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Uncanny X-Men #216 (1987, April)

December 12, 2015

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, written by Claremont, line art by Guice, inks by Dan Green, colours by Glynis Oliver, letters by Tom Orzechowski, “Crucible.”

Crucible

Damn, Barry Windsor-Smith draws a wild-looking Storm.

Wolverine is tracking a scent, and a little out of his mind because he’s doubting his senses. He gets hit by a truck, which terrifies the people inside, but he gets away before they can check on him. He runs through the spirit to melodramatic narration, falls down a very small cliff, and then howls at the moon.

Storm is setting up a trap to deal with Super Sabre – a wire, at head height, strung across a path. She thinks that she could evade the Murder Grandpas easily on her own, but she’s stuck with Priscilla. Priscilla approves of Storm’s trap, but Storm’s uncertain about it. A little later, the two of them lay under cover, and see Super Sabre approaching. Storm decides she can’t kill him, and she drops the wire. Priscilla tells her off for gambling with her life, but Storm basically tells her to shut up and hike.

We then cut to a couple days earlier, and the X-Men arriving on Muir Isle. Moira’s pissed at their loud arrival. Rogue’s mad that Storm and Wolverine aren’t with them.

Back in the forest, Crimson Commando and Stonewall find the trap Storm set. Stonewall wonders if they should think again about what they’re doing. He thinks they should let Storm go, since she didn’t commit any crimes. Super Sabre’s on his way back, with the trap still set, so Stonewall blocks him. Sabre then rushes up the ridge that Commando figures Storm’s taken. When he gets there, she tackles him. While they’re tangled, Priscilla starts an avalanche to take out both of them, in the hopes it’ll give her enough time to get away.

The couple from earlier are trying to fix their truck’s engine and get it going again. Wolverine’s watching them, and Priscilla finds them. She grabs the woman’s gun and kills her and her husband. She drives off in the truck, and Wolverine realizes he could’ve saved the couple, if he’d trusted his senses when they said the woman was trouble.

Commando and Stonewall find Storm’s jacket and Sabre’s headgear, both bloody, in the avalanche. The truck Priscilla stole has broken down. She’s terrified and has no idea what to do. Later that night, Stonewall finds her asleep, but he gets tripped and tossed into a marsh by Storm. He starts sinking, so Storm has no choice but to save him.

Priscilla’s about to kill Storm, but Commando throws a knife in her chest. He gets ready to kill Storm, as well, but Wolverine advises him not to. Commando throws on knife at Wolverine and another at Storm. Wolverine deflects it with his claws, while Storm just catches the one thrown at her, because Storm is more badass than Wolverine. Punk Storm is Best Storm. Wolverine offers to take Commando out, but Storm chooses to fight him herself. By the way, I want to point out that, this entire story, Storm has been wearing heels. She’s been hiking in heels. She’s now engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a skilled opponent, still wearing heels. And she wins. While she fights, she wonders if there’s a way to end it all without bloodshed. She decides to trust her instincts, even though making everyone mistrust their instincts is what Malice did.

She spares Commando’s life, but tells him that she can still kill him, and that she will, if he doesn’t turn himself in to the authorities. Wolverine can tell she’s not bluffing. Of course she’s not bluffing. This is Punk Storm. She’s hardcore. The next day, they turn themselves in. She and Wolverine talk about what comes next for the X-Men. Storm says she’s tired of waiting and reacting to evil mutants, and that it’s time they go on the attack.

This was a good issue. Some really good stuff. It was also pointless. OK, so, the good. Storm’s characterization was solid. She was outwardly decisive, but internally, she was full of questions and doubts about what to do, because she wanted to stay true to who she was. She showed a lot of skill and resourcefulness in fighting the Murder Grandpas. There’s some good tension, good action, it’s all very well done. But, it feels pointless. It doesn’t feel like there’s a reason for the issue. It doesn’t really fit the themes and the narrative that had been going on before this two-parter. The Murder Grandpas are nowhere near the menace the Marauders were. Wolverine doubting his senses doesn’t really come up again after this, so that was an idea that went nowhere. Storm deciding to be more pro-active didn’t need any justification. So this arc doesn’t accomplish anything. It’s just . . . there.

At least it looks good. Guice, Green and Oliver do solid work. They do a fantastic Storm. Seriously, I love how they do Storm’s face. They put a lot of emotion into it. She’s attractive, of course, but you also see the intelligence, the compassion, the fierceness. Her body language is great, too, for similar reasons. A lot is conveyed just in how she stands. The other characters are done well, too, of course, but Storm gets it best here. She really stands out. Which makes sense, since she’s the main character of this issue.

There’s also Classic X-Men #8, a reprint of X-Men #100. As usual, there are extra scenes added, by James Sherman, Sam Grainger, Paul Becton and Rick Parker. First is a scene where some techno is reporting station-wide damage to Lang, and Scott uses the opportunity to free himself. It doesn’t add much. The second scene shows Jean saving Lang from his rocket-pods crash-landing and explosion. This scene actually does make sense. The original scene had Jean basically kill Lang, which was weird. Now, we see she did try to save him.

And a back-up story! By Claremont, Bolton, Oliver and Orzechowksi. The Phoenix heads for the shuttle as it tries to get through the solar flare. Scott wants to bust out and get to Jean, but the others hold him back. It’s a pretty good moment, actually, as he’s desperate to go out to her, and doesn’t want her to die. Jean, meanwhile, is piloting the shuttle through the flare. The radiation’s too much for her, and it starts killing her. She goes blind, her hair falls out, her skin is ravaged, she’s bleeding internally and externally. It’s nasty stuff. She’s basically turned into a corpse. Which is when the Phoenix Force pays her a visit. It offers to save her and her friends, for a price. Jean accepts. It takes her form, and puts her in a cocoon. Then, of course, she delivers her big speech. It’s a good story. It’s a rehash of what we saw in that issue of Avengers where Jean came back, but really, it’s a story that should have been shown in an X-Men comic, since it’s an X-Men story. The art . . . I’m not sure it works here, actually. Part of it does, part of it doesn’t. It’s tough to say what the problem is. Actually, I think the problem is just that seeing Jean withered up like a corpse is really uncomfortable. Actually, seeing a withered corpse is really uncomfortable. It’s kinda gross. But still, it’s drawn well, and the Phoenix looks really nice. So, still a good story.

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