Uncanny X-Men #220 (1987, August)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). It’s my birthday! To celebrate, a comic. By Claremont, Silvestri, Green, Oliver and Orzhechowski, “Unfinished Business.”
It starts with two eagles soaring over a majestic landscape. One of the eagles has a white Mohawk. Which is hilarious. They come together for sex, and start to fall, and only separate at the last moment. One of the eagles turns into a machine and attacks the Mohawk eagle, tearing it and leaving it broken on the ground. Gee, I wonder if that’s supposed to be symbolic or something.
Wolverine is on a mountain, sulking alone, and gets mad when Storm intrudes on his sulking. She looks out over the landscape, and says she wants to spread her arms and fly. She tells Wolverine she wants her powers back, and that she hopes Forge may be able to do it. While she’s gone, she needs Wolverine to lead the X-Men in her absence.
Wolverine tries to argue a little more, but Storm really won’t take “no” for an answer.
A few days later, she’s in Dallas, at Forge’s Aerie. As she wanders in, she notes how odd it is that the place is unguarded. She finds the lobby covered in dust, with a notice of condemnation on the desk. There’s no power, no lights, and the phone is dead. And the elevator’s down, so she has to walk up a hundred flights of stairs. Upstairs, in Forge’s meditation room, Naze is communing with spirits. He learns Storm’s there, and gets ready to greet her, with a creepy smile.
Storm arrives in the Aerie proper, with all the floating platforms. She hears a voice from the balcony, and finds herself. It’s a hologram, replaying the end of Uncanny X-Men #186, the classic LifeDeath. She heads back inside, and the scene shifts to the jungle. Then the floor disappears. Luckily, her memory is good enough that she can make her way around, even when lasers start firing at her. She hears Storm shouting out to leave. Then images show up of her throughout her time with the X-Men.
She tries to make her way to safety, but gets hit by a stun-bolt that numbs her arm. She makes it into the kitchen, where we get more from LifeDeath. The kitchen is filthy. Next is the pool area, where the holograms are starting to overlap. She gets to his lab, and turns the holograms off. Forge shouts out, saying to bring his love back. He’s strapped into some weird machine, and doesn’t see Storm. Then it turns out he’s a hologram, too.
Naze comes in, and tells her he’s looking for Forge, too. He also admits that he turned the defence systems against her to see if she still had her edge. She gets pissed and starts storming her way back out, with Naze following her, saying Forge was in a bad state because of his love for her. He tells her that Forge is The Maker, with the power to fight the Adversary. But he rejected his destiny to go to war, where he lost his soul. Naze worries that Forge may have already been claimed by the Adversary, in which case, Bad Things. She tries to decline to help, but he reminds her he saved her life back in UXM #187, and he’s calling in the debt. She walks onto the balcony, and the wind is strong enough that it starts blowing her back, but she refuses to be forced to do anything by anything.
The next morning, after the storm’s passed on, she agrees to help Naze, who gets a creepy smile about it.
This is a fantastic issue. It’s all about Storm, and Claremont does great work with her. He explores her mixed feelings on everything from her powers to Forge. She goes to Forge to get her powers back, but she’s also worried about succeeding, since she’s proud of how she’s handled herself without them, and worries they’ll be a crutch if she gets them back. Of course, the main thrust of the story is her feelings towards Forge. She’s caught between hating him and caring for him. It makes for a compelling story. A lot of what goes on is just direct callbacks to LifeDeath, but that was such an amazing story that it’s hard to object. It makes you want to go back and re-read LifeDeath again, because holy shit, it’s good. This issue also gets Storm and Naze together, to look for Forge. This, of course, will lead into Fall of the Mutants. I’m excited for that!
The art here is great. I love Silvestri’s style. There’s an intensity to it, even in quiet moments. And action scenes are really exciting. He does a fantastic job with mood here. And body language, too. Storm’s body language throughout the issue is stellar. A lot of it is really casual, but still conveys her tension. It complements the art perfectly. The whole issue gives a real sense of tragic nostalgia. The dangers of living in the past. It is brilliant stuff, from all involved.
There’s also Classic X-Men #12, a reprint of X-Men #104. As usual, we’ve got added scenes, with Cockrum himself drawing them. Neat! Anyway, after the X-Men’s rented hovercraft is destroyed, we get reactions. Colossus turn to metal to save himself from a spinning blade, then gets pulled under the water. Storm gets grabbed with cables and zapped. Wolverine cuts her free, then gives her some air before drawing her to the surface. Banshee catches Nightcrawler, and they get hit by a wave. Magneto watches it all on a TV screen, musing on how different the new line-up is.
The back-up is Claremont, Bolton, Oliver and Orzechowski. In Paris, Magneto is sleeping. He remembers Auschwitz, near the end of the war. He saw a guard about to kill Magda, and he attacked and saved her, and they managed to slip out of the camp and into the woods. He promises to protect her forever. They survived, made it to a little village, got married, and had a child. They moved into the Soviet Union, so Magneto could go to university. He gets a job doing construction, and his boss tries to stiff him on pay. Magneto makes a crowbar smash into the door, and the guy pays up. Magneto isn’t sure what happened, since he hasn’t realized his power yet. He gets back to the inn where his wife and daughter are, and finds it on fire. Anya, his daughter, is upstairs, cut off. The ceiling almost collapses on him and Magda, but he creates a magnetic bubble that protects them. Before he can figure out how to save Anya, cops show up and start beating him for threatening his boss earlier. Anya dies, and Magneto freaks out and kills everyone. Magda freaks out and runs away.
Magneto wakes up, and sees some commotion across the street. A burning building. A mother and her daughter trapped, and the fire brigade not near enough to help. He thinks it’s not his business. Of course, he does still save them, because he’s not that monstrous. The husband thanks him, and Magneto says to tell the world who saved his family. It’s a nice story, with a good ending. We learn more about the experiences that shaped Magneto into who he is. We’ve seen him talk about Auschwitz, and about Anya’s death, but here, we actually get to see those events. And it makes it harder to really view him as a villain. (Of course, at this time, he wasn’t a villain any more; he was part of the X-Men.) It’s really powerful stuff, and the art helps to enhances the story. Nice as Bolton’s art is, a lot of credit should go to Oliver, too. She makes some great colour choices that add a lot to the story.
For example, right there. The black, white and red are really effective together. It gives such a powerful tone to the scene. It’s honestly almost a shame Claremont’s words are there, because the art – lines and colour, working together – tell the story so effectively. There’s also here:
Again, the art just conveys so much here. This is an instance where Claremont knew not to say anything, because there was absolutely nothing to say.
So, yeah, this story – this origin of Magneto – is a fantastic story, and one that’s a must-read, I think.
Also, Wolverine appeared in Web of Spider-Man #29, by James Owsley, Steve Geiger, Art Nichols, Bob Sharen and Rick Parker. It actually follows up a bit from the Spider-Man vs. Wolverine one-shot, which I somehow completely forgot to do a post for. Oops. I’ll do that Monday. Spider-Man’s moping on the docks, and Wolverine tracks him down so they can talk about what happened in Germany. They also fight a bunch of thugs. Neither of them are even in costume, either, which amuses me. One of the guys pulls a gun, and Wolverine gets pissed at a friendly scrap being ruined. Wolverine chases the thugs off and prepares to give chase. Spider-Man refuses, and says he’s giving up being a superhero, but Wolverine says he can’t do it. Spider-Man decides he’s right, and helps round up the thugs. With that done, Wolverine tells him he’s not to blame for what happened to Charlie or Leeds, the people who died in Germany. It’s an OK story. An OK Wolverine cameo.
And as an aside, this month also saw Captain America #332, where Steve Rogers gave up the shield and costume, and resigned from being Captain America. Forever! And West Coast Avengers #23 is the one where Mockingbird allowed the Phantom Rider to die. She refused to save him on account of the fact that he’d raped her. He drugged her into loving him. We don’t know if they had sex, but it’s still rape.