The Small Lebowski:
Uncanny X-Men #111-117
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #111, Uncanny X-Men #112, Uncanny X-Men #113, Uncanny X-Men #114, Uncanny X-Men #115, Uncanny X-Men #116, Uncanny X-Men #117
The Beast arrives at a circus and is surprised to see placards advertising what appear to be the new X-Men. The Beast has never really met the new team, so he's not 100% sure. He confirms it as he investigates, however, and winds up in a fight with the circus people (who we all know from reading Marvel comics since the 60s are the most feared opponents of all) plus the mind-controlled X-Men. He's captured and brought to their leader, who turns out to be Mesmero.
The ruckus is enough to shake Wolverine out of his mind-control, however. He heads straight for Jean and she wakes up everybody else. By the time they get back to Mesmero however, he's already been defeated... by Magneto.
Magneto was at the X-Mansion when the Beast showed up trying to find them. He followed Beast to the circus and says he briefly suspected the Ringmaster to be involved before he saw Mesmero.
Mesmero is decidedly different in appearance (much more slender and relaxed) and personality (much less reverential and high-speak) than his previous appearance.
There's a tense period of time where Magneto lifts Mesmero's circus cart high into the atmosphere, preventing them from attacking him. This mostly just results in some flashback-monologue, but there's also some good dialogue as enemies face each other without being able to fight. Magneto brings the X-Men to "one of a number of similar installations Magneto has scattered throughout the globe". This one's inside a giant volcano in Antarctica. (Mesmero is gently lifted out of the cart and dumped on the ground in Chile on the way there.)
As soon as the danger of falling to their death from the cart has passed, the X-Men attack Magneto, but they fight without strategy, attacking him one-by-one, and getting defeated. Even Phoenix finds herself unable to tap enough power to beat Magneto, who says he's at his peak power level ever since being restored by Eric the Red. Magneto traps all of the X-Men in metal chairs and puts them under the care of a motherly robot called Nanny. This is payback for him having been reduced to infancy by Xavier and Mutant Alpha, which Magneto is still understandably bitter about. Meanwhile, he goes off and raids military bases for supplies. He's rebuilding Asteroid M.
Being cared for by Nanny is humiliating.
Storm manages to shake free some hidden lockpicks from her head-piece, but the process of picking the locks is frustrating and slow. Eventually she does manage to do it, however, and Magneto receives an alert from Asteroid M that something is wrong at his volcano base.
This time, however, the X-Men are ready and working as a team. Storm raises the heat in the room causing Magneto to dehydrate while the others attack him. They're still not a perfect fighting unit - Colossus attacks Magneto in his metal body when he was told not to - but they manage to keep Magneto on the ropes. Unfortunately the volcano starts cracking. Magneto uses the opportunity to escape. Phoenix manages to lift Beast out as well before passing out. The others are trapped in the volcano and presumed dead.
However, they're actually digging their way through solid rock, thanks to Cyclops' knowledge that they are relatively close to the Savage Land. They eventually make their way there. After fighting a giant pterosaurs and squabbling amongst themselves (mostly Wolverine and Cyclops)...
...they find their way to the Fall People's village.
The X-Men spend quite a bit of time recuperating in the Savage Land. Meanwhile, Jean reaches Xavier and tells him that they are dead. Xavier has lost his ability to reach the X-Men telepathically (this is explained in some added dialogue in the Classic X-Men reprint due to the fact that Magneto did something to the Earth's electromagnetic fields which weakens Xavier's powers), so he believes she is right. After some soul searching, he decides to go with Lilandra back to the Shi'ar empire.
Meanwhile, Scott gets a look at his half-shaven face in a pool of water and sees the resemblance to Corsair, realizing that he is his father. Meanwhile, someone has been stalking the X-Men, and when Storm goes out to bathe alone, he approaches her and absorbs her powers. It's Sauron.
The X-Men get in trouble fighting Sauron, not realizing that he can absorb their strength, but eventually they get him to transfer back into Lykos when Colossus suddenly shifts to his armored form. Then Ka-Zar and Zabu show up; Lykos and Ka-Zar have actually been working together as part of a bigger threat: Zaladane and Garokk the Petrified Man are causing major trouble in the Savage Land. Ka-Zar wants the X-Men's help. Cyclops initially refuses, saying that they have to go back to Professor X, but things eventually get so bad that they have to help.
There's a nice scene where Wolverine tells Zabu not to come along.
They then fight some more dinosaurs, and we get an acknowledgement of Wolverine's healing factor for the first time.
The story then goes into pulpy swords & sorcery mode with a fun action story.
Eventually the X-Men beat Zaladane and stop Garokk and say goodbye to Ka-Zar and Lykos. They leave on a homemade boat and find themselves in a terrible arctic storm on the open sea. They are eventually rescued by the Japanese navy.
The rest of issue #117 is devoted to Xavier recounting his first encounter with another mutant. it was another telepath, named Amahl Farouk.
Right now as far we can tell, he's simply a powerful telepath, but he'll eventually come back as the Shadow King, and even later he'll acquire an overly convoluted backstory.
Xavier kills him in a psychic duel. I like how in the physical world it seems like nothing is happening until Farouk drops.
But on the Astral Plane, there's actually a psychic samurai duel going on.
Prior to meeting Farouk, Xavier encounters a young Storm. She's a pick-pocket.
Pretty cool bit of background for Xavier and Storm.
One of the extra pages in the Classic X-Men reprint for #111 shows the Beast's Avengers Priority Card. It's signed by Raymond Sikorski, not Henry Gyrich. I'm not sure if that's a continuity error or if in fact Sikorski is the National Security Council Director even at this point while Gyrich is only a "special agent" of the council, as he introduces himself in Avengers #168.
There's some added dialogue in CX #21/UX #115. After Cyclops blasts a hypnotized Wolverine away during the fight with Sauron, the reprint adds two really wordy thought bubbles for Cyclops "I hope your adamantium-laced bones are as unbreakable as you say. But if that doesn't stop him -- if he keeps coming -- what then?!". Seems unnecessary.
Issue #117 also has added dialogue. When the X-Men are picked up by the Japanese sailors and Cyclops is explaining who they are, a line has been added for the Captain to say "I've heard of you!". It's completely harmless but i just don't understand why the reprint editor felt the need to go through these things panel by panel and add a line like that. It's just weird.
Also in #117, a line of Xavier's dialogue is edited to include Israel in the places he's traveled in order to fit with Uncanny X-Men #161. And Lilandra's speech to Xavier convincing him to leave Earth gets wordier, and a very simple and effective line about Jean Grey being on her own for the first time since the X-Men "And that scares the hell out of her." becomes "And, though she doesn't know why, that scares her -- to the depths of her soul." Who knows what other edits and additions i've missed.
The back-up for #111/CS #17 is the story of how Mesmero mesmerizes Jean Grey and defeats the other X-Men. It makes it clear that Mesmero never managed to get Jean to sleep with him, and not through lack of trying. It also shows Wolverine was the main hold-out among the remaining X-Men, and that Mesmero got the idea of setting up a circus from seeing a photograph of Nightcrawler in his old circus.
#112/#18 has a back-up of Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Banshee helping Phoenix deal with her new powers on a camping trip. It would have to take place before the beginning of this arc. It's written by Mary Jo Duffy, but still drawn by John Bolton like all the other back-ups.
#113/#19 shows Magneto hunting down Nazis early in his career. He is betrayed by the people he is working for when he hunts down a Nazi that is working for the US and not the Soviet Union, and his disillusionment with his handlers' duplicity is what sets him down the path of "evil" mutant.
#114/#20 is also by Duffy, and it's a weird horror story involving a company that turns their employees into zombies. Unlike most of the back-ups so far, this doesn't provide more detail into one of the main stories nor is it a character piece. It's just a goofy horror story with no point. It takes place "following one of the X-Men's most grueling adventures".
#115/#21 shows Colossus gettin' some from a pair of Fall People chicks.
#116/#22's back-up is a bizarre story. While bathing in the Savage Land, Storm falls into another dimension and helps a Sky Queen riding a Never Ending Story dog fight off Sky Pirates.
The Sky Queen comes to look on Storm like a daughter. Then Storm goes back to the Savage Land. We've definitely run out of content for the back-ups.
#117/#23 shows Nightcrawler rescuing one of the Japanese sailors who falls off the ship during a storm on their way to Japan and they both wind up on an island with occult beast-men. It's drawn by Kieron Dwyer, who did just about all of the extra pages in the main stories, not by the regular artist John Bolton.
Whew, that was a long and eventful arc, but it's really good stuff. I just wish that the Classic reprints didn't mess with the stories so much.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Beast arrives here from Avengers #172 by way of Marvel Team-Up #70. While Magneto is on his rampage, a news reporter says that no super-heroes are opposing him because the Champions and the Fantastic Four have disbanded and the Avengers are under virtual house arrest by the US government.
Continuity Insert? P - (Classic X-Men reprints add new material)
My Reprint: Classic X-Men #17, Classic X-Men #18, Classic X-Men #19, Classic X-Men #20, Classic X-Men #21, Classic X-Men #22, Classic X-Men #23
Inbound References (28): show
Actually, Mesmero knew that the Magneto he had allied himself with was a robot. He found out and even commented on the matter aloud while the Sentinels went after him back in #58.
Cyclops, however, knew none of that - and it was to him, not Mesmero, that Magneto explained things in this arc.
Posted by: Luis Olavo Dantas | February 22, 2011 2:45 AM
You're right. Thanks. I've updated the reference.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 22, 2011 2:23 PM
Go back and look at the panel featuring Farouk and Xavier's pitched battle on the Astral Plane in Uncanny #117.
Farouk wears armour with a phoenix-insignia on his helmet, shown even more prominently on the cover of Classic X-Men #23 illustrated by Arthur Adams.
What on Earth did Claremont intend here?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 13, 2012 9:48 AM
The other interesting thing about the Phoenix link IIRC was the cover of UXM 117, and how the Shadow King's face had a very similar appearance to the effect of the Phoenix with the flames rising from his head and his whole face appearing to be on fire (even the colouring).
One wonders if he was a previous possessor of the power and became the Shadow King as a result of the Dark Phoenix - and does this suggest he is an ancestor of Jean's?
I've personally thought Selene was a previous possessor and had become an energy-vampire as a result of its corruption.
Still, need an explanation for that insignia on his helmet (and don't even get me started on Byrne's avian depiction of the insignia on Magneto's helmet above)!
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 13, 2012 7:36 PM
Concerning the added material to the original stories in the Classic reprints - they're god-awful and unnecessary, as you said. And Claremont wrote them himself, and I suspect he had enough pull by that time (late 80s) that he wasn't doing something like that unless it was HIS idea/decision. So I blame Claremont. I have no problem with a writer doing a story that retcons an older story (though I don't really like that), but to actually go back and change things in an earlier published story is - George Lucas-y and just not OK. It messes with canon and creates confusion about the definitive version of that story. For me, I completely ignore the additions to the 30 or so issues they were doing that for. I think there's one where they show Apocalypse saving Moses Magnum and giving him powers - think about that, Claremont added Apocalypse to a Claremont-Byrne comic. It's obscene.
The back-up stories in Classic, though (which were also eventually discontinued, which is a shame), were by and large wonderful, especially the ones penned by Claremont. Great character stuff. Most of them have been collected in a TPB called Vignettes, in two volumes.
Posted by: Paul | May 4, 2012 7:33 AM
One weird bit of trivia I read: the Xavier/Farouk battle in this set ends up inspiring the Stand concept of "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure"...which of course has an Egyptian theme in the part it is introduced.
And since it must be said: WRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!
Posted by: Ataru320 | August 24, 2012 7:45 PM
John Byrne later complained that he plotted the scene with Cyclops and Storm in the Savage Land in #115 with Cyclops questioning if Jean was truly dead, only to have Claremont completely change the dialogue because "that's how he felt at the time".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 27, 2012 7:30 PM
The Sky Queen and the flying dog-thing actually appear again in X-Men Annual 12.
Posted by: S | December 3, 2012 6:54 PM
Claremont seems to have set up a story he never got to tell about Xavier and the Greek isle of Kirinos, which becomes the unofficial X-Men vacation spot beginning in 113, when Xavier vacations there with Lilandra. Then in 117, he recalls going there after his breakup with Moira and that the people there needed his help and in return they gave me the care and love I needed."
It's to Kirinos that Jean goes on vacation between 117 and arriving in Scotland in 119 (and in Greece she meets Mastermind, as we learn from Classic X-Men). Years later, the New Mutants are on holiday at Kirinos when they get shanghaied for the Asgardians Wars (while Karma is still fat from the Shadow King's possession). And a few years later still, circa Uncanny 260, Forge and Banshee stop in Kirinos on their way to Cairo before they're nearly assassinated and decide to head for the U.S. instead.
There ma py be a few other stories. What's interesting is that most of the ones above involve the Shadow King. What did Xavier do on Kirinos before he encountered Farouk in Egypt--what help did he give the people and what "love" did helped him get over Moira? And is there a reason the island kept attracting X-Men whenever the Shadow King cropped up again? (And was the site of Mastermind's first seduction of Jean.)
Some grist for Natan Adler's mill here.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | March 10, 2013 9:41 PM
On the changed dialogue Mark Drummond mentions, Claremont's possible reasons are explained here, http://secretsbehindthexmen.blogspot.com/2012/02/interrupted-romance.html . He had an arc in mind for Scott where he'd be withdrawn after Jean's apparent death and would be courted aggressively by Colleen Wing. (Possibly setting up a love triangle?) But Jo Duffy wanted Colleen and Misty back for Power Man and Iron Fist (Ed Hannighen had previously said he didn't have plans for them), and that stopped Claremont's plan from going further.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | March 10, 2013 9:52 PM
@Walter: Interesting that Kirinos is the site of Mastermind(a member of the Hellfire Club)'s first seduction of Jean, the same site Charles heads from to face off against the Hellfire Club's accursed Shadow King.
Did the Shadow King perhaps lure Charles from there to Egypt?
And bummer about never seeing Colleen Wing agressively court Scott...
Posted by: Nathan Adler | March 11, 2013 4:08 PM
FOOM#19 announced that around this time Colossus would reunite with his grandparents, and Thor would appear(the second thing may have been moved to Marvel Team-Up #70).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 14, 2013 2:14 AM
Interestingly, Colossus's grandmother was hinted at being the equivalent of Grimhilde in Uncanny X-Men #231.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 14, 2013 5:13 AM
@Walter: In X-Women Claremont reveals part of Rogue's inheritance (cf. X-Treme X-Men #4) had included a villa in Kirinos? Is this more Shadow King Manipulation?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | May 18, 2013 11:24 PM
I understand why you'd do it, Nathan, but I think it's unwise to take things written by post-break, post-return Claremont the same way you'd take things written by Claremont before he left. For one thing, his universe had been shot all to hell in the meantime; but the more important consideration is that he was not anything like the same man, and had completely lost the thread of his characters, story and universe in the intervening 8 or 9 years. I've read those X-Men Forever comics - they bear no resemblance to what the actual comics, if written in 1991, would have been like. They may as well be by a different person.
Posted by: Paul | May 22, 2013 7:57 PM
Basically, it's like he's now writing his own Chris Claremont fan-fiction, rather than Chris Claremont fiction. Subtle but important distinction, to me.
Posted by: Paul | May 22, 2013 7:58 PM
@Paul: Yeah I tend to agree and the most glaring example of this came in panels 4 & 5 of page 13 in X-Treme X-Men #1 where Claremont reveals how Irene Alder sat down at her desk and began to transcribe the future of human and mutantkind after her mutant powers became active at the age of 13, and it was the weight of what she foresaw during these thirteen months which caused her to become physically blind. However, he earlier revealed on panel 4 of page 19 in Uncanny X-Men #254 that Destiny had been BLIND SINCE BIRTH. While he might have forgotten specific details of what he'd earlier written, he could have at least made an effort to go back and check. If I was his editor he'd never have gotten away with something like this.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | May 23, 2013 3:48 AM
I wonder where Garrok/Zaladane got Wakandan vibranium for Colossus' wrist bonds - the local variety of vibranium would have melted him a good deal more effectively than the fire he was standing in...
Posted by: BU | July 28, 2014 3:27 PM
Anybody notice the George Perez cameo on pages 6-7 of X-men 112? Take a look at the bottom panel, page 6, with the two fighter pilots.
Since Stan/Jack and Claremont/Cockrum had already appeared in X-men, I can't imagine that this was accidental.
Posted by: haydn | August 6, 2014 8:56 PM
When Amahl Farouk and Professor X fight on the psychic plane wearing armour, the Shadow King is wearing a SAMURAI helmet and suit of armour (while Xavier is dressed in a Roman gladiator-style get-up) with a phoenix-insignia on it. As far as I know there never was a story linking the Shadow King (or Xavier) to Japan (or Xavier to ancient Rome at that point) so what's up?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 4, 2015 9:50 PM
A great mini-arc with two fantastic fight scenes against Magneto (great Byrne art in those fights). Not reading FF, it was only this site that made it clear what their breakup was about that was mentioned by the newscaster.
They also never explain how Magneto knew that Mesmero had followed a robot.
Fnord - one thing: I think you've got the scan of Wolverine against the dinosaurs way too early. As I recall, that actually happens when they go to rescue Scott / Peter / Sean from Farrok's city, not as they're entering the Savage Land.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 5, 2015 12:44 PM
Thanks, Erik. I've moved the scans around and added a few new ones.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 5, 2015 1:23 PM
@Erik: Mesmero learned that the Magneto he served was a robot just before he was captured by the Sentinels - we then see, after they've all been freed, the captured mutants milling around Trask's base. Since Mastermind, Blob and Unus are all there, and will all serve as part of Magneto's Brotherhood in Defenders #15-16, it's not too much of a leap to say he spoke to one of them - maybe Mastermind, since he has a known connection to Magneto - who later passed this information on to the real Magneto.
I will gladly turn this into a 6 issue, ultra-decompressed mini-series continuity insert if anyone at Marvel is willing to meet my fee.
Posted by: James M | April 5, 2015 6:09 PM
Good hypothesis, James. A similar explanation might be conceived revolving around his only other appearance since, in the Secret Empire arc in Captain America. He was imprisonned literally side by side with Unus and Mastermind, and just a stone's throw away from Blob. It is reasonable to extrapolate a scene where he asks one of the others why Magneto is not there with them and whether they know anything about the robot.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 5, 2015 7:35 PM
Did we ever see any of Magneto's other installations scattered around the globe? With the possible exception of his island, I don't think so. What does he need them for if he's rebuilding Asteroid M?
And regarding the island, it seems a bit contrived that no one would have noticed it for so long before Scott and Lee land there. [Although given its connection to Limbo, it may be that like line in "Sandman" about an occasional mountain - "It's not a very big mountain, but it's only there occasionally."]
Posted by: ChrisW | April 6, 2015 2:56 AM
Well there's Magneto's citadel in the Savage Land; although rather than building it himself you'll recall it was huge, miles across, and inside a volcano, and while Magneto was good, he wasn't THAT good. Given 'The Jungle Adventure,' Apocalypse is definitely the prime candidate for the original owner and Magneto took residence up there later, creating his Savage Land Mutates.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 6, 2015 3:07 AM
During X-Factor Apocalypse indicated he monitored all his bases, so how I wonder did he feel about Magnus hijacking his Savage Land base?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 6, 2015 3:09 AM
@ChrisW- when Lee sees Magneto's island, she remarks something like "Funny how I didn't notice it yesterday". So either it's like the mountain in Sandman or Magneto had some sort of cloaking device that was damaged (remember, she only saw it after a major storm.)
Posted by: Michael | April 6, 2015 8:00 AM
From the context, I've always inferred that Magneto had just raised it, although that doesn't make much sense either. Would Lee and Scott have slept through that noise? [Or whatever they were doing; "the earth moved" indeed.]
A cloaking device make sense, but surely Magneto would have repaired it before the X-Men showed up. He's getting ready to threaten the entire world, one would think he'd want his defenses in working order.
What I meant was in a more general sense, that Lee and her boat [or whatever she did; I don't have the issues handy to check] would be tracking any new landmasses in the Bermuda Triangle so that ships don't crash into them or anything. I could understand Scott and Lee missing it, sort of.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 6, 2015 12:03 PM
In #117, the Shadow King says right before his astral battle with Charles here, that MANY others have tried to stop him and all lived to regret it. I wonder who those many others might be??
Posted by: Nathan Adler | May 9, 2015 7:03 PM
When I was a kid, I thought the end of UNCANNY X-MEN #113 was pretty shocking. The X-Men dead? And poor Beast and Jean, collapsed in the snow. Then came #114 and the opening splash page...wow, they're still there in the snow. But I felt better when they made it civilization and the X-Men showed up alive. And then came the ending to that one...a man-sized talking pterodactyl!
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 14, 2016 1:00 PM
I was reading one of Jason Powell's reviews of early UNCANNY X-MEN issues, and he had a theory about something that I've come to agree with: Erik the Red was going to turn out to be Mesmero. It makes perfect sense! Firstly, it explains how Erik the Red knew Lorna, as she was a former pawn of his. Secondly, it explains the use of the Erik the Red identity. Cyclops originally used it to fool Mesmero back in #51-52, so Mesmero decided to return the favor by using it to confuse the X-Men,particularly Cyclops, in X-MEN #97. Thirdly, it explains why Erik went after Lorna first, and also having Cyclops' brother Havok under his control was a plus in his revenge plot. Fourthly, Erik the Red had hypnotic abilities, and so does Mesmero. Fifthly, the reason Mesmero didn't inform the Shi'ar how he knew Lorna was likely because it was his own business, not theirs.
Now, we have the issue of Mesmero/Erik being a spy for the Shi'ar. Well, I'd say that Mesmero's real name was going to be Davan Shakari and that he was a member of an alien race that was a part of the Shi'ar Empire, hence his green skin.
Plus, Erik disappeared during X-MEN #107 as the X-Men/Imperial Guard fight went underway and was seemingly never seen again (for a long time). However, I put forth that Erik returned toEarth and abandoned the Erik the Red guise, as he no longer needed it, figuring the X-Men would be destroyed in battle with the Shi'ar. But when he found out otherwise, he then went after the X-Men in X-MEN #111 as Mesmero.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | July 5, 2016 9:38 AM
By now you've pretty much said there's like 3 different people who Erik the Red was probably meant to be.
Posted by: AF | July 5, 2016 9:43 AM
And this is the one I'm going with now, as it makes the most sense. But this is what happens when I read multiple reviews from other people and read new angles.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | July 5, 2016 10:29 AM
FX's LEGION will have created more attention and desire for #117. It's such a great show.
Posted by: Cecil | April 18, 2017 5:07 AM
I've asked Claremont in a convention what was the deal with Kirinos appearing over and over again. He said it was a place he really wanted to visit, but being short in cash, he made his characters visit it instead. And in general, that was the reason the X-Men traveled around the world a lot, it's wish fulfillment from the writer.
Posted by: Ricardo Bittencourt | April 25, 2017 2:12 AM
Having just finished reading the Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus volumes, I couldn't help but notice the astonishing resemblance between the Astral Farouk vs. Xavier battle and the Id battle between Mr. Miracle and the Lump in Mr. Miracle #8(maybe not coincidental; Byrne was since revealed to be a Fourth World fan).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 10, 2017 12:54 AM
Byrne has credited the astral projection/telepathic battle at the end of Peter Saxon's book "The Killing Bone" as inspiration for the similar battle here, but it could certainly have been Fourth World influenced as well.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | June 10, 2017 6:55 PM
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