Uncanny X-Men #212 (1986, December)
Back to the Massacre! By Claremont and Rick Leondardi, “The Last Run.”
Wolverine is moving through the tunnels. Psylocke calls him telepathically, so we can get a reminder that Wolverine’s looking for a prisoner. Psylocke also expresses concern for Storm, but Wolverine says she’s fine. Back at the school, Psylocke removes the Cerebro helmet, which she needed to boost her telepathy to reach Wolverine. In the infirmary, the surviving Morlocks are being treated. It’s not going well. There’s also Nightcrawler, unconscious (probably in a medically-induced coma, I would assume), and Kitty in a tube keeping her together. Colossus is pissed off, and wants to kill the Marauders. Storm freaks out and runs out of the room. She jumps off a cliff to dive into the lake. Colossus goes to ask Psylocke where Storm is, and passes out right on top of her.
In the tunnels, Rogue and Tom Corsi are standing guard, and Psylocke asks Rogue to help her with Colossus. Psylocke has some busted ribs. This will be important to remember for the next issue. She also sends Rogue after Storm. Storm doesn’t respond and waits for Rogue to be gone before ripping off her top and running into the woods. In the school, Magneto uses his power to treat Colossus’ wounds. It works, but Colossus is still paralyzed. At this point, I think plans were already in the works for Excalibur, and Colossus was originally going to be a part of that team. That’s why his injuries ended up being as severe as Nightcrawler and Kitty’s – to remove him from the X-Men so he could go with them to Excalibur. That, obviously, changed.
Down in the tunnels, Wolverine’s attacked by Sabretooth. He’s got the Morlock Healer. Seems rude that he was never given a name. I think I’ll call him Harold. He kinda looks like a Harold. Not Harry, but Harold. Anyway, Sabretooth lets slip that the Marauders are working for Mr. Sinister. The first time he’s referenced! I always found it a bit of a silly name. It’s the Mister. So I just call him Sinister. Still silly, but it removes the semi-rhyme. Either way, fight time!Almost. Back topside, Callisto finds Storm, wearing a pretty white dress. Storm wants to quit, and feels sorry for herself, so Callisto punches her and yells at her. It leads to a fight.But back to the real fight! Sabretooth declares himself better than Wolverine, and that he’ll rip Wolverine’s heart out. Wolverine collapses part of the tunnel to end the fight. That way, he can get the Healer out of there and back to the X-Men.And now we cut back to Storm and Callisto, with Callisto convincing Storm to stay, and admitting to having respect for Storm. Wolverine gets back to the school, and mentions smelling the New Mutants’ scents in the tunnels. Then there’s a big energy wave that scorches the tunnel clean. This comes from Thor #374, but I’ll talk about that issue in my next X-Factor review.This is a very dramatic issue. It actually probably could’ve used just a bit more action, truthfully, just to offset the drama. It feels like a step down from the previous issue. But it’s still good. No truly epic moments, but Callisto confronting Storm was done really well. Psylocke joins the cast of the book, though it’ll be next issue that cements her place. (I’m really excited for next issue.) Leonardi does a great job on art. It’s a very dark, closed-in issue, giving it a tense mood. Overall, this is the weakest of the UXM Massacre issues, but part of that is just because the others are so strong. It’s still a good comic, it just suffers in comparison to the ones on each side.
Also, Classic X-Men #4, which reprints X-Men #96. I found that issue kinda weak. It was sorta the last issue before Claremont began a real plot. This reprint adds a new scene. Storm is swimming in the pool. Nightcrawler pops in to join her, then pops out to tell the others to stay back. Storm comes out of the pool naked. She has no idea why everyone is making a fuss about it. The back-up, by Claremont and Bolton, is about Nightcrawler and Wolverine. They’re playing tag, and Wolverine wins. They head to Harry’s Hideaway for beers. Nightcrawler uses his image inducer, which annoys Wolverine. At the bar, Nightcrawler talks about the circus he was in, and says he left because it was sold to a guy who wanted him in the freak show. Wolverine says mutants can’t be accepted if they hide behind masks. He’s right. So why the hell did Claremont keep them in masks? Like, he apparently got what the problem was, and then shrugged and said, “Oh well, nothing I can do about it.” It’s so frustrating. Anyway, Wolverine challenges Nightcrawler to turn off the image inducer, and Nightcrawler agrees. Harry doesn’t react while bringing them another round. They leave, and walk down main street, where people stare at him, but he finds himself not minding too much. He helps a woman struggling with some bags, and she thinks she wouldn’t mind meeting him again. He chats up a couple kids who are excited. A couple thugs try to start a fight, and Wolverine tries to finish it, but Nightcrawler takes Wolverine to a rooftop. This was a good story. It goes into what was always the biggest problem with the X-Men: The fact that they hide what they are. They’re mutants when they’re fighting other mutants, but they’re regular people when walking down the street, and that’s a problem. I know I talk about this a lot, but it’s because it really does frustrate me how many writers – Claremont included – who were never willing enough to step away from the standard superhero tropes. Claremont did try, at times, I’ll give him that. But at the end of the day, he still let himself be too limited by the genre tropes, and never got into the real necessities of any civil rights movement. But! This story. This was a really good story. Good writing, and really nice art from Bolton. I like his soft style. It works well for these stories.
There’s also Power Pack #27, by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove. The Powers are watching TV and see an X-Factor ad. Jack thinks X-Factor are dicks. Later on, in bed, Franklin has a nightmare that creates an illusion of Leech in the bedroom. Franklin’s woken up, and says he was dreaming about a war in the tunnels. The Power Pack flies off to save the Morlocks. The Marauders are doing their killing. Power Pack comes across dead bodies, and is horrified, because they’re a bunch of kids coming across a ton of dead bodies. They get attacked by Sabretooth. Alex finds himself unable to fire a power ball at him. Instead, he blasts the ceiling to drop it on Sabretooth. Theyrun away, and come across Wolverine. He tells them to go home. They agree . . . but as soon as he’s out of earshot, they go back to looking for Leech. It cuts to some of the Morlocks being brought to X-Factor HQ. Scott immediately turns around to go back into the tunnels, followed by Jean, Iceman and Beast. Power Pack finds Leech, and rushes to him, then fall into a pile when their powers are cancelled out. They get attacked by the Marauders – Harpoon, Arclight and Scrambler. The fight goes back and forth, with Power Pack holding their own, until X-Factor shows up to chase the Marauders off. Leech and Caliban are safe, but when Julie tells him Annalee is dead, he starts crying. It’s pretty damn heartbreaking. Scott picks him up to say they’ll take care of him now. It’s a really good issue. Power Pack was such a great series, and this issue is a really strong one. It’s got plenty of strong emotion, some great action, and some pretty good humour. The horror of the Massacre isn’t really toned down, which is unusual for a book aiming for family-friendly, but that’s part of the appeal of the book. It doesn’t treat kids like fragile idiots. Great issue.
I also want to mention Spectacular Spider-Man #121, by Peter David and multiple artists. It’s a Rashomon story, where MJ, JJJ and Peter each tell Robbie Robertson the story of a bank robbery, each from their own perspective. It’s a great story. It’s really funny.