Uncanny X-Men #213
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #213
This issue is a rematch of the Sabretooth/Wolverine battle from last issue, and from a pure Whoodwin perspective it is equally inconclusive. But there is an added layer of really being about Psylocke and showing that she's got the right stuff to be an X-Man. Anyone with super-powers that doesn't hang it all up after losing their eyes to Slaymaster seems worthy to me, but of course the X-Men don't know about that. Claremont continues to demonstrate that the X-Men have doubts about Psylocke...
...although in Storm's case that's also thanks to her own recent self-doubt.
When Sabretooth first enters the X-Men's grounds, Psylocke gets knocked out because Cerebro amplifies his thoughts, which are "hostile - worse than any... beast's". That allows him to take out Rogue (unclear how, considering her strength and invulnerability).
From there he heads directly to Psylocke, who turns out to be a little more than he bargained for.
Storm and Wolverine show up to help (the rest of the X-Men are in the infirmary, while Magneto and Callisto are helping Rogue), and while the powerless Storm manages to get a few hits in...
...the battle quickly becomes a Wolverine/Sabretooth fight.
Some classic Claremontian dialogue, including the use of "rabbit", in quotes, and of course a no quarter, asked nor given line.
We've seen Psylocke's ability to survive in a fight, but when Magneto arrives on the scene, we see a ruthlessness to her, too. Magneto could probably quickly end the fight, but Psylocke suggests letting Wolverine continue to take a beating so that she can read Sabretooth's mind while his concentration is down. Magneto expresses some reservations (he's concerned about Wolvie!) but Storm allows it.
In the subsequent mindflash we see a nondescript glimpse of Mr. Sinister and a scene from an earlier fight where a "much younger" Wolverine lay defeated on a snowscape (in his brown and tans, surely a conceptual image).
A little later, Psylocke says "I have the information we need" (we don't find out here what it is), and so Sabretooth takes a dive into a lake and disappears.
After her good showing here, Psylocke is invited to join the X-Men. Obviously an important event as she'll be a longtime member. But considering half the team is in the infirmary, it's a wonder the X-Men didn't recruit Callisto and Tom Corsi as well. Things are bad enough that Magneto is seriously considering the Hellfire Club's invitation. That said, Claremont had earlier been teasing the question of whether Psylocke should join the New Mutants or the X-Men. And it doesn't seem like there really should have been a question. Reacting to the "School for Gifted Youngsters" phrase, Psylocke says in this issue that she's no longer a youngster, and she also notes that Kitty Pryde, who is approximately the same age as the New Mutants, is "half my age". So i could see a question of "is she qualified to join the X-Men?", but the question of whether or not she should join the New Mutants seems like a non-starter. The only counter-evidence i can think of is when Claremont teased the idea of Team America joining the New Mutants (since they are also not youngsters), and it's probably best not to bring that up.
Along with Psylocke's membership, Alan Davis gives us the visual of her astral projection as a psychic butterfly/pair of eyeballs, which will remain a persistent image.
Only one subplot this issue, and that's a continuation of the Dazzler/Malice subplot.
In Alpha Flight #33 we saw the Hudsons find Wolverine in the snow, and i wonder if the flashback we see in this issue was meant to tie-in to that. That will turn out to not be the case and i think we'll instead see this scene in Wolverine #10. Although i believe there are some memory plant issues that have been revealed along the way that have pretty much made me give up on understanding any kind of definitive early chronology for Wolverine. But what's more interesting here is that the team obviously wants to go after the Marauders. And sure, Psylocke's gambit worked here. But you'd think the team might also like to hear from Wolverine about what he knows of one of the Marauders that he seems to know personally.
A letter writer in this issue says that "some people have been saying that Chris burned himself out while writing the 'Brood Saga' and the Summers-Pryor wedding issue. I agree with them... somewhat.", but feels that Claremont has been getting better in recent issues. I think the biggest problem with Claremont is the amount of concepts he tries to juggle at once. He's great with dialogue (despite some verbal tics) and great with pacing an issue (although sometimes hindered by the artist - definitely not the case in this issue). But i feel like he's just been piling on the concepts - Warlock, Rachel Summers, Rachel Summers as Phoenix, Mirage as Valkyrie, Lila Cheney and her Dyson Sphere, the Morlocks, Storm as the leader of the Morlocks, etc. - and then not doing anything. In Claremont's defense, there has been a lot to derail his plans, too: Secret Wars II, X-Factor, the forced changes to the Nimrod/Massacre story. And this is still absolutely one of Marvel's top books. But you will see this problem compounding as the series goes on - even the Marauders and Mr. Sinister will suffer from this problem. For now, though, the immediacy of the Mutant Massacre required a tight focus and that did reign in some of those Claremontian problems, at least temporarily, and we got a really awesome and memorable, if dark, storyline. And this issue has some nice Alan Davis art to top it off.
I'm tagging this as being part of the Mutant Massacre thanks to its inclusion in the trade paperback, and of course it's a continuation of the Wolverine/Sabretooth conflict from last issue. But it's worth noting that next issue brings the Malice/Dazzler subplot to the surface, and Malice is a Marauder too. And the X-Men will continue to have conflicts with the Marauders in the future. So the distinction is kind of arbitrary.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is the last issue in the Mutant Massacre trade. It also occurs between New Mutants #46-47; the New Mutants are currently in Limbo after Magik teleported them away from Magus.
Crossover: Mutant Massacre
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (10): show
Annoyingly, we never do find out what information Betsy got out of Sabretooth's head. In later issues, the dialogue makes it clear that Betsy has no clue where Sinister's headquarters is, what his plans are, what his weaknesses are, etc. So what information did Betsy get out of Sabretooth's head? Sinister's favorite movies?
Posted by: Michael | February 12, 2014 9:09 PM
That's easy. She got the following overwhelming thought from his head:
Posted by: clyde | February 12, 2014 9:25 PM
Claremont is certainly losing control of his subplots and seeded storylines at the moment. Some will remain unmentioned for years and years. This is something editorial should control. Either they don't care, or they simply can't corral him in. It does end up hurting the title although many of the stories in the subsequent years are indeed very enjoyable.
I only read X-Men at this time and wasn't picking up the New Mutants. So many characters and ideas showed up in X-Men that it constantly threw me off. Only because of this project do I now realize Claremont had introduced them in New Mutants. That's not a problem. What is a problem is that he never bothered to establish them in this title before using them.
Posted by: Chris | February 13, 2014 12:55 AM
I assumed she was finding out what he does with his kills.
Posted by: Todd | February 13, 2014 3:24 AM
What's with sabertooth crushing a steel bar bell? According to the marvel handbook he's only supposed to have normal strength for guy that engages is intense exercise. And he took out rogue....easily. Anyone have an exclamation for any of this? Not to mention that he was easily defeated by black cat.... where was all this power then?
Posted by: tommy speir | February 13, 2014 9:07 AM
One is left to assume Sinister jacked up his powers for the Massacre. He didn't have a healing factor before the Massacre either.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | February 13, 2014 3:14 PM
I think whatever Betsy found out about Sinister...eventually got rewritten and changed anyway. My guess: she found out about the "orphanage boy who knew Scott" story...and thus why it all changed to "Victorian evolutionist who worked with Apocalypse"
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 13, 2014 5:51 PM
The orphanage story is still canonical. I remember a X-Men story where the team went back to the orphanage and found Sinister was performing genetic experiments.
Hey, people may want to be down on the Sinister ret-cons, but it gave us an absolute classic story by Kieron Gillen in recent years, with Essex as the distinguished Victorian eugenicist gentleman. That makes any ret-cons well worth it.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | February 13, 2014 6:23 PM
It doesn't bother me that they increased sabertooths power but an explanation in the story would be nice. He gets his butt kicked by the black cat, he end up in the hospital bc he tore webbing off of his face (and needed days to recover from this?) without an explanation only to have a healing ability revealed. Poor writing in my opinion. And when Claremont showed flashbacks to sabertooths past he always was said to have this ability (wolverine #10 ). Then where was it in his previous battle with different heroes? He should have healed in minutes from that webbing being ripped off his face if that was the case.
Posted by: tommy | February 13, 2014 8:21 PM
My guess would be that leech was in the vicinity of his previous fights (failures) & that's why he wanted to be in on the morlock massacre. Problem solved :)
Posted by: clyde | February 13, 2014 9:12 PM
that would mean a de-powered black cat is tougher than a de-powered sabertooth? haha, nice try.
Posted by: Tommy | February 16, 2014 11:50 AM
Actually, I would think Black Cat is used to fighting without powers & Sabretooth isn't.
Posted by: clyde | February 16, 2014 2:36 PM
Looks like flashback Wolverine is in his brown/tan pants because he's drawn to be naked and the colorist either assumed he was shirtless like usual or somebody decided it was indecent.
Posted by: Alex F | August 9, 2014 3:54 AM
1st and only X-Men comic I bought in real-time and I just fell in love with Alan Davis's art. Man I tried to replicate the splash page of Psylocke many a time.
Posted by: JSfan | January 29, 2015 7:51 AM
Reading this all through now, I am also stunned that Sabretooth is so easily defeated by other heroes (many of whom Wolverine would probably beat) but he's a draw with Wolverine pretty much every time.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 5, 2015 1:41 PM
Yeah i've never been that convinced by Sabretooth as an arch enemy for Wolverine. Other than size and strength, Logan beats him in every department: Logan is smarter, craftier, has sharper claws, a tougher skeleton, seems be more agile, seems to heal quicker and seems to have much better fighting skills (especially when he's shown fighting anyone other than Sabretooth). I know there was a time when Sabretooth was given adamantium too, I'd say without it he's no match for how good-at-everything Logan is usually portrayed. Here Sabretooth easily beats Rogue (surely the most powerful person he holds a win over?), even if it is by surprise, but then looks bumbling against Psylocke and Storm, before being evenly matched against Wolvie. But in issue 222, Sabretooth attacks a powerless Logan, and all that happens is Sabretooth hurts his hand on Logan's chin, then Logan stabs him in the heart and it's all over. (obviously at the time they hadnt decided Logan's claws were part of his mutant powers.) You never see Spider-Man beat Osborn or Venom in 3 panels like that, so Sabretooth is hard to take seriously sometimes. I know it's said that the weaker Sabretooths might be imperfect clones and the real Sabretooth beats Logan, but they needed to make that explicit in the comics, otherwise we just see Sabretooth losing all the time.
Posted by: Jonathan | July 5, 2015 4:40 PM
I love Psylocke's 'prove it', accompanied with a smirk. It proves that Betsy was bad*ss long before she became Asian Betsy.
Posted by: Harry | July 13, 2015 2:46 PM
Y'know Sabretooth, Kitty put a lot of time and energy into upgrading Cerebro just three issues ago, and here you've gone and wrecked it. Not nice.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 28, 2016 7:17 PM
@ChrisW: What's interesting about Cerebro is Magneto can't even repair it in New Mutants #52 with his powers. Why was that?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 28, 2016 7:44 PM
Is that where that scene is? I knew there was something like that, but assumed he was actually looking for the kids and didn't even consider #52.
I'd wondered that too. He may not be Claremont's pet genius like Kitty, but at the very least he should be able to restore Cerebro to its prior levels of functioning, which he used himself in #202.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 28, 2016 9:13 PM
@ChrisW: In NM #52, Magnus even struggles to manipulate it with his powers (it not doing what he wants when trying to repair it). What the hell is it made of?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 28, 2016 9:49 PM
@Nathan Adler: Non-metallic alloys? I suppose that if Magneto made his helmet Prof. X-proof, it's possible that Prof. X made Cerebro Magneto-proof, though evidently not Sabertooth-proof.
Posted by: D09 | April 28, 2016 10:22 PM
@D09: However, Magneto was able to levitate it so not entirely non-metallic.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 28, 2016 10:58 PM
The damage to Cerebro is very inconsistent, as is the equipment itself. Is it just the console with the helmet or are there more pieces?
In #210, Kitty's just working on the console. In #213, Sabretooth gives the console one single slash which, face it, should not have done that much damage. He's strong, but he's not punching Cerebro. He's slashing in an upwards motion to attack Betsy, or at least scare the hell out of her. She brain-blasts him into another piece of equipment - part of Cerebro? No way of knowing - and the room starts filling up with smoke. Sabretooth isn't taking the time to destroy it, he's already chasing Betsy by the time she's made it out of the room.
Then in #214, we see the console has been completely and utterly wrecked. It would take a minute or two for Sabretooth to do that much damage. Colossus or Magneto could have wrecked it in short order. A guy who's stronger than normal humans and has short claws? Not so much.
And there's nothing in the story to suggest why Magneto couldn't have fixed it. Even if the specific technology was beyond him - additions made by the Shi'ar? - Xavier had mini-Cerebro units such as those used to find Angel in #169, so at the very least he could restore it to its previous status.
In-story, the only explanation I can think of is that he simply couldn't concentrate, what with the Marauders and the Hellfire Club and Shan's siblings and Illyana and everything else that was going on.
Also inconsistent is that sometimes Cerebro is in the headmaster's office - where Xavier first showed it to Cyclops - and sometimes it's in a sci-fi computer-covered environment. This probably depends on the artist, as I assume John Romita Jr. and Rick Leonardi had a better understanding of Xavier's Mansion/School than Barry Windsor-Smith (occasional artist) and Alan Davis (still brand-new to the series.)
Posted by: ChrisW | April 28, 2016 11:34 PM
Mutant massacre being my introduction to Marvel universe, this is my "first" Sabretooth and became definitive. For me, he's a powerhouse. This has lead to quite complicated headcanonizing in attempts to explain his low showings...
Posted by: Catherine | April 22, 2017 2:06 PM
IIRC Sabretooth getting his butt kicked by Black Cat is probably why the character is so over the top violent in the Mutant Massacre. IIRC the Spectacular Spider-Man arc includes a bit where Victor mentally monologues about holding back and vowing revenge against those who either humiliated him in battle (Black Cat, Luke Cage, Iron Fist) and those who "made him soft" (IE Constrictor, who was Sabretooth's BFF in his Power Man/Iron Fist appearances).
As for what Psylockes found out when she mindscanned Sabretooth? I always assumed it was the fact that the Marauders were planning to go after the X-Men loved ones and such. It would explain why they are suddenly talking about going around warning people about the Marauders, since in theory the X-Men and Marauders just met and Sabretooth/Vertigo are the only ones with prior contact with the X-Men (and in the case of Vertigo, don't know the team well enough to give any vital intel).
Posted by: Jesse Baker | January 18, 2018 4:50 PM
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