Uncanny X-Men #217 (1987, May)
We start on Muir Isle, with Psylocke on the run. Dazzler tries to blind her, but her bionic eyes protect her from the light. A trawler sees the light, and on board is the sailor who turns out to be a robot in Fantastic Four vs. X-Men. Rogue chastises Dazzler for giving away their position, but Dazzler . . . actually, the interaction’s perfect enough for me to post this panel.
The fight continues until Rogue gets a hold of Psylocke, and then Banshee calls an end to the exercise. Claremont does love his Danger Room Cold Opens. They all head in for breakfast and conversation. He tells them what they did wrong, and explains the necessity of working as a team. I think this was always a key part of the X-Men. More than any other group at Marvel, they work together as a unit. They actually live together, and train constantly. We sometimes saw Avengers training sessions, but there’s a reason Danger Room Cold Open is a trope name. We see the X-Men training all the time. It makes them, arguably, the most effective team at Marvel.
Anyway. Moira’s lab, where all the injured Morlocks and X-Men are. Callisto is working out. Later, the X-Men join her. Rogue is pressing the equivalent of 57 tons, so I guess now we roughly know what her limits were back then. Dazzler’s doing pull-ups with Callisto, and reaches her limit, and Callisto starts threatening her, because Callisto is kind of a crazy psycho bitch. So Ali leaves. She takes a boat and heads off, though Rogue does bring her a jacket, with some money. Rogue’s actually kind of a sweetheart. On the mainland, Ali gets some new clothes, and heads into a pub with some bagpipe music coming out of it.
She quickly fits into the party crowd and has some fun. It’s sweet. She even sings a little. She even gets close to some guy who looks old enough to be her father. He’s bald on top and he does look quite a bit older than her. But we already learned from her solo series that she has a type, and that type is guys old enough to be her father. Maybe because her relationship with her own dad was always strained, so she looked for other older men. When the pub closes, she steps outside, and a fancy car goes past, driven by Cain Marko. She steals a bike to go after him, while the guy with her – who knows she’s Dazzler – calls for help.
She catches up to Juggernaut, and pisses him off when her stolen bike dents his car. He demands to know who she is, and she tells him she’s the Dazzler. And it turns out he’s a big fan. Because of course he is. It’s pretty funny, actually. He wants to talk to her, but he’s on a job. She tries to hypnotize him with her lights, but he manages to throw it off. She tries a few other tricks, but nothing works. He tries to talk her out of fighting, but that just reminds her of Callisto calling her weak and she gets pissed off. She keeps blasting at him, until she eventually passes right out. Juggernaut thinks he’s killed her.
This is a really good issue. The Dazzler vs. Juggernaut fight is awesome, if only because it’s so one-sided. Dazzler’s the only one wanting to fight, and no matter what she does, she can’t hurt him. I almost wish he’d kept asking for her autograph or something throughout the fight, just to highlight the ludicrous nature of the fight. I like that Juggernaut is apparently a big fan of a pop singer, too. There’s no reason why he would like Dazzler’s music. He doesn’t seem like the type to listen to pop music. And yet, everyone is a fan of Dazzler. It’s cute. The rest of the issue’s good, too. Some good character stuff with Psylocke, Rogue, Banshee and especially Dazzler, showing her dissatisfaction with being a superhero.
The art’s good. It shows what it has to show. There’s nothing about it that really stands out, except that Guice draws Psylocke in a definite Alan Davis style, which I love because she’s the only one he draws that way. But she really does look similar to how Davis draws her. He also draws the fights well. There’s fairly good flow to them. But nothing about the art here really stood out that much to me. It’s serviceable, it does what it’s supposed to do, it just doesn’t really grab my attention the way some artists did.
So all in all, it’s a good comic. But the next issue is so much better.
There’s also Classic X-Men #9, which is a reprint of X-Men #101. As usual, there are added scenes, done by Tom Morgan, Sam Grainger, Michele Wrightson (who recoloured the reprinted pages, too) and Bill Oakley. The added scene here is a three-page sequence. After their shuttle crashes in Jamaica Bay and the X-Men get onto land, they hide from the emergency crews while Jean babbles about power and glory and stuff. They use smoke from the fire to cover their escape. Storm flies back to the school to get clothes, and also wonders if Jean’s become a goddess. She thinks about her awareness of life, and about how Jean’s strength is different from any she’s sensed before. That’s . . . a bit new. And not something that gets brought up again. The X-Men then take Jean to the hospital, with Xavier’s friends on the staff allowing them to avoid questions. Scott wonders what they’ll do about Jean’s costume, and Wolverine gets ready to slice it off her, but then it transforms into normal clothes.
And the back-up story, by Claremont, Bolton, Oliver and Orzechowksi, called “The Gift.” The X-Men are sitting in the hospital waiting room, waiting for word of Jean. Nightcrawler’s staring out the window at a Christmas tree. He sees something, and teleports outside. It’s a kid, sitting alone on a bench, looking miserable. The kid is waiting for someone, but he’s not allowed to wait inside because the staff are worried he’ll wreck something. A cop comes in and shoos them both away, so Nightcrawler takes the kid to get something to eat. He tells the kid he should be more careful, pointing out the kid had no way of knowing if Nightcrawler could be trusted. He starts walking the kid home, and finally manages to reach the kid with stories of his circus days, and some acrobatic tricks. Then he teaches the kid a little juggling. He takes the kid home, then shows him his true face.
Later on, back at the hospital, Nightcrawler asks a nurse where he can find the kid. Turns out, he died the previous night, from cancer.
As usual, with these back-ups, it’s a nice, sweet story. But I also found the end to be a bit silly. It’s a very, very old twist, and I’m not convinced that it was necessary here, or that Claremont sold it well. The story as a whole was a bit bland and cliched, as well. Not one of the better back-ups. The art is as pleasant as ever, though. The soft style works well here. Though I find it not as expressive as I would have liked. Overall, this is actually one of the most disappointing back-ups. It’s nice, but not as good as usual.
A couple other noteworthy comics from that month: Avengers #279 had Monica Rambeau take over as leader of the Avengers. I found that really cool. Stern really loved Monica, and pushed her hard. Shame that she was dropped as soon he left the book.
And I really have to talk a little about Thor #379, where Walt Simonson delivers some of the most epic dialogue you will ever see. Thor and “Fin Fang Foom” have a great, very civil conversation about various matters. Then “Fin Fang Foom” reveals his real identity in an amazing splash page filled with amazing boasting. Then Thor replied with his own boasts that were even more awesome. It is so damned good. Simonson absolutely killed on that book.