Uncanny X-Men #94-95
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #94, Uncanny X-Men #95
Scott wants to leave with Jean but, blaming his uncontrollable eye power (although it's really his exaggerated sense of responsibility), he feels he has to stay.
Cyclops is charged with training the rest of the team. In my opinion he pushes them too hard, and Thunderbird gets hurt. Thunderbird has a bit of a chip on his shoulder anyway: he's trying to prove himself and he doesn't like taking orders.
Meanwhile, Count Nefaria and his henchmen, a group of losers called the Ani-men (and yes, they're hybrid animal/men)...
...take over NORAD. The army puts in a call to the Avengers but they are busy so the Beast contacts the X-Men to ask them to fill in.
The army isn't happy that it's the X-Men who respond.
They inform the X-Men that while Nefaria has given the US a two hour deadline to produce a ransom before he launches a nuclear attack, he has actually accidentally activated a doomsday device that will trigger the attack in one hour. This seem to be a major plot point at this time, but the X-Men will actually disable the device by accident during a fight with the Ani-men.
The writing in these issues is leaps beyond the typical comics from this period. It helps to have a large cast of distinctive personalities, but the same could be said of, say, the Avengers. Cockrum's great art helps a lot too. Unlike a lot of the artists of the late 60s and 70s, Cockrum does not indulge much in experimentation with formats and panel layouts. For top tier artists like Steranko and Adams that experimentation resulted in some great looking comics, but for many of their followers it just results in confusing, muddy looking books. Cockrum's storytelling is straightforward and clear, which helps in the readability of this series. The fact that his art looks good too is a nice bonus. His Beast isn't so good, but i think that's cause it wasn't clear what he was supposed to look like at this point.
In the end the new team does quite well (against a D-list group of villains, admittedly), until the end, when Thunderbird, for no good reason at all, refuses to get off of Count Nefaria's escape plane.
The plane explodes, and Thunderbird (and presumably Count Nefaria, although he'll be back) dies. Xavier is in mental contact with him when he dies.
The Classic X-Men reprints, in addition to tacking on additional stories at the end of each issue, also add or revise scenes in the original story. While it's understandable to want to create a greater incentive for people to buy the Classic series, and theoretically gave Claremont the ability to lay a foundation for later revelations, it also has some of the same problems as George Lucas' revisions to the original Star Wars trilogy. It prevents readers from appreciating how much of this groundbreaking series actually happened at the time, and it causes a bit of discontinuity in the original plots. It will be tedious to track every change but i will attempt to compare my issues to my GIT Corp PDFs.
In issue #94, in the original, Cyclops trains the X-Men too hard and Thunderbird gets hurt. The scene ends with Cyclops getting summoned to Xavier's office. The next time we see Cyclops, he is stewing silently. The reader presumption would be that Cyclops was chewed out for his overbearing training techniques. However, Classic X-Men #2 adds a scene with Cyclops actually in Xavier's office, and they basically just have a general philosophical discussion; Xavier does not challenge his leadership. Didn't quite fit when i read the Classic book, and now seeing how it is in the original it definitely seems out of place.
Another scene is added in #94 showing Thunderbird pushing himself, trying to be as good as Wolverine. He dives off a cliff towards a lake. Storm catches him and tells him he would have died if he had landed. He says "Wolverine made the jump." Storm replies "His bones cannot break." It's good to show a little insight into Thunderbird's psyche and what leads him to get himself killed, but i didn't think the X-Men knew about Wolverine's adamantium skeleton at this point.
There's also a new scene introducing Moira, Rahne Sinclair, and Reverend Craig.
In issue #95, Cyclops has Nightcrawler teleport into the NOMAD base since the X-Men are locked out. Simple as that. First "Bamf"!
In Classic X-Men #3, there is instead an extended scene where Nightcrawler reveals he can't teleport somewhere he's never seen or he could wind up teleporting into a solid object. Cyclops therefore has Banshee uses his sonic powers to create a sonar image and then give Nightcrawler the coordinates.
This sensible limitation of Nightcrawler's powers comes at the cost of a very questionable use of Banshee's. It also comes directly on the heels of a previous scene where the X-Men are falling after Nefaria destroyed their Blackbird and Cyclops tells Nightcrawler to teleport to safety, but Nightcrawler says that wherever he teleports to he'll be moving at the same speed so that won't work. That's two "my powers don't work that way" in a row, and while i thought it was cool to see the X-Men getting used to each other's powers, it also reduces Cyclops' leadership cred a bit - he spent all that time training them and still doesn't know how their powers work?
There is also an added line in the reprint of #95 acknowledging Storm's claustrophobia as they enter the NORAD tunnels. Her claustrophobia would first be hinted at next issue in the original series.
As for the back-ups, in Classic X-Men #2, Storm and Jean become friends.
And issue #3 is the funeral/retrospective for Thunderbird. We are introduced to Thunderbird's younger brother, who eventually becomes Thunderbird II and then Warpath.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Beast makes a cameo and says the Avengers are currently too busy to respond to Count Nefaria, but there's no context for it.
Continuity Insert? P - (new material in Classic X-Men reprints)
My Reprint: Classic X-Men #2, Classic X-Men #3
Inbound References (21): show
Len Wein left the series due to being appointed EIC. Claremont stated later that Thunderbird was intended to die from the very start--the reason being that readers wouldn't have much patience for subtle characterization in a quarterly book, so Len went for shock value instead. Claremont also declared #95(and #115) to be utter clunkers, which may explain the odd insertions of new material here.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 8, 2012 6:49 PM
FOOM#10(6/75), which most likely came out between X-Men #94 and #95, featured a New X-Men article by Roger Stern which stated that Lorna Dane had no code name, and that the Canadian government called Wolverine "Project X".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 24, 2013 4:00 PM
FOOM#15 announced a Sunfire short by Roger Stern & Dave Wenzel, but I don't know if it ever got published.
FOOM#18 had a statement by Claremont saying that he and Dave Cockrum intentionally changed Banshee's face as his previous appearances looked too brutish.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 31, 2013 6:11 PM
Amazing Heroes#55 pointed out a big mistake in this story: while fighting Dragonfly, Cyclops' visor opens just by his eyes opening wide, which isn't supposed to be the way it works.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 9, 2013 3:42 PM
Was never a big fan of Cockrum's art. While his action scenes were pretty good, it was his trademark of those awful swollen noses that I couldn't see past. Examples are Beast's on the screen in a panel near the top, and Kurt's closeup on one of the middle panels. I only kept these 2 issues a few years after buying at the store, and missed out on selling them for more money later.
Posted by: Mike | August 2, 2014 7:28 PM
I always thought it was odd that both White Queen and Madame Masque have the same last name and am wondering if Claremont planned to reveal a familial relationship!?
Given Count Nefaria was his inaugural villain perhaps he planned to reveal at some point that he had Hellfire Club ties!?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 19, 2015 9:06 PM
Man they should have kept Thunderbird around, it was great character writing how he'd keep calling Cyclops One-Eye out of spite and Cyclops would say 'no, it's Cyclops.'
Posted by: davidbanes | April 19, 2015 9:44 PM
Chris stated had he been able to stay on the X-titles until his planned end, he was going to end his run with Thunderbird. He would have this huge, thirty plus space in between of stories minus John Proudstar, but then had this epic in mind, with Thunderbird appearing, thereby having bookends to his classic run.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 20, 2015 12:49 AM
X-Men 94 is also notable as being the very first on panel kiss between Scott and Jean. It took four years for the two to admit their feelings and another 9 (publication) for the two to kiss openly. Why were the writers unable to publicize the romantic relationship between the two prior to this? We see Peter smooch on Gwen in the Amazing Spider-Man books, Sterenko had Nick Fury kiss his woman. Why were Scott and Jean forbidden to do so during this time?
Posted by: Darren | November 20, 2015 8:49 PM
I had no idea about the revised X-Men stories in Classic X-Men; was Cockrum drawing the new additions??
Posted by: Brimstone | January 4, 2016 3:37 AM
At this point, I believe Cockrum was drawing the additional scenes, but I don't have my copies in front of me. While some of the art looked "new", a fair amount looked like they were part of the original story. Eventually though, there would be other artists and it would be very apparent that they weren't the original artwork.
I think the major reason for the inserts was that at the time of publishment, comics were only 17 pages, but by the reprints era standard page count was 24.
Posted by: Chris | January 4, 2016 9:26 AM
That's definitely John Bolten drawing the 'Banshee uses his scream so that Nightcrawler can teleport inside Valhalla' scene. He would provide most-or-all of the added scenes in future issues, and he did the same for "Classic X-Men" #1. However some of these new pages [Storm and Thunderbird, Rhane and Moira] definitely don't look like Bolten, and might possibly have been Cockrum. I'm not good enough at recognizing artists to be certain.
Maybe the original intent was to get Cockrum to do the new pages, and then maybe get Byrne/Austin to do the same. Your Mileage May Vary on how likely it was that Marvel would do such a thing [I assume Claremont would be fine with it] but then the logistics, and Cockrum/Byrne's reaction to the idea might have put an end to that idea. 'Just give John Bolten 8-9 pages a month, split them between back-up stories and new additions to the original story.'
Posted by: ChrisW | January 4, 2016 3:44 PM
The Classic X-Men did show the artists for each of the pages, so if anyone does have these issues in front of him, it is easy to confirm which artist did what pages.
Posted by: Chris | January 4, 2016 8:37 PM
Looking at my copies, Cockrum is credited with the artwork for the main stories and Bolton is credited with the back-ups only. Unless they deliberately omitted credit to Bolton (or anyone else) for drawing the additional scenes, then it appears Cockrum drew them. To me it looks like Cockrum's sloppy later work anyway.
Posted by: Robert | January 5, 2016 11:00 AM
According to Olshevsky's Marvel Index, Cockrum did the additional scenes.
Posted by: Michael | January 9, 2016 4:18 PM
Chris Claremont is listed as "Chris Clarement" in your credits, so this issue ends up not appearing when you use the advanced search to look for his writing credits.
Posted by: Enchlore | January 27, 2016 10:08 AM
Bob McLeod was the right guy to draw the Moira/Rahne scenes, since he was the artist for the New Mutants Graphic Novel.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | September 18, 2016 6:36 PM
John Proudstar served in Vietnam. He made it through Basic Training and AIT. At no point would his "You've been ridin' me since the day I got here" monologue work in those situations, much less before he reaches Vietnam. If you can handle Basic Training, you can handle Scott Summers, and [assuming John was drafted] at least you volunteered for Xaviers' School.
Now I'm seeing an alternate universe "X-Men" where Thunderbird survives to be the hot-headed asshole who understands how the system works - i.e. when Banshee tells you to get off the plane now, you obey - and Wolverine is the hot-headed asshole that must be tamed because his first instinct is to kill large numbers of people on the spot. Thunderbird would have been the guy to say "I think we need to convince Magneto to join the team." He'd also say "Genosha is a problem? Send Magneto and Wolverine to fix it. Moving on, how do we accommodate Shan, Illyana and Dani as students in the budget for the next fiscal year? We're not leaving this room until we have an answer. And what have we heard about Senator Kelly's latest support for the Sentinel program?"
Posted by: ChrisW | December 15, 2016 12:14 AM
That actually is an interesting what-if I doubt Marvel will ever tough: what if Thunderbird survived and became a respectable Mutant conservative? (if such a thing can exist)
Posted by: Ataru320 | December 15, 2016 9:00 AM
@ChrisW- in the classic backup, Logan says that Thunderbird lied about his age to join the military, so no he wasn't drafted. He also implies that the reason Thunderbird was acting out was because of the trauma from something that happened in Vietnam that John wasn't old enough to handle.
Posted by: Michael | January 5, 2017 10:20 PM
Whether Thunderbird was drafted or not doesn't really change my point. I remember a specific point in Basic Training that was really stupid and pointless, and it occurred to me that, instead of complaining like I would have normally done, I should realize that "I volunteered for this" and accept the consequences. That's a direct quote, by the way.
I don't remember any specific mention of trauma from Vietnam [I know it was mentioned, and I do remember Wolverine's response, along the lines of 'you wear a man's boots, you carry a man's responsibilities' and treating James' funeral for his brother the same way] The military is the first to realize that they can attract the "wrong" type of people, and develops methods of weeding them out so that they can keep the "best" people. It contradicts what I said above, but it wouldn't surprise me if John Proudstar was the "wrong" person, and the X-Men are very bad at weeding those people out. Maybe it wasn't Vietnam, maybe he just couldn't handle the pressure.
Maybe John had a death wish. Trust me, when a PV2 rigger tells a Command Sergeant Major to turn around so the PV2 can fix the parachute, the Command Sergeant Major is required to obey. Not intrinsically different from Banshee telling Thunderbird to "get off the plane, laddie!"
Basically I can see Thunderbird's story as going in many different directions, depending on what story is being told. Not saying these stories would top Wein/Claremont/Cockrum for quality...
Posted by: ChrisW | January 5, 2017 10:41 PM
So does this make Forge the ideas Claremont had for Thunderbird, with a side-romance with Storm?
Posted by: ChrisW | January 5, 2017 11:58 PM
just out of curiousity, does it say what the Avengers are doing that they couldn't respond? I mean NORAD is a big deal.
Posted by: kveto | January 6, 2017 8:31 AM
@kveto: I looked, and the Avengers issues that fnord has placed closest to these are #139-140. In those issues the Wasp and Yellowjacket are both in the hospital with serious medical problems, the Vision and the Scarlet Witch have only just returned from their honeymoon, Hawkeye is missing somewhere in time, and Captain America is still on a leave of absence. So, yeah, you could argue that it wasn't an ideal time for the team to be responding to an emergency on the other side of the country.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 6, 2017 8:52 AM
Well, what also works is if you look at the next issues of Avengers after that as happening concurrently? Maybe it's a bit better - half the team are in another reality and the other half are in the 1800s and the only 2 still around are in hospital.
Posted by: AF | January 6, 2017 10:35 AM
The Beast is one of the Avengers off in the Squadron Supreme's reality in those issues, so he wouldn't be around to call the X-Men about the NORAD crisis... well, okay, maybe Hank McCoy has a *really* good long-distance plan :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 6, 2017 11:33 AM
Thunderbird was a great X-man that never happened. His character and background held deep pools of internal struggle that could have been extrapolated over a period of time if he hadn't been snuffed so suddenly. A small tweak to his costume and removal of the bunny ear feathers and this cat is damn interesting and cool to look at as well. They could have gone along way with his trauma and his connections to the Indian Spiritual world and given him some metaphysical interest that help balance his struggles in this realm and evolve his psychological profile. I enjoyed that he was a bit of a loose cannon and he held great sympathetic storyline potential away from Logan. Obviously the tragic hero card worked for Wolverine and they could have doubled down with Thunderbird.
Posted by: RocknRollguitarplayer | January 10, 2017 12:51 AM
"Banshee, uncomfortable about being older than the rest of the group"
This is specially funny considering later reveals about Wolverine.
Posted by: NapoleonDeCheese | May 28, 2017 9:24 PM
@RocknRollguitarplayer Thunderbird never happened because he was way too close to Wolverine in terms of personality in these early appearances. They couldn't have both characters on the same beats. Can you imagine what the comics industry would have been like had they killed off Wolverine instead? Neither can I. It's impossible to know. Maybe Thunderbird could have become a great character. As it is, he's one of the rare characters who has (largely) stayed dead, and I think that's significant. Furthermore, a lot of the story beats you're talking about DID get used on his brother, and I think they worked a lot better on a character who had lost family to all this mutant nonsense.
Posted by: J-Rod | June 1, 2017 10:46 AM
They're releasing a hardcover omnibus of X-Men Classic in December
Posted by: Billy | October 2, 2017 5:13 AM
So wait, ARE THEY the Ani-Men from Daredevil or not? This has always confused me. They look the same but have different code-names. Was that ever explained?
Posted by: Jeff | November 27, 2017 10:20 PM
They are the Ani-Men from Daredevil, since it's confirmed in Daredevil 157 that the Ani-Men working for Nefaria in Iron Man are the ones from Daredevil. I guess the different code-names are nicknames.
Posted by: Michael | November 27, 2017 10:37 PM
Thanks Michael. Not sure if I ever read DD157 but I’ll look it up
Posted by: Jeff | November 30, 2017 10:36 PM
Also, I noticed- in Iron Man 114-115, Ape-Man is referred to as both "Gort" (like he was in X-Men 94-95) and "Monk" (like he was in Daredevil 10-11)- that confirms it's the same guy.
Posted by: Michael | November 30, 2017 10:47 PM
I can confirm Michael's observation above as I just read the Iron Man issues in question two days ago.
Posted by: Jonathon | December 1, 2017 9:34 AM
The (original) Ani-Men working for Nefaria here were the ones in the early Daredevil, and minus Frogman as the Unholy Three in some later Daredevil issues working for the Exterminator.
Sadly they got blown up in Iron Man 116.
The Ape Man, Cat Man and Bird Man that showed up in Daredevil 157 were a new bunch. Bird Man lost a fight to Black Widow and Ape Man and Cat Man fled back to their boss Deathstalker (the former Exterminator) and were fried by him for their troubles.
Actually kind of liked the original Ani-Men. They were always good as stock D-list villains and with some adjustments to powers (thanks Nefaria!) worked vs heroes at any level from Daredevil to Iron Man to the X-Men. Heck, Cat Man had Wolverine on the ropes until Logan was saved by outside interference from Colossus!
Posted by: Coldstream | December 21, 2017 2:02 AM
I just wanted to mention that while you discuss the new material from "Classic X-Men" issues, the creators (and dates, etc.) for those segments are not credited here.
Posted by: Mark Elliott | April 24, 2018 3:59 PM
Yeah, doing some clean-up around back-up features is on my To Do List. Probably something i'll tackle when i take a break after finishing 1994.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 24, 2018 6:08 PM
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