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Uncanny X-Men #227 (1988, March)

May 7, 2016

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Happy Free Comic Book Day! Now, by Claremont, Silvestri, Green, Wray and Orzechowski, “The Belly of the Beast.”

The Belly of the Beast

Betsy is totally grabbing Longshot’s butt.

We start with Eagle Plaze’s collapse. Manoli’s freaking out because Neal Conan was in there, but it turns out his camera is actually still working. Everyone’s still alive! And in Vietnam! Neal gives a rundown of each X-Man. It feels odd, since it’s not something that was done routinely during Claremont’s X-Men, especially at this point in the run. I actually prefer how this sort of thing is done now, with a caption stating a character’s name and powers. And sometimes a little joke.

The X-Men are fighting demons to protect some NVA soldiers, with Rogue saying it feels weird defending them, since America fought them in the war. Come on, Rogue, don’t be like that. Maddie’s stumbling around, and she comes across a dead US Infantry group, with Forge on top of a hill in the middle of them, screaming. He summoned the souls of his dead friends, in order to open a portal to avenge them. He snaps out of it and calls down an Arclight bombing run. Up in Roma’s Starlight Citadel, Adversary is taunting Roma, Storm and Forge.

Neal’s still filming what’s going on. Wolverine tells him off, but Neal points out that their whole “outlaw heroes” thing doesn’t actually help their cause, and if they want people to see mutants in a more positive light, they need to let people see it. Damn straight, Neal! It’s a real shame that this arc is going to end with the X-Men going back into hiding to be outlaw heroes that no one knows about. It would’ve been interesting to see how Claremont would’ve handled them as celebrity heroes. Ah, well.

Uncanny X-Men #227

You tell ’em, Neal!

Psylocke senses Forge and Storm in the Citadel above, but it’s protected by winds. So it’s time for an insane plane. Longshot is going to go up into the winds, and pull the X-Men up. Which gives us a quintessential Longshot moment, when Neal asks if he’s scared.:

Uncanny X-Men #227

So great.

We also get Maddie saying she supports the X-Men’s cause of fighting for a world where people are judged for their character, not race or powers. And then the plan goes into action! Rogue throws Longshot into the winds, to Longshot’s joy. Colossus changes back to flesh-and-blood, so that he can join his friends in the final battle.

They get up, and Longshot actually hurts the Adversary with some thrown knives. Rogue tries absorbing him. Wolverine tries slashing, but his adamantium can’t hurt the Adversary. Colossus’ steel body? That can hurt him, and causes him to erupt from Naze’s body. Rogue tries using the sorcery she absorbed from Naze to throw the Adversary through a portal, but doesn’t have enough sorcery.

Forge can do it. But it would mean killing the X-Men. He used 9 souls to create the portal that the Adversary came through, so it’ll take 9 souls to get rid of him. All the X-Men, plus Maddie, who does make one last emotional farewell to Scott. And then Forge kills the X-Men to defeat the Adversary and save the world.

On Muir Isle, Kitty sees it all on TV. Moira calls her to the med-lab, where Nightcrawler’s finally woken up. Do you know what this means? You know what’s coming? Yeah, you know what’s coming! Back in Dallas, Mystique declares Forge a murderer. And in the Starlight Citadel, Roma casts a quick spell. She brings back the X-Men. The gate was never meant to be sealed forever, and the Adversary does play a crucial role in existence. But the X-Men still deserve a reward, and she offers to send them anywhere, any time, they want to go. They decide to stay dead, so they can act with more freedom than they had.

So, this is the finale of the UXM portion of Fall of the Mutants. There’s a lot of good stuff in it, but I’m not entirely satisfied. Neal Conan’s narration can get a little too unemotional at times, to the point of being distracting. Especially during the climax, when Forge is casting his spell. What’s supposed to be the emotional height of the issue instead becomes a little too clinical. It may have actually been more effective without the narration. Either show what Forge is saying, or just go silent.

But other than that, there’s actually a lot of fantastic dialogue and interactions between various characters. Storm and Forge saying goodbye is a really powerful moment, especially with Storm saying they could still meet again, suggesting she thinks even death can’t really conquer their love. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I do like a good “love conquers death” story. Roma bringing the X-Men back from the dead is maybe a bit convenient, but it’s also kinda necessary. The scene feels a bit awkward, at least to me, but oh well. It’s a happy ending, so that’s cool. And it’s setting up a brief but memorable era for the X-Men. It’s a lot of fun.

The art is great. Glynis Oliver didn’t actually do the colours for it, which is pretty huge, as she was the X-Men colorist for so long. She does come back shortly, though, so I suppose she just needed a brief break. Wray does a great job. Almost as good as Oliver would’ve done, really. He’s clearly trying to keep to her style, presumably to keep the series consistent, and he does strong work. Silvestri and Green are great, too. The action’s exciting, and faces expressive. The scene of Forge closing the portal really didn’t need any words, because the visuals are very powerful.

Fall of the Mutants wasn’t really the strongest of Claremont’s arcs, but that’s just because, holy hell, he had some strong stories. It’s still a great story.

There’s also Classic X-Men #19, a reprint of X-Men #113. With pages added by Claremont, Dwyer, Austin, Scotese and Orzechowski. First is an added scene while the X-Men are in the chairs that keep them from doing anything. Wolverine is getting increasingly panicked about being helpless and caged. Then a scene set on Asteroid M, where it’s revealed he’s rich and well-connected. He’s doing some research, and has determined his powers have grown greater than ever. He takes a break and remembers his wife and child. The first added scene is OK. The second one is better, a lot more compelling.

And the back-up, by Claremont, Bolton, Yomtov and Orzechowski. A secret Nazi camp in South America, well after the war ended. Magneto attacks, and pulls the base apart. He captures the guy he’s there for, then has a seizure while checking out the guy’s vault of stolen treasure. A couple weeks later, he’s in Rio, where he meets his physician, Isabelle. They’re about to get it on, but he feels uncomfortable because he thinks of his wife. She starts to give him a massage, instead, and some goons come in and kill her. They’re with the US government, the group that Magneto’s been working with to hunt Nazis, and it turns out the guy Magneto grabbed was one of their Nazis. They try to kill Magneto. He kills them instead, and decides the only way to save the world is for mutants to conquer it.

This isn’t a great story. It’s OK, I guess. The art is very pretty. But the random fridging is a little annoying. Magneto’s seizures aren’t something that really came up again. I do like Magneto as a Nazi-hunter – you could get quite a few stories out of that period of his life. Actually, that might make for a good mini-series: A young Magneto trying to track down a specific Nazi war criminal. It would be as much detective story as anything else. That could be really cool.

Anyway, OK story.

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