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Uncanny X-Men #176 (1983, December)

July 24, 2014

I forgot to review All-New Doop #4 yesterday. I’ve added it now, if you want to check. But for today, by Claremont and JRJr, “Decisions.”

Decisions

Like the decision to fight a giant squid by shooting one’s own logo.

Scott and Maddie are on their honeymoon, flying a small plane to Boragora. Scott’s feeling frisky. After they have sex, Maddie mentions that there’s a bad storm front headed towards them. Scott still hasn’t made a decision about joining his father or not. They hit a line squall that kills the plane, forcing an emergency landing on the Pacific Ocean.

In Japan, Wolverine returns the Clan Yashida honour sword to Mariko again, wanting to know why it was sent to him. She says it’s his by right, but also says she can’t be his until she cleans up Clan Yashida’s ties. It’s confirmed that Mastermind was the one responsible for Mariko calling the wedding off, but she still says she needs to deal with the Yashida ties to the Yakuza before she’s worthy of Wolverine. She further insists she has to do it herself. He understands, and he leaves, taking the sword with him.

Back to the plane. Nothing is working, and Scott and Maddie are doing repairs. Scott slips and starts to fall off the wing, but Maddie catches him and pulls him up before a shark lunges at him. Scott blasts it. He figures that, after all he’s been through, being eaten by a shark on his honeymoon would just suck. The shark drifts down, and gets grabbed by tentacles.

In Washington, Henry Gyrich joins a meeting, already in progress, about Magneto. They talk about him destroying a Soviet city a while back. The guy leading the meeting also talks about how Magneto probably could’ve succeeded if he hadn’t disappeared, and that the Avengers could likewise take over the country pretty easily. Then Val Cooper talks about the threat posed by mutants – not in terms of them conquering the world, but as operatives of governments or other groups. She thinks the US should form its own group comprised of mutants. Gyrich isn’t convinced – he points out that it may actually fit into the fears Magneto has of mutants being used and thrown away. Val thinks the US has no choice but to start making use of mutants.

In the Morlock tunnels, Callisto, Masque and Sunder are paying Caliban a visit. They remind him of Kitty’s promise to stay with Caliban if he helped her save the X-Men. He upheld his part of the bargain, they think it’s time she upheld hers.

Back to the Pacific. They’re pretty sure they’re ready to lift off, but the storm’s close enough that they won’t get another chance. Maddie tries to pull in the sea anchor, and a giant squid grabs her. Scott jumps in after her, and the squid attacks him, too.  Scott blasts it, but loses his glasses, so Maddie has to guide him back to the plane. They manage to get airborne, just in time. Scott’s also made up hi mind about his dad – he’s staying on Earth. He doesn’t want to go to war, he wants to be happy.

As an aside, my joke above about Scott blasting the logo? Jim Shooter apparently felt the same way. There’s a page with a memo Shooter sent to Louise Jones, saying how weird it looked to him. He thought it was a gorgeous cover, but he made some jokes about Scott shooting the logo.

This is a good issue. Scott and Maddie get the focus, and they’ve been together just long enough for the love to feel a bit more valid. Scott’s positively giddy about the marriage. He acts stupidly in love, which makes sense. And it’s nice to see. The giant squid is a nice change of pace, in terms of a threat to face. This issue also sets up several more plots. It continues, a little bit, the Wolverine/Mariko plot. That’s going to have a tragic finale, and unfortunately, it doesn’t wind up coming up all that often before that finale, which is years away. Mariko basically disappears from the book after this.

The first plot being set up is the Morlocks trying to force Kitty to stay with Caliban. That’s going to be a good one. The more long-term plot, though, is the one to do with Cooper’s plan to create a government-sponsored mutant team. That story’s going to last for a long, long time. Cooper’s a very interesting character. Here, in her first appearance, she seems a bit mutant-phobic. She sees them as a threat, though she does also see them as a bit of an opportunity. Later on – especially when Peter David starts using her in X-Factor – she becomes much more complex. She’ll realize that mutants are people, and become an advocate for them . . . while also seeing them as an opportunity. She’ll always be someone who uses people for what she sees as a greater good. Also interesting in this issue, though, is that it’s Gyrich who takes a more nuanced position, and actually explains how Cooper’s plan could be seen by mutants, especially Magneto. He favours not doing anything for the time being. Of course, this is while he’s also working on Sentinels. But overall, it does suggest Gyrich as someone who wants to avoid conflict with mutants. I like that interpretation of the character. I’ve never really seen him as just being a virulent anti-mutant maniac, the way the ’90s cartoon did. He’s a jerk, but he’s not really a bad guy. He’s a very nuanced character.

John Romita, Jr’s art is OK. His style, back then, wasn’t as sharp and angular as it is now. He was a little more conventional. He did have hints of what he’s since become; even then, his style was definitely a bit sharper than most artists. But he did still know how to draw curves back then, and it wasn’t really a big departure from what most artists were doing. Now, of course, his art is just plain unpleasant to look at. But his UXM stuff wasn’t bad.

Song of the day: Hold On by Alabama Shakes.

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