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 injury 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 Implant? N
Reprinted In: X-Men Classic #45, X-Men Classic #46
Inbound References (5): show
Angel, Blob, Colossus, Guardian, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Shaman, Snowbird, Stevie Hunter, Storm, Vindicator, 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).
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"?
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.
Also? Damn, but Byrne really hates Chris Claremont.
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.
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.
Claremont intended to write a follow-up Wolverine & Snowbird story, but scrapped it when Byrne quit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
He just appears because it's a crossover with X-Factor.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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?
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