Uncanny X-Men #254-255
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #254, Uncanny X-Men #255
I always get mixed up by this cover and confuse this story with the other Muir Island saga from circa issue #278, thinking that Sunder on this cover is a poorly rendered Strong Guy ("Man, they really had not established a look for that guy yet"). I also have to remember that the red headed lady is Amanda Sefton, not Siryn.
This story begins with Moira MacTaggert doing an examination on Polaris and her new powers. You'll notice that Moira is not exactly wearing standard issue lab gear. That's not (just) due to increasing female exploitation as we reach the 90s.
Also notice Moira confirms that Zaladane is Polaris' sister, or else the power transfer shouldn't have worked.
Meanwhile, Amanda Sefton and Alysande Stuart, who we saw meeting up last issue, are getting picked up on mainland Scotland by Banshee for a visit to Muir Island when Banshee is shot.
Amanda turns herself and Alysande into mer-creatures to avoid getting shot as well...
...and then teleports everyone to Muir Island where Moira, Tom Corsi, and Sharon Friedlander help Banshee. That's when it's confirmed that something weird's going on with the clothing. Moira tells everyone to get into standard X-uniforms, because they apparently have body armor (must have been a new development, maybe in response to Doug's death in New Mutants #60).
But when Amanda magicks on the costumes, they look a little, er, different.
Amanda says that this isn't the sort of spell that normally goes wrong.
I think it's amazing that Tom and Sharon take this so well, considering that they are put into costumes like the ones they wound up in when Empath mentally violated them (see New Mutants #39 and their post-traumatic state in New Mutants #43). You'd think winding up back in those costumes would be a real emotional trigger for them.
Also on the island at this time are Charles Xavier's son Legion, who suffers from multiple-personality disorder, Sunder of the Morlocks, and, er, the Warpies.
Now who the ##@*! are the Warpies and why do we get a footnote for Sunder but not them? The answer seems to be that these are the kids that were affected by Mad Jim Jasper's warping back in Jamie Delano & Alan Davis' Captain Britain run. Some of those kids became the Cherubim (see Captain Britain #9), but the rest, i am inferring, have apparently wound up here.
Anyway, the Warpies don't figure into this story.
The Reavers attack.
Another element of this story is the duplicitous nature of Legion.
Sunder is killed by the Reavers.
The idea that the X-Costumes allow Tom Corsi to shrug off machine gun fire from Bonebreaker is a bit outrageous.
Our ad-hoc "X-Men", including a more-powerful-than-i-realized Amanda Sefton...
...and Banshee, who Moira risks having the Morlock Healer bring back to consciousness too soon...
...continue to fight off the Reavers (and Legion).
Meanwhile, Destiny is having a vision. She sees a world of crystal that includes not only Mystique...
...but others, including the Fantastic Four.
The vision ends with her feeling a oneness with the universe and realizing that her time has come. She's then shaken out of her vision by a phone call from Valerie Cooper, who wants Freedom Force to help with the attack on Muir Island. Forge is also going to be involved, and Mystique is not happy about that, but she ultimately relents.
Val's desire to establish credibility amongst the mutant community is an interesting development.
Our temporary X-Men continue to fight off the Reavers...
...but aren't doing so great...
...so luckily Freedom Force show up.
Mystique still doesn't trust Forge, so she has him escort Destiny to Moira's base instead of entering combat. But Destiny sends Forge away, so that she alone will be killed by Legion.
Freedom Force also don't do that well against the Reavers, in part thanks to Legion again.
Stonewall is also killed.
Luckily Forge has completed the gun he was working on.
With that, the Reavers decide to teleport away.
But obviously that doesn't mitigate what Mystique sees as Forge's responsibility for Destiny's death.
While all of this is going on, we see what happened to Callisto's attempt at securing what's left of Xavier's mansion. She's caught by the current group of Morlocks, led by Masque. Masque tortures her with his face-warping powers, trying to get her to reveal the codes into Xavier's.
After the Reaver battle is over, Banshee invites Forge to go with him to see what happened to Callisto.
We also get to see our first post-Siege Perilous X-Man. It's Psylocke, who has wound up in the, er, hands of a new character, Matsuo Tsurayaba of the Hand. This will be continued in the next arc's Acts of Vengeance contribution.
Also note that even coming out of the Siege Perilous, Psylocke is still invisible to scanners.
Another continuing story is Storm's. She flees from the (not yet named) Shadow King-possessed policeman.
I think this is a fun arc, but it's a fun arc with characters that rely on a longtime connection with the book for us to care about. It's worth noting that Amanda Sefton, and Alysande Stuart disappear completely in issue #255. The two issues also rack up quite a bodycount: Sunder, Destiny, Stonewall, and Skullbuster (who, despite Forge's gun, is a cyborg that can eventually come back). In the lettercols people take the idea of this being a new X-Men team pretty seriously, but i don't think it was really intended as one. I think it's more that we're killing time while waiting for the dispersed main team to get back together, and we're already seeing the pieces of that with Psylocke and Storm in these issues (and Wolverine and Jubilee escaping at the beginning, too). So there's actually a lot of moving parts in these stories and it feels a bit like the mid-80s days when Claremont was actively juggling a lot of subplots. The difference is the same complaint we're seeing in the letters; the plots are all action oriented and there isn't a lot of room for character development. Everyone in dire danger. That's not a bad thing in the short term - the Reavers come off like really credible and dangerous villains after this arc and the previous one - but we're going to need to come up for air at some point.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Freedom Force should appear here after New Mutants #77-80, due to Destiny and Stonewall's death. Destiny's death causes dependencies on a number of other titles as well, including Firestar's story in Marvel Comics Presents #82-87, which takes place after Destiny is dead but before Firestar joins the New Warriors. Since Wolverine #19-20, which are Acts of Vengeance issues, takes place prior to this X-Men arc, that means that these issues take place during Acts of Vengeance, and therefore so do Marvel Comics Presents #82-87 and New Warriors #1, since those take place before the New Warriors' appearance in Thor #411 (also an Acts of Vengeance issue). Crimson Commando, Super Sabre, and Spiral are said to be on another mission during this story. Neither the Storm nor Psylocke portions of this story continue directly next issue, allowing us to break here.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (16): show
I think you screwed up a couple panels, since the Legion pic was the one with the Reavers and vice-versa.
Sigh...farewell cute Psylocke, sister of Captain Britain...cause next we see you, you're going to be everyone's favorite "purple-haired super ninja".
Posted by: Ataru320 | November 12, 2014 12:32 PM
Thanks, Ataru. Fixed the images.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 12, 2014 12:36 PM
I don't see why it was such a shock that Zaladane was Lorna's sister - Zala Dane & Lorna Dane.
Also, in regards to Tom and Sharon not having a reaction to the uniforms, the X-Men probably mind-wiped them of that experience. They do that, you know.
I was glad when they finally got rid of Destiny. IMO, she was a useless character. Almost every time she looked into the future, there was "something" preventing her from seeing it clearly. They should have just got Tristam Micawber from Captain America's book.
Posted by: clyde | November 12, 2014 12:58 PM
Just curious if people consider the Muir Island X-Men from the Reavers storyline an actual X-Men lineup. Do they consider themselves X-Men? Do the writers/editors?
Posted by: Mark Black | November 12, 2014 1:46 PM
It is sad that this is the last we see of the REAL Betsy Braddock; I was never a fan of turning her Asian. Nothing wrong with a telepath who isn't a physical butt-kicker.
Posted by: Bill | November 12, 2014 1:58 PM
They did go to the effort of wearing X-Men uniforms. I think that makes them at the very least "honorary" members of the X-Men. Plus, Banshee is a retired member already. As far as their official status, I don't know. I actually enjoyed this lineup weather it was considered official or not.
Posted by: clyde | November 12, 2014 1:59 PM
Marvel had a policy at this point of not referencing Marvel UK publications, which is why in the handbooks Captain Britain's first appearance is listed as Marvel Team-Up (or did it say "First U.S. appearance"?) so the lack of footnote to the Warpies may be related to that. It's a bizarre policy, since Captain Britain's stories are obviously canon, but it seems still to be in effect. Americans would have seen the Warpies for the first time in the Captain Britain tpb that was published the year this issue came out.
We need a fan fix for Avalanche, who goes back into combat in Acts of Vengeance surprising soon after being disembowled in this story. It's an easy one: the Morlock Healer must have treated him immediately after #255. I believe his injuries are sporadically referenced in a few of his appearances in the next couple of months: Avengers, New Mutants, and Hulk will be the places to look.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 12, 2014 2:27 PM
@clyde - Totally feel the same way. Loved this lineup of X-Men
Posted by: Mark Black | November 12, 2014 2:56 PM
A lot of fans thought it was hilarious that Moira claimed that the High Evolutionary's device couldn't have switched Lorna's powers with Zaladane unless they were related without examining the device.
Posted by: Michael | November 12, 2014 9:56 PM
Count me in as one who believed this new x-team was legit. I remember first seeing this cover in an issue of Marvel Age. I was NOT happy. The biggest problem i think was Moira on the cover with guns. These issues bothered me so much, I quit the x-men (and comics in general) for a few years.
Posted by: Tabe8 | November 13, 2014 12:58 AM
This was just part of a continuing trend of breaking up and then reforming super-hero teams. Stability wasn't at the top of the list.
Posted by: clyde | November 13, 2014 9:17 AM
@Tabe8- I have no problem with Moira on the cover with guns. She's been shown to be proficient with guns before and many of Claremont's women have a "frontier women" vibe. The really disturbing part is that Moira is a rape victim and Claremont has her turned into an evil slut/dominatrix by mind control, with the implication that it's what she *really wants*.
Posted by: Michael | November 13, 2014 9:09 PM
I never thought this line-up was legit as a team of X-Men that, say, the Beyonder would call for the next Secret Wars, but this was one of the stories that reinforced for me the importance of long-running continuity. Especially with the cover, where it's just minor characters populating the X-verse, but they're wearing the outfits and in the classic poses... "Here we go again."
Without Xavier, the X-men and New Mutants fell apart, and titles like "X-Factor" were kinda pointless to begin with. At least "New Mutants" #50 brought Xavier back, just to mark the anniversary.
I think the intent to reunite the teams began years before it actually happened. Maybe from Bob Harras, maybe from Claremont, but half-way between #200 and #300, the X-Men are going through a state of death and rebirth, and one more meaningful than the "Fall of the Mutants" arc. By now, they've died *and* gone to hell, and are in such dire straits that Wolverine (of all people) gets crucified. [Notice that as he broke free, fierce storms were raging, and this was approximately the same time that Ororo was escaping from Nanny and showing up in Cairo, Illinois.] Meanwhile, the remaining X-Men, rudderless, choose voluntary self-destruction and walk away from everything they've been fighting for all these years.
Meanwhile, on the other side of this Russian novel tapestry, minor characters who were basically unimportant still held true to one of the series' fundamental concepts, that of Xavier's dream, and put on the tights to defend Muir Isle against invaders. Legion and the Warpies had never appeared in "X-Men" before. Magneto's hopelessness as a headmaster was addressed directly by the writer who made him headmaster. The "Australian adventure" had officially ended.
As usual, further storylines were set up, which mostly never came to pass under Claremont. But this is the core title, and I think the original intention was to give X-Factor, the New Mutants and Excalibur something else to do for the better part of a year so that the next scheduled crossover could be set up. Wolverine is still stuck holding down a solo title, for some of the most deadly boring adventures in that title over its first five or six years.
After this point, "X-Men" becomes aimless as a series until it's clearly about reuniting the old and new X-Men. I think it's partially about Claremont battling with editorial and other writers using his characters, and partially it was a deliberate choice as the end of the second act of a three act play ["X-Men" #200-300.]
Whatever his other faults, Claremont was trying to move the story forward, and hated Jim Lee and Bob Harras (or John Byrne, for that matter) trying to move the clock back. Claremont knew where he wanted the characters to go, Harras knew what status quo he wanted to maintain, Jim Lee wanted to go back to what he loved, just as John Byrne wanted to bring back the original X-Men during his run.
I love the story Byrne tells of talking to Lee, who says he finally got Wolverine out of that stupid brown costume and back into his classic yellow/blue one, completely unaware that he's talking to the guy who designed a brown costume that works for camouflaging a deadly killer beast much better than that stupid yellow-blue thing.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 13, 2014 9:57 PM
The brown costume is the best Wolverine costume. Simplier and I just like the more muted colors.
Posted by: david banes | November 13, 2014 11:58 PM
It must have been hell to coordinate the books, particularly when most or all of them seem to be more than a bit directionless. Seeing how Acts of Vengeance happens more or less at the same time as Atlantis Attacks, that could not have helped. Isolated scenes such as showing the X-Men in Wolverine's Byrne issues or Magneto in the X-Men issues prior to these only lampshade how much they are struggling.
My gut feeling is that the writers and editors felt the need to give themselves a break to catch up with each other and perhaps attempt some understanding on controversial matters, so scenes that acknowledge the existence of other books and teams can be inserted without too much trouble.
A commendable decision, IMO. But probably not enough.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 14, 2014 4:55 AM
Um...the Psylocke portion of the plot DOES directly continue next issue. It's the main focus, in fact.
Notice the scan from #255 that has a British Psylocke in it? Well then obviously you're NOT Fabian Nicieza!
"The really disturbing part is that Moira is a rape victim and Claremont has her turned into an evil slut/dominatrix by mind control, with the implication that it's what she *really wants*."
It's weird Michael, but ever since you said that about Madelyne, I now cannot UNsee it! That was probably a bit of naivete on my part, but I always assumed such vague "talk" was just exaggerations from a nit-picky public prone to exacerbating perceived flaws. But now that the issue has been brought up, I never realized how blatant and common it was around this time. The upcoming Psylocke storyline will follow that template too.
One thing: where are Siryn and Jamie Maddrox? Storylines set after this shows that they still live on Muir Island.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | November 14, 2014 4:46 PM
Jon, if your first comment is meant as a correction for me, i do say "This will be continued in the next arc's Acts of Vengeance contribution." in the description. In the Consideration section i say it doesn't continue directly, meaning that time passes and it's ok to split it off into a separate entry.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 14, 2014 4:50 PM
Wasn't Sunder supposed to have a leg amputated during the Mutant Massacre?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 14, 2014 11:56 PM
Yes, in New Mutants #46. It was a characterization scene for Karma, who felt bad about falling short of easing his pain.
No, I don't think an actual explanation for his apparent full recovery was ever offered. It has been proposed that Sunder may have a regeneration power, or been helped by the Morlock healer, or be using some sort of effective prostetics. But the truth is that we just do not know whether or how he recovered.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 15, 2014 2:38 AM
Sorry, I mean to link to http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix6/sundermorl.htm
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 15, 2014 2:39 AM
Jon Dubya, I think Siryn and Madrox were last seen in the Runaways series, where they decided to stay a while longer. The simplest explanation of where they are would be that they got back from there shortly after this arc.
Posted by: Stephen | November 15, 2014 1:42 PM
Behind the scenes there was another Fallen Angels (Runaways) series in the works but it never got published.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 15, 2014 1:43 PM
I see that fnord caught my deliberate mistake in the title of said miniseries.
Posted by: Stephen | November 15, 2014 6:32 PM
One thing I always find noticeable is that Freedom Force is the "heroic" here. It's weird because when you read there exploits in other places they seem like outright villains who happen to be in a favorable place (think Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers.) Yet when Claremont gets his hands on FF they come across as downright decent sorts. It makes me wonder now "heroic" we the audience was suppose to see the group. For instance, I can see other heroes trusting THIS version of the team with the care of the Inferno babies. Of course they'll be right back to threatening kids and picking fights right after.
No scans here, but this is also the storyline where Destiny suggested that Forge and Mystique would get together.
And while I don't have any actual proof for it, I always got that feeling that Matsuo is what Jim Lee looked like in the 80s.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | November 19, 2014 3:54 PM
Destiny's crystal vision: inspiration for the "End of the universe" thanks to the M'Kraan crystal after Legion Quest (the set up for Age of Apocalypse)?
Posted by: Berend | January 5, 2015 2:40 PM
In Uncanny X-Men #255 the post-Siege Perilous Psylocke who ends up on the private island of Emil Vachon (revealed to have become the base for Matsuo Tsurayaba's branch of the Hand) is still British Elisabeth Braddock.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 2, 2015 9:17 PM
In Comics Interview #76(10/89) Silvestri states that Claremont was definitely the one who put all the skimpier costumes on the women, and the interviewer makes repeated comments about Claremont constantly putting women into "panties and lace".
Silvestri also stated that Claremont wrote way too much dialogue that could fit on his pages, and Marc would delete a big chunk of it.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 4, 2015 12:38 AM
@Berend: Yes, I think there's even a reference or two in Age of Apocalypse that makes explicit the retcon that Destiny here was anticipating the disruption (with the M'Kraan crystal,if i recall) that would lead to AoA.
I took Destiny's vision to be a benign but sobering premonition of death. But there's a chance Claremont intended the vision as a warning of what the Shadow King would do, bringing an end to change and freedom. In X-Men: True Friends, Kitty says of SK, "What matters to him is order and control. What he wants is a universe that runs like a clockwork mechanism, eternally precise, unambiguous, unchanging."
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 7, 2015 2:15 AM
@Walter: Oh you had to quote Kitty to bait me didn't you.
What does the Shadow King want a clockwork universe for, if he is a "nightmare"? His name means "seer of truth" in Arabic, a title given to disciples of Umar. Despite how Marv Wolfman later changed the character's origin in his Fantastic Four run, the "seer of "truth" Veritas in Strange Tales #154 was revealed to be a prisoner in Umar's Dark Dimension dungeon. Intended connection? After all Umar is a Faltine!
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 7, 2015 2:23 AM
In New Mutants 26 through 28, which introduced Legion and revealed him to be Charles Xavier's offspring, we learn that a much younger David Haller was attacked by Arab terrorists in Paris. Upon this vicious attack, David lashed out with his mutant powers for the first time, killing the terrorists. However, one young terrorist, Jemail Karami, was absorbed into Legion's consciousness upon the point of his death.
While the Arab terrorist Jemail Karami became trapped within Legion's mind, he had his own separate consciousness and memory and was still a whole person.
Why bring this up? Well, in Uncanny X-Men #255, when Legion appears before Destiny on Muir Island, and with Destiny's apparent knowledge, kills her. However, we are not shown the actual moment of her death. Could it be that is that while Destiny's body is killed by Legion via the Shadow King, at the moment of her death, Destiny's consciousness is absorbed into Legion's mind, just as the Arab terrorist Jemail was.
This would seem to suggest that Destiny is alive, in a fashion.
Would this have been another shocking twist revealed during Chris’s planned Shadow King Epic? I don't know for certain this is something Claremont had cooked up. But the fact we never see any of Destiny's actual killing, makes one wonder.
Perhaps Destiny's consciousness within David Haller's mind would have derailed the Shadow King's diabolical plan to cause a race war. She could have rallied the other multiple personalities within Legion's mind, and derailed his plot. Or at least, played a part in it. My only problem with this theory is HOW the Shadow King would not sense Destiny hiding inside David’s head if he was possessing him.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 13, 2015 7:40 AM
Wait, Jemail used to be an actual, separate person? Having skipped over New Mutants #26-28 but read #44, that did not come across at all.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 13, 2015 10:11 AM
On one hand Nathan, I would say that could be possible, since a recent series established that Legion actually has WAY more than 3 personalities (actually the real question at this point is where the hell "Cyndi" came from? We got explanations for the other two personalities.) The only thing is that Destiny's conscious (or ghost or whatever) is has already been seen as a separate entity in itself. And given that this was suppose to be "Jack Wayne" doing the mischief here, I'd doubt he'd want to share more mind space with anyone (Rogue storylines already confirm that this is huge burden under the best if circumstances.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | April 14, 2015 11:21 PM
@Luis: Jemail was the mind of a terrorist that David absorbed into himself.
@Jon: Re: Destiny, I'm thinking more Claremont's original intent there as opposed to what came later (being the CC purist I am:)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 15, 2015 12:11 AM
ChrisW and david banes: Get lost, the brown costume is hideous. The only reason people like it is nostalgia goggles. There is a reason it was never brought back.
Posted by: Eric Dalan | April 15, 2015 7:16 AM
Am I misremembering a scene in #255 where the Shadow King leaves Lian's colleague as a lifeless husk? Since when did a telepath have the powers of Selene? With this villain's return was he now unleashing mystical abilities? I always wondered this in #266 and whether those claws he tried capturing little Storm with were!
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 15, 2015 7:51 AM
I don't remember if it's in #255, but yes, he does fry one of Lian's fellow doctors with energy bolts coming out of his eyes.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 15, 2015 12:53 PM
Confirming it's at the end of #255.
And that i prefer Wolverine's brown costume. ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | April 15, 2015 1:01 PM
Wolverine's brown costume is the only costume redesign Byrne got right.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | June 21, 2015 1:37 AM
Add me to the list of those in favor of Wolverine's brown costume. The really weird thing, as I recall, is that he was wearing it X-Men #3, then in #4, he is captured and they find his old costume. That seemed like a strange jump to me, but fnord will get there soon and we can debate it more.
As for this - well, this was the end of my original X-Men collection. I thought it clear that the teams would eventually merge, but since they had passed by #250, I couldn't conceive of when that might happen. I couldn't imagine there would be a whole other X-title crossover without them merging.
I liked this "team." It reminded me of the team that Sean was on the rescue their loved ones from Arcade. That must be when Sean learned more about Amanda, because they've basically had no interaction together - she was Kurt's sometime girlfriend when Sean first lost his powers and left the team (before she revealed herself) and they have only been in the same issue twice since - when he helped rescue her from Arcade and for Scott and Maddy's wedding. They seemed to know each other too well for their first interaction here.
Also, I was bothered that Sunder was still whole. And they had been so inconsistent with Tom and Sharon's state of minds as well as the whereabouts of Jamie and Siryn. I liked the concept of the team more than the execution.
I did totally love Blob's landing though.
Posted by: Erik Beck | September 22, 2015 12:00 PM
Walter Lawson said: "In X-Men: True Friends, Kitty says of SK, 'What matters to him is order and control. What he wants is a universe that runs like a clockwork mechanism, eternally precise, unambiguous, unchanging.'"
This also makes the Shadow King the opposite of the previous "big" villain the team faced, the Adversary, who wants pure chaos as opposed to pure order. So perhaps this is Roma setting the X-Men up to take on the counterforce that was fully unleashed after the Adversary was "bound for an age." It's worth noting that this arc is where SK starts demonstrating powers that seem genuinely supernatural, turning his victims into something like zombies.
Coupled with the "Dreamtime" stuff and my speculations that the Reavers' computer is the same sort of technology as Mastermind, this might mean that Claremont was bookending Fall of the mutants and pulling in some of the last fragments of his abandoned Jaspers Warp plot.
That would explain the casual reference to the Warpies here, and it might explain the way the Shadow King's influence causes "darker" costumes and behavior rather like the ones from Inferno, which were themselves originally meant to be aftereffects of Claremont's Jaspers Warp Redux plotline. Heck, issues #246-247 even used the "Nimrod fuses with a another powerful, superhuman-bhunting construct" notion that was to be the original game plan for Mutant Massacre.
Presumably the SK's original plan is to use the Reavers as pawns to warp the X-Men; however, Psylocke, probably influenced by Roma -- who plays chess with mortal lives just like her father did -- maneuvers the X-Men through the Siege Perilous to put them beyond SK's reachd. The SK then tries again at Muir Island and starts corrupting this new team of "X-Men."
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 7, 2015 5:21 PM
Omar, I don't get your reference to the Reavers' computer and Mastermind, and I'll point out that Master Mold first appeared in the very first Sentinels story and was recently reused by Louise Simonsen in "X-Factor," so that's probably where Claremont got the idea, but I very much like your theory.
I personally think the descriptions of Farouk and the Adversary were serial pulp fiction [which they were] but Claremont obviously thought about this stuff on a deeper level than almost every other comic book writer, so even though it may not have been his real intention, it proves your point that the X-Men went from a Big Bad Guy of Chaos to a Big Bad Guy of Order.
Basically I just really like your post, quibbling or nit-picking aside. Something to think about.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 7, 2015 6:13 PM
OK, this is gonna be long, so I am splitting it into three parts. Part I will deal with he Mastermind AI and its possible connection tot he computers in the Australian complex.
To clarify, I'm connecting the mysterious, self-repairing, possibly quasi-sentient computer in the Australian base to the Mastermind AI system.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 7, 2015 8:16 PM
Master Mold did appear recently; it's the merger with Nimrod that is exactly like Claremont's original plans for Mutant Massacre, where Nimrod was instead going to merge with the Fury from the old Captain Britain stories by Alan Moore and take ont he role that the Marauders had in the published version of the story. Moore's threat of legal action against Marvel put paid to that, but lo and behold, Claremont managed to have Nimrod merge with a powerful hunter-killer construct down the line anyway.
Claremont may have picked the Master Mold because of its recent prominence, but the end result is very close to what he originally planned way back around issue #200 before editorial and legal issues derailed everything.
Next: Another long one, this time about the possible Roma-Shadow King conflict involved in all this.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 7, 2015 8:18 PM
Ugh; part of my post got eaten by bad HTML on my part.
To clarify, I'm connecting the mysterious, self-repairing, possibly quasi-sentient computer in the Australian base to the Mastermind AI system from the Marvel UK Captain Britain stories, not to the mutant villain Jason Wyngarde, who also calls himself Mastermind. The AI was built by Brian Braddock's father, who hails from Otherworld, home dimension of Roma and her father Merlyn.
Unfortunately, the computer rebelled and killed the parents of Brian, Betsy, and Jamie Braddock. Later, striving to maintain its independence, the computer called Mastermind began creating superhuman pawns to attack Captain Britain, but he was able to destroy it. Much later, Alan Moore had the computer return, having "regrown" itself and even expanded into the caves beneath Braddock Manor over the years, creating a sprawling cave full of computer technology. Braddock apparently reprogrammed the computer to correct its madness, but in the post-Moore stories by Jamie Delano and Alan Davis the Mastermind computer became worryingly manipulative and even Machiavellian (rather like Merlyn and to a lesser extent Roma), albeit always for "the greater good" as defined by Otherworld standards. The computer was self-repairing, had vast surveillance capacities — at one point it implied that it could even see into parallel earths — and could do all sorts of other strange things owing to its Otherworld techno-organic technology.
In Captain Britain v.2 #7 a story by Jamie Delano and Alan Davis, the Mastermind AI explains to Betsy and Brian that their father “came from Otherworld. he was one of Merlin’s chosen guard. He came to prepare the way. And he formed me, a node of the Omniversal knowledge, a watchpost in this young and ever more glamorous continuum.” When Brian point out that the computer killed James, Sr., Mastermind replies that “I am grown from an organic base. There was contamination in the spore. It set up a logic fault” that Brian Braddock supposedly cured when he “reprogrammed” Mastermind. The computer then announces that it will start guiding everyone more actively rather than passively maneuvering them to serve its original purpose as Otherworld’s watchdog system on Earth. And indeed it does become Machiavellian, as described in the above paragraph.
Now we come to Claremont's X-Men run. First, notice that the only device that just plain ignores Roma's spell is the computer in the Reaver base to which Roma very specifically directed the X-Men in the first place. Even towards the end of this period, Nanny has to steal components from the computer for her own devices to "see" the X-Men.
The X-Men assume the Reavers built the computer in issue #230, but they also note that this would mean the Reavers are technological geniuses beyond anyone on Earth. Do any of them seem even close to that smart? Indeed, in issue #251 they outright say that they can't find the X-Men with their scanners, but that "'cloak' don't seem to apply to the home sensors here. They track them muties just fine." This is so important, it's repeated almost word for word in another scene in issue #252.
In that same story, we're told that the computer "monitors and controls the vast, sprawling complex hidden beneath the town." The Reavers also don't quite seem to understand the computer's readouts; it's definitely not their creation. So you have a computer that has impossible long-range scanners, can ignore Roma's spell, and that sprawls through a vast underground cavern.
And then we get the kicker, as Bonebreaker says, "There's a whole new network here, Pierce, written in a language I don't speak. Basic configuration's eveolving, almost as if the blamed computer's growing. X-Men may have modified things -- there's evidence of the repair routines at work, indications of major damage to the primary CPU -- but some of these elements, I swear they look less like technology than living organisms." Int he next issue, we'll see that the Reavers are surprised repeatedly at how *big* the underground systems linked to the computer really are.
Let's compare Alan Moore's script from Daredevils #2. Brian Braddock discovers that the Mastemrind AI has regenerated itself, growing to the point that it has taken over the natural caves beneath Braddock Manor: "It's like being inside a mind. These stalactites....they're not stone. They're machinery. But it's as if they've grown here. The computer. It's found some way to grow and extend itself as if it were organic. The whole cave is the computer!"
So it seems to me that Claremont has defined the Australian base computer in very much the terms that Alan Moore, Jamie Delano, and Alan Davis describe Mastermind int heir earlier stories. And we also have the Otherworld connection because Roma is involved in directing the X-Men to the computer's location in the first place.
Now to elaborate on the Roma/Shadow King "war" idea in the next long comment.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 7, 2015 8:24 PM
So we know that Roma sent the X-Men to Australia. Storm even says to her, "Our thanks, celestial one, for sending us to this place." But she also gives them something on her way out: the Siege Perilous crystal. Let's examine that scene more closely.
In Uncanny #229, which introduces all this stuff, Roma convinces the X-Men to send the captured Reavers -- the generic ones, as opposed to the ones who escape and team with Pierce -- through the Siege Perilous to be given a "second chance." Roma also says that "What I do now balances the scales between us. My thanks for your aid against the Adversary, but once done, we must be quits." She then describes the Siege as "[a] release from the trials and trevails [sic] of this world...a gateway (!!!!!) to a paradise well earned." In other words, she shows them how it works, explains it to them in alluring terms, and even convinces them to try it out on the captured Reavers.
The X-Men turn her suggestion that they go through it down because of their devotion to Xavier's dream, with Storm's "Save your Siege Perilous for another time." Roma replies, "So be it." In other words, everyone in the scene acts as if Roma has all but asked the X-Men to go through the Siege right after the nameless, never-again-seen Reavers. Roma departs; however, she's established two things. One, she seems to be implying the X-Men should go through sooner rather than later; second, she makes sure to clarify that the Siege is a sort of gateway to a second life or an afterlife.
All of this leaves the X-Men with both the crystal and the Reavers' base, both of which she has very specifically directed them towards. This is very, very much like the way Merlyn seemingly abandons Captain Britain, only to really be playing chess with his existence to stop Jaspers and the Fury in the Alan Moore stories. Sure, Roma's done with them...but she leaves them with at least one Otherworld thingus. (Two, if you count the computer as I do.)
And hanging around the base we have a guy named Gateway whose motive is guarding his deceased ancestors' spirits so they will not be enslaved by the "outwith spirits." many years later in X-Treme X-Men, Claremont will reveal explicitly that the Shadow King has been mucking around with Dreamtime and Australia.
Even in issue #230, the X-Men wonder why the hell the Reavers would stay in a ghost town like this; if the Shadow King is already in their heads, then perhaps it sent them there to capture the computer and Gateway for their own use. (Pierce will later destroy the Siege crystal; another sign of the SK's influence, taking one of Roma's gifts off the board?) Also int hat issue, we see that the caverns beneath the Reavers' former HQ are basically empty tunnels, with a lot of loot stashed int hem. The X-Men clear all of this out, of course, part of Longshot's Christmas wish.
So Roma has been planting seeds all along, but the X-Men will never quite use the Siege until Psylocke -- who is half-Otherworld and has been the subject of Merlyn's and Roma's manipulations before int he UK stories -- is mysteriously compelled to her everyone through the Siege at the end of the Australian period. And who seemed like they were goading the X-Men to go through the Siege when it was first introduced? Roma, that's who. And what finally does get them to go through? A vision of the Siege and Gateway and a sense of foreboding, both of which arrive just as the Reavers return and the Shadow King starts making explicit moves.
The X-Men vanish through the Siege and the Reavers retake the Australian base; the computer then directs them to Muir Island, where the Reavers' attack and the SK takes over Legion and uses Polaris as a nexus. The Siege altered X-Men eventually regroup, and Psylocke -- a child of Otherworld -- severs the nexus with the Siege-induced power alterations. Roma's gambit works in the end, albeit that she has to modify her strategies several times because of the X-Men's intractibility and the loss of the SK's capture and recapture, via the Reavers, of the semi-sentient, organic, Otherworldly computer in Australia.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 7, 2015 8:37 PM
It's reading comments like that that made me glad I never read most of the Claremont run. Most of what I read I disliked enough without bringing in Moore's stuff too.
Posted by: Thanos6 | November 7, 2015 9:55 PM
@Omar, for future reference i can fix the html if there's a problem like that (but obviously you'd have to wait for me to come online and notice it). As it is, you managed to replicate your lost comment pretty much as is, so i'll leave things as they are.
Thanks for leaving all these comments. What you write seems plausible and as you note matches the other things that we know about Claremont's original plans that got scrapped circa the Mutant Massacre. I wish that Claremont had made it more obvious that he was connecting back to the Alan Moore stuff because it would have clarified a lot of questions that fans continue to have. Do you think he was deliberately drawing it all out for a dramatic reveal that he never got to do, or was he not allowed to make the connections clearer for the same reason he had to scrap his original plans, or did it play out exactly the way he wanted?
Posted by: fnord12 | November 8, 2015 1:26 AM
Great post, Omar. A lot to think about there. I feel Claremont is great at introducing interesting concepts into the mutant mythos, but not always very interested in showing his workings and explaining what he intended. despite his early sci-fi background, he seems more interested in fantasy than science. But your theory makes sense, & if Claremont actually did plan all that then he is pretty smart.
Posted by: Jonathan | November 8, 2015 4:06 AM
@fnord12, I'm not really sure. Claremont's plans had been derailed so often by editorial interference by this point that he might have wanted to keep things flexible just in case. And as Michael notes, he was well into the phase of his career where he sometimes preferred a more elliptical style of writing, not always to the benefit of the readers.
Interestingly, Marvel released the Captain Britain: Before Excalibur trade in 1988 containing a lot of the Delano/Davis stories that Claremont was now riffing on. Claremont even wrote the introduction! (I don't have it, so I don't know what Claremont writes in that introduction.) Unfortunately, it looks like it was published in London, so it might not have gotten an American release.
So I think the story might have remained somewhat "sub rosa" even if it had fully played out, if only because Claremont was in t he habit of referring to Marvel UK stuff that American readers might not have access to. His worries over legal issues might also have encouraged him to keep things on the level of allusion rather than exposition.
My guess is that he saw this is a phase two or three of a longer, slow burn; for one thing, he has Excalibur bouncing around other dimensions while he sets up a replacement Jaspers Warp. I wonder if he was headed for some sort of major "reunion of the teams" angle where Excalibur and the X-Men would be drawn together by Roma's use of them. Excalibur was supposed to be the lighthearted book and Uncanny the scary one, so perhaps we would have gotten hints that they were handling different sides of the same sorts of crises over time.
@Jonathan, Claremont was always into "soft" sci-fi, which has considerable overlaps with fantasy as it is. (Think of the original Star Wars films. Is the Force playing a role much different or more defined than "white magic and black magic" in a fantasy story?) And the Moore/Delano/Davis Captain Britain had already done some genre-merging, with Merlyn talking about dimensional matrices and Brian's costume containing "mystical circuitry."
One of the more influential sources for a lot of comics and soft sci-fi writers in the era was John W. Campbell's dictum that any sufficiently understood magic is a science, and any sufficiently advanced science would seem to be magic to people who don't understand it. It wasn't just Claremont that knew of this; the idea is brought up in the letters pages during Steve Gerber's Defenders run at least once that I know of.
Ultimately, I see the difference as moot for interpretative purposes. Both fantasy and soft sci-fi work more in metaphors and allegories than in hard speculation about real-world religious or cultic practices or real-world technology. The X-Men books throw around the word "mutation," but it has little to do with real-world genetics and everything to do with being treated as "different, therefore dangerous" from adolescence or even birth. My sense is that Claremont has moved on from that theme to a very 1970s-0ish "cosmic evolution and chaos/order wars as metaphor for morality and enlightenment" thing by this point. Well, that and his standard themes that repression is unhealthy and that the confrontation with evil or subjection to some supposed "evil" power beyond yourself is really the release of deeper, unacknowledged desires.
I don't happen to agree with some of those ideas, mind you, but I think Claremont is working through them using sci-fi and fantasy as metaphors.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 8, 2015 8:32 AM
One final piece of the puzzle: In his New Excalbur series, Claremont finally did have the Shadow King create "evil" mind-controlled X-Men in a parallel world, leading to clash with Captain Britain, Professor X, and the Excalbur team of that era.
The SK, now in possession of an evil Xavier counterpart, is defeated and seemingly destroyed by Psylocke and Lionheart (the female Captain Britain created by...ugh...Chuck Austen.) So maybe we do have a vague, "through a glass darkly" sort of glimpse of where he would've gone with all of it int he very long run.
This doesn't seem to be entirely new stuff. Claremont had previously hinted that the Shadow King could cross diemnsions in Excalibur #22, where the team visits an Earth controlled by the SK (who is here the secret manipulator behind the Dark Phoenix saga) The SK seeks revenge on Rachel -- who has no counterpart on this alternate world -- for the events eventually published as the "True Friends" miniseries, which happened in the main Marvel Earth's timeline. So the SK seems to be a multiversal entity in at least some of Claremont's stories. No wonder Roma is involved!
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 8, 2015 8:56 AM
Interesting thoughts, Omar. Just a few quibbles/additions off the top of my head. Mostly that I agree that the Master Mold/Nimrod merge was Claremont trying to recreate his original intention in the first place, but I think that it was more to move Nimrod off the board in Claremont's on-going project to decimate the X-Men for their eventual rebirth and joining with X-Factor. Nimrod had been built up for 20 issues or so since his initial appearance, and then his subplot went exactly nowhere. Considering how much had changed for Claremont in that time, I suspect it was just using what little was left of his original ideas to get rid of an idea that just didn't pan out.
And build up the Rogue/Carol Danvers subplot as a counterpoint, unwilling psychic merging, sudden death, etc. And at that point he was still in control of his story, somewhat. In the comments for #246-247, we discussed that he originally intended Dazzler to die and it was a last-minute change that Rogue went through the Siege instead. How much he planned, how much his characters made their own decisions, how much editorial or artistic influence there was, we'll never know.
Second, assuming we're talking about the same thing, the "Captain Britain" collection was reprinted in America. The Davis/Delano stories, and whoever followed Delano on scripting, bringing Meggan into Brian's life, following up on the warpies, etc. Claremont's introduction was mostly about praising Alan Moore's storyline as one of the greatest things he had ever read, praising Alan Davis' art, and criticizing what a horrible thing Slaymaster did to Betsy. Not really a great introduction, but it was what it was.
Third, I believe Arthur C. Clarke is the one who coined the phrase "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." If you have evidence that a quote (or similar idea) was advanced earlier, fine, I'll be happy to admit Clarke wasn't the first, but to my knowledge, he was. I like to use my cellphone to post on Facebook, asking what the hell Jack Kirby was smoking when he came up with a stupid idea like a Mother Box. No one would use those.
Like I say, this is just quibbling. I like your posts, especially the point about Roma trying to get the X-Men to go through the Siege a few dozen issues before they went through it anyway. It's like she knew what needed to happen, and they refused to do it. Before too long, "Inferno" happens, the team is destroyed and Wolverine gets crucified. Storm herself admits that the Australian adventure wasn't her best idea. Shoulda listened to the Guardian of Otherworld.
But other than that, I think Claremont was just reusing ideas, which he has been known to do on rare occasions.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 9, 2015 11:47 PM
@Nathan Interesting thoughts about Destiny and the Shadow King. My thoughts are that the reason why the Shadow King wants Destiny dead is more because of her value to Mystique. The Shadow King wanted Mystique dead because Raven had betrayed him during what I call MS. MARVEL #25 when she interfered with the arms deal between the Hellfire Club and Peter Coelho. Before that, she was working for the Shadow King, but her obsession with Ms. Marvel was too strong and she ended up going against his wishes. So, when he decided it was time for her to pay, what better way is there to hurt Mystique than to kill one of the few people she loves most? He couldn't harm Rogue because of his plans for her, so he went after Destiny. Then, once that was done, in UNCANNY X-MEN #267, he took possession of Valerie Cooper -- a friend of Raven's -- and sent her to kill Mystique once and for all. Of course, we know that Raven is very hard to kill, and she was able to outmaneuver the Shadow King and survive.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 10, 2016 9:33 AM
I just recently read that Claremont intended to reveal in his NIGHTCRAWLER series that Psylocke came out of the Siege Perilous and eventually became Bloody Bess of the Crimson Pirates. The Psylocke we all knew would have turned out to be someone else.
NIGHTCRAWLER was a pretty good series. Same artist drew all of the issues, if I recall. And it was a Claremont who mostly wrote arc by arc rather than his old way, at least at first, as he didn't know if the book would last or not. When it did, he returned to the story from #5-6 and did more of Bess, which is just a nickname of Elizabeth. This Bloody Bess plotline was originally intended for his second run, but he was off the books before he got to it. It was his way to fix Betsy, as he never originally intended her her remaining Asian long after UNCANNY X-MEN #256-258, but popularity made the editors decide to keep her as is.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | July 29, 2016 12:04 PM
No editor, not even Marvel's current collection of buffoons, would ever approve that idea.
Posted by: AF | July 29, 2016 12:46 PM
If they can approve Captain America now being a Nazi, then I'd say the chances would be pretty good. :)
Posted by: Andrew Burke | July 29, 2016 2:46 PM
Yeah, but Cap isn't REALLY a Nazi- the Skull used the Cosmic Cube to rewrite history so that Cap was *always* a sleeper agent loyal to the Skull. That's no different than a thousand stories where the villain rewrites reality so that the hero is on their side, like the first 3 issues of Busiek's Avengers- and everything always ends with everything snapping back to normal and it never being mentioned again.
Posted by: Michael | July 29, 2016 5:50 PM
Oh no. I just did the math, and Betsy has been an Asian ninja more than twice as long as she *wasn't* an Asian ninja. I'm old. :(
Posted by: ChrisW | July 29, 2016 9:47 PM
For those who pay attention to this sort of thing, the artistic blue highlights of the black in the standard X-outfits start to become more prominent with these issues, leading them to become officially blue-and-gold in a few issues. It's worth noting that Kitty-as-Sprite and the New Mutants wore yellow/black, but the original team had both versions in the silver age -- Yellow/black with yellow belts starting with X-Men #1 and then blue/black with red belts around issue 20 or 21 of the original series.
Posted by: Jeff | January 23, 2017 3:28 PM
Why did Lorna have to go to the locker room? She was already in costume before Amanda's spell.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 5, 2017 12:25 AM
1, Moira asks Lorna to get them into proper clothes/uniforms so presumably Lorna showed them to the locker room and the uniforms.
2. While Lorna is in uniform, she isn't in full uniform - she's barehanded and while the art is somewhat subtle, she is putting on gloves in the locker room, gloves that she wears for the duration of the issues.
Posted by: Mark Black | December 5, 2017 2:42 AM
You're right about the subtlety of the art. Another reason Marc Silvestri is one of my favorite artists ever.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 5, 2017 9:49 PM
I really like how these issue deal with and unite so many secondary characters from the X-mythos.
I'm having a blast reading the post-Inferno issues!
Posted by: Bibs | December 18, 2017 6:41 AM
I rediscovered Claremont's "X-Men" at the end of the 20th Century, and Banshee's interaction with Amanda and Sandy was one of the scenes that reminded me that there was depth to these characters beyond what was on the page. "Banshee was one of Sandy's first 'Weird Happenings.'" "Not to mention, one of the more annoying. Still have the boat, I see." I have no idea if this meeting was ever given any more detail, but I don't need to know. Sean teases her more, "Don't push your luck, Cassidy. The arrest warrant's still good."
Posted by: ChrisW | December 25, 2017 9:26 PM
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