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Uncanny X-Men #181 (1984, May)

September 1, 2014

Happy Labour Day. Here’s a comic. By Claremont and JRJr, “Tokyo Story.”

Tokyo Story

Is that supposed to be Rachel in the top right? She’s not in the comic. Interesting.

We start with some Japanese kids spotting a dragon in the sky. They look it up in their Monster Books, trying to figure out what it is, but it’s not in the book, so they figure it must be new. Cute joke, with the Monster Books. Then the X-Men fall out of the sky and land next to the kids. The kids recognize them, and let them know where they are. The kids talk excitedly about the X-Men, and Xavier lets the team know they’ve been missing for over a week. Details are in Secret Wars. Xavier tells Rogue to fly home and see if Kitty needs help. He realizes he probably shouldn’t have taken charge like that, but he couldn’t help it. Wolverine’s quietly angry at Wolverine for undercutting Storm’s leadership.

In the war room of the Japanese military, they’ve spotted the dragon on radar. They’re confused, since it’s the off-season, and Monster Island reports all creatures accounted for. One of the officers wonders why it couldn’t have attacked LA. More cute jokes. Marvel’s Japan has a history of monster attacks. A nice homage to the popularity of kaiju movies over there. Mariko happens to be there, and overhears mention of the X-Men being present, and she suggests Sunfire go to help.

In town, the dragon’s tearing up a skyscraper. The X-Men go in to protect people. Colossus mourns the love he’s lost. Xavier tries to read the dragon’s mind, to find out what it’s doing, but she senses it as an attack and throws a building on him. Sunfire saves him, and some fighter jets attack the dragon. Then tanks open fire.

Cut to Tahiti, where Maddie is sitting, depressed. Scott drops in out of nowhere, and Maddie’s relieved and angry. He apologizes, and she forgives him. Aw. How touching.

Dragon! She’s flying off, and her wings are generating ridiculous amounts of wind. Storm tries to contain it. She winds up throwing herself into the air in a tornado and passes out. Meanwhile, Xavier wakes up buried in debris, unable to move his legs. He panics, then calms when Wolverine gives him a psychic slap, and he realizes he’s not badly hurt. Wolverine finds some survivors, a mother and daughter. The mother’s dying, and asks Wolverine to look after he daughter. Wolverine promises. In the sky, Sunfire catches a falling Storm, but can’t hurt the dragon. He gets smacked by the dragon’s wing, and falls. The kids rush over again. The dragon swoops in, apparently planning to kill them, but Lockheed shows up. He attacks her with fire, and she flees, confused and emotionally hurt, if not physically. Then she disappears.

The X-Men are helping out with the clean-up efforts. Mariko sees them on TV, and wishes she could be by Wolverine’s side. Lockheed returns to the X-Men, and Xavier reflects that the dragon had an unrequited love for Lockheed. Wolverine points to all the next she’d made out of the wrecked buildings.

In Washington, Senator Kelly is trying to get a colleague to support his Mutant Affairs Control Act.

Then a letters page, “answered” by Wolverine. Including a letter from Lee Allred! He talks about how X-Men #172 made him feel like the characters are actual people.

This is really good. It takes a fun concept – a monster attack on Tokyo – and does some really good character work with it. There’s some really good humour about it early on, and then the drama starts up. Xavier’s moment of panic when he thinks his legs are injured again was great. I think it was dickish of him to take command early on – Storm is the team’s field leader, and undercutting her authority was wrong. That’s something that will be a bit of an ongoing conflict for a little while. Wolverine also got a small bit of focus here. More important, this issue features the first appearance of Amiko, the girl who will be his adopted daughter (and will seldom appear). Her name here is actually Akiko, but it’ll be changed to Amiko later. It’s a shame how rarely she actually shows up, especially during the ’80s, under Claremont. For the most part, she may as well have not even existed.

The other major event in this issue is the introduction of the Mutant Affairs Control Act. This will become a big, big deal to the X-Men comics, and will even show up in non-X-Men comics now and then.

I’m still not keen on Romita, Jr.’s art. It’s starting to get a little bit more of the sharpness that would become his trademark style, and I don’t like it.

Song of the day: The Mountain by the Heartless Bastards.

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