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Uncanny X-Men #195 (1985, July)

February 21, 2015

Ooh, today’s a big one. Big crossover! By Claremont and JRJr, “It Was A Dark and Stormy Night . . .!”

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night . . .!

The X-Men meet Power Pack! Yes!

I should note that Power Pack #12, which I’ll review below, actually takes place before this story. But I’m doing the X-Men story first, because it’s an X-Men blog. So, uh, deal with it? I guess? Or if you want to read the review in the proper order, then you could just jump down to the Power Pack section, then back up here.

Anyway. There’s a thunderstorm, so the Power Pack kids have all climbed into their parents’ bed. They’re all awoken by a particularly loud crash of thunder. Their parents don’t recognize them. All their stuff is gone from the apartment. The kids slip out of the apartment and bang on the superintendent’s door, but he doesn’t recognize them, either. They run and hide in an alley, then switch to their costumes to keep warm. They talk over what happened, and come to the conclusion that the Morlocks are behind it. They head into the sewers, and are immediately captured by the Morlocks. Katie slips away, but not before Masque touches her face. She runs down the subway, and gets terrified when a train comes by. She’s found by a police officer, who she accidentally zaps.

Kitty’s awake, having only gotten a couple hours sleep, and with a very busy day ahead of her. She hears a news report about a five-year-old girl throwing lightning balls. A picture shows what looks like Katie, but changed. Kitty goes to wake the others. At the hospital, Katie’s sedated enough to keep from using her powers, but refuses to answer any questions. Kitty slips in to take her out. Rogue, Rachel and Wolverine are with her. Rachel asks if she can scan Katie’s mind to learn exactly what happened. They’re all pretty angry when they find out. Kitty gives Katie a jacket, marking her as an honorary X-Man. Wolverine hears alarms, and tells Kitty it’s time to go. He even calls her “boss” – Kitty’s in charge of the mission, it seems, which is neat. Her first real taste of leadership.

They all head down to the sewers. Wolverine tells Katie his friends call him Logan. Aww, sweet. (Actually, I kinda miss the friendship between Katie and Wolverine. The pinnacle of this friendship, of course, is coming up in another 10 issues, in one of a long list of iconic issues.) Anyway, Kitty returns from scouting, having found a bedroom. It’s Katie’s room, which she shares with Julie. All their stuff is there. They’re found by Annalee, who demands they hand Katie over. The other three have already been changed so they think they’re Annalee’s kids. Then a fight breaks out. Leech takes out Rogue’s powers, and the odds are too great, so Kitty phases away with Wolverine. They head into the main tunnel, where the Morlocks refuse to let them take the kids. Kitty agrees to let Wolverine pop the claws, while she chases after the girls.

Katie is freaking out, panicking. She tells Annalee she hates her. Kitty shows up, and asks Annalee if she thinks that’s what her real kids sounded like before they were murdered. Harsh, Kitty. Annalee breaks down. This is when Callisto returns, wanting an explanation for what the hell is going on.

Later on, Callisto is ordering everyone to return everything to normal by sunrise. Callisto also says that Power Pack is off-limits, and if Annalee goes after them again, it’ll be settled in the ring. Annalee thinks maybe that would be for the best. Without her kids, she wants to die. Katie hugs her and says that they can still be friends. Rachel says they’re being summoned back to the school – by Magneto.

Great issue. The ending is really sweet and touching. It shows what makes Power Pack so great, I think – their ability to love. Katie feels pity for Annalee, and doesn’t want her to feel bad, so tries to make her feel better. That capacity for compassion is also why I like Ms. Marvel and My Little Pony – call me a sucker, but I like a story where love is the solution, not violence. This issue actually has very little in the way of violence, which is neat. Rachel did get completely lost for a while – as soon as they go into the sewers, she pretty much disappears. We see her in a couple panels, so we know she’s there, but she gets completely lost in the shuffle, especially when the fighting breaks out. I also like Kitty being appointed the boss – it’s a nice touch. She does a pretty good job, too. It’s sad how seldom, over the years, she’s really gotten to be in a real leadership role. After Secret Wars ends, I’d like to see her leading a team.

JRJr’s art is a very, very poor fit for this story. The guy can’t draw kids. He just can’t do it. They don’t look at all right. He gets their sizes wrong, he gets their faces wrong, he gets everything about them wrong. Aside from the kids, the art is standard Romita, Jr. fare. Not my style, but not too bad. But man, keep this guy away from drawing kids, because it is completely beyond his abilities.

And Power Pack #12, by Louise Simonson and June Brigman. Power Pack heads into the sewers to find the books they forgot behind last issue, and some Morlocks find them. Meanwhile, Nightcrawler and Kitty are heading into the Morlock tunnels. Nightcrawler gives Callisto a letter from Storm, and Kitty gives Caliban a present, a shirt. Power Pack fights the Morlocks cornering them, but they get defeated and captured. The Morlocks plan on taking Power Pack to Annalee, whose kids were killed in a recent issue of UXM. Kitty and Nightcrawler prepare to leave, after some flirting between Callisto and Nightcrawler. Actually, now that I think on it, they’d make an interesting pairing. Lockheed is hassling the Morlocks who captured Power Pack, and in the process, Julie and Jack escape. They free the other two, but before they can get away, their powers are cut off by Leech. Annalee wants to wipe the kids’ memories so they believe themselves to be her children. Masque comes in to change their looks, but Jack untied Julie’s hands, and she grabs the kitten to lure Leech away. Kitty and Nightcrawler get inside, and there’s lots of fighting. The fighting is ended when Julie returns with Leech. Julie tries to convince Annalee to love Leech, but she refuses. Kitty and Nightcrawler walk Power Pack most of the way home, and invite them to join the school, but the kids decline.

It’s a really good story. Power Pack was a great series, and great characters. Simonson does some solid character work with the kids, and with Kitty and Nightcrawler. Actually, it’s impressive just how well Simonson handled the X-side of this issue. She gets their voices right, and even Lockheed behaves like Lockheed. Brigman’s pencils are good. Its very much “house style,” but she does a good job. The action’s easy to follow, and the characters are expressive. She’s very good.

While I’m at it, there are a couple other comics I should mention. Amazing Spider-Man #266, by Peter David and Sal Buscema, has Toad. It also has Frog-Man. It is also hilarious. Toad tries to commit suicide by jumping off a building, but Spider-Man saves him. Several weeks later, while Spider-Man is foiling a crime, Toad gets involved to help out. He wants to be Spider-Man’s new partner. Frog-Man gets angry about this. Eventually, it culminates in one of the most ridiculous fights ever. Which gets even better when the Spectacular Spider-Kid shows up. It ends with Toad, Frog-Man and Spider-Kid deciding to become a new team. The whole thing is just great, goofy fun. I love it. Big laughs from start to finish.

And I suppose I should also mention – sigh – Secret Wars II, or at least the X-Men’s role in it. Xavier, on Muir Island, senses the Beyonder’s presence on Earth, and freaks out a bit, then passes out. He does manage to contact Captain America, on a flight back to the US. At the school, Nightcrawler and Colossus are arguing with Magneto, and the other X-Men bust in. I find it ridiculous that Rachel would be going in looking for a fight – she should remember Magneto as a friend and ally, not an enemy. Oh well. Magneto says Xavier wants him to lead the X-Men in search of the Beyonder, and as leader of the team, Nightcrawler agrees. They head to LA, where Magneto interrupts some gladiatorial games, looking for recruits. Cannonball, Magik, Lila and Dazzler agree to go, but Sunspot and Magma refuse. This, uh, this is kinda spoilers for New Mutants. Sooo . . . sorry? Magneto tells Rachel to scan for the Beyonder, which she hates to do. She senses a being of immense power, and find a guy wrecking a TV studio. It’s some dude the Beyonder powered-up earlier in the issue. The character actually seems intended as a bit of a parody of Steve Gerber. The X-Men fight the guy. Captain America shows up to help out. Rachel senses another presence, and finds the Beyonder watching invisibly. He appears, and grabs Magik and turns her into the Darkchilde. She panics and teleports away with a bunch of the others. Wolverine goes crazy and tries to rip him to shreds, but doesn’t really hurt him. Lila gets scared and teleports away with the other X-Men.

Shooter handles the X-Men a bit better here than in the previous Secret Wars. He lets them actually do something right off the bat, for one thing. He gives them some OK characterization, though not much of it. He also throws in some pretty decent humour. Not a bad showing for the X-Men, at least, though the series as a whole kinda sucks.

Song of the day: I Killed Robert Johnson by the Stones Foxes.

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