frank Miller’s Daredevil run over with, Uncanny X-Men was the best comic on the stands at that point.
I suppose I should also mention Obnoxio the Clown vs. the X-Men, by Alan Kupperberg. Obnoxio the Clown was essentially the mascot for Marvel’s comedy magazine, Crazy. This comic has him hired by Xavier to entertain at a surprise birthday party for Kitty, and the X-Men think he’s an enemy, while the real enemy is a guy named Eye-Scream. Who has the mutant power to turn into different flavours of ice cream. The comic is stupid. Blah to it. Blah, I say!
And today’s awesome song: Electric Twist by A Fine Frenzy.