Uncanny X-Men #169-171
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #169, Uncanny X-Men #170, Uncanny X-Men #171
They call themselves Morlocks. Their leader, Callisto, i guess has decided that she wants a trophy husband and has chosen Angel.
Angel's girlfriend Candy Southern (and it's worth noting that he's still dating Candy, even as he's been pursuing Dazzler over in her book) alerts Professor Xavier of the kidnapping. The X-Men, who are down to Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Kitty Pryde, fight their way down in to the Morlock lair...
...and rescue them (Cyclops is in Alaska and Wolverine is in Japan). Storm considers taking Wolfsbane as a tracker, but Xavier nixes the idea.
The end fight is a no-powers duel between Storm and Callisto that shows Storm willing to be much more of a ruthless killer than anyone expected.
Kitty gets separated from the group and made sick by the Morlock called Plague.
She is rescued by Caliban...
...and she promises to marry him if he'll help her help the X-Men, a promise she won't fulfill.
Most of the Morlocks don't seem to have any powers. They seem to just be homeless people and punks.
If the goal was to introduce an entire society of mutants, it wasn't executed very well. Even Callisto seems to just be a better than average fighter with no actual powers.
If indeed enhanced fighting abilities is her power, then the no-powers duel between her and Storm doesn't make much sense. Of the hordes of Morlocks shown, only Sunder (super-strength), Plague (makes people sick) and Masque (makes people ugly) seem to have actual powers...
...and there's also reference to a Morlock Healer. Additionally, there's Caliban, who we've met before and who doesn't seem to get along with the rest of the group.
Kitty Pryde has a new costume - the yellow and green one with the domino mask. Looks good with Paul Smith's art.
She's still going by the name "Sprite", but she doesn't like it.
In a subplot, the White Queen is rendered unconscious by a psychic attack.
Sebastian Shaw rules out Professor Xavier as the attacker. Mystique and Destiny are also plagued with visions indicating that Rogue is in danger (as Nathan notes in the comments, the narration panel here belies the later idea that Mystique is significantly older than she looks).
Mystique's dreams involve Mastermind and Jean Grey.
Meanwhile, Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor start to become romantically involved. Scott reveals that he's a mutant.
He's still concerned about the fact that Maddy (supposedly) looks so much like Jean Grey, however.
To be fair, we'll soon learn that he's being manipulated by Mastermind. Maddy even tells him that she was in a plane crash the same day that Jean died.
That fact is not part of Mastermind's manipulations, and quite what the point of it is, if not to establish something "sinister" about Madelyne, is not clear to me.
Issue #171 is drawn by Walt Simonson, but it's still not "full Simonson" either due to the inker or the fact that he was attempting to maintain continuity with Paul Smith. It's still nice art.
Having defeated Callisto, Storm is now the leader of the Morlocks, and she orders them to not prey on humans any more.
Back at the X-Mansion, Rogue shows up looking for help.
This is the "Welcome to the X-Men, Rogue. Hope you survive the experience" issue. She's going crazy dealing with the fact that she's permanently absorbed Carol Danvers' persona. Xavier is unable to read her mind due to her dual persona which is half alien (Kree), but he decides to trust her. Over the protests of most of the team...
...Xavier allows Rogue to stay with the X-Men. On cue, Carol Danvers shows up and flips out over the fact that the X-Men have accepted her.
As Todd notes in the comments, Angel is completely objectified in these issues - no dialogue and unable to participate in his rescue. Interesting gender-reversal from Claremont.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after Wolverine leaves for his mini series in Japan. Takes place after Dazzler #28. Takes place before Defenders #120-125, because Angel references the events of this arc in that storyline. Issue #171 begins with the X-Men still in the Morlock tunnels so it's part of this arc even though the rest of the issue is unrelated to the Morlock story.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: X-Men Classic #73, X-Men Classic #74, X-Men Classic #75
Inbound References (11): show
I think the Morlock healer was just called Healer.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 18, 2011 6:52 PM
There is an interesting scene here in Uncanny X-Men #170 with Mystique in the fox-hunt "dream sequence" where she notes she won't be born for another 170 years from 1783 (i.e. 1953).
This provides proof positive that Mystique is nowhere near as old as later scenes written by Claremont suggest.
So what is up?
Did Mystique travel in time and team-up with Irene to help ensure the negative visions imposed upon her by the Shadow King come true?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | June 18, 2012 8:50 AM
Angel had so much great dialogue in this story, didn't he?
Posted by: Todd | June 18, 2012 1:55 PM
I couldn't tell if Todd was being sarcastic or not so i checked: it turns out Angel doesn't speak a word in these three issues.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 18, 2012 8:40 PM
Yeah, I thought it was odd. I know he was Callisto's "object" in this story, sort of a gender reverse on a damsel-in-distress scenario, but he could have been better used. Even the damsel in distress usually gets to be conscious and participating somewhat, even if it's just to yell warnings to the would-be rescuer(s). Claremont usually didn't bring back important characters only to have them be mute.
Posted by: Todd | June 18, 2012 11:04 PM
Nathan, I think it's a mistake to pay too much or too careful attention to the details of anything X-related Claremont did after X-Men #3. He lost the thread(s) of his universe during the years off, and never got it back again. His X-Men Forever project is further proof of it. Besides being horrible, it's careless about continuity, etc.
Posted by: Paul | March 23, 2013 4:42 PM
And by that I mean, the idea of the project was to pick up where he left off, but it's clear reading it that he didn't really remember precisely where he left off, or what had been in his head at the time, or what the lay of the land had been at the time. Those things get away from you over the years, especially when they're as intricate as they were in this case.
Posted by: Paul | March 23, 2013 4:44 PM
When #170 was previewed, the Morlocks were called "Ugloids".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 16, 2013 5:04 PM
Given Claremont's reveal in Wizard #103 that Mystique was masquerading as the Xavier Institute's new staff member, and Tessa later turning out to be the new staff member, was this the original unrevealed mystery Claremont intended for Mystique - that she was undercover in the Hellfire Club as Shaw's aide?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | June 21, 2013 9:31 PM
Another aspect to think about with the disappointment of X-Men:Forever is that some of the plots Claremont planned to use with X-Men were picked up and reworked by later writers.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | June 22, 2013 12:05 AM
Claremont's request, alluded to by Shooter and Nocenti in Sean Howe's book, for Xavier to appear in women's clothes when he wakes up as Callisto's guest in #193 makes sense in light of what Claremont is doing with Cal in this issue, where she's effectively the groom and Angel is the bride (even dressed in white). I guess Cal was Claremont's means for deconstructing gender. Masque, of course, also becomes famously ambiguous as to whether he's meant to be drawn as a he or a she. Interestingly, Claremont's final Morlock story, in the 260s, ends with Cal made beautiful and feminine and paired up with the distinctly masculine Colossus. Later we get the tentacle stuff, but I haven't read those issues, and I'm not going there.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | August 18, 2013 12:15 PM
I'd overlooked that later scan of Cal dressed as a bride, and of course Angel is more UN-dressed in white than dressed. I think there's still something to my theory but its not quite as clear-cut as my earlier comment indicated.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | August 18, 2013 12:19 PM
Something nobody's mentioned: Angel here looks exactly like the blind Angel Pygar in the 1968 film "Barbarella". Callisto doesn't resemble Anita Pallenberg's character(whose name I don't recall) too much but they do both wear eyepatches.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 25, 2013 4:58 PM
fyi, Callisto's power(s) are superhman senses...think it's a nice touch with an eyepatch...which would you rather have? super eyesight with only one eye, or normal sight with two?
Posted by: Russell White | September 15, 2013 3:37 PM
I see why you placed this so near Dazzler 27-28 (publication dates & Rogue's state of mind), but Angel certainly doesn't seem to be showing any evidence of a recent gunshot wound to the chest here. (& his chest is quite clearly shown.)
Maybe Callisto had her Healer cure the wound. But it might explain Angel (an experienced if not powerful fighter) being captured & held docilely if he was still damaged internally. Perhaps Callisto had Healer heal just the surface damage so she could have her pretty-boy.
In regards to Warren, Candy and Dazzler, I've been developing a theory while working through these issues on this site. Basically the thought is that Candy & Warren had a severe fight followed by a pseudo-breakup. On the rebound, Warren pursued Alison, but when Mystique shape-changed into Candy, it reminded him he loved her/was screwing things up, so went & patched things up. Not having actually read the issues, I don't know if thought bubbles & such would back that up.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | September 28, 2013 7:54 PM
In the DAZZLER issue after he gets shot, Allison tells him to stop squirming; it's just a "flesh wound," and he doesn't want to make it worse. I'm not sure it would be possible, even with the smallest-caliber handgun, to get a mere flesh wound from being shot the way it's drawn (and Springer both pencilled and wrote that scene), but there you are.
I have less of a problem with his being captured by powerful Morlocks off panel than with his getting taken out by an ordinary schmo with a gun in the DAZZLER issue. He isn't the most powerful mutant, but he's survived and prevailed in fights against powerful opponents. Here he just blunders in yelling "TRY ME!" and ends up having to be rescued by the person he's trying to rescue. Obviously, the idea was to have the book's star (Dazz) perform the real heroics, but it wasn't graceful writing.
The Warren/Candy relationship was always messy from title to title. Their closeness in DEFENDERS and in occasional Claremont X-MEN issues didn't seem to match up with DAZZLER, and let's not even talk about X-FACTOR yet. Your theory is not a bad one, Erik, but I don't think Fingeroth and Springer considered it that deeply. Warren does kiss Mystique-as-Candy (strange scene -- Allison is standing there but never warns him) in a way that makes one suppose he's still serious with Real Candy. But in the subsequent issue with the blackmailer and the shooting, before he goes to Allison and Lois's aid, he's happily flying around and talking about getting back to "Allison too, perhaps."
Angel, at least in this period, was just not the most well-defined recurring character. Sometimes he had a girlfriend; sometimes he was a playboy. Sometimes he was useful in fights against powerful opponents; other times he was overmatched by a non-powered bozo with a handgun. Sometimes his costume was red; sometimes it was blue. About all that everyone was consistent on was that he had a lot of money.
Posted by: Todd | October 2, 2013 7:49 AM
While I am generally unimpressed with Claremont as a character writer, it is interesting how he made a point of giving the X-Men a good reason to reject Rogue and gave Wolverine specifically a good reason to accept her, then had Xavier shame the whole group into giving her a chance.
I wonder if he meant to make Ororo a more complex character than she ended up being. Her behavior towards the Morlocks was unremarkable at best and looks worse when constrasted with Xavier's speech in #171. Much like Nightcrawler would eventually show for a while, and Wolverine IMO always shows, Ororo is simply not nearly as good a leader as Scott.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | June 9, 2014 7:48 PM
Angel was pinned by his wings in the Morlock tunnels again in Mutant Massacre. It had a much greater emotional and physical impact at that time.
Posted by: clyde | March 8, 2015 1:37 PM
It has been speculated by fans for 25 years now that Rogue leaving Mystique and Irene was a result of Mastermind (and/or Shadow King) stirring up trouble here.
However, I'd instead suggest Rogue leaving Mystique is more for the part she played in the death of Michael Barnett, the lover of Carol Danvers, which caused Carol massively hate her, and after Rogue absorbed her memories and the associated feelings it was too big a clash. That's why she headed to Xavier's on that bus.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 16, 2015 6:30 AM
But Nathan, Mystique has a nightmare about Mastermind, her ankle hurts where she injured it in the dream and then the caption tells us that the cause of Mystique's nightmare and Rogue's flight is watching Rogue. That makes no sense unless it's Mastermind and/or the Shadow King.
Posted by: Michael | April 16, 2015 7:44 AM
1 - The art is great here and it's a nice transition from Smith to Simonson.
2 - The development of Ororo over these issues really presages what will happen to her in Japan and for people paying attention, it's not really that dramatic of a shift when she cuts her hair.
3 - I have always loved Ororo snagging the knife out of mid-air. Just brilliant - in terms of the drama, but also in the art.
4 - But not as cool as the punch. One of the best punches I've ever seen in Marvel, rivaling when Iron Man knocked Thor through several columns.
5 - Nice illustration of the skill with which Scott now can control the aim of his beams, zapping the coin.
6 - They built up Mastermind for several issues, but did they ever really explain how he was getting in people's heads over long distance? In the Dark Phoenix Saga, he had the device that Emma gave him. I don't recall them ever explaining it this time.
7 - Shouldn't he get a tag? I know he only appears in the vision, but since he's causing the vision to appear and putting himself in it, shouldn't that count?
8 - As I recall, they don't ever actually explain Emma waking up. She's still in the coma in Annual #7, but she's awake by the time Doug goes to the Massachusetts Academy (though the X-Men don't know it yet). Perhaps I missed it somewhere?
9 - Does Tessa ever wear clothes?
10 - What, fnord, no cheesecake shot of Amanda in the hot tub when Kurt ports back with Candy? ;)
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 9, 2015 9:22 AM
Agree about Mastermind and added him. Thanks.
As far as i know, you didn't miss anything about the White Queen. I guess she just got better!
Posted by: fnord12 | May 9, 2015 11:04 AM
It's explained in New Mutants 15- what Mastermind did to her was confront her with illusions so terrifying they rendered her catatonic but Emma had the strength and courage to drag herself out of that state eventually.
Posted by: Michael | May 9, 2015 6:26 PM
A: Is it me or does it seem like Claremont's additions to the X-Men act more like rowdy hooligans whenever they show up during this time period?
B: I'm surprised that Claremont never did anything with the word "Eloi" in connection with the Morlocks.
Posted by: D09 | June 6, 2016 9:05 PM
After thinking it over, I'm surprised that between Dark Beast's genetic tinkering and Masque's disfiguration makeovers, Callisto looks a lot like a normal human female (an overly masculine female with an eye missing and several, possibly self-inflicted, facial scars, but human nonetheless, relatively speaking).
Posted by: D09 | June 23, 2016 11:23 PM
In case anyone's interested an issue of X-Men Legacy places a continuity insert between Uncanny #171.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 19, 2016 11:09 PM
Random speculation time: Mystique is here shown to be 30 years old. Previously in DoFP there had been a hint dropped that she either was a parent of Nightcrawler or that she knew Nightcrawler's parents somehow, but this seems to make her too young for that.
(One good example of Claremont's never ending subplots was that he could improve an idea over time. I have nothing to base this on but I kind of suspect that Claremont intended her to be Nightcrawler's mother but over time he decided father was a better idea. Of course, thanks to Austen the less interesting idea eventually saw print, throwing in an even worse idea about Kurt's father.)
Anyway, above Nathan Adler has fixed Claremont's mistake here using time travel. But in the context of what Claremont was actually thinking at the time, I ask the audience: Option a) Had Claremont forgot the Nightcrawler subplot at this point and didn't realise this seemed to conflict it, or Option b) Had he some other idea in mind at the time, like she was Nightcrawler's sister?
I lean towards Option a) but would be interested if anyone has any alternative evidence as to intentions for Mystique and Nightcrawler's relationship.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | December 31, 2016 2:20 PM
As a kid at the time, I always assumed Mystique was Nightcrawler's sister. The idea of her being the mother would have made her too old, and making her the father would never have occurred to me. I doubt in 1983 that ever would have been approved.
Since Callisto's powers are all physical, it never made sense to me how she and Storm could fight without using powers. That's not something that I normally associate being turned on or off. So if you have super strength or super-reflexes, how do you go about being purposefully weaker or slower to compensate? Or was Leech involved? That at least would make sense, but I don't see his name in Character's Appearing.
Posted by: Chris | December 31, 2016 3:24 PM
Ended up finding some extra clues on the secretsbehindthexmen.blogspot site, which is full of useful information for stuff like this. On his forum, Claremont said: "Regarding Mystique, I always considered her default form to be blue-skinned and female. However, being a full-spectrum metamorph, gender for her is a matter of choice, convenience and necessity. Her assumption of the male gender during this particular period of her life relates more to the prejudices of the time. A male consulting detective is likely to be taken a tad more seriously in official circles than a woman.”
But he also says: “Mystique abandoned him because she was totally freaked by this indigo-furred creature with “deformed” appendages and a forked tail! At that point, Mystique had no idea (s)he was a mutant, or a metamorph; (s)he simply reacted as many normal folks would in similar circumstances."
Which makes no sense to me. If at the time Nightcrawler is born, Mystique is not aware that she is a mutant or a shapechanger or blue skinned, then she cannot have changed herself to a man to be Nightcrawler's father. It also seems to ignore however Destiny (or whoever the proposed birthmother is) reacts to it. Also, Nightcrawler is relatively young, so if Mystique has lived an extended lifespan but only found out about herself after Nightcrawler was born, then she must have spent most of her life unaware that she was a mutant or shapechanger.
So yeah I think Claremont changed his ideas over time.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | January 1, 2017 9:01 AM
@Chris - Agreed there was zero chance of "Mystique being the father" being allowed to see print in 1983, and from the evidence of Mystique's age in this story, I am suggesting that Claremont hadn't thought of that yet in any case.
Lobdell commented that in the 90s, he was aware of Claremont's later plans but found them unrealistic & decided to make Mystique the mother: "It was always Chris’ plan that Mystique and Irene Adler (Destiny) were lovers, and that Mystique at one point had transformed into a man and impregnated Destiny and she gave birth to Nightcrawler. So Mystique and Destiny were actually Nightcrawler’s father and mother. The likelihood of either A, Mystique growing genitals with sperm that had a DNA-code, or B, Mystique being a guy who was perpetually in the body of a woman, I thought was pretty slim.”
As for your point about Callisto's powers seemingly being physical & the "no powers" rule, I was similarly confused about this at the time, though as Russell points out above, it turns out Callisto's mutant power was enhanced senses. I don't remember Callisto's powers ever being clearly established in Claremont's original run, though maybe I've forgotten something.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | January 1, 2017 9:18 AM
@Jonathan- in issue 170, the narrator says "Callisto is a born huntress, her mutant genes giving her enhanced physical abilities that rival Wolverine's". To me, "enhanced physical abilities" meant strength and speed, not just senses.
Posted by: Michael | January 1, 2017 11:29 AM
Michael and Johnathan are both right. Callisto's powers were never really defined in any significant way, but the narration did specify that she had physical abilities like Wolverine's. This was never shown except for one Danger Room session after the Mutant Massacre where Callisto and Logan fought each other and someone [Betsy?] screamed 'they'll kill each other.' Closest we ever got to seeing Callisto as a mutant with physical powers.
Johnathan is right in that this wasn't really a demonstration of superpowers. Claremont wasn't good at showing why some characters were awesome, just telling us that they were. Surviving a Danger Room session with Wolverine is one thing, but this was 40+ issues after she'd been introduced. Moira Mactaggert ran into the room firing a machine gun and wearing a negligee in her first issue, and literally first appeared asking "wanna make something of it?"
To put it mildly, we never saw that side of Callisto. Except when she became a hot model.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 2, 2017 8:54 PM
Is the entity Destiny is detecting supposed to be an early hint toward the Beyonder? The "fundamental levels of time and space" line make me think that.
Posted by: Jeff | January 18, 2017 9:47 AM
If the goal was to introduce an entire society of mutants, it wasn't executed very well.
No, it very specifically wasn't the goal. The rationale for the Mutant Massacre later on was that in Claremont's opinion Paul Smith had drawn way too many Morlocks for this story and thusly the emergence of an underground mutant society was really an artistic accident.
Posted by: Teemu | March 11, 2017 12:09 AM
Definitely don't believe that. He was going for an obvious "Morlocks" reference, which would require dozens and dozens of people at minimum. Less than that, and they're just a street gang or group of transients who live underground. It's definitely weird because most of them don't seem to have superpowers. I think only Caliban, Leech, Plague, Masque, Sunder and the Healer (who is almost never seen, ever) conclusively have powers, with Callisto being a 'probably.' Later Morlocks had powers, sure, but here it seems more like a small urban kingdom ruled by mutants.
If it had just been an artistic mistake, most of them could have been wiped out easily [as non-powered humans] or just wander away as transients.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 11, 2017 8:41 PM
I don't think Claremont calling them Morlocks makes Teemu's story automatically implausible. Claremont might have wanted to start with smaller numbers with the idea being that they'd grow in number over time, and wanted to use the name to suggest a future with them as a complete under-class society, a future he could later show. And then Smith hears the name and makes reasonable conclusions based upon it.
On the other hand, from reading the great insights from people on this site I've come to just basically everything that Claremont ever has said about X-Men outside of the comics themselves. It's like George Lucas: he had such big ideas for so long, that of course the details changed in his head over time, and of course he wasn't able to keep track of all of those changes. Even by the time of Mutant Massacre, he might have lost track of the original reasons for things at this point were, and decided to shift blame on to Paul Smith for something he thought was a mistake.
Posted by: FF3 | March 11, 2017 9:26 PM
It's not automatically implausible, just really implausible. By this point he was giving rather detailed plots to the artists, and the number of Morlocks would presumably be something he would have mentioned. Having them grow in number, with an increasing number of mutants, is actually plausible.
Your George Lucas comparison is extremely plausible. I've recently been looking at a few X-pages on this site and trying to figure out how to put it that way. Like Lucas, he'd seen his creations become way more popular than anyone dreamed they would be when he came up with the original ideas. Unlike Lucas, he spent fifteen years working on them steadily, but didn't have anything remotely resembling creative control.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 11, 2017 9:32 PM
Storm and the Morlocks got kind of a Barbarella thing going on.
Posted by: Flying Tiger Comics | March 14, 2017 2:21 AM
I hope you are being sarcastic about Kitty "breaking her promise" to Caliban. He comes across as major creep here, again. Being ugly and/or socially awkward is no excuse for kidnapping (first appearance) or rape by extortion.
Also, seems like typo in the pronouns.
Posted by: Catherine | May 6, 2017 2:17 AM
Fixed the pronoun typo.
I was neither being sarcastic nor judging Kitty not fulfilling her promise. I was just stating the fact. Her promise to Caliban will be a plot point in issues #176-179.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 10, 2017 10:26 AM
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