Uncanny X-Men #241 (1989, February)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). My pull list for tomorrow is up, if you wanted to see it. But now, by Claremont, Silvestri, Green, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Inferno, Part the Second: Fan the Flames!”
Maddie meets Sinister. He reveals himself as the man who created her, and she blasts him for setting the Marauders to kill her. This seems like a fair response. Sinister binds her in chains, leaving her at his mercy.
But now, to the X-Men! Still fighting the Marauders, in a New York gone mad. How mad? This mad:
Colossus is shocked to find Riptide alive, given Colossus killed him in their last encounter. The big fight is briefly interrupted by police riding . . . um, here:
Malice politely declines, Riptide throws his stars at Colossus, who’s apparently gotten tougher since the Massacre, because the stars bounce right off him. Malice tears apart the police cruises and throws the metal shrapnel at the X-Men, giving Vertigo a chance to throw them for a loop, until Longshot takes her out in a pretty great way.
The fight continues, while we cut back to Nebraska, and Sinister and Maddie. Sinister challenges Maddie to tell him of a memory of her childhood. She remembers her friend, Annie Richardson, being hit by a car. Sinister tells her it’s Jean Grey’s memory, and it hurts Maddie, enough for N’astirh to feel she’s at last ready to be used.
Back to New York. The guy the mailbox was eating earlier, has been fully devoured, and turned into a stamp. Havok blasts it, and gets praised as a hero. Which is absolutely hilarious, especially if you remove the context.
Colossus comments on how crazy things are, and Storm shrugs it off as life in New York City. This is a sign that she’s being corrupted. But at the same time . . . I mean, yeah, that is life in Marvel NYC.
Sinister continues his story. He’d actually planned on killing Jean’s parents and raising her in his orphanage, but Xavier got there first. Sinister did get a tissue sample he used to create Maddie. But there was no sign of her mutant ability, until one night, the Phoenix Force showed up. Back in New York, some Right Smiley-faces show up, the ones Illyana had sent to Limbo. They work for S’ym now. Colossus learns about Illyana being overthrown as ruler of Limbo, and he goes to save her. Worth noting that he’s being corrupted much more slowly than the other X-Men, thanks to his steel body providing some protection from magic. Something that’s been previously established.
More Sinister! He gave Maddie a personality he knew would attract Scott, and set them up to meet, so they would produce a child Sinister knew would be exceptional. Back to New York, where the X-Men are deeply corrupted, which, in the case of the women, means their hair gets even bigger and more glorious. N’astirh briefly taunts them, after taking a bit out of Longshot, and then leaves, and Wolverine smells company.
And back, one last time, to Sinister and Maddie. Maddie finally breaks free of her shackles.
Before they can start the real fight, N’astirh brings in Maddie’s son. And one hell of an end to the issue.
This is a great issue. There’s a lot going on here. There’s Madelyne Pryor’s secret origin, which is really interesting stuff, and gives good insight into Sinister, his machinations and his obsession with genetics. So that’s really cool. There’s the X-Men fighting the Marauders, and it’s a really good fight, with the X-Men just wrecking the Marauders. It’s great seeing them get to kick ass, and the Marauders are vile enough that it’s satisfying seeing them get what’s coming to them. But at the same time, the X-Men’s anger and aggressiveness becomes more pronounced as the fight goes on, a result of Inferno corrupting them, and them not even noticing because they’re so caught up on taking out the Marauders. And then there’s the corruption of NYC itself, which is at once fun and creepy. So, yeah, lots going on, and the issue does a great job of letting the tension build over the course of the issue.
The high point of the issue has gotta be Maddie, at the end, breaking free of Sinister’s shackles, and promising to make the world burn. It’s her way of reclaiming agency, by destroying everything she had been, and it’s chilling and inspiring, in an odd way. She’s been hit with a lot of horrible stuff, and it’s easy to sympathize with her, even as she’s gleefully embracing evil. You just wanna root for her to come to her senses. You want things to be OK for her. But at the same time, she is just so good at being bad.
The art’s excellent. Obviously. Silvestri does a good job with the spreading corruption of the city and the X-Men, and Oliver’s colours add a lot to that. The way the X-Men change is very convincing. There’s also great work with the dramatic moments in Maddie’s side of the story.
Yeah, this is a great issue. Inferno’s awesome.
And Classic X-Men #30, a reprint of X-Men #124. There’s no added content, but there is the back-up, by Nocenti, Bolton, Oliver and Novak. Arcade wakes up from a nightmare of things chasing him. He hears his computer system, and gets angry that someone is using Murderworld without his permission. And has locked him out of the system, so he has no choice but to go in. He gets attacked by weirdly cute robots shaped like an axe and a saw. Then he gets shot at by robots shaped like some stuffed toys he used to have.
Arcade escapes them, and realizes he’s the target Murderworld has been programmed to kill. He finds a younger version of himself, playing with toys, and when the kid tears the nose off a clown doll, Arcade beats him with it, until he realizes he’s beating and terrorizing himself. Arcade beat himself with a clown. That is now a fetish. Anyway, then his father comes in and is about to beat Young Arcade, so Adult Arcade cracks the back of his skull open with a toy train. He holds his kid version close, but the leg falls off, and the robot deactivates. With that done, Arcade finally manages to get access to his computer, and learns he programmed it all while he was sleeping. He tried to kill himself.
This is a really good back-up. It’s a bit of an odd one. It both makes Arcade more sympathetic while also reinforcing the fact that he’s a terrible person. He apparently had a rough childhood, being beaten by his father, but at the same time, he was also one of those bratty kids who liked to destroy his toys, which was indicative, even then, of his lack of compassion. It’s an interesting balance Nocenti strikes, and she handles it really well, letting readers understand why he is the way he is without actually excusing anything he does. I also like the twist of him trying to kill himself, which is done in a way that indicates deep self-loathing and a desire to die. There’s also an amusing moment where he notes how dangerous Murderworld is.
The story also does a good job showing Arcade as both competent and ridiculous. He is able to handle himself in Murderworld, at least reasonably well, but he also panics quite a bit, and he’s petulant and over-dramatic. And it’s fun.
The art is really nice. Even better than usual, actually, somehow. Bolton and Oliver knock it out of the park. There’s a wonderful combination of cartoony-ness and moodiness. I really enjoyed the art through this story. This is a good one.