Jonathan, son of Kevin:
Uncanny X-Men #208-209
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #208, Uncanny X-Men #209
Wolverine stopped Rachel Summers from killing Selene last issue, but Selene was still badly injured in the fight. So she goes out to indiscriminately steal the lifeforce from humans.
As Walter Lawson has pointed out, Selene's vampirism is very similar to that of Satana's (Claremont wrote a good portion of her appearances).
Selene then returns to the Hellfire Club and despite some debate...
...convinces them that since Rachel Summers intended to kill all of them, that they should hunt her down. (Note that Selene refers to Tessa as Shaw's "leman", which means lover. Tessa's very robotic personality is also on display.)
But Storm tells them to put aside their differences so that they can go help the mortally wounded Rachel.
Before they even leave the tunnels, however, Rachel discovers the bodies of the people that Selene killed, and she returns to attack Wolverine for it.
Rachel leaves Wolverine in the path of an oncoming subway train. Kitty saves him and then Nightcrawler teleports them to Central Park, where the other X-Men have gathered with Callisto and Caliban to track Wolverine.
Caliban has mutant tracking abilities...
...but the Hellfire Club don't have anyone with similar abilities. So Selene transforms her lackey, Friedrich von Roehm, aka the Black Rook, into a feral man-beast. The rest of the Hellfire Club are unsettled (or maybe it's just Leland; i think Shaw's first word balloon is really a continuation of Leland's, and Tessa is again strictly analytical).
All of this activity is detected by Nimrod, the Super-Sentinel from Rachel Summer's alternate future timeline (we also see that Avengers Mansion is right up the street from the Hellfire Club, and Nimrod has filed their location away for future termination).
Nimrod's scan detects Morlocks, the Hellfire Club, and "twelve classified as X-Men". Let's see. Rogue, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Shadowcat. The Class Omega Phoenix. Does he detect the non-powered Storm? Even so, that's a maximum of seven. Who are the others? We'll find out soon.
Before Nimrod arrives, the X-Men and the Hellfire Club come across each other and get into a battle.
Rogue comes in contact with von Roehm, and gets infected with his essence (something that seems to be happening more and more).
She recovers from that, but her torn costume causes her to absorb Colossus' powers when he's buried underground by Harry Leland's gravity powers.
The battle doesn't get much further before Nimrod arrives.
To play my counting game again, a narration panel at the beginning of X-Men #209 tells us that Nimrod is facing nine mutants.
That seems to include von Roehm (who i guess is a mutant in the sense that like all of Selene's high priests he has the hereditary "talent" of being capable of being transformed into a bestial state by Selene) and Tessa (who, as i've mentioned, was classified as a human in a 1986 role playing game book).
The fighting between the Hellfire Club and the X-Men doesn't end just because Nimrod shows up...
...but the mutants soon realize that a three-way fight is not productive when the ultra powerful robot is in the mix...
...and so they agree to a temporary truce. Well, they all agree except von Roehm...
...who gets disintegrated.
As we've seen before in moments of high stress for Storm, the weather turns bad during the battle.
Nightcrawler tries to use the trick Rogue used against Nimrod in the X-Men's last fight with him. This is over Storm's orders, since Storm says that Nimrod learns from past battles and won't be vulnerable to the same trick twice. It's also the case that when Rogue tried that trick, she had her own invulnerability and Colossus' to help protect her. Nightcrawler has none of that going for him.
Nimrod is instead brought down by Harry Leland.
Nimrod is further weakened from the attack delivered by Kitty Pryde and Colossus, using a technique similar to the one they used against the future sentinels the Beyonder summoned in Uncanny X-Men #202.
And then the coup de grace is delivered by Leland, who pulls Shaw down from the stratosphere where Nimrod tossed him and back onto Nimrod.
The strain is such for the overweight Black Bishop that he has a heart attack and dies. Leland is a relatively minor character but his sacrifice here in this crucial fight actually increases his significance. There's a parallel to the death of the Executioner in Walt Simonson's Thor #362, although the Executioner had been a more significant character in the Silver Age.
Wolverine tries to further destroy the shattered Nimrod, but the robot manages to teleport itself away.
While all of this is going on, the original object of both the Hellfire Club and the X-Men, Rachel Summers, has been whisked away to Spiral's Body Shoppe.
As i mentioned in the entry for last issue, the plan was for Rachel to have her own limited series, but that got delayed.
Claremont had been developing a human side for Nimrod that's been interesting. It continues here...
...but this will turn out to really be the end of Nimrod in his current incarnation.
These are a classic pair of battle issues. The fights with the Hellfire Club and Nimrod are both a lot of fun, with Claremont and JRJR devoting time to various power tricks and really selling the danger in the fights. But what makes these issues extra cool is that they are the first of two "non-crossover crossover[s]" (per the lettercol in X-Factor #8) with X-Factor. The twelve X-Men that Nimrod counted in Central Park included the five members of X-Factor, who as we'll see in X-Factor #8 enter Central Park to investigate reports of mutant activity but get side-tracked by Freedom Force. And Spiral's appearance here takes her away from that Freedom Force battle.
It's at this time that Marvel started up the Classic X-men series that began reprinting the X-Men run from Giant-Size X-Men #1 with new continuity inserts. In a kind of virtuous circle, the popularity of the X-Men book made a reprint title economically viable, but also helped keep the involved continuity of the X-Men accessible to new readers.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place soon after the end of UX #207 and no other X-Men appearances should take place in between. The non-crossover with X-Factor #8 takes place concurrently with this arc. The activity in the park is what causes X-Factor to get involved, but once they are involved Spiral leaves the X-Factor book to appear here. X-Factor #8 leads directly to issue #9, which begins their side of the second, larger, non-crossover: the Mutant Massacre. But the X-Men first have to appear in this year's New Mutant and X-Men annuals before the Mutant Massacre begins.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
Note that Rachel's behavior these issues is arguably just as cowardly as Tigra's in Avengers 215-216- she refuses to warn Storm that Shaw's goons have the drop on her because Selene might find her and then runs off and abandons the team while they're facing Nimrod. But aside from Kitty's anger in issue 210, Rachel's behavior is mostly forgotten about. There's no real reason that Tigra's behavior couldn't have been handled similarly.
Posted by: Michael | February 2, 2014 6:57 PM
This may be a good place to discuss Claremont's original plans for '86, how they got derailed, and how they influenced the next three years' stories anyway. Claremont wanted to do a riff on the Moore/Davis "Jasper's Warp" story from Captain Britain. To that end he reintroduced Jaspers in Uncanny 200. He introduced Captain Britain and Psylocke to the X-Men. Next Nimrod was supposed to encounter and merge with the Fury (much as he eventually merges with Master Mold, as it turns out). Nimrod perpetrates the mutant massacre, and Jaspers teams up with the Fury, pushes events toward DOFP, and whips up a Jaspers Warp that becomes a "Marvel Crisis."
The X-Men would stop the warp, but half the team would be "warped" themselves by the experience (Claremont uses this idea after Inferno instead, briefly), and the team divides into cheery and dark versions--presumably the cheery one would be rather like Excalibur.
But Moore had a confusing copyright claim on his MarvelUK stories, so Claremont's master plan got taken apart. Suddenly, that means character arcs for Nimrod and probably Rachel are thrown into chaos. I suspect the whole reason Claremont spent so much time showing us the human side of Nimrod was to set up a self-destruct denouement along the lines we finally get with Master Mold.
If Claremont's plan had come off, Excalibur might have had a reason to exist and the merging of X-Men and the CB my this wouldn't have seemed so arbitrary. We do get a "Jaspers Warp" a year from now, only it's caused by the Adversary, not Jaspers, and Claremont takes a couple of stabs at making the X-Men "dark," with the post-mutant-massacre team, Inferno, and the Shadow King, but it doesn't play out very clearly. The mutant massacre, of course, gets reassigned to the Marauders, and Mr. Sinister becomes Claremont's metafictive stand-in for editorial meddling with his stories.
Poor Nimrod is forgotten about for years. Nightcrawler rather redundantly gets badly injured in both 209 and 211. It's a hash, but these stories are arguably more thrilling for being so spontaneously repurposed. I certainly enjoyed this era.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 2, 2014 7:01 PM
Much like the "intended" ending for the Dark Phoenix saga, I would have preferred not to know how it was supposed to happen. I only say that because the version that you said sounded better than what we got, IMO. The Mutant Massacre story was great, but the retcon done to it later, ruined it - "Dark Beast from AOA being the "creator" of the Morlocks.
Posted by: clyde | February 2, 2014 7:17 PM
Thanks, Walter. I was going to link to the Marvel Appendix's recount of the derailed storyline when i got to the Mutant Massacre, but you've done a great job of laying it out here.
Michael, one difference with Rachel vs. Tigra is that Rachel is laying there with a huge wound in her gut thanks to Wolverine here, so her behavior is more excusable. But i agree that Tigra's "cowardice" could have similarly been, if not ignored, at least not dwelt upon so much.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 2, 2014 7:23 PM
A retcon by a totally different creative team years later should never ruin the original work.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | February 2, 2014 8:03 PM
At the same moment this is happening to the X-Men, X-Factor are sent out by Hodge to investigate this battle in X-Factor #8. Before they can reach the X-Men they are stopped by Freedom Force who wish to question them about Rusty Collins. Spiral suddenly leaves that confrontation to kidnap Rachel here.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | February 3, 2014 3:46 PM
And of course you've already mentioned that. Here's me missing the obvious again... lol!
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | February 3, 2014 4:33 PM
You've got these dated as '87, rather than '86.
Posted by: Stephen | February 3, 2014 5:08 PM
Thanks Stephen. That was probably a Freudian slip. I wanted to be working on 1987 by now.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 3, 2014 7:32 PM
These were fun issues, but I never liked Wolverine's explanation for trying to kill Rachel. It was just so full of contradictions and holes, it soured me on the character for a very long time.
When these issues (I'm including 207) here were discussed at the Gentlemen of Leisure blog, Teebore explained that Claremont intended it to show Wolverine was concerned that Rachel was going down the same path as Jean Grey/Phoenix and that if he allowed her to kill, we'd see a repeat of the broccoli head holocaust. Ergo, he had to kill her first.
Now while that makes more sense (although I still think it has holes, is pre-emptive killing now OK; and does Rachel really have the power her mother did? The answers in my mind are both no), none of that comes out in these issues.
Posted by: Chris | February 3, 2014 9:32 PM
Having collected the whole run of Classic X-Men, I certainly gained a greater understanding and appreciation of the X-Men universe. I also liked the back-ups (for the most part).
Posted by: clyde | February 4, 2014 2:27 PM
This is where Claremont's X-Men stuff is starting to fall apart for me. The stories are still great, but the aborted arcs just start piling up. Either due to editorial meddling, or Claremont just juggling to many balls.
For example: these issues are awesome. They feel like a huge end-of-season finale. Giant fight, many plot threads coming together, status quo changes... fantastic! But if you look at the individual strands...
Rachel Summers was an interesting character, but the Phoenix stuff never got properly developed, her issues with Cyclops got sidelined when he was booted to X-Factor, and her mini series got cancelled.
The Hellfire Club were an awesome concept, but only the White Queen/Hellion side of it all really got much screen time. After this we start building to the X-Men/Hellfire alliance, but that also fizzles out when the X-Men seemingly die in Dallas.
Nimrod being a brutal killer, but beloved by the public, and his human personality were also cool, but his story ends garbled and confused after the merge with Master Mold.
And we end with Spiral, who just got more and more enigmatic with each appearance, being involved with Mojo, the Body Shoppe and Freedom Force, but never got a decent explanation for much of what she did.
Posted by: Berend | March 13, 2014 10:57 AM
"If Claremont's plan had come off, Excalibur might have had a reason to exist and the merging of X-Men and the CB my this wouldn't have seemed so arbitrary. "
Walter - who is CB? I'm not at the Inferno storyline yet.
Posted by: Ryan | October 9, 2014 6:31 AM
Posted by: fnord12 | October 9, 2014 7:17 AM
I agree with Berend that the aborted arcs were piling up and were frustrating (every new issue I kept wondering when Rachel would appear again before she finally did in Excalibur). But I also loved this stretch. #209 was especially good -a great use of teamwork and two teams fighting together to save mutantkind (in a sense - not a larger fight, but fighting against someone who wants to obliterate mutants). That issue had some really classic moments (Rogue throwing Shaw - Leland refusing to die until he manages to yank Shaw back out of orbit). But with Rachel now gone and Kurt possibly gone (yes, he'll be back next issue, but he won't be the same for years), it was clear that the status quo on the book had changed.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 1, 2015 7:25 AM
Did Spiral have any connection to Central Park? Arguably the two best stories she ever appeared in [this one and "X-Men" Annual #10] working for Freedom Force [Mystique and Destiny] and Mojo respectively mostly took place in Central Park. The former was where Nimrod appeared and a calculated crossover between X-Men and X-Factor worked out, and the latter involved the New Mutants getting ready to graduate.
Oh, and having just skimmed parts of "Essential X-Men" #6, I wonder if the connection between Selene and Rachel, more than anything else, was about the fact that Jean Grey and Selene were both Black Queens. And Nimrod only appeared in this era because of the Kulan Gath two-parter. Selene is Amara's ancestor directly, but she's symbolically Rachel's as well.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 14, 2015 8:48 PM
As Sage is my favorite X-Man, it's fun for me to go back to her early appearances as Tessa and see how he was slowly building up her character each time she shows up. Her robotic personality, her analytical abilities. There was definitely far more to her than met the eye back then. Knowing what we know about her now, you can see some curious things in what she does, particularly here where she offers the X-Men sanctuary at the Hellfire Club rather than just not care and let the police have them, which you'd think it would be the case since they are supposed to be enemies, but they are secretly her allies, so she makes the offer without it being too suspicious.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 3, 2016 10:07 AM
The plot point where Rogue keeps being infected by the essence of evil characters each time uses her power on them is an indication (to me) of the plan Claremont had of slowly transforming Rogue into the Shadow Queen, as she was a sleeper agent the Shadow King had placed within the X-Men (a storyline that was supposed to culminate in UNCANNY X-MEN #300 but came about much later on in X-TREME X-MEN ANNUAL 2001).
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 3, 2016 10:15 AM
One of these days I need to track down a copy of X-Treme X-Men Annual 2001 to see what it's all about.
Posted by: Ben Herman | June 3, 2016 10:28 AM
It's by Claremont and Larocca, and it not only concluded Claremont's plans for his Shadow Queen, but also his plans for Gateway and the Reavers, who were seemingly destroyed in UNCANNY X-MEN #281. A back-up story with Shadowcat rounds things out, throwing out an interesting tidbit about the Destiny Diaries during a time when she was not on the team and was still in college. The book itself is printed sideways, with mostly splash pages to give it a sort of cinematic feeling.
Oh, and Shadow King thrall Lian Shen also appears in the main story. It was her first appearance since UNCANNY X-MEN #265-267.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 3, 2016 10:40 AM
Just noticed - fnord you list Romita with pencils and Russell with inks. But noticing that I liked the art in #209 better than I usually like Romita, I looked and saw the splash page only lists him as breakdowns and Russell with finishes. I think that is part of why I like the art better.
But good lord do I love Art Adams' cover for Classic #1.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 12, 2017 12:24 PM
Updated the credits labels. Thanks Erik.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 13, 2017 8:16 AM
Following on from this issue, Rachel was meant to appear in a limited series explaining what happened to her next, involving Mojo, Spiral & also Franklin Richards. The series was advertised several times but was postponed & then cancelled entirely. (Much to my disappointment at the time, wanting to know what had happened in between this issue & Excalibur.)
According to the below article, Claremont had completed scripts for a few issues, and Leonardi had pencilled the first issue, but only some of the pages were inked or lettered, some of which can be seen here: http://marvel1980s.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/1986-whatever-happened-to-phoenix.html
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | November 22, 2017 9:42 AM
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