Uncanny X-Men #210 (1986, October)
Oh man. This comic. By Claremont and JRJr, “The Morning After.”
The issue opens with a couple people under attack. One is clearly a mutant, the other looks like a Hellfire Goon. An energy spear hits him, and the mutant girl, Tommy, panics and runs. The guy gets shot in the head. Tommy jumps on a leaving train. She thinks she’s safe, but the Marauders are still following her. Yep, it’s the Marauders! And you know what that means is coming! Damn, do you ever know what’s coming. In San Francisco, Dazzler’s tired after a show, and is taking a look in a mirror when her reflection starts talking to her. The reflection calls herself Malice, and attacks. Dazzler freaks out, and when she wakes up, she’s wearing a new choker.
In New York, Rogue is flying through the streets, looking for some sign of Rachel. She sees a window-washing scaffolding give way, and she saves the washers. One of them is especially grateful to her. She flies off and catches sight of herself in a window, and decides she needs to get herself cleaned up. While she’s getting a bit of a makeover, some jerkass starts yelling at her and calling her an abomination because she’s a mutant. The guy she saved earlier gets involved and threatens to kick the guy’s ass. Rogue leaves during the commotion, and spots an X-Factor ad on the side of a bus.
Back at the school, Illyana talks to Colossus. She’s worried about Kitty. Kitty, meanwhile, is trying to repair Cerebro. She hopes it’ll find some sign of Rachel and Nightcrawler, who’s also missing. Kitty wonders if things will ever get any better for mutants. She’s also upset at Rachel abandoning the X-Men, but Colossus says they should give her a second chance.
In Manhattan, Magneto visits the Hellfire Club. X-Factor is outside, talking to a couple cops. They ask why the Avengers weren’t called in to deal with the Central Park battle, but the cops says he doesn’t trust muties. Jean points out the Avengers aren’t mutants, just super-beings, and the cop sees no real difference. A nice touch, that. People always complain that it makes no sense for the Avengers to be loved while mutants are hated. Aside from the fact that it actually does have some logic to it, this shows that there are humans who hate all super-beings. Anyway, Magneto recognizes X-Factor as the original X-Men. He wonders why they’ve betrayed Xavier’s dream, as he heads in to meet the Inner Circle. The Inner Circle invites him to join. An alliance, between the X-Men and the Hellfire Club.
Down on the pier, Nightcrawler’s being attacked by a mob. Colossus, Kitty and Illyana find him, and Colossus drops down between Nightcrawler and the mob, as a civilian, to challenge them. Kitty joins him, and compares the treatment of mutants to the treatment of Jews in the Holocaust, and the treatment of blacks in the US. The crowd leaves. Then Nightcrawler reveals he’s lost the ability to teleport.
Storm and Wolverine are in Central Park. Storm chastizes Wolverine for chasing after Rachel by himself, and says the team needs to stay together. Kind of a nice scene, showing how close their friendship’s become.
And then it’s back to Tommy, the mutant girl from the start of the issue. She’s back in the Morlock tunnels, and feels safe. And then a spear hits her. The Marauders kill her. It’s the start of the Massacre! The Mutant Massacre is here! Maybe I shouldn’t cheer that, but the Mutant Massacre was an awesome story.
As for this issue, it’s great. Excellent stuff. It touches quite a bit on how mutants are seen. We get to see a guy who’s fine with mutants, but mostly we see the hate. The guy in the store, the cop, the mob. It’s maybe a bit much, though. Not enough balance. There’s almost never been any real balance with that. The hate has just about always gotten the bulk of the focus. So it was nice to see at least one guy who decides mutants are OK. And actually, that scene shows exactly what the X-Men should be doing – saving lives while openly declaring themselves mutants and making no attempt at hiding their identities. Rogue doesn’t wear a mask. She is who she is, and she doesn’t hide that fact. That’s important. Openness is key to tolerance and acceptance. Storm was always the same – no mask, because she had nothing to hide. Now, of course, both of them are gorgeous women, so they’re more likely be accepted than someone like Nightcrawler, who looks weird. But just the same, Rogue behaved in exactly the right way.
Colossus, Kitty and Illyana . . . almost the right way. They challenged the mob using words. Colossus used reason – “If this mutant is a criminal, let the authorities handle it” – while Kitty appealed to emotion – referencing the Holocaust, asking if the mob wants to kill her, too – but they did hide the fact that they’re mutants, themselves. (Sort of. Kitty actually said “maybe we’re mutants too,” using the truth as part of a deception.) Still, Kitty’s passionate argument does make me convinced that she really, really belongs up on a stage at a pro-mutant rally, or in a panel discussion on CNN – things like that. I really like the idea of her going into politics, actually. X-Men: The End had her running for Congress, and eventually becoming the first mutant president. But I digress. The point is, while passionate speeches to mobs are all fine and good, what Rogue did was far more helpful to the mutant cause, purely because what she did was honest and open and public.
The Magneto pages were really cool. Him recognizing X-Factor was cool – in fact, that bit gets shown in X-Factor #9, from X-Factor’s perspective. An awesome bit of crossover work. And the Hellfire Club inviting him to join was really interesting. The Club is worried about the future of mutants, something they never had been, which fleshes them out and gives them more depth and nuance. They’re still mostly interested in their own survival, but they recognize that there’s no surviving on their own.
And, of course, there’s the bookends with the mutant girl and the Marauders. They’re well-done. Very tense, and foreshadowing something big.
The art is pretty good. It’s JRJr, so it’s sharp edges. He uses shadows well, with the Marauders. Tommy actually looks really cool. She’s got a great design. And then she dies. Shame, that. But JRJr – I’m just not a fan. His work on this issue is better than usual, though. Sometimes, his work distracts me. Here, it didn’t. There weren’t any pages or panels that made me say “wow,” but there were also none that made me groan. So, he did good here.
All in all, this is an excellent issue, setting up one of the most memorable X-Men stories of the ’80s, and the first big X-Men crossover event. It’s something to look forward to.
There’s a couple other comics to mention, too. There’s Classic X-Men #2. This one’s a cut-down reprint of X-Men #94. Of course, I’ve reviewed that before (including Cyclops cursed, mutant, energy-blasting eyes – I love that panel so much). So I’ll focus on the new material. The training sequence is changed and extended a bit. There’s a Fastball Special included now! (Fastball Special Tracker: 17.) Also added is a conversation between Scott and Xavier about Thunderbird, and about Scott not being sure staying is worth never spending time with Jean. There’s a scene in Scotland, with Moira taking young Rahne on a horse ride. Reverend Craig tells Moira off for not letting his ward walk home from school. Then Moira gets a telegram from Xavier. At the mansion, Storm sees Thunderbird running towards a cliff, and she uses her winds to sweep him back. He says Wolverine made the jump he was trying, and Storm points out Wolverine’s bones don’t break. She tells him he can’t push himself as hard as he does.
And now the back-up story, by Claremont and Bolton! Storm pays Jean a visit at Jean’s new apartment (shared with Misty Knight). Jean asks Storm to change out of her costume, which a lightning bolt somehow does, leaving Storm in the nude. Storm isn’t bothered by nudity, but Jean says society isn’t ready for that sort of openness. Jean gives Storm a dress to wear so they can go shopping. Storm also discovers she likes ice cream. A skateboarding punk knocks them over and grabs Jean’s purse. Jean chases the kid into the subway, but Storm’s scared to follow. Jean loses the kid, and when she gets back she reads Storm’s mind to learn about her claustrophobia. Storm gets pissed at Jean reading her mind. In the air, Jean apologizes, and explains how hard it can be to be a telepath. It’s a nice story. Funny early on, very sweet throughout. It’s the beginning of the Storm/Jean friendship, something that, truthfully, was shown more than told during Claremont’s run. Bolton’s art is great. It’s an intimate style, very soft and pleasant. Good story.
Avengers Annual #15, by Danny Fingeroth, Steve Ditko and Klaus Janson (Ditko did layouts, Janson did finishes. The East and West Coast Avengers are playing softball, when Freedom Force pops in out of nowhere. So this obviously takes place before UXM#209, since Spiral is there. Freedom Force is there to arrest the Avengers for treason. The Avengers refuse to come along peacefully, so it’s a big fight. Freedom Force ends up winning the fight, then leave. Spider-Woman later frees them from the Vault.
Sabretooth shows up in Spectacular Spider-Man #119. He’s got a vendetta from the last time he fought Spider-Man, and nearly ripped his face off when tearing off Spider-Man’s webbing. Black Cat attacks Sabretooth and eventually beats him. Black Cat beat Sabretooth. Can you imagine that happening now? He would disembowel her in seconds. Actually, we’re almost at the point where Sabretooth began his turnaround into Real Villain. Just a couple more issues!
And while it’s not related to the X-Men, October 1986 was also the debut of the new universe. It started with Spitfire and Starbrand.