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Uncanny X-Men #219 (1987, July)

January 22, 2016

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, by Claremont, Blevins, Green Oliver, Scotese and Orzechowksi, “Where Duty Lies.”

Where Duty Lies

The cartoonishness makes this so much creepier.

We start with Havok getting to the school. I should mention this story pretty clearly takes place before the two recent X-Men vs. minis (Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men and X-Men vs. the Avengers). He’s all angsty and blasts the door down. Do you think that’s how Alex goes everywhere? That he just hates doors and blasts them down whenever he gets the chance? Anyway, the place is empty. He does find the X-Men, looking very menacing, and Rogue takes him down with a kiss, as she does. His consciousness fades, and then he wakes up in his bed at home. He runs outside and releases a build-up of energy.

Uncanny X-Men #219

Daaaaaang. That’s a really, really cool image.

While Lorna makes some cocoa and soup – using her power, in a way that looks pretty cool – Alex says there must be something wrong with the X-Men. He had gone out to see them a week ago and found everything fine, but he’s sure his memory’s been tampered with. He decides he has to go check it out again, and tells Lorna to stay behind. Rude, guy. She can take care of herself. The Marauders are watching, with plans to take out Polaris.

While he checks out the school, the Marauders attack Lorna. Arclight causes an earthquake, and Scalphunter blows the house up. Then Sabretooth runs in to finish her off. Meanwhile, Alex heads to the Hellfire Club to confront Magneto. He wants to talk to the X-Men, but Magneto says he can’t. Alex leaves, wondering if he can get help from someone else. He finds Avengers Mansion in ruins. He calls Muir Isle, but Callisto tells him the team’s in New York and to talk to Magneto. He also tries calling Lorna, but the call can’t go through, which he figures is just a fact of life in the desert.

Lorna’s hiding behind a rock, and Sabretooth quickly finds her. She attacks him with the ground, since it’s rich in iron. When she tries to fly off, Scalphunter blasts her down. Back in New York, Havok follows Magneto into the subway, and down a walkway to a a door. He pushes through and falls, and barely snags a ladder. He climbs down, into the Morlock tunnels. He finds some of the X-Men – Storm, Magneto, Longshot, Psylocke and Dazzler – having a meeting, where they talk about recent events, with the Massacre and the injuries the team sustained. Storm says their best chance for taking the initiative is to die. Havok hears someone sneaking up, and blasts Rogue away, then tries to run.

Back in New Mexico, Polaris has kicked up a dust storm. And she starts kicking Marauder ass. She takes all three out in seconds. Polaris is dangerous. Back in New York, Havok’s running. He also almost fries Dazzler. Psylocke stops the fight by telepathically shouting at him. Havok demands to know what’s going on, and Storm says his memories were changed for his own protection.

Uncanny X-Men #219

Psylocke is stone-cold.

I do like how matter-of-fact Psylocke is about that being an option. Storm decides against it, and instead tells Havok more about what’s happened. Havok’s narration says she also tells him about Malice. Gee, I wonder if that’s going to be relevant to this story. He offers to join, and to help them. Magneto decides to accept.

And back in New Mexico, it turns out that Lorna’s been possessed by Malice, and she plans on leading the Marauders.

This is a good issue. It brings Havok and Polaris into the story, in different ways: Havok as a new team member, Polaris as a new antagonist. Alex is the protagonist of this issue, as it tries to get into his head. He’s someone who doesn’t want to be a superhero, who just wants to live his life, but who does have a certain sense of responsibility. He’s also someone who’s trained enough to react instinctively, but is out of practice with controlling those instincts and thinking before he reacts. He’s also a bit whiny and self-angsty. He is, after all, a Summers. Lorna gets less characterization here. She ends up kinda coming across as Alex’s Girlfriend. Even in the midst of fighting for her life, she keeps thinking about him. It’s a little disappointing, actually. Oh well.

The art is something that’s probably going to be a matter of taste, even more than usual. Blevins has a style that I think is probably pretty divisive. It’s very cartoony. For my part, I like it, and I think Blevins does a great job here. As I’ve said before, he’s not an artist I, personally, would’ve put on UXM, but he does do solid work. There’s nice expressiveness. During Alex’s dream, when we see the X-Men, they look really off and creepy and it’s really effective. He also does the more mundane scenes well, though. So I like it, but I can definitely see where others wouldn’t. The colours are good, too. As a whole, the book looks good.

All in all, while this isn’t really an essential issue, it’s a pretty good one. It’s worth reading.

Also, Classic X-Men #11, a reprint of X-Men #103. There’s actually no added scenes this time. The back-up is by Claremont, Bolton, Oliver and Orzechowksi. A writer is sitting in his office, moping about how everything he writes is garbage. He goes for a walk, and passes some newspapers talking about a Woman Killer who’s escaped. He complains about things. He comes across GPO Tower, what was then the tallest building in London, and decides to head up to the top. He heads out onto the observation deck, and takes in the view, while thinking that standing near ledges always makes him want to jump off and see if he flies. Storm drops in to chat with him. It turns out she’s recently found his books, and enjoys them. He’s still thinking of jumping, so she takes him for a flight. When they get back, he says he’s lost the ability to write. She suggests he find something else, and he asks how she’d feel if she lost her powers. A nice bit of irony, since we, as the readers, know that Storm will lose her powers, and become even more awesome as a result. She’ll become kick-a-bear-in-the-face awesome.

Then the Woman Killer smacks Storm in the back of the head and drags her away. The writer decides to try to save her. And gets his ass kicked. But he distracts the killer long enough for Storm to zap the killer. She then asks the writer not to kill himself. He still seems to be undecided about it. Kind of a downer ending, actually. I mean, you’d think it would end with him maybe getting some of his passion back, maybe have him sitting at a typewriter, pounding away at the keys. But nope! It ends with him still trying to decide if he should kill himself. It’s a nice enough story, overall. The writer is a bit too mopey. Storm is all wise and stuff. The flying scene is really nice, very sweet. The art is really pretty, and works well with the story. This is a good back-up, after a few weaker ones.

I may as well also mention that Fantastic Four #304 has Steve Englehart continuing his hate-on for Quicksilver and depicting him as a batshit insane villain. I was not impressed by Englehart’s treatment of Quicksilver. And I’ll also mention Mephisto vs. #4, where Mephisto has Rogue drain Thor’s essence out of him, so Mephisto can steal it. Then she gets sent back to the X-Men, and their involvement is over.

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