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Uncanny X-Men #213 (1987, January)

October 26, 2015

A new year, and it starts off with more Massacre. By Claremont and Davis, “Psylocke.”

Psylocke

Wolverine vs. Sabretooth, Round 2, drawn by Alan Davis. Gonna be good!

Psylocke is using Cerebro to scan the Xavier estate for anything wrong. Rogue is patrolling the perimeter, saying it’s the X-Men’s job. Psylocke wants to prove herself to the team, but isn’t sure how. She checks in on the infirmary, and the injured X-Men, and is especially impressed by Kitty’s courage in the face of a gradual death. She then moves to check the New Mutants’ rooms, even though they’re gone. She notes that Doug loves her eve more than he knows, and she’s not sure how she feels. Well, Betsy, seeing as how he’s only 14 or 15 – 16 at the absolute oldest, and I doubt he’s that old – and you’re in your mid-20s, I’d say you should care for him as a friend, but no more. Because for you to have romantic feelings for him would be totally inappropriate and creepy.

Storm, Wolverine, Magneto and Callisto are in the Morlock tunnels. Callisto is pissed off that the Morlocks have had their entire existence wiped from the tunnels. Storm says lightning did it. She’s not sure if she might have done it. Good going, Thor. You insulted Callisto and made Storm feel guilty. Anyway, Magneto refuses to give up on the New Mutants, and asks if he should accept the Hellfire Club’s invitation to join. Psylocke cuts in on the debate, volunteering to scan the hemisphere for the Mutants and Marauders. Magneto says it’s risky, and Storm tells her to maintain perimeter security for the time being. She doesn’t want more dead bodies, and prefers to keep Psylocke safe on the sidelines. Ha! Back at the school, she’s pissed off, then she detects something, and gets hit with a psychic backlash.

In LA, Malice talks Dazzler into giving herself a makeover to be the star she’s meant to be.

Back at the school, Rogue gets taken out by Sabretooth. Easily, too. I wouldn’t have thought he’d be strong enough. Element of surprise, I suppose. Psylocke wakes up, angry at her own carelessness. She gets attacked by Sabretooth, who smashes Cerebro. She hits him with a psychic blast, then runs. He says she won’t get away, and she taunts him to follow her. Awesome. The smirk she gives him might genuinely be my favourite Psylocke panel ever. She has cracked ribs, she has a headache, her arm was injured by Sabretooth, and she still gives him a taunting smirk. It says so much about her.

Anyway, she runs into another room, and throws a barbell at him. He catches it, crumples it up, and throws it at her. She dodges and falls out the window, but catches the edge of the roof. With her injured arm, of course. She climbs up to the roof, then Sabretooth knocks her through the skylight into Storm’s attic bedroom. She’s pretty much done, but she still grabs Storm’s knife, even though she has no idea how to use it. Sabretooth grabs her and is about to kill her.

Wolverine challenges him, and while he’s distracted, Storm smacks him in the face with a staff, then trips him. And now, Wolverine vs. Sabrtetooth! Psylocke notes that quarter won’t be asked or given. That was one of Claremont’s favourite phrases. I should have been tracking his use of it through his run. He uses it a lot. Magneto joins Storm and Psylocke, and makes a pair of manacles for Sabretooth, but Psylocke tells him to hold off. The fight is keeping Sabretooth distracted, which might let her slip through his psychic defences and get some information. Again, she’s had the shit kicked out of her and almost died, and she’s still determined to keep helping. So awesome.

The fight is brutal. Eventually, Psylocke learns what she can, and tells Wolverine he can end the fight. Wolverine taunts Sabretooth, and then they both go off the cliff. Sabretooth disappears, but Wolverine knows he’s not dead.

The next morning, Psylocke is congratulated on her assistance, and is invited into the X-Men.

This is an awesome issue. Just fantastic. It’s Psylocke’s true North American debut, which is why it was nice to see Alan Davis on art. Claremont lets her be a hardcore badass here. Not by showing off great fighting skills, but simply by keeping going. This is, without question, the best Psylocke comic ever. It can’t be topped. She’s tough, she’s determined, she’s clever. Claremont also gives her a good voice. She’s got real fire. Wolverine also deserves a little love, here. His fight against Sabretooth is entertainingly brutal. But the real credit is for the fact that he actually seems to have known all along what Psylocke was doing, even though she never told him. When Psylocke tells him the fight can end, Wolverine’s reaction suggests that he knew the fight was just a way of distracting Sabretooth. Shows off his own cleverness.

Having Alan Davis as artist is always a treat. He’s a great artist. And since Betsy was his character, it’s especially nice that he gets to draw her greatest moment. He draws very nice-looking people. He also draws awesome action. It’s thrilling to watch it all unfold. He especially brings out Psylocke’s fire and determination. He gets to do a few panels that are iconic for the pre-Asian Psylocke. Also, the butterfly effect for her psychic power is really pretty. Really, really pretty.

This issue is pretty much the end of the Mutant Massacre storyline, and it ends on a high note. I’d say this is an essential issue, especially for anyone who’s a fan of Psylocke.

There’s also, of course, Classic X-Men #5, which is a reprint of X-Men #97. It adds a scene of Alex hiking through the desert, and shouting that he loves Lorna. There’s another scene, during the fight scene, where Havok tries to stop Erik the Red from hurting Scott, and Erik just uses his hypno-beams on him again. As a reprint, we’re treated once again to Scott pimp-slapping Wolverine:

X-Men #97

I will never not enjoy this.

The back-up feature, drawn by John Bolton, is about Colossus. He goes to Brighton Beach. He feels homesick, so he’s in Little Odessa, a community of Russian immigrants. He hears a woman calling for help, and sees her being dragged into a car, so he jumps onto it, and changes to metal form to stop it. He heads back to the beach, where a couple of guys playing chess have kept his bag, and compliment him on his artistic abilities. The girl he saved, Anya, thanks him for his help. She was a Prima Ballerina who felt restricted in Russia, so came to New York to dance more freely. Peter watches her dance that night, and they get close. They walk back to Brooklyn, where some guys are waiting to take her back to Russia. They have guns, so Peter changes to Colossus and chases them off. He also scares Anya, and she runs away. What a sad story. Good one, though. Anya’s actually a pretty fun character. She’s very passionate, and she talks a lot, which contrasts well with Peter being quiet and serious. Bolton’s art is also really nice. His soft style works especially well here, for what is essentially a doomed romance story. It’s good.

Also, Daredevil #238, by Ann Nocenti and Sal Buscema, ties into the Mutant Massacre. Sabretooth is down in the tunnels, chasing off some lowlifes wanting to make their home in the tunnels now that the Morlocks are gone. He takes the woman with them as his own. The woman somehow goes from a redhead to a blonde. He decides to go to sleep. Elsewhere Butch and Darla – two of the kids Nocenti introduced in her Longshot series, and carried over to her Daredevil run – are watching a movie or something about a wolf-man chasing a woman. Butch’s father delivers a lecture on the badness of TV, so Butch and Darla go into the tunnels. There, they run into Sabretooth, who threatens to kill them. Butch mentions Daredevil, and Sabretooth decides to go kill him. The fight goes down into the tunnels, and over to where Sabretooth is keeping that woman prisoner. Sabretooth strikes the woman, and Daredevil claims she’s dead, and asks what Sabretooth does with his kills, in a scene paralleled with Butch’s cat catching a mouse, and his father explaining that domesticated animals act out on their instincts without knowing why. Sabretooth runs off. This isn’t a very good issue, to be honest. Nocenti was a little ham-handed with a lot of the imagery. She sometimes could be, but it’s worse here than usual. She also doesn’t write a very good Sabretooth. So this issue didn’t really impress me.

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