Uncanny X-Men #240 (1989, January)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). We now start in on 1989! It’s a long year. I think it’ll actually be 116 posts. Yeah. Ouch. Anyway. Today, by Claremont, Silvestri, Green, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Inferno Part the First: Strike the Match.”
We open in the Rainbow Room, in the RCA Building. The band plays as Alex and Maddie dance through the empty restaurant. They flirt a bit and it’s pretty sweet, really.
Ah, new love. It gets really goddamn cheesy. Back inside, some paranormal researchers are arguing with each other. A couple of them are claiming the Empire State Building has grown, while one says it’s impossible. The maitre d’ tells them to leave, and when they get in the elevator, it eats them.
One thing that definitely deserves to be highlighted is how Maddie’s dress won’t stop changing throughout this whole scene. These three panels are all one after the other:
It really adds to the whole air of wrongness. The fact that Alex doesn’t notice that her dress is clearly changing from moment to moment shows just how under her spell he’s fallen. Gateway teleports Alex and Maddie back home, then Maddie leaves again.
Maddie is out at Bard College, the graveyard where Jean’s tombstone is. She’s recalling the scene in UXM #175, when Scott said goodbye to Jean before his wedding to Maddie. And she remembers the wedding. Maddie smashes Jean’s tombstone. Jean’s parents are there, and she attacks them and transforms them into demons. Man, the Greys have it so rough. N’astirh arrives, and Maddie tells him who’s boss.
That is such a great line. It’s a declaration of independence. A refusal to be anyone else’s pawn or toy. It’s pretty great. And even though she’s a villain, it makes her easy to actually root for. She tells N’astirh she wants her baby, and he says he has a lead.
Back to Australia! For some pretty sharp mood whiplash, as Rogue and Longshot are rollerblading. Dazzler gets pissed at Rogue making moves on her boyfriend.
Dazzler attacks Rogue, and I normally wouldn’t share this much of a page, but honestly, the entire thing is gold.
Psylocke not getting to relax is one of my favourite Outback running gags. I wish it had happened more often. There was this, and there was Storm crashing into her tub. It’s so hilarious. Also great: Longshot chewing out Alison. It’s sad, because I really do love them as a couple in this era, but he’s right. She was out of line. She let her jealousy get the better of her, and she started treating Longshot as her property. It’s sad for both of them. Anyway, Alex tells Storm and Wolverine that he thinks Maddie’s computers may have found the Marauders, in the Morlock Alley.
Meanwhile, N’astirh has taken Maddie to the Nebraska orphanage where her son had been. It seems really familiar to her, and she sees a creche, and sees herself in it. She wipes off some dust, and sees her name.
To the Alley! The marauders are setting up their new base of operations. Blockbuster goes into some darkness.
And the fight is on! Dazzler takes out Sabretooth, because Dazzler is frigging awesome.
Given Sabretooth likes to rape and murder women, I love when he’s taken out by women. She also takes out Scalphunter. Longshot catches Riptide’s blades, which is frigging awesome. Go, Longshot. The fight is great. Because they have the element of surprise, the X-Men just kick ass. Oh, and Blockbuster gets captured by a wall. Malice/Polaris uses Colossus to make a hole the Marauders can escape through, but they pause when they get to the surface and see the city. And back in Nebraska, Maddie is introduced to Sinister.
This issue’s great. The long-awaited rematch between the X-Men and the Marauders is very satisfying, as the X-Men methodically tear the Marauders apart. I do like Malice continuing to be the smartest of the Marauders. Interestingly, the bulk of the ass-kicking, from the X-Men, comes from the ones the Marauders hadn’t met before. Dazzler and Psylocke each take out two, and Longshot catching Riptide’s blades was really cool. So the fight is really great.
But the real heart of the issue is Maddie. She is very unsettling here. The dress is a particularly effect detail, so bravo to Silvestri and Green for that. The way it keeps changing is a fantastic touch. The art in that scene does a great job with her in general. She routinely just kinda lurks, often with the lower half of her face not visible, so you just see her eyes looking really creepy. It highlights her role in the growing weirdness of the city. The art – Silvestri, Green and Oliver, working together – makes that entire section, with Maddie and Alex. Claremont’s writing is fine, but the art is what makes it work. On the flipside, the dialogue is much better in the Outback section. Where the art is still great – especially the panels of Rogue crashing the portrait sketching – but the dialogue is especially strong. Dazzler’s possessiveness of Longshot makes for some great drama.
So, yeah, this issue’s great. Love it.
There’s also Classic X-Men #29, a reprint of X-Men #123. There’s no added content this time around. So, it’s right to the back-up, by Claremont, Brigman, Roy Richardson, Oliver and Rosen. Storm and Colossus arrive in Russia. They land a little way from his home, and she leaves him to continue his walk back to his farm. Little Illyana is happy to see him. Remember that this takes place before she was captured by Arcade and brought to North America and went to Limbo. His parents bring him inside for a meal. They look at sketches he’s made of his adventures, and remark how fantastic they are. He decides to pay a visit to an old friend, but the friend is dead. He died in action in Afghanistan. Nearby, a tanker full of gas crashes and goes on fire. He moves it away, and the people cheer him, except for one wounded young soldier who calls him a traitor. He says that if he’d gone into battle with them, so many might not have been killed or wounded. Colossus is arrested by the local militia. In prison, a KGB agent, Colonel Vazhin, takes charge of him. He drives him out into the middle of nowhere and releases him. Which actually comes with an interesting reveal:
It makes sense to me that superheroes would be forbidden from military use. Too much risk of escalation. Anyway, Vazhin tells Colossus he can’t stay in Russia, and to go back to the X-Men.
It’s an odd little story. Sad. Colossus just wants to return home and help on the farm, but politics ruins it and he’s forbidden from staying. Poor guy. The story does feel a bit weak, though. Odd pacing, it feels like. I think this could’ve been longer, really. We needed to see more of Colossus reconnecting with his home. Claremont and Brigman do their best with the space available, and it’s still very good. Just not as good as it could’ve been with even a few more pages. Ah, well.
The art is great. It’s June Brigman. She’s such a great artist. Richardson’s inks are good, and Oliver on colours is always good. So, it’s a good-looking story.