Uncanny X-Men #225 (1988, January)
It opens on sketches of the X-Men that Colossus has done. They’re pretty, and also show how he views them.
He’s in Edinburgh, sketching, while some kids admire his work. The kids start play-acting the fight between the X-Men and Juggernaut, and Peter actually sketches them. Which is pretty cute. I like that. One of the kids also asks if he’ll draw comics. Hey, if it worked for Steve Rogers, right? This whole scene between Peter and the kids is really nice. Peter’s really good with kids. I’d love to see that revisited. Not like what EXM is doing, where he’s taking some older teens under his wing. I want to see him talk to some actual kids. Hilariously, the kids complain about the current X-Men team having too many girls. Claremont having some fun with some letter-writers, perhaps? Then some of the kids get in a bit of a fight about mutants, with Peter saying mutants are people.
The kids leave, and an attractive woman chats with Peter, asking him to sketch her, while she reads his palm. She knows him well, down to him having twice had to kill. She says he’s going to be tested, and will need to make a choice. Then she disappears, leaving behind a chess piece of Colossus. And his sketch looks nothing like her – it actually looks like Roma.
Then the anti-mutant kids from earlier pop a firecracker near him, which makes him lose his concentration and change to steel form. The kids are scared of him and run away. Aw, poor Colossus.
We then cut to Otherworld, and a chess board inside a fancy room. The Adversary bursts in and starts re-ordering reality, starting with making Roma his captive. He boasts about being the Trickster, his purpose to try to break the rules of reality.
Back in Edinburgh, Colossus is at the ruins of a pub the Juggernaut destroyed, which the X-Men have been blamed for. He’s pretty angry about mutants being hated. He tries to revert to human, but can’t, no matter how hard he tries. He wonders about his place in the world, and decides he belongs with the X-Men. To that end, he finds a payphone. Which he then wrecks. He does still manage to get it to work, so he calls the school, and asks Illyana to pick him up. She teleports to him, and starts rambling about how she’s missed him but she’s on a mission with the New Mutants. She’s so adorably excited. It’s cute. Illyana’s a sweetheart at times. He asks her to take him to the X-Men.
The X-Men are in Dallas, checking out Forge’s tower. Wolverine goes inside, and gets shot down by lasers. Storm avoided them, Wolverine. Guess you”re just not as cool as Storm. Longshot rushes to Wolverine while Dazzler takes out the lasers. Nice teamwork. Then Havok blasts the remaining lasers, collapsing the roof, and Rogue pulls Wolverine and Longshot out of the way. And she runs smack into Stonewall. And then Blob drops right on top of Wolverine.
And now the rest of Freedom Force show up. They’re there to arrest the X-Men, partly connected to the MRA. Interestingly, Mystique notes that having powers isn’t a problem, only using them. So, a mutant who just wants to live their life is apparently free to do so. So, if Alex wanted to go back to New Mexico to keep working on his degree, he wouldn’t need to register.
Anyway, a fight breaks out. Destiny is unable to read the future any more, and starts rambling about the end of the world. Such a drama queen. Psylocke gets easily the best moment of the fight:
We then get the second-best moment of the fight. Wolverine pops his claws under Blob, which causes him to jump into the air, and come down right as Colossus teleports in to punch him into Forge’s tower. The fight’s pretty even, and Wolverine has the X-Men take cover in the tower. Destiny shouts that anyone inside the tower when dawn breaks will die. So, naturally, that’s when dawn breaks.
It’s a good comic. It is largely set-up for the next issue, the giant-sized second part of Fall of the Mutants. But it’s still great. Colossus gets great character stuff in the first chunk of the issue, as he wrestles with doubts and frustrations. He’s been absent for a little while, so it’s nice to see him back, and to see him get such a spotlight. The X-Men/Freedom Force fight is good. It’s well-choreographed, with some pretty nice character moments in there, especially between Longshot and Spiral. She wants to kill him, but he sees some odd tenderness in her eyes and doesn’t want to fight her. It’s neat.
Claremont’s writing remains strong. The art is great, too. Silvestri’s a really talented artist. He does the quiet scenes and the action scenes equally well. Peter’s sketches are definitely an artistic highlight of the issue; they look really good. And credit really should be given to Glynis Oliver, one of the best colour artists in comics at the time. Probably one of the best ever. She includes some gorgeous colour choices in this issue. The whole art team at this point was excellent.
This is a great kick-off to The Fall of the Mutants.
There’s also Classic X-Men #17, a reprint of X-Men #111, the famous circus issue. The added scene here is by Claremont, Dwyer and Scotese. It’s a recap of who the Beast is, and using a Quinjet to search for the X-Men and finding them in Texas.
And, as usual, the back-up by Claremont, Bolton, Scotese and Orzechowski. Jean is in New York, walking through a busy street fair, with her telepathic power completely shut down to keep out the thoughts around her. This leaves her vulnerable to Mesmero’s hypnosis. He takes her to his penthouse, where he’s got some female slaves in lingerie. Ew. He tries to get Jean to sleep with him, but she resists, and he has to give up on that idea. Creep. Creepy creep. He’s a rapist. Mesmero is a rapist. Let’s not mince words here, Mesmero is a rapist. He forces women to have sex with him. That is rape, and that’s what he does, so he is a rapist.
However, since he can’t rape Jean, he decides to use her, instead, to get him into the Mansion so he can take over everyone else. Banshee mentions “Maggie an’ the Fey” during this sequence. A quick Googling doesn’t pull anything up. Anyone know if that was a real thing being referenced? A band, or a play, or something? Regardless, one-by-one, the X-Men are hypnotized, though Storm gets off a lightning bolt before she goes under. That lets Wolverine know there’s trouble. Mesmero struggles to get Wolverine under control, and has the other X-Men beat the crap out of him first.
It takes the better part of the morning before Mesmero gets bored with the fight. He’s annoyed, because he’s beaten the X-Men, but has no idea what to do with them. Seeing a photo of Nightcrawler in his circus days gives him the idea for the circus.
Rape elements aside, this is a fun story. It’s just an explanation of how Mesmero got the X-Men under his control. Mesmero comes across as a whiny jackass, which is pretty much what he always was. Smug with no good reason to be. He keeps throwing little tantrums. The beat-down on Wolverine is fun to watch; I’m always up for seeing Wolverine get pummeled. The art is nice; maybe a little too nice for the story, actually. Bolton’s style is perfect for intimate stories, so it always feels weird seeing him do more superhero-themed stories like this one. Ah well. It’s still good.