Uncanny X-Men #228 (1988, April)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My Internet is idiotically slow today, which is why this is so late going up. It took forever just to get onto this site. Anyway. Today, by Claremont, DeFalco, Leonardi, Austin, Wray and Orzechowski, “Deadly Games!”
It opens with photos and articles about Dazzler and the X-Men laying out, with a letter from Ali to O.Z. Chase. Remember that guy? From Dazzler’s solo? And this gets us to a flashback. Dazzler’s in the Danger Room, doing a solo test, and Wolverine jumps in to give her a lesson on dealing with distractions. She ends up getting captured and “killed.”
I do like that the flags say “Bang! You’re dead!” Because it is a line Claremont always loved. Anyway, Dazzler’s angry at Wolverine for saying she needs to stand on her own feet so she’s not a liability. Rogue tells her he means well, and Psylocke says they’re all amateurs by his standards. She also mentions an article about a murder in Florida caused by a werewolf. She wonders if it’s a lycanthropic mutant. The article has a photo of Chase, so Ali decides to go check on him and help him out, declining any back-up by saying it’s personal. Wolverine says that as part of the team, what she does affects them. Oh, shut up, Wolverine, you hypocritical bastard. You’re the king of running off on personal missions and you know it.
Down in Florida, some guy kills a farmer and steals his truck. Ali gets to the town where the earlier murder happened, where Wolverine’s already waiting. Ali admits to being concerned that maybe Chase’s dog, Cerberus, could’ve inflicted the wounds. Wolverine mentions getting rooms at the Bates Motel. Cute. Then he grabs a guy who’s been tailing them.
Ali tried to see Chase at the prison, but the cops were preventing anyone from visiting him. And his public defender was on a fishing trip. So Ali went into the impound lot and found Cerberus, who’s super-affectionate.
He gets along with Wolverine, too. Back at the motel, Wolverine says the guy who was tailing them has a Russian scent. Which means what? Does he smell like borscht? It’s such a weird line. Regardless, Wolverine wants to talk to Chase, so he emptied some booze over himself and walked down the street singing drunkenly, until the cops tossed him in the cell next to Chase’s. Some dudes come in to kill Chase, and Wolverine stops them.
Back at the motel, Chase explains he was hired by the LA DA to bring in a drug dealer who’d jumped bail. Chase found him, and the guy blasted him with glow-hands. Chase woke up, and got arrested. Wolverine asks for a photo of the guy, and recognizes him as a Russian, Zaitsev, former KGB. Then Henry Peter Gyrich knocks on the door. So, I’m going to go off on a brief digression here: I like Gyrich. I do. Yes, he’s a smug, smarmy, arrogant prick of a bureaucrat. But when he’s written well, he’s also a guy who’s very intelligent, and who raises a lot of entirely valid concerns. A poorly-written Gyrich is a hateful bastard. A well-written Gyrich doesn’t hate mutants, he’s just worried about the danger some of them pose.
Anyway, Gyrich says that Zaitsev had defected, but it turned out to be a ploy, and he double-crossed the NSC and the KGB. Gyrich wants Wolverine to bring Zaitsev in, pointing out it might help the X-Men’s standing with the federal government. Ali’s angry at the dirty deal being made, with a killer like Zaitsev getting protection and money. So Ali, Chase and Cerberus accompany Wolverine into the Everglades to find him. And it leads to a fight. Which leads with Cerberus killing Zaitsev. During the whole sequence, Ali narrates her concerns about becoming as hard as Wolverine and Chase, being inured to killing. She likes caring about people.
And that’s the end of Ali’s letter to Chase. He’s been reading it in a bar. Some jackass says good riddance to the X-Men, and that the world’s better off without muties. Chase says some of them were his friends, and politely asks them to raise a glass in salute. While pointing a shotgun, and while Cerberus growls.
This is . . . not a great issue. It’s a massively underwhelming follow-up to Fall of the Mutants. It feels like a lame fill-in inventory issue. I don’t know if that’s the case, but that’s what it feels like. Like Claremont missed a deadline so some crappy inventory issue was tossed in. It’s a bland story, that doesn’t provide any particularly fresh insight into Dazzler. Plus, it’s in the form of a letter Ali wrote to Chase about an adventure they had together. Does Ali really need to go into so much detail about things Chase knows? It just comes across as weird.
The art is nice enough. I like Leonardi’s style. And, yeah, he draws a very nice Dazzler. He makes her all purty. He does a good job with action and motion, too. It’s a pretty enough comic. But it’s still just . . . pointless. It’s a stupid issue, and one that shouldn’t actually be here. Ah, well.
There’s also Classic X-Men #20, a reprint of X-Men #114. The additional content is by Claremont, Dwyer, Austin, Scotese and Orzechowski. First is a two-page flashback showing how the X-Men reached the Savage Land. Once Wolverine pointed out which direction was south-by-southeast, Scott started blasting a tunnel. Storm used her power to stop the lava, though it took a huge amount out of her, working in such a small space while wrestling with her claustrophobia and her own exhaustion. On a fun note, Scott knew which way they needed to go based a glimpse of a map during the fight. That’s why Scott is awesome. He pays attention to everything, and notes any details that could be useful, even in the middle of a fight. It’s a good scene, nice added details. Adds a bit to the issue. The next added scene is a page of Beast, at an Antarctic research base, calling Captain America to apologize for running off, then talking to Jean about her recent changes, and Jean’s inability to find a trace of the other X-Men. Partly a result of Magneto’s messing with the Earth’s magnetic field. This scene isn’t as useful. Doesn’t add as much. And the final added scene is right after Storm questions whether Scott truly loved Jean, and Scott wrestles with his doubts. He thinks about how he never had friends, or a girlfriend, and wonders if Jean was so special to him more because of what she represented than who she was. It’s a very good scene, and definitely adds a lot of emotional weight. It’s a really valuable question for Scott to ask. It may still be valuable, even today.
And the back-up, by Duffy, Bolton, Scotese and Orzechowski. Storm is getting married. The groom turns out to be a rotting corpse, as does everyone else at the wedding. She flees, and then she wakes up. In her costume, with her arm bandaged. Then some corpses start smashing through the hut she’s in. Then she starts to remember how she got there. She’d been taking a vacation in the tropics, and she saw a depressed woman. Storm talked to her, and learned her husband recently died. He worked for a chemical plant, and the plant won’t let the woman see his body. Storm went to see the guy in charge of the plant, who boasted about the material they’d made that was light as plastic but stronger than steel. Some zombie-looking guy brought in some samples, which freaked the boss out, and then it turned out the zombie was the dead husband.
And that catches us up to the present, where Storm is torn. She doesn’t want to kill them. So nature does it by striking them all with lightning. It’s an odd story. Not a bad one, I suppose. But not a great one. It’s very much a Morality Tale, about the dangers of manufacturing and Mother Nature fighting back and so on. It’s OK. The art is great. A lot of the story is fairly low-key, and Bolton’s art always works wonderfully for that. So it does look nice.
And I should mention Power Pack #36, written and drawn by Jon Bogdanove, with Barta, Wellington and Rosen doing the rest. It starts with Franklin Richards having a dream where a big metal hand reaches out for him, declaring him The Twelfth. Skip ahead a bit, and something is sunk into salt water, repairing itself. It’s the Master Mold Sentinel that Stephan Lang uploaded his mind into. Its core programming is to search for The Twelve, the mutants who will lead mutants in war against humans. It’s finished repairing itself, and is ready to resume the hunt, searching for Franklin. When Franklin and the Pack later go to the park, Master Mold attacks. The best part is, when it emerges, one woman says, “Don’t worry, it’s only trashing ‘C’ dock!” Marvel New Yorkers! During the fight, Master Mold tries blasting Alex, who absorbs the energy and unleashes it back at Master Mold, taking off its hands. Then they work together to take it down. It’s a fun comic. Bogdanove did a good job with the writing. And, of course, his art was always a great match for the book. So it’s a very enjoyable comic.