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Uncanny X-Men #170 (1983, June)

June 26, 2014

My job search continues to go poorly. Argh. So here’s “Dancin’ In the Dark,” by Claremont and Smith.

Dancin' In the Dark

Oddly arousing.

We start in Alaska, with Scott and Maddie having spent the night talking and dancing. He’s a bit concerned by his feelings for her. He tells her about Jean, and shows her a picture, and it creates a gulf between them. Which doesn’t last long, as they both still want to date. Aww.

And then to New York, where Callisto is in a torn wedding dress, about to marry Angel. Storm protests, and when Sunder throws Storm down, the X-Men break free and fight back. Nightcrawler uses multiple teleports to take Callisto out, but then Plague infects Storm. The X-Men have no choice but to stand down. Meanwhile, Kitty asks Caliban to help her and the X-Men. Caliban’s concerned she’ll leave, but she promises to stay, and also vows to hate him forever if he doesn’t.

In England in 1783, Mystique is being hunted by hounds and men on horseback. She’s run to ground, and Jason Wyngarde and Jean Grey are the hunters. Jean slashes Mystique’s throat. Then Mystique wakes up in bed. She goes downstairs, and finds Destiny’s already brewed some coffee. Destiny mentions that their foe operates “on fundamental levels of space and time itself.” This leaves me suspecting that Claremont had big plans involving Mastermind, which he changed his mind on halfway through, since he doesn’t really show any sign of any power beyond illusions. But I’m getting ahead of myself on that. Rogue runs away from home, with the “mysterious enemy” being responsible for it; again, this is building to something that doesn’t really pay off the way it seems like it’s going to. But, again, that’s something for just a few more issues from now.

Back in New York, Callisto stops Masque from toying with the X-Men’s features, and invites Nightcrawler to join the Morlocks, but he refuses. Then Caliban comes asking for help for Kitty. Nightcrawler says they need to take her home, but Callisto refuses, and Caliban says the only way to change her orders is to beat her in combat. Nightcrawler challenges her, but then Storm speaks up, and says that as leader of the X-Men, it’s her fight.

Callisto warns Storm not to use her powers, then flips her a knife, which she catches perfectly, which impresses even Callisto. Initially, Callisto is the better fighter, and has a clear advantage, but then Storm uses her cape to lock down Callisto’s knife-hand, and then stabs her, right in the heart. I think it’s a scene that’s worth posting:

Uncanny X-Men 170

Even Claremont was smart enough to shut up.

So now Storm is leader of the Morlocks. She invites them to live on the surface, but Caliban declines, saying the Morlocks belong where they are. Nightcrawler tells Storm he didn’t expect her to go so far. I doubt the readers did, either.

And then back to Alaska, in the morning, and Maddie asks about his glasses. He takes out a coin, flips it, shoots it, and catches it with a hole straight through the middle. Another cool sequence made cooler by the lack of any words. Maddie still wants him in her life.

This is another major issue. The fight between Storm and Callisto is great, and very memorable, with the finish being truly shocking. This is a major turning point for Storm, as she shows the hard edge that would come to define her for the rest of the ’80s (and which Wood has brought back). That she was willing to kill showed how seriously she took the role of leader. That she was able to deliver a killing blow – the Morlocks have a Healer who saved Callisto’s life – shows how good a fighter she is, even without her powers. And, of course, Smith choreographs the fight very well. He does a fantastic job throughout the issue.

The Caliban/Kitty subplot doesn’t get a lot of focus here, though there actually will be a couple issues  coming that follow up on the promise she makes here. The concern that Colossus and Nightcrawler show when Caliban brings in Kitty was really nice.

And then there’s the Scott/Maddie plot. It’s intriguing. There’s a lot of questions: Who is Maddie? Is Scott falling for her because she looks like Jean, or because of who she is? Is Maddie falling for him so quickly because she’s supposed to? Lots of questions. Unfortunately, I get the feeling that Claremont eventually decided he liked the relationship too much to really answer a lot of those questions. At least, until he really had no choice, when the relationship got broken up by editorial so Scott could be brought to X-Factor.

So this is another great issue.

And my song of the day: Shhh by Donora.

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