Uncanny X-Men #132-135
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #132, Uncanny X-Men #133, Uncanny X-Men #134, Uncanny X-Men #135
...in part because they (correctly) suspect that the X-Mansion might be bugged. Angel thinks that they're crazy for thinking the Hellfire Club are bad guys; he's actually a member of the club and doesn't know about the Inner Circle. Angel and Xavier stay behind as a reserve team; Xavier is both frustrated about being sidelined and feeling guilty for second-guessing Cyclops in the last arc.
We finally get to meet the remaining members of the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle:
Sebastian Shaw, the Black King, absorbs kinetic energy and translates it into super-strength. So the harder you hit him, the stronger he gets.
Donald Pierce, the White Bishop, is a cyborg. When Wolverine faces off against Donald Pierce, he says "Yeah, I know all about cyborgs -- I almost became one myself!". I'm sure that stirred the interest in Wolverine's past.
Harry Leland, the Black Bishop, increases a person's gravity.
Tessa, Shaw's assistant
And we get the revelation (spoiled for me by the Classic X-Men filler) that Jason Wyngarde is in fact Mastermind, from the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The White Queen gave him the ability to project his illusions directly into someone's head. He triggers his corruption of Jean Grey, turning her into the Black Queen.
The X-Men don't do so good in their assault. All are defeated and captured except Wolverine, who Leland pushed through the floor into the sewers and was presumed dead.
The last panel of issue #132 and the following issue, which was entitled "Wolverine: Alone!", did a lot to raise the profile of an already popular character, as he sliced his way through the Hellfire Club goons to rescue his teammates.
Wolverine even blatantly does a little Dirty Harry bit.
When Wolverine finally breaks into the Club's inner circle, it's the distraction that Jean - who became free of Mastermind's control thanks to her psychic rapport with Scott - needs to free Cyclops. The X-Men do much better in the rematch. Cyclops shoots the floor out from under Shaw instead of engaging him directly.
When Wolverine jumps at Leland from above, Leland instinctively uses his gravity increasing power on him, but that just makes the impact that much worse.
And Phoenix goes after Mastermind, leaving him a whimpering vegetable.
The Beast, on monitor duty at the Avengers' Mansion, gets a report that the X-Men are on a rampage down the street. The protocol is for him to summon his teammates, but instead he deletes the tape and heads off on his own.
He arrives in time to find his ex (ha ha!) teammates trounced by the Dark Phoenix...
...who has flown off into space.
We get a scene with Mr. Fantastic and the Thing, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, and the Silver Surfer all reacting to the Dark Phoenix's power. None actually show up to investigate, though.
In deep space, Phoenix consumes the sun of the D'Bari solar system. We've seen a D'Bari before, in Avengers #4. They are affectionately known as the Asparagus Heads. They're all dead now. She also destroys an investigating Shi'ar warship.
During the Dark Phoenix battle, Sebastian Shaw converses with a Senator Kelly, a member of the Hellfire Club (like Angel, not a member of the Inner Circle). He uses the opportunity to push the development of Sentinels.
Investigating Phoenix's power levels, Moira coins the term "cosmic".
Before the X-Men's assault, there is a very nice scene with Jean and Scott on a butte near the Angel's desert home. She users her powers to hold back his optic beam, and they have a good conversation and spend some quality time together.
It's a little abbreviated, though, and it would have been a decent use of the back-up in the Classic X-Men reprint to expand upon it. Instead we get a stupid story about Dazzler trapped in an elevator with a psycho.
I guess if Ann Nocenti were writing my proposed back-up story instead, i wouldn't have liked it any better, so i suppose it's for the best.
Nocenti's next back-up is even worse, with Storm acting totally out of character towards an out-of-luck mutant, thinking "How annoying... who does he think he is?" when he approaches her asking to talk, and getting all flirty with some arrogant rich guy who punches the mutant.
From this story, here's the guy that Max_Spider notes in the comments looks a lot like Diablo in his civilian disguise from Fantastic Four #232.
The next one has Nightcrawler hanging around with some street urchins.
God, these stories are just so pointless. Make them stop.
Now, the back-up for issue #41, that's got a story by Claremont depicting Scott's time in the orphanage.
He's got a roommate named Nate...
...that is actually Mr. Sinister, keeping an eye on Scott.
This is more like it...
Classic X-Men back-ups aside, this is obviously a momentous arc, and it's also very well written and of course nicely drawn.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This arc ends with the X-Men back in their Mansion and Scott picking up the fact that Phoenix is returning to Earth via the psychic rapport he shares with her, but she won't reappear on Earth directly at the beginning of the next arc. So the X-Men shouldn't appear anywhere else between this arc and issue #136. The Beast is with the X-Men, so that means no Avengers appearances should appear between these X-Men arcs either.
Continuity Implant? P - (Classic X-Men reprints add new material)
Reprinted In: Classic X-Men #38, Classic X-Men #39, Classic X-Men #40, Classic X-Men #41
Inbound References (4): show
Angel, Angelo Macon, Araki, Banshee, Beast, Black King, Candy Southern, Colossus, Cyclops, Dazzler, Diablo, Donald Pierce, Dr. Strange, Harry Leland, Lilandra, Maelen, Mastermind, Moira MacTaggert, Mr. Fantastic, Murray Reese, Nightcrawler, Peter Corbeau, Phoenix Force, Professor X, Senator Kelly, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, Storm, Tessa, Thing, Wade Cole, Wolverine
Mastermind was turned into a baby along with Magneto and the other Brotherhood of Evil Mutants back in Defenders #15(I think). We're supposed to assume he was re-aged by Eric The Red along with the others, but this is never actually referred to or shown anyplace.
They were reduced to infancy in Defenders #16, and Champions #17 shows the other members of the Brotherhood were restored along with Magneto - although Mastermind isn't mentioned in that issue.
The cover to #135 mimics Neal Adams' cover to X-Men #56.
Alright, go take a look at Fantastic Four #232.
Now, go and take a look at Classic X-Men #39.
Go look at the scene where all the people are gawking at Storm. Doesn't the guy with the suitcase and trenchcoat, the one thinking "pretty girl" look kinda familar to you?
You wrote: "Tessa, Shaw's assistant who will turn out to be an android, appears in the background but doesn't get a speaking role."
lol! Well, she's not actually an android though she totally does come across like one. She's a mutant with a computer-like brain. Which means that under Claremont's pen equals a Swiss army knife of deus ex machina. (See X-treme X-Men)
Thanks, Jay. I take comfort in the fact that my mistake is a common misconception. Also worth noting that as of 1986, the Marvel role playing game was saying that she was most likely an ordinary human with a natural photographic memory. Frankly, it's kind of a letdown to learn that she's "just" a mutant, and i wonder how her slavish devotion to Shaw is explained. But i guess i'll have to read those X-treme X-Men comics eventually.
Max_Spider, belatedly responding to your comment. I've put in scans for comparison, and just for fun i've added Diablo as a Character Appearing here to see how it would fit in with his chronology. Although if it really is him i wonder why he's not using his Mr. Olbaid identity.
"Frankly, it's kind of a letdown to learn that she's "just" a mutant, and i wonder how her slavish devotion to Shaw is explained."
Uh... you might just flip the table when you discover the answer to that...
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