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Uncanny X-Men #172 (1983, August)

July 3, 2014

With this issue, Uncanny X-Men has caught up to where the Wolverine mini left off. This Claremont/Smith story is called “Scarlet In Glory.”

Scarlet In Glory

I guess they were out of thumbtacks.

The X-Men meet Wolverine at Mariko’s Tokyo apartment. Wolverine gets to meet Lockheed for the first time, and takes a liking to him. He also learns of Rogue joining the team. Storm obviously seems to have decided to accept it. Wolverine’s still grumpy, but Mariko welcomes Rogue graciously. Outside, from a neighbouring rooftop, they’re being watched by the Silver Samurai, who’s being watched by Yukio. She attacks him, which gets Wolverine’s attention, so he and Nightcrawler go to help out. Samurai teleports away, and Yukio runs off, but slips and falls. Luckily, Storm is there to catch her.

Back at the penthouse, Storm mentions recognizing Silver Samurai, and says he and Viper killed Karma. Which is a spoiler for New Mutants #7, which came out the following month. Oh well. Mariko gets a letter telling her to meet “Harada” – the Silver Samurai’s real name – that night, and she has to go alone. Her maid is knocked out and replaced by Viper, who gives the X-Men poisoned tea. Wolverine notices the poison in time to stop Storm from drinking, but everyone else is taken out.

Mariko gets into a car, with Yukio serving as the chauffeur.

We then cut to Alaska, where Havok finds Scott in an office, looking at a file on Maddie. Scott wants to know the truth about her, Alex says he should let it drop. Then it’s back to Tokyo, where Mariko meets with the Samurai and Viper, along with another crime lord acting as arbitrator. We find out the Samurai is her half-brother. Mariko tells him she’s the head of Clan Yashida, and refuses to pass control to him. She also badmouths him a bit. But then it’s revealed it’s actually Yukio in disguise, and a fight breaks out. Viper figures Mariko’s probably out in the car, but when she opens the door, she’s blown back by Storm. Storm then heads inside to deal with the Samurai, but uses more power than she planned, and when she draws it back into herself, she starts burning. The arbitrator is pleased, thinking it’s exactly what he wanted to happen. She accidentally sets the warehouse on fire, including the explosives inside. Yukio gets out with her. When the warehouse blows, the flames form a phoenix image.

As Yukio and Storm sneak away, they’re being watched by the arbitrator. At a local hospital, Wolverine’s suiting up for action, and Rogue wants to go with him. The poison had less effect on her hybrid physiology (absorbed from Carol Danvers), and she wants to prove herself.

The letters page is clever – the letetrs are answered by Kitty (who calls herself “Aeriel” – a typo of “Ariel,” the codename she starts using right around this time.) One of the letters is from Jim Shooter, ordering editor Louise Jones to bring back the letters column.

Yet again, a great issue. Wolverine’s reunion with the X-Men was nice to see, even if he’s only actually been gone for a few issues. Mariko’s acceptance of Rogue winds up being a pretty big deal, and leads to a couple powerful moments in the next issue. Storm’s meeting with Yukio, of course, will have major ramifications. Their friendship will become truly special. We also get a continuation of the Storm plot, where she feels torn, and like she’s losing her connection with the planet. Next issue is where her characterization for the rest of the ’80s is truly set. It’s funny: So much happens in this issue, and yet it’s still only set-up for huge pay-offs in the next one. That was always a trend throughout Claremont’s run. The Maddie/Jean connection is vaguely touched on again, though only for a single page. At least Claremont’s keeping the subplot going for now. Speaking of continuing subplots, I suspect the arbitrator was meant to be the same “mysterious enemy” who put Emma Frost into a coma, gave Mystique a nightmare, and apparently drove Rogue to leave her. We never actually get confirmation of who was behind these things, but the clues point to a specific character. More on that when I review UXM#175.

Smith’s art remains excellent. Rogue’s design is changed slightly here, at least for her hair, as her two white stripes on the sides are replaced with a single white stripe down the middle. It makes her look younger, so it was a good decision. The side-stripes always made her look old, and she’s only supposed to be a teenager. 18, apparently. With the single stripe, she looks it. Smith’s also softened her features compared to her villain days, which is another good visual cue to help readers get over their dislike of her. Which, now that I think about it, is actually kinda horrible. The only way to make people accept her was to make her more attractive. Men can be ugly and heroic, but women always have to be attractive. I’d like to see some female characters where that’s not the case. Engleheart’s Fantastic Four run, later in the ’80s, had Sharon Ventura as She-Thing, and she was distinctly non-sexy, but I can’t think of many other instances, and that was over 15 years ago. Anyway, Smith does a typically excellent job in general. He captures Yukio’s sense of fun and excitement really well.

And the song of the day: Pants by Lemuria.

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