Uncanny X-Men #239
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #239
That splash page is about 7 pages in, making the early scenes in this book a prologue to the prologue, i guess. The first part sets up that something evil is going on at the Empire State Building, which will become a focal point for Inferno.
And then we're reintroduced to Mr. Sinister, in his second appearance by publication date, 18 issues after Uncanny X-Men #221.
A few things to note just from that panel. First, he's got a computer system that seems comparable to the one that the X-Men appropriated from the Reavers. That seems to just be a coincidence, especially since (second point) he's under the impression that the X-Men really are dead. The third point is that Mr. Sinister seems genuinely interested in a conflict between humans and mutants, and is siding with the mutants, and indeed says it's time that the species (homo sapiens) be "removed from the evolutionary stage". But (final point) there's nothing here to square that position with the fact that he sent his Marauders to wipe out an entire settlement of mutants during the Mutant Massacre.
Perhaps if he'd been allowed to soliloquize further, we'd have an explanation, but he's interrupted by Malice, who is angry to find out that she's now permanently bonded with Polaris. Mr. Sinister convinces her that it's a good thing, that she now has a body to come back to.
She's satisfied with that and some appeals to her vanity (see the story title) but after she leaves Mr. Sinister reveals that he's really just manipulating her.
From that we have our title splash, which shows Dazzler going into an Australian bar to sing for the locals.
The scene ends with a narration panel saying that Dazzler would give her soul to be a singer forever, and with that we see Mr. Sinister snap his crystal figurine of her. He then turns to Havok, saying that he knew him "in those long ago days before you ever heard the word 'mutant'".
Dazzler and Longshot pass Havok on their way home from the club, and then Havok, who is agonizing over his recent use of lethal force against the Brood, is met by Madelyne Pryor, and they continue to develop the romantic interest that we've seen building up. Madelyne also jokes that she might be a telepath, but since we readers can distinguish between thought bubbles and word balloons, we can see that it's not really a joke.
Meanwhile Storm is messing around with the Reavers' computer system and finds the footage that we saw Madelyne uncover in Uncanny X-Men #232, which shows that Jean Grey is alive. Storm makes a beeline for Wolverine.
Wolverine tells her that he "knew" but wasn't sure he could trust his senses.
Next up, i have a so big, so fast alert for you.
And then after their training session, Silvestri has Psylocke strip out of her armor for a swim...
...and, intriguingly, we see Rogue touching her bare skin to no ill effect. It's not even mentioned.
Rogue had reverted to her Carol Danvers persona during the training thanks to a blast from Psylocke, so i guess the implication is that Rogue's absorption powers are inoperative when Carol's persona is in control. Which implies that Rogue should be able to control her powers.
Back to Havok and Madelyne. Some obvious symbolism in the portrait of Alex and Lorna getting smashed...
...and then Madelyne leads him to her bedroom.
The idea that Alex has been "hurt... betrayed" by Lorna is certainly not the case. She's possessed by Malice, as we saw in this issue, and as all the X-Men know. So the idea that Alex is being anything but a cad here - or he's mind controlled - is hard to accept.
We're into the final two pages, and we cut away from the X-Men to Mr. Sinister, who is looking in on Madelyne and Cyclops' son, Nathan.
The demon N'astirh lurks in the background, and then contacts Madelyne who had been watching Alex sleep peacefully and says that she doesn't dream. She still has ambitions, however, and seemingly positive ones. She wants the Marauders located so that the X-Men can take care of them, and she wants her son.
We'll see Madelyne continue to be more corrupted as we get further into Inferno, but so far despite her dream agreement with S'ym she's still working toward ostensibly good guy goals (arguably her desire for payback against the Marauders is more vengeance than justice but that's a distinction i think the rest of the X-Men would have trouble making at this point too). But we're definitely seeing some changes for her character. Telepathy, consorting with demons, and initiating an affair with her husband's brother. Surely not what Claremont had in mind when he introduced the character back in 1983, but he was playing with fire (pardon the Inferno pun) when he introduce a character that was an exact lookalike of Jean Grey, to the point where various characters (including Lilandra of the Shi'ar) reacted to her that way. I think Claremont's real purpose in doing that was a have-his-cake-and-eat-it-too way for him to retire Cyclops off with Jean Grey. A wink and a nod to readers; Jim Shooter made us kill off Jean but we know that she wound up with Scott after all. But now that the real Jean is back, the similarity created an obvious opportunity to get rid of Madelyne. We'll look at how that's done as we get further into Inferno, of course.
This issue serves as a good jumping on point for the book and/or Inferno event, with Mr. Sinster's narration providing introductions for himself and the X-Men. Reading this issue alone, N'astirh's presence might be confusing, with his relationship to Mr. Sinister not being clear (there isn't a relationship; N'astirh has located Madelyne's son, who Mr. Sinister is holding). It's worth noting that there's no action in this issue outside of a training sequence, though. It's entirely a set-up issue.
The larger Inferno event is a big mash of concurrent events. Unlike the Mutant Massacre and (especially) Fall of the Mutants, the stories of all three X-books (plus X-Terminators) will intertwine. If you really break it down, there are two separate storylines. Both X-Factor and Uncanny will deal with the Mr. Sinister aspect and resolve the Jean/Madelyne issue. And New Mutants is really the conclusion to the longstanding problem of Illyana Rasputin. The New Mutants storyline creates a backdrop for the other X-books, but isn't directly related except that Colossus goes back and forth. And then the non-mutant books mainly just play in the environment created by Inferno. And it's basically all happening at the same time. It doesn't matter for the stories of the individual issues, but it does make coming up with a definitive reading order impossible, unless you break up the books into individual scenes, which i won't be doing. So you'll be seeing a lot of notes in the Considerations and References that events are happening at the same time as events in other books, even if those issues aren't placed directly adjacent to each other in my project.
The good thing about Inferno is that it resolves a lot of longstanding issues in the X-books. So as mentioned we'll see the resolution to the Scott/Jean/Madelyne issue and a resolution for Illyana. And we'll finally see the X-Men and X-Factor meet and clear up their misunderstandings. And then both teams will finally get to fight against the guy responsible for the Mutant Massacre. It's been painful waiting for this stuff to happen, and some of this is done at the expense of the characters involved, but we're here now and we're going to see the books move forward and have fun fighting some demons along the way.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: X-Men: Inferno TPB
Inbound References (2): showCable (Baby Nathan Christopher Summers), Colossus, Dazzler, Havok, Longshot, Madelyne Pryor, Malice (Marauder), Mr. Sinister, N'astirh, Polaris, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine
Nathan Christopher Charles Summers is named for the first time in this story- that should probably go in the historical significance.
Posted by: Michael | August 19, 2014 5:34 PM
I've added Nathan's name to the Historical Significance description but i didn't increase the score, since we all know his real name is Cable.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 19, 2014 6:35 PM
Storm calling Jean her "best friend" is odd considering that they barely had any on-panel interactions during the Claremont/Cockrum/Byrne years.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | August 19, 2014 9:41 PM
In addition to Sinister's remarks about time being in his side, his statement that "Sinister has no heart" is also flagging up that the super-villain we see is not an altogether real creature, but just what Claremont intended the Sinister persona to be--Android? Psychic projection--is never revealed.
Commenters elsewhere have noted that Sinister is "playing with action figures" with his crystal figurines of the X-Men.
There's some artful writing here: Maddie's reference to "watching in my monitors" nicely parallels what Sinister is doing and subtly foreshadows the relationship revealed next issue.
In support of my argument that plots have been advancing better than Fnord believes, once Marvel time is accounted for, I'd just note that when the X-Men arrived in Australia there were four outstanding missions for them: the Marauders, the Brood, Maddie's baby, and the missing Sara Grey. The X-Men and Maddie accomplish three of those four objectives with only one side mission in the main book (the Genosha story) or two if you count the High Evolutionary/Savage Land story. My point is that the monthly/biweekly book is actually moving ahead more systematically than one might think. (Arguably, though, the X-Men should also be tracking Nimrod and Rachel Summers--those are genuinely lost threads at this point.)
The Storm/Jean friendship was retconned into the Classic X-Men backups.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | August 19, 2014 11:58 PM
That elevator scene is highly disturbing. A scene that definitely left an impression on me at the time.
I don't remember if I knew Rogue well enough by this point to get the significance of her touching Psylocke.
Alex's radio is playing "Devil with a Blue Dress" when Maddy shows up wearing a blue dress.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | August 20, 2014 1:05 AM
If you think this elevator scene is disturbing, just wait until you get to the one in New Mutants #71!
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 20, 2014 2:28 AM
Jay, I know what you mean. The bit where the tourists look through the tower viewer really disturbed me when I was a kid. It still does, actually.
Posted by: JSfan | August 20, 2014 8:32 AM
Worse than the Rogue/Carol Danvers question, worse than the Rogue touching Betsy question (which is at least an interesting plot point left unanswered) when the hell did Betsy become a telepath powerful enough to get past Rogue's Kree heritage [!!!] and read her thoughts, which she's been doing more and more of lately? Xavier couldn't do that, and there was nothing anywhere to tell us Betsy was a more powerful telepath than Xavier. Rogue's mind is impenetrable. Charley made that clear a long time ago. And now we get Betsy whining about how much harder it is to read Rogue's mind than other peoples'? Really? Is that what Rogue's reduced to?
I don't even think it happened this issue, but it always irritated the piss out of me that suddenly Rogue's mind was readable to any telepath, just a little bit difficult.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 21, 2014 1:08 AM
I think it was more an example of how powerful Betsy was. Claremont had her hurt the Juggernaut despite his helmet in X-Men 218.
Posted by: Michael | August 21, 2014 8:30 AM
I would disagree Walter. I read these as they came out. This for me was an excruciating time to read the book. Almost 3 real years for Jean's returned to be acknowledged by the X-men. 3 real Years for Nathan to be named. Given the importance to Sinister, how little lead up there was to him. The Maddy into villain seemed so forced as a way to get rid of her.
Come to think of it when has any Marvel Clone story actually been any good? I think of Maddy/Jean, Joseph/Magneto, and Spider Clone. Just all uninspiring plots to me.
While it's true Storm and Jean had little panel time, she did reference her friendship a lot after she died and before Jean was brought back. I think of X-men 154 where there is a flashback. What is more accurate is Storm might have been better friends with Phoenix then Jean.
Posted by: Mdent | August 22, 2014 11:56 AM
Michael, that's my point. Xavier couldn't touch Juggernaut without his helmet, Rachel couldn't touch Juggernaut without his helmet, but Betsy can? And she can read Rogue's mind despite laborious thought balloons about how hard it is to read Rogue's mind? Xavier couldn't do that, Rachel couldn't do that. For a time, Rogue was the one person (mutant) whose mind couldn't be read. And the Juggernaut was a villain whose mind was well protected from any telepaths in the vicinity. He was even smart enough to build a skullcap, just in case he lost his helmet. But Betsy can get through all of that, just because Claremont says so? I see a direct line between this point and her becoming a sexy ninja drawn by Jim Lee, and it isn't pretty. [Except for Betsy, who is always hot. :P] No, it's canon. Rogue's mind can't be read. Juggernaut's mind can't be read. Don't mess with that, or else she's not that unique a hero and he's not that unique a villain.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 22, 2014 10:37 PM
Claremont certainly wants Betsy to be formidable, but he's never been a stickler about powers and their limitations anyway. Think of all the inconsistencies with Wolverine's healing factor being exhausted, then he's fine two issues later. Claremont will ignore or modify the rules as it suits him.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | August 22, 2014 11:42 PM
I'll wait and see if Rogue goes back to being difficult for other telepaths to communicate with in future stories, but my fanfix would be that Rogue's mental state has been getting better thanks to the (offpanel) sessions she used to have with Professor X. It's what she came to the X-Men for in the first place, after all. So perhaps Xavier set her down a path where she was becoming more at peace with the voices in her head, and that's why lately it's been possible for "Carol" to come to the surface and it's also why Psylocke is able to communicate with her.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 23, 2014 9:45 AM
That sure makes sense, Fnord.
However, consciously or not, Claremont sure seems to be improving Psylocke's power levels drammaticaly, if the psiweb that she cast in Genosha back in #238 is any indication. It takes some major juice to be capable of so casually selectively mind-scrubbing a whole mob.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | August 23, 2014 12:06 PM
Even in issue 218, though, she was able to make sure that the entire crowd only remembered their ideal images of heroes and not the X-Men. (Although, on second thought, maybe that didn't work very well, since the kids in issue 225 seemed to know it was the X-Men that fought the Juggernaut.)
Posted by: Michael | August 23, 2014 1:06 PM
Running into the posting problem I've had before. I figured out what went wrong then, but I'm stumped on this one.
Anyway, I've tracked every reference I could find to Rogue's resistance to telepathy through Claremont's run (and elsewhere, when need be) and the ease with which Betsy overcame that problem. The results are here:
Posted by: ChrisW | August 24, 2014 8:16 PM
Chris, one thing to note is that Mastermind's illusion power was able to fool Rogue in issue 175. In the same issue, Mastermind tells Maddie that he been paying back some scores with some former colleagues. Apparently, he was the person in issue 170 who caused Rogue to run away from home.
Posted by: Michael | August 24, 2014 8:56 PM
Making him the proximate cause of Rogue leaving home? I guess I don't see your point. I don't have a problem with Rogue being fooled by Mastermind. He's an illusionist. [Yes, I'm sure there's some explanation somewhere of how his powers rely on telepathy, beyond the mind-thingie device the White Queen gave him to use on Phoenix] But I see nothing wrong with him being able to fool Rogue.
She's deteriorating, going nuts after absorbing Carol, pointlessly focusing on Dazzler, alienated because of her powers, and Mystique can't do anything to help her. She would have found a reason to leave if Mastermind hadn't done anything, not least because she's fundamentally a superhero [as in #185, where she risks herself to save a boat, assumes it's Storm's psyche making her take the risk, and then Storm flies up next to her.]
Posted by: ChrisW | August 25, 2014 12:25 AM
Posting Chris' comment here:
Attempted to post elsewhere, this is just for safe-keeping, re: the inability of telepaths to read Rogue's mind, and the ease with which Psylocke read Rogue's mind.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 25, 2014 9:32 AM
Chris, thanks for doing the research on this. It shows that there was some inconsistency pretty much from the beginning. I wonder if that does (unintentionally) support the idea that it was psychological. I guess it depends on if Rogue's absorption of Ms. Marvel's attributes physically altered her brain to make it more alien (which isn't impossible considering it did also give her super-powers) or if it's just that some of the thoughts in her head were alien and those times when Rogue was more at peace with herself, it was easier for telepaths to work with her.
The Longshot thing is interesting. UX annual #11 was the same year as the Mephisto vs... series where Mephisto said that Longshot didn't have a soul, which was later ignored during Fall of the Mutants and again soon during Inferno. Seems like they were originally going in a different direction for the character.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 25, 2014 9:42 AM
FYI i've added something to the Q&A about how to possibly troubleshoot if you get that UTF-8 error message. Not that i expect people to do troubleshooting when there's an error on my site, but it's there in case people want to try.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 25, 2014 10:01 AM
The scene of Rogue touching Psylocke isn't neccesarily a plot inconsistency. It's long been suggested (and confirmed in X-Men Legacy when Rogue gets "cured") that the problem with her absorption were more psychological than physical in nature.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | August 25, 2014 4:27 PM
It's probably significant that Betsy isn't really a mutant - she's an Otherworlder. She was acting as Captain Britain when Slaymaster blinded her, with no problem operating the (magical) suit.
-Her telepathy, like the purple hair, is, no doubt, derived from her other-dimensional, supernatural, heritage. I like nothing, absolutely nothing, about what was done with her on X-Men, but magic can bend a lot of rules - especially in Juggernaut's case.
Posted by: BU | August 25, 2014 5:04 PM
Most of the inconsistencies could be explained away by saying that Rogue has learned how to consciously project thoughts so a telepath can read them. Especially if we assume that the reasons she is impossible/difficult to read do not prevent her from receiving telepathic messages.
Posted by: Stephen | August 25, 2014 5:14 PM
The only thing I found to support the theory that the problem was psychological in (I forget which issue) when Rogue mentions #203 and how that night helped her come to peace with what she did to Carol. Betsy shows up not too long after that, and although Rogue's having problems again after Genosha and Inferno, by that time enough 'healing' had taken place that Betsy could work with her.
That said, my reading of the situation is that it wasn't psychological. Two psyches in one mind, a telepath could deal with that. But one psyche is part-Kree, and I have to wonder if specifically being Kree is the main source of the problem. Xavier can read Shi'ar minds, for instance. The nature of Rogue's powers might have played a part, but I would say the primary cause of the interference was the unwelcome alien intruder in Rogue's mind. [I have no objection to the idea that her inability to control her powers is psychological, I just don't think that matches up with 'I can't read your mind.']
I could also accept that the X-Men had worked with her all this time to do something that would enable telepathic communication. There are two main reasons I wouldn't really believe they'd succeeded in any meaningful way. First, the aforementioned 'alien' thing. Second, if they'd found some way to overcome that [Kitty built a mental feedback generator] then there'd be no point to keep bringing up how difficult it is to read Rogue's mind, any more than building a pair of crutches would avoid exposition like 'As you know, Rogue, you've broken your leg, making it much more difficult to train for marathons with you' and then they train for marathons anyway.
I like BU's point about Betsy's connection to Otherworld. To me, it's not a good explanation for her abilities with Rogue and Jugs, but it certainly makes sense in-universe, and is probably one more reason Claremont showed such preference for her. He did create her, after all, but [nit-picking] he created her as a blonde. Alan Moore dyed her hair purple.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 25, 2014 5:49 PM
As for the inconsistencies with Longshot, I never read "Mephisto vs." and never liked Longshot, so I don't have a dog in that fight.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 25, 2014 6:13 PM
The idea that Betsy's powers can get past Rogue's and Juggernaut's blocks because she's magical might work but Claremont had a Sentinel describe her as a mutant in issue 247.
Posted by: Michael | August 25, 2014 8:02 PM
I'd wondered about that too, but I was tired enough from doing the research. It's also the culmination of Nimrod's storyline, whatever the hell they were doing with Master Mold [as they become two psyches within a single mind] and Rogue "dies" wearing Ms. Marvel's outfit. Betsy's a mutant, no if's, and's or but's. Her connection to Otherworld helps, in-universe, but not otherwise.
I've said it before, but I see Claremont's X-titles as a large graphic novel, divided into three acts. Act I ends with the death of Jean Grey. Act II ends with the birth of Rachel [or the X-Men's deaths, it's a little vague] and Act III culminates with Claremont leaving the title and the new Jim Lee-directed series.
Rogue is one of the best examples for this theory, as an interesting character, with one of the most original superpowers in the whole history of superheroes, and one of the most unique problems in the history of superheroes-with-problems. With Genosha and Inferno, Carol Danvers had moved back up to co-star status. We didn't see anything to make it happen, other than the X-Men turning demonic, and an inversion of the whole concept of Phoenix [dies to be reborn again, really, how could anyone have missed that?] but Rogue and Carol were headed for a split. I think it's even been established that Dazzler was supposed to die in the fight with Master Mold, but somehow Rogue went through the Seige Perilous instead.
Basically, she was one of the perfect characters in Claremont's Russian novel-sized tapestry, appearing midway through Act II and working well enough to stick through to the end, and only pulled in because Claremont disliked what someone else had done to another character in a different series, no less.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 25, 2014 8:59 PM
Is it any wonder Carol was reborn as "Binary"? Dual stars, orbiting each other?
Posted by: ChrisW | August 25, 2014 9:01 PM
Additional research, in #164, Illyana asks Xavier why she sometimes hears his voice in her head, and why she fell asleep one night knowing only how to speak Russian, but woke up the next morning speaking English.
But two panels later, Xavier thinks "Illyana's thoughts are protected by an extra-ordinarily powerful and sophisticated psionic shield." Then how did he teach her English??? Claremont's inability to be consistent did not start with Rogue.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 16, 2015 8:26 PM
Something else to note- Lockheed was also stated to be immune to telepathy- and as a result in X-Men/Micronauts 4 the Entity couldn't affect him- but Empath was able to affect Lockheed's emotions in Uncanny X-Men 193. What's the difference between affecting someone's EMOTIONS and affecting their MIND?
Posted by: Michael | January 16, 2015 8:39 PM
I wouldn't think there's any difference. There is more to a person's mind than their emotions - there are conscious thoughts, unconscious thoughts, there is intelligence - but emotions are part of our mind as well.
Xavier, Jean, Rachel and Betsy could erase people's thoughts and memories ("They won't remember that the X-Men were here") change people's emotions in the process (Jean decided that Carmen Pryde would no longer be furious at his daughter's long disappearance) they could change perceptions (Betsy making Rogue think she was flying upwards when it was the opposite) there are subtle divergences from explicit telepathy (Mastermind and Empath) and the way that minds explicitly "closed" to telepaths are somehow not "closed" when Claremont decides it's inconvenient, or vice-versa. See X-Men Annual #12 cited above, where Betsy can get a precise lock on Rogue from a long distance, but is somehow blocked by Storm. Hell, X-Men #161, Xavier finds that Magneto's mind is closed off to him.
Not to mention the fact that in the lead-up to #150 [great issue, by the way; I re-read Essential X-Men #3 yesterday] Magneto changed the Earth's magnetic field specifically to prevent long-range telepathy. I know this is a superhero comic book and not exactly true-to-life, but the inconsistencies pile up to the point where one has to wonder what's the point?
[Totally different example, why did Xavier fall into a coma in #157? The Brood was clearly involved, because Cockrum drew one of the Brood at the exact moment, and Oracle found the same picture when she scanned Xavier the following issue, but it couldn't have been that he was implanted with a Brood Egg because we were still several issues from the X-Men being implanted, and they went through the metamorphosis long before Xavier. He woke up from the coma just by remembering an early adventure with Magneto and Gabby against HYDRA, something that had nothing to do with the Brood. An early "New Mutants" issue was definitely the set-up for Xavier being implanted. So what was the point? The point is that Claremont is inconsistent and never explains this stuff!]
Sorry about the digression, but like I said, I just re-read Essential X-Men #3 (and just finished the Brood Saga a few minute ago) and am boiling over with thoughts about this stuff. Anyway, affecting someone's emotions is affecting their mind. It's not affecting their thoughts, perceptions or memories, but it is affecting their minds.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 16, 2015 9:38 PM
Re:Xavier's coma: I think the idea was the Brood implanted an egg in Xavier when he was their prisoner in issue 156 but it took longer for him to undergo the metamorphosis for some reason.
Posted by: Michael | January 16, 2015 9:58 PM
But that makes no sense, in exactly the same way Claremont's use of telepathy makes no sense. Why would a Brood egg implanted in Xavier take so much more time to gestate than a Brood egg implanted in all the other X-Men? Storm and Cyclops were physically transforming within a few issues, but Xavier stayed human much longer, and retained enough self-control to beg for death in #167 after he'd already transformed? And the New Mutants weren't implanted in that early X-Babies story featuring the Brood? And Xavier simply woke up from the coma by remembering the first time he met Magneto? This is not consistent or coherent. This is a good example of what people mean when they use "comic book" as a pejorative (and I say this as someone who loves the story itself, and I've just re-read it.)
Posted by: ChrisW | January 16, 2015 10:41 PM
But all of that can be handwaved by saying "The Brood egg affected Xavier differently because of his particular biochemistry or because he was a powerful telepath". In real life, diseases affect people differently for all sorts of reasons. It's not a weird contradiction like Illyana/Rogue/Lockheed being immune to telepathy in some ways but subject to it in others.
Posted by: Michael | January 17, 2015 12:46 PM
But it can't be handwaved away like that. [Ok, it can, and obviously was, but it's ridiculous.] Why would telepathy save anybody from a Brood egg with a natural gestation period? What magical biochemistry does Xavier have that lets him resist a Brood egg for so much longer than any of the other X-Men? It's not the same weird contradiction about immunity to telepathy, it's just another weird contradiction/inconsistency that permeated Claremont's mutant titles and never got explained.
[By the way, I'm still going through Essential X-Men, and although I haven't found it yet, at one point Xavier does specify Madelyne as (from memory) 'one of those rare human beings whose minds are naturally closed to me.' Just another inconsistency in an ever-growing list.]
Posted by: ChrisW | January 17, 2015 7:24 PM
Brood eggs are self-aware and immediately powerful, to the point where one egg saved Kitty from lethal exposure to radiation long before it finished gestation, and another egg did its best to transform Wolverine ahead of schedule. There's absolutely nothing about Charley to make him physically less susceptible to a Brood egg than any other human/mutant.
As a writer, I can accept that thematically, this was where the story was headed - although he wakes up from the coma after remembering his first adventure with Magneto? - but as a reader, it just makes me scratch my head.
Sorry to digress from the earlier discussion about telepathy, but like I said, I've just been re-reading Essential X-Men and the Brood Storyline sticks out as one of Claremont's best works, which I am eager to write about as soon as I can find an angle.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 18, 2015 12:43 AM
The egg in Xavier was a Queen, right? Maybe they take longer to gestate?
Posted by: fnord12 | January 18, 2015 11:18 AM
Or alternatively, if they are aware from the beginning, maybe the Queen was able to learn about the New Mutants from Xavier and realized that laying low and waiting until Xavier got back to Earth was its best propagation strategy. Xavier's telepathic powers almost gave the game away - hence his visions - but it was able to take control enough to keep him from realizing what had happened.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 18, 2015 11:23 AM
The impression I've always had was that all of the X-Men were hosting queens. The Brood were saying as much right from the start.
#155: "They [Storm and Corsair] appear to be prime specimens, fit perhaps for the mother-of-us-all herself." [Incidentally, this is right after Storm tells Corsair what happened to Jean off-panel, the last time Claremont wedges it into the series until #174 when Rogue asks why everyone's so freaked out about Madelyne. Yes, Kitty dresses up as Dark Phoenix in #157, but there's no exposition. You're expected to know what everyone is talking about.]
#156: "Such formidable adversaries may prove to be splendid hosts for the mother-queen."
#157: "As breeders, they would serve the 'mother of us all' herself!"
#161: "You have served the Brood well, renegade. And so shall these X-Men as host-forms for the spawn of our blessed ruler, the 'mother-of-us-all.'"
#162: "But he [Wolverine] hosts a queen! The great mother will surely desire confirmation of his death."
#164: "Each egg contains an embryonic queen. It bonded itself to our nervous systems, so it can't be surgically removed." Also "The embryo queens possess a degree of awareness. They know when they're threatened an' they'll take any steps to ensure their survival."
#166: "A queen embryo was implanted in you [Storm] - in every X-Man - by the Brood's mother queen. Did yours hatch?" "We all carry queen embryos inside us! When they hatch, we'll turn into sleazoids!" "A *FINAL* (emphasis mine) royal embryo exists, and when it hatches, your world is doomed!"
Also, the New Mutants had nothing to do with it. Xavier didn't even learn about Karma until #165, much less any New Mutant other than Illyana.
In "New Mutants" #1-2, a Brood zaps Dani and traps her in the Danger Room. The last two panels of #2 imply that Xavier was complicit in this. In #3, he's certainly acting out of character (similar to Storm dismissing Wolverine's worries in #162) and the Brood tells Dani they will be implanted with royal eggs. It's not specified how much time has passed between "New Mutants" #2 and 3, but my reading is that this was the Brood who implanted Xavier, and it was a typical Brood pregnancy.
Looking at the Brood Saga and the issues surrounding it, I find the whole thing (dare I say it?) pregnant with meaning and subtext, which is why Charlie's coma sticks in my craw.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 18, 2015 3:14 PM
More inconsistencies. #181, Xavier can get far deeper into the mind of the dragon they brought back from Battleworld than Lockheed. "For the most part, the creature's thought processes are quite normal and orderly. What she's doing makes perfect sense. She can't comprehend why everyone's so upset. I'll have to probe deeper, make her understand- NO!! She's misinterpreting my mindtouch as an attack!"
At the end of the story, Xavier makes it even more confusing. "Sensing his [Lockheed's] thoughts is one thing, Colossus. Comprehending them is another. Lockheed is truly alien and, I suspect, far more than a simple animal."
Posted by: ChrisW | January 18, 2015 3:37 PM
Oh, and I found Xavier's Madelyne reference. #174 "Madelyne's is one those rare brains whose thoughts are closed to me. It's a natural phenomenon - though most unusual in a normal human." I don't recall Betsy having any trouble reading Maddie's mind.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 18, 2015 4:08 PM
Betsy is able to read Maddie's mind in issue 221 to find out that all records of her existence are erased and in issue 222, she's able to determine Maddie is still alive. Even more confusing, Xavier himself is able to read Maddie's mind in X-Men/Alpha Flight 1- that's how he learns she's pregnant. Maybe Xavier was able to figure out how to read Maddie's mind eventually- it just took him a while to figure out how, and he left notes so Betsy could do the same thing.
Posted by: Michael | January 18, 2015 4:22 PM
Surprise, Xavier *can* read Rogue's mind in #186. He's hooked up to Cerebro and she's possessed by a Dire Wraith.
And of course in #192 he completely misses a group of people heading straight for him with malevolent intent as he's specifically thinks about mutant prejudice and sees "muties die!" graffiti. The following issue he tells Kurt "I was a soldier before you were born." Nice way to maintain situational awareness there, Chuck.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 18, 2015 7:14 PM
I think that scenes like that can be attributed to Xavier's respect for privacy. He refused to read Gambit's mind when Bishop accused him of disloyalty in X-Men 9.
Posted by: Michael | January 18, 2015 7:19 PM
Some thoughts on how some of the telepathy anomalies could be explained.
Lockheed is difficult/impossible to read telepathically because of his alien thought patterns. I don't think that's necessarily incompatible with him being subject to Empath broadcasting the emotion of fear (which is how I assume his emotion control power works). Presumably something less primal would be doomed to failure, and a telepath not used to using their power in such a way might have difficulty doing it, or assume that the initial resistance would apply to every other attempt.
It may be possible that Illyana telepathically learning English overnight happened before Limbo. IIRC, the dialogue doesn't explicitly state that it happened afterwards.
Telepathic conversations are something I've always assumed can bypass any kind of mental screen somebody has in place. X-Men with mental shields are taught to be able to broadcast their thoughts in a way that a properly trained telepath can pick up, and to receive a message. This explains many (but not all) of the inconsistencies with Maddie and Rogue.
When it comes to Prof X missing the thugs in #192, earlier in the issue when they're in the airport, Rachel is thinking that he was probably right to tell her not to telepathically eavesdrop on people. Which presumably means that he screens them out unless he has a specific reason not to.
That still leaves some inconsistencies with Rogue and Maddie. But I think I've demonstrated that there are some plausible ways to explain some of the inconsistencies, and it's possible that some of these were in Claremont's mind when he was writing.
Posted by: Stephen | January 18, 2015 7:54 PM
Lockheed, I have no problem with him being impervious to Xavier yet susceptible to Empath. Empath, Mastermind, Karma and the like occupy a place in mental abilities where there's no real objection to them using their talents against someone who is technically immune to a full-fledged telepath. I don't even know that the telepath has to be actively exercising those talents. I'd swear there was a scene where Xavier/Jean/Rachel/Betsy/Emma manipulated people's emotions [Farouk certainly did, but he always does that, so I won't count him] but I'm blanking on a specific example. With regards to Lockheed, I'm just noting that Xavier was far more successful with the other dragon alien.
Illyana was speaking Russian at the end of #160, and isn't seen again until #164, when she asks Xavier how she returned to the mansion with Xavier and Moira (no mention of the X-Men) and spoke only Russian, but woke up the next morning speaking English. The mansion was still being rebuilt in #163. Moira appears in #163, and no it isn't explicit, but there's almost no chance it happened prior to #160. Illyana's been staying with the X-Men since #148, and spoke Russian the whole time. Kitty didn't tell her fairy tale in English.
I'm not sure what your point is about telepathic conversations. Certainly the X-Men have been taught about such things, to broadcast their thoughts and so on. Receiving messages sounds less likely. I could see a telepath knowing that a conversation is going on, even if he/she can't actually follow it. I don't think it could bypass a mental screen, because that's the point of a mental screen. Unless they find a weakness or something, but that's for an individual story and not a general rule.
I see your point about eavesdropping, and agree that Xavier would have decided long ago not to make a habit of such things, but I can't reconcile that with natural wariness. Especially for a superhero, especially for the leader and founder of a superhero team, especially for someone who is actively thinking about anti-mutant hostility and (given the random thoughts he was writing down earlier in the issue) should be smart enough to take precautions. "Do I sense anybody out there seeking me harm? Any random supervillains in the vicinity? No? Ok." It would screen out the generic 'I hate muties. Wonder what's on tv tonight' people while still giving him a chance at self-protection, which he completely failed at. This is a guy who used to warp the minds of entire crowds, is he really that incapable of counting how many ordinary humans are directly attacking him?
Actually, as I make my way through the middle portion of Claremont's "X-Men," one of the things which strikes me the most is how far the main characters went to avoid sharing information. About anything. Even as they monologue about how dangerous the situation has become. Xavier hides the truth about his being mugged, Wolverine and Magneto hide the truth about X-Factor and the redhead working with them, Betsy hides the truth about her Mojo eyes, Illyana hides the truth about almost everything. The team mindwipes Alex to keep him from learning the truth, even if it means Lorna gets captured. In "X-Factor," Scott hides the truth of his marriage from Jean. Wolverine hides his name, his origin, the fact that his claws are part of his body, the fact that the Canadian government might want him back from his own teammates. Rachel hides her origins and parentage. Xavier hid the truth about Karma from the New Mutants (and the X-Men.) Corsair hid the truth about his relationship to Scott. Wolverine hid the truth about the Brood eggs from the X-Men as long as possible.
Yes, it made for good drama. Yes, I can understand arguments that the characters had good reasons for each individual event. These are just top-of-my-head examples, and I've found many more while reading the Essentials, and in every case I find myself thinking "If keeping this information secret puts your teammates at risk, don't keep it secret."
Mind-wiping Alex is the most egregious example. "He and Lorna will still be at risk, they won't have a clue who's attacking them, we'll be denied their skills, but at least we have our secrets." HUNH?
Posted by: ChrisW | January 18, 2015 10:28 PM
Xavier didn't hide the truth about Karma from all the X-Men- he told Storm, Peter and Kurt about it and they helped him hide the truth from the other X-Men and the New Mutants.
Posted by: Michael | January 18, 2015 11:07 PM
Shan: Fair enough, but even you admit they were 'hiding the truth,' which was my original point. A truth that only Xavier knows, or only Xavier, Ororo, Peter and Kurt know is still hiding the truth from everybody else. "The entity that attacked [Shan] may strike again. If that happens, I want the New Mutants far away, out of danger." What if that entity attacks the New Mutants when they're far away and supposedly out of danger? Xavier and the X-Men won't be available, and by hiding the truth, the New Mutants are much more vulnerable as a result. Xavier didn't do a good job of protecting the New Mutants from Farouk or the Brood in the first place, just like the X-Men didn't do a good job of protecting Alex and Lorna from the Marauders. I can't even say their hearts were in the right place, because Betsy's reaction to Alex' return was "Kill him."
X-Factor: It's Magneto *and* Wolverine. Magneto spent too long fighting the original X-Men, he obviously recognized them, and in the spirit of 'If keeping this information secret puts your teammates at risk, don't keep it secret,' he'd have told the X-Men immediately. They'd all wonder who the redhead is, but they'd have something to go on.
And then Wolverine is sniffing *ALL* the original X-Men's scents in the Morlock tunnels? [And the New Mutants too.] Scott, Bobby, Warren, Hank, and someone who smells exactly like Jean. It might be Dark Phoenix reborn, maybe they should investigate. He smells her again at Sarah Grey's house. And the decision is that maybe Wolverine should just shut up and let problems build for a long time and if it gets any of his teammates killed, at least he didn't tell them what he discovered. Being informed might have been helpful, and he couldn't allow that. Just imagine how Maddy would have reacted, much less Storm or Alex.
My job involves having a security clearance. I understand not telling people things they don't have a need to know, and trusting the higher-ups to know what people do or don't need to know. This helps distinguish between telling people things that they can know but are utterly irrelevant, or things that they can know but will bore them to tears if they're told.
That said, as I make my way through Essential X-Men (and related "Classic New Mutants" books) I'm flabbergasted by how often the main characters choose secrecy when honesty would really be the best policy.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 19, 2015 12:01 AM
Michael, as for the Brood eggs-as-disease analogy, that's not what it was. It was a natural process, egg hatching to maturity and giving birth to a baby Brood. These are aliens, and even the eggs are powerful and self-aware, so I could accept some leeway, but only up to a point. A human woman doesn't give birth after two months while a different human woman is pregnant for eighteen months. Like I say, I can accept some leeway. The egg immediately went after Wolverine, but only in self-defense against his healing factor and skeleton. Storm began a physical transformation earlier than the rest of the X-Men, but probably because she's a Claremont favorite, and in-story she felt herself being corrupted mind, body and soul and the egg was no doubt working in self-defense again.
I'm not one of those who demand that publishing time be in any way equivalent to comic-book time, but the sheer length of this storyline meant Xavier would have had to be implanted twelve issues before he actually turned into a Brood, and none of his actions were consistent with someone implanted with a Brood egg until the early "New Mutants" issues. Then his personality shifted exactly like Storm or Colossus did after they were implanted.
Finally, because I haven't derailed this page enough with different points, in #187, just after Storm has killed a Dire Wraith (or thinks she has) she, Forge and Naze and the Wraiths are somehow connected in a never-explained mind-meld, along with "one other that is neither human nor alien, both alive and dead, possessing the divinity of a god and the cruel humor of the devil."
Convenient answer would be that this was the Adversary, only Naze hadn't yet summoned the Adversary. Less-convenient answer would be that this was Farouk. Maybe it was the Demon Bear, which had recently appeared in "New Mutants" and would connect this back to Forge and Naze.
What strikes me is how similar the experience reads to Xavier going into a coma and the foreshadowing we had from that. It wasn't a Wraith attack, because they used Storm and Forge's momentary weakness to press their assault. The Adversary is the most obvious suspect, to trick Naze into summoning him like he tricked Naze's student Forge into sacrificing his squad in Vietnam.
But I'm actually starting to build a theory that it was Farouk, both in #187 and in Charley's coma. Both times, it came out of nowhere, and both attacks focused on people Farouk hated. It doesn't explain why Xavier became catatonic on a starship far far away - unless Farouk was clinging to him, almost like a mental Brood egg, and seized his chance to find a host body when he met Shan - but it oddly fits with his basic goals, corruption and domination (not like that's unique among Claremont villain) and might even explain the entire 'reformation of Magneto.'
As Magneto altered the Earth's magnetic field to prevent long-range telepathic communication (which, you know, is totally realistic) Farouk felt the need to keep tabs on the master of magnetism. Using what influence he could, he turned Magneto away from villainy. Who did he find to make that happen? Scott Summers' ex-girlfriend, Lee Forester. [Magneto's Island where Illyana was kidnapped to Limbo and the appearance of Magnus [!] which destroyed Asteroid M and sent him crashing to Earth are either icing on the cake, or continuity Claremont would eventually get to... on Earth-2.]
Through Lee, and perhaps Xavier, Farouk led to Magneto's reformation, to his taking over as headmaster, indeed to his infiltration of the Hellfire Club and becoming "The Shadow King." In #274-5, Magneto did refer to having fought the Shadow King, so it's possible he got rid of the influence off-panel, and returned to the villain he used to be.
There are a lot of holes in this theory, I don't deny that. Farouk isn't magic, he's not going to have a clue about Magnus being able to rip apart a star in search of his so, or Magneto's Island leading to Limbo, Illyana's kidnapping and eventually Inferno. Or maybe he is (somehow) and that's why the mental strikes on Xavier and Storm foreshadowed the eventual Brood/Adversary connections. And then there's "Secret Wars." Even if we take "Illuminati" seriously (which I don't) there's no way he could prepare for the experience on Battleworld. Or Nimrod, or Rachel Summers. And these are just X-Men-centric examples, how did he know the Casket of Ancient Winters (which I know nothing about) wouldn't end his schemes permanently? Or Doctor Doom? Or Dormammu?
At best it explains why Xavier woke up after dreaming of his first meeting with Magneto, and fathering an illegitimate child with Gabby who would go on to prove very useful to Farouk. And the founding of HYDRA, where Baron Strucker's kids would accelerate Magneto's "reformation." And possibly even why the Hellfire Club' Inner Circle admitted an anti-mutant cyborg, so that the Reavers would eventually be formed to destroy the X-Men.
I've been reading way too much of Nathan Adler's site, but this was fun.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 19, 2015 8:06 PM
@ChrisW: I've picked up on heaps of similarities you don't mention. You've got my email as I think we both need to bounce this once back and forth in order to eliminate and improve:)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 20, 2015 4:53 AM
Oh and if you want to work out Farouk's connection with magic, you might be interested in my latest post "How Would You Fix... Mister Sinister's origin?" here:
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 20, 2015 4:55 AM
I must say, reading this in real time was incredibly frustrating.
1 - Sinister's powers? We had seen him previously basically bitch-slap Sabretooth. Here he seems to hold Lorna (and make her shrink? - the art on that panel always seemed odd). He was just so undefined at this point.
2 - Jean. Now that Storm knows, maybe tell some of the others. Like Peter. Or Alex. Although at least Logan gave a good explanation as to why he never told anyone.
3 - Who swims in negligee?
4 - What is the deal with Rogue touching Betsy? Always seemed odd, never explained.
5 - Who was N'astirh? Yes, we had seen him contacting Madeline before. But, not reading X-Terminators, and then seeing those panels, I thought he was perhaps a manifestation of Sinister. After all, Sinister's powers had not been explained. The art there absolutely made me think they were the same character at that point.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 17, 2015 3:41 AM
Like ChrisW, I myself see Claremont's UNCANNY X-MEN run in acts, but a bit differently, and I also include his later work.
ACT I - Ends with the Dark Phoenix Saga and the death of Jean Grey
Everyone else's X-Men and related stories is its own thing and its own history. To me, anyway.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | June 7, 2016 10:27 AM
When discussing the topic of Rogue and Carol Danvers, when I read these issues in real time, for some reason when I read about Rogue's absorption of Carol's persona and powers, I always thought the only reason she began to feel guilty and to have a conscience was because of the effect Carol's persona was having on her. It always seemed to me that if she ever lost the Carol part of her that she would have reverted back to being a bad guy. I know that's not what happened, but that was my interpretation when I was a teenager.
Posted by: Rudy | July 19, 2018 6:30 PM
That was my impression also, at the time. I've long felt that the Rogue character had been heavily retconned, almost beyond recognition from her original blueprints, but I'm told, and have some vague memories of it also, that Chris Claremont has assured us that he had her all planned out in advance, so it's pretty hard to argue against that.
Posted by: Holt | July 19, 2018 8:48 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|