Uncanny X-Men #239 (1988, December)
We open in New York, radios talking about the heat and weird goings-on, and a family on vacation. The father reads the guide-book about the Empire State Building, and the kids misbehave. They all get on the elevator, and start screaming, as a young janitor with headphones mops up the blood that comes seeping out. It’s a mix of comedic and creepy that works really well to be unsettling. But now, we go to Mr. Sinister! I prefer to just call him Sinister. He’s bemoaning the fact that the X-Men died before he could match wits and strength against them. Aw, poor Sinister, he wanted to fight the X-Men. Don’t worry, you’ll get your chance! Repeatedly! So often it actually gets annoying at times!
Anyway, Malice busts in, upset that she can’t separate from Lorna’s body. Sinister said he figured that would happen, and when Malice attacks him, he quickly subdues her, then says she’s still free to wander, but she now has a body of her own to return to. He sweet-talks her pretty effectively, actually. He’s very convincing. Of course, he was just manipulating her, but she believed him. He reflects on vanity being the key to a person’s soul, while spinning a little crystal figure of Jean, which shifts into Maddie. Then he grabs a Dazzler figure.
And we go to Australia! As Ali walks into a rough bar, dressed to kill. The bar was in the middle of a brawl, but they stopped as soon as they saw her. They’re all pretty much in love. She asks the band if she can sit in and sing a few songs. She does good. Aw, I like this scene. I like seeing Ali get to perform, because the art and narration always make clear just how happy she is, how much she loves it. Regardless, her scene’s done, so after saying she wasn’t a major players, Sinister instead considers Havok. Alex is running hard, while thinking about his attempt to kill Malice, and successfully killing a couple Brood. Maddie comes out to make sure he’s OK.
Then, Storm, in the computer centre. She accidentally pulls up a news report showing Scott and Jean. Storm’s pretty shocked, and goes looking for Wolverine.
I love that “ALIVE!” panel. That word conveys so much. Wolverine admits that he never told her, because he didn’t believe it could be true.
Next, Sinister reflects on Psylocke, impressed at her surviving against Sabretooth (still one of her greatest moments ever), and thinking she would have been an interesting challenge. She’s sparring against Rogue and Colossus, and handling herself pretty well against both, until they beat her. Rogue taunts her while holding her against a wall, until Psylocke gets pissed off and hits her with a psi-blast, which brings Carol back to the surface. She notes how good Psylocke’s armour is, with no dents on the outside, and no bruises on Psylocke. She’s stripped the armour off to go swimming. As she comes back out, Carol touches Psylocke’s back with a bare hand, and doesn’t hurt her. The panel is drawn in such a way as to draw attention to that, so it’s clearly something Claremont had plans for. But he never did get around to it. But yeah, presumably, it was meant to show that Rogue’s lack of control over her power is psychological.
Finally, Sinister muses on Madelyne, calling her his pride and joy. Alex is dozing, and having a dream about dancing with Lorna, and then she turns to Malice, and when he backs away, he bumps into Maddie, and dances with her. He wakes up to Maddie standing over him. He’s uncomfortable with them having a relationship, since she’s his brother’s wife, but she points out Scott was the one who wrecked the marriage. The two talk, blah blah blah, sexy times. One last cut to Sinister, who has a baby in a tube. Nathan! Given his full name: Nathan Christopher Charles Summers. I think this is actually the first time he’s named. He was born 3 years ago, and we’re just now getting a name. I find that hilarious. Regardless, we finish with Maddie contacting N’astirh,
This is a good issue. Sinister’s role in Inferno gets set up, and there are more hints about his connection to Maddie. His musings are fairly interesting, as well. But this issue is mostly just downtime for the X-Men, a calm before the Inferno. The Dazzler section was nice. The Alex section less so. The Storm/Wolverine scene was excellent. Her initial rage, which quickly cools as he explains that he didn’t want to believe Jean was alive, and doubted his own senses and sanity. That might have been my favourite scene of the issue. The Psylocke scene was cool, too, though. It was fun seeing that she’s fairly competent. Rogue’s threats were odd, though. It comes across as her having some sort of grudge against Psylocke. Like, why wouldn’t she let go as soon as Psylocke conceded? It’s just odd. Other than a few minor oddities, though, the issue’s great.
The art’s great. Silvestri’s good at what he does. No complaints there. Green and Oliver, too, of course. Again, Silvestri did an especially great job with the Storm/Wolverine scene. Her anger is palpable. This issue also has him drawing lots of sexy ladies looking sexy, which is a strength of his. Less than there should be of sexy men looking sexy, which is a shame, since that’s another strength of his.
So, yeah, good issue. Good prologue to Inferno.
There’s also Classic X-Men #28, a reprint of X-Men #122. There’s extra content by Claremont, Dwyer, Austin, Oliver and Orzechowski. In Scotland, Jean’s done some shopping, and runs into Jason Wyngarde. She likes him. She heads back to the dock, where a couple guys are looking for Angus, the dude who ran the boat rental place. As Moira’s boat heads back to Muir Island, Jean sees Jason watching after her, and thinks he’s attractive. His shadow on the wall shows he’s Mastermind. It’s not much of an added scene, but it is helpful to have that little attention to Jean, to show her ongoing subplot with Mastermind manipulating her.
And the back-up, by Nocenti, Bolton, Scheele and Rosen. It’s a costume party! Nightcrawler’s there as the Devil. Jean suggested they all arrive separately, to see if they can recognize each other. Nightcrawler can’t! The host of the party tells Kurt that his friend’s ex has threatened her, and said he’d be at the party. Elsewhere in the party, Scott, as a jester, has a girl in an Arabian Nights get-up making come-hither eyes at him. He follows the girl, and starts to kiss her. Suddenly, there’s a scream. The woman the host worried about has been killed, and the killer tries to escape, but the X-Men – Colossus as a mummy, Wolverine as . . . a hobo? The killer takes another woman as a hostage. And it turns out his ex is still alive, he only stabbed a dummy. Jean takes the knife from him. Obviously, she was the woman Scott was making out with. He apologizes for that, but she forgives him.
This back-up is . . . not great, to be honest. It’s a cool premise. But it’s a really lackluster execution. No particularly big surprises. The Scott/Jean stuff was just weird. Yeah, all in all, this story did nothing for me. The art is nice, though. As always, Bolton and Scheele work well together. Bolton’s style is good for a more low-key story like this. So it’s a pretty-looking story. Just an utterly forgettable one.
And we also get started on Inferno tie-ins! There’s going to be a loooot of those, so I think I might just do an extra post for each month’s Inferno tie-ins. However, December 1988 actually has very few. Daredevil #261 has some talk of the Manhattan heat wave.
Avengers #298, by Walter Simonson, John Buscema, Tom Palmer, Eliot Brown and Oakley Lopez, is one of the absolute best of the Inferno tie-ins. It’s great. OK! So! Jarvis is reading a newspaper and thinking about how things are getting worse in New York, and his mother’s TV stops working in the middle of a wrestling match. Jarvis decides to head out to a TV repair shop, but learns the guy is already overworked with TVs going on the fritz. Rather than head home, Jarvis decides to take the subway up to the Met. During the ride, the door opens and a woman almost falls out, but Jarvis saves her. The train breaks down, so he leads everyone out to an emergency exit to the street. The woman, Glory, thanks him with a kiss. Jarvis gets to the Met, but the doors are locked – no one can get them open. He walks on, and sees some bricks falling towards a woman and her daughter, so he rescues them, with some help from Peter Parker. Heh, cute cameo. Peter suggests Jarvis check out Roger Rabbit, and Jarvis seems to enjoy it, as he leaves after thinking of how amply Jessica Rabbit was drawn. After the movie, he sees a guy get attacked and strangled by a payphone, so he feeds it a quarter, thinking it’s what Roger Rabbit would have done. He thinks of how weird everything is, and decides he needs to make a phone call. The payphone is still being a jerk, so Jarvis says he’ll give it all his loose change if it makes the cal, and if it doesn’t, he’ll come back with bolt cutters. That evening, he waits to meet the person he called, and he hears a scream. It’s Glory, being crushed between two cars. Jarvis pokes one of the cars in the headlight, and it backs off, freeing Glory. Turns out she’s been following him. She thinks he’s nice and she’s interested in him. Then they’re attacked by a robot, which is actually the car transformed into a robot. It’s a Transformer! Sort of! It attacks Jarvis, but the Captain steps in. The Captain, of course, was the identity Steve Rogers was using at the time. (Steve asks the car if it’s related to an answering machine that tried to kill him earlier. Which is a weird thing to ask, but it’s funny.) Once Steve agrees to look into what’s going on, Jarvis agrees to walk Glory home. This comic’s great. It’s all about Jarvis being awesome. He’s charming, funny, casually brave, intelligent, and just great. He was always a fun character, and this issue lets him have a spotlight he’s so rarely ever gotten, and he absolutely owns that spotlight. It is so much fun to read. The way he talked to the payphone was great. This is one of my favourite comics, just because it is so off-beat and fun and uses an under-served character.
Power Pack #42, by Jon Bogdanove, Stan Drake, Glynis Oliver and Don Hudson. (Bogdanove was writer and artist for the issue). We open on Carmody, in Limbo. He meets N’astirh, who turns him into a demon. In New York, a heat wave! And man, Bogdanove really sells the absolute misery of a New York heatwave. The Power Pack all have fevers. Their mother’s trying to keep the house clean, but can’t. Katie’s especially hot, so the father tries to run a cool bath for her, but instead of water, sewage comes out. Meanwhile, Carmody’s in New York, as a monster who kills people. Alex tries to head to the washroom, but it’s full of horrible mildew. In the kitchen, the radio keeps getting louder and louder, until the mom smashes it with a rolling pin. In the girls’ room, Carmody scares them. The parents are going to take the kids to their aunt’s, but when they all get in the elevator, Carmody – the Bogeyman – rips it open, forcing Power Pack to reveal to their parents that they’re superheroes. This is also great. As I said, Bogdanove really goes into detail about how awful conditions in the city are. More than any other title, this one really goes into those details. The heat, the messes, the way everything is acting up. Bogdanove does a great job with it. The larger plot, with the Bogeyman, is also really good. He’s really creepy and and menacing. This is an excellent issue.
Also this month, Death’s Head’s solo title debuted. I am now somehow being followed by Simon Furman, Death’s Head’s creator, on Twitter now. Which blows my mind.