Characters Appearing: Colossus
Marvel Comics Presents #10-17 (Colossus)
Issue(s): Marvel Comics Presents #10, Marvel Comics Presents #11, Marvel Comics Presents #12, Marvel Comics Presents #13, Marvel Comics Presents #14, Marvel Comics Presents #15, Marvel Comics Presents #16, Marvel Comics Presents #17 (Colossus story only)
Artwise it pairs Rick Leonardi with P. Craig Russell, a combination that makes a lot of sense. Leonardi has a free-flowing, kind of messy style that sometimes looks great but sometimes just looks like a mess. P. Craig Russell as an inker truly embraces the "embellisher" part of that job description seriously and generally adds a lot of his personal style to the art. So the two should compliment each other well. In practice, i'm not so sure, and that may be due to deadline pressures since eventually Al Milgrom is brought in to help out (including inking issue #15 by himself).
This is a Colossus solo story. Colossus is the ultimate "heart of the team" character, so a solo story featuring him is potentially a challenge. But there hasn't been a lot of focus on him in the X-Men book, so it's nice to see him getting some space.
The title of this story arc is alternatively "God's Country" (consistently called that on the table of contents pages) and "American Pie" (called that on the opening splash pages about half the time).
The story begins with Colossus at an amusement park somewhere in America, unhappy to find that a news vendor has porn mags on display.
The vendor has his own opinions.
And they cause Colossus to lose control.
Here's the sort of introspection that we were theoretically missing from the X-Men series, as well as an explanation for why Colossus isn't with the team.
He definitely wasn't expecting the haranguing from the magazine vendor. But the opening chapter of this story is in fact full of Americans harboring weird ideas and conspiracy theories.
The kid's nutty too (by the way, the idea that it's illegal to kill a praying mantis in the US is a myth) .
The little boy on that picnic stumbles upon a scene where some goons are giving a captured guy "one last chance to reprogram" before they kill him. The boy is caught, and they say they have to kill him before he leaks anything to the press. The goons then turn out to be more than ordinary goons.
And you have to love the fact that he's on the phone with a Howard Hughes stand-in telling him to "do it slowly, painfully".
He also says to kill the kid "gently, softly".
Colossus is nearby (back in human form), and he winds up getting attacked by the anti-communist father and then, after that "misunderstanding" is over, invited to eat with them. But when they hear the boy scream, he responds as Colossus.
Colossus holds off the goons for a while and then flees with the family. They head to the police, but Colossus is against that idea because having police means "you give up the right to defend yourself". He's lectured by the father, who tells him that in the US the police don't lock you away in gulags. So they go to the police station, but the police act suspicious and try to get them in a van to send them to a "special unit that handles incidents like these". So Colossus helps them escape back to their farmhouse. They board up the windows while continuing to argue about whether the US government would really try to kill its citizens the way they do in the USSR. The wife keeps talking about ironing curtains (get it?).
Then the family starts passing out guns, including one to the little kid, who immediately turns it onto the "Commie" Colossus.
That's the cliffhanger for issue #12 but we're past that by the beginning of #13, which has the family's neighbors wondering what's going on and dropping hints that there's been some spousal abuse in the family in the past. The grandfather, meanwhile, sits in his "memory car"...
...and the mother is just oblivious to everything.
So basically, this is an Ann Nocenti story.
When the father says that he can't afford to take his family to a hotel because he's a Vietnam Vet with no job, Colossus takes the opportunity to lecture about the Soviet Union's free education and healthcare and lack of homeless people.
I'm not against a political debate, but it's weird when the father is completely nutty and Colossus is suddenly passionate about a country he hasn't been to in years.
Eventually we get past that and cyborgs attack. One of them begs Colossus to take her prisoner so she can talk to the family.
When he does, she tells the family that she is Number Six, a member of a group of cyborgs called the Cold Warriors, an operation so secret that even the CIA don't know about it. Their mission is to "keep America free from terrorists -- in secret, away from the media". Number Six, who Colossus decides to call Nina, gives Colossus the location of the Cold Warriors' base, and tells him to go take them out while she protects the family.
Colossus also has a reconciliation with the father, who thanks him.
The "I'm sorry" line is a nice touch amidst all the crazy dialogue.
After Colossus leaves, we find that the mother indeed is not well.
And this certainly won't help.
Nina shows up to fight that guy off, but then breaks down herself, trying to resist her own programming to kill the family. The father ties up both Nina and his wife who is in full breakdown mode.
Meanwhile, Colossus faces the other Cold Warriors...
...who beg him to kill them after he defeats them, and also go on about only following orders and protecting America.
Colossus continues to work his way through the pace, in full Nocenti mode, saying things like "Broken bones, broken families, all in the name of ideas." and "I believe in muscle. Belief hardens into muscle. I'll keep hitting, 'till i figure this out.".
He eventually makes his way to Howard Hughes.
Colossus just stands there while the guy rants and washes his hands.
Back at the homestead, well... i already told you the kid was nutty.
And so is Grandpa.
But everyone holds out, thanks to some help from Nina...
...and it's suddenly all over. Colossus shows up with the police. He cynically says that the whole story will get covered up, which the reporters scoff at, but we don't get to see if he's right or not. Here's actually how it ends.
Just once i want to read an Ann Nocenti story where at least one person isn't crazy and everyone talks like normal human beings. But i guess that's like asking for water that isn't wet. This was a nutty nutty story. I have no problem with Nocenti injecting politics into these comics, and in fact i think i'm in agreement with a lot of what she has to say, but the politics do not blend in to the story at all, so you just have characters standing around saying weird things and having an irrelevant political debate while cyborgs are trying to kill them. It's frustrating because a story about how Colossus feels about Soviet Russia in contrast with the America he's been living in for the past several years is a really interesting angle that Chris Claremont has touched on a few times but never really explored. This was a great opportunity to do something with that but having Colossus face a rogue government agency with "Cold Warrior" cyborgs is too heavy handed and everyone in this story is just too insane for any kind of rational character development.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP place this between Uncanny X-Men #238-239. Colossus does say he's homesick for his family in Russia. Does he not go to them because he's still honoring the idea that the X-Men are pretending to be dead?
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
This story was originally planned before the X-Men faked their deaths. This is evidenced by the fact that Peter has no problem changing from armored form to human and back. Although it's interesting to note that we never got an explanation as to why Peter's problem changing disappeared. After Peter emerged from the Siege Perilous, he was amenesiac and in human form. Then in issue 263, Masque uses his power to transform Peter's flesh but Peter reverses the transformation by turning from human to armored and back. Claremont was never clear about why Peter's problem disappeared- did the Siege heal him, did Masque's stunt fix him or had he simply healed naturally by issues 250-251?
Posted by: Michael | November 14, 2014 7:30 PM
Somebody really should have told Nocenti that if you're going to put an anti-porno rant into a story, you'll severly blunt your point by putting "Eating Pie" into the title...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 14, 2014 10:06 PM
Weirdly enough, some fanzines stated just before this serial started that this was going to "lead into" a proper Colossus GN by the same team.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 24, 2014 8:51 PM
There's something in the way Rick Leonardi draws Piotr that reminds me of Tim Sale's Superman.
Posted by: Robert | March 12, 2015 7:34 PM
This, this is just too stupid for words. Peter's going to take a leave from the team and go spend it in America? With Gateway to teleport him anywhere, he'll go to America? And the street vendor is ridiculous - you still need to be over 18 to buy porn, so the idea of a vendor with magazines hanging everywhere, especially at an amusement park is just absurd.
But I agree with Robert - especially in the face, Leonardi's Peter looks like Sale's Superman.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 16, 2015 5:57 PM
Magazine vendors with porn prominently displayed was a pretty common sight in the late-80s, especially New York... if the amusement park was in Coney Island (still robust at the time), that's not actually very far-fetched.
Posted by: cullen | August 16, 2015 9:19 PM
Some of this feels like a dress rehearsal for the Skip, Brandy, and Number Nine stuff in Nocenti's Daredevil stories.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 28, 2015 10:01 PM
Never read the series but judging from the scans, the art looks great, no doubt helped by the Russell inks. Leonardi seems like he was ahead of his time...i do see a lot of Tim Sale, and even Joe Maduera.
Posted by: MindlessOne | May 27, 2017 6:14 PM
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