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Uncanny X-Men Annual #7 (1983, December)

July 25, 2014

Some news out of SDCC. I’ll talk about that Tuesday. For today, by Claremont and pencilers Michael Golden and Bret Blevins, “Scavenger Hunt!”

Scavenger Hunt!

It’s the Impossible Man! Which means you’ll either laugh or scream in incoherent rage.

We start with the team playing softball. It’s Wolverine, Rogue and Nightcrawler vs. Storm, Colossus, Kitty, Xavier, Lilandra, Illyana and Lockheed. Colossus is up at bat. Even in flesh, he hits the ball hard enough that it pretty much disappears.  Then a ship descends on them. Once it stops, a green-and-purple Galactus steps out. Lilandra panics, because Galactus, but Xavier doesn’t seem worried, since “Galactus” said he came in peace. He tries to scan him, but winds up unconscious. The X-Men prepare to attack, but “Galactus” knocks them out and steals their house.

Chapter 2: They follow his psychic trail, and it leads to the SHIELD Helicarrier. Nightcrawler, Kitty and Lockheed teleport over to do recon. Fury and the Countess Valentina are in Fury’s quarters, for a page that satirizes the famous Steranko sequence from the classic Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD series he drew. Kitty drops in to interrupt, chasing after their quarry, but when Lockheed burns a hole in the ship, their quarry jumps out in the form of a wooden Indian. Then Kitty realizes where she is. Nightcralwer teleports in, then teleports out with her. Val notices that Fury’s eye patch is gone.

Chapter 3:  The Savage Land. Ka-Zar and Shanna meet them, and Ka-Zar mentions that Zabu’s been catnapped. Rogue figures out that whoever they’re after is on a scavenger hunt.

Chapter 4: Avengers Mansion. The Fantasti-Car is parked in the front lawn, piled with stuff, and She-Hulk recognizes Colossus and Rogue. The Fantasti-Car is getting away with stolen clothes, but before She-Hulk and Colossus can give chase, She-Hulk confronts them. Iron Man drops by to help. Elsewhere, Dr. Strange has his mystic skylight stolen. Rogue steals She-Hulk’s strength, and Colossus takes down Iron Man. Kitty pops up from underneath Iron Man to tell them to quit playing around, and accidentally disrupts Iron Man’s armour. Iron Man asks Jarvis what was stolen. It’s the Wasp’s costume collection.

The X-Men then get into the headquarters of the Hellfire Club. They find the comatose White Queen, and we learn that she was, in fact, one of Mastermind’s victims. Storm mentions that Xavier offered to help, but was refused. And she’s happy about it. Wolverine sniffs around, and realizes the flowers around her neck are fake. They blast him with water, then turn into a balloon. Shaw busts in and fights the X-Men, and in the confusion the balloon steals the Black Queen’s outfit. Storm gets fed up, and grabs the X-Men in a tornado to give further chase.

Chapter 5: The old offices of Marvel Comics. They’re not there any more. But the Impossible Man does spot a notice saying where they’ve moved. And that’s where we go now. This, naturally, leads to all sorts of gags related to the various people who worked at Marvel at the time. Mark Gruenwald, Eliot Brown and Mike Carlin discuss Zabu’s tail until he bounds past them (confirming he has a short tail). Larry Hamas and Mike Golden talk about Mike moving to New York, and the Impossible Man asks where Stan Lee is. Larry tells him Hollywood. Neither seem particularly bothered by what’s going on. Jim Shooter is in the office of VP of Publishing Michael Hobson, and gets asked to deal with a crisis in the Bullpen. Rogue is asked to stop Impy by touching him. Rogue reflects on the fact that Storm doesn’t like or trust her because of what she did to Carol Danvers.

Rogue is knocked out, and Impy’s still standing, and angry. On the plus side, this means he finally actually talks to the X-Men. He thought they’d been playing his game the whole time. Meanwhile, the Bullpen’s left in a huge mess. Claremont says it’s not his fault, and Smith says he doesn’t draw the book any more.

Chapter 6: The Gobi Desert. All his stuff is stashed there. Some of the stash includes Magneto’s helmet, Iron Man’s original armour, a giant penny and the Millennium Falcon. And we find out the purpose behind it – he and his family are trying to decide which of them should be in charge of their new planet. Then an alien fleet descends demanding his head. Lilandra offers to mediate. She offers to judge the scavenger hunt, pick a winner, and then the Poppupians will return all the stolen goods.

Impossible Man loses, and is deeply upset. Kitty and Illyana console him with popsicles.

While this wasn’t, strictly speaking, a part of the Assistant Editors’ Month, it does seem to have still fallen under it, with Assistant Editor Eliot Brown being responsible, rather than Editor Louise Jones. It’s a fun story. Impossible Man stories can generally go one of two ways: They can be hilarious, or they can be irritating. I find it often depends on how much we see of him (along with one’s own personal feelings towards the character). This one keeps the focus on the X-Men, and how they react to his madness. So rather than being the star of the comic, he’s simply the impetus, the method for getting the X-Men into weird situations. This does make for an entertaining story, though Claremont also uses the opportunity to throw in some character stuff, like Storm’s growing hardness, and Rogue’s bitterness about not being accepted by Storm (while we get to see that Wolverine does accept her). Some of the humour is actually really good, such as Golden’s homage to Steranko.

Golden’s art is good. Not out of the usual or anything. It’s a very standard style. But it’s good. It looks nice. The few pages by Bret Blevins were similar enough not to be jarring – he had a very unique style, but he didn’t use it here.

Interestingly, even in a done-in-one Annual, Claremont still manages to drop in a plot point that never gets resolved. At the Hellfire Club, when Rogue fights Shaw, he makes reference to a previous fight they’d had. We never get any more information about that. We never see the fight, and it’s never mentioned again. That is such a Claremont thing to do.

All in all, this is probably skippable. If you like the Impossible Man, then hey, this is a great comic for you. If you want to read a funny X-Men story, then this is one of them. And I think it might actually be referenced briefly in a New Mutants Annual that also features the Impossible Man. But while this is a mildly amusing comic, it’s nothing too memorable.

Song of the day: Bang Bang Bang by Mark Ronson and the Business Intl.

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