Uncanny X-Men #215-216
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #215, Uncanny X-Men #216
Storm, however, stays behind and takes Wolverine up to check on Sara Grey, who recently was on television making pro-mutant statements. After Malice messed with his senses last issue, Wolverine is doubting himself and things get worse when Wolverine again detects the scent of Jean Grey. He freaks out, knocks out Storm, and runs off.
Storm wakes up a prisoner in a dungeon. Using hidden lockpicks, she escapes, finds she's not the only prisoner, and then finds she's in a hunting lodge with trophies including stuff from World War II.
Throughout all of this Storm is amusingly calm and not resentful of the fact that Wolverine knocked her out and got her into this situation.
The owners of the lodge soon return. They are Crimson Commando, who doesn't demonstrate any actual super-powers but seems to be an excellent fighter for his age (although not a match for Storm)...
...Super Sabre, a speedster...
They claim to be World War II era super-heroes that were retired when the "commie-symp bleeding-heart fellow-travelers" in Washington wouldn't let them attack the Soviets.
Since then they've been capturing local criminals and playing The Most Dangerous Game with them. Storm's fellow prisoner, Priscilla Morrison, was a wealthy drug dealer. And they assumed that Storm was responsible for the firebombing of Sara Grey's house.
Storm tells them that she is no arsonist, but that she knows that they couldn't just let her go even if they actually believed her.
So Storm and Priscilla are given their head start and run off into the woods.
During the introductory fight, Super Sabre says that Storm reminds him of the Yankee Clipper.
That isn't a character that we've ever been introduced to, but in Marvel: The Lost Generation, John Byrne and Roger Stern introduce Dr. Cassandra Locke, a black woman from the future that provides a belt to a (white male) character that will take on the identity as (a) Yankee Clipper. I wonder if they toyed with the idea of having Locke actually be the Yankee Clipper for a while so that she could be the character Super Sabre was referring to.
I don't really love the idea of introducing Golden Age retcon characters (four, if you count the Yankee Clipper) in 1987. The period is already cluttered with characters thanks to Roy Thomas' Invaders series so maybe at this point the floodgates are open, but i still prefer the notion that there were only a limited number of super-heroes prior to FF #1 and that they were relatively low-powered (and of course we now have to wonder why these guys never crossed paths with anyone else). There's also the fact that we are definitely pushing the idea that these guys could still be active, and Marvel was already aware of the sliding timescale problem that would eventually make it impossible. A major component of the use of the Golden Age Whizzer during the 70s was that he was old enough that he was at constant risk of a heart attack. Since their origins aren't given here you can handwave their ages and conditions as being related to their superpowers, but it's still a lot to ask. And it's a distraction in the middle of what's supposed to be this trying period where the X-Men are dealing with the Marauder attacks and have just found that their friends and families are being targeted. I do wonder if these guys were something Alan Davis was bringing to the table, although in that case i guess he would have done the art on issue #216 as well.
Storm's companion Priscilla turns out to be unredeemably evil (while Storm is just reluctantly willing to be lethal).
She ultimately decides not to use the wiretrap which would have decapitated Super Sabre if he came running through. Later, the Commando and Stonewall find the trap, and while they're trying to figure out why she didn't use it, accidentally set it up and nearly kill Sabre themselves.
While Storm is on the run, we find that Wolverine has been reduced to an animalistic (and pretty awful looking) state.
Priscilla eventually separates from Storm while she is fighting Super Sabre, and kills some tourists for their truck, while Wolverine dumbly looks on.
The scene does force Wolverine to get control of himself, and he rejoins Storm for the final confrontation with the Golden Oldies, after the Commando kills Priscilla. Storm's fighting skills again prove to be superior to the Commando's...
...and she again decides at the last instant to not kill.
She tells the Oldies to turn themselves in, which they do. Storm declares the need to be more proactive, but at the same time she and Wolverine wonder how to avoid becoming killers like the people they fight.
As for the group that was sent to Muir Island, on the plane ride over we see Longshot's less known ability to read something by touching it. He comes into contact with Kitty Pryde's permanently phased form and it seems that she's dying.
When they arrive at Muir Island, Rogue complains that they are useless without Storm and Wolverine's leadership, and i guess that's exemplified by Dazzler's failure to execute "Strike Maneuver Bravo", aka deplaning.
We also check in on Madelyne Pryor in issue #215. Around this point in X-Factor, Cyclops was seemingly discovering that she was dead, but we see the Jane Doe from Uncanny X-Men #206 waking up and saying that she's Madelyne Pryor (it would have been great to have her repeat the "I been sick. But I'm better now" line from Avengers annual #10).
Prior to that we see a dream from her that seems to show that she was put in the coma by the Marauders.
As Michael notes, Maddie's dream also ties in the Phoenix with her survival in the plane crash that happened the same day Jean became the Phoenix.
Yet another connection point between Maddie and Jean which again makes you wonder what Claremont was doing with all of these if he wasn't setting up a revelation about Madelyne (and what is shown fits very well with what eventually happens to her) and perhaps even helps explain her prowess against the Marauders.
There's some good writing here (i like the scripting when Storm is telling the Oldies that she's no arsonist, and i like the self-awareness of the end scene), and nice Alan Davis art on #215 (i'm not really happy with the direction Guice is going on), but these issues add to the trend of a kind of ambling that's been happening in the X-books. Claremont will add these Golden Age semi-villains to Freedom Force so they aren't completely just another concept that gets introduced with little development. I guess thematically the idea is that the Oldies represent reactionary heroes that have been so corrupted by the trials they've faced that they've become killers that have lost a sense of justice, and with the X-Men having just gone through the Massacre it's a cautionary example for them. But at the same time it's two issues of A Dangerous Game while the Marauders are still out there and Sara Grey and the Morlocks and half the X-Men are dead/dying. If this immediately turned into the X-Men actually getting proactive and going after the Marauders while ensuring that they remain positive and not vengeful, it might have worked as a turning point, but the next two issues are similarly a distraction from the Marauders (albeit one that is more directly related to past X-Men stories) and then by #219 we'll find that Storm has come to a different conclusion.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: I've placed a fair amount of space between this arc and last issue in order to allow for the complexities of the Mephisto vs... series. This means that Rogue had been a prisoner of Mephisto for some time and was only recently released, with the rest of the team waiting around anxiously. Based on that, it makes sense that Storm wasn't able to check on Sara Grey sooner and that X-Factor got there first (this definitely has to take place after X-Factor #12). It's worth noting that in issue #216, Rogue's group of X-Men are said to arrive at Muir Island "three days ago" which may give an indication of how long Storm was a prisoner/on the run. This also means that the events of #217-218, which focus on Rogue's group, are happening concurrently with the events in #216 (and it's confirmed in issue #232 that these issues were happening at the same time as #217-218).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
I'm with you on the retcon heroes. Why not at least use some actual Timely heroes from that time (although maybe he didnt want to turn old heroes evil). I prefer the idea that these guys were Korean war era heroes. That would explain why we'd not heard of them during the invaders and would explain Super Sabre's name, as he was named after a plane not invented until after WWII (shoddy research on CC's part). I can't think of any Korean heroes so they'd at least fill that gap.
Posted by: kveto from prague | March 19, 2014 3:41 PM
It's interesting to note that Madelyne calls herself Pryor and not Summers here. She must have considered herself divorced the moment Cyclops left.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 19, 2014 4:48 PM
@Jay- not really, since in X-Men/Alpha Flight 1, Aurora and one of the scientists call Maddie "Captain Pryor". She thinks of Scott as her husband in this story. Maddie's probably just one of those women that uses her maiden name a lot.
Posted by: Michael | March 19, 2014 8:24 PM
One more thing- although fnord didn't post it, the Phoenix appears in Maddie's dream. But Maddie's written as human for the next year or so, (the captions in issue 223, for example, describe her as a "born survivor") raising the question of what the point of that was.
Posted by: Michael | March 19, 2014 8:32 PM
Share everyone's comments on the retcon heroes even though I like them. No reason to go way back to WWII.
Also extremely dumb to simply assume Storm is a looter at the Sara Grey home. Granted, they might just be ignorant to think, "Wow, some mohawked hair black woman is knocked out at a white person's house, she must be an arsonist!" but nothing from their behavior indicates that level of stupidity. They obviously did their homework on Priscilla, so not even have someone in civilian clothes stop by and ask her, "What are you doing here?" before deciding on kidnapping her. But no, plot needs them to be dumb, so they are dumb.
Posted by: Chris | March 19, 2014 9:54 PM
I wonder what it is about Super Sabre, as opposed to other speedsters, where he keeps almost getting decapitated. (And ultimately does end up being so dispatched.)
Posted by: Erik Robbins | March 20, 2014 12:17 AM
I do like the idea of the trio being Korean vets rather than WWII. I do like them, especially Commando since his super power is basically being a double time cool old guy.
Posted by: David Banes | March 20, 2014 3:56 AM
I forget--do they ever explain where these guys get their powers? Are they mutants?
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | March 20, 2014 10:13 AM
They are all mutants.
Posted by: clyde | March 20, 2014 10:18 AM
Posted by: clyde | March 20, 2014 10:19 AM
It would be really easy to retcon them into Korean era heroes. Maybe they wanted to fight in WWII but were too young so they just tell people they did. It would explain why nobody had heard of them and they had no contact with other WWII heroes. It also would help place their jingoism in the 50s along with Cap america/grand director. Normally i dont like retcons, but since they were a major retcon to begin with, it would help.
Posted by: kveto from prague | March 20, 2014 5:46 PM
Not a fan that these three geezers turned out to be mutants. Mutants are supposed to be the children of the atom. In the early issues of X-Men, it was very explicit that the parents of the first mutants were somehow involved in atomic experiments or radiation. Even Xavier's father worked on the first nuclear experiments that eventually lead to the atomic bomb, so he could be born somewhat earlier than 1945.
It is hard to see how these 3 guys' parents could somehow be involved in atomic experiments. Were their dads shoe salesmen using x-ray machines on feet to find the right size?
I know early mutants way before the WWII era have been introduced at various times, but I never liked those either.
Posted by: Chris | March 20, 2014 6:06 PM
That's no longer canonical though, about mutants. With Marvel's sliding time-scale, the big influx of mutants was during the 1990s, long after nuclear power.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | March 20, 2014 6:15 PM
I never liked the "Children of the Atom" qualifier, personally. It always seemed major kinds of odd.
Sunfire, sure, he is a "child of the atom". But the others? The Hulk, I guess.
Mutations are not caused only due to radiation, after all. They happen naturally and have happened for millions of years.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 20, 2014 7:01 PM
Has it ever been explained how or why Storm is supposed to be such an impressive unarmed combatant?
She had a bitter attitude ever since her early contacts with the Morlocks, sure. And she has trained under Wolverine and Callisto regularly, I get that.
But how come she has become such an impressive fighter almost overnight? It doesn't really make sense. One get the vibe that people would have better luck fighting Captain America.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 20, 2014 7:05 PM
I agree with you, Luis.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | March 20, 2014 7:52 PM
Didn't Marvel:The Lost Generation say there were two Yankee Clippers?
Drs. Schwartz and Duane=SF author Diane Duane and DC editor Julius Schwartz.
Who lettered that road sign? "Adriondack?"
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 20, 2014 7:59 PM
Mark, regarding the Yankee Clipper... not that i recall. There was some confusion around Cassandra Locke's time jumps and the Clipper was also sent through time, but i believe there was only one Yankee Clipper in that story.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 20, 2014 9:57 PM
Yes that Children of the Atom moniker is brushed aside, much like Xavier losing his legs anticlimatically to a lame villain and Magneto being an evil cackling villain-oh wait.
Posted by: David Banes | March 21, 2014 2:49 AM
Ororro's Modesty Blaise style childhood may explain her facility with hand to hand combat.
Posted by: PB210 | March 21, 2014 8:34 PM
@PB210: What Modesty Blaise style childhood?
Ororo was raised since very young by Akhmed (sp?) to be a world-class thief and escape artist, as I remember it. She was nearly a full grown woman when they parted ways. We know she briefly met the Black Panther before becoming a goddess.
No combat training that I recall before meeting Xavier.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 21, 2014 10:22 PM
Yeah, but if she lived poor on the streets of Cairo, and outside the law yet, she probably picked up street fighting skills, and I'd guess some use on how to use a weapon.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | March 21, 2014 11:07 PM
Eh. I was born in Rio. Our street poverty is as fearsome as it gets.
It is not really an explanation for this fearsome fighter Ororo nonsense. As Fnord recently pointed out, Ororo will soon be fighting freaking Ursa Major "mano-a-mano".
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 21, 2014 11:13 PM
Hmm. Oddly enough the biggest most maddening problem with these issues (Uncanny 215 in particular) isn't even mentioned, which is that it's a continuity nightmare! Mostly because this is Longshot's first appearance in the series proper, despite the fact that his introduction to the team had to have happened BEFORE Mutant Massacre! Did Longshot really choose to NOT HELP OUT AT ALL, during the X-Men's most perilous battle? Not to play "Continuity Cop" here, but that's such sloppy editorial mishandling that it sticks out like a sore thumb (and inadvertently make Longshot look like a irresponsible jerk in the process.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | May 7, 2014 1:09 AM
I know this is late, fnord, but part of your complaint about these people do get addressed much later on. For instance, it's established that part of Crimson Commando's power INCLUDE longevety, and once he became an M-Day victim he began growing into his age horribly (being fitted with cybernetic parts didn't help either.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 28, 2014 5:18 PM
"Super Sabre" is another of Claremont's aeronautical references. It refers to a USAF jet introduced in the 1950s. Which makes it a bit strange that a guy would be calling himself by that name during WWII. Maybe in the MU the jet took its name from the guy.
The political dimension to these WWII heroes is notable. The X-Men were somewhat in the spirit of '60s and '70s idealistic liberalism. It was a shock in the '80s when Reagan seemed to show there was life in the old hardline anti-communism and hardboiled outlook associated with the '50 and (some) WWII vets. Basically, this trio of WWII mutants reflects a facet of the Reagan zeitgeist, just as John Walker does in Captain America.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 24, 2016 1:25 PM
I agree with Jon Dubya
Longshot's unexplained absence during the Mutant Massacre is really problematic...
Those damn annuals are a continuity mess
Posted by: Bibs | October 20, 2017 4:32 AM
I think Ororo is such a good fighter thanks to her thief training as a kid (she was not just some poor girl, she was part of a group of thieves where she became the best).
And also because of her will. Just like Captain America, she is not one to ever give up. She has to keep fighting until she wins.
"I wonder what it is about Super Sabre, as opposed to other speedsters, where he keeps almost getting decapitated. (And ultimately does end up being so dispatched.)".
His archenemy was a line of wire. Or his two friends kept putting wiretraps as pranks after they put this one.
Posted by: Cesar Hernandez-Meraz | January 23, 2018 12:35 AM
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