Uncanny X-Men #242 (1989, March)
Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Happy New Year. I’m closing out 2016 with demons. Which feels appropriate. And tomorrow, I will begin 2017 with demons. Also appropriate. Anyway, by Claremont, Silvestri, Green, Oliver and Orzechowski, “Inferno, Part the Third: Burn!”
It opens on Logan kissing Jean. It’s a big splash page of a kiss, and it’s clearly there for the Logan/Jean shippers, and I hate it. Then a double-page spread showing the X-Men – more evil-looking than usual – and X-Factor. When the kiss finally ends, there’s satisfaction for the anti-Jean/Logan ship.
Though she does also think about how much she enjoyed the kiss. Bleh. The Jean/Logan ship is awful and I hate it. Anyway, fight! Longshot is less interested in fighting, more interested in Dazzler, and it’s actually a little creepy.
Seriously, that’s weird, right? She’s telling him to back off, then his eye glows, and then she decides to bone. That has some really, really uncomfortable undertones. Anyway, Scott tries to help Maddie, but she’s still made at him for running out on her, and not being there when the Marauders tried to kill her. It’s really tense, and really well-done, and it’s great. N’astirh shows up, now techno-organic, and sends the demonic versions of Jean’s parents to attack Jean. Dazzler and Longshot seem to have finished making out pretty quickly. And N’astirh brings Maddie’s ride, and yep, it’s pretty great.
Maddie rides off with N’astirh while Scott saves Jean. Alex grabs onto the back of the carriage. The ride is really fast, and it tears away his costume, and pieces of himself. And hey, you know how people sometimes make jokes about how impractically revealing the Goblin Queen costume is?
They go into the Empire State Building, and Colossus happens to be there already, and he starts climbing it. But back to the X-fight! Dazzler laughs her ass off at Longshot being hit by a snowball. Also, when she and Longshot grab Scott, they make him say “Uncle.” I just love his, “Sigh – uncle.” It’s great. Storm’s above the whole thing, and when she looks at the ESB, she sees Forge’s butte. At the building, Maddie and N’astirh prepare to sacrifice Nathan. She notes that he’s scrappy and tough and doesn’t look scared. Ha, accidental foreshadowing of him being Cable? Nathan telepathically reaches out to Jean, which infuriates Maddie, and I think that’s the moment when all this becomes truly irreversible.
Back at the fight, some goodness.
Ororo and Jean’s friendship is really special. The sweet moment is interrupted by N’astirh, whose attack gets X-Men and X-Factor working together. Colossus reaches the top of the ESB, and then gets blasted off again by Alex. Poor Colossus. All that work, and right back down. Iceman creates an ice slide for him, one that loops around and slams him right into N’astirh. He then lands in some mud that splashes on Dazzler, to Longshot’s amusement. Psylocke amplifies her own telepathy with Jean’s latent telepathy, and the sensation of telepathy seems almost blissful for Jean. Which is a great touch. She’s been without her telepathy for a while, and had gotten used to it, but it was a part of her and getting to experience it again feels good. Of course, once it’s over, it makes her feel hollow again.
The X-Men come up with a plan for taking out N’astirh. It involves Scott shooting Colossus in the butt. They hurl Colossus at N’astirh, Archangel pulls a Fastball Special with Wolverine, Iceman encases N’astirh in ice, and that extends to most of the ESB, which Jean finds a little scary. She wonders if he could freeze the world. Well, with an Apocalypse Seed, he could! In the laziest apocalypse ever! N’astirh boasts that being frozen is resulting in super-conductivity that makes his circuits even more effective. Storm creates a band of intense heat around the building. When Cyclops, Dazzler and Colossus smash open the ice – side note, I frigging love Dazzler being a team powerhouse – it means the heat is free to screw N’astirh up. Storm adds her lightning to the mix, to overload his system. He booms rather spectacularly. This might have been his death. A demon named N’astirh did show up in the Magik arc of New X-Men. But it might not have been the same demon. He looks pretty much the same, but he doesn’t show much intelligence or scheming. So, who knows.
Anyway, N’astirh’s gone, but Inferno remains. And Scott’s not happy about N’astirh being destroyed, and asks Storm what gave her the right to do that.
The moral debate is interrupted by the Goblin Queen grabbing Jean by a magic noose.
This is fantastic. It’s a great issue. Double-sized, for double the fun. There’s tons of action, drama, tension, and still a couple moments that are just sweet and nice. The fight between the X-teams has a lot of fun moments, and a lot of intense moments. But the highlights are definitely not the action panels. It’s the panels of people talking to each other. Maddie expressing her anger towards Scott, and her resentment of Jean. Alex sticking up for Maddie and promising to stay by her side. Ororo and Jean reuniting, which is the emotional high point of the issue, as far as I’m concerned. Dazzler and Longshot being hilarious jerks all throughout. Jean getting to experience telepathy again. All that said: The takedown of N’astirh was also awesome. Claremont is on fire here.
The art’s fantastic, too. Silvestri, Green and Oliver are all top-notch. Silvestri handles quiet moments and action sequences equally well. Again, the moment between Ororo and Jean. There’s a lot of emotion in the art. That hug is one of the sweetest things. The action is really exciting. Silvestri kills it. Green’s inks complement the pencils perfectly – the two worked really well together, and clearly had a great rapport. And Oliver’s colours. I mean, it’s Glynis Oliver. Of course the colours are top-notch. She was the best.
So, yeah, while there are a few nitpicks here and there, this is, for the most part, a spectacular issue, and continues a really strong X-over.
We also have Classic X-Men #31, a reprint of X-Men #125. Plus, a back-up by Nocenti, Bolton, Scotese and Rosen. Xavier, out in Shi’ar space, is playing 3-D chess against a computer. An alien asks if his kid can play him, but Xavier declines. Don’t be a jerk, Xavier. He’s angry that the aliens view him as an idiot, because he’s human. He wheels into a Council meeting and suggests whatever race they’re talking about be left to sort out their own problems. Dude, no. You have no idea what the hell they’re even talking about, don’t just butt in like that. Lilandra even calls him out on it.
Honestly, Xavier is awful here. He undermines Lilandra’s authority, figuring that, because he’s sleeping with her, that means he gets to intrude on her job, even though her job is running a galactic government. Which is another thing: Lilandra runs a galactic government, but she still has to take time out to help her man deal with his petty sulking. She has more important shit to do, Xavier, than make you feel better. Anyway, Throneworld’s plumber, Chakra, comes by and mentions she’s going to fix the spigot at the end of the desert, and invites Xavier along. Xavier asks if she finds it embarrassing to be the plumber of such advanced races, and she says they’d be helpless without her. But here’s a question: Why does this world have a single plumber? Anyway, there’s a meteor shower that makes Xavier feel happier. Xavier and Chakra talk, with Chakra being all philosophical about life and intelligence and junk. When Xavier gets back to the palace, he invites the kid from earlier to a chess game.
This is a pretty lame story, honestly. Xavier’s a dick, and Chakra’s a cliche. The “simple but wise” character who may not have none a’ that fancy book-learnin’ but who knows how to be happy. It’s something that’s overdone, and is just plain dull. Pretty art from Bolton, though, as usual. This is the kind of story he’s best at. Quiet, intimate, no action, but with great visuals.