Uncanny X-Men #139-140
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #139, Uncanny X-Men #140
He's been out of practice so it's understandable. But what's really interesting is that it's Wolverine who gives the pep talk, telling Angel that the X-Men will help him get back into top shape.
We're seeing some real natural character development for Wolverine as he becomes a team player. In the earliest issues of the new X-Men, Wolverine would have probably escalated things with snide comments until there was a brawl. However, in the next issue when Angel is giving a private assessment of the new team to Xavier, he still says Wolverine is crazy.
More superficially, Wolverine is also wearing a new costume - the brown and tan (and my personal favorite).
Despite her best efforts, Kitty flinches whenever she sees Nightcrawler.
His appearance is too creepy for her. She also gets assigned a super-hero name. Xavier suggests 'Ariel', but Kitty doesn't like it, choosing Storm's idea of 'Sprite' instead. Xavier also sets her up to go to a dance class in the city, and we meet her dance instructor - Stevie Hunter. Storm has a weird possessive thing going on with Kitty, and is jealous of Stevie.
Wolverine decides he needs to go back to Canada and settle things with their secret service.
He takes Nightcrawler with him. He shows up at the Hudson's house and we possibly meet Heather Hudson for the first time (the Classic X-Men added scenes muddy things up a bit for me) and confirm that Wolverine's name is Logan (We heard some leprechauns call him that in Uncanny X-Men #103, but none of the other X-Men were around. Certainly Nightcrawler hears the name here for the first time.).
We also get a little bit of Wolverine's backstory. Heather and her husband James (now the Guardian) found him freezing to death in the Canadian Rockies with adamantium claws recently installed. They nursed him to health. James convinced him to join the Canadian Secret Service, which he did, but he didn't like the dirty work that they did (really? The Canadian Secret Service? What could they have been doing?), or what he'd been made into, so that's why Wolverine jumped at the chance to join the X-Men.
It turns out that Guardian is up north with some members of Alpha Flight...
...hunting the Wendigo. Wolverine and Nightcrawler join them.
The Wendigo is a nearly invulnerable opponent...
... but when Snowbird transforms herself into an actual wolverine, she's able to injure him long enough for Shaman to remove the wendigo curse.
Nightcrawler has a talk with Wolverine about using his claws for killing. Wolverine isn't moved so far, but it's the beginning of further development for the character.
Guardian agrees that Alpha Flight won't go after Wolverine any more for abandoning the Canadian Secret Service, but it's a moot point because when Guardian gets back home he finds out that Alpha Flight has been disbanded. It's implied that they might be allowed to go on in an unofficial capacity.
Meanwhile, the Blob escapes from prison, using a body density trick he says his "lady lawyer" taught him. He's talking about Mystique, and he's off to join her new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
Overall, a really great set of issues.
John Byrne has complained that in every issue since the death of Jean Grey, Claremont made someone lament her death or reference her in some way:
After the Phoenix Saga -- and long before it developed this retroactive titling -- Chris would simply Not Let Go. Not an issue of X-Men passed without SOME reference to Phoenix. (I still remember being annoyed when he wrote the Wendigo-eye-view scene with Nightcrawler in the second Alpha Flight appearance as if it was a sunset (I'd asked Glynis for red tones in my margin notes) and had NC launch into a whole schpiel about how the colors reminded him of Jean, etc, etc. He, of course, should not have been Seeing those colors! Thus the effect of the scene was lost.)
It's only been two issues since her death! I really don't see the problem. Frankly, i think it's good writing. (Reading that FAQ entry, Byrne is also confused about the coloring issue - Nightcrawler is clearly referring to an actual sunset that he can see, not the view from Wendigo's eyes below.)
Beginning with these issues of Classic X-Men, the series is renamed X-Men Classic. With the renaming, it thankfully drops the horrible back-up stories. Yaay!
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: More or less concurrent with Machine Man #18.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: X-Men Classic #45, X-Men Classic #46
Inbound References (6): showAngel, Blob, Colossus, Guardian (James Mac Hudson), Nightcrawler, Professor X, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Shaman, Snowbird, Stevie Hunter, Storm, Vindicator (Heather Hudson), Wendigo II, Wolverine
Chris Claremont first wrote the Wendigo in a solo story in Monsters Unleashed #9(Marvel was sorta hurting for new monster features at the time).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 11, 2011 12:56 PM
Byrne might have complained about the dialogue cluttering his marvelous sunset scene, but it resonates for anyone who has ever experienced grief--especially the final scream to God: "How could you have been so cruel"?
Posted by: haydn | November 30, 2011 10:37 PM
The back-up stories in Classic X-Men were anything but horrible. Well, most. Yes, there were a few stinkers, but they were very, very few. And many had some beautiful John Bolton artwork.
Posted by: wwk5d | May 20, 2012 12:24 PM
Also? Damn, but Byrne really hates Chris Claremont.
Posted by: wwk5d | May 20, 2012 1:24 PM
Byrne doesn't hate Chris Claremont. However, he is bothered by some of Claremont's ticks as a writer as a fan and fellow professional. And he also disagreed with him on how the X-Men should be handled, and that's why he left the book.
Byrne is just very blunt and open about his opinions.
Posted by: Chris | May 21, 2012 9:49 PM
Around the time #140 was published, there popped up a Pocket Books anthology called "Marvel Superheroes", one prose story of which starred the X-Men by Jo Duffy. Obviously non-continuity as far as Marvel goes, but it has 3 significant bits: 1)Xavier is stated as having trained other mutants who died or turned evil, 2)Xavier outright manipulates scores of people who come into contact with the X-Men, and 3)Magneto threatens to rip out Wolverine's metallic skeleton years before we saw it in the comics.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 2, 2012 7:26 PM
Claremont intended to write a follow-up Wolverine & Snowbird story, but scrapped it when Byrne quit.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 2, 2012 7:37 PM
Byrne stated later that the first page to #140 finally tipped him over the edge to quit; he thought it was stupid to have Colossus straining so hard to pull out a stump after he'd successfully pulled off more difficult stuff.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 1, 2012 9:28 PM
Much better issues than the debut of Alpha Flight, which felt like an annoying backdoor pilot for a new team. Good character work. Shame we never got more Wolverine/Snowbird.
Posted by: Paul | May 6, 2013 1:48 PM
Haven't re-read this in a while, but that panel of Logan complaining that he never has a fair fight as an intelligence agent makes sense of his discontent. Presumably, except for the Hulk/Wendigo brawl, even black ops (Canadian black ops!) are too easy now. Good enough reason to join a team of other super folk.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 6, 2013 8:57 PM
Upon looking at this a new thought just occurred to me. Is it possible that Claremont didn't have much respect for Angel? It seems that whenever he used the character, he would have Cyclops or somebody remark on how he was screwing up, either in training or on a mission. And then of course there was the storyline in which Angel was made into a diaper wearing sex toy and given absolutely no dialogue.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | July 16, 2013 6:57 PM
It's subtle of course, and maybe Claremont didn't hate Angel as a character, but maybe he had a "Hank Pym Lite" take on him. Maybe he was trying to hint at the idea that Angel couldn't quite cut it anymore. After all, he didn't use him much. This had never occurred to me before, but reading this entry I was struck by how Angel "screwed up" in the Danger Room just two issues after being called out by Cyclops in the fight with the Imperial Guard. He gets written out shortly after this and doesn't come back until Callisto puts him in a diaper. After literally suffering through that in silence, I think Angel is pretty much abandoned by Claremont until he becomes Archangel about ten years later.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | July 16, 2013 7:04 PM
He becomes Archangel sooner than that, but Claremont doesn't use him again until the nineties if I'm not mistaken. OK , not ten years later, but it takes a while.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | July 16, 2013 7:07 PM
Between being written out and the diaper incident, Claremont writes him in Marvel Fanfare. And Claremont first used him after the diaper incident in 1988 in Inferno.
Posted by: Michael | July 16, 2013 7:40 PM
Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2013 8:32 PM
Does he rejoin the team in INFERNO or does he just appear because it's a crossover with X-FACTOR? There's a difference, I think (of course Claremont used Iceman even less, but I can't recall how he treated him whence he did).
Posted by: Jay Patrick | July 16, 2013 8:35 PM
He just appears because it's a crossover with X-Factor.
Posted by: Michael | July 16, 2013 10:42 PM
Archangel was in X-Factor during Inferno. X-Factor was written by Louise Simonson up until shortly after the X-tinction Agenda crossover (1990). After the Muir Island Saga the original X-Factor members rejoined the X-Men and Archangel was on the Whilce Portacio/Lee/Byrne/Lobdell written mess "Gold team" (Uncanny X-Men). Claremont was writing the new "Blue team" X-Men title. So yea, Claremont really didn't have much to do with Archangel (or Iceman for that matter).
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | July 16, 2013 10:47 PM
I'd be curious to look at the artwork for this issue and see whether or not Byrne actually intended for Angel to "screw up" during that sequence or if Claremont just created that in the dialogue.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | July 16, 2013 10:54 PM
Interesting posts above. I never liked Claremont's writing of Angel, and the way he was used in #169-170 (his two-issue wordless/diapered appearance introducing the Morlocks) especially bugged me. There was not even any follow-up on that traumatic experience in subsequent issues of X-MEN, unless you count his and Rogue's answers to letters in the letter column. They were writing responses in the voices of the characters for a while.
During that Inferno crossover, Claremont does make a couple of nods to continuity. Rogue is shocked that Angel/Archangel is strong enough now to break her grip, and Dazzler has a thought balloon lamenting that Warren is now blue-skinned and bald and thus no longer attractive to her. I don't think Claremont had great respect for Dazz, either. She was shallower and more flighty in his X-MEN (excepting her first appearance, when she was portrayed as tough and streetwise) than in her own title.
Posted by: Todd | July 17, 2013 2:25 AM
Angel does make reference to the trauma he experienced during The X-Men #169-170 in The (New) Defenders #125. There is a footnote there that mentions an upcoming story in Marvel Fanfare that was supposed to deal with how he got through that trauma but it never did appear.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | July 17, 2013 3:03 AM
Considering Claremont's politics (and one's politics are always based on strong emotions of one kind or another), it's not surprising if Claremont had a natural antipathy toward Warren - a rich, handsome, blond white guy whose power is hardly even a handicap - he gets to fly, and even his freakish appearance, his ostensible deformity, ends up being something that's not really a deformity at all - something that engender reverence and awe in many who encountered him. If you think of the way they'd later write Marrow about Angel, that's the way many, mutant and human, probably felt about him.
And for what? The guy's not a great guy or anything, even before Claremont gets him (though, in his bias, Claremont buries him further - having him be a jerk about Wolverine, etc). He's not particularly smart or interesting. And his powers really are very weak and relatively useless. Yet he was raised to this exalted position, both socially and in the mutant society, and had all these advantages that Claremont probably didn't think he merited.
People with strong senses of justice see injustice very clearly and get mad about it wherever they see it, even where others wouldn't see it, or wouldn't think it getting mad over. Claremont built his whole career, in a way, on writing wrongs and on making sure HIS universe, anyway, was more fair than the real one.
Also, re: the blue and bald line, had they not yet shown that he still had his hair under the suit? Odd line.
Posted by: Paul | July 19, 2013 4:27 AM
I liked Angel more than Claremont did (if our speculation is correct), but it has occurred to me that he was one of the most charmed of the major mutants. When he was told that his original wings were so damaged they would have to be amputated, he was miserable. When they went through with it, he was so despondent that his apparent suicide was plausible to those who knew him best. Many other mutants would be thrilled to be rid of whatever made them "special" (I cannot imagine Cyclops, for example, shedding tears over losing his optic blasts), and many of the remainder would probably just shrug and move on. He had a good power in that sense, something that he could associate with freedom and pleasure, and also something that was physically beautiful.
Posted by: Todd | July 19, 2013 6:19 AM
I've added the full Danger Room sequence for Angel. It's pretty clear this was a planned sequence, not just something Claremont added in the dialogue. Not looking at the larger question of Claremont's opinion about Angel, but i think this sequence is designed to emphasize the importance of the X-Men's constant practice sessions.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 20, 2013 7:57 AM
"Also, re: the blue and bald line, had they not yet shown that he still had his hair under the suit? Odd line."
When they showed Apocalypse working on his new Horseman "Death", Warren's face was in shadow and his head was bald so you couldn't be sure who that mutant was. That was shortly before The Fall of the Mutants crossover. It wasn't until sometime much later when Warren had rejoined the X-Men that he was finally shown with his hood off and that his hair had finally regrown. It's fairly safe to assume that he was probably still bald under that skin-tight hood during Inferno when Dazzler said that line.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | July 21, 2013 6:02 AM
Furthermore, I don't think the decision had been made that he had hair, or could have hair, at that point. Dazzler's "Blue-skinned and bald? Oh, Warren!" thought balloon was still early in the Archangel period. Claremont was probably playing the hand he felt he had been dealt with the character.
This gets into a period of X-MEN on which I cannot authoritatively comment, because I stopped reading at some point, but when they relaunched it and there were the two color-coded teams, wasn't there a minor theme that Angel wasn't considered attractive anymore? I seem to remember him helping Iceman get dressed up for a date, and Iceman saying, "You were quite the looker in your day!" and then feeling like crap about it. Someone want to flesh that out?
Posted by: Todd | July 21, 2013 6:29 AM
I always preferred Wolverine's brown and tan costume, as well. I'm usually one who sticks up for keeping as close to the classic looks for characters as possible but that yellow, black, and blue costume didn't fit him or his personality as well as the brown, IMO.
Posted by: Robert | June 2, 2014 7:38 PM
It was definitely not established that Warren still had hair. I'm long out of the mutant titles, but have occasionally seen pictures, and this is literally the first explanation I've ever seen of why Archangel has his hair back.
Dazzler's "Blue-skinned and bald" thought balloon may be shallow, but (a) she's kinda shallow anyway (b) this was made worse by "Inferno" and (c) pointing out that these two characters had a relationship completely outside of their respective series is one of the high points of comic-book continuity when it's good.
Also, am I misremembering, or was Angel used as a back-up X-Man in the Arcade/Doom three parter? Either way, I don't think it's that Claremont didn't have respect for the Angel (one of the founding five, after all) so much as Warren was just one of the minor characters in his Russian novel-sized tapestry, and the story rarely went in a direction where The Angel was needed. Not to mention that, between solo stories, the Defenders and later X-Factor, other writers and editors probably had a fair claim on him. Should Claremont derail the Brood storyline or shove the Kitty/Peter relationship to the sides to take an X-Man (who graduated long ago) away from Worthington Industries and Candy Southern? Warren's fine where he is, and if he's needed to become a 'damsel in distress' for a couple issues, then you can grab him.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 21, 2014 6:43 PM
Chris, note that the reason why Claremont had Betsy break up with Warren was because he felt Warren "was not worthy of her". That would seem to suggest that Claremont didn't have much respect for him.
Posted by: Michael | June 21, 2014 6:50 PM
The same image is repeated of Angel apologizing for the Danger Room session fnord12. Was there a different image intended for the repeated one?
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | June 22, 2014 1:27 AM
Yep, thanks, Jay. Fixed it, and the updated image may contribute to the "did Claremont respect Angel?" conversation. Although - and i don't have a strong position on this discussion - it's worth remembering that John Byrne is co-plotting these issues. It's Byrne that is attributed to rescuing Wolverine from the doldrums. Tom Brevoort said recently that Claremont intended to write Wolverine out the way he did Banshee. the idea to have Wolverine give a gruff, fatherly pep talk to Angel may have been Byrne's idea, even if Claremont scripted it.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 22, 2014 10:23 AM
Warren/Betsy were after my time as well, but I read that 'not worthy of her' comment as Claremont's outsized preference for Betsy. He's not worthy of Betsy, he's not worthy of Storm, and we might as well throw in Kitty Pryde and Dani Moonstar as Claremont favorites that we can confidently say he wouldn't consider Warren to be worthy of. Certainly he didn't like Warren as much as them, but I don't see it as a dig against Warren.
Hell, maybe it was just a pun about Warren Worthington.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 22, 2014 3:51 PM
I agree with Byrne about the Colossus image - there's no reason Peter should be straining like that. But there's no question that Wolverine really takes a leap forward here, especially with the introduction of his new costume.
As I recall the title change to Classic X-Men came at the same time as the title change to West Coast Avengers and Solo Avengers - to keep group titles (X titles, Avengers titles) all together in comic shops that kept their books alphabetically.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 22, 2015 2:00 PM
@Paul: I agree with your summation of Claremont's antipathy toward Warren. It is so obvious from his work he has an absolute obsession with social justice.
The very premise of the X-Men - protecting humans from other mutants – is "explicitly counter revolutionary." They were not created to fight for civil rights; rather they were created to fight against those who did so. With the prologue scenes in #176 and #150, Claremont is deliberately flagging up problematic moments in the story of the X-Men – moments that Claremont himself is responsible for – in order to plant the first seeds of a new kind of X-Men. In the coming issues, Claremont would upset the status quo in significant ways. Valerie Cooper would eventually recruit Mystique's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants – ironically rechristened "Freedom Force" – and THEY, not the X-Men, will be the "counter-revolutionary" force of the series. Meanwhile, the Morlocks would transform into a much more sympathetic group - often acting in the story as allies of the X-Men rather than enemies. Eventually, the X-Men are forced to seek shelter in the Morlocks' underground catacombs after a particular catastrophe, and soon after, the X-Men fight to defend/avenge the Morlocks during the ambitious "Mutant Massacre" storyline. Granted, it will turn out to be a slow transition (the X-Men will still live in a mansion for the next three years plus) but as early as this we see Claremont laying the groundwork for a significant reorientation of the overall premise's skewed politics.
Re: Warren's hair, I recall Louise and Walt originally intending Archangel's "costume" to not actually be one but part of his entire transformation into Death, so that obviously included no hair. I wonder why they later changed it? Or for that matter why his skin was turned blue from the transformation? Was Apocalypse using Kree tech?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 22, 2015 4:49 PM
A two things:
Byrne completely plotted these two issues, a first for him on this title. Claremont was just scripter here.
It was also Byrne that was responsible for Angel's return to the X-Men. Claremont wasn't thrilled by the idea, so just a few issues after Byrne left, Angel was gone was well.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | October 31, 2015 11:35 PM
When Snowbird changes into an animal, does she become more powerful than the animal? I can't see the Wendigo being beaten by an ordinary wolverine.
Posted by: Michael | January 2, 2016 6:43 PM
Her mass stays the same when she changes to smaller animals, and increases when she changes to larger ones. (My recollection is Byrne's original idea was that it would always stay the same, but he found this didn't work with large animals as they came out too small.) So she's a giant wolverine.
The captions in the sequence imply there's an off-panel fight. But from the art, it may be Byrne meant her attack as a quick, deadly strike.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | January 2, 2016 7:43 PM
@Jay Patrick: Due to a lot of little things (and sometimes big things), I get the impression that Claremont doesn't care a lot about the original X-Men (Cyclopes, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast, and Iceman, along with their allies Havok and Polaris) and is more fond of his international All-New X-Men, to the point where he keeps adding on plot point after plot point instead of refining what's already there.
Posted by: D09 | March 2, 2016 10:35 PM
To be fair, Claremont introduced most of the New X-Men and might as well have done so with a couple of others, while the previous X-Men had considerable baggage and were somewhat out of his creative control to boot. For much of his early run Beast was in the Avengers, and Iceman and Angel in the Champions.
Why should he go out of his way to use characters that are being featured in other books already and his coordination flaws and conflicts? The whole point of introducing his own characters is to avoid such a need.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | October 1, 2016 8:39 AM
The brown and orange of the new costume are good, more animalistic, but losing the "claw marks" on his shoulders and chest makes this costume too generic, IMO. Note in the flashback Wolverine says he's now an indestructible killing machine because of the claws and metal skeleton. Clearly this was written before they came up with the idea that he had bone claws first, and that his natural healing factor has always been so powerful that he could survive pretty much anything.
Posted by: Andrew | January 14, 2017 4:54 PM
LIES AND BLASPHEMY!!! CLAREMONT HAD THIS PLANNED OUT IN INTRICATE DETAIL BEFORE HE EVER HEARD OF WOLVERINE! I HAVE PROOF! PROOF THAT'S NSFW, BUT STILL, IT'S PRETTY HOT AND IT'S JUST A CLICK AWAY!!! www.gulliblefools.com
Posted by: ChrisW | January 16, 2017 4:16 PM
Maybe it is just me, but the opening shot reminds me of issue #31's.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | October 10, 2017 9:02 AM
Wolverine calling Xavier "Chuck" and Nightcrawler bringing Wolverine, the grizzled veteran, a beer while handing out lemonade to the rest of the team are two of my favorite interactions in the Claremont/Byrne run. My own opinion of the Claremont/Angel discussion is this: Angel's power is superfluous in this iteration of the team so even if Claremont liked Warren's personality, there's nothing the character presents that's not already showcased by one or more of the other team members, including his wealth (which Xavier also has to his credit).
Posted by: Jonathon | November 16, 2017 9:33 PM
I don't think Claremont had any dislike of the original team. Warren appeared more in Claremont's run than Hank or Bobby combined, and Claremont made sure to reference Candy or Dazzler's role in Warren's life.
Claremont is writing the *new* team. The old team joined the Avengers or Defenders or Champions or whatever, other than Scott, Jean and Charley. It's the best of all possible worlds as a writer, he has the new team, the legacy left by the originals, everyone's connection to the Marvel Universe, the adult values he's bringing to his multiple interconnected titles...
It would have been the easiest thing in the world for him to say 'and then they fought Dr. Doom/the Frightful Four/Galactus/the Skrulls/HYDRA' immediately after he took over from Len Wein. He went in a completely different direction, and even when he used Doom/Skrulls/HYDRA/etc. they were not what you would expect for superhero book.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 17, 2017 1:07 AM
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