Uncanny X-Men #207
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #207
And when she wakes up, she finds that the other X-Men aren't happy with her after she used their lifeforce to fight the Beyonder. Even the X-Men that gave their lifeforce voluntarily are suspicious that they were mentally coerced, now that they've heard that Storm's energy was taken even after she refused.
To be fair to Rachel, she is a confused teenager from a dystopian alternate future that has recently acquired powers that drove her "mother" (Jean Grey, in her timeline) to become a genocidal threat to all existence. Compared to that, Rachel is doing pretty good. Due to various reasons (including, but not exclusively because of, the intrusion of Secret Wars II) Chris Claremont really hasn't had a chance to develop Rachel or show her getting help from the other X-Men (the way, for example, Xavier helped Rogue when she first joined the team). This storyline is actually setting things up for Rachel to leave the X-Men so that she can appear in a Phoenix limited series that unfortunately won't get published (at least as originally intended).
Rachel runs out on the team, and winds up in the area where she was attacked by Selene soon after arriving in our timeline. At that time, Selene killed a man that was helping Rachel. Rachel decides now to at least remedy that previous failure and kill Selene.
Rachel infiltrates the Hellfire Club with the mentally coerced help of Friedrich von Roehm, a minion of Selene's that is now the newly appointed Black Rook.
But Wolverine wasn't just appearing in Rachel's dreams; he was actually mentally pulled into them by Rachel. So, he's aware of her state of mind and, still disoriented by his injuries, he pulls himself out of bed and heads out after Rachel without telling the other X-Men.
And when Rachel arrives to kill Selene...
...Wolverine shows up to stop her.
The problem of what to do with Selene is similar to one the New Mutants will have with Empath in a few issues (although i've placed it earlier in publication time than this issue). Selene is unrepentantly evil and can't simply be imprisoned. The New Mutants decided not to kill Empath, but Rachel comes to a different conclusion here, and her position - Selene is an immortal vampire that has killed and will continue to kill innumerable victims - is not without merit. She points out to Wolverine that he's killed plenty, but since Selene is at Rachel's mercy, he sees the situation here differently. I think Wolverine's side of the issue is less about Selene and more about the fact that Rachel's actions here - seeking Selene out to settle an old score, not because she's currently threatening someone, and erratically looking for something to call a victory in the wake of her inability to stop the Beyonder - opens up the possibility of her becoming a megalomaniac that goes around deciding who lives and dies based on her own arbitrary decisions (see also Uncanny X-Men #196, where Magneto had to stop her from killing some mutant hating humans).
Failing to convince her to stop, he puts his claws into her.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Next issue begins soon after this one, with Wolverine back in the Morlock tunnels telling the X-Men that he's gutted Rachel (who has subsequently fled). Next issue begins the Mutants in Central Park non-crossover with X-Factor that overlaps with the Mutant Massacre. So i've left this issue in a separate entry for maximum flexibility. But Wolverine and the other X-Men shouldn't appear in other books between this issue and next.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showBlack Queen (Selene), Black Rook (Friedrich von Roehm), Callisto, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Rachel Summers, Rogue, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Storm, Wolverine
The dialogue about how Rachel might have influenced the other X-Men was probably intended to explain why Jessica and Rogue/Carol agreed to a plan that would kill civilians.
Posted by: Michael | February 2, 2014 5:23 PM
"The Morlocks are staying in the Morlock tunnels so that they can be around while the Morlock Healer helps Wolverine"
Nice of the Morlocks to delay their vacation plans. ;P
Posted by: Max_Spider | February 3, 2014 6:41 PM
Well they're not going to be staying there for long!
Thanks, Max_Spider. Fixed it.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 3, 2014 7:32 PM
"Due to various reasons (including, but not exclusively because of, the intrusion of Secret Wars II) Chris Claremont really hasn't had a chance to develop Rachel or show her getting help from the other X-Men (the way, for example, Xavier helped Rogue when she first joined the team)."
Except that Xavier NEVER helped Rogue. This is a significant plot point when Mike Carey works on X-Men Legacy. (And Rogue had the same limitation for 20 YEARS, so it's a pretty fair interpretation.)
Speaking of modern interpretation, that may explain Wolverine's actions too. Wolvie has no problem with grizzled vets or "damaged" killing people but worries about what murdering villians could do to a young inexperienced hero. That's not what's being said here, of course, but it could be factored in. Alternatively, Logan is a big hypocrite.
The Maddie sequence was seen to be a potshot at X-Factor, something that Claremont was doing quite a bit around this time.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | July 22, 2014 8:36 PM
I think this was the first time I got an issue and thought "Wait, I have to wait a whole month to find out what happens? Holy crap!"
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 30, 2015 12:14 PM
I think the main problem is that she specifically went out to kill Selene. Premeditated murder. That's different than killing in self defense, or to protect someone else. By that logic, the X-Men should just become a strike force that goes around killing evil mutants (plot foreshadow!) That's Punisher level, not something the X-Men do.
With the way the characters are written currently, Wolverine probably would've joined in (as he's been depicted as doing lots worse), but that's the thing; his earlier character was shown to be wrong, and Claremont has spent his run to this point redeeming Logan from that violent berserker. Wolverine will still kill when he has to, he's still more hard core than his teammates, but he's above murder, which is what Rachel is up to here. (And why I detest the modern interpretation of the character.)
It was a tough situation for him, and I don't know what his other out would've been once it got to this point. Storm takes him to task for this in the next few issues, which is good. I think the situation and his decision was meant to be unsettling and ambiguous.
Posted by: Charles R | January 15, 2016 1:34 PM
Charles, the problem is that Selene can't survive captivity- she'll "starve" to death. If this was Emma or Shaw, if you get enough evidence, you can ship them off to Project Pegasus/the Vault until they can stand trial. But with Selene, there's no real difference between holding her prisoner and killing her.
Posted by: Michael | January 15, 2016 8:20 PM
And wouldn't that be a shame.
Posted by: Thanos6 | January 15, 2016 11:53 PM
I've always figured that Selene would fall into one of two categories: 1) the magical villain whose presence requires that the X-folk call in Doctor Strange (or at least, I dunno, Margali or Magik?) to contain her safely; or 2) the "vampire exception" to the "no killing" rule.
Both of these show, to my mind, that Selene was basically a Satana or Dr. Strange villain who happened to end up in the X-Men titles; she's more mystic than mutant, and even her mutation is much more like Satana's succubus gimmick than like the usual mutant powers we've seen.
She's has thousands upon thousands of years more life than most individuals, and all of it predicated on *taking* the lives of others. Yes, holding Selene is killing her; but letting her go is making it certain that others will be killed.
It's rather irritating that no one has ever made this dilemma the center of an actual story about the character. Even this one sort of ignores the issue, with Wolverine failing to acknowledge that jailing Selene is, as Michael notes, effectively starving her to death.
To make it more X-centric, Selene is also the outlier case that seems to support using Neutralizers. If her mutant power is the reason she must kill to survive, then surely the only real solution to her evil is to strip that power away from her permanently.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | January 16, 2016 6:33 AM
There was an episode from the very first season of CSI entitled "Justice is Served" which had a scenario similar to this. Obviously the murderer was not an actual supernatural vampire. However she is a woman who is suffering from an extreme form of Porphyria which resulted in severe mental and physical debilitation. Long story short, this woman has been murdering people and consuming their blood to "treat" her condition. When she is finally caught, she argues that if the authorities send her to jail she will suffer and go insane. Grissom point blank responds, with absolutely no sympathy or hesitation, "Yes, but the people you'd be feeding off of will still be alive."
In other words, Selene has lived for centuries. In all that time, how many thousands of innocent people has she murdered to perpetuate her own life? A very strong argument can be made that it's just not worth letting her live if her continued existence guarantees numerous future victims. The fact that the first thing Selene does after the events of this issue is murder two people to regain her strength is evidence of that.
I understand that in this situation Claremont apparently saw Selene as the lesser of two evils compared to the possibility of Rachel becoming a new Dark Phoenix. But he really should have articulated that argument, and Wolverine's reasoning for stopping her, much more clearly.
Likewise, at some point the X-Men should have finally realized that the only way to prevent Selene from murdering any more people was to either kill her outright or to imprison her somewhere and die a long-overdue death. Whatever rights she has don't override those of her numerous victims.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 16, 2016 9:00 PM
That's an example of the sort of swamp you get bogged down in when you start applying rational thought to superheroes. It's one thing to say 'they're heroes and heroes don't kill' (which I don't disagree with insofar as it makes a good story) but a proactive 'hit them before they hit us' X-Men would look at Selene, an immortal mutant sorceress vampire with a bodycount larger than the Mutant Massacre, who's just going to keep killing people until the end of time unless someone stops her permanently, and go 'she needs to die now. Wolverine, you have your orders.'
[Yes, I know this issue takes place before the Mutant Massacre or the X-Men pretending to be proactive. My argument is still valid.]
As Omar points out, this is exactly why the human race would create neutralizers [well, with Forge's help.] There are people we need to be protected from, and those charged with protecting us would take that step without hesitation.
Somewhere online, Garth Ennis has a love letter to the UK "2000 AD" magazines of his youth, where in some story, Judge Dredd destroys an alternate universe without hesitation, because it's Them or Us. Ennis adds that this is why he's never been able to take Spider-Man, Superman, Iron Man, etc. particularly seriously. Not because of the characters, but because their corporate masters never let them be put in a situation where they ever had to make any important decisions. Wolverine vs. Rachel vs. Selene is a good example of that cop-out.
Rachel shouldn't do it because she's become increasingly-unstable and that way lies Dark Phoenix. Rachel shouldn't do it because she just took it upon herself without discussing anything with the X-Men. Rachel shouldn't do it because the Hellfire Club would retaliate with full force and the X-Men aren't prepared to defend themselves. Those would be reasonable objections to Rachel's behavior. Letting Selene live to continue murdering the people the X-Men are sworn to protect because 'we don't kill' isn't reasonable.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 16, 2016 9:52 PM
ChrisW, I know which piece by Ennis you're referring to...
I understand Ennis' reasoning. It is why about a decade ago I finally stopped reading 95% of the series published by Marvel and DC, because I finally realized that I had outgrown them, my tastes had greatly changed, and I just couldn't keep following them without constantly being annoyed by all of the ridiculous methods utilized to keep the status quos intact.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 16, 2016 11:36 PM
I'm in a similar situation. I do still love the characters, many of the stories, the creators, and I recognize that it was a different time. And it's even possible that at some point you have to 'grow up' from superhero comics.
I don't even read the things, I've spent the last ten years working with people who make 'Judge Dredd'-type decisions, but I'd like nothing more than to write superhero comics the way I think they should be, and I still can't grow out of the genre. I've spent a large part of this evening realizing that I haven't watched either "Avengers" movie in weeks and wondering if I should fix that.
I'm probably babbling at this point, but I do think there is some happy medium where adults can enjoy the superhero genre, and the heroes can be heroes. Or at least get some good comics out of the attempt.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 17, 2016 12:13 AM
It's interesting in this context that Ennis does seem to have some time for Superman, even though he's perhaps the epitome of the "no hard choices" sort of character in some ways. And it;s also interesing that the character he seems to hate more than any is Wolverine, often seen as just the sort of "tough guy making hard choices" type you'd think Ennis would like.
But I think that's the value of the happy idealism sort of superheroics; Superman (and a number of other characters) offer the fantasy of a world where making the right choice *is* always possible, a way to imagine something better than what we've got (in however attenuated a form).
Dredd is a telling example for Ennis to employ, here. Yes, Dredd wipes out that other universe, but very few of the things Dredd does bother him much, since he's a true believer in a satirical fascist dystopia. Yes, the character developed doubts and has pushed for limited change, but he's never abandoned the judge system and his world is still in many ways a bleakly humorous one. But that's also Ennis's tone in many of his stories.
What Ennis dislikes about Wolverine is, I think, what John Dubya points out above: Wolverine is supposed to be a hard man making hard choices, but between his healing factor and his bizarre sanctimony about anyone else making those choices, the character is a cop-out masquerading as something else.
Personally, I disagree with the whole "rough men doing unspeakable things to keep us safe idea. It is in its own way a cop-out fantasy, the idea that the distasteful choice could be the result of some perfectly informed moral calculus and could be made without self-interest. The reality, of course, is that torture doesn't work, that there are long-term consequences for *everyone* in a society where some "hard choice" is made by some "rough men" on everyone else's behalf.
Taken at his word, Ennis has traded one juvenile fantasy -- no one ever has to make hard choices -- for another -- that the people who make the hard choices bear a burden to keep the rest of us safe, and they do so for ultimately respectable motives.
Both of them are fantasies of invulnerability: one says we are safe and good, and the other says we can be perfectly safe as long as we let go of your silly notions of good. But we are never perfectly safe; vulnerability is the human condition. It's as if he missed the point of the satire in his own example.
Having said all of that, the X-Men --especially Claremont's X-Men -- is an interesting place to find a story like tis. In just a few issues, we'll see the X-Men killing members of the Marauders and dropping the "cop-out," so Claremont seems to be setting that up. His original plan, after all, was that the X-Men would be made morally "darker" and that his planned Jaspers Warp story would leave them a bit like their later "corrupted" incarnations seen at the end of Inferno. And there's certainly an argument that the X-Men letting the bad guys go and trying to play at traditional superhero morality is portrayed as the reason why things get worse and worse for mutantkind the longer Claremont's run goes on.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | January 17, 2016 6:37 AM
Just as a follow-up, the fact that we can have this discussion shows the value of superhero comics. Almost anything is worthwhile if we bring interesting questions and look for context. And sometimes it's perfectly OK to just enjoy something on its own terms.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | January 17, 2016 6:40 AM
Could they imprison Selene but use her to give euthanasia to those who wish to die, like Jude in PARADISE X?
Posted by: Thanos6 | January 17, 2016 7:47 AM
@Omar... Insightful thoughts on Garth Ennis. I do tend to agree with you, in that he is exchanging one fantasy for another. It is just that the later is so very seldom seen within mainstream superhero comic books that at first glance it appears more grounded in the real world. It's only after you give it some consideration that you realize that it is in its own way just as unrealistic.
The character of Jack Bauer from 24 immediately comes to mind. He absolutely epitomizes what you referred to as the fantasy of "we can be perfectly safe as long as we let go of your silly notions of good." Of course since Bauer exists in a fictional reality, the writers make certain that each & every suspect he brutally tortures really is a murderous terrorist who is in possession of information that is vital to saving innocent lives. That mans that Bauer is never seen as being wrong.
But in the real world things don't ever work out as neatly. Torture often results in very unreliable information, and sometimes the people being tortured happen to be innocent people who were arrested by overzealous authorities.
Anyway, we're getting pretty far afield of where we started. But I agree with what you stated, that stories such as this one can lead to interesting observations and debates.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 17, 2016 10:38 PM
Omar, I vehemently disagree with you, except for your point about the value of superhero comics. We can disagree and go on our happy ways because rough men are doing unspeakable things to keep us safe. It's not a cop-out fantasy, so much as it is 'you don't know what these rough men are like until you've worked with them.' Which I have.
And I'm happy with you and me exaggerating for effect, "You're just stupid" and flinging poo on each other because we have nothing better to do with our lives. We can do that because of those rough men. We can respectfully disagree with each other because of those rough men. If the Claremont-era X-Men had been as smart as those rough men, what a wonderful world it would be. And honestly, one of my biggest objections to Claremont's X-Titles is how bad a job all the characters did behaving like those rough men, although they couldn't stop monologuing about dangerous and bad and proactive they would be from hereon out. Wolverine slicing Rachel is about the most sensible decision they would make for the next several dozen issues. [I'm honestly blanking on the next sensible decision that they would make. Dazzler telling the girls to go shopping? Wolverine telling the guys to get drunk?]
Posted by: ChrisW | January 25, 2016 12:46 AM
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