The Small Lebowski:
Uncanny X-Men #186-188
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #186, Uncanny X-Men #187, Uncanny X-Men #188
The cover blurb on issue #186 says: "Lifedeath - A Love Story". I saw it on the rack at a Waldenbooks when i was with my grandmother, but she wouldn't buy it for me because it was a love story. "You wouldn't like it." I knew better. I knew it was a follow-up to the issue i already had, where Storm lost her powers, but i wasn't going to argue with her (i was a good kid!). Somehow i wound up with it soon afterward anyway.
The art is by Barry Windsor-Smith, which is a special treat. It's too bad he never did anything regular for Marvel's super-hero line. Totally wasted on Conan when he could have been doing something important, like Spectacular Spider-Man!
Anyway, 9 year old me was right. Storm is dealing with the loss of her powers at Forge's place.
Storm is deeply depressed. It's not just that's she's superficially unable to control the weather. Her powers also gave her a direct connection with nature, and she can no longer feel any of that. Even basic things like the fact that her body would automatically regulate her temperature are gone, but the fact that she was "one with all creation" and now she is not is the bigger issue.
She slowly gets better, and also starts developing feelings for Forge, which are reciprocated.
Storm feels a kinship for Forge when she realizes that he lost his leg in Vietnam.
At one point she shows off her pick-pocketing abilities.
Windsor-Smith's art is great at depicting the subtle facial expressions that show the characters' feelings as they talk about their losses and as they flirt with each other. Good stuff.
You might wonder why Storm is at Forge's building instead of with the X-Men. Wouldn't Xavier have sent the X-Men to find her and Rogue? We find out that the psychic trauma of Storm's power loss was so intense, it left Professor X unconscious for over a day, and unable to use his telepathy for even longer.
It still doesn't really explain why Storm thinks she's at Forge's place. Forge brought her here because he feels guilt over the fact that he designed the weapon that neutralized her powers. But Storm doesn't know that yet.
Anyway, she finds out when she picks up a phone to call Xavier and instead overhears a conversation between Forge and Gyrich talking about moving Storm to a federal facility because Rogue is on the loose and has put Val Cooper in a coma while probably absorbing her memories.
Storm tries to flee. Forge tries to stop her by messing with his hologram systems. Storm uses a remote to try to control the holograms, and accidentally triggers a scene from Forge's past, when he was in Vietnam. There's the B-52 bombing strike where he lost his leg, and then demons appear, which is an odd twist we'll learn more about in future issues.
Confused by the holograms, Storm calls to the Blessed Goddess for help, and lightning strikes the building.
So we're getting hints that Storm may regain control of her powers right from the beginning. Forge also suggests that the loss of power may be reversible.
The lightning strike allows her access to a balcony where she's able to compose herself and also sock Forge in the jaw.
She's misinterpreted Forge's side of the conversation with Gyrich, but she's right on the overall points. He's an isolated tinkerer, and he doesn't really think of the consequences of the weapons he's designed for the government. Remember that his weapon development business jumped into the vacuum created when Tony Stark decided to stop supplying the government for weapons, for moral reasons.
This was a great follow up to issue #185 that dealt exclusively with character issues and no action. Well, except for the Dire Wraiths. Did i forget to mention those? That's right, Barry Windsor-Smith! You may have signed up for a nice dramatic story, but this plot also calls for you to draw us some awesome Dire Wraith pictures. So get to it!
The Wraiths are after Val Cooper, but Rogue's been tailing her as well, so she bursts in to protect her.
Rogue forgets that she's not wearing gloves, though, so when she decks one of the Wraiths she absorbs its persona. She has to fight for control of her own mind. Her powers are quite similar to the Dire Wraiths, except of course she doesn't kill her victims. So when she subsequently absorbs Val Cooper's consciousness to find Storm's location, she thinks:
Ugh -- my Wraith-self keeps expectin' you to disintegrate -- eatin' brains really turns this yuckos on.
Anyway, on to issue #187. The art was so different between the two issues that when i got #187 as a kid i wasn't even sure it was the same series at first, although the story is a direct continuation. I was years away from actually paying attention to the credits.
Storm is wearing a completely different outfit in the beginning of issue #187 than the overalls she was in at the end of #186. Considering there was a raging storm at the end of issue #186, her outfit in #187 doesn't seem like something she would have taken the time to change into.
While Storm is still in the parking lot, a group of Dire Wraiths begin to infiltrate Forge's building. I love seeing the Wraiths being drawn by all these great artists.
The analyzer device that Forge introduced in issue #184 was specifically designed to detect Wraiths, but he obviously didn't integrate it into his own defense system yet, because the Wraiths are able to move about the building undetected in human form.
Storm encounters another Wraith in the parking lot...
...and realizes that she's going to have to go back into the building to rescue Forge.
Inside, she meets Naze, who we saw briefly in issue #184.
The Wraiths are out in full force. Sorcery, Deathwings, Hellhounds.
There's a flashback scene in issue #187 that shows Wolverine training Storm to use a gun.
'Cause y' never know when that knowledge'll come in handy, darlin'. A gun's the last thing anyone'd expect from you. Someday, that might give you the edge you need to survive.
Storm had long hair in the flashback, for what it's worth.
Naze gives her a gun, but she loses it climbing the elevator shaft.
She winds up getting chased onto a balcony, where it is snowing. In Dallas, in the summer. This is thanks to Thor's Casket of Ancient Winters storyline.
While fighting a Wraith and a Hellhound on the balcony, she stumbles and falls over the side, only to have a "freak gust of wind" push her back on. Another subconscious use of her powers (although Yukio gets saved in a similar situation while fighting a possessed Kitty Pryde in the Kitty Pryde and Wolverine mini series, so maybe Claremont thinks this sort of thing just happens all the time).
Storm locks the Wraith out on the balcony where it seemingly dies of exposure. There's some contemplation about how she killed "without hesitation -- or mercy. Wolverine would be proud." But let's face it. She's in a desperate situation with no powers fighting an evil alien monstrosity. If she let that thing in out of the cold it would have eaten her brain. So i don't think this "counts" as a change in her morality. Anyway, next issue it will turn out that the Wraith survived and is out there causing all sorts of sorcerous havoc.
Forge's defenses do a decent job of protecting him. He even uses a hologram of ROM and Starshine to distract them.
And Rogue shows up with Colossus.
Eventually the tide is turned. But then things get weird.
This is the sorcerous havoc i mentioned earlier. Meanwhile, Naze is up in Forge's sanctum sanctorum stirring up trouble. He calls upon a demonic force, offering the world in exchange for aid for his people.
It turns out, though, that he's not really Naze. He's a Dire Wraith. Forge doesn't realize that when he finds the body.
The demonic force that "Naze" is speaking to is the Adversary. He's the threat that both Naze and Destiny have warned about in earlier issues. It's a long time before we'll actually get to that subplot. We won't get to that until Fall of the Mutants.
(For what it's worth, in issue #196, a letter from "T. 'Spotted Pony' Sage" of the "Cheyenne Clan of the Horse" writes approvingly of the handling of the Cheyenne mystics in these issues and several New Mutants episodes.)
The X-Men are having a hard time with the new creatures. Luckily, Xavier sends in back-up. Nightcrawler has picked up his sorceress girlfriend Amanda Sefton.
And Illyana Rasputin teleports in as well.
Colossus now learns that his sister is a sorceress. He allays her fears that he'd reject her if she found out. A couple of other observations about Illyana. She makes a comment that her "magicks aren't too terribly effective on this plane of existence. The only real weapon I've got is my Soulsword". That wasn't true in her earliest appearances after the Magik mini-series.
Also, she keeps commenting that every time she uses her Soulsword, more and more of her gets covered in magick armor, and she worries about what will happen when the suit's complete. But the art never depicts the armor growing. In these issues, we don't see the armor at all.
With the reinforcements, the magical threat is beaten back, and unlike Storm, Forge has no problem killing the Dire Wraith on the roof.
The rest of the issue is devoted to aftermath. Xavier checks in with Wolverine, currently in Japan with Kitty Pryde, to give him the news. Nightcrawler is particularly discouraged by Storm's loss of power. Rachel Summers freaks out when Nightcrawler lists her mother, Jean Grey, as being amongst the dead mutants in this reality.
It's worth noting that Nightcrawler was listing Jean Grey and Thunderbird's death, and Banshee and Storm's power losses, as being evidence that Xavier's dream is in some way failing. But it's not really a solid argument. Thunderbird and Banshee's losses were due to fights with super-villains that had nothing to do with mutant rights. Jean Grey's issues were a combination of an out of control cosmic entity and manipulation by an evil mutant. Only Storm's power loss has anything to do with mutant issues.
Still, Xavier is frustratingly reasonable about Storm's situation. He doesn't blame the government, on the grounds that they weren't aiming for Storm when she got shot (they were aiming for your other student, Rogue, though!). I'm not arguing that Xavier should have went full Magneto here, but some sort of response to the fact that the government is running around stripping mutants of their powers without even so much as a trial would have been appropriate.
Speaking of Magneto, in issue #188, Lee Forrester fishes him out of the ocean. I guess he's been floating there since New Mutants #21.
Finally, the very end of this arc shows a guy working at a fishery discovering an amulet that may look familiar to fans of the Claremont/Byrne Marvel Team-Up run.
Dammit, Spider-Man! I told you throwing that thing in the river wasn't good enough!
Well, this arc had it all. Barry Windsor-Smith. John Romita Jr. Dire Wraiths. A Casket of Ancient Winters tie-in. Kulan Gath's annual. Great stuff. Except have you noticed that everyone's a sorcerer? Amanda Sefton. Illyana Rasputin. Now Forge. The Naze-Wraith says, "His power is almost beyond comprehension. He is a fool to deny it." Seems a bit much. Still, that doesn't directly reflect on this arc, which was great.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: A rainstorm turns into a snowstorm during the course of issue #187. This is due to the Casket of Ancient Winters storyline in Thor. Professor X's phone call to Wolverine in issue #188 takes place concurrently with Kitty Pryde and Wolverine #4.
Crossover: Casket of Ancient Winters
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
I always thought that Forge had a point in building the Neutralizer- they needed a weapon that could stop the Wraiths. The problem was not considering what would happen if it fell into the hands of people like Gyrich. While Forge was blind to the consequences of building his weapons, Storm was blind to the consequences of NOT building them.
Posted by: Michael | August 14, 2011 8:01 PM
I enjoyed reading your essay. These issues are a real nostalgic fave for me, what great memories!
Posted by: Greg | June 17, 2012 10:33 PM
Claremont provides further hints here, when Storm is able to see the Wraiths despite their cloaking spell, of his ongoing plot about her magical potential!
1. Faltine are entities composed of pure magic energy.
2. Certain ones of them were able to take on human forms, Dormammu and Umar for example.
3. When a Faltine and a mortal procreate, the product of this union results in the child having WHITE HAIR and BLUE EYES, with exceptional magic potential; Clea being the most recent example.
Now we all know Storm's ancestry is priestesses and sorceresses, and they were exceptional magic users, and all those with such power had the tapetumus eyes and white hair.
So has the secret to Storm's magic ancestry, including her tapetumus eyes and white hair, all along been pointing to their being an inherited trait from a Faltine ancestor?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 28, 2013 9:55 AM
The trickster god of the Cheyenne was Veeho which meant "spider", so wondering why Claremont didn't name him that instead of the Adversary!?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | June 29, 2013 3:15 AM
By the way, fnord12, you don't have Rachel Summers listed as appearing here, even though this is a rather notable issue for for.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | July 23, 2014 10:44 PM
I always love the way JRjr depicts snowstorms. It's a bit of a pity though that his editor couldn't tell him to draw correct clothes on Storm and Illyana. Or maybe even better, the script could make it clearer? Really excited for the Kulan Gath story coming up, one of my favorites. The Dire Wraiths were bewildering to me since I had no idea of the existence of Rom at the time I got these in the 90s.
Posted by: PeterA | November 14, 2015 5:04 AM
@Nathan Adler: Perhaps Claremont didn't know or isn't that interested in foreign mythology?
Posted by: D09 | September 9, 2016 9:23 PM
Let's summarize the ways in which Rachel's timeline differs from ours. In Rachel's timeline: 1) Illyana matured at a regular rate, meaning she never went to Limbo and became Magik; 2) Professor X never regained the use of his legs; 3) Cyclops never moved to Alaska; 4) Storm never got that awful mohawk haircut; 5) Black Tom and Juggernaut were, or became heroes; and 6) Jean Grey never died (and was in fact Rachel's mother). The first five could be explained as differences that occurred after the assassination of Senator Kelly was prevented, a series of butterfly effects, but Jean Grey died before Days of Future Past, so Rachel's timeline must have diverged from ours before then, even though in many ways it's parallel, right down to her sending Kate Pryde's consciousness back in time. You can't even suggest that her mother was the resurrected Jean Grey because first, Rachel is completely shocked, she's never heard that her mother was believed dead for a looooong time, and second, she's older than Illyana, who was already a young girl in Giant-Size X-Men #1, which means she would have to have been born back when Roy Thomas was still writing the book. Also, Professor X is dead and buried in DoFP, but in Rachel's timeline he dies afterward. Anyway, my point is, this Rachel Summers is a different one from the one in X-Men 141-142. So that is NOT the first appearance of THE Rachel Summers, it's just the first appearance of A Rachel Summers.
Posted by: Andrew | October 30, 2016 12:21 PM
Andrew, a couple of points:
Rachel is not older than Illyana; when she relates her story to the X-Men in #188, she mentions that Illyana was a teenager when she, Scott, and Jean were assassinated, while Rachel was significantly younger. It's still problematic, I'll admit, as DoFP takes place in 2013 and Rachel is implied to be only a teenager when she travels back in time.
As the issues progressed throughout the 80s, the depiction of the DoFP future was tweaked to reflect some elements that were then-current in the book, or were explained as being different exactly because of the diverging timeline.
Posted by: Mormel | October 30, 2016 1:59 PM
Even though I'm a fan of the character of Rachel Summers and of these issues, exclamations like "Huh? Why does Storm have a mohawk and no powers?? What timeline is this??" strike me as funny, because characters go through costume changes all the time and may lose their powers either temporarily or permanently. DoFP Storm may never have been hit with Forge's neutralizer, but I'm sure the DoFP X-Men had other anecdotes about power fluctuations or fashion choices.
Posted by: Mormel | October 30, 2016 2:07 PM
Thanks, Mormel. I confess I was flipping through back issues trying to make sense of it all, since I gave up on the X-Men for a long time around issue 200.
Posted by: Andrew | October 30, 2016 2:55 PM
Part of my deep affection for this period in Marvel is that so many of the unique ideas and elements from this period had been written out by the early 90s when I started collecting Marvel. This era was a total 'interzone'--in many ways a lost time even then, only a few yeaes later--and therefore completely fascinating to me.
The fact that Marvel probably had its greatest stable of creative talents during this time (though I did not really know this as a young'un) only makes it that much more appealing.
Posted by: George Lochinski | October 30, 2016 5:53 PM
I guess I'm confused because everyone acts like "Rachel", no last name given, from Days of Future Past is the same Rachel Summers who showed up in New Mutants 18. But they're not, right? The first Rachel was from the original timeline; we're now in a new timeline because Kate Pryde's consciousness went back in time; and Rachel Summers is from a different alternate reality altogether (maybe the one from Phoenix: The Untold Story). Right?
Posted by: Andrew | October 30, 2016 6:28 PM
Yup, that's right. In the DOFP timeline, Jean died and Senator Kelly was assassinated. This led to mutants being put in camps in the 21st century.
In Rachel's timeline Jean lived and the camps started much earlier (the attack on the X-mansion was/would be seven years after the point Rachel travels back to).
It's a good thing Jean didn't survive or anything really, isn't it?
Posted by: Benway | October 30, 2016 9:00 PM
Wait. Did Jean die in the DOFP timeline? Thinking about it, I can't remember! Sorry...
Posted by: Benway | October 30, 2016 9:46 PM
If I'm getting your question right, then, yes, Jean was killed in the DOFP future. At the beginning of X-Men #141, only Storm, Colossus, Kitty and Logan remain alive out of "all the X-Men who ever were."
Posted by: James Holt | October 30, 2016 10:07 PM
Yes, that's it. Thanks. I have it straight now! I was thinking about the points of divergence between the timelines. If Jean is dead in the other two, then Jean being alive is the point in Rachel's timeline. The assassination of Senator Kelly doesn't seem to end up making much difference one way or the other, which means at this point that DOFP could more or less still happen as it did, but Rachel's version of history won't. I guess the point is that the anti-mutant holocaust is inevitable and changing events just makes it happen sooner or later.
Posted by: Benway | October 30, 2016 11:34 PM
I never understood when the Jean/Phoenix/Dark Phoenix part of the timeline diverged. Jean, as Phoenix, did not die on the moon as happened on Earth-616 in the DoFP timeline, or the one Rachel comes from, if they are two separate timelines.
Rachel's hints don't help any. If Rachel's timeline is different from DoFP, then all bets are off. Storm may have been a metamorph from Thailand who briefly lost her powers fighting with Kang. Alternate universes are fine as long as it's established that *many* things are different, but if you're going to go with 'this one event is changed and everything turns out differently' then you really need to stick with that. Which isn't possible in the Marvel Universe or the Claremont X-Verse.
In Byrne's intended DoFP plot, one assumes that Jean-as-Dark Phoenix died just as we saw it, and Rachel was just some unrelated redheaded mutant Franklin Richards had met, probably because her color scheme contrasted with everybody else's. But that's obviously not what Claremont gave us with Nimrod, Rachel's fractured memories and timeslips, and everything else. The New Mutants didn't exist in Rachel's time, or the original story, so where did Sam, Dani and Lila come from? Or the potential future Bobby/Amara/Hellfire Club?
Posted by: ChrisW | October 31, 2016 12:08 AM
I haven't read all the later Claremont stuff so maybe I'm missing something, but I just assumed that, given the Phoenix Force retcon, Jean's cocoon must have been at the bottom of the bay in the DOFP timeline, just as it was in the new timeline created by Kate/Kitty's time trip in UXM #141-142. I also assumed that Jean had "died" on the moon in both timelines since Jean's "death" had already happened prior to the divergence, occuring in issue #138 I think.
Posted by: James Holt | October 31, 2016 12:32 AM
I would think the New Mutants were never established in the DoFP timeline because the assassination of Senator Kelly led to the activation of the Sentinels which dragged all mutants and superheroes into all-out war. The X-Men were so occupied with fighting for survival that they were unable to focus on finding and training young mutants. Furthermore, great part of the reason that Professor X brought the New Mutants in, was that he had thought the X-Men lost in space and he had vowed to exclusively help young mutants in learning to control their powers, not go on combat missions. That didn't last ling in 616, of course, but if the X-Men never went to space after the assassination of Kelly, due to the Sentinel witch hunt, the circumstances to found the New Mutants were not present.
Posted by: Mormel | October 31, 2016 1:52 AM
*last long, even.
Posted by: Mormel | October 31, 2016 1:53 AM
I just now realized that things didn't escalate quite so quickly, given Illyana's age at the time of her death in Rachel's timeline; so I guess there is no explanation after all why the New Mutants weren't accounted for in that timeline.
Posted by: Mormel | October 31, 2016 7:58 AM
On the question of whether or not the Rachel Summers appearing here is the same one that appears in the DOFP storyline, it's worth noting that there are a number of footnotes regarding Rachel in Excalibur stories that point directly back to Uncanny X-Men #141-142. Which seems to indicate that Marvel was treating it as the same timeline, not a divergence. As i think Benway is suggesting, changes may have occurred to the timeline but it's still the same timeline. Which isn't consistent of the Byrne/Gruenwald theory of changes to the timeline = alternate dimensions, but as we learn in Fantastic Four #354 the TVA don't always seem to think a divergent timeline is merited. ;-)
We may want to hold off further discussion until i cover Excalibur #66-67, which is when Rachel goes back to her timeline. I should be covering that sometime this week.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 31, 2016 12:55 PM
As a teenager, my personal belief (which I'm sure may not fit in with Alan Davis' Excalibur run which I didn't read at the time) was that Rachel's DoFP timeline was the timeline that followed on from Phoenix: The Untold Story. i.e. it's the future that "would" have happened if Shooter hadn't got involved in the Phoenix Saga.
Jean gets lobotomized, that is the break where the timelines split. Claremont for whatever reason also makes the decision that some of the "darker" elements, such as Storm becoming a tough streetfighter with a mohawk, never happen in that universe, which is strange for the dystopian future to continue to be more "innocent" than the 616 for at least a while. (Maybe Storm retains her weather goddess persona because Cyclops remains leader without the death of Jean?)
Obviously Claremont at the time intended for the Jean in Rachel's timeline to be the real Jean who lived instead of dying. Due to the Phoenix-disguising-itself-as-Jean retcon, my theory became that the Phoenix remains living as Jean and gives birth to Rachel (which was the only way I understood how Rachel gained some of the Phoenix power in Uncanny #199 while it was also with Maddie and later Jean, it was always in her as Scott & the Phoenix-in-human-form's child). I think some retcon later implied that Rachel was the sole child of Phoenix Force, but I can't remember where, but that works too. The "real" Jean remains in a cocoon undiscovered, as the Avengers etc have been killed off.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | October 31, 2016 3:25 PM
I seem to remember Claremont and/or Alan Davis making some continuity errors about exactly who died when in Rachel's future, but I don't remember anything that didn't fit that Rachel's future came from Phoenix The Untold Story.
@Mormel - you are right that the New Mutants were only created while the X-Men were in space, but it was also in part the influence of a Brood Queen that had infected Xavier - I think if both those things don't happen, that's another reason Xavier doesn't create the New Mutants. (Especially with later retcons about Xavier making another team that died at Krakoa, I don't think he would have formed another team without the Brood Queen's pushing.)
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | October 31, 2016 3:28 PM
A quick google of Byrne's original intention for Rachel Summers also fits in with my theory (well, not my theory really, I'm sure there are other people who were thinking exactly the same thing).
Byrne says: "As originally plotted by me, months before "The Fate of the Phoenix", Rachel was supposed to be Scott and Jean's daughter. As issue 137 turned out, that became impossible, but she was too central to the story to be eliminated, so I just left her as a generic telepath, and assumed Chris would not use the Scottt & Jean connection since it no longer worked. Silly me."
Presumably, Claremont decided to Scott & Jean could still be Rachel's parents by having the timeline be descended from his & Byrne's original intended ending for the Phoenix saga, rather than the one that saw print.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | October 31, 2016 3:42 PM
I've always opposed the idea that the Brood were responsible for the New Mutants' creation. It fits thematically and I assume Claremont intended that interpretation, I just don't think it's supported by what appears on the page. Regardless, that still leaves the kids out there. Sam and Dani might wind up buried in anonymous mass graves, but that means "New Mutants" #48 is absolutely not DoFP. Bobby's still in Brazil, Rhane is still in Scotland, Shan and her siblings are wherever they would have wound up, nobody finds Amara... Lila, Legion, Warlock and Magus are still out there.
So the New Mutant appearances are a separate timeline from DoFP. Ok, fine. I'd probably say Byrne and Gruenwald's attempt to avoid the Marvel rules of time travel should be thrown out the window. Kate's journey led to a separate timeline, regardless of whether or not Jean/Phoenix died in the DoFP timeline.
616 was affected by Kulan Gath and Dr. Strange changing time (among other things) so the Nimrod and Rachel Summers as we know them didn't come from Byrne's original DoFP timeline either. This would preserve Byrne's intentions (except for the "clean win," alas) Claremont's changes and make the question of when Jean/Phoenix died irrelevant except to Rachel from her specific timeline.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 31, 2016 6:35 PM
I confess I don't remember where it was established that the New Mutants didn't exist in Rachel's timeline, it surprised me when I saw it mentioned above, but I don't think Claremont was paying that much attention to the various versions he gave of events.
If the New Mutants don't exist in Rachel's timeline, then it's hard to reconcile New Mutants 48 as the same timeline as the original DoFP anyway... the New Mutants 48 starts with them outside Xavier's School, and it shows the future Sunspot, Wolfsbane & Magma have all been killed, while Cannonball & Mirage are still alive. So if Cannonball & Mirage are part of the school, but there are no New Mutants, you might think they are X-Men, but DoFP says it's showing all the surviving X-Men so they can't be. (Storm, Colossus, Wolverine & Ariel are all shown as dead too at the start of New Mutants 48.) So it must be a different timeline anyway?
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | October 31, 2016 7:57 PM
In the original DoFP, Kate says Xavier was killed at same time as Senator Kelly. In this issue, Rachel says that Xavier & Nightcrawler are killed by the army. In Excalibur 21, Rachel says Xavier was killed by the Hellfire Club. Apparently there's also some other issue where Rachel mentions Nightcrawler isn't killed by the army and that he's one of the mutants she hunts down.
I think some of these problems were waved away with "Mojo/Spiral messed with Rachel's memories" ...or maybe the Shadow King, why not :)
Then another comic (which I don't think I've read) apparently established that this Rachel Summers is unique and doesn't exist in any other universe, which should confirm that this Rachel is the same Rachel as DoFP, though I'm not sure that explanation fits into the 2 different alternate timelines we've also seen where she & Franklin Richards have 2 different kids together (Hyperstorm and David Richards in Exiles).
I don't really think there's any way it all fits together, so "Kulan Gath & Strange changed stuff magically" or "Rachel's memories are wrong" are as good explanations as anyone's going to manage. :)
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | October 31, 2016 8:14 PM
"New Mutants" #48 can't be reconciled with DoFP. Even if Xavier had gathered the original X-Babies before the Sentinel attack - and good point that he died during Kelly's assassination - the Cannonball in NM #48 remembered travelling through time after Magus attacked, which only just happened, well after Rachel and Kate's travels through time, after Xavier's death.
Even Marvel Time can't be bent that badly, especially now that we're several years past the DoFP "future."
It was "Excalibur" during and after the Cross-Time Caper that established Rachel/Phoenix doesn't exist in any other universe. But that brings us back to the original point, the Rachel in DoFP is not the Rachel Summers/Phoenix that we know. In true Claremont fashion, Rachel Summers is so unique that she was never duplicated, even in all the alternate universes where Scott and Jean had a red-headed daughter named Rachel.
No, this will never fit together well.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 31, 2016 10:26 PM
And further complicating the issue, DeFalco had Hyperstorm reveal that his mother was a Rachel Summers but not the Rachel Summers that joined the X-Men and Excalibur, so clearly there are other Rachels. Claremont tried to explain this away in a later story by saying that there are other Rachels- just not of them is exactly like our Rachel. How is that different from any other character with alternate reality counterparts?
Posted by: Michael | November 1, 2016 7:56 AM
Years ago a reader wrote in to the lettercol of Excalibur with a good question: if there is only one Rachel Summers in the entire Multiverse then how was the character always appearing in the alternate realities seen in What If? From what I recall, the editor or whoever answered the letters tried to hand-wave those appearances away by explaining that all of the stories depicted in What If were "imaginary."
Even at the time this struck me as a load of horse pucky, because I could think of at least a couple of instances where characters from the mainstream Marvel universe had encountered characters from or traveled to alternate realities introduced in issues of What If. Quasar #30 immediately comes to mind. And of course since then there have been plenty more occasions, such as the whole huge Spider-Verse crossover.
I think this was yet another instance of Claremont introducing a concept that probably sounded cool to him at the time but which ultimately proved unworkable in a huge shared universe like Marvel.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 1, 2016 12:34 PM
@Mormel- the most ridiculous line from Rachel wasn't "Why does Storm have a mohawk and no powers?? " but "What's Scott doing in Alaska?" Scott's grandparents live in Alaska so him being there shouldn't be that shocking. (To be fair, it's possible they'd moved by the time Rachel was born, and Rachel forgot where they used to live but still...)
Posted by: Michael | November 12, 2016 5:19 PM
Jesus, this whole discussion.
Posted by: Karel | November 13, 2017 4:31 AM
I thought Jean Grey clones are a mess, but evidently, Rachel Grey is even messier
Posted by: Karel | November 13, 2017 4:32 AM
I read ya Karel. Jesus. My list of contradictory references just keeps getting longer and longer.
I don't understand the distinction various writers keep trying to make, that basically says:
"Alternate timelines" are different than "alternate realities."
Why are they different? Is it really supposed to be just some bureaucratic decision made by the TVA? (Or, at DC, by the Linear Men?) Just seems so damn arbitrary... I really can't accept it (like I had any choice ha). Linear time-travel does not equal non-linear time-travel. The two ideas are mutually exclusive! Can't have the cake and eat it too... unless you're an editor at a comic book company, I guess.
I'm sure I should just give up on the whole concept, but, like, c'mon, really? After all these years of luring us into this trap? WTF! Wotta copout. Time travel was hard enough as it was, but with editorial interference too? Truly impossible and nonsensical. *brains exploding*
Posted by: Holt | November 13, 2017 5:14 PM
Alternate timelines have some level of shared history - and otherwise universal similarity - but have branched off at some point. Often this branching is due to intervention from a time traveler
Alternate realities do not necessarily share any history. Earth may have never been populated by humans or humanoids. There might not be an Earth at all. The entire universe might be made of mist.
Posted by: cullen | November 14, 2017 12:32 AM
Basically, an alternate timeline is a "What If" world, although the divergences could have happened very early in the timeline. There'd still be counterparts of 6161 characters in most of them, and the great cosmic powers -- Eternity, Death, etc. -- should still exist in some form. There can be a bunch of really, really similar alternate timelines because branching theoretically happens at every point in the timeline.
Alternate realities, on the other hand, differ at some fundamental level. These would cover stuff like the Shadowline and New Universe books, where the basics of the MU don't hold true despite the otherwise Earth-based setting, but it could also cover radically different realms like Weirdworld, the Negative Zone, or, say, the Star Wars universe. (Things that are too "small" in scope to be a full reality tend to get labeled ads "other dimensions.")
Anytime a character is said to be unique among the alternate timelines, it will inevitably turn out to be bull-puckey, because writers love to create alternate timelines with counterpart characters.
DoFP has several very close altermate timelines with minor, but consequential divergence points: there's the world this Rachel is from, the world Hyperstorm is from (where Rachel and Franklin lived together long enough to have a child), and still others besides. The really confusing part is that Rachel traveled both "back" and "sideways" in time, going to her relative past,k but on a parallel track (Earth-616).
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 14, 2017 6:36 AM
This isn't a new post due to character limits: It's a new post because I just realized a way to "save" Claremont's claim, but it's a way a lot of people won't like.
Claremont would later drop at least one hint that the Rachel Grey who joins the "main timeline" X-Men isn't the biological daughter of Scott Summers. I'm thinking of the "Days of Future Present" story where Sue Storm and Scott Summers are are captured, brainwashed into "Hounds," and empowered by Ahab to track their children through some kind of pseudo-genetic link. Sue can track Franklin can't track Scott.
Supposedly, the plan was that Rachel would eventually turn out to be somehow conceived by the Phoenix Force itself. So perhaps all those other Rachel Summerses are biologically the children of Scott and Jean, but the "unique" Rachel is actually the child of Jean and the Phoenix. Of course, nobody wants this and it's very, very likely that some other stories contradict it entirely, but, uh, the Phoenix fooled the scanners or something. I'd guess this is something Claremont decided pretty late in the game, too. A lot of the more consciously "special" stuff about Rachel wasn't established until the Excalibur era when she seemed to have Phoenix powers all the time.
It's worth noting that Claremont was probably trying to use some variation of the original (non-Phoenix-spawn) Rachel Summers plot idea when he introduced the future-alternate timeline Valeria von Doom in his late 1990s Fantastic Four run.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 14, 2017 6:45 AM
Sorry, the above should read, "Sue can track Franklin, but Scott can;t track Rachel."
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 14, 2017 6:47 AM
Thanks guys. I think I get what you're saying, but I probably phrased my question wrong, in a burst of frustration from trying to figure out what the rules are, for writing time-travel stories. Rather than "Why are they different(?)," a better question might have been, "Why do we let writers (& editors) get away with using 2 mutually exclusive theories about time-travel in the same shared multiverse (or omniverse)?"
I'm not sure how far I can go with this line of thinking here, without going too far off-topic. Other commenters have already made the point better than I can, that the time-travel conflicts presented by this cluster of storylines is unresolvable as far as the idea of Rachel/Phoenix being included in the wrong timeline(s). My problems with linear vs. non-linear time-travel really are off-topic, & I'll save them for another place & time. The editorial meddlings which frustrate me here include:
1. Putting the TVA in charge of temporal aberrations is merely a fictional contrivance that covers editors asses, who say "time-travel into the past always creates alternate timelines, except when we decide that it doesn't."
2. The idea that Jean/Phoenix had to be killed in #138 was a result, not of Claremont's nor Byrne's decisions, but rather, of an editor's decision.
3. The idea that Jean/Phoenix was never the real Jean, but rather, the Phoenix force posing as Jean, was yet another editorial mandate which occurred years after the DoFP storyline was published.
Posted by: Holt | November 14, 2017 7:32 AM
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