Uncanny X-Men #231 (1988, July)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). You can click back a page for my pull list for tomorrow, where I also complain about being stood up for a date. But first, by Claremont, Leonardi, Green, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Dressed For Dinner.”
First up, I should mention this issue takes place after New Mutants #66, which came out in August of 1988. It doesn’t really spoil anything, though. New Mutants #64 made it clear that Illyana wanted to go after Forge, and obviously, she wasn’t actually going to kill him, so yeah, no major spoilers. We open on Illyana in one hell of an outfit. It’s, uh . . . it’s this:
Then someone she calls “Grandmama” puts an apple in her mouth and tells her she’s dressed for dinner. The title of the issue! Then we go to Colossus, smashing rocks. Rogue offers to bring him to the Himalayas so he can try flattening Mount Everest. Then she thinks about how good he looks. In his tiny little shorts.
As an aside, I actually like Rogue’s outfit from this era, too. It looks good. She touches his shoulder, and his body’s so hot he actually burns through her glove. She flies off, and he picks up his sketchbook to look at a sketch of his sister. So, he just burned through fabric, and he thinks, “Hey, I guess I’ll pick up this flammable paper.” Predictably, the paper inflames. It burns right up. Storm cools him off with a quick shower, and asks what’s bothering him. He’s been having dreams of Illyana, and wonders if she’s in danger.
Later on, after dinner, everyone is cleaning the plates. Colossus can’t help, because he’s too strong. On a cute note, Storm has made a miniature rain cloud for rinsing the plates. I love that. I almost expect her to say “it’s a living.” Alison and Alex both tell Storm they think Colossus should be allowed to see his sister. Gateway comes in and points at Colossus, which pretty much settles the deal.
In Limbo, Illyana, as the Darkchilde, is fighting S’ym and his demon forces. She’s in the middle of a major necromantic spell to bring Colossus back from the dead. He shows up right before she completes it. She thinks she did complete it. After S’ym makes some comments, Colossus jumps to the attack and actually smashes S’ym. Illyana then says she needs his help to rescue the New Mutants. She takes him to another portion of Limbo, where Xavier’s School is being recreated. She explains what happened.
She was working on a book report on Mikhail Bulgaov’s The Master and Margarita, when some characters from the book appeared. They dragged her to the kitchen, where the others were already strung up, and where Baba Yaga was cooking. Illyana managed to escape, but she knew she’d need help to beat Baba Yaga. Colossus attacks, and defeats Baba Yaga, which allows Illyana to cure the Mutants and send them back home. Then a nice talk between Colossus and Illyana. She claims she didn’t save the Mutants out of altruism, but because she was and didn’t want to let Baba Yaga get the better of her. She complains that she’s an evil demon sorceress, and she’s only good because she wants to be, which amuses Colossus.
He tells her he’ll never be dead as long as she keeps him in her heart, and then he leaves through Gateway’s portal. Illyana almost casts the spell again to bring him back, but decides not to, since she knows it would make her irredeemably evil.
And then, when everyone’s gone, S’ym returns, saying he can never die as long as any of his techno-organic circuitry remains. He also explains Baba Yaga wasn’t the real hag, just some evil entity that took the form from Illyana’s childhood memories.
This is a good issue. It’s a nice Colossus spotlight, showing how he’s dealing with being stuck in metal form, and how he misses his sister. The scenes between them are really sweet, as he tells her she’s better than she believes she is, and she’s not as alone as she believes she is. He gives a nice big brother speech to make her feel better, and it’s really nice. He also punches some demons, but that stuff all feels kinda obligatory. It’s there because it has to be. Claremont actually doesn’t make the demon stuff very interesting. It’s there because the story needed a conflict, so there’s the conflict. But it’s not as interesting as it could have been. But the character work is solid, for both Colossus and Illyana.
The art is good. I like Leonardi. It can get a little blobby at times, but there are some nice faces here and there, and the action’s exciting. He also draws a sexy Colossus, of course. With the tiny short shorts. On a side note, he draws Storm in a sexy outfit, too. A leather jacket with nothing underneath, and what looks like a leather bathing suit bottom. And a belt with a couple pouches. It’s an odd look, honestly. It’s not typical for her. On the one hand, she has no body shame, so wearing almost nothing isn’t out of character for her. And it doesn’t come across as Leonardi sexualizing her. On the other hand, the specific outfit just feels off. Ah, well.
It’s a good done-in-one issue. I like it. I do wonder a little if it was filler, to an extent, to give Silvestri a little more time with the Brood arc that begins in the next issue. But whatever. It’s good.
There’s also Classic X-Men #23, a reprint of X-Men #117. There’s added content by Claremont, Dwyer, Austin and Orzechowski. And, one would assume, Oliver, though she doesn’t get credited. For some reason, the credits page leaves off the colours completely, for the main story, the back-up and the pin-ups. Which is weird, but it happened, from time to time, that they’d forget to credit someone. Anyway, there’s an extra page, at the end, on the Japanese boat the X-Men were picked up by. Wolverine is still mourning Jean, Scott is still acting emotionless and keeps the X-Men training. Nightcrawler teleports over to surprise Wolverine, and Wolverine slams him into the wall and pops his claws, then says he was thinking about someone else. Scott, it looks like.
And the back-up, by Claremont, Bolton, (presumably) Oliver and Orzechowski. Kurt wakes up on a tropical island. The night before, there’d been a massive storm. A typhoon, in fact, and while Storm was able to moderate it a little around the ship, it was still bad. He saw a woman washed overboard, and went to rescue her, but got hit by a wave himself, and lost track of the ship, and then washed ashore. There’s no sign of the woman. He goes swinging through the forest, and finds a downed plane, a Boeing Flying Boat, called the Madripoor Clipper. Wow, I just realized how long it’s been since Madripoor was mentioned. It was in a 1985 arc of New Mutants, and then didn’t come up again until this story. Of course, in just a couple more months, it’ll become the setting for Wolverine’s ongoing stories.
Anyway, inside, Kurt finds some clothes, to look very dashing.
Some creature attacks him, and he beats it. He then heads off to the nearby mountains, thinking the woman was taken there. He finds a temple built into the wall of the volcano. The woman is brought in to be sacrificed, and the high priest can apparently hypnotize people. So Kurt teleports in to the rescue, and accidentally gets himself hypnotized, too. Before the priest can sacrifice Kurt and the woman, though, Kurt teleports with her to a ledge. She thanks him for saving her life, and asks how she can repay him. Kurt is a smooth man.
It’s a decent enough story. It’s fun. Swashbuckling Kurt was always the best. I wouldn’t have minded a little more swashbuckling from him, actually. The writing had a tendency to get pretty expository here, as Claremont had Kurt’s thoughts commenting on pretty much everything. It slowed the story down, and sucked out a lot of potential fun. So this could have been better. It would have benefited from a quicker pace. Ah, well.
I should also talk a bit about Captain America #343, by Gruenwald, Dwyer, Milgrom, Sharen and Morelli. This was during the time that Jack Daniels, formerly the Super-Patriot, later USAgent, was serving as Captain America, with Battlestar as his sidekick. The issue opens with them going after a mutant who failed to register. Battlestar is bothered by it, thinking it’s just another way to find minorities to oppress. Which is really cool. I love the interconnectedness between comics from back then. Where events in one book would be reflected in another. The X-Men franchise was a big deal by this point, so mutant plots did show up in other titles, especially the MRA. Later in the issue, the helicopter they take the mutant away in gets attacked by a team of mutants who call themselves the Resistants. They wear really stupid uniforms.
The Resistants quickly beat them and take off with the mutant. They’ll show up again. Even though they’re lame and generic.