Uncanny X-Men #211
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #211
...and despite two of them using weapons, the rest are pretty clearly super-powered (in fact all are mutants except one, see the References). Their slaughter of the Morlocks begins here, with a brutal power demonstration scene...
...and then a face-off against a group led by Callisto.
We don't get to see that fight (which was probably the last moment where it really was a fight and not just a massacre) because we switch over to the X-Men, who are still suffering from mental and physical injuries from recent events. Wolverine is still not recovered from his battle with Lady Deathstrike, and Colossus fears that the slow recovery is an indication that something is "very wrong" with him. At a minimum, it's turned him into a farmer.
Last issue Nightcrawler was said to have lost his ability to teleport after the fight with Nimrod, but we see here that he can do so, albeit not without major pain (this is useful since i've placed the X-Men annual, where Nightcrawler teleports during a training session, between this issue and last).
It's at this time that a Morlock arrives at the X-Men's grounds asking for help. It's worth noting that the Morlocks begin looking a bit more mutant-y than we often saw in the past, where the background characters just looked like shabby homeless people or punk rockers. This guy's a burrowing mole-sloth.
Psylocke is now at the Mansion, and before the Morlock passes out, she's able to get a sense of the massacre going on in the tunnels. Magneto compares it to the Holocaust (a comparison somewhat weakened by the fact that the killers are also mutants). Storm gets the X-Men ready to investigate, but she tells Magneto to stay behind because his primary responsibility is to the New Mutants, and Psylocke is also left behind because she is "as yet unproven, unaccepted" (with Claremont still teasing the idea that she might wind up on "either team"). Leaving Magneto behind while taking the injured Wolverine and Nightcrawler may not have been the best move considering what the X-Men are about to face, but Magneto reluctantly accepts Storm's decision. To save time, Magik teleports the team to the heart of the tunnels, where they find a pile of dead and injured Morlocks (and alligators, thanks to the Morlock Piper).
They're immediately attacked by a pair of Marauders.
It's said that the X-Men that have faced Vertigo before are better able to withstand her attack. As we go through the Massacre, we'll find that just about everyone has the ability to withstand her attacks, for one reason or another.
Nightcrawler, however, makes a dangerous play, grabbing her and subjecting her and him to repeated teleports.
When he's finished, he's unable to teleport further, and Riptide rips into him, leaving him cut and bleeding as the Marauders withdraw.
Illyana teleports Kurt and Piper back to the Mansion. Rogue's costume was torn up during the fight (in a panel where a coloring error made her look like Kitty), so Storm gives her the leather jacket, which she herself won from Callisto when she took leadership of the Morlocks; the jacket will be significant later. The group presses on.
Meanwhile, Scalphunter has hunted down Annalee, who sees to have adopted a new set of children. Scalphunter seems to know Annalee, or at least her power set, and tells her that he killed a "quartet of Morlock brats on the surface".
That's a reference to Annalee's biological children, who were killed in issue #193. At the time the assumption was that the children were killed by humans; in that issue Callisto immediately leaps on the deaths to lament intolerance towards mutants and even suggest the possibility of a race war with humanity. I've said a few times that the fact that the Marauders are themselves mutants blunts the impact from a metaphorical perspective. Magneto's Holocaust comparison seems inappropriate. And with this revelation, that blunting actually becomes retroactive and makes Callisto's older comments also off base.
Now, Scalphunter himself seems human and hasn't explicitly been said to be a mutant yet. He's just a guy with a gun and with gun parts weirdly glued to his body armor. But he's working with other mutants, and we'll learn that they are all working for a mutant as well.
To be clear, what's happening in the Morlock tunnels is brutal and tragic and Claremont and Romita do a good job depicting it as such. It's just that this event isn't at all about human/mutant atrocities; it's really just mutant in-fighting. Quite a different scenario than if all this was perpetuated by a mutant hunting sentinel.
Colossus and Kitty Pryde come across Scalphunter and Arclight...
...and the rest of the X-Men and surviving Morlocks wind up in a passageway where X-Factor is fighting more Marauders. Wolverine recognizes Jean's scent although he says that he must be crazy (i'm giving all of X-Factor Appearance tags based on this sequence).
The teams get cut off and don't actually meet.
The final battle this issue features the entire remaining team of X-Men against all the Marauders that we've met so far. It's a ferocious battle.
Kitty finds that she's not invulnerable to Harpoon's energy spears while phasing, and Colossus takes some serious damage as well. In return, we see Colossus use lethal force, killing Riptide.
With that, the Marauders withdraw again. Storm decides that the priority is getting the surviving Morlocks out of the tunnels, but in addition to Colossus' killing, we see both Rogue and Storm expressing deadly intentions. Storm leaves Wolverine behind, and makes it clear that she only needs one Marauder alive for questioning.
This story is incredibly dark, not just for the death of the Morlocks...
...and the injuries to Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde (who is stuck in phase form), but because of how these events affect the attitude of the other heroes. Just a few issues ago Wolverine felt forced to stab Rachel Summers to prevent her from killing a villain. Here, Colossus kills one and is ready to kill more, Rogue feels the same way, and Storm gives Wolverine the nod to do some more killing on his own. It's also dark because the heroes fail to prevent this slaughter. As she acknowledges, Storm is nominally the leader of the Morlocks, so the failure here is personal for her, and will affect her in the next few issues. But things don't really get better. This isn't like Frank Miller's Born Again, where the hero(es) go through a dark period but come out of it stronger and whole again. This tone is basically the new normal for the X-Men. It's all very well done, to be sure. Indeed, this storyline comes with some much needed focus from Claremont, who had been drifting a bit lately, possibly due to interference from Secret Wars II and his need to change the plans for this story thanks to the Alan Moore objection. And this storyline was well received and is rightly considered a high point for the series. Also signifying the new direction is the departure of John Romita Jr., who gets help from Bret Blevins this issue.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: I've placed a number of books not directly related to the Mutant Massacre between X-Factor #9 and this issue due to various dependencies. See the Considerations for X-Factor #9 for the reasons. Going forward i'll be keeping the rest of the Massacre in immediate succession. As i've mentioned, i'm following the Mutant Massacre trade for issue placement for the most part, but events here are simultaneous to events in X-Factor. The massacre of the Morlocks shown at the beginning of X-Factor #10 most likely happens shortly after the off-panel battle with Callisto in this issue, and then X-Factor's cameo appearance here best fits circa page #19 of X-Factor #10. The X-Men next appear in New Mutants #46.
Crossover: Mutant Massacre
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (11): show
I know this is a retcon of sorts, but the revelation that much of the Morlocks ranks were the result of Dark Beast's experiments does mean that they are still being killed for their genetics and fits in with some of the Marauders dialogue (which makes it clear that this is a cleansing of some sort, even if the reasoning was left a little vague).
Seeing how humans persecute other humans, I find it helps that this story (even without the retcon) shows indication of mutants persecuting other mutants, showing that they really are no better than humans at this sort of thing kind of proves some equality on a dark level and is a different angle than most mutant stories take.
Though I guess one could still argue that the Marauders are "just following orders" and couldn't really care less who their target is to be diminishing of that concept.
Posted by: Max_Spider | February 7, 2014 3:32 PM
If I understand correctly a part of me sort of wishes Nimrod was the one that was greating Mutant hunting groups. I mean makes since: its job is to eliminate mutants, just the way it is and it would make sense that upon two defeats it would change tactics.
Other hand: I like Nimrod, he was a nice anti-villain and it hurting picturing it doing this.
Anyway I found it BS that Colossus is taken out by a bunch of suriken rather than an energy spear or losing his powers for a moment.
Can't wait for the X-Men vs. Fantastic Four mini series review.
Posted by: David Banes | February 7, 2014 5:47 PM
How slowly is Scott's beam moving if Logan can push Storm out of the way with barely a split-second's warning?
Posted by: Michael | February 7, 2014 7:37 PM
Brutal issue, but a highlight of the series. I actually like that the "mutants as a metaphor for the discriminated" for discrimination was blunted. While always one of the potent metaphors, the "children of the atom" as a concept had many more. Mutants aren't just victims of society. They also represent the terrible dangers that modern industrial society inadvertently creates, and also the issue of that those born with great abilities as often use them against society as for its benefit.
The "mutant civil war" that these issues inaugurate are a welcome change of pace,although it does start the process of changing the X-Men from a group dedicated to protecting a world that hates and fears them into just a mildly more benevolent faction of supermen battling each other. But that is many more years away.
Posted by: Chris | February 7, 2014 11:08 PM
The moment where Storm is nearly hit by Cyclops's beam and Wolverine tells her he can smell the original 5 is probably the fight with Prism where Angel & Marvel Girl finally rejoin the team and Jean shatters Prism.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | February 8, 2014 4:33 AM
I'll echo Chris's point: these issues mark a shift from the X-Men as soap opera, or at least prime time drama, to action movie. The Marauders are thrilling, but unfortunately they mark the beginning of a long train of undermotivated killers. Until now, most X-villains have had clear motives: Mystique was willing to kill Robert Kelly to stop a mutant holocaust, Selene kills to survive, the Hellfire Club wants power and wealth, etc. We've had a few psychos like Rev. Stryker, and the Marauders kind of have a mercenary motive, but we start losing the shading that was a hallmark of Claremont's X-Men. Now we get a focus on evil-for-the-sake-of-evil guys like Sinister, Pierce, Shadow King, Zaladane, the Adversary, the Inferno demons... Claremont may have meant to add motivations later, in Sinister's case especially, but he never gets to do so.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 8, 2014 1:47 PM
I think this whole dark period was only possible due to the absence of Prof. Xavier. IMO, He was a father figure and a voice of reason for all the mutants under the X-Men banner. THink how X-Factor would be if he were still here. In fact, when he came back & saw what Scott and his team were doing, he was very upset. He probably would have also cautioned Storm's team about going into the tunnels without a cohesive game plan.
Posted by: clyde | February 8, 2014 6:48 PM
I doubt it is Xavier, I mean Claremont himself didn't think he was a good man at all, or so I heard.
I think Claremont was just upping the stakes, things were going to get worse for mutants before they got better. Also it seems when the X-Men ceased to be a family and more like a superhero team is when I think it got super dark.
Posted by: David Banes | February 9, 2014 1:24 PM
Michael wrote: "How slowly is Scott's beam moving if Logan can push Storm out of the way with barely a split-second's warning?"
It's probably one of the beams that got refracted through Prism which slowed it down, as that fight in X-Factor #10 is the moment when Wolverine would have smelled "All the original X-Men" together.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | February 11, 2014 5:40 PM
I would agree that this issue is the start of the X-Men's long decline, but then, this issue (and #210) are the first two issues I bought at the comic book store and played an important role in making me the fanboy I am today. I was ten years old when they came out, the "Golden Age" for superheroes.
A year or so later, when I had collected or read enough back issues, I was really impressed that Kitty was one of the most vocal opponents of Rogue joining the team, and yet Kitty's the one sacrificing herself for Rogue. I don't know what that says about me, but at the time, I was really impressed.
Posted by: ChrisW | February 19, 2014 10:01 PM
I found Claremont's run to be strong until right after the Inferno Saga. At that point, Claremont had pretty much finished what he was doing with the title.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | February 19, 2014 11:50 PM
By the by, the letters page of ish 266 claims Scalphunter isn't a mutant, just a very good inventor. The OHOTMU '89 entry for the Marauders apparently claimed he hadn't displayed any powers. My impression, though, is that Claremont intended him as a technomorph from the beginning, though it's a little odd his power is so similar to those of another Native American character, Forge.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | February 27, 2014 11:10 PM
I saw Scalphunter as bringing together certain parts to make weapons, long as he has the material. So maybe a sort of fusion process? While Forge just invents anything and has the stuff together. Now if one had bother powers they'd be pretty tough.
Scalphunter would be kind of interesting a movie.
Posted by: David Banes | February 28, 2014 12:40 AM
Which is pretty much the description of Wiz Kid's (from the X-terminators mini) powers.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 1, 2014 5:27 PM
A very good issue, but the end of an era. It's like Avengers #211. We have the departure of Kitty (6 years), Peter and Kurt (10 years each) from a team that has been relatively stable for several years. I remember reading about it in the Marvel Age Annual and being stunned that they would do this.
But it is very good and was an interesting direction to take the team, down a much darker road. I was stunned to see Peter kill Riptide (it really takes away some of the power of that when you find out the Marauders all just get cloned). And to see Kitty, my favorite character, stuck phasing, was just heart-breaking, especially as a follow-up on her magnificent speech in NM #45.
As for that mention that Dark Beast created the Marauders, I'm sticking that in the "Alicia is a Skrull" and "Gwen had Osborn's baby" as just stupid. Not as stupid as those, but stupid enough that I'm going to pretend it doesn't exist.
This really set a long line of things in motion - the question of who Mr. Sinister was (he wouldn't actually appear until almost a year later), why he wanted the Morlocks killed, what would happen to the team.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 4, 2015 12:58 PM
@Erik: Yep it was great but the team that then emerged after this has to be my favourite (I'm Australian so somewhat biased;)
As for why Mister Sinister wanted the Morlocks really killed I still wonder some thirty years later what Claremont really had in mind there, and would love to know other commenters thoughts!?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 4, 2015 8:46 PM
'Storm gets the X-Men ready to investigate, but she tells Magneto to stay behind because his primary responsibility is to the New Mutants, and Psylocke is also left behind because she is "as yet unproven, unaccepted" (with Claremont still teasing the idea that she might wind up on "either team"). Leaving Magneto behind while taking the injured Wolverine and Nightcrawler may not have been the best move considering what the X-Men are about to face, but Magneto reluctantly accepts Storm's decision.'
This, as much as (if not more than) issues worth of thought bubbles, makes Magneto's heel turn in New Mutants #75 a little harder to take at face value, unless some of Magneto's rhetoric is spoken with one eye on his captive audience of the captured New Mutants, trying to paint himself as worse than he actually was so as to disillusion the students with him for their own sake? As in, yeah, *they* don't know he didn't decide to join the Hellfire Club himself, *they* don't know that he did hope to reform genuinely, or grown to care for them as people under his protection. Better to make himself seem like an utter b*stard and have them angry enough to walk away from him, allowing him to do what he feels necessary without yet being a Silver Age villain in actual fact. That would fit with what Claremont had him tell Moira later, of course, but the 90s did away with any such ambiguity.
Posted by: Harry | July 13, 2015 2:31 PM
It also shows that Storm really isn't a good leader for the X-Men. If she wants to make a punitive strike against the Marauders, and is already willing to send Wolverine into the tunnels, alone, without back-up, then why not send Magneto too? The two of them will have absolutely no problem doing what needs to be done, and the X-Men will look after the New Mutants.
Magneto would be fine with it. He's an evil villain, his reputation is destroyed anyway, might as well use his formidable power to its utmost. And Wolverine would appreciate the support. Just think of what the two of them could do with a Fastball Special.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 1, 2015 6:22 PM
The Vertigo here is a clone of the original, who had never left the Savage Land at all. This explains why she always seemingly kept going back and forth from the Marauders to the Savage Land for years, which never made much sense to me. Mr. Sinister took a sample of her DNA and cloned her for his Marauders, leaving the original to continue living in her home and doing her thing with the Savage Land Mutates.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | May 28, 2016 10:45 AM
Just to clarify, i think Andrew is talking from the perspective of Claremont's intentions and/or fan theory. I think it's been hinted but never confirmed that the Maruaders were clones, and i think the Handbooks still treat these as appearances of the real characters (the MCP definitely does).
My comment is just from the perspective of character tags. As far as what's canon, i believe the Marauders should still be tagged as the originals.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 29, 2016 9:03 AM
Fnord, you yourself refer take the clone theory for granted in your recap of Uncanny 240, when you note the seeming resurrection of some dead Marauders:
We're seeing several Marauders (Riptide, Prism, Blockbuster) walking around that we saw killed during the Massacre. Since we just saw a "replicant" device, we can guess how that's possible.
I guess there could theoretically be some other explanation for their resurrection, but this combined with the fact that Sinister is shown to have a knack for cloning mutants should make the "cloned Marauders" theory all but confirmed.
Posted by: Tuomas | May 31, 2016 6:00 AM
I don't think his issue is with the idea (an issue of X-Man, and a Nicieza Gambit story, and an issue of Yost and Kyle X-Force confirm it), it's more what counts as the clone. Until an issue comes out and outright says or blatantly suggests this specific appearance of Vertigo or whoever was a clone, he tries not to make these sorts of jumps himself.
Posted by: AF | May 31, 2016 6:35 AM
To put it another way, Maelstrom's minions Phobos, Helio, and Gronk are clones used in a way similar to the Marauders. But i tag every appearance of Gronk as the same character. What Andrew is suggesting here is that there should be two Vertigo tags, i.e. there's a Vertigo in the Savage Land that was never part of the Marauders. And i know the original intention was to do something similar with Sabretooth, something along the lines of Wolverine having never fought the "real" Sabretooth, who was always behind the scenes. But to my knowledge nothing like that has been confirmed, and so i only have single tags for Sabretooth and Vertigo (not counting the Salem Seven Vertigo, ofc).
Posted by: fnord12 | June 2, 2016 9:04 AM
Yeah, I was just explaining about the clone situation with Vertigo, rather than making any suggestions concerning the tags. The original Vertigo was never a part of the Marauders; Sinister extracted her DNA, made a clone of her, and placed the clone in the Marauders. This better explains why Vertigo was always with the Marauders and with the Savage Land Mutates, never once saying anything to anyone about why she was seemingly jumping back and forth across the world from the US to Antarctica. But this was indeed never shown in the stories, but it should have been.
There is an odd note to mention here: Vertigo was seen in an issue of GAMBIT as a homeless woman when Gambit recruited her for the Marauders, but that scene makes no sense, at least to me. Not sure what was going on there.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 2, 2016 9:49 AM
When do we see Vertigo jumping back and forth between the Marauders and the Savage Land Mutates?
Posted by: Mark Black | June 2, 2016 6:06 PM
One minute she's with the Marauders in their early appearances, and then she'sseemingly killed along with them during Inferno, but then she shows up alive and is she's seen on her own in the Superia Stratagem in CAPTAIN AMERICA #387-391. After that she's back with the Marauders in X-MAN #13 and #18. Then back with the Savage Land Mutates in X-TREME X-MEN: SAVAGE LAND #1-4, UNCANNY X-MEN #457-459 and in NEW AVENGERS #4-5. Then back with the Marauders in the Messiah Complex storyline.
She kept being killed off during her Marauder appearances, so obviously she was cloned repeatedly. Whenever she was at home with the Savage Land Mutates, she never mentions the Marauders or anything she's done with them, and vice versa, and there's a lot of her jumping around all over the place, so it seems to me the original Vertigo never left the Savage Land and has no ties to the Marauders, while the Vertigo we see with the Marauders every time is a clone that Mr. Sinister created (and kept creating).
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 3, 2016 9:52 AM
Ah, the first ever Marvel comic I read. The nostalgia... Of course this story, Mutant massacre from the point of view of X-men, set the baseline for me. This is "my" original X-men lineup, and this very bleak tone is "my" Marvel universe. It felt real enough for superhero story, it sold me the feeling that the narration plays for keeps (little did I know the mass resurrections were to come). Loved it, still do.
Posted by: Catherine | April 22, 2017 9:49 AM
They actually firmly establish that Vertigo was not a random clone of the real Vertigo. There was a Gambit one-off released in the early '10s that fleshed out the entire Sinister/Gambit connection (establishing the full nature of Gambit's deal with Sinister, in terms of Gambit's power being inherently similar to Rogue's in that everything non-organic Gambit touched exploding and Sinister agreeing to neuter his power to a controllable level in exchange for him recruiting/leading the Marauders into the tunnels).
Vertigo was seen recruited by Gambit, having left the Savage Land. She agreed to work for Sinister in exchange for money.
Posted by: Jesse Baker | January 17, 2018 9:18 PM
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