Uncanny X-Men #217-218
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #217, Uncanny X-Men #218
We also see Longshot playing Stranger In A Strange Land there. I wonder if he also burnt toast carefully and proudly.
Conflict arises when Dazzler can't keep up with Callisto on the pull-up bar.
Now, this seems unfair. Dazzler was an aerobics instructor and a very agile dancer (supernaturally so, to look at some of the panels in her own series), and she put those skills to use during her super-hero phase in her own book. But Claremont wants to play up the idea that she is an unwilling super-hero that's only joined the team because the Marauders were attacking her anyway, and that she's soft and weak compared to the hardened Callisto (who also has some super-strength, maybe?).
So the rest of the issue has Dazzler leaving the group and going to town to party, but she later recognizes Juggernaut driving past in a car (which seems to undermine the idea that Dazzler is uncommitted here, if she's already used the little time she's been on the team to study the X-Men's files enough to recognize Juggernaut out of costume)...
...and follows him, figuring that he'll be up to no good.
It turns out that Juggernaut is a fan.
But Dazzler doesn't try to use that to her advantage, and instead attacks him, thus forcing Dazzler to prove her commitment to the super-hero cause by going up against an undefeatable foe.
While fighting Juggernaut, Dazzler does think to herself that she thought she was in great shape but that it wasn't enough to fight "Jugs" (not that Callisto would have fared any better). Claremont also makes a comment on impractical shoes...
...and shows that Callisto's comments really cut deep.
Despite her increased resolve...
...Dazzler of course is no match for the Juggernaut, and he seemingly accidentally kills her.
Juggernaut actually buries Dazzler in a cairn, but of course she's not really dead. She is mentally located by Psylocke, and she absorbs the ambient sounds of the Scottish countryside to generate enough light so that the X-Men can find her physical location.
Any confidence that she got fighting the Juggernaut is at least temporarily lost due to her defeat, but Rogue makes the point that the Dazzler she used to fight had a lot more gumption. The team then hear news of Juggernaut's rampage in Edinburgh...
...and Dazzler goes along with the rest of the group to try to stop him.
Big fight ensues...
...and these mostly new X-Men actually manage to defeat the Juggernaut, but they find out that the Juggernaut's rampage was merely a distraction so Black Tom could perform a robbery elsewhere, "an' we fell for it - like amateurs!", per Rogue. Psylocke still sees it as an example of the new team learning to work together, which is the point of these issues.
As Max_Spider notes in the Comments, some Dr. Who references (Sergeant-Major Benton and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart) as Juggernaut is carried away:
Issue #218 also has Havok and Polaris, in New Mexico, getting run off the road by a VW Bus. They spend some time recovering...
...and then return home thanks to Polaris' powers. On their way back, they check in on some campers that they met previously that had been driving the VW bus, and they find their campsite abandoned, and a dead Starshark, the space "ships" of the Brood.
A Brood incursion on Earth is a pretty clear and imminent threat, but this story is forgotten about until issue #232. It's a good indication of how many problems the X-Men were dealing with (and/or Claremont's level of distraction while juggling too many plots at once, depending on how you look at it). Havok will hook up with the X-Men next issue, but this discovery isn't even mentioned.
I always enjoy a Juggernaut battle, especially when it's done "right" as it is here (meaning that it's all about getting Juggy's helmet(s) off and then mentally zapping him) and for me that plus the time devoted to turning the new group of X-Men into a team balances out the fact that we're getting further and further away from a timely response to the threat of the Marauders (let alone introducing the Brood plot).
Issue #218 is Marc Silvestri's first issue on X-Men, although he's done two issues of X-Factor at this point. He was also drawing X-Men vs. the Avengers at this point, and according to CBR's Comic Book Legends revealed, the reason he isn't on issue #4 is because he was "promoted" to the main series instead. Silvestri won't draw next issue but he becomes the regular artist with #220.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This seems to be occurring around the same time as Storm and Wolverine's story from issue #216, if i'm understanding the transitional narration blurbs correctly (and it's confirmed in issue #232). In any event, i'm keeping the X-Men issues in a compressed timeframe to accommodate dependencies of the three Versus mini-series that the X-Men are involved in this year.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
A Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is mentioned in this issue after Juggernaut's capture. This is reference to the senior member of UNIT from Doctor Who.
Posted by: Max_Spider | March 19, 2014 7:16 PM
Numerous people had problems with the ending of issue 218. Ali and Betsy are in a hole with Juggernaut, and there's a train coming. Rogue tries to stop the train. Ali wants to run, but Betsy insists that they stay in the hole to stop Juggernaut. That's ridiculous. Nothing they do will change whether or not the train crashes, but if the train crashes, they'll die and Juggernaut won't. They should get out of the hole, so they'll be in position to rescue people if the train crashes.
Posted by: Michael | March 19, 2014 8:43 PM
Put me down in the category of people who thought Claremont was simply juggling too many things. It's great that he had so many ideas, but he really needed to do some deck cleaning before introducing new ones.
It shows at this point Claremont was too big for an editor to be effective. I don't think this could have happened back when Stern was the editor.
Fun issues. Not great, but fun. Some levity was needed at this time.
Posted by: Chris | March 19, 2014 9:58 PM
Should probably mention that the latter issue features the pencils of Marc Silvestri...
Posted by: Damon | March 20, 2014 12:29 AM
Thanks Damon. I missed giving him a credit. I've added it and added a note at the bottom of the entry.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 20, 2014 11:20 AM
Marc Silvestri was always my personal favorite X-Men artist, juggling cartooniness and realism with fun pacing. Your mileage may vary, but the various X-characters look 'right' to me when he did them, and I love some of those facial expressions. Just look at how Rogue was so pleased with herself, followed a few panels later by Jugs smashing her into the sky.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 30, 2014 7:27 PM
I notice that Claremont really only used the Juggernaut for what might be considered 'training sessions.' He was in the three-parter right after the X-Men left Jean/Phoenix in the hospital, he was there when Wolverine wanted to teach Colossus a lesson after "Secret Wars," and then again when Nimrod appeared. Here he's putting the new X-Men through their paces for a fun two-issue brawl, and would only be used again to do the same thing for Excalibur, and was beaten in four or five pages.
Actually, it's kinda weird, considering how long Claremont wrote the X-titles and how many fights they got into, very few of them involved the classic villains of the series, Magneto, Juggernaut, Brotherhood, etc.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 22, 2014 4:54 PM
Byrne used to claim Claremont hadn't read any of the pre-Neal Adams issues. It seems likely to me that the use of Mastermind and Blob in the Dark Phoenix Saga and DoFP was Byrne's suggestion. Juggernaut is one of the few other Lee/Kirby characters who gets used.
Then again, a lot of the pre-Claremont villains and stories were of a very different tone than Claremont was going for: he preferred non-spandex threats. He did make an effort early on in X-Men and the other titles he was writing to use characters like Mesmero, the Living Monolith, and even Grotesk, but I can't blame him for abandoning those characters for Mystique, the Hellfire Club, etc.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | June 22, 2014 10:12 PM
I can't blame him either. The Lee/Kirby issues had their moments, but are flat-out tiresome for how often they reuse the same villains, and although I've never read any of the following runs, I've never heard anything good about them other than the Neal Adams art.
I don't know if it's true that Claremont never read any pre-Adams "X-Men." It's probably not true, especially once he realized this was his life's work so he'd have studied up on the subject (and seriously, how could he have scripted #138 without any familiarity with the source material?) but I do think he was particularly influenced by Neal Adams' run.
I recall an interview which I cannot cite - and I seem to be doing that a lot lately, insisting that someone said something at some point in the past but can't remember where, so just take my word for it - where Claremont admits to seeing Neal Adams' version of Marvel Girl, large breasts and bee-sting lips, which erased whatever he knew of the X-Men. Being just out of puberty himself, that's what he wanted. Jean Grey, drawn by Neal Adams. What man wouldn't want that? I've never even read the comics, and I cross my legs uncomfortably at the thought.
The Blob made a great villain, and Claremont kept him around for the entire run. Otherwise, yeah, his stories involved the continuity of the other titles he used to write a lot more than they involved previous issues of "X-Men."
Posted by: ChrisW | June 23, 2014 12:51 AM
Yeah but whenever Claremont used the classic villains they always seemed entertaining and well used. Well, I guess making Juggernaut a 'trainer' villain could be bad but his fights were always entertaining.
I mean if Claremont kept using Magneto once a year it'd be hard to keep up the X-Men surviving to return for another fight. Mastermind only really popped up twice, Dark Phoneix and an Annual, but he was used super well.
Posted by: david banes | June 23, 2014 1:49 AM
"Actually, it's kinda weird, considering how long Claremont wrote the X-titles and how many fights they got into, very few of them involved the classic villains of the series, Magneto, Juggernaut, Brotherhood, etc."
Magneto featured in quite a few comics written by Claremont, but admittedly not as an antagonist!
Posted by: Harry | June 23, 2014 5:58 AM
Issue 218 marks the debut of all-time favourite outfit for Rogue! Whilst I can't begin to fathom why she would choose to wear her underwear outside her full bodysuit (unless Silvestri did it as a giggle about the "standard superhero costume"), it certainly became (for me, at least) her most iconic look.
Posted by: Simon | February 1, 2015 6:38 PM
A few points:
1 - I remember reading this and thinking "Why is Dazzler, who is wicked hot, interested in a guy who looks Dr. Druid?"
2 - The OHOFTMU had already appeared by this point and Rogue could lift 50 tons. Yet, here she's lifting 57, and later in San Francisco, she will "average" 50 tons. Clearly, working out can increase your strength, but I don't recall MU ever adjusting her later.
3 - Love, love, LOVE the use of Benton and Lethbridge-Stewart.
4 - Also love Rogue going "Ow ow ow ow ow" Also love the effect of her hitting Juggy.
5 - As I recall, FF vs X-Men was either over or mostly over by the time these issues appeared. It was nice to have the robot in there to show how that got started, but when reading FF vs X-Men in real time, it was like, When the hell does this happen?
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 15, 2015 12:11 PM
Actually a bigger question is why that guy is wearing a kilt. I heard that Scottish men only wore those for special festivals and circumstances, not everyday wear. I mean be wrong, but it's as if Claremont wanted to REALLY empahasize that we're in Scotland here (especially with the overdone accent.)
The "heels" comment cracks me up. What's does Dazzler think this is, Jurrasic World.
About Rogue's strength, one could apply the Marvel Super Heroes RPG rules. 50 tons could be more of an average of the strength "range" rather then an exact figure (which usually doesn't correspond to round whole numbers.) In addition that game establishes that the stated limit doesn't have to be the maximum amount (in game terms rolling a "Red FEAT" die move could get a character to surpass a strength limit.) And notice that while Rogue is lifting the weight, she's doing so while under a strain ("stuff the pain go for the gain.) So she's obviously trying to push herself past her limits. Um...yeah sorry for geeking it up in here.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | July 15, 2015 5:15 PM
@JonDubya What better place to geek it up than here?
Posted by: TCP | July 15, 2015 6:02 PM
'3 - Love, love, LOVE the use of Benton and Lethbridge-Stewart.'
As Benton is referred to as Sergeant-Major, this must take place after the events of 'Robot' (Tom Baker's first story), as his promotion from Sergeant occurs just before this (he informs the newly regenerated Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith of his promotion). So, for Benton and the Brigadier, this occurs at some stage between then and the Brigadier retiring to become a maths teacher (as per Mawdryn Undead) and Benton becoming a car salesman (referred to by the Brigadier in the same story). Though, as the Brigadier retires at some stage between 1977 (his 1977 self, still on active service, appears in that story also) and 1983, and this was set in 1987, it suggests that:
1) UNIT dating. Look it up. I dare you. ;)
2) The Brigadier returns to active service after the events of Mawdryn Undead, as does Benton.
3) These are the Brig and Benton from a different Earth (616), where events went differently from those on the Earth where the Doctor was exiled.
4) Claremont was just calling out to a TV series he enjoyed...
Posted by: Harry | July 15, 2015 6:19 PM
@JonDubya - Actually, thank you for geeking out. That's the answer I wanted and since I never played the RPG, it's a handy one to have!
@Harry - Oh, I know all about UNIT dating. Since it's Marvel time, we can probably safely assume that UNIT dating rules apply to the sliding timescale and that this is the same Benton and Brigadier.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 16, 2015 7:04 AM
Fnord, the art credits are reversed at the top. Steve Leialoha inks #217 and Dan Green inks #218. [And can I get a high-five for recognizing the inker on these scans and only checking the books afterwards for confirmation? :D ]
Simon, it's my favorite Rogue costume too.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 16, 2015 9:23 PM
Thanks and a high-five, ChrisW.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 17, 2015 1:41 PM
Here we have Lorna and Alex returning the Rio Diablo Mountains of Northern New Mexico to continue researching geological and archaeological anomalies they had previously been doing in Uncanny X-Men #97 (when Eric the Red enslaved them; and gave Lorna Dane the codename Polaris).
Now how interesting is this when you consider the Rio Diablo Mountains an extension of the Diablo Mountain Range in California where the Dreaming Celestial was sealed during the Second Host. This did not obviously go unnoticed, as the lettercol in Thor #369 says that Walt & Louise Simonson are working on a series about Havok and Polaris that will feature the Dreaming Celestial as the villain.
However, Uncanny X-Men #97 was written in 1976, over twelve months before Jack Kirby introduced the Dreaming Celestial in Eternals #18 and 2 years before Roy Thomas imposed the Eternals cosmology, including the Celestials, into Marvel continuity.
So if the Celestials had not been introduced into the Marvel Universe proper, what geological/ archaeological anomalies was Chris Claremont going to reveal in the Rio Diablo Mountains of Northern New Mexico?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 5, 2016 5:41 PM
The River to the Devil, duh. Which Claremont characters *doesn't* that apply to?
Posted by: ChrisW | July 6, 2016 4:33 AM
Not having any experience with the character before Claremont, I think Marc Silvestri's drawing of Lorna in this issue is why she's one of my favorite characters, and by extension, she and Alex are one of my favorite comics couples. She's adorable, she's competent, she's weak, she's strong, she and Alex love each other... I don't think I'd like Lorna nearly as much if Bret Blevins had drawn this issue and Marc Silvestri drew the next one where Malice reappears.
This is the happy ending the two of them deserve, before they get pulled back into the madness.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 6, 2016 4:47 AM
@ChrisW: Okay give it a shot, which Claremont "Devil" would likely be associated with this area and tangle up Lorna and Alex in a plot?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 6, 2016 5:03 AM
I thought UNIT dating was going to be about polygamy.
I must have no real clue which site I'm visiting.
Posted by: Cecil Disharoon | July 6, 2016 8:58 AM
Well if this was the DC Universe, I would say El Diablo, duh. ;)
My guess would be the Adversary. The Cheyenne had very little to do with New Mexico, but they weren't totally unknown there, and the Rocky Mountains do stretch that far south. It's entirely possible that Belasco or Mephisto would have some interest in the region.
I tend to approach things as a writer, even real-life events, so I look more for connections between real world people and the fictional characters they create. In that regard, I would say it has to be the Dreaming Celestial. Kirby hadn't created him yet, Claremont was just ditching characters he wasn't interested in and giving them professions that (to my knowledge) they'd never had the slightest interest in before, but Alex and Lorna's interests involved digging through the earth, and both of them found some really wild stuff in the process.
In the sense that history repeats itself, Alex and Lorna may not have been fated to find the Dreaming Celestial, but they were engaged in activities - and had long-standing histories of their own - that would have brought them close. Ok, it would be left to Ghaur and the West Coast Avengers to actually find the Dreaming Celestial, but that comic sucked so who cares? ;)
Posted by: ChrisW | July 9, 2016 4:09 AM
@ChrisW: You know how Alex Summers could work better in the X-titles? He's worked on geological sites, so why not reveal he had actually trained as an archaeologist, ala Daniel Jackson from Stargate. Then you start off with the Starjammers returning to Earth with the dead body of his father, Christopher, and Alex departing Earth with them, becoming their leader. The plot then picks up with the Starjammers having to land on some planet with ancient ruins that he reveals has the same hieroglyphics as those he discovered in Rio Diablo with Lorna (the hieroglyph has a man burning bright energy outward). The conclusion of his quest to determine the connection between Rio Diablo and this planet, leads him to the Celestials. That is, I'd have him revealed as a step up from the Living Monolith, not becoming a planet, but calling back to Uncanny X-Men Annual #11 and having him go nova, collapsing and from the black hole he becomes he emerges as a new Celestial.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 9, 2016 4:29 AM
Yikes, I don't even like Alex being the Living Monolith, the idea of him becoming a Celestial just repulses me. And I don't think Hepzibah would much care for him leading the Starjammers. I think Alex should be a basically down-to-earth guy. Living out in the desert with no one but his girlfriend for miles around, sure, but down-to-earth for all of that.
I would send him to Egypt. The Living Monolith came from there, Storm's ancestor Ashake lived there, Amahl Farouk lived there, and so did Pharaoh Rama-Tut. Once he sees those hieroglyphics, Alex can be sent anywhere else in the Marvel Universe (and Lorna will lead the rescue.)
Posted by: ChrisW | July 9, 2016 5:22 AM
And of Alex and Lorna, which one was the geologist and which one the archeologist? I think Alex was the geologist, but I can't be sure.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 9, 2016 5:26 AM
@ChrisW: Recall what Havok's destiny was in Uncanny X-Men Annual #11? Then Fantastic Four Annual #26 revealed that Celestials were born from stars that had collapsed and become black holes. So this along with the Simonsons' plans to explain his research in Rio Diablo would involve the Dreaming Celestial and the precedent's there.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 9, 2016 6:14 AM
Speaking of Erik the Red, it looks like he was very likely Mesmero. Hence how Erik knew Lorna (as she was under his control back in the day. Plus, this explains why he used Erik the Red's uniform...Cyclops used it to fool him when they first met, and Mesmero desided to use the same trick. In addition, his green skin could have indicated he was a member of a race belonging to the Shi'ar Empire, which gives us his connection to D'Ken, and after Erik slipped away UNCANNY X-MEN #107, he thought the X-Men would be dead, so he abandoned the Erik identity. However, when he found out otherwise, Mesmero went after them as himself in #111.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | July 9, 2016 2:15 PM
What a shame... if only Claremont ever got to write another issue after X-Men #107...
Posted by: AF | July 9, 2016 3:14 PM
I know Havok's potential, it's just... enough with the mega power-ups. Alex shouldn't be that guy. He's powerful enough already.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 9, 2016 7:02 PM
Wasn't Mesmero confirmed as a mutant back during the Thomas/Adams Sentinel storyline?
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 9, 2016 7:07 PM
@Andrew and Omar: If Mesmero was intended by Claremont as Eric the Red II (who abandoned his Davan Shakari identity after D'Ken's defeat in Uncanny X-Men #108 and returned to his exile as the Shi'ar's "agent on Earth"), this would mean he's a shapeshifter of some alien race. I've previously posited that this race was likely the Chameleoid race which was under the rule of the Shi'ar Empire. But there’s another possibility. That is, recall what Mesmero's powers as presented to us readers from the get-go. The ability to psionically hypnotise others through eye contact. If we're proposing that Mesmero was from a shapeshifting alien race, AND he had the ability to psionically hypnotise others through eye contact, Occam's Razor would not suggest that he was a Chameleoid, but rather of Marvel's most famous shapeshifting alien race, the Skrulls. The most famous, Kl'rt (Super-Skrull), in addition to his innate Skrull shapeshifting abilities, similarly possessed the ability to control the minds of others or paralyse them by emitting a hypnotic force from his eyes. While it has since been claimed Mesmero's hypnotic powers not only enabled him to mentally dominate people into doing what he wanted them to do, but to make them see him as a different person, was this "making people see him as a different person" him employing his hypnotism or in reality due to him actually being a Skrull? If Mesmero isn't a Skrull, it's interesting that his initial colour scheme was green skin and purple costume, just like Super Skrull;) The question remaining is what was a Skrull doing working as an agent for the Shi'ar Empire and later choosing to masquerade as a mutant on Earth?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 11, 2016 2:01 AM
Maybe he's an alien mutant (Skrull)?
If I recall correctly, there was a Skrull warrior (along with a Kree soldier) who was involved in the events of UNCANNY X-MEN #137.
But Mesmero could have simply altered the color of his skin somehow while posing as Erik.
In any case, having Mesmero as Erik the Red would explain the more important aspects of the entire thing: What Erik's connection to Lorna Dane was, how he hypnotized her and Havok into serving him, and the use of the identity itself to take Cyclops and the X-Men off-guard (the way Cylops did when he himself used the identity in #51-52).
Posted by: Andrew Burke | July 11, 2016 9:34 AM
@Andrew: Perhaps he was a K-Class Skrull that managed to not get terminated at birth, and then fled his home empire and sought refuge with the Shi'ar.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 11, 2016 9:56 AM
A cool consequence of this Mesmero-as-Super-Skrull-and-Second-Erik-the-Red theory is that it then becomes a neat little inversion of Changeling posing as the Professor while he prepared for the Z'nox invasion from the original run.
Posted by: FF3 | July 14, 2016 12:57 AM
There's some kinda natural law that applies to fnord's site, I think, that suggests that as the length of a thread under a UXM issue increases, the likelihood of it becoming about Erik the Red approaches one.
Posted by: FF3 | July 14, 2016 1:06 AM
I will point out, however, that the colors argument doesn't really offer support to the theory beyond just not contradicting it. As Claremont kind of satirizes in New Mutants Annual 3, a green and purple code for villain.
Posted by: FF3 | July 14, 2016 1:19 AM
It could also be that its possible that half the time Claremont really didn't know what his next goal would be beyond the next 1-2 issues, hence we get things like "Who Is Eric The Red II?". Reason #59 why I don't like Claremont's run and prefer Nicieza and Lobdell's run.
Posted by: D09 | July 14, 2016 2:02 AM
@FF3: My bad re: Eric the Red. And how could we have not seen it before? Mesmero isn't a mutant Skrull, he was the Impossible Man (it all makes so much sense now;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 14, 2016 2:22 AM
Shadow King did it!
Posted by: AF | July 14, 2016 5:29 AM
@AF: No, the Crimson King;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 14, 2016 6:42 AM
I've always loved unsolved mysteries and plots in comics, combined with behind-the-scenes changes. Expansive speculation is always fun. But my interest in these kind of things isn't limited to, say, the Shadow King. The X-Men titles are just the place where there are more danglers than most other titles. You wouldn't want to get me started on the Hobgoblin. ;)
Posted by: Andrew Burke | July 14, 2016 9:36 AM
@D09: John Byrne? Is that you? ;) I jest.
I don't think anyone denies that Chris Claremont... uh, I'd call it "engaged in a loose creative process," you can call it, "made shit up as he went." But part of that is just part and parcel to being a long-time writer of any serialized work, especially in a shared universe. And Chris himself would point to cross-overs and the X-Factor debacle as evidence that his hand was often forced to change thing (though his inability to coordinate even with the /Simonsons/, two of the most adored people in the industry, and his /friends/ to boot, is evidence that his ego really was a large part of the problem -- he had to be mature enough to realize he couldn't write every x-book forever).
But I also think, by and large, he at least had an initial answer when a mystery was first introduced, which he would share with his editor and artist. (In contrast to, say, Liefeld, or even Stan Lee, who I actually think did do a lot of "Uh.... this is cool, I'll figure out why later" style writing.) And that's what creates the draw for me and many members of the cult of Claremont: trying to untangle what clues were meant to indicate at the time that they were written, so we can see how his vision evolved over time.
Nicieza, by the way, I think was an fair plotter who had some wild big picture ideas, but had real problems writing nature dialogue, at least on the X-books. Lobdell, on the other hand, I think is probably the most underrated of the X-writers, but wasn't allowed to let loose enough -- because, presumably, of Claremont and Liefeld's legacy: when he had freedom, though, say in Gen-X or Age of Apoc, he shined.
Posted by: FF3 | July 14, 2016 10:12 AM
I can't say I thought much of Nicieza's X-stuff, but I do like his later work, like THUNDERBOLTS and NEW WARRIORS.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | July 14, 2016 12:35 PM
Definitely disagree on Nicieza versus Lobdell. I think Nicieza's dialogue was what he was best at. It wasn't *right* as far as the characters were concerned, but it was good for what it was. Granted most of the Nicieza comics I've read were plotted/drawn by Rob Liefeld, so any ability would stand out [wow, awesome lettering!] but I thought he was much better than Lobdell.
I thought Lobdell worked a lot better coming up with ideas for "What The...?" than for Marvel's main franchise. Most of his ideas weren't good there (he had a few) but at least worth a chuckle or two. And neither of them could replace Claremont, either for ability or for the zeitgeist of when they happened to start writing. Claremont started writing when one could write comics for a few extra bucks, and stayed in one place for twenty years while the entire industry shifted. If it was just one book, that would be impressive enough [Larry Hama's "G. I. Joe" anybody?] but the X-titles became the anchor for the whole industry.
I don't think it's possible to know or even guess how much Claremont made stuff up as he went along and how much he had a definite endpoint in mind for any subplots. Considering how almost every subplot we know of was changed by editorial, it's even more difficult. The one time I think we can definitely pinpoint an ending as being what Claremont intended was Illyana at the end of "Inferno," although the "Inferno" we got was obviously not what he intended. She would always be revealed as a little Russian-speaking girl trapped inside the Darkchylde's armor. Ok, but Claremont wasn't even writing her at that point. The best he could do was give her a few panels in "Excalibur" #8. The best he could do with his plans for Doug Ramsey was to have Rhane scream at Storm at the beginning of "X-Tinction Agenda."
I think he had intentions for the subplots he introduced, but he also went with the flow, which is why so many of them never came close to being resolved. That's how he stayed in one place for twenty years.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 14, 2016 9:08 PM
I think Claremont did have a plan, but he tended to lose himself with digressions and did not properly resolve certain storylines way past their end date. Rather than keeping things manageable by introducing new plots only when old ones were resolved, he kept introducing new ones that delayed resolution of certain plots. So as years went by, the number of outstanding plots kept increasing. And sometimes when he addressed those long ago subplots, no one cared anymore or at least had their interest greatly decreased.
He needed a stronger editor.
Posted by: Chris | July 14, 2016 9:14 PM
Entirely possible. Very few writers in any medium whatsoever have had the success, fame and money Claremont had between 1977 and 1991. There's no way to know what his life was like in that period, or how his creative processes worked, or the effects of the business he was part of, the encounters with his fans, the paychecks, the characters he didn't like becoming extremely popular, finding out that something he'd really worked hard on had been re-written by the artist and the editor and he didn't find out until it saw print. That's why I think he was more of a go-with-the-flow sort of writer.
John Byrne had to sit at his drawing board for long periods of time to make a single page, much less a scene, an issue, an on-going storyline. There's much less incentive to work on that awesome climactic full-page spread for Page 18 of #273 when you're fighting your way to make a transition work between Panels 2 and 3 of Page 4 of #261. If you do it this way, you get a good close-up of the character's face, but that won't leave enough room for the expository word balloon unless you cut the establishing shot, but if you do that the reader won't notice the change of scene, and I really wanted to use a lot of solid black on this page...
Totally different ways of creating comics. In a visual medium, the artist's way of doing things is the best way. To his credit, Claremont usually worked well with his artists. But - and this is why I'm a Claremont fan - the reason I started writing all this was to comment on FF3's post about Stan Lee making things up as he went along.
I don't think Stan did a whole lot of making things up as he went along as far as the plots went. He's a master at spontaneously making things work, and changing them when he has a better idea. As a savvy reader/editor, he understood the basic idea of on-going stories, and created the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Spider-Man, etc. with those in mind. He wanted to include romance/soap opera plots in comics - the 'will they or won't they?' question that were part of every early Marvel Comic - but I never got the sense he had any real interest in how those plots worked out.
Mary Jane was a good plot twist, a way to make Peter Parker's life more complicated but never involving MJ herself. Johnny Storm and Crystal could pine for each other from afar after a single brief meeting, but there's no hint that it will go anywhere. It fills in a few word balloons or thought balloons here and there, some times the plot twist works nicely, but the tension is there, the way Lois Lane should always be suspicious of Clark Kent, nothing more.
Stan gave more freedom to his best artists (Kirby and Ditko) and as the guys who had to sit at their drawing boards for long hours to make a single page happen, they were the ones who developed the storylines. Stan wasn't making things up as he went along so much as he permitted Kirby and Ditko their creative freedom, pulling back on the reins when he saw a reason. He'd have been happy if Peter Parker had been dealing with MJ and Gwen like Archie deals with Betty and Veronica. Once big things happen in the stories, Stan has to take more responsibility, picking between MJ and Gwen. I don't envy him there. I mean, who would you pick? [Please provide the answer on the paper provided. You have one hour.]
Writers and artists approach the comic medium differently. Stan Lee and Chris Claremont knew who was doing the work. John Byrne, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko were actually doing the work. And then the writers put their names on it.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 14, 2016 9:57 PM
@ChrisW - One of the reasons I love this place is that brilliant commentators always seem to find new things for me to reevaluate. I'm going to have to go back and read Nicieza's X-Men and see if I find the writing less stilted if I intentionally ignore that the characters sound "off model" to me.
The part of the Claremont saga that I feel was most slaughtered by his successors, though, is one that I haven't seen talked about too directly here. One of his big ideas it always seemed to me was that machines were evolving in parallel to organic species, and that Xavier's Dream had to eventually accept that they were mutants, too, and part of a larger "humanity" that they would have to coexist with. Mark II Sentinels (when he was interning under Thomas and Adams), Warlock and the trans-modal virus, Nimrod, the dark techno-shamanism of Forge, Donald Pierce and the Reavers, Cameron Hodge seemingly merging with the Master Mold as he died, there being two Nannies, who were seemingly unrelated -- I still can't help but look at it and see the whole thing being connected in the background.
But Quesada's Phalanx Covenant just tied the whole thing up in the dumbest, tidiest way. I'll wait until fnord gets there to really let my anger vent, though. But, I guess what I'm saying is that, at least for me, there is an appeal to the Claremontian style of constructing huge, labyrinthian, gordian plots even if they can never really be completely resolved. They have a certain kind of sublime beauty just for being so... I don't know, uncanny.
Posted by: FF3 | July 14, 2016 10:48 PM
Actually, it's one of two things in the post-Claremont era that I actually get mad about. The other is the retconning of Nova Roma in New Warriors that then left both Magma and (to a lesser degree) Selene as hot potatoes that no writer really wanted to deal with. Was that Nicieza?
At the time I'm writing this, fnord is getting tantalizingly close to that issue, and I've been looking forward to it for months so I can rant about a twenty-some year old comic and have people kinda care.
Posted by: FF3 | July 14, 2016 10:57 PM
@ChrisW - That's a beautiful explanation of why the Marvel method worked! AND I've been wanting this entire time to say that I sometimes secretly think that Alan Davis is actually the greatest X-creator, and I suppose after you wrote that is as good a time as any.
Posted by: FF3 | July 14, 2016 11:03 PM
Feeling the love here. :)
Re: Alan Davis, I might prefer Peter David, but I am on record ["Excalibur" #55-56] as saying that Alysdane's reaction to her court-martial and the Nightcrawler/Cerise kissing scene are the most Claremont comics ever written, and I mean that in a good way.
The Marvel Method works as long as you don't get too in-depth into the stories. The advantage that the writer has is being able to get in-depth. For all their contributions, John Byrne, Alan Davis, fill-in-the-name, couldn't get very far. They were too busy working out the light source and filling in lines that an inker would just ignore. Even Jack Kirby had to finish a book that was set in Asgard, eat a quick meal, and get back to his drawing board to start drawing a WWII story.
One of the things that makes comics so wonderful is that it's a visual medium, meaning the artist is the important person, and writing a comic is almost literally the definition of 'doing nothing' but when the writing works, it really works. But how do you get that across to another person? How do you write a "Lucy pulls the football away from Charlie Brown" sequence? You already know the visuals, and someone still has to draw them. But, uh, ok, start writing. Knowing the characters, how do you write it? Schulz did it when he had the joke ready. A Marvel Method wouldn't have worked as well.
Amara and Selene were just two more Claremont plotlines he never followed up on, and the next several years no one bothered with. Machines, I can see your point, but I could also see them as just being tools to work with [Sentinels, Warlock whenever he's the one who fixes things.] There's also a natural point being made about increasing technology - Pipeline, the Genoshan who uploaded people through the internet - and how it changes society.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 15, 2016 12:14 AM
I definitely agree about Nicieza being better than Lobdell. I look back now and don't think that much about the books after Claremont left. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't memorable, either. The only things I liked throughout all of that was the Onslaught storyline (and even that is because of the what was and what it was supposed to be angle) and I really liked "Psi-War" with, of course, the Shadow King. I did like Alan Davis' runs on both titles. I liked Claremont's return (more than anyone else did, of course). I didn't even touch Casey's run, or Austin's. I really LOVED X-TREME X-MEN. I liked Morrison's run, for the most part. I liked Claremont back again on UNCANNY. Then I mostly followed him with EXCALIBUR, NEW EXCALIBUR, EXILES, and NEW EXILES,as well as X-MEN: DIE BY THE SWORD. After Claremont left UX the third time, I didn't pick that book up again until Gillen's run, and then dropped it when Bendis came aboard. I really like what Cullen Bunn is doing with UNCANNY X-MEN. That's the only title I pick up now. I did read Casey's run from starting with the Necrosha storyline and followed the book to the end with Gage on the title.
Magma...I like her. She's one of the ones who's fallen by the wayside. Dani was in FEARLESS DEFENDERS. Sunspot and Cannonball are Avengers. Karma was last seen in Liu's excellent ASTONISHING AVENGERS run. But Magma...and Wolsbane...just languishing in Comic Book Limbo.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | July 15, 2016 9:32 AM
Oh, I should mention that I did get the X-MEN: THE END trade paperback and enjoyed it all. I'm currently in the process of getting all the X-MEN FOREVER trades to see how that all goes. And my father got me the X-MEN: CHAOS WAR trade for my upcoming birthday this month, too. All I know about that story is that Claremont/Simsonson wrote it and that the story involves the missing Destiny Diary, which I think is pretty cool of Claremont to use, after he dropped the plot in the teen issues of X-TREME X-MEN.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | July 15, 2016 9:58 AM
Also, I agree with FF3 about the 'natural law' of Fnord's site, but I'd suggest it's tempered by how long he goes without adding new comics. When he's on a break, I've noticed a tendency for people to go back to Claremont comics, or Lee/Kirby/Ditko comics. However much affection we may have for a given issue of "Champions" or a run of "Marvel Two-In-One," without new comics to distract us, we always return to the most important parts of the Marvel Universe.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 16, 2016 1:17 AM
Most of the first part of this story was an issue of "Dazzler," bringing her into the X-titles. She's behaving like a stupid bimbo and winds up fighting a much bigger menace than - if Ali will forgive me for saying so - Dazzler should be facing. She wants to have fun, she wants to party, she wants to sing. Lasering bad guys is not on her list of things to do today. Even Callisto can't make her do more pull-ups.
This is why Claremont's X-Titles were better and more important than the rest of Marvel, she's forced to do it anyway. And there's a good character moment where she realizes she's not wearing the right shoes, and it'll cost her. Juggy is at least a fan, and is heartbroken when he sees what he's done to her. And then we get an awesome fight scene where the new X-Men beat Juggernaut and all is well. Dazzler helped, but she wasn't the only piece in the puzzle. For all the wonderful Marc Silvestri art, my favorite panel is after Dazzler has gone through her internal monologue about how to help the train heading straight for disaster, and then bounces [can't think of a better word] down the rocks to do her best to help.
Does it make sense? No. She's just going to get killed if the train isn't stopped, and she does nothing to stop the train, never mind the Juggernaut. But she bounces down the rocks anyway.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 9, 2016 5:15 AM
I've Just reached this issue in my xmen chronological reading and It's my first exposition to Longshot (I didn't read his mini and the annual where he is introduced to the xmen didn't really give him much to do) and I must say that I'm finding the character really funny.
Having read all the xmen chronology From fatal attractions up to eve of destruction I was always curious about Longshot and dazzler Who didn't feature at all during the era I read (actually dazzler appears briefly in two xmen issues and in the eve of destruction event).
Looking forward to see how their stories unfold
Posted by: Bibs | October 21, 2017 8:00 AM
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