Uncanny X-Men annual #9
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men annual #9
Kitty's dream shows Storm dressed in Asgardian gear and swinging a hammer. Rogue says that it reminds her of "pictures ah've seen of Thor an' those Asgard folks". Rogue fought Thor firsthand in Avengers annual #10 (written by Claremont) and fought alongside him in Secret Wars, so i'm going to assume that she means that Storm's outfit looks generally Asgardian as per pictures of Asgardians she's seen that happen to have Thor in them. I don't know. Later, Rogue recognizes Asgardian trolls "from all ah've read". I didn't know ancient Norse mythos was an area of interest for Rogue. Maybe this dialogue would have been better coming from Kitty?
Cyclops uses Arkon's lightning bolts to travel to Asgard. Arkon apparently taught him the "right combination" to use to get to Asgard.
Rachel Summers shows up for the outing dressed as Phoenix. She's still not explaining anything to Cyclops about her alternate timeline lineage, so her choice of dress is especially stunning to Scott, and i'm not sure the "You're married" line makes any sense unless we interpret it like a teenage girl mad at her father for re-marrying.
Rachel's transformation to the Phoenix is a momentous event but unfortunately this annual, which is the first time the other X-Men have a chance to react to it, doesn't have enough room to do it justice.
In Asgard, the X-Men rescue Wolf Prince Hrimhari from some trolls, and then Hela shows up to say some nasty things about the Phoenix.
Hela made similar, not-quite-as-ominous comments about Warlock in the New Mutants part of this crossover.
Meanwhile, Storm is enjoying the powers that Loki has granted her...
...and is later granted full Thor-like powers, including a hammer that Loki forced Eitri to forge in the New Mutants issue.
And although the New Mutants (especially Magik, who is having a field day going through the Enchantress' spellbooks) are looking for Loki, they are discovering that they actually enjoy living in Asgard.
The X-Men split up, with Wolverine's team doing some undercover investigation...
...while the rest of the group track down the New Mutants. When Hrimhari and Wolfsbane meet up again, they literally appear to be in heat.
And Colossus is pretty shocked to see his sister, who has been embracing her dark side after her ordeal with the Enchantress in the New Mutants annual.
Earlier, Warlock had a freakout after observing Dani's new Valkyrie spirit, and he fled the scene with Doug. Now he's running out of energy. Doug offers his own.
I won't go through all the ins and outs of the subsequent battles.
Wolverine gets poisoned, and Hela shows up to claim him, but Dani tries to fight her off (in general there are some nice scenes with Dani discovering her new Valkyrie nature).
Hela is forced to withdraw due to the events of the Thor series.
In the end, Storm rejects Loki's offer and sides with her friends.
Joining the ranks of Dracula, Dr. Doom(bot), and Magneto, Loki's hatred of the X-Men is tempered by the fact that he has a crush on Storm.
When Kitty threatens to tell all the other Asgardians what Loki's been plotting, Loki agrees to send everyone home. There'd been an ongoing concern about Magma being an elf...
...but Loki undoes that. He also takes away some nice armor that Eitri made for Cannonball. And Wolfsbane and Hrimhari are unfortunately split up. But Dani gets to keep Brightwind and Karma gets to keep her weight off. Loki then transports everyone back to Earth.
This issue was a little more cohesive than the last, and at the very least it's a good adventure story. There are a lot of character moments, but the annual is so dense that nothing really gets proper treatment. Rachel is the Phoenix! Magik's going bad! Doug shares his life energy with Warlock! Wolfsbane's in love! It's all set-up for future stories. Even the "Storm gets a taste of her old powers" theme doesn't have the impact that i feel like it should have. As i mentioned, Dani's discovery of what she's gotten herself into regarding the Valkyries is the exception.
That's not to say this issue isn't good. Adam's art is something special and this is a fun story with a lot of significant events. I think i'm just reaching a point in Claremont's X-Men run where his wordiness and ambitious plotting sometimes hit me the wrong way, and he needs the right kind of artist to keep him in check. John Romita Jr., on the main series, is definitely doing that. Art Adams, whose art is pretty revolutionary for 1985, is nonetheless not a good fit for Claremont.
The Enchantress is held prisoner in Limbo throughout this book and is released off-panel per the end agreement with Loki. I've listed her as a character appearing.
Judging from the checklist in the Bullpen announcing this event, this was originally supposed to take place directly after the X-Men/Alpha Flight series, but that turned out to be impossible due to changing events in the Alpha Flight series. If so, it seems there was enough time to recover; Cyclops is with the X-Men in the X-Men annual, which might have originally been due to him rejoining the group in the X-Men/Alpha series, but Claremont has him rejoin the group in Uncanny #197/199 so his appearance here still works, although Madelyne Pryor is a bit harder since in #197 we saw Cyclops leaving her behind (not impossible to explain). The X-Men/Alpha mini is said to have taken place "last winter".
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after Rachel Summers inherits the Phoenix mantle in Uncanny X-Men #199. Follows the story in New Mutants Special Edition #1. Hela abandons her fight with the X-Men towards the end of this story because "The Einherjar are at my gates!" with a reference to Thor #361-362 (the X-Men also try to get in touch with Thor at the beginning of this issue, but he's already in Asgard); i'm placing this issue prior to those two issues although there's at least a partial concurrency. The X-Men are teleported to Paris at the end of this issue, to appear in Uncanny X-Men #200.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showBrightwind, Cannonball, Colossus, Cyclops, Cypher, Eitri, Hela, Hrimhari, Karma, Karnilla, Lockheed, Loki, Madelyne Pryor, Magik, Magma, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Mist, Nightcrawler, Rachel Summers, Rogue, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Storm, Sunspot, Warlock, Wolfsbane, Wolverine
In Uncanny X-Men 201, Maddie says she came to the X-Mansion because she wanted to be with Scott for the birth of their son.
Posted by: Michael | July 5, 2012 9:55 PM
I couldn't agree more about Claremont's wordiness and ambitious plotting around this time. The guy had ideas to burn, and more sensitivity than most comic-book scripters, but he tried to keep too many balls in the air and lacked focus. X-MEN after the first Brood saga -- or after about #175 at the latest -- went from a book that did a few things at a time really well to a book that did a great many things at the same time, some of them pretty well and some less so. The proliferation of X-titles and all the resulting tie-ins and associations didn't help.
We only disagree in that I don't think Romita was a good partner for him either. Smith and Byrne were, and so was Cockrum at his best. It was during the Romita period when I started finding the series frenzied and chaotic (rather than dynamic) in its look and feel, even though I've liked Romita on other books.
Posted by: Todd | July 8, 2012 5:40 AM
Claremont's run was bogging down around this time, for sure. There was still the Mutant Massacre to come, and he'd still have the Jim Lee collaboration and introduce Gambit, Jubilee and others, but he was slowing down or soon to slow down on both Uncanny and the NM. While he kept putting in solid work in those titles and in things like the Wolverine solo book in 88, the last X-book he seemed to be having fun writing was Excalibur. Part of it was the length of time he'd been writing them, but I think a large part of the problem were things like X-Factor, crossovers, executive meddling generally. His characters and universe started to be taken out of his hands a bit. To me it's very significant that in his last two titles he created (not counting the X-Men book in 91), he took familiar characters (Wolverine, Kitty, Nightcrawler, Phoenix) and took them COMPLETELY out of everything. He took them literally off the continent, symbolically separating them from ongoing Marvel continuity - and from other writers.
Posted by: Paul | September 7, 2012 7:51 PM
You wrote: "But Dani gets to keep Brightwind and Karma gets to keep her weight off. Loki then transports everyone back to Earth."
I don't think Loki COULD have done anything about Brightwind or Karma's weight loss. Messing with what makes Dani a Valkyrie and what the Norns did for Karma would have been either beyond his scope of power or be begging for a major smack-down lesson in humility. lol!
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | November 4, 2013 12:59 PM
My usual disclaimer about not having read the issue in 25 years, but Loki's dialogue certainly implies he could have made Karma fat again. Something like "I will not return you to the loathsome form in which I found you." But maybe he was just frontin'.
Posted by: Todd | November 4, 2013 6:48 PM
The originally announced art team for this was Mignola/Terry Austin.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 7, 2014 3:50 PM
Just a heads-up; the References include Uncanny _Annuals_ #3 and #5. The links are correct, but the text is not.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | January 8, 2014 5:33 PM
Posted by: fnord12 | January 8, 2014 9:05 PM
Good god, Wolverine is hairrier than Austin Powers!
Posted by: Berend | March 7, 2014 12:37 PM
And so he should be. Awesome. ;)
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 7, 2014 12:41 PM
A great issue. But with Adams' art, suddenly Rachel turns into a babe with a smoking body, something she never is with Romita.
I do love her Phoenix costume though, and it's sad because we only get it for like a third of this issue and then we never see it again.
One thing that doesn't quite match up with Thor, is that none of the people here must be at the Althing because wouldn't someone mention, "Hey, should we trust Loki? Didn't he just try to put another thunder god on the throne, like last week when Thor was in Hel?"
And does anyone know if Rogue is ever able to do that again - gain the powers of someone just because that person is touching someone who is touching her? I certainly don't remember it ever happening again, but it could have.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 3, 2015 6:53 AM
Simonson threw in some lines about "subtle spells of believability" to explain why the Althing trusted Loki.
Posted by: Michael | June 3, 2015 7:44 AM
This comic underlines a big problem that exists in fictional settings like the Marvel Universe, where several different mythologies are shown to be "real" at the same time. In those panels where Rachel faces Hela, Hela says Jean sent her more souls than anyone else has ever done. This has got to be a reference to the planet of asparagus people the Dark Phoenix killed. And later on Hela comes to claim Wolverine too... So the implication here is that everyone who dies in the Marvel Universe will end up in Hel (except those who get to go to Valhalla), regardless of whether they're from Asgard, Midgard, or some faraway planet that has probably never even heard of the Norse gods.
But the problem is that we have seen and will continue to see other afterlives as well: there's Mephisto's Hell, Hades, the place where all the dead superheroes hang out in the Dead Girl mini, etc. So is there any explanation who gets to go to which afterlife once they die? Why did the asparagus aliens end up in Hel, but many Earth superheroes go somewhere else? In the DC Universe they've at least tried to establish that there is only one Hell and one Heaven, though some writer still ignore this... But the Marvel Universe afterlives are a mess.
Posted by: Tuomas | September 27, 2015 9:31 AM
Personally, I don't think afterlife beliefs are expected to have much of a coherence with facts, either in fictional or real universes. They are just not well suited to match reality.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 27, 2015 12:27 PM
But in the Marvel Universe it's not just a question of belief: the existence of multiple different afterlives is an observable, objective fact. So you'd expect there to be some kind of system of who gets to go where when they die, but I've never seen this subject explored in Marvel comics.
Posted by: Tuomas | September 27, 2015 1:03 PM
Possibly Hela is speaking metaphorically in her role as "Death," and isn't literally meaning that SHE personally got all those souls, just that Death claimed them before they went to whatever afterlife.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 27, 2015 7:27 PM
@Tuomas: I don't know about that - and in fact, I don't know that we can know about that. Treatment of Mephisto and the like has been fairly ambiguous, even outright contradictory.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 27, 2015 8:47 PM
Yeah, who knows how we fit Hela's comment in with the Classic X-Men 43 backup where Death is a workman whose tower Jean/Phoenix has helped build? (though Death does say in that issue that Jean is only perceiving it how she can understand it.) Thanos6's answer seems a good explanation for me.
Posted by: Jonathan | September 28, 2015 8:25 AM
I think Rachel's "you're married" line was partly a dig at Scott for marrying someone other than Jean (not entirely rational or sensible on her part, but understandable) and mostly making the point that he's no longer on the team. This is a special mission, an exception. She's an X-Man, he isn't. A much more rational and sensible point to make.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 1, 2015 4:44 PM
That said, I definitely agree with Michael that Scott is acting like a major idiot. A redhead with telekinesis and telepathy who seems really intent on being Phoenix and claims to be from the future is really something he should look at a bit more closely, regardless of what Hela said.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 22, 2015 11:45 AM
I imagine that death and the afterlife in the Marvel Universe isn't a clear cut divide of your soul or spirit or whatever going to someplace, as most of these death and devil entities seem to imply in their dealings with super heroes. I imagine it's more of a metaphorical thing, kinda like those issues of Quasar that reveal that entities like Eternity and Death are too inconceivable to be reduced to just a giant humanoid made of stars with a half blue mask or a giant skeleton lady, as the heroes usually see them.
So it goes with death. Hela and Death and Mephisto and all the rest must all have some sort of part to play in mortal death, but it's probably way too complex to understand in any concrete, logical manner. So if you're a hero trying to find the soul of your teammate, it doesn't matter exactly which death entity or realm you try to venture into for that rescue attempt, because they're all just different metaphors for the same inconceivable concept.
Posted by: Charles R | January 14, 2016 12:06 PM
This New Mutants/X-Men two-parter was my favorite New Mutants story. And pretty much my last, because I've book-ended myself: This was probably the last comic I bought for at least ten years.
Posted by: Mike W. | March 17, 2016 5:01 AM
Revisited in What If? #12, and in Secret Wars: Thors (2015), where Thorm is a background character.
Posted by: FF3 | March 17, 2016 8:57 AM
Specifically, What If Vol 2, #12
Posted by: FF3 | March 17, 2016 8:58 AM
And actually in canon here: http://x.annihil.us/u/prod/marvel/i/mg/6/40/4cb61d02838b8/detail.jpg
Posted by: AF | March 17, 2016 9:03 AM
Probably the main reason this annual feels so cramped is because there are so many characters. The one time I ever met Claremont, I asked why the X-Men were dividing into two teams instead of one much more powerful team, and he answered that each character needed roughly a page of introduction, so that was considered an upper-limit on the number of characters. Here you've got eight X-Men and nine New Mutants, not to mention plotlines carried over from "New Mutants Special Edition" - which probably became too big to be an annual for precisely that reason - as well as minor characters like Maddie and Lockheed, plus tying off all the plot threads and referencing "Thor."
Next year's Annual #10 would be handled much better, introducing all the X-Men with a standard Danger Room sequence, then adding the New Mutants as they got closer to the big fight. [Dani, Doug and Warlock fairly early, for instance, Shan, Rhane and Amara later.]
Posted by: ChrisW | July 11, 2016 3:45 AM
Looking at the Scott-Rachel-Madelyne sequence, I'd like to know when this issue was plotted and scripted relative to Claremont learning Jean was coming back from the dead.
I would guess it was definitely plotted before. Art Adams doesn't do 20+ pages a month. He's already got "New Mutants Special Edition" to draw, plus whatever's left of the "Longshot" miniseries, the plot was probably also done well in advance. [Which probably explains why "X-Men" Annual #10 doesn't fit into continuity, given the results of the Mutant Massacre.]
Ann Nocenti mentioned The Asgardian Wars's scheduling problems in #200, but we have no details so we don't know when Claremont scripted the Scott-Rachel-Maddie sequence. We know he found out about Jean's rebirth the night he and Nocenti sat down to dinner with Barry Windsor-Smith to plot "Lifedeath II" which was published directly before The Asgardian Wars, but that was a special issue which was undoubtedly prepared in advance. You don't just work out a plot with BWS and have him turn in 20+ pages a month later.
Because it's amusing that the sequence ends with Kitty asking Maddie to look after Lockheed, just after Rachel embraces the Phoenix identity. She'd asked Maddie to look after Lockheed before, right after Maddie had nearly been murdered for her resemblance to Phoenix.
Safe to say Claremont plotted this sequence before he knew Jean was coming back. Given his plans for Scott and Maddie, I'd like to know when he scripted the sequence.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 29, 2017 10:10 PM
Also notably different lettering when Rachel says "The outfit and the name, Cyclops. I mean to keep them both." In the next word balloon, the "You may be leading this mission" is also notably different.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 29, 2017 10:13 PM
For what it's worth, the X-Men/Alpha Flight two parter was clearly plotted very far in advance, since Claremont and Paul Smith clearly didn't know what Talisman's powers were supposed to be. (In Alpha Flight, she can manipulate magical energy, in the X-Men/Alpha Flight two-parter she can only disrupt magic.)
Posted by: Michael | April 29, 2017 11:36 PM
That's what I mean about Ann Nocenti's footnote 'I will shoot Chris if he ever tries a stupid scheduling stunt like this again! BANG!' The Alpha Flight crossover was definitely prepared in advance, because Marvel wanted to give John Byrne enough time to have input into his characters, and then they had to rework things when he wasn't interested.
"Lifedeath" was almost certainly plotted well in advance to give BWS time to draw it. "X-Men" Annual #9 and "New Mutants Special Edition" #1 was definitely plotted well in advance to give Art Adams time to draw it. Claremont would plot "X-Men" and "New Mutants" to give the special issues preparation time, as he built up to "X-Men" #200. That alone would give Ann Nocenti ulcers. And then they find out that "X-Factor" #1 is coming soon.
I just love how cute Kitty looks as she asks Maddie (who also looks cute) to look after Lockheed (who also looks cute) and remember what happened the last time the three of them got together. Big dramatic point with Rachel becoming Phoenix and Maddie asking Scott a basic question, and the lettering is weird.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 30, 2017 12:07 AM
Still speculating with no evidence whatsoever: Originally Rachel was telling Scott that she was now Phoenix, but not directly. Specific enough that Scott would know he was being replaced, but not specific enough that Madelyne would see more than a generic danger ahead.
This is where melodrama and "gender roles" meet reality. It doesn't matter how "strong" Maddie is, she's nine months pregnant and her husband/father of her child is about to use magic thunderbolts that might take him to Asgard, if he gets the combination right. Pregnancy and hormone swings aside, Maddie is probably the most sane of the three, and doesn't remotely understand what's going on in Scott or Rachel's minds as she walks in wearing a Phoenix costume.
This scene is why Scott had to leave the X-Men, and why he, Jean, Maddie and all the rest have sunk so low ever since. It's easy to look at that scene and see Scott deciding that this is his last adventure, and when he gets home, he'll live happily with Maddie forever more. Except for Kitty and that $@%*ing dragon.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 30, 2017 12:22 AM
A: So none of the X-Men saw Shan and thought "Do'h, of course we should have looked for her in Asgard. How stupid we were!
B: So after the mansion was destroyed, does that mean Arkon's thunderbolts are gone forever?
Posted by: ChrisW | May 29, 2017 9:34 PM
Or were Arkon's thunderbolts intended to become a source for future stories, such as you might find in the Fortress of Solitude or the Batcave? For all his continuity problems, Claremont was well-versed in comics history, and it would made his job a lot easier if the X-Mansion had a wall of trophies that Generic X-Baby could ask about the bag of thunderbolts and Generic X-Man would say "I'll tell you," pull a thunderbolt out and there's another easy issue to write.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 7, 2017 10:21 PM
I thought the "You're married" line was pretty clear that Rachel thinks he should have already moved over from his grief.
Posted by: adriano | December 21, 2017 4:43 PM
Comments are now closed.
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