Characters Appearing: Cerberus (Dog), O.Z. Chase
Uncanny X-Men #228
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #228
It would be like if i wrote you a letter that said:
Hey, you remember that time we took a roadtrip across the country? Our first stop was the 7-11, where we went in for some Big Gulps. It was hot that day, and you paused to take off your hat and wipe your forehead. You looked at me and said, "Maybe we ought to get some pretzels or something, too.", and I responded, "No, we're going to stop at that truck stop on I-90 in 40 minutes; we can get something there." And then we got back in the car and had to wait while an old lady pushed a shopping cart past us before pulling out. You put on your left turn signal and waited to merge into traffic...
Ok, it's not quite that bad and you have to allow for a little narrative license. But what's also a little odd is that the story has to take place after Uncanny X-Men #217-218. And the letter is written while the X-Men were staying on Alcatraz, which means between Uncanny X-Men #221-222 and their death in issues #225-227. And that's not a lot of time (it's fine for placement; the MCP have it between issues #218-219, although Rogue calls Wolverine "boss" so it might really be after #220), but Dazzler talks about this stuff like it's ancient history, with phrases like "in those days", not something that happened at most a few weeks ago.
Anyway, the story is that Dazzler sees an article in the paper about O.Z. Chase, who is accused of being a "werewolf killer", meaning someone who is like a werewolf, that kills, not someone who kills werewolves (it's the Marvel universe so i thought i needed to clarify that. Even as it stands, Psylocke wonders if he might be a mutant like Wolfsbane). But in fact, Dazzler knows that Chase has a big dog, Cerberus, and she worries that Chase might really have been killing people, so she decides to go down to Florida to help him. Alone, despite the fact that the last time she went out alone she got buried by the Juggernaut. But Wolverine trails her and the two wind up teaming up and helping Chase, who is involved in a plot with a Russian mutant with energy zapping powers named Vladimir Semyanovitch Zaitsev.
Zaitsev is all kinds of bad: a killer and a former Soviet turned Colombian drug lord who is now seeking immunity in the US in return for giving up Soviet info. Chase was on his trail when he got framed for the deaths that he caused. And Henry Peter Gyrich is happy to have him.
It turns out Wolverine and Gyrich know each other from Wolverine's days in Canadian intelligence.
Which to me is an unnecessary connection that makes me wonder if Gyrich's push for the revived Sentinel program (in the early issues of New Mutants, for example) was more personal than we realized.
Gyrich gets Dazzler and Wolverine to try to bring in Zaitsev, but Zaitsev tries to kill them...
...and winds up getting killed by Cerberus.
Gyrich isn't happy about that.
The sequence above looks a little out of sync with the dialogue, like perhaps there was meant to be a twist to this story involving whatever Dazzler was holding, but Claremont wasn't interested. Earlier there's a line about how Wolverine slipped Dazz and Chase a note to avoid being tracked, but it's delivered in an offhand way.
Maybe Claremont just decided to handle that more subtly or maybe something else got lost.
At the end of the letter Dazzler writes that she hopes to see Chase soon, and after he's finished reading, some people in the bar he's in make some disparaging remarks about the X-Men now that they're dead, so Chase pulls out a gun and forces them all to raise a toast.
Rick Leonardi draws a very bulky Wolverine, a far cry from his early, slender days, and a glimpse of things to come.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The death of the X-Men is still on the news, so i've placed this soon after Fall of the Mutants.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
This was just a really confusing issue when it came out. I thought we would go right to the new status with the Plan Omega, but we get this weird fill-in that seems out of place (for reasons you mention in terms of the timing). Also, I had never read Dazzler's series, so I had no idea who O.Z. was.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 27, 2015 11:27 AM
Yeah, O.Z. really comes out of nowhere. I'd read virtually nothing of Dazzler's series either - even now, I think I've skimmed most of it, but without much understanding or interest - so I still don't know much about him.
I've always wondered why Tom DeFalco plotted the issue. I don't recall him having anything to do with Dazzler's series. It's conceivable he might have been the editor at some point, or maybe he was just a huge fan, but why was it so important to get O.Z's reaction to Ali's death? It must have been his idea since he's the one who did the plot. Of all the minor characters that any of the X-Men have ever met, this is the one they use to fill up an issue with a flashback?
Posted by: ChrisW | July 27, 2015 8:18 PM
DeFalco was the primary writer responsible for the creation of Dazzler and wrote the first 5 issues and plotted issues 6-7.
Posted by: Michael | July 27, 2015 8:39 PM
Ok. I have Essential Dazzler buried somewhere in my storage unit, but I'll take your word for it. That's something. It gives some credence to my theory that maybe he was a fan and followed the series closely enough [O.Z. didn't appear until the later issues] that he might want what remained of Ali's supporting cast to get some resolution.
It just feels weird. I think this was the first issue since John Byrne's run to give story credit to someone other than Claremont, and it's the Editor-in-Chief? For a generic Wolverine/Dazzler flashback? Right after the drama of killing the X-Men?
Posted by: ChrisW | July 27, 2015 8:49 PM
Maybe it was based on a joke? The X-Men are moving to the land of O.Z?
Posted by: ChrisW | July 27, 2015 8:52 PM
Or behind-the-scenes negotiations? Rick Leonardi needs work [did he ever have an ongoing series? "Cloak and Dagger" is the closest to come to mind] so Tom Defalco quickly plots a fill-in issue for him to draw and Claremont wants to get in good with the new boss by giving him "X-Men" royalties so he says 'I'll script it and put it on the schedule immediately'?
Posted by: ChrisW | July 28, 2015 7:31 PM
I know in the next few years, Marvel produced fill-ins that could work in multiple books. Rob Liefeld posted some pages from an unpublished fill-in with X-Factor and the New Mutants in it. Is it possible that this issue was created as a possible fill-in for Dazzler or the X-Men, and ended up being used years later, hence the awkward flashback?
Posted by: ChrisH | November 6, 2016 7:39 PM
It's highly unlikely- O.Z. Chase only appeared in the final issues of Dazzler and Psylocke appears in the flashback- she didn't start appearing in American comics until several months after Dazzler's series ended. What's very possible is that the fill-in was written BEFORE the X-Men "died" so a flashback was necessary to explain why the X-Men were still in the mansion and were interacting with O.Z. and Gyrich without erasing their memories.
Posted by: Michael | November 6, 2016 8:08 PM
Rick Leonardi's next issue, #231, also has a fill-in character, but it's thoroughly post-FALL OF THE MUTANTS.
Perhaps this issue's plot was done for DAZZLER and only drawn at this point. It could be Nocenti wanted a fill-in to make time for Marc Silvestri, and Claremont didn't have time to do one, so she made use of a plot from the drawer.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | November 6, 2016 11:17 PM
Or Claremont was taking one of Defalco's ideas to make a 'lull' for an issue before the next phase would start and the X-Men would fight the Reavers. Defalco had just taken over as EiC, if a few thousand dollars suddenly show up in his paycheck because he's credited as plotting an issue of "X-Men," maybe he'll let Claremont get away with more than his mean nasty predecessor did.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 7, 2016 1:27 AM
I never read this one. Wolverine has a past history with Henry Peter Gyrich? Is there *anyone* that he's never had a previously-unrevealed encounter with? One of these days I'm half-expecting that were going to find out that many years ago Logan was hanging out on Zenn-La and set up Norrin Radd & Shalla Bal on their first date!
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 7, 2016 2:25 PM
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