Uncanny X-Men #160
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #160
...Colossus's young sister Illyana Rasputin is summoned away by the demon sorcerer Belasco. Kitty and the other X-Men soon follow and are transported into an "interdimensional limbo" (it will later simply be referred to as Limbo) via teleportational discs that are explicitly based on Larry Nevin's stepping discs from his Ringworld novel.
In Limbo, the X-Men meet Belasco...
...an evil doppelganger of Nightcrawler...
...and an older version of Storm, who is a good sorceress who helps them fight Belasco and his minions...
...which includes the demon S'ym.
S'ym is apparently a tribute to David Sim's Cerebus. A response to a letter in Uncanny X-Men #164 that mentions Cerebus says, "...our tip o' the hat to a certain Earth-Pig Born occurred in X-Men #160". More from Jim Shooter:
The S'ym character was a friendly nod to Dave by Chris Claremont. They were friends. There was even talk between them about an X-Men Cerebus crossover, which Mike Hobson and I were okay with, mostly to humor Chris. It never got done for some reason. Not because of Marvel. Hobson had a contract drafted, generous terms, and sent it to Sim, but Sim never got back to us about it.
On the topic of the semi-related "Wolveroach" incident, it's worth noting that Claremont will continue to use S'ym as well. I suppose he's less of an obvious parody. I would have never realized that S'ym was meant to be Cerebus on my own, but i guess it's rather obvious in retrospect.
The X-Men are able to rescue Illyana, but not before she's spent 6 years in Limbo due to time differentials. She emerges a 13 year old girl.
Her time in Limbo will be expanded upon in the Magik limited series next year.
It's cool seeing Brent Anderson here and bringing in Belasco from the Ka-Zar series. And it's a cool mystical/alternate reality story for the X-Men. It will be a while, however, before Claremont gets to exploring the implications of the aging of Illyana and the idea that she's been corrupted.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Professor X doesn't appear in this issue, but he's still sick from the (not yet revealed) brood egg in his belly. All Uncanny X-Men issues have been pushed backwards in publishing time because Uncanny X-Men #167 has to take place before Contest of Champions and Hulk #277-279.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: X-Men Classic #64
Inbound References (11): show
I never could figure out why Chris Claremont grabbed onto Belasco so much since he didn't have anything to do with his creation.
Belasco is also the name of the main villain/ghost in Richard Matheson's book "Hell House", which was gratuitously lifted for what was supposed to be the last "Werewolf By Night" story until its cancellation notice was revoked(for a while, anyway). Doug Moench rearranged Belasco's name for the villain there.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 18, 2011 12:12 AM
Claremont also took Garokk the Petrified Man and Zaladane and made them his own. Did the same with Yuriko Oyama (Lady Deathstrike).
He seemed to be a resuscitator and/or reimaginer of minor characters he thought had potential, whether they were his own or someone else's.
Posted by: Paul | January 22, 2013 5:50 PM
Sabretooth (Iron Fist) and Mystique, Destiny et al (originally to appear in Ms Marvel) being some of "his own" who he resuscitated/reimagined.
A good writer never throws away an idea. He's gonna get SOMEthing out of it, somewhere along the way.
Posted by: Paul | January 22, 2013 5:51 PM
Brent Anderson sure got away with murder in that "Kitty kneeling before Belasco" panel, didn't he?
Posted by: Jay Patrick | April 25, 2013 12:57 AM
He sure did.
Posted by: Kveto from Prague | April 25, 2013 3:56 PM
Seriously, how the Hell did that get through?
Posted by: Jay Patrick | April 25, 2013 3:59 PM
the "wolverine behind Kitty" a bit down the page is dodgy as well.
Posted by: Kveto from Prague | April 25, 2013 4:14 PM
Hah! I didn't notice that one. I could buy that that one was unintentional though. The Belasco Job is just brazen.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | April 25, 2013 4:20 PM
Joss Whedon would later rip off the whole Magik origin for his show Angel (just one man's opinion, of course). Angel's son is kidnapped as a baby and taken to a hell world where time goes differently, and where he's raised brutally - subjected to a rigorous training regimen and regularly fighting for his life. The kid then returns a short time later as a surly, troubled, mysterious teenager who can't quite be trusted, is good/evil, and feels alienated and out of place.
All hail Joss Whedon's incredible creativity!
Posted by: Paul | August 17, 2013 2:20 AM
Belasco, Garrokk, and Zaladane were all originally Ka-Zar enemies. Since Ka-Zar was first introduced in the pages of X-Men, I wonder if Claremont felt that those characters were under his purview.
Posted by: Chris Kafka | August 17, 2013 5:52 PM
I think if he did think that, it'd be a reasonable thought. I dunno about anybody else, but I mentally list Alpha Flight as in the X-Men universe, just as I do the Starjammers or the Imperial Guard. They weren't just introduced in the pages of X-Men, their history is bound up with Wolverine's, they have mutants on the roster, and they've regularly appeared in X-books as casual guest stars and even as regulars ever since. I know Northstar got moved into main-X, and I think Madison Jefferies and Diamond Lil have as well, tho someone more familiar with modern Marvel can maybe correct that. Plus characters like Puck and Shaman and Heather and Mac regularly guested in Wolverine's solo title.
Ka-Zar I think is equally reasonable. Ka-Zar comes packaged with the Savage Land, which is an X-Men story device/setting. KZ and his stories and characters are natural parts of the X-mythos, as is everything that goes on down there (Sauron, the mutates, etc).
I would view the original Alpha Flight title, and any Ka-Zar title, as bearing the same relation to the X-titles as something like the British Captain Britain series.
It's not official but if you go on the wonderful Uncannyx-men.net site, for non-X books they have issue recaps only for issues with relevance to the X-Men - but they have the entire Alpha Flight series recapped. Not so for Ka-Zar, but it's telling that they do that for the Alphas.
As for Lady Deathstrike, it wouldn't surprise me if her introduction was a collaboration between Mantlo and Claremont. She's introduced (as Deathstrike) in an Alpha Flight issue where the X-Men appear, then the very next month along w/ her continuing Alpha Flight appearances, she's in UXM.
Posted by: Paul | August 17, 2013 10:12 PM
S'ym was a response specifically to Dave Sim's "Charles X. Claremont" parody character.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 23, 2013 9:38 PM
Dave Sim has mentioned that, in hindsight, he was going overboard. The Wolverine parody on the inside of the story was defensible, but putting Wolveroach on multiple covers was not. By his own admission, all he was trying to do was make a point about bad inking on the "Wolverine" series, but even after being told to stop, he kept doing it on successive covers. [From memory] "All Marvel would have needed was to find one kid who bought an issue of 'Cerebus' thinking Wolverine was in it and they'd have bankrupted me with legal fees." He's also said that the "X-Men/Cerebus" crossover was mostly based on a conversation on a plane flight, and assumed that, as Marvel's top writer, Claremont had the interest and authority to make it happen. If Sim wanted to publish something, he did it. If Claremont wanted to publish something, the request went up through editors and lawyers and publishers and the need to find an available artist and schedule with the printers and distributors.
I don't trust Shooter's account, but have no reason to disbelieve it either. Shooter, at least, knew how to get things published when he wanted them published.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 23, 2014 8:20 PM
Storm picks up a magic necklace and silver arm cuff
Posted by: Nathan Adler | December 31, 2014 8:17 PM
A seminal issue for me because Illyana is one of my all-time favorite characters.
There's a bit of odd coloring in the first panel. The back of the top of Colossus' boot is colored as if it were Wolverine's leg, but if it were Wolverine's leg he would be standing at a very bizarre (and impossible) angle.
It's interesting that Belasco is the main villain, but Sy'm is seen as the greater threat - certainly at least from Wolverine's thinking.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 5, 2015 8:39 PM
Claremont probably grabbed onto Belasco because of his connection to the N'Garai/Elder Gods.
I know she showed up as the villain in X-Infernus, but I'd enjoy it if Belasco's daughter, Witchfire, showed up again to plague the X-Men.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 24, 2016 12:58 PM
I figured Belasco's connection with N'Garai was Claremont's doing...?
I, too, would like to see Witchfire show up in X-books from time to time
Posted by: George Lochinski | October 16, 2016 2:57 AM
Wolverine appears very tall in some pics... Already played by Hugh Jackman?
The art implies S'ym can break adamantium, easily. Just a mistake? Deterioration over time? Other fanwank? I remembered this scene as him pulling claw apart from joint, which figures, but the break point is clearly in the claw proper.
Posted by: Catherine | April 28, 2017 5:50 AM
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