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Uncanny X-Men #197 (1985, September)

March 9, 2015

I watched Amazing Spider-Man 2 last night. I’ll talk about in my pull list post on Wednesday. For today, by Claremont and JRJr, “To Save Arcade?!?”

To Save Arcade?!?

Storm flying is a pretty neat hint that something’s not right.

On a space ship, Colossus smashes through a wall to save Kitty from Colossus. He manages to knock himself out of the ship, but then Kitty turns into a Brood Queen. He runs away, and finds Zsaji. Then she dies. He winds up back home, on the farm where he grew up. He saves Illyana from a runaway tractor, and she becomes the Darkchilde. Three women he loved, three women he failed to protect.

He wakes up in bed. But it’s not his room. Kitty’s in another bed beside him. He wakes her, and Arcade lets himself in to let them know they’re in Murderworld.

In Alaska, Scott is getting ready to leave, to see Xavier. He and Maddie talk a bit, and she reminds him of his responsibility to her.

Back in Murderworld, Arcade, Kitty and Colossus are having breakfast. A small missile flies in, and Kitty disrupts it so Colossus can catch it and contain the blast. It damages his costume, and Kitty admires the view, but Arcade shows them into a room full of X-Men robots so Colossus can get a replacement. Then he tells them Doom’s put out a hit on him. Kitty and Colossus don’t want to help, but he tells them Miss Locke will kill their loved ones if he dies. Kitty still thinks he’s playing a game, but figures it’ll be worthwhile to play along.

In Manhattan, Nimrod and Jaime are having lunch and talking about their job hauling crates at a fish place. A couple guys decide to stick the place up, and Nimrod kills them. The other patrons cheer him, but Jaime seems uncomfortable.

Back in Murderworld, Kitty and Colossus are in a reproduction of Manhattan in the ’20s, with robot duplicates of the other X-Men with them. A train pulls up, unloads a bunch of soldiers, and turns into a giant robot monster. Kitty starts issuing orders to the robot X-Men. Then she gets shot, but it’s only a robot. The other robots get destroyed, too. Kitty and Colossus are left alone, and he smashes the big Doom robot. Then he starts talking about the survivor’s guilt he’s been feeling, and wondering if being stuck in the past is the wrong way to honour her memory.

Doom attacks in another airship, and Colossus throws a pipe through it that causes it to smash into Arcade’s control booth. Colossus does a Fastball Special (Tracker: 14), with Kitty Wolverining. She’s dead by the time Colossus gets there. But then another Kitty phases through Doom, disrupting him. She says she slipped away early in the fight, and left a robot duplicate behind while she went to keep an eye on Arcade. She didn’t tell Colossus, because she figured it would be better if his reactions were sincere. Colossus asks if she enjoyed making a fool of him, and she says she kinda did. Doom turns out to have been Miss Locke. Every year, she tries to kill him. A birthday present, of sorts.

He drops them off at home, and Colossus and Kitty agree to be friends.

In the Serengeti, Storm wakes up, and uses her staff to frighten off some vultures. She challenges death to claim her. The next issue is Lifedeath II. Woot!

On another note, one of the letters says to get rid of Storm. The person, “C. Chen,” instead wants the book to focus on all the other characters – all of them white, it’s worth noting. I always find it interesting when a book has little diversity, and people want to get rid of what little it does have. It strikes me as problematic.

Anyway. This issue. Great issue. Really fun. I always enjoy a good Arcade story, and this one also does some nice stuff with Kitty and Colossus. We get more insight into Colossus’ feelings, and he does finally start moving beyond Zsaji. Finally. Colossus was never a favourite character of mine, but his whining about Zsaji made him a pain in the ass. I like that Kitty shows some leadership skills here, and some strategic thinking.

The Scott/Maddie scene is a bit awkward, which is par of the course when it comes to romantic moments in comic books. Why are so few comic book writers able to write a convincing romantic relationship? The dialogue always feels forced and unnatural. Who actually calls someone “my love”? I mean, aside from every single Claremont character. The Nimrod scene was neat, but it might’ve been cool if it had one or two extra panels of Jaime expressing discomfort with Nimrod killing the guys. And then the Storm scene at the end was awesome. That was a badass final panel. And, of course, it sets up the wonderful Lifedeath II.

JRJr’s art is still meh. It neither particularly harms nor helps this issue, which was pretty normal for him. His UXM work tended to be totally forgettable. He brought nothing to the book. Absolutely nothing at all.

In the same month, there was a Marvel Graphic Novel, The Aladdin Effect, by David Michelinie and Greg LaRocque, based on a plot by Jim Shooter. A couple is trying to get to Venture Ridge, Wyoming, but somehow, it’s impossible. In Venture Ridge, we meet Sheriff Joseph Ember, his wife, Mary, and his daughter, Holly-Ann. The town is trapped inside some sort of force field that no one can get through. Over two months it had been there, the town had descended into chaos.

Holly-Ann studies a scrapbook she made of some superheroines – Tigra, Wasp, Storm and She-Hulk. Holly-Ann wants to be a superhero, and she dreams of teaming up with them. She wishes they were there. The next day, on the streets, she sees a black woman with white hair. Holly-Ann goes looking for her, and gets chased by a gang who wants her coat, and she’s found by Storm. She stares the four men down. Storm doesn’t remember who she is, so Holly-Ann tells her, and she gets her powers going.

Storm and Holly-Ann go to the City Hall to enter the town meeting. Then some dude’s face appears, saying the town holds a source of power, and he wants it. Storm and Holly-Ann fly off, and Holly-Ann fills Storm in on what’s been going on. Storm tries to shatter the force field with some lightning, but fails. Then She-Hulk arrives, and then leaves. Storm and Holly-Ann go looking for others. The Wasp is about to be gang-raped, but she spots Storm, and remembers herself, which allows her to shrink and grow and kick some ass. In an abandoned warehouse – all warehouses in comics are abandoned, of course – Tigra wonders who she is. She goes out prowling, and is about to get in a fight with Storm when Wasp shows up.

Back at Holly-Ann’s house, Wasp realizes that Holly-Ann is the power source AIM is searching for. The four super-women all showed up just because Holly-Ann wished for it. The town decides to fight back against AIM, helping the heroines.

Later, after the battle, the heroines say goodbye, but promise to keep an eye on Holly-Ann. Storm gives her a card for Xavier’s School.

This was kinda interesting. Holly-Ann, obviously, has never shown up again. She’s got a literal wish-fulfillment power, which is good for setting up a story like this, but it basically requires that she never be referenced ever again, because otherwise, it forces you to wonder how a lot of problems could still possibly exist with a girl running around who can seemingly do anything just by wishing. Beyond that, it’s always nice seeing women get to be badass. LaRocque’s art is decent. Overall, the story isn’t really anything special.

Song of the day: Zombie by Jamie T.

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