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Heroes For Hope starring the X-Men (1985, December)

April 30, 2015

Yeah, I’m even reviewing the charity comic. By goddam everyone, “Heroes for Hope.”

Heroes For Hope

I like the little heart inside the letters.

So, let’s just get the credits out of the way first: Stan Lee and JRJr; Stan Lee and John Buscema; Ed Bryant and Brendt Anderson; Louise Simonson and John Byrne; Stephen King(!) and Berni Wrightson; Bill Mantlo and Charlie Vess; Alan Moore(!) and Richard Corben; Ann Nocenti and Mike Kaluta; Harlan Ellison and Frank Miller; Chris Claremont and Brian Bolland; Jo Duffy and John Bolton; Mike Baron and Steve Rude; Denny O’Neil and Bret Blevins; George RR Martin(!) and Herb Trimpe; Bruce Jones and Gray Morrow; Steve Englehart and Paul Gulacy; Jim Shooter and Alan Weiss; Mike Grell and Jackson Guice; Archie Goodwin and Howard Chaykin. The story was developed by Claremont, Nocenti, Wrightson, Starlin and Shooter. And then there’s an assload of inkers, colorists and letterers. Seriously, it’s a lot of people.

Rachel is on the school’s doorstep, screaming. The other X-Men rush to help, and find the yard missing, replaced by a desert. Kitty’s out there, dragging in the postman. Nightcrawler teleports out to help her, but immediately teleports back, terrified by something he saw. Wolverine goes out to help, instead. He starts wasting away, as if from famine, and finds Kitty and the postman in the same state. He stabs the postman, and the yard returns.

Back inside, Wolverine says he can still sense whatever it was that hit them. After a few hours of searching, Colossus goes for a swim, and gets attacked by his own towel. Then he steps out of the pool, and sees a giant metal palace rise out of the ground, smashing the school. The X-Men join him, all with metal skin. He changes back to flesh, and they cover him in a metal shell, so he never has to feel pain or fear again. Then he’s back to flesh, with the school behind him, and he breaks down.

Everyone gets together for some lunch. Kitty goes to the fridge, and gets attacked by a hooded creature that makes her waste away again, even worse than before. The figure gives her a plate of putrid, rotten steak and corn. She asks who the figure is, and he introduces himself as Hungry. Yeah, Hungry. What a stupid name. They couldn’t even have gone with Hunger? Come on.

Nightcrawler pokes his head into the kitchen to check on Kitty, and then finds himself being forced to confront his past, and his own self-loathing about it. A figure appears and offers him a way to dispel his doubt and redeem himself and the world – getting on the cross. Nightcrawler refuses, and the woman says that his death could’ve let someone else eat. He collapses.

The X-Men do some more searching, while Storm tends to Colossus, Kitty and Nightcrawler in the infirmary. All three have given up hope. Magneto tries scanning with Cerebro, and finds himself being praised by all the world’s mutants, for leading them to victory over humanity. He’s killed all the humans. Even Hitler congratulates him. He gives a speech that mutants have been vindicated. Then corpses start rising from the ground, and grab at him.

In her room, Rachel’s telepathy goes out of control, and she feels the pain and guilt of the whole world. She falls into her own time, in a Hound outfit. She’s attacked by other Hounds, all of whom look like her. Rachel calls on her mom, who comes to her. And then blasts her, because it’s Dark Phoenix who arrives.

Out in the woods, Wolverine is stalking, looking for the entity. He finds himself a normal man, with no metal or beast or claws. Logan is confronted by Wolverine. They fight, and Logan actually gets the upper hand, and is about to kill the Wolverine. He returns to normal.

Next up is Storm. She’s in some sort of carnival funhouse, and a barker tells her to follow him into the Hall of Mirrors. Then throws a pie in her face. In the hall of mirrors, Storm sees glimpses of might-have-beens. She rejects the game, saying the images may all be pieces of her, but not the whole. Then she gets another pie in the face. She follows into an arena, where there’s huge stacks of pies. The clown offers to let her throw one at him. She’s about to, but then she thinks of all the people who don’t have food. She turns to the audience full of the emaciated, and tells them there’s enough pie for everyone.

She wakes up, and starts rallying the X-Men. She tries to get them to fight back against Hungry. Nightcrawler says they have no idea how to fight back. Rogue – who was never attacked – suggests jokes. Wolverine wants action, and Rachel says she knows where the guy is. Africa. They find a village full of starving people, and Storm thinks the greater priority is helping them. It might’ve been nice to explore, a little more, Storm’s feelings on the famine, since she comes from Africa. Some cargo planes arrive with food, medicine and so on and the X-Men help to unload the planes, and to help the sick. They spend a few days at it. Rogue gets tired of seeing kids die, and decides to take the fight to Hungry. She starts by absorbing the powers of all the X-Men – aside from Storm, of course, who wakes to see Rogue fly off. Storm follows.

Rogue finds Hungry’s temple, and gets attacked. She absorbs Hungry, but is taken over by him. He goes after Storm, who leads him on a chase through the temple. He rants about her ancestors who fought him and trapped him in the temple. She says there’s a lot of places to hide in the temple, so he blows it away. Before he can kill Storm, Nightcrawler arrives to teleport her away. Then the other X-Men join in the attack. A psi-bolt from Rachel manages to free Rogue.

The next day, while helping with another cargo shipment, they wonder about the creature. They figure it attacked when it did because of the rise of mutants. They think there’s no way of defeating the being without ending misery. Storm says that what matters is hope, the will to keep on fighting the good fight.

This is definitely a charity comic. It’s heartfelt, it’s sincere, it’s got great intentions, and it’s a bit goofy. It’s actually not bad for the most part. Some bits are better than others. The Magneto pages, by Moore and Corben, stand out as really messed up. Those are the most intense pages. King’s pages about Kitty are also pretty up there. I feel like the weakest part of the story is the villain. It’s a cliched concept, the whole “exists as long as there’s evil and misery.” I’ve never been a fan of those concepts, and they’ve always been overdone. It’s a reasonable choice of villain for a charity comic, just not one that appealed to me. I also didn’t much care for the big fight against him. It was juts really meh.

One interesting thing is that the comic doesn’t feel dumbed-down. It didn’t feel like they were doing simplified versions of the X-Men – they were all writing the X-Men as Claremont wrote them. (Which meant, of course, that Claremont wrote Storm in fetish gear. Oh, Chris. This is a charity comic, and you write a scene where the artist has to draw Storm as “the Wanton,” wearing skimpy lingerie.) The writers are their normal versions, with their fears and doubts brought to the surface. The art is mostly solid, too. For the most part, it’s all pretty standard comic book art, though a few artists have much more unconventional styles. It’s all good-to-great. Though there is one bit of weirdness where Rogue, somehow, absorbs the costumes of the X-Men she touches. No idea how that works.

Oxfam, the charity the money was originally supposed to go to, found the comic racist and sexist. Actually, Shooter dislikes Oxfam for just that reason, as explained in this post. It led to them instead going with the American Friends Service Committee. (He also mentions that Stephen King sent them something like 5000 words for his three pages, almost overnight, and they had to cut it down to 500.) It’s actually a really good post. In the comments, someone included a story from Jim Owsley/Christopher Priest, where he, Denys Cowan and Larry Hama all joked about the fact that this African relief comic had no black creators working on it. And yeah, that’s definitely a problem. That’s kinda the problem with “not seeing race” – there are times where, yeah, you probably should think about it. On a side note, the logo was designed by Janet Jackson. But it’s not the famous singer, Janet Jackson. It’s not Michael’s sister. It was just a different woman named Janet Jackson, who’s had a long career designing logos.

The initial check given to the AFSC was $500 000, and more came after. So the book definitely raised a fair chunk of change. And it lacked the sanctimoniousness of so many charity singles of the time. Overall, a surprisingly good comic, given it’s for charity.

From → 1980s, 1985, Uncategorized

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