Uncanny X-Men #129-131
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #129, Uncanny X-Men #130, Uncanny X-Men #131
It starts with the X-Men returning from Scotland after their fight with Proteus. They find that Xavier has returned from space as well. Xavier tries to take over his traditional role of leading the X-Men, but comes into conflict with Cyclops, who has his own leadership style that works better with this group of X-Men since they are not children and students (Claremont has Xavier saying "Scott, notify Wolverine that his childish outburst will cost him ten demerits" which is pretty funny.)
A Cerebro alarm interrupts their argument. Two new mutants have been detected. We find that the Hellfire Club is observing the X-Men. They are still in shadows except for Jason Wyngarde. Emma Frost, the White Queen, is introduced, and she's sent to recruit the first mutant.
It's noted that the Hellfire Club is "only a few blocks down fifth avenue from Avengers Mansion". Sebastian Shaw will be fully introduced in issue #130.
The first mutant turns out to be Kitty Pryde, a 13 1/2 year old girl who's been having headaches and wakes up downstairs when she last remembers being on her bed. Ms. Frost shows up first with brochures about her school's academy...
...and then Xavier arrives with Wolverine, Colossus, and Storm in civilian clothes. Xavier sends Kitty and the X-Men to a diner while he talks with the Prydes.
The White Queen's plan is to manipulate her parents into going to her academy, but the Hellfire Club also send armored goons to attack the X-Men.
The goons fail, but Emma finishes them off with a mental blast. Kitty, learning that she has the ability to phase through walls, sneaks aboard the Hellfire Club's vehicle.
The next issue shifts focus to the X-Men going after the second mutant. It brings them to the warehouse district in lower Manhattan where an impromptu disco party is being held. Dazzler was supposed to have been a licensed character created in conjunction with a record company that would promote a singer, possibly Grace Jones or Bo Derek, as "Dazzler". The negotiations started in the mid 1970s when disco was still a happening thing. Various problems with the negotiations caused delays and eventually Marvel decided to 'go it alone'. And that's how Marvel came to introduce a disco-themed character in 1980 (Jim Shooter's tells the history here; he says that disco was still popular at this time.). As Jean and Cyclops enter the warehouse, Cyclops says "Tell me, Jean, is this where old discos go to die?"
We see Sebastian Shaw for the first time as he coordinates the Hellfire Club's attack on the disco with Wyngarde. Jean continues to exhibit extraordinary powers, transforming Jean and Cyclops' street clothes into their costumes.
This worries Scott. She's also having more timeslips and making out with Wynegrade in the disco club.
Still, this team (also including Nightcrawler) is able to fight off their Hellfire Club attackers. They get help from Dazzler, who is aware of and in control of her powers, unlike Kitty. She is able to create 'dazzling' bursts of light that stun her opponents.
No mention of absorbing sound as a power source yet (that will come in issue #131; see below).
Of course, they've also got Phoenix...
They meet up with Kitty, who they send in to free Wolverine.
The X-Men then assault the Frost Industries building. Here's the narration showing that Dazzler converts sounds into light.
Soon the X-Men are routing the Hellfire Club.
The battle culminates in a psychic duel between Phoenix and the White Queen, which leaves Emma seemingly dead.
Dazzler rejects the offer to join the X-Men. She wants to focus on her singing career.
Phoenix uses her powers to manipulate Kitty's parents into forgetting that Kitty's been missing all night.
Scott and Ororo are concerned about Jean's change in morality, but really we all know if Jean hadn't done that, Xavier would have.
These are some pretty momentous issues and they're of high quality, with really nice Byrne art and a lot of good character moments from Claremont, as well as a decent action plot.
The back-up in Classic X-Men #35 deals with Kitty in the scene between where she realizes she has powers and when she resolves to follow the Hellfire Club and save the X-Men. It's a good place for a fill-in story that could have been used to deal with Kitty's reaction to her new situation. But instead we get a weird dream sequence (by Daryle Edelman and John Bolton).
Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bright deliver a back-up for issue #36 that shows Moria dealing with the death of her son Proteus. It's timely and it's actually not too bad at all. A little maudlin but better than most of the non-Claremont back-ups.
In the story, Moira considers cloning her son (more or less)...
...but Banshee talks her out of it.
The final back-up is also by Nicieza but with Rick Leonardi on art (and Bob McCleod on inks). The story is again pretty good - it's just Dazzler and her friends sitting around a diner chatting - but the art is really over the top and messy, ruining it.
The Statement of Ownership in issue #131 is missing section C (all paid circulation), which is where i get the numbers that i post. But they can be derived by subtracting the numbers from section D (giveaway copies) from E, which is C+D.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 171,091. Single issue closest to filing date = 166,017.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This issue starts with the X-Men leaving Scotland, so there should be no X-Men appearances between this issue and last.
Continuity Insert? P - (Classic X-Men reprints add new material)
My Reprint: Classic X-Men #35, Classic X-Men #36, Classic X-Men #37
Inbound References (9): show
Emma Frost's face may have been taken from Diana Rigg from the 1960s Avengers British TV show, which had her playing a Black Queen undercover in a "Hellfire Club" in the "Touch of Brimstone" episode.
Sebastian Shaw is also the name of a character in "Dark Shadows" from the early 1970s.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 29, 2011 11:55 PM
Wolverine goes through both a Hustler and a Penthouse in the diner.
Dazzler's hair is ridiculously huge in her first panel; she would have more artistic indignities thrust upon her in her solo series.
How did Classic X-Men handle the reference to X-Men #110, considering that that issue got skipped for reprinting?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 4, 2011 6:53 PM
The footnote was completely removed in the reprint.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 5, 2011 2:56 AM
Interesting how Wolvie's reading material made it past the Comics Code!
Posted by: haydn | November 30, 2011 10:15 PM
131 was one of the first issues of X-Men I ever read.
And I still don't get why Scott didn't punch out Wyngarde at the disco. maybe Wolverine was right about him all along.
Posted by: Chaim Shraga | June 11, 2012 10:08 AM
Scott didn't punch out Wyngarde at the disco because he had his glasses on, not his visor and there were plenty of people in the disco- if Wyngarde punched him back and he lost his glasses, he'd have been a danger to everyone in the disco.
Posted by: Michael | June 11, 2012 7:53 PM
When the X-Men went to Deerfield here in X-Men #129 it was not an accident. That is, Charley had not, as believed, used Cerebro, but had followed it up due to Wolvie whispering something in his ear.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | June 12, 2012 7:45 AM
I have always found Carmen Pryde to be a deeply poignant figure.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | June 12, 2012 10:21 AM
The story makes it very clear that Jean voluntarily kissed Wyngarde at the disco. THAT's why he couldn't attack him. It appeared consentual.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | April 30, 2013 8:23 PM
You know with all the talk of Dazzler on this board the last day, I just want to give my own quick say. I always thought she looked exactly like what she was she was supposed to be in the first appearance: bigger-hair Bo Derek in roller-skates as designed for Casablanca records (with Kiss make-up and an outfit she stole from Parliment; both of whom were signed to him...heh, maybe a Dazzler/Hypno Hustler team up is all this world needs) Gimmicky or not, the classic look as become iconic even if people criticize it.
Oh and "Go for It"...that makes me think more Firestar than Dazzler, but blame "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends".
Posted by: Ataru320 | July 20, 2013 6:34 AM
Never mind Wolvie's reading habits, how did the Comics Code ignore the scene where he's completely naked and holding a 13 year-old girl in his arms? The off-panel bloodlust [pun intended] he's about to have is less disturbing to contemplate.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 23, 2014 7:14 PM
To the "Historical Significance Rating" I'd add, "First appearance of Byrne's preoccupation with fetish gear and pubescent girls".
Also, I don't think ANYONE has ever commented on this, but in his first shadowy appearances, Shaw wears yellow gloves and sits behind the diamond suit at the card-themed bench. I think Byrne originally intended Shaw to be Jack O' Diamonds, "The First Evil Mutant", from Roy Thomas's Origin of Cyclops story.
Posted by: Andrew | January 4, 2015 7:31 AM
I would argue the grade on this, not just because this is the start of the larger Dark Phoenix Saga (consisting of three mostly separate parts) and thus the start of my favorite comic storyline of all-time, but because I have actually used these issues to introduce people to the X-Men and to comics in general and it's worked. The writing is so good, the art is so amazing, it's so easy to start with #129 and get into the story, that I would give it an A+, not just for the issues themselves, but because they really do get people to start reading these comics.
Oh, and also, it introduces my favorite comic character of all-time: Kitty Pryde. She does however, present a serious problem for the sliding timescale. She has clearly aged close to a decade since coming along, and there definitely has to be at least a few years before she can come along.
Wolvie's reading habits aren't too far off from Hawkeye's in Avengers #189.
Part of the reason the Sean / Moira backup is one of the best of all the "vignettes" is because the art is actually quite good - I strongly dislike the art in a lot of the backup stories.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 18, 2015 12:16 PM
Was the Classic X-Men backup with Sean and Moria not the first appearance of Proteus' first name as Kevin?
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | April 4, 2016 11:53 AM
Here's some behind-the-scenes information for you guys concerning Emma Frost. This is from John Byrne himself.
"I designed the White Queen to be, well, flat chested. A contrast to Jean Grey, who made a very voluptuous Black Queen. Emma's cleavage was supposed to be created by her bosom being squeezed in and up, which is what those bustiers are meant to do. (Scientific Research: If you look very closely at my Emma, you will see that her cleavage does not extend far below the top of her bustier, as it would if she had large breasts. I did that deliberately.) But for many (most?) artists, a female character cannot be sexy unless she is blatant about it. Emma was intended to be cool -- Frost. Get it? -- and sophisticated, not the type to drape herself all over the furniture with legs akimbo. But that's not what you'll find if you Google the character."
At least there was an in-story explanation as to the physical changes to Emma...she got plastic surgery.
I love finding out BTS stuff!
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 16, 2016 10:20 AM
Aaaaand, here's the original plans for the Hellfire Club and Project: Wideawake storylines, via Byrne: "There will be new Sentinels...They'll be coming out of the Hellfire Club, which is a sequence that is beginning now. The X-Men will trash the Hellfire Club, without realizing that the Hellfire Club is a legitimate organization. You "join the Hellfire Club" ... it's a nice thing to be in. Its only the inner circle that are the bad guys. One of the members of the Hellfire Club is Mastermind, and he will cloak everything so that when the X-Men come in swinging, people can't see that they're fighting bad guys, they just see them trashing this businessmen's club, of which, for example, Warren Worthington's father was a member. Since members of the Hellfire Club are high ranking doctors, lawyers, senators, congressmen, they will sit and say, "Well, these X-Men characters, they say they were good guys, and they just trashed this businessmen's club!" So there's going to be a sub-plot almost, of Sentinels, which will be man-sized. They will probably be built by someplace like Stark International, so these will not be putzy Sentinels. Or Cross Technologies, or one of the biggies that we've got, to establish that these are not whimpo Sentinels, these are tough Sentinels. And the thing that we're not going to do of course, is this will not lead to a big X-Men/Sentinels battle issue. This will be like a constant menace, an anti-mutant police force. We'll be coordinating with the Avengers, so that the Beast and the Scarlet Witch are required to wear bleepers in their costumes, or something so that people know where they are at all times. ... we're gonna keep mutants so that we know where they are! They've demonstrated that they are bad. Then of course, we'll clear them sooner or later, and then the Sentinels will go away. We'll be doing little stories with the X-men chasing, say, Unus he Untouchable. They crash into where ever Unus is, "We're gonna trash him now!"...and he's gone. There's a big hole in the wall, because the Sentinels go there first. It will be like that until we reveal that there are Sentinels out there..."
I got this stuff from Byrne's site while digging around.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 16, 2016 10:34 AM
In Uncanny X-Men #130, at the start of the Dark Phoenix story, Sebastian Shaw refers to Kitty Pryde as a Neo mutant. While you could initially read this as "a new mutant", with Claremont's plans to reveal that Kitty was a member of the Neo, I found it fascinating that Shaw referred to her as a Neo mutant. Could Claremont have seen that and decided to use it? Did the Inner Circle know about her beforehand?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | June 17, 2016 5:17 AM
I suspect Claremont did indeed see that and decided to use it in X-MEN #100. Good catch!The Inner Circle knew about a lot of things, so it wouldn't be surprising there, either.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 17, 2016 9:51 AM
I don't think the so-called "Knights of Hellfire" were used again after this issue and the next, were they? Maybe the armor they wore ultimately didn't work out for them, so they stopped using it. It's too bad. This would have given the Hellfire Club two sets of goons, ones in the armor and the ones in the standard uniform.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | August 3, 2016 9:15 AM
The Hellfire Club's "armored goons" have a strangely familiar design/mechanism on their backs.
Posted by: ubersicht | November 23, 2016 6:44 PM
Wolverine's reading habits while seated in a diner actually reflect a pattern for Byrne. Hawkeye (at work) in Avengers #189 was mentioned - also drawn by Byrne. Another that springs to mind is "Junior" Collins, the son of "The Man With the Power" in Fantastic Four #234, viewing a centerfold at the breakfast table.
Posted by: Ubersicht | November 23, 2016 8:03 PM
"No mention of absorbing sound as a power source yet."
It's mentioned in a caption box in #131, as Dazzler dazzles the guards during their attack on Frost Industries.
(This is the sort of thing you notice when you reread the issues & then go check out the reviews right after...)
Posted by: Stephen Frug | January 24, 2017 8:22 PM
Thanks Stephen. I've added a scan.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 25, 2017 8:34 AM
@Andrew - I noticed the Hellfire armor also appears in the New Mutants graphic novel.
Posted by: Mortificator | February 20, 2017 1:36 PM
A man named Carmen. That's weird!
Posted by: Bibs | June 14, 2017 4:01 AM
WB! We missed you.
Am I the only one who found it funny that when they introduced Dazzler in a news article, Bo Derek herself (the one who, you know, was the basis of Dazzler) was carrying issue one of "The Savage She-Hulk"? See, even Bo Derek knew which character would be more relevant in the long run.
Posted by: Ataru320 | August 30, 2017 7:40 PM
I don't know I it's been mentioned in any of the comments yet, but Mastermind's guise as "Jason Wyngarde" is based on the look of British actor Peter Wyngarde, whose most iconic role was playing a stylish government sleuth turned novelist named Jason King in the early 1970s. In addition, a few years earlier Wyngarde had played Sir John Cartney, the leader of the Hellfire Club in The Avengers episode "A Touch of Brimstone," which of course was an inspiration for this storyline.
Peter Wyngarde recently passed away. I wrote a piece on my blog looking back on his career...
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 21, 2018 10:32 PM
Looks like my comment from last week never showed up. So, anyway, British actor Peter Wyngarde passed away earlier this month. As I wrote on my blog...
"It is a testament to how iconic a figure Wyngarde was that his likeness was immortalized in print in the early 1980s in the pages of the X-Men comic book series by the creative team of Chris Claremont, John Byrne & Terry Austin. The Avengers television episode “A Touch of Brimstone” inspired Claremont & Byrne to introduce their own version of the Hellfire Club, a cabal of ruthless mutant industrialists manipulating politics and the economy to their benefit, in the now-classic X-Men storyline “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” One of the members of this Hellfire Club was the X-Men’s old adversary Mastermind, now in the guise of the evil, seductive “Jason Wyngarde,” modeled, off course, on Peter Wyngarde’s performance as Jason King."
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 26, 2018 11:52 AM
Belatedly rescued Ben's comments from the spam folder. Sorry about that.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 28, 2018 10:17 PM
In addition to Mastermind and the Hellfire Club, Peter Wyngarde and his Jason King character from the "Division S" TV series also inspired Grant Morrison's Invisibles, where a very similar looking dude called Jon Six works for "Department X".
Posted by: Tuomas | January 29, 2018 5:55 AM
Sorry, I fumbled that last post a bit: the 1970s TV series was called "Department S" and its Morrison counterpart "Division X".
Posted by: Tuomas | January 29, 2018 5:56 AM
Thanks, fnord and Tuomas.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 29, 2018 11:31 AM
Comments are now closed.
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