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Uncanny X-Men #247 (1989, August)

July 4, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). I quit my job at Walmart Monday. Starting somewhere else tomorrow. But for today, by Claremont, Silvestri, Green, Oliver, and Orzechowski, “The Light That Failed.”

The Light That Failed

Cover’s kinda giving away the ending here.

The last issue ended with Master Mold about to kill Rogue. This one starts with Storm, Havok and Dazzler all blasting at Master Mold. Colossus and Longshot are there, too. Master Mold isn’t attacking, and Storm realizes the same thing Carol knew last issue: Their invisibility to electronic detection means it can’t see them. Rogue wakes up, back in control of her body, not happy about being in Ms. Marvel’s costume. Senator Kelly asks for help with his wife.

Uncanny X-Men #247

Poor woman. At least she died a hero.

Obviously, this is a pretty major moment here. And also a really sad one. The X-Men continue to pick apart at Master Mold, who can’t detect them well enough to counter. They work really well together, too. Good teamwork.

Uncanny X-Men #247

Fastball Special!

I think I actually like variations on the Fastball Special more than I like the Fastball Special itself. Storm apparently finishes it with a big bolt of lightning into its exposed chest. They have some questions, particularly about how it hit Rogue earlier. Psylocke says she was picking up the ghost image of a living awareness within Master Mold. Longshot feels bad about not being any help in the fight, so Ali comforts him.

Meanwhile, in the Outback, Jubilee is bored. She goes exploring, and finds Ali’s room, which is also a music style. It’s really nice. Jubille calls Lila Cheney “music for old fogies.” Rassum-frassum kids. And she doesn’t know who the X-Men are, so clearly, she’s not big on watching the news. Then she swipes one of Dazzler’s dresses. It’s not like Ali doesn’t have plenty more.

Back to New York, where Sharon Kelly is dying, but is still thinking of others, as she tells Robert to let the X-Men know Master Mold’s not destroyed. She really was too good for this world. He thinks letting the robot kill them is what they deserve. It’s moot, because Master Mold gets up before Kelly could’ve said anything anyway. And now it can detect the X-Men. It’s able to defend against them, and attack back. And things get interesting.

Uncanny X-Men #247

Robot identity crisis.

Colossus is hurt after being smashed into the ground, so Rogue borrows his power. Ali’s at the bottom of a hole she fell down, and finds the Siege Perilous still in her pocket. Rogue uses a pretty good strategy against Master Mold. She flies up to orbit, then flies down as fast as she can, made even faster by gravity, with the added mass from Colossus’ armour.

Uncanny X-Men #247

That impact is actually incredibly under-stated.

Master Mold’s wrecked, but immediately starts repairing itself. So Dazzler suggests they send it through the Siege Perilous. Rogue tries to shove it through, but gets grabbed, so she tells Ali to blast them both through. While that debate’s going on, Nimrod’s debating with Master Mold. He points out that the X-Men can only be seen by living beings, and the Master Mold/Nimrod synthesis can see them, but machines aren’t really alive. So:

Uncanny X-Men #247

Nimrod’s sacrifice is kinda sad. He was a good guy, in the end.

Later, after the X-Men have left, Shaw shows up to look at the battle scene. And Kelly tells Shaw to go ahead with Project Nimrod. Shaw and Kelly are being watched by Pierce, Deathstrike, and at least one Reaver. Pierce is sure the X-Men destroyed Master Mold, and the Reavers are going to destroy them. Meanwhile, that group is being watched, by Nanny and the Orphan-Maker. They’re going to save the X-Men. And then they’re probably being watched by, like, aliens or something. I assume that’s what the next panel would have been, were there space.

So, this issue. It’s great. The action’s really exciting. Good teamwork, and them getting to cut loose and go nuts on a big-ass robot. They use some good strategies. The modified Fastball Special, and Rogue’s meteor strike. Both very cool. But two big things happen here. First, the death of Sharon Kelly turns Robert Kelly into more of a hard-liner against mutants, and he makes things worse for them. Second, this issue marks the beginning of the end for the current line-up. Over the next few issues, the team is going to be whittled down, more and more. Rogue’s the first, if you don’t count Maddie, but pretty soon, they’ll all be gone. Oh, this issue will also have another pretty major repercussion, in the ’90s: Master Mold and Nimrod become Bastion, head of Operation: Zero Tolerance. Which is a very ignoble fate for Nimrod. Tragic, really.

There is also some good character work. Ali’s grief at sending Rogue through the Siege Perilous is a very strong moment. Given how much they used to hate each other, and especially how much Ali hated Rogue early on, it’s a really touching reminder of how far they’d come. They were genuine friends at this point, and Ali cared about Rogue, and was broken to lose her. Come to think of it, I’d kinda like to see their friendship revisited. But anyway, it makes for the most emotional moment of the issue. Not that Sharon Kelly’s death isn’t a little emotional, too. Though we’d literally just met her last issue, and knew almost nothing about her. Still, she seemed to be a really good, kind-hearted person. One has to wonder what would have happened if she’d survived. If she might have brought Kelly around to supporting mutant rights. Alas, we’ll never know.

Great art, obviously. Silvestri/Green/Oliver. They made for an excellent team. It’s why they worked together for so long.

So, yeah, another good issue.

There’s also Classic X-Men #36, a reprint of X-Men #130, the debut of Dazzler. And a back-up, but without John Bolton. But it does feature the X-Men debut of a man who’d be one of the franchise’s big writers in the ’90s! By Fabian Nicieza, Bright, Rubinstein, Oliver, and Rosen, “Outside In.” Moira is at the graves of her son and her ex-husband. Since she’s at graves, it’s obviously raining. Actually, she’s in Scotland, of course it’s raining. Honestly, I question the authenticity of any story set in Scotland where it doesn’t rain. Anyway, they go back to Muir Isle, and Sean tries to comfort her, but she just wants to mourn alone. He leaves, and she studies a paper on cloning.

He goes to the gym, angry at her for not letting him help her, and then remembering that he didn’t let her help him when he lost his powers. He goes to talk to her, but she’s in the lab, with her son’s corpse in a tube. She wants to clone her son. Whose name is revealed as Kevin. I forgot that was never revealed in the original story. He was always called Proteus, there. And I need to point something out.

Classic X-Men #36

This makes no sense!

So, first off, that code at the bottom is clearly “SUCRETS.” Which is a throat lozenge. Why is the lab’s access code the name of a throat lozenge? Second, none of the numbers have letters on them, even though the code is a word. Third, he’s pressing the number two, and none of those letters actually appear on the number 2 on keypads. ‘E’ is on 3. So this panel makes me angry. Anyway, Sean starts looking through one of Moira’s photo albums.

Classic X-Men #36

“Gun-toting housekeeper” is my kink, too, Sean.

He heads back to the lab, where Moira has one of Kevin’s skin samples, but she’s hesitating about putting it in the cloning chamber.

Classic X-Men #36

Seems practical to me.

Moira actually says it wouldn’t be cloning. Kevin’s reality-warping power is still present in his genetic structure, so he’d be re-creating himself. He’d be starting over, and she’d be able to give him the life she wanted for him. Sean tells her that her work trying to help Kevin allowed her to help hundreds of other mutants, a good legacy. She decides to let go of the past.

It’s a good story. Some strong emotions. Moira’s grief and guilt over her son’s life and death. It is hard for a mother to lose her son. For all that the story ends on an optimistic note, I can’t imagine Moira didn’t still end up with a lot of sleepless nights. Sean’s desire to help her is really sweet, though. He’s a good guy, and he cares about her, and he wants her to be happy. His argument that bringing Kevin back won’t do good is probably the right one. Who knows what would’ve happened if she’d succeeded. Nicieza’s always been great at this sort of story. He can kill it with big superhero stuff, too, but he excels at the quiet, character-driven stories. The characters have a lot of depth to them, and he addresses some complex stuff in smart and sympathetic ways. He had the bad luck of being an X-Men writer in the ’90s, when editorial was basically running the show, and crossovers were constant, which kept him from really getting to do much in terms of developing his own long-term stories. But he did spectacular work with a lot of done-in-one quiet time issues, much like this one.

The art’s great, too. I do wish they’d kept John Bolton for it, as this kind of story was exactly up his alley. But Bright’s great. Strong line work, good expressive work. Oliver on colours, so of course the colours are gorgeous. All in all, this is a really great story, a stand-out from Classic X-Men.

I should mention Daredevil #269, by Nocenti, JRJr, Williamson, Scheele, and Rosen. It opens with Spiral dropping Blob and Pyro off for a mission. They’re in a small town, looking for a young girl who’s a mutant, to force her to register. Blob and Pyro both argue over who’s going to get to bang her. And they pretty much terrorize the town. Until a stranger comes to town. It is, of course, Matt Murdock, Daredevil, who left New York after a particularly painful loss, and is now wandering around. He starts buying them drinks, to make them easier to deal with when he has to. He overhears Pyro learning the girl they’re after is in a church. Daredevil gets there first. We learn the girl is telekinetic, and then it’s Daredevil vs. Pyro. Pyro wins. So Daredevil tries a different approach. He tells Blob that Pyro got the girl they were after, making Blob jealous, since he wanted the girl. As they fight, the girl gets away, and Daredevil takes on Pyro and Blob. And wins. Then Spiral shows up and takes them away. It’s a really fun issue. The Nocenti/JRJr run on Daredevil was fantastic in general. This issue isn’t really a stand-out of the run, but it’s still a great issue. Blob and Pyro are even more abhorrent than usual, which fits the tone of the series, which tended to be exaggerated. While I’m not always a fan of JRJr’s art, it meshed absolutely perfectly with Nocenti’s writing. The inking and colouring helped, too, because Williamson and Scheele did brilliant work over JRJr’s lines. The whole run is worth reading.

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