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Uncanny X-Men #208 (1986, August)

August 11, 2015

I’ll post my pull list for tomorrow right after this. But first, by Claremont and JRJr, “Retribution.”

Retribution

Another cover doing slight homage to X-Men #100. A very popular cover layout.

The issue starts with Kitty not very happy with Wolverine for stabbing Rachel. She even goes so far as to question whether Wolverine is a friend any more. Nightcrawler’s doubtful that stabbing Rachel was his only option. He insists he did what had to be done. He also states that murder is not what the X-Men do. Storm breaks up the argument to get everyone looking for Rachel.

In Central Park, a mugger attacks a woman, and Selene drains his life. And then drains the woman’s life. Because she’s an evil bitch. Later on, she calls the rest of the Inner Circle to let them know about Rachel’s attack on her. Shaw isn’t sure why they should care. Selene figures they should find Rachel and make sure she’s dead. Shaw wants her taken alive, so she can be twisted into a tool.

Not far away, Nimrod is scanning mutants in the area, and detects Rachel. He figures he can take her while she’s weak. He briefly chats with Jaime’s son, then wonders why he enjoys teaching the kid. The robot’s got a heart. Aww. Nimrod was a character who really did have a fascinating character arc. Seriously, I wouldn’t have minded seeing even more of him than we got. I think just about everyone has forgotten that he wasn’t just a mutant-hunting robot. He developed an identity. If he hadn’t eventually been killed off, I think he would’ve eventually become an ally to mutants. Would make for an interesting alternate reality story, I think.

Anyway. Rachel’s laying down, bleeding out, trying to block out stray thoughts. She’s been keeping herself alive by telekinetically blocking the bleeding. She thinks about giving up, and just generally feels sorry for herself. She stumbles across the two people Selene drained, and gets pissed off at Wolverine. She attacks him, even though she’s on the surface and he’s in the subway. Once she’s slapped him around, she lets him go, and the X-Men all regroup in Strawberry Fields. It’s a part of Central Park, dedicated to John Lennon.

They all feel bad about turning their backs on Rachel when she needed them. And rightly so. They should feel bad. Friends are supposed to be there for each other. See, if the X-Men were bronies, they would’ve known that.

Elsewhere in the park, Selene turns her flunky into a beast-man to hunt Rachel. Both groups move towards Rachel, and she slips away while they argue and then fight. Leland drops Colossus into the ground, and Rogue absorbs his power trying to save him. This marks the second or third time she’s absorbed Colossus’ power while he was in steel form. I note it because some later writers decided to ignore that, and make it so his steel form was invulnerable to her power.

Rachel psychically overhears everything going on, and struggles to decide what to do. In the end, self-pity wins out and she walks away, figuring she’d just make things worse if she tried to help. And then the X-Men/Hellfire Club standoff is interrupted by Nimrod.

As an aside, the letters page mentions an upcoming Phoenix limited series, by Claremont and Leonardi. Obviously, that never happened. There’s some details about it here. It was apparently going to have a heavy psychological focus, and would feature Spiral, Power Pack, Franklin Richards and other guest stars. According to Leonardi, it was killed because editorial decided it would be just too complicated. Kind of a shame. (And on a funny note, the “next issue” blurb on the letters page is actually for this issue.)

Anyway! This issue. It’s great. There’s a lot of drama going on, a lot of introspection. The Hellfire Club is full of intrigues, appropriately. Selene is villainous even by their standards. The way the X-Men react to Wolverine stabbing Rachel is great. Kitty, in particular, is very passionate in telling him off. She’s the kind of character who does tend to feel strongly. She does seem to mostly forgive him later in the issue, when he’s almost run over by a train. But it was great seeing her yell at him. Storm is in leader mode, putting arguments aside in favour of the job needing done. Even when she engages in some self-recriminations later in the issue, she quickly pushes them aside, too, as not helping the matter at hand. The moment when Rogue comes to Rachel’s rescue when Von Roehm attacks is great. Her flippant comment seems designed to let Rachel know there’s no hard feelings.

And of course, Rachel gets a lot of time for introspection. She’s a big ol’ ball of self-pity, doubt, fear, anger and just about any other negative emotion. She resents the X-Men for turning their backs on her, and goes about convincing herself that they did. Even when she knows they’re fighting for her, she still turns away. Which is very sad. But at least she got to slap around Wolverine a little bit. As yet another aside, Claremont did an interview at one point where he explains that Wolverine stabbed her because he was worried about her turning into another Dark Phoenix. I guess that makes sense, but Wolverine’s still a dick for it.

The art is fine. I’ve never gotten used to JRJr’s art. Even having read these comics twice before this, it still comes off as a little too severe for my tastes. There are no bits here that really stand out to me; it’s fairly standard JRJr-on-UXM work.

The one thing I will say about this issue is that it has just the smallest sense of being set-up. That it’s moving characters across the board for the next issue. Claremont does it well, and uses the space to do plenty of characterization. But it feels just a little like it’s a “nothing happens” issue. Still, it’s a great issue. And what it sets up is pretty damned awesome.

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