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Uncanny X-Men #222 (1987, October)

March 3, 2016

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, by Claremont, Silvestri, Green, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Heartbreak!”

Heartbreak!

The least-interesting conflict in the issue.

We pick up where last issue left off, with Polaris about to kill Rogue and Dazzler. Havok hits her from shore with a plasma attack, though he doesn’t know it’s her. (On the beach, some guy is reading “Wildcards,” an anthology of novels edited by George RR Martin, about people who develop weird powers. Claremont loves his references.) Psylocke and Havok are catching a ride with Lt. Morrel and, ahem, “Harry.” It’s pretty clearly meant to be Dirty Harry. Rogue wakes up on a beach, watched by three Japanese kids on vacation. The kids appeared before, when the X-Men showed up in Tokyo to stop a dragon, way back after the original Secret Wars. That’s a cute callback. Rogue also thanks Dazzler for saving her, and says it means a lot. Then she heads off to help Maddie.

Dazzler decides to recharge, by absorbing all sound in the area, which causes a panic. Psylocke, Havok, Morrel and Harry arrive, and Havok finds out who he blasted. And then Polaris blasts him away.

And now, to mountains! Storm and Naze, with Naze saying they’re on a vision quest, which means taking the hardest trail. Some woman in very nice clothes runs up, asking for help. Then they almost get clobbered by a big boulder. And the woman is a bad guy. The woman’s brother also joins the attack. Storm bats the woman into a small flame, where she turns into a mix between a snake and an owl. She and her brother are “Eye Killers” – they can fire energy from their eyes. The fight goes on for a bit, until Storm and Naze kill the Eye Killers.

Uncanny X-Men #222

Man, Storm is a badass in this era.

She also swears to stop Forge, if he really has turned to evil.

Back to the beach, where Polaris is kicking some ass. During the fight, Psylocke actually momentarily frees her of the control she’s under. Unfortunately, Vertigo and Harpoon show up, and Malice reasserts control. So the fight continues. Which includes, naturally, another Dirty Harry reference, with a caption stating, “The Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum has been called the most powerful handgun in the world.” A paraphrase of Harry’s line in the film. But an amusing bit.

Out in the Bay, Scalphunter’s about to shoot Rogue, but Longshot and Wolverine stop him. Wolverine gets his healing factor scrambled, which leaves him vulnerable to Sabretooth, except Sabretooth forgets that Wolverine still has the adamantium bones and claws. In the end, the fight does end inconclusively, but Longshot finds Maddie, so hey, the X-Men technically won.

But, we do still have to have one more scene of Havok and Polaris. She taunts him to try to kill her, saying if he doesn’t, anything she does will be on his hands. So she tries. But her shields take the blast. And then she taunts him with the fact that he tried to kill the woman he loves.

This was another good issue. It does feel like it’s lacking something, though. Some moments felt a bit sudden. The story didn’t flow quite right, I think. It also probably needed a little more time spent on Havok and Polaris, and that conflict. Storm’s fight against the Eye Killers also dragged a bit. I would’ve cut probably at least one page, maybe two, from that fight. Streamline it a little bit. I do like that the Marauders and X-Men continue to be portrayed as largely equals. In time, that’ll change, with the Marauders becoming less of a threat. But here, they’re still a threat. And there is some nice humour early on, especially the inclusion of the Japanese kids. That was really fun.

The art is great. It’s a great-looking issue. I like Silvestri’s pencils. Some panels look a bit odd, but that doesn’t happen often, and almost never really detracts from the story.

All in all, though, while I think this is a necessary issue, it doesn’t feel like a particularly great one. It does get Maddie into the team, though. So yay for that.

There’s also Classic X-Men, a reprint of X-Men #107. There’s a couple new pages, by Chuck Patton and Michael Higgins. First, a double-page splash of the characters reacting to being whisked across the galaxy. And then a page showing the Starjammers arriving at the M’Kraan planet.

And, of course, the back-up, by Claremont, Bolton, Oliver and Orzechowski. It provides some background for Lilandra. We see her being accused of treason by her brother, the Mad Emperor D’ken. He offers to spare her if she pleads for mercy, but she refuses. Then the ship she’s on is attacked, by her own fleet. She uses the opportunity to get free, and get to a scout ship. Then she’s struck down by psychic pain, as her mind connects with Xavier’s. She wakes up, and actually thinks she is Xavier, having just used the psychic potential of everyone on Earth to repel the Z’Nox. She’s confused, torn between her own memories and Xavier’s. Eventually, she manages to regain her wits and grasp who she is. She also gets pissed about the fact that she loves Xavier.

Once she has a chance to calm down, she wants to go to him, but duty takes precedence. Then she sees her fleet’s been destroyed, and thinks of Xavier and the X-Men as a way to oppose D’Ken. It’s an OK story. Nice art, purple prose. I do want to take a moment to comment on Lilandra, at one point, using flight-based metaphors. “Take the wind as it comes. Trust there’ll be a perch to land on when it’s needed.” It’s a nice touch, given the Shi’ar evolved from birds. It’s a subtle touch, but a neat one.

Another comic worth talking about from that month: The start of the absolutely amazing Kraven’s Last Hunt, from DeMatteis/Zeck (and McLeod and Jackson). The six-part story is as good as you’ve heard. If you haven’t read it yet, read it. It’s one of those stories that’s so good it’s almost unfair.

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