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Uncanny X-Men #248 (1989, September)

August 6, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). Today, by Claremont, Lee, Green, Oliver, and Orzechowski, “The Cradle Will Fall.”

The Cradle Will Fall

Maybe he just missed her punk look?

The issue opens with Wolverine being shot to death. Turns out it was a robot, being shot up by the Reavers, who are now working with Donald Pierce. Meanwhile, Longshot is having an odd dream. The X-Men are playing mjusic while Dazzler dances with him. Then Rogue slips into Dazzler, and Ricochet Rita slips into both. And the trio turn into Spiral. And then things get unsettling.

Uncanny X-Men #248

This makes me so sad.

Storm is seeing it all in Gateway’s flame, in a dream. A ghostly version of Longshot shows up, looking for pieces of himself.

Uncanny X-Men #248

Poor Longshot.

Elsewhere, Nanny and the Orphan-Maker are looking at a photo of the X-Men, and planning on saving them. Nanny catches Psylocke, swimming in a cave. Alex and Ali are going for a jog together, and again, I really do like their friendship. Alex’s moroseness is offset really well by Ali’s optimism. Alex mentions missing Longshot, and how the team’s coming apart, while Ali says they’ve still got the pizazz to handle whatever happens. Which leads to the other reason I like their friendship.

Uncanny X-Men #248

Alex being humiliated.

It’s a good gag. Anyway, Alex’s fall let him discover some sort of spaceship, that looks abandoned. They get knocked out by Orpan-Maker. Colossus, noting their supplies running unusually low, gets attacked by Psylocke in power armour. She then mentally takes over Colossus, leaving Storm to fight everyone on her own. Meanwhile, Jubilee makes another raid on the pantry, and is found by Nanny, who tries to grab her. But she reckoned without Jubilee’s awesomeness.

Uncanny X-Men #248

Jubilee is the best.

She actually knocks Nanny down so she can’t right herself, which is hilarious. She calls for help, and Storm takes the opportunity to do something very, very mean. She hurls Colossus at Nanny and Orphan-Maker.

Uncanny X-Men #248

Heh heh heh.

Storm gets snagged by Psylocke, who tries to mentally assault her, but Storm freezes the rain on the ground into ice, and smashes everyone into each other. Nanny and Orphan-Maker try to escape, but Storm gives chase. She gets caught by grappling hooks in Nanny’s ship, and Alex, freed from the armour, and feeling groggy, blasts the ship down. He forgot that Storm was hanging off of it at the time. They go to where the ship crashed, and find Storm’s corpse.

I’m one of the few people who actually likes Nanny and the Orphan-Maker. I will admit they got over-used for a while there. This is their last appearance for a while. And damned near their last appearance ever – it’s been 20 years since they last showed up. Which is sad. But anyway, much as they got over-used for a bit, they were still used really well here. It’s not really explained why Nanny wanted to save the X-Men, but whatever, the whole fight scene was great. It was a really fun fight, especially Storm beating everyone up. She’s that good. The highlight, of course, was using Colossus as a weapon. And Nanny spinning around. Loved that gag. The Longshot stuff at the beginning of the issue was done really well, it was very sad, you really feel for the guy and what he’s been through. The bit with him turning into Mojo was especially strong. It did actually make me think, a little, of their similarities. They’re both naive, in their ways, both cheerful and energetic. But of course, Longshot’s a hero who wants to help people while Mojo is a sadistic narcissist. But remove that sense of morality, and Longshot could become a new Mojo, which is an uncomfortable thought. And a story that might be worth exploring, actually.

The art’s great. Jim Lee was always a very talented artist, and this was back before he started to get into some of his worse habits of the ’90s. He doesn’t sexualize the female characters here. Psylocke’s in a swimsuit, but it’s a one-piece, and there’s actually frills at the bottom, so it’s not like it’s a thong. Dazzler’s workout clothes are a whole lot less revealing than Havok’s tiny shorts. There’s no awkward poses from anyone, no gratuitous butt-shots. Clothes even look like fabric, even tights, and operate more-or-less the way they should. Facial expressions and body language convey feelings appropriately. Oliver’s still on colours, so the colours are still absolutely top-notch. Apparently she only won one colouring award, in 1973? That’s insane to me. She deserves more. Can’t she be given some sort of award in recognition of her work? Well, whatever, she was great, her colours were always perfect. She gave Ali one hell of a tan in this issue.

So, as usual, a good issue.

There’s also Classic X-Men #37, a reprint of X-Men #131. And a back-up, by Nicieza, Leonardi, McLeod, Rockwitz, and Rosen, “Was Not What Will Be.” It’s a Dazzler story! She’s singing disco! (Specifically, “Ring My Bell,” by Anita Ward.) Captions note that on Tuesday, she was doing Aerosmith and Zeppelin, Wednesday was Elvis the C and Graham Parker. So apparently, she just does whatever the bar she’s at is expecting. Which honestly doesn’t seem like the way to build a brand. But OK, I don’t know anything about the music industry, so maybe this was a common tactic in the day, and it’s clearly meant to suggest that she’s so talented that she’s comfortable with any genre. After the show, she’s late for another engagement, so she hitches a ride on the back of a car.

Classic X-Men #37

Huh. Leonardi’s Dazzler looks a lot like his Kitty.

One of the passengers offers her a drink, and she tells them not to drink and drive. She’s so responsible. Once she gets to Manhattan, she narrates to herself about how great it is. And it’s pretty charming, I’ll admit. She finally gets to a dive diner called the Nighthawk, for a weekly get-together with a group of friends who call themselves the Insomniacs.

Classic X-Men #37

Ali’s an optimist.

So they just start having the kind of conversation that a bunch of cool young people at at 1am in a cheap diner. Politics, philosophy, dumb shit. Her friends repeatedly encourage her to be a superhero, while she repeatedly declines. It’s a really cute story. Fun. I do enjoy comics that are just people sitting around having conversations. I’ve said in the past that I would read a comic about superheroes talking over coffee, and, well . . . this is a story about a superhero talking over coffee. And it’s great. Lots of fun insights into Ali, and into the mindsets of early ’80s New York artsy types. And the art is great, naturally. Leonardi! And he makes talking heads compelling, lots of good angles and panel compositions to keep it visually interesting. So, yeah, really fun story.

And I may as well mention What If? (Vol. 2) #3, by Jim Valentino, Dave Simons, Bob Downs, Tom Vincent, and Rick Parker. It’s about a reality where Steve Rogers refused to give up being Captain America during that big storyline of the ’80s. Freedom Force go to Avengers Mansion with a search warrant and an arrest warrant for Cap. There’s a brief tussle, ended by Gyrich. And that’s all the X-related content. It’s an OK issue, as What Ifs go.

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