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Uncanny X-Men #253 (1989, November)

November 12, 2017

Follow me on Twitter (@XMenXPert). And yes, this is THREE issues of UXM that came out in the same month. Anyway, by Claremont, Silvestri, Leialoha, Oliver, and Orzechowski, “Storm Warnings!”

Storm Warnings!

So this is clearly a pretty quiet issue.

There’s a storm a-ragin’, and a city is at risk of being completely wiped out. Then a girl appears on top of a makeshift dike, and falls off. Jacob Reisz takes her to an ambulance, and that’s when the storm breaks. The city, it should be noted, is Cairo, Illinois. The girl, of course, is a young Ororo. In Australia, Cole, Reese and Macon, Deathstrike’s men, are cleaning up the damage done to the base. The other Reavers, Pierce’s men, are being repaired. He’s not being gentle. Outside, Pierce reports that she hasn’t found any sign of Logan. Of course, she’s lying:

Uncanny X-Men #253

And using Claremont-isms.

As I said of the last couple issues, I like Deathstrike being honorable. I like her being complex. It’s good to see. The next day, at the hospital, Dr. Lian Shen goes in, and another doctor shows her that Ororo doesn’t show on any of the monitors. They talk about her a little, and we get this somewhat uncomfortable panel:

Uncanny X-Men #253

Dammit, Claremont.

I get that Claremont wanted to highlight her exoticism. But this is just not the way to do it. (Actually, there is no good way to do it. Trying to highlight how exotic someone is is inherently racist. It’s common, but it’s something that needs to end.) Anyway, Lian and Stuart conclude that Ororo’s a mutant, and now they have to decide what to do about it. On Muir Isle, Moira’s yelling at Magneto, and I love that she just does not give a shit that he’s The master of Magnetism, she refuses to put up with any of his bullshit. He tells her there’s a war coming – yet another reference to that Mutant Wars story Claremont was building to which never happened – and that someone has to make sure mutants are ready. He also makes it clear he’s not the villain Byrne wanted him to be.

Uncanny X-Men #253

“Suck it, Byrne.” -Claremont, probably

This is pretty clearly Claremont thinking Byrne turning Magneto back into a villain is Grade-A Bullshit, and so coming up with a rationalization for why Magneto’s doing it, while keeping the door open for him to become good again at any time. Which has basically been Magneto’s status quo ever since, frankly. A villain who could return to heroism, or a hero who could return to villainy. Banshee sees Magneto off, and is quite friendly about it, because that’s the kind of guy Banshee is. Then Moira starts making plans for dealing with everything going on.

Back in Australia, Pretty Boy is missing most of his body – he’s got just the metal skeleton, nothing covering it. Pierce is a dick, but Pretty Boy did ask for it earlier by sassing him. Deathstrike, in a swimsuit, goes diving into the lake, watched by a pervy Pierce, who wants her advice on where Logan might go. Deathstrike seems pretty unimpressed by Pierce’s hatred of mutants. She doesn’t actually give a shit about his crusade. Back on Muir, their radio gets a call from Lorna on a ship where the crew’s gone nuts. When one of the crewman shoots her, the bullets bounce off, and she falls through a wall. The stormy weather causes the ship to sink, with Banshee barely saving Lorna in time. She says she feels like what happened is her fault. Survivor’s guilt! Down in Excalibur’s lighthouse, Amanda’s searching for Kurt, but finds Brigadier Alysande Stuart, instead.

And then to the US, where Forge is meditating. He finds a Wild West saloon, with Amahl Farouk welcoming him. And in a cage, Storm, who changes from woman to girl. Forge and Farouk arm-wrestle for her, but Farouk cheats, so Forge punches him, with his metal hand exploding in the real world as a result. In Illinois, Dr. Shen calls Reisz, the FBI agent who sent Ororo to the hospital. He’s got red eyes and a creepy smile. The Shadow King now controls him! And back in Australia, Pierce tells the Reavers to attack Muir Isle, and kill everyone there.

Pretty good issue. We actually don’t see much more of Logan and Jubilee, aside from them being spotted through a sniper scope. Obviously, a lack of Jubilee is going to make anything inferior. But there’s a lot going on in this issue. There’s the mystery with Child Ororo. And that’s going to be a fun one. This issue also brings back Banshee, Forge and Lorna. Banshee and Forge, in particular, are going to be major characters in the book for the next little while. Lorna, not quite as much. But still, after disbanding the team, Claremont’s bringing back some characters to continue the story, and that’s neat. Funny how, even with none of the title team, Claremont can still fill an issue with storylines and sub-plots. I’m starting to wonder if Claremont could manage it even with no characters at all. Because damn, this book is full. We even have Banshee’s sonic scream back! Hurrah! Moira sends Callisto to seal off the school, which sets up some stuff with her. Farouk is back, to set up a major sub-plot that’ll lead to a major story. Amanda Sefton’s return to UXM doesn’t really lead to much, sadly. Still nice to see her.

The art is great, naturally. Silvestri’s great. And Leialoha’s inks complement his lines perfectly. I wonder if Silvestri’s just got an easy style to ink, because no matter who’s inking him, it tends to look more-or-less the same to me. I mean that in a positive way, of course. I love the style. It’s very expressive and dynamic. I love Silvestri. So I’m glad his inkers always do such a good job making sure it looks consistent. And, obviously, you can never say enough about Oliver. Her colours provide a visual consistency even across different line artists, and I think that’s valuable, and something that doesn’t get talked about enough. The colours can do so much to give a book a distinctive look, even if the line artists keep changing. (I’ve made the same point about Ian Herring on Ms. Marvel. Ian Herring is that comic’s aesthetic.) Oliver was one of the greats.

Sad to think I’m getting pretty close to the end of Claremont’s run, but luckily, I’ve got tons more to go. And it’s all great.

There’s also Classic X-Men #40, because all Marvel’s comics had two issues cover-dated November 1989. (Same thing for December 1989.) Anyway, it’s a reprint of X-Men #134, with a back-up that’s actually written (and lettered) by Tom Orzechowski. Neat! Lines by Jim Fern, inks by Joe Rubinstein, colours and Glynis Oliver. Kurt’s wandering New York, and finds a crowd gathered around a young woman breakdancing. A one-legged woman, to boot. WHile everyone’s distracted, Kurt spots some pickpockets. Good scam. She keeps people watching her while her friends take their money. Kurt chases after her, wanting to compliment her skills. And he keeps chasing her. Uh, Kurt? Buddy? She’s made it clear she doesn’t want to talk. Back off. Seriously, what he does here is just not cool. As he chases her, he follows her into an alley, where four punks attack him. The girl decides to jump in and help him.

With the punks run off, Kurt finally gets to talk to the girl. He tells her she’s a mutant, and invites her back to the school. He also tells her that the thieves she hangs out with are just using her. I think I would’ve preferred if she said she was using them, honestly. She declines to join him, saying she loves the life she lives. Throughout the story, we see glimpses of her mom, first trying to take care of her, then getting angry and throwing her out. The story ends with the girl calling her mom, and it’s a pretty sweet moment that shows that, for all the anger, they still love each other. Aww.

This is a really good story, aside from Kurt being a creep and not leaving the girl alone. Orzechowski turns out to be a good writer. The conversation between Kurt and the girl (we never actually learn her name) is well-written. Nice bit of back-and-forth between them, with Kurt trying to convince her she can be better, and the girl saying she’s living a good life as it is. She does not that she and her friends return the credit cards, and only keep the cash. And, sure, fair. Kurt also expresses some amazement at the diversity of New York, the way walking through it is like walking around the world. It’s a good conversation. I do also like how the girl isn’t bothered by Kurt being a mutant. No one who sees him with his hat off seems bothered by it, actually. Always nice to see people who don’t have a problem with mutants.

The art’s good. One thing I want to mention: The girl isn’t gorgeous. She’s pretty, but she’s not the kind of stunner that virtually all women in comics are. She’s a bit on the pudgy side, despite being a dancer. It’s rare to see someone like her in comics, and it’s so great to see.

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