Uncanny X-Men #291-293
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #291, Uncanny X-Men #292, Uncanny X-Men #293
Three issues to get rid of the Morlocks (again) and to get rid of Colossus' brother Mikhail as well. The former is unfortunately necessary. After the Mutant Massacre, there was still scattered Morlocks popping up, which is fine, but they quickly somehow got turned into a horde of random evil monsters. This story explains that the Morlocks were deformed by Masque (which makes sense) and that they have all been driven insane thanks to what he did to them. And it turns out that there are tons of them, which means the Marauders weren't nearly as thorough as they seemed. In any event, this story plays off of Masque's recent death and has them go on a rampage. It also brings back Callisto after the weird things that were done to her towards the end of Chris Claremont's run, and it restores her to her original form (the Morlock Healer "cures" her) while making her pretty much a straight up bad guy. She's basically unrecognizable as the character i knew from the mid 80s, both before and after her "cure". Not that it matters since she's gotten rid of along with everyone else.
As for Mikhail, i suspect that now that Whilce Portacio and Jim Lee are gone, no one really knew what to do with him or why they brought him back in the first place, so it makes sense to get rid of him as well. Unfortunately, Scott Lobdell will later change his mind again and bring all these characters back. But for now it seems like the idea was really to get rid of them all.
So basically there is a ton of running around fighting random Morlocks.
Terrible Roy Thomas style scripting. Instead of just writing in Bishop's character, it's one of those "as someone else would say" lines. Bishop should never find a way to work "wacked" into a sentence.
The breakout Morlock star is MeMe, although Jean Grey has to shut his mind down.
It's said that Masque's death made the riot possible, but the immediate cause is a particular Morlock with powers similar to the Moloid from X-Factor annual #3.
Eventually Mikhail gathers all the Morlocks to him and causes the sewers to flood, seemingly killing himself and all of them. The X-Men try to stay and save them, but the increasingly insane Mikhail floats them home.
A few character developments and other notes: Using his ambiguous powers, Mikhail demonstrates to Iceman that he can become solid ice instead of just coating himself.
And going to the place where he lost his original wings makes Angel feel sorry for himself. But Jean tells him that his wings have never been evil like he's been saying. He's been in control all along.
There are also some well deserved recriminations pointed Storm's way, for being a terrible ruler of the Morlocks. And, as if to highlight that, these issues end with Storm lamenting that Callisto destroyed her plants while looking for the jacket that Storm once took from her. Crying over plants after the entire horde of people you were nominally the leader of have died.
They can't even be the same plants that she's always had, right? I don't think Storm had brought the plants to Australia with her, and Mr. Sinister blew up the whole mansion.
Crawling through the Morlock tunnels, Professor X gets his leg caught on something, but thinks it's just his pants that are caught, so he yanks hard on it. *shudder*
I've never been too sure about Callisto's powers, but i'm pretty sure that getting punched out by an injured Professor X is a low for her.
Beyond that, the only subplot in these issues is this:
Over a year from now, we'll find out that that's Steven Lang.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP list a number of Morlocks as behind-the-scenes in this issue because, while they don't actually appear on panel, they're known to have been among the Morlocks teleported away by Mikhail. The most notable of these is Marrow. I've listed them too, but don't go looking for them in these issues. Colossus talks to Illyana on the phone at the end of this issue, so she's listed too. As Michael notes in the comments, the man coming for Steven Lang might be Graydon Creed, but that's not confirmed and it could just be a generic Friends of Humanity operative so i haven't listed him.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
The idea that Warren's wings were really sentient contradicted previous stories and was eventually ignored.
Posted by: Michael | April 26, 2016 8:21 PM
Storm got rid of her plants in #174. In #180, we found out that she donated them to the Bronx Botanical Garden. There were plenty of plants in her loft in #201, #213 and Annual #10, but it was empty when everybody showed up in #243. Remember? Right before the mansion blew up.
These issues also had some of the worst dialogue and exposition I ever read. "Storm is a claustrophobe, Peter. Being entombed in a sea of Morlocks was something short of beneficial for her." "The lady freaked after losing the hot version of herself to the Healer!"
And just because Xavier is paralyzed doesn't mean his nerves have vanished, he should certainly still be able to feel pain.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 26, 2016 11:07 PM
My God, how small is Peter's head in the 2nd scan?!
Posted by: Oliver_C | April 27, 2016 5:02 AM
@ ChrisW - That's not necessarily true about Xavier. Many people who are paralyzed can't feel anything in the limbs that don't work. There's a poignant moment in the film version of Born on the Fourth of July where Ron Kovic is staring at his compound fracture because he can't actually feel what's going on. Someone can bleed to death from an injury they don't know they have. It's not always the case, but it certainly can be the case, so it's not odd for Xavier to not feel things below the waist.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 27, 2016 11:01 AM
I guess Marvel told these guys to mimic Portacio's ugly art.
Posted by: Bob | April 27, 2016 11:10 AM
Erik, you're right that crippled people can certainly lose their sense of feeling. I just meant that the specific circumstances leading to Xavier's crippling (the second time around) made that less likely. His legs were shattered by convulsions, which wouldn't wipe out his nerves, and there's no indication his spinal cord was severed.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 27, 2016 1:14 PM
@Chris W- in X-Men 280, Xavier says "My back is shattered, a parting gift from the Shadow King". A "shattered back" could very well include spinal cord damage.
Posted by: Michael | April 27, 2016 9:54 PM
Yeah, but if that was the case he could just call Lilandra and the Starjammers and get another cloned body. So obviously this is completely different from your normal comic book medicine.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 29, 2016 10:58 PM
These issues just show what a mess Uncanny was. I still think highly of the first year of (adjectiveless) X-Men. But Uncanny had shoddy art (changing a lot), weak scripts and just terrible storylines. Bringing back Mikhail at all was a terrible idea so they needed to clean that idea up before X-Cutioner's Song. These issues are also just chock-full of self-pity from far too many characters to bother listing.
And yet, the storytelling continues to be a problem. I got back in comics with the next issue (the start of X-Cutioner's Song) and the Steven Lang subplot takes so long that I don't think it was even going yet before I quit because they brought Magneto back and mind-wiped him.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 10, 2016 11:58 AM
"The idea that Warren's wings were really sentient contradicted previous stories and was eventually ignored."
Was it? This issue pretty much puts an abupt end to the subplot sbout Archangel's wings, as both his wings and his skin tone revert to "normal" after time. This development therefor doesn't get "ignored" until they bring the Archangel persona back around 2008 or so (and even then it becomes more about a total split-personality deal and less about "sentient wings.")
Also, that Iceman scene is more significant then one might think since it will then become the de facto Iceman plotine for two decades straight!
Posted by: Jon Dubya | September 15, 2016 1:15 AM
Just awful scripting. No regrets leaving this after Extinction Agenda. Seriously there must have been better writers around ... and the art is very average
Posted by: Grom | September 15, 2016 7:50 AM
Supposedly Scott Lobdell was a local stand-up comedian and he got the X-men job after meeting Bob Harras at a party. God only knows where they found Terry Kavanagh and Howard Mackie. Weak writing was a very big contributor to the general low quality of 90s Marvel.
Some notes on Archangel going back to regular Angel:
Posted by: Red Comet | September 15, 2016 10:12 AM
Under historical significance, this is where Iceman first turned his body into ice. It becomes a significantly important plot line in future issues.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | September 16, 2016 3:03 AM
@Red Comet- The Lobdell thing is an oversimplification. Yes, Scott Lobdell was a stand-up comedian but he'd been writing for Marvel since late 1988. (His early issues were Marvel Comics Presents stories and fill-ins.) It is true that he got the job by being in the right place at the right time.
Posted by: Michael | September 17, 2016 1:21 PM
Backing up Michael's comment, Lobdell had already done work on Excalibur & Alpha Flight by the time he was hired for the X-Men job. Neither was of high quality, but both comics were X-Men related so does explain why Harras might have thought of him.
By Lobdell's own words, Lobdell was in the office on a Friday handing over an issue of Alpha Flight, when Harras said that he needed to talk to him & asked him if he could script 22 pages by Monday. Lobdell says he accepted thinking since he only had 2 days to do it, it was a no-lose situation and if it turned out bad he could say he didn't have enough time. Lobdell then went to the Marvel Xmas party that night, where he found everyone else had already turned it down due to already having enough to do (and probably not wanting to give up their weekend).
Lobdell then filled in again for the next few issues which were also emergencies due to the delays, seeing it as a good opportunity if Harras saw him as his go-to writer in emergencies, and maybe he'd get a regular job from Harras. Which obviously worked out for him.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | September 17, 2016 2:03 PM
@Jay, i guess. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 19, 2016 9:41 AM
Wasn't Bobby supposed to be turning into ice as early as X-Men #8? Fnord commented on it in that issue's entry:
Posted by: Mortificator | September 19, 2016 10:52 AM
I think Stan intended for Iceman to actually turn into ice, but over time this was forgotten/misunderstood and it just became a covering of ice, so this power he already had now seemed like an upgrade (not his first or last power upgrade of course).
Does anyone remember what the 80s Handbooks said about Iceman's powers? Presumably it was just about a coating of ice rather than turning into ice.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | September 20, 2016 2:05 PM
From TOHotMU #5, 1983: "Iceman possesses the mutant ability to lower his external and internal body temperature, projecting intense coldness from his body... This ability converts the latent thermal temperatures in and around his body into an unknown form of energy that is efficiently dissipated... As his body temperature falls, the surrounding moisture in the air that is contact with him is similarly lowered... this moisture forms an icy covering which encompasses his entire body. This ice constantly cracks with any movement of his body, and immediately reforms. (Unless his temperature is critically regulated, the Iceman cannot move without making a creaking sound.)"
So, yes, he was not supposed to be pure ice. Love the bit about him creaking. I've never heard anything about that outside of the Handbook.
Posted by: Andrew | September 20, 2016 4:26 PM
Let's see, the '80s deluxe handbook says...
As his body temperature falls, the surrounding moisture in the air that is in contact with him is similarly lowered. Just as condensed moisture forms frost, this moisture forms an icy covering which encompasses his entire body.
Looks like it's just as you said, the turn-into-ice concept of the original run got confused by subsequent creators, so having Bobby turn into ice in the '90s was thought of as exciting and new.
Posted by: Mortificator | September 20, 2016 4:28 PM
... and Andrew posted while I was typing. My last line was of course directed at Jonathan.
Posted by: Mortificator | September 20, 2016 4:30 PM
Good researching, people! :) Yeah I don't think the creaking ice ever came up in a story. (I'm sure Gruenwald would have found a way to mention it if he'd done an Iceman comic.)
I guess the covering in ice is more "realistic" as a mutation a human could have, even if it sounds completely ridiculous when you try to scientifically explain it. :) Also, his reverse the Human Torch doesn't actually turn his body into fire. Actually turning your whole body completely into ice and still function exactly as normal seems to lean close to magic than a mutation. Not that Stan would have been thinking that, he would just have been thinking "Comics!"
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | September 20, 2016 5:21 PM
Keep in mind that the typical subplot for Iceman is "Bobby is underperforming again (and needs someone else to point put what he's capable of). The implication is that Iceman is kinda a slacker. Generalky the gist is that these were thing he could always do, but he just didn't think to do them.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 5, 2017 5:11 PM
Yeah. No. What a horrible story, in combination with the most horrible dialogues in X-men probably ever up until this point. It seems that while the X-franchise is being overrun by Wolverine overkills, Deadpools, Cybers, Cables, Mavericks and Bishops, the main book itself is really crushed by the weight of it. It is a real struggle to read this. Nobody cares for the hordes of mutated Morlocks, as the ones we cared for are long gone. Nobody cares about Mikhail, because he is new. Please, die already. Odd attempts to spice it up with contrived and messy "character development" (read: rehashes); Iceman learns something about his power, Storm doubts her leadership, Bishop does nothing much, Angel cries over his wings, Jean tells him to get over it just like that. What is this, a 90s chatroom or a bad fanfic story? Only Prof X crawling through tons of sewage know for certain.
Posted by: Spikey | January 23, 2017 5:18 PM
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