Uncanny X-Men #273-277
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #273, Uncanny X-Men #274, Uncanny X-Men #275, Uncanny X-Men #276, Uncanny X-Men #277
Regular readers of this site know that my opinion of the X-Men's space adventures, with the Starjammers and the endless hordes of Shi'ar Imperial Guards, is not very high. I think that the X-Men ought to be dealing largely with the metaphor of mutant rights, and at this point there was still plenty of unresolved threads that could have served as fodder for that before we needed to go off and do the sort of stories better suited to the Fantastic Four or the Avengers. So that puts me in the odd position of siding with Bob Harras over Chris Claremont regarding this arc. To be fair, space aliens have always been a part of this book, from Lucifer and the Z'Nox Invasion to the very stories that made Claremont's (and Cockrum's and Byrne's) X-Men so popular. So going back to space themes for this arc is not at all unusual. But it does feel like another tangent after this book has been adrift for a long time. And this isn't a short arc. It's arguably the case that this time it's the X-Men's turn to be sent away somewhere, like X-Factor during Judgment Day and the New Mutants during their Asgardian adventure, while the other X-books are building up to their reboots. In other words, we're just killing time until the Muir Island Saga and until the New Mutants become X-Force. But the decision to do this story seems to be entirely Claremont's, except that it was Harras that wanted to bring Professor X back (which, since he was in space, did require at least mentioning space if not devoting 4-5 issues to it).
But, from Sean Howe's Untold Story of Marvel Comics:
With the [upcoming] franchise-wide changes, Harras now had an opportunity to solve a problem that had been nagging at him: Claremont's stories about aliens and magic just weren't pleasing him; they didn't seem like the kind of tales that The Uncanny X-Men did best. In the five years since the return of Jean Grey had ruined Claremont's happy ending for Cyclops, the book had gone through radical changes... "Times have changed since Charles Xavier founded this school and created the X-Men," Storm declared in [issue #273, the first part of this arc]. "Changed even since he brought in myself and my companions to be the team's second generation. Now there is a third, and we must answer, my friends -- are we fit caretakers any longer, for Xavier's school and his dream? Or has the time come to turn that role over to others...?"
That "move" is first telegraphed with issue #274, which, after #273 sets up the space adventure story, inexplicably shifts gears to a full issue dealing with Rogue and Magneto in the Savage Land. And that issue is entirely plotted by Jim Lee, with Claremont only scripting. And that was actually Harras' plan going forward, that Claremont would be reduced to scripter on both this title and the upcoming second X-Men title. Of course the way things worked out, Claremont ended up leaving the titles altogether. Claremont's plot for this arc may have been the final nail in that coffin, but Claremont and Harras clearly weren't compatible regardless (per Howes' book, they devolved to speaking to each other only via fax, so that there would be a paper trail of their conversations when disputes about who agreed to what arose).
Additionally it's worth noting that any problems with the writing in these issues must take into account the fact that Jim Lee was not a timely artist. Claremont would get Lee's pages in dribs and drabs, with the bulk coming in right before deadline. Taking that into account, this story is relatively coherent, if nonetheless overlong and uninteresting.
Issue #273 starts off on the right foot, but that only makes things more frustrating. We start with the full contingent of X-Men, X-Factor, and New Mutants all hanging around the X-Mansion. And observing a map of (some of) their dangling plot threads.
As is always the case when super-hero teams threaten to get "pro-active", instead of dealing with any of these threats, we're going to be interrupted by the space adventure. But ironically it's Cable who is advocating to be pro-active and start hitting these targets now instead of waiting for them to blow up. It's ironic not because it's not in character for Cable (clearly it is) but because the whole point of the period where the X-Men faked their deaths was so that they'd be free to strike at their enemies proactively. That was Storm's idea (even if it was ultimately implemented by Roma). But now Storm is arguing against Cable. So are Cyclops and Jean Grey, claiming that they aren't warriors like Cable is. This is after several years of Louis Simonson X-Factor comics with Cyclops complaining that Xavier only raised him to be a soldier, not a person. To Claremont's credit, Cable points out the irony with Storm at least, with Storm now saying that her previous attitude was a mistake. Cable then nominates himself for leader of the X-Men, which Storm, Cyclops, and Jean obviously reject. When Cable leaves, Cyclops notes the fact that there isn't much space for three teams in the remains of the X-Mansion, and offers to house everyone in X-Factor's Ship. Storm thinks that putting themselves above humanity would send the wrong message (here's one of the John Byrne panels).
Then Storm speaks the "third generation" lines printed in the Howe quote above.
Meanwhile, Banshee makes holographic contact with Moira MacTaggert and it's again noted how changed she is. Banshee doesn't want to talk to Beast about it, but funnily enough at the end of this arc as soon as the team gets back from space Banshee brings it up to the group, because at that point we've killed enough time and we're ready for the Muir Island Saga.
We then see various characters interacting: Cannonball and Archangel in a Danger Room session, Jean asking Psylocke why she hasn't contacted her brother Captain Britain to tell him that she's alive...
...and Boom Boom and Iceman horseplaying. Gambit continues to be a possibly sinister character. He tries to convince Storm to leave with him, and then he gets into a Danger Room session with Wolverine where the system seems to go haywire while Gambit's eye blinks...
...and then he wins the fight, rather menacingly.
Jean uses Cerebro to try to look for some of the missing X-Men (Rogue, Longshot, Dazzler) and instead is attacked on the Astral Plane by the Shadow King. Psylocke rescues her without either of them learning/remembering who the attacker was.
The issue ends with all of the actual X-Men characters deciding to wear official versions of the X-Men costume...
...and on the very last page Lila Cheney shows up and teleports the X-Men (only) out into space.
I think this period, where characters like Gambit and Psylocke are wearing the yellow and blue costumes, is pretty funny, and not in a good way. It just doesn't work to have this team wearing uniform outfits. This is a group of independent adults, not students. I believe there is also a story about Jim Lee bragging to John Byrne that he was the guy that put Wolverine back in his "original" costume, not knowing that it was John Byrne that put Wolverine in the brown costume that seemed more appropriate for a character named after a wild animal. We'll see more of the costumes in later issues in this arc. But first...
As mentioned above, from there we jump to a story plotted by Lee and dealing exclusively with Rogue and Magneto in the Savage Land, with no mention of last issue. Given the jam artist nature of the previous issue and all of the other behind-the-scenes stuff, i wonder if Lee more or less got approval from Harras to go ahead and draw what he wanted to draw (Rogue wearing scraps of clothing?) and Harras got the other artists to finish the plot for issue #273. No idea if that's true but it's certainly incongruous to ignore the space story entirely. On the other hand Lee does draw the rest of the space story by himself (but it could have been with the understanding that he was getting control of the book in the long term).
Not only is the story not acknowledging last issue, but it also feels like we're coming in in the middle. That of course can be a valid storytelling technique, but it's odd in this case to start the book off with Magneto and Rogue hanging out with Ka-Zar and Zabu; i'd like to have at least seen how Ka-Zar came to work with Magneto (e.g., does he know he's a "bad guy" at the moment?).
SHIELD is in the Savage Land investigating earthquakes that have been occurring in southern Argentina. But Magneto and company come across the remnants of the SHIELD mission and it looks like they've all been killed. They are then attacked by the Savage Land Mutates.
There's potentially something of interest here. Magneto created the mutates, and then never gave them a second thought when that particular effort was over. To be fair, after that original usage it seemed like the mutates reverted to non-super form, and they only reappeared later. But it's interesting to see them confront Magneto again, and Claremont, using what little tools he has since he's only scripting, has chosen to narrate the issue from Magneto's point of view, so to a small degree we get his acknowledgment that he abandoned his creations. But it really doesn't go further than that; the mutates are really just pawns for Zaladane's plot.
Magneto is also struggling with the fact that he's a bad guy, willing to torture the mutates for information on Zaladane and even kill them. He relents because of Rogue's objections; Rogue "actually believes" in being the good guys that stand for something better, and he lets that influence him (we'll see that he and Rogue are also developing feelings for each other). Rogue is also powerless at the moment, a result of having the Carol Danvers persona removed from her in Uncanny X-Men #269 that will turn out to be temporary.
Claremont scripts the story such that Magneto sees Zaladane, a pure, generic evil villain, as a mirror to himself. In a sense both Magneto and Claremont are struggling with the idea of Magneto giving up his redemptive path.
It's also worth observing the similarities between Zaladane in the top panel in the scan above and Lian Shen from Uncanny X-Men #267.
Here are Rogue and Magneto sharing a moment.
And here is Magneto creating his costume from scratch.
With Ka-Zar and Zabu, they launch an attack on Zaladane's forces. Things don't go so well. Brain-Child creepily finds the fact Rogue is powerless to have "intriguing possibilities".
They are rescued by Nick Fury and a few surviving soldiers.
The soldiers are actually Russians (it's not clear to me if they are actually SHIELD agents; they are part of the "Red Army, serving with the United Nations forces attached to SHIELD"), and have no love for Magneto since he once sunk a Soviet sub and destroyed one of their cities. Here's a weird scene where Claremont seems to be using the script to add a weird nuance about a hologram that doesn't seem to have anything to do with what Lee drew.
The differences between Magneto and the Russians are put aside from now and they renew their attack on Zaladane.
I don't meant to be hard on the Savage Land story. It's addressing a plot thread that needed to be addressed. It was even on the X-Men's globe at the beginning of this arc! (But of course it's not being addressed pro-actively; it's only because Rogue appeared in the Savage Land somewhat randomly in issue #269.) And there's nothing wrong with having two plots running simultaneously in a comic; that was of course a Claremont specialty at one time. It's just weird how the story jumps from Lila Cheney teleporting the X-Men away to a Savage Land story already in progress between issues.
In any event, we do have two the two plots running simultaneously beginning at the very end of #274, which does show us what's happening with the group that Lila brought into space.
They find themselves attacked by goo...
...and are then confronted by Deathbird.
I'll finish up the Savage Land story first and then deal with the space plot, which runs through #277, all at once.
The attack on Zaladane is complicated by the Russians' hatred of Magneto. The leader of the squad's son was killed by Magneto. So on their way to the assault, they turn on Magneto, attacking him instead.
Without Magneto's firepower, the good guys are no match for Zaladane's forces. Once captured, the Russian commander allies himself with Zaladane, convincing her that instead of a direct attempt to take over the world with her horde, she should work to get acknowledged as a sovereign leader of the Savage Land recognized by the world community. I think a word balloon mistake confuses the fact that it's the Russian soldier saying that she would get that recognition in return for killing Magneto.
Meanwhile, if you've been wondering where Shanna the She-Devil has been all this time, the answer is that she's been posing for pin-ups. Nereel is also a mind-slave of Brain-Child and Worm.
Mind-probing Magneto, visual images are created, showing Magneto the death of Magneto's child from Classic X-Men #12 as well as the death of a doctor, Isabelle, who we saw killed by Nazis in Classic X-Men #19 (don't bother looking at my description of that story; i didn't write much) and a scene that i think is new information of Magneto fighting the Shadow King.
None of this has anything directly to do with the Zaladane plot, though.
Before the mind-probe kills Magneto, Rogue, Nick Fury, and Ka-Zar stage a rescue, and Rogue's powers conveniently and kind of randomly return.
That turns the tide of the battle. Magneto and Rogue have another argument about killing, but this time Rogue does not win Magneto over. Magneto kills Zaladane, saying, "My people are in danger -- more so now than ever before -- from the Hellfire Club and their accursed Shadow King, from foul creatures such as this, perhaps even from the very United Nations which Colonel Fury loyally serves. And a kinder gentler Magneto cannot save them."
I, uh, i didn't know that about Shadow King ruling the Hellfire Club. I mean i saw it in an alternate reality in an issue of Excalibur (Excalibur #21). But i didn't know that was the story in the real world. In fact, the last i knew, i thought Magneto was the ruler of the Hellfire Club, having fought Sebastian Shaw for it in New Mutants #75.
Characterwise, the key thing here is Magneto's return to villainy. You can tell from the scripting throughout the issues that Claremont doesn't like it. Magneto struggles against it throughout the story. But it ends with Magneto essentially succumbing by killing Zaladane. The fact that the script frames it in terms of Magneto being a champion of mutant rights doesn't really work when the villain is a Savage Land barbarian queen with henchmen that Magneto himself is responsible for. So Claremont is struggling against it to the end, but can't stop Magneto from becoming what he has to be.
Ok, let's jump back now to the space story. Despite basically having two and a half issues of that story to deal with, i am actually going to jump through it very quickly. There are twists and turns along the way, but the end of it is that there are Skrulls that have captured Professor X and found a way to duplicate his powers and the powers of other X-Men that they've captured.
The Skrulls are called Warskrulls, but what exactly that means isn't clear.
Deathbird winds up forming an alliance with the members of the X-Men and Starjammers that don't get captured and replaced by Skrulls. Deathbird relinquishes the Shi'ar throne to Lilandra, saying that she was tired of running the empire anyway.
Beyond that i'll just call out a few moments, beginning with what continues to be a Wolverine said to not be in top form.
I definitely do find his costume and the others to be ridiculous. Gambit in the yellow and blue school uniform looks so wrong to me.
The mystery of Gambit continues. Now he's immune to telepathy.
He implies that he is interested in divining the "secrets" of the X-Men.
His full deck of cards is enough to stop Gladiator.
But Gladiator's powerhouse status is challenged from all angles. We learn that Deathbird is as strong as him and was even his teacher.
1991 continues to be the year of big guns.
Professor X mind-reads Storm and learns about the Shadow King and decides he needs to return home.
He's covered in circuitry as a result of what the Skrulls were doing.
Xavier also comments on the irony of being rescued by a team of X-Men half of which he doesn't recognize.
Not a great story, in my opinion. It's nice to see Jim Lee take on the likes of the Starjammers and the Imperial Guard...
...but it feels like a re-run of other X-Men space adventures, with the Skrulls' scheme not all that interesting or fully baked. The fact that Claremont and Lee aren't meshing well also means that the twists and turns of the Skrull plot don't feel clear enough. With Skrulls there should be intrigue; this story has a lot of running around, fighting, and shouting.
The final page of issue #277 shows a Shadow King-possessed Colossus chasing down Stevie Hunter.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 415,961. Single issue closest to filing date = 404,300.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: We need to pause here and let X-Factor catch up for the Muir Island Saga. Colossus appears in Web of Spider-Man #73-74 and isn't possessed in those issues, obviously, so that can't take place between this arc and the next one.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (12): show
Note that Jean seems to recognize the Shadow King in issue 273.
Posted by: Michael | September 13, 2015 1:02 PM
It may have been a rush job, but #273 was also a very conscious 'return to the mansion' story that Claremont had used repeatedly throughout his run. #109, #122 [though it wasn't explicit there] #129, #151 [also not explicit] #167... Partially it was probably intended to give Jim Lee time to draw the double-sized issue, and otherwise, it was Claremont explicitly acknowledging [as he has Storm saying] how much time has passed, and how much things have changed.
Comics have always dealt with the idea that they're aimed at 7 year-olds, and there's a new crop of them coming along regularly. Marvel Comics was the first to realize that some people keep reading when they get older, and Claremont was the first writer to seriously deal with an audience who started reading at different times. The art may or may not be rushed, but it's clearly a deliberate attempt to include as many mutant artists as possible, up to and including John Byrne who only drew Scott, Jean and Ororo on his pages. Hence Storm's comment about a third generation, and questioning what are they to do with the newcomers. This is lampshaded with the splash page showing the dangling subplots, but it's also part of Claremont's greatness that this makes for a good downtime issue.
We'll probably never know when the decision was made to have X-Factor rejoin the X-Men. But here, both teams are sharing quarters, along with the remnants of the New Mutants, and naturally there are conflicts. Frankly, I'd love to read a 200-page graphic novel about the problems with so many superpeople have living in such small quarters without a villain in sight. Just the regular references to needing to go to the bathroom help illustrate the point. This brings us back full circle to the question posed at the end of "Giant-Sized X-Men" #1, "What are we going to do with thirteen X-Men?" and the changes that the muties [and comics in general] have undergone since then.
Claremont is trying to keep doing what he does, expand the Shadow King plot, merge the teams and set up Gambit as a mystery character. I am convinced that Gambit was intended to kill Wolverine at the end of the Muir Isle Saga with a 'bang, you dead' to set up the "Dark Wolverine" plot. Notice how easily Wolvie beat him in the actual fight on Muir Island. Healing factor, that's all that matters. Don't need anything else.
All that said, I think it makes sense that everybody would wear the official school uniforms. It represents a full closing of the circle which, consciously or not, Claremont realized was happening. And he has to work through an artist who specifically desires to go back to the old days.
It wasn't in character for anybody, no denying that. Once can just imagine Betsy throwing a fit. "I'm a former model and a former spy. I put serious thought into how I look, and I cannot show off my large breasts at the same time I'm showing off my tight little ass when I'm wearing an outfit that makes my ass look huge. What am I supposed to do, brainwash people into thinking I'm hot? That's just wrong!" And then Jubilee responds "I wish I had your problems."
Last great issue of the Claremont era. Hurry up and get to Alan Davis' "Excalibur" and Peter David's "X-Factor" so we can get some relief from the garbage that's ahead.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 13, 2015 4:27 PM
What ChrisW said :)
I freely admit that the Savage Land story is one of my favourite X-Men stories ever. Magneto's fall was very touching and I loved the narration being done from his point of view. Yes, there are bad points in this story, but overall, it's quite moving. I must say that it's the comics like these I tried emulating back when I was writing my own stuff...
The Skrull story is weak, though. Do any interviews, leaks etc. exist that explain what "the Host" was supposed to be? The one good moment, for me, is that scene on the alien world, when Forge has a mini-breakdown. It's moments like these that made me the fan of the character.
BTW. Both of these stories feature some fetish content. I wonder who came up with that: Lee or Claremont?
Posted by: Piotr W | September 13, 2015 4:51 PM
I completely forgot about the Skrulls in my comments. This story could not have been done a year ago, because the Skrulls were still trapped in whatever form they were wearing at the time. Only after the Silver Surfer helped the Skrull Empress [forget her name at the moment] restore their abilities could this story have happened. Maybe he was just tracking that part-Kree member of the team, maybe he was remembering that he was Marv Wolfman's assistant in keeping things straight, but this was the last time Claremont really acknowledged Marvel's history.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 13, 2015 4:59 PM
Considering how vocal Claremont was about the treatment of Carol Danvers in Avengers 200, it's stunning how no one seems to think twice about the implied rape of Shanna (a character conceived to provide female readers with a strong woman to follow) and Nereel by Brainchild while mind controlled.
And then there are characters, including one underaged, being fed naked into a tentacle machine. ewwww.
Even though these issues are a mess, it was nice to see an actual team of X-Men doing something, after the excrusiating post-Seige period. Bringing back Professor X, I have mixed feelings on. At least he did provide the potential for some focus. Though having him immediately crippled again, the mansion and blackbird restored and Magneto go evil all at once was too contrived.
It was time for Claremont to step aside or be reigned in. The book had been a directionless mess for about 5 years, with Claremont's tics becoming weirder and more intrusive, while the characters wondered around aimlessly, first believed dead, then lost and amnesiac.
But Harras' answer of giving full control to amateur non-writers Lee and Portacio (who would immediately jump from Marvel's ship to found Image for more $$$, even after getting the X-keys with his coup) clearly wasn't the answer.
Posted by: Bob | September 13, 2015 4:59 PM
It's possible Shanna and Nereel weren't raped- there didn't seem to be much time between them being captured and Nick, Rogue and Ka-Zar bursting in to free them. (Although there was apparently enough time for Nick to destroy the towers-how did he do that, again?)
Posted by: Michael | September 13, 2015 6:31 PM
And it only gets worse in the following Shadow King arc in a cene with Rogue, where Claremont basically spells out that he's thinking exactly what you said he implied:
Posted by: Bob | September 13, 2015 7:12 PM
I am not especially fond of Jim Lee's penciling. I do recognize that on a technical level he is good, but his work nevertheless leaves me cold.
As I previously commented on Comic Book Resources, it was around the time of this storyline that I started to experience the first symptoms of Jim Lee Fatigue. That was when I began to notice that he was now drawing nearly all of the female characters as overtly sexy babes who were constantly posing to show off all of their assets.
Probably the best example form these issues is that page where Zaladane she’s standing by a pillar with her back arched & her rear end thrust out, looking like she’s posing for a Skin Two photo shoot, and that just totally takes me out of the story as a reader.
That's the thing about Lee's artwork that bothers me: he doesn’t have his beautiful women as a part of the flow of the narrative. Instead, he is shoehorning in pin-up images right into the story. Rather than having pages where some of the characters happen to be beautiful women, he lays out his art and positions his figures so that his sexy ladies become the central focus on the pages. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but that’s the best way I can describe it.
I have to contrast this with Paul Gulacy, who is one of my favorite artists. Gulacy, of course, draws some of the most drop dead gorgeous women in comic books, at least in my opinion. But the thing about Gulacy is that he never lets that that get in the way of telling the story. He doesn’t just toss in a bunch of gratuitous pin-up shots. Instead, he concentrates on creating solid, effective, dramatic layouts.
Oh, yes, and while I'm here... All these years later and I still cannot figure out what the difference is between a Warskrull and a regular Skrull. Other than being larger and more muscular than regular Skrulls, what is it that's supposed to make Warskrulls so special?
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 13, 2015 11:52 PM
Michael, I admit that I'm not sure what is "Ew" about Sean commenting that he liked Moira being more sexually aggressive. Many men like that in women, right?
Also, I'm not sure what's wrong with the Rogue-Shadow King shower scene. SK twists people. Nowhere in the scene it is said that Rogue "wants to be a slut"....
Posted by: Piotr W | September 14, 2015 1:46 AM
"I believe there is also a story about Jim Lee bragging to John Byrne that he was the guy that put Wolverine back in his "original" costume, not knowing that it was John Byrne that put Wolverine in the brown costume that seemed more appropriate for a character named after a wild animal." You are correct, sir: http://www.byrnerobotics.com/FAQ/listing.asp?ID=2&T1=Questions+about+Comic+Book+Projects#46
Posted by: Morgan Wick | September 14, 2015 2:00 AM
I forgot... I am not a fan of Jim Lee's Deathbird.
I was fairly new to comic books when these issues came out. I had only been following Uncanny X-Men regularly for a little over a year. This was probably the first time I saw Deathbird in a story.
Jim Lee's intro of Deathbird on the final page of #274 seemed weird to me, since it looked like she was trying to show off her cleavage to the X-Men (recall what I wrote before about Lee and his female characters' poses). And as the story progressed I got confused because the dialogue referred to Deathbird having wings, and the mind-controlled Gladiator tearing them off her. But the way Lee drew her I could not see much in the way of wings.
A couple of years later I then saw one of the X-Men issues penciled by Dave Cockrum that had Deathbird... and she looked soooo much better to me! Cockrum's original design was cool, simultaneously beautiful and dangerous. It was so much better than Lee's overly complicated, oversexed redesign. In hindsight I now realize that this was an early example of Lee's habit of taking a pre-existing character and giving them an unnecessary redesign, making their costume much more busy and hyper-detailed.
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 14, 2015 9:01 AM
I'm guessing Warskrulls can copy other super-beings' powers like the Super-Skrull, rather than just changing their appearances.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 14, 2015 11:00 AM
In that panel with Jean showering, I momentarily thought Captain Britain and company were in there watching her.
And how ridiculous is it that Deathbird and Gambit can smack around Gladiator?
Posted by: Mortificator | September 14, 2015 2:18 PM
This issue was the only time that Scott Williams ever inked John Byrne. Sigh. Those are some of the best non-Byrne inks over him that I ever saw.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | September 14, 2015 2:28 PM
fnord12, Thank you for including the background regarding the power struggle between Claremont and seemingly everyone else at Marvel. It answers some questions that I had regarding the flow in these books, specifically the out-of-nowhere Magneto hologram reference. It gives the feeling that Claremont was doing his duty, yet taking care to flip the bird at those around him while doing so.
I've always been a Claremont fan, and this just reinforces that. Yes he seemed to ramble a lot during the late eighties, but those forced company crossovers derailed his larger plans, not to mention the whole return of Jean Grey/X-Factor thing. The issues from here leading up to X-Mens #1-3 are a painful way to end what is one of the greatest runs of any writer in comicbook hostory.
Posted by: Jesse | September 14, 2015 2:38 PM
I think these issues are actually pretty good. Indeed issues 374-375 are often considered Claremont's last "good" issues of X-Men.
I am surprised, fnord that you didn't mention a key scene from #275: the fact that Magneto ALSO killed the Russian commander that turned on the team. That seems like an odd moment to omit since THAT killing appears more crucial to Magneto's return to villany than the what happened to Zaladane. After all, Zaladane descended down to one-note power-mad supervillianess so Magneto still had an (arguable) reason for putting her down as a "threat-to-the-world" (there are quite a bit of "heroes" around this point in time that would have done the same thing, after all) However the Russian Commander had a (again arguably) sympathetic reason for hating Magneto enough to betray everyone and he was "just" a human. What makes this such a brilliant and chilling portrayal is that Mags is having none of it and basically turns the commanders justifications right around back on him before killing him. Somehow Magneto looked more sympathetic (irony!) AND more cruel at the same time. A very powerful moment!
And forget about Zaladane and the Warskrulls. The biggest threats in this arc are the gigantic heaving bosoms that seem poised to smother us all! I mean Lila Cheney is just an adejuct to the team, and yet her cleavage is bigger than the main characters' heads. And Deathbed looks like she'said wearing an industrial-strength Wonderbra. To ensure fair to Jim Lee, though at least Rogue finally got out of her jungke-kini. And he continues to give Jubilee a "realistic" teenage body despite his obvious appreciation for "Baywatch-proportions."
Posted by: Jon Dubya | September 15, 2015 12:05 AM
Jon, you're right about the Russian commander. I didn't include it because dramatically speaking, that wasn't intended as the turning point. He kills the commander, arguably in the heat of battle (but not really) and then goes to kill Zaladane and has a page long debate with Rogue before making his decision and then making his speech about it. So he killed the commander but (as it's presented) still had a chance to stay on the redemption path, but chooses not to. But you're right that killing the commander was just as bad, if not worse.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 15, 2015 7:25 AM
@Jon Dubya -
This may just be personal preference, but, as a big, big fan of X-Men #1-3, ending with the death of Magneto (that it was retconned out doesn't change the power of the death scene), I wonder where the "often considered" in your statement comes from? Can you point to places where #274-275 (I assume you meant those) are considered the last "good" issues?
Posted by: Erik Beck | September 15, 2015 9:08 AM
@Piotr W- Moira deciding she wants to spice up her relationship with Sean and Sean enjoying that- NOT EW.
Posted by: Michael | September 15, 2015 6:49 PM
I have never really understood why Magneto killing Zaladane in Uncanny X-Men #275 was supposed to be the point at which he crosses the Moral Event Horizon and is irredeemably bad. Yes, he executed Zaladane in cold blood... but she was a villain, a recurring foe of the X-Men and Ka-Zar who was never going to reform, who in the last several issues enslaved and tortured numerous people, including Magneto himself.
Yes, you can argue that Magneto should not have slain a defeated adversary, that he should have allowed Nick Fury & SHIELD to take her into custody. Except... when the heck have the X-Men themselves ever turned any of their defeated foes over to the authorities? How many people has Wolverine killed over the years? And how many of those were truly situations where he absolutely had no choice to use lethal force, as opposed to him just choosing the most expedient way to stop an enemy?
Truthfully, Magneto committed numerous crimes worse than killing Zaladane BEFORE he attempted to reform. How about killing the entire crew of the Soviet submarine Leningrad in issue #150? Are we really supposed to believe that Magneto ruthlessly drowning over 100 men who were merely carrying out their duty to their country is something that the X-Men can just shrug off, but that killing a terrorist like Zaladane is going to cause them to decide that Magneto is totally beyond redemption?
Looking back at these issues, and now knowing that editorial were strong-arming Claremont into turning Magneto back into a villain, it is really apparent that he was struggling to make the character's backslide appear plausible. I guess Claremont did the best he could with what he had, but it still seems like the X-Men were grasping at straws to rationalize why they could no longer accept Magneto.
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 15, 2015 7:53 PM
Magneto was far more villain-like in the Dark Scarlet With arc of Byrnes WCA, just previous, than anything seen in this issue.
And, as Storm mentions in 273, the X-teams were well aware of that battle.
Posted by: Bob | September 15, 2015 8:05 PM
I think it's just the contradiction between the premise of Magneto being a villain, Magneto reforming and Magneto returning to villainy. Running a school for gifted teenagers (disobedient ones at that) doesn't really atone for all the crimes he's committed in his life. And being a Holocaust survivor doesn't really justify them either.
But on the other hand, he really tried, as shown in his word and thought balloons. If Magneto is a great character, then his reformation is ultimately unsustainable once other writers start getting involved. And if he's not, then he wasn't worth the time and energy Claremont, the characters or the audience gave him.
As an example, he should have been one of the first people Storm thought of to strike back at the Marauders. Him and Wolverine, they would have been the first people to demonstrate that 'you don't mess with our mutant allies.' Instead he was always relegated to playing defense for the New Mutants.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 16, 2015 10:38 PM
I on the other hand loved the days when X-Men had space adventures with the Star Jammers. Sadly the middle 80s happened and I think that's where the true X-Men had to emerge. I think why I like the space age is that's where Colossus and Nightcrawler are allowed to exist a little easier.
This story looks like a mess though.
Posted by: david banes | September 23, 2015 2:03 PM
I always liked these issues and this Shi'ar storyline. Gambit using the whole deck is pretty kewl.
It helps that I was the right age for when Jim Lee's art was the coolest thing on the planet, though I can see why people who were at that same right age during the Byrne era might not like it as much.
And for some additional info: the Magneto vs. Shadow King panel alludes to a fight for control of the Hellfire Club they had that was never shown. This is why Magneto gives up leading the Club for seemingly no reason and is found by Rogue licking his wounds at his Savage Land base.
Shadow King was also supposed to have had some encounter with Rachel Summers in an (at the time) upcoming Excalibur special which never came out. I believe most of that special ended up becoming the X-men True Friends mini-series in the late 90s.
Posted by: Red Comet | September 23, 2015 10:48 PM
Even though the uniforms are based on the oroginal team's original colors, I take their point here not to be different: these X-Men are wearing uniforms not because they're students but because they're soldiers.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | September 26, 2015 1:39 PM
(That should be "to be different" rather than "not to be different": soldiers rather than students, perhaps symbolizing in part how the X-Men's struggles, particularly with the Shadow King, are turning the team into a dark reflection of Xavier's dream, superficially the same, but twisted to a different purpose. (Though in last year's X-Men annual Claremont had Wolverine get quite explicit about the paramilitary component of Xavier's team-building.)
Posted by: Walter "Typo" Lawson | September 26, 2015 1:44 PM
Storm [#101] and Wolverine [#107] were the first X-Men to get naked on-panel in Claremont's run. Jubilee is the last. Given all the other characters who got naked - which you can remember as well as I can - can't see this as anything but a downhill slide.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 3, 2015 5:10 PM
And who is Magneto saving his heart for? Magda and Isabelle have been dead for decades, and and he's obviously not paying attention to Lee anymore. Who else is there? A sexy teenage girl who is able to touch people for the first time in her recent memory is attracted to him, and he rejects her? Mutants are totally not like human beings.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 3, 2015 5:42 PM
I could see Magneto rejecting her because he's Magneto. But the narration interferes. In case it wasn't clear.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 3, 2015 5:46 PM
I took Magneto's pledging his heart to another to mean pledging his life fully and totally to the mutant cause.
I.e. Like Batman he has to thrust himself 100% into what he's doing. Relationships? Ain't got no tyme for that.
Posted by: JC | October 24, 2015 9:58 PM
Fnord - I may have already brought this up in #269. I don't know if it's worth any more points under Historical Significance Rating, but you should at least note the beginning of the Magneto / Rogue romance given what an impact it had on Age of Apocalypse.
Posted by: Erik Beck | November 23, 2015 6:56 AM
Erik, i think it will probably just get an Inbound Reference when the time comes.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 23, 2015 8:02 AM
I enjoy the Magneto/Rogue relationship and wouldn't mind seein it brought up again... just not by Bendis.
Posted by: JC | November 23, 2015 12:24 PM
I think the hologram is Claremont covering for an art mistake, as Magneto seems to be on Fury's left and right within about two panels.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 28, 2015 11:16 PM
I don't see the problem with Magneto's hologram. The staging isn't the best (and maybe it could have been colored a bit better) but Rogue is looking straight at the hologram, then she turns roughly 90 degrees left to stop Fury from attacking, and then looks another 90 degrees left at the real Magneto, who was coming up behind the group and using the hologram to determine if it was safe to show himself.
Could have been done better. I think that's probably the reason for the complaint. It should have been done better and Jim Lee's a good enough artist to have done a good job. He did it right, he just did a bad job.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 7, 2015 10:23 PM
Zaladane being related to Lorna is not too hard to figure out if one puts their mind to it.
Zala is likely the daughter of Arnold and Suzanna Dane, born first. I'd say she may have been given up for adoption before Lorna was born. It's possible that she may not even be Arnold's daughter, as Suzanna was having at least one affair (with Magneto) at the time, so someone else could have been the father. And Zala could very well be be Magneto's daughter and Suzanna gave her up for adoption so she could hide her affair. We don't know how long their relationship was. But then she got pregnant again with Lorna and decided to keep her maybe because she regretted giving up her first daughter.
Of course, with Zaladane dead, it doesn't really matter, and I suspect no one will ever bother to try and explain the whole thing.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | May 28, 2016 9:15 AM
While we're at it, might as well be related to Dane Whitman too. ¬_¬
Posted by: AF | May 28, 2016 10:42 AM
Just because Lorna Dane and Zaladane apparently have the last name doesn't automatically mean that they're related. What, next you are going to tell me that Scott Lang and Steven Lang are third cousins once removed? Or maybe Steve Rogers is the great-uncle of Marianne Rogers?
Then again, considering some of the other insane things that creators have attempted to get away with (Sandman and the Green Goblin *must* be related because Ditko drew them with similar haircuts!) I really shouldn't be surprised that this sort of stuff pops up so often. I'm *still* waiting for someone to reveal that Wolverine is the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather of *everyone* in the Marvel universe.
Posted by: Ben Herman | June 13, 2016 3:40 PM
Lorna Dane and Zaladane aren't related because they have the same last name. They are related because Moira MacTaggert said Zaladane could only take Lorna's powers by being her sister in Uncanny X-Men 254. It's as much a fact as possibly can be in the Marvel Universe(which is to say, it's one issue away from being changed like anything else, sadly).
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 13, 2016 4:08 PM
Speaking of 274, didn't Lee object when he got the plot for 269 which had Loki rescuing Rogue and Bob Harras backed him? Since Claremont's story for Rogue was essentially rejected, it makes sense that Jim Lee would have to plot its replacement as well to prove he could take over the plotting when the time came. It's certainly abominable behavior on behalf of both men, one of whom had hardly any writing experience at all and who was elevated to a position that he didn't achieve through merit but office politics at behest of the other man who obviously wanted his writer to leave and made it happen.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 13, 2016 4:32 PM
@Brian C. Saunders - What?!? Claremont originally wanted to have Loki rescue Rogue instead of Magneto, and Lee refused to draw it? I never heard anything about this before.
Posted by: Ben Herman | June 13, 2016 4:38 PM
The comments on Fnord's page for Uncanny X-Men 269 have several links. Here's one of them with Lee's quote. http://geoffklock.blogspot.com/2008/06/jason-powell-on-uncanny-x-men-135.html?showComment=1213417980000&m=1#c4841697591443932936
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 13, 2016 4:53 PM
And Zaladane used the same machine to steal Magneto's powers as well, which would indicate (to me) that she was his daughter, as much as she was Lorna's sister. Who knows how the story would have evolved had Claremont continued onward.
I heard about the Loki thing, too, but I can't even imagine how the story would go. Maybe something related to the X-MEN/ALPHA FLIGHT mini-series?
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 13, 2016 4:55 PM
@Andrew Burke Yeah, I figure it'd have to be related to X-Men/Alpha Flight, but without knowing how much of #269 was "compromised"(would Rouge have ever gone to the Savage Land in the first place or straight to Asgard? Would Loki have split Carol/Rogue?) it's hard to figure what the story would have been. Carol vs. Rogue and the winner faces Loki? I think 269 is where Claremont's long losing war of attrition with Harras went into final gear.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 13, 2016 5:09 PM
@Brian C. Saunders - Thank you for the link. It's amazing how much stuff was going on behind the scenes at Marvel back in the early 1990s that we readers had little to no clue about because there was really no social media where all the dirty laundry was getting spilled.
Posted by: Ben Herman | June 13, 2016 6:51 PM
@Ben Herman You're welcome. As for readers and behind the scenes of comics, there was the Comics Buyers Guide, Comics Journal and Amazing Heroes. Maybe a few minor fanzines in the 80's. CBG used to have a letters page that would elicit discussion of controversies of the day, like Erik Larsen's disdain for writers but wouldn't air the "dirty laundry" that the other two would. That said, you didn't have to know a lot of details to know that when CBG reported that Chris Claremont decided to take a "sabbatical" right when X-Men #1 was about to come out, that something stunk in the state of Denmark. 25 years later, it's just a lot easier to see. Nowadays, social media spills a lot, but with the non-disclosure clauses the Big Two require, the higher-ups still have a lot of cover. You still have to unspin a lot, but with enough people close to the situation and smart people who know how the business works, it's hard to keep a secret, but still harder to prove it. As long as there's deniability at the time, people knowing "dirty laundry" doesn't worry the Big Two. For instance, Wizard was happy by the mid-90's to quote Claremont talking about how his X-Men work was "gutted like a fish."
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 13, 2016 8:06 PM
The internet has helped destroy the mystery of a lot of things. I actually like the idea of Loki in that final "I chose you" splash page. Damn that trickster!
Posted by: ChrisW | June 13, 2016 8:14 PM
Wow, never knew about the Loki thing. Still, that wasn't out of the ordinary for Claremont who included the Asgardian mythos (inappropriately in my opinion) many times during his X-Men run in multiple annuals, storylines, and limited series.
Posted by: Chris | June 13, 2016 9:44 PM
Seems to be a repeat thing for Claremont: putting his pet characters in many weird and bizarre scenarios (Asgardian myths, space adventures, trekking across multiple dimensions, playing mind swapper with the foe of the week, etc.)
Posted by: D09 | June 14, 2016 1:50 AM
It's instead got me wondering what the hell Loki would've been up to in the Savage Land, as he'd have quite a few other antagonists there to deal with such as Zala, Garokk, Terminus, etc. Why not choose somewhere else (Ungava Bay at least could have had links what with it being a potential old Viking colony but the Savage Land, there's nothing Norse there)? And I'm not entirely sure about the change completely derailing Claremont's plans as it cleared the way for Lorna to become the Shadow King's anchor on Muir Isle, etc.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | June 14, 2016 6:12 AM
Putting the X-Men through so many bizarre scenarios was Claremont's way, I think, of telling different kinds of stories for a superhero book, not just the usual super-villain of the month stuff. Fantasy, sci-fi, horror, not just superhero action.
Considering X-MEN/ALPHA FLIGHT, the Fire Fountain was used to cure Rogue of her powers, so maybe Loki was going to use it to fix her in #269 had the story been published? His reason why is another matter. Perhaps Loki sensed the evil that was infesting the world (via the Shadow King) and was going to use the Fire Fountain to try and combat/change it?
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 14, 2016 9:31 AM
If Lee only changed the last page, then 274 probably had something to do with Loki's petition to the Ones Who Sit in Shadow. Loki could have easily teleported Rogue to either Asgard to Ungava Bay instead of staying in the Savage Land. Maybe Rogue had to journey to Hel to get Carol Danvers' soul freed from Hela, who could have claimed her since she was corrupted by the Shadow King? Claremont might have even gotten to get Dani into the story to help Rouge and fix her status. This would have left the Muir Island plot alone until #278 as had been planned, although 2 issues(274 and part of 275) in Asgard might have been a little much. On the other hand, the end of issue #277 seemed awful rushed. Maybe Claremont had intended all of 275 to be with the X-Men. It's a pity no one asked in the 90's what Claremont would have plotted for 274 and 275. I doubt it would have been Magneto in the Savage Land, just like Neal Adams did and killing off Zaladane who he had just begun to establish.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 15, 2016 6:30 AM
The thing is though, even before the last page, the guy looks more like Magneto than Loki and seems to be using science, not magic. So Lee's changes almost certainly started before the last page.
Posted by: Michael | June 15, 2016 8:14 AM
Lee plotted all of UNCANNY X-MEN #274, so the whole issue was his idea. Claremont just scripted it, so he had no choice by that point. Lee likely plotted the Savage Land part of the next issue, hence Zaladane being killed. Harras and Lee wanted to wrap up dangling plot points and considered Zaladane to be one of them, despite the plans Claremont had for her. He planned to bring Zaladane back during X-TREME X-MEN, but Quesada wouldn't allow it, and then he was going to do it during his Savage Land arc, but editorial nixed it again.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 15, 2016 9:18 AM
@Andrew Burke Thanks! I didn't know that about X-Treme X-Men, but it makes sense. Editorial just never left Claremont alone did they?
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 15, 2016 2:01 PM
At a guess, I would say using Loki would have been more about reconnecting the X-teams with the Marvel Universe as a whole. Look at how insular "X-Men" had become in the last several years. It had been ages since this series had any connections with anybody outside the Claremont-verse. Off the top of my head, "Secret Wars II" was the last time they seriously dealt with someone who didn't come from Claremont's X-titles or related series.
Captain America and Black Widow appeared in a flashback issue. Claremont did write the "Evolutionary War" crossover. Even events like "X-Men/Avengers" were few and far between, and not written by Claremont anyway. He'd already given up "New Mutants."
I think it's entirely possible that he had no idea what to do with Loki, but it was a way of trying to give Marvel what they wanted. Claremont was a big fan of "Thor" and "Tales of Asgard" back in the day.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 16, 2016 12:46 AM
@Brian Yeah, Zaladane was supposed to be in the X-TREME X-MEN: SAVAGE LAND mini-series, but it got nixed by Quesada with his "dead means dead" thing at the time. Then, Claremont was going to bring her back in his Savage Land story during his third run (w/Alan Davis), but it was nixed likely because he brought back Psylocke in the same story and it might have been off having two characters brought back at the same time. Either that, or editorial allowed him Psylocke but not Zaladane.
And it's too bad because Zaladane was going to have powers connected to the earth itself, rather than her magnetic abilities. Similar to Terra from the Teen Titans, I think. I can just see her emerging from the ground, all pissed off and ready for vengeance, plotting to make the Savage Land hers (or even destroy it, I suppose).
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 16, 2016 9:57 AM
Likely the earth somehow healed her up after her burial, connecting her even more to the Savage Land itself. She would have been powerful enough that the Mutates would have been in her thrall. Even the Lizard People (who appeared in the story).
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 16, 2016 10:00 AM
@Andrew Burke Honestly, if I had the choice between "Asian" Psylocke, British Betsy or Zaladane, I know which one I'd pick. But if Claremont couldn't get proper Betsy, I can see how he'd reluctantly pick the nimbo. Asian Psylocke would get him partway back to British Betsy anyway. Of course, I talk as if Marvel ever gave him choices besides work or don't work. Silly me!
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 16, 2016 10:36 AM
In the minority big time, but I loved this era of X-Men. Tight continuity between the X-Books and great art. I know everyone hates them now, but these guys were cream of the crop back then and I was a mindless zombie that loved it. Can't wait to go back and re-read these issues. As much as I hated to see Claremont get screwed by Jim Lee and Bob Harris, it's good to see an editor have some power as opposed to today where every Marvel comic is fan fiction written by fans of the movies not the comics
Posted by: Mquinn1976 | September 18, 2017 5:14 PM
This arc features yet another one of those scenes we're all familiar with: characters are one hair away from meeting and they don't for various and contrived reasons. It's amazing how the New Mutants left before Lila arrived, and how Jean and Scott aren't quick enough and miss their chance of meeting Xavier (until the next arc, at least).
I liked the Savage Land story a lot more than the space story, despite its deplorable treatment of Shanna. The unlikely but still plausible Magneto/Rogue/Ka-Zar/Zabu/Fury team-up was worth it.
Funny how Carol Danvers is one of Claremont's favorite characters and yet she barely appears in five issues of Starjammer-ness.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | November 13, 2017 10:11 AM
I actually liked Deathbird's revamped look that Jim Lee gave her. Made her look more of a serious villain and gave her a much needed regal look to her.
The wearing of the yellow OG X-Men uniforms was explained on panel; Storm wanted the team to bond since they had been apart for so long. So their individual costumes went bye-bye for a while so as to foster team building while Storm got everyone up to speed working as a team.
Never heard the Loki story, but glad it didn't happen. The Asgardian stuff always seemed like Claremont trying to leech off the popularity of Walt Simonson's Thor run and the Asgardian arc in New Mutants #76-85 was the nadir of the book's run. Loki having Rogue do some BS task for him, would have reeked of major filler and IIRC, this was around the time that Tom DeFalco was building up the Loki/Thor deathmatch storyline that culminated around #431-433. So it wouldn't make sense creatively.
That said, the space arc doesn't seem to be something that I would think that Harras would mind. It's wrapping up loose ends that pre-date the return of Jean Grey (Deathbird's coup happened in 1982 IIRC) and bringing Xavier back into the fold. If anything, it reeked of Harras being told to
A. Bring Xavier back
Posted by: Jesse Baker | June 10, 2018 1:19 AM
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