Uncanny X-Men #240-241
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #240, Uncanny X-Men #241
Their date is interrupted when a group of scientists from an "ad hoc paranormal probe program investigation" show up to investigate reports that the Empire State Building is growing.
The demonic maitre d' kicks them out...
...and they are eaten by the elevator.
Havok remains oblivious.
They return to Australia. Havok makes a pass at her, and then curses himself for being selfish when she gently lets him down and then has Gateway teleport her away again. She doesn't say where she's going, but she winds up at the site of Jean Grey's (empty) grave, and destroys the headstone. What's funny is that Jean's parents happen to be in the background, and they take it all pretty casually. Hey, is that our daughter? Who knows anymore?
Madeylne turns them into demons, similar to what we've seen N'astirh do to humans in the X-Terminators series. And speak of the devil, or at least demon, guess who shows up?
N'astirh takes Madelyne to the orphanage in Nebraska where she finds out that she's a replicant.
While that's going on, Longshot gets into trouble for making time with Rogue. He wasn't aware that being with Dazzler meant that he had to be exclusive. The jealousy there is going to cause some trouble as we get further into Inferno. While that's happening, Havok discovers that Madeylne has located the Marauders in her computer system (most likely the information was provided by N'astirh, since we saw Maddie demand that info from him last issue. And in X-Factor #34 N'astirh said that he lured the Marauders away from the orphanage).
As far as the Marauders know, though, they were ordered by Mr. Sinister to return to the Morlock Alley.
We're seeing several Marauders (Riptide, Prism, Blockbuster) walking around that we saw killed during the Massacre. Since we just saw a "replicant" device, we can guess how that's possible.
The X-Men show up and begin their attack.
Great set up there, and nice to see Dazzler taking out Sabretooth.
On the other hand, sucks for Colossus to go up against the Malice-possessed Polaris.
Blockbuster, meanwhile, is taken out by the demons of Inferno.
The rest of the Marauders try to flee, and the X-Men pursue them to the surface, where they're shocked to see the state of Manhattan.
Meanwhile, Madelyne and N'astirh are met by Mr. Sinister.
Mr. Sinister reveals that he's the one that created her, and she responds by sending Dr. and Mrs. Grey after him.
But he's able to capture her, and N'astirh flees the scene.
Back to the X-Men/Marauders fight, here's the double-page splash opening from #241. My trade paperback splits this into two pages, but my GIT PDF preserves it as a single two-page spread.
Besides the nightmare architecture, we see what shocked the X-Men about New York. Marc Silvestri takes a comedic approach.
Both scenes are funny, but the "No Living" sign in the mailbox scene reminds me that part of Inferno is about parodying the worst aspects of New York City that a lot of the Marvel staff were probably familiar with. That's made more explicit a few pages later.
Poor Vertigo is once again taken out pretty easily...
...and then Psylocke tries to free Polaris from Malice, but fails.
For some reason, that Polaris panel is giving me a Greg Land vibe. And, separately, i like Marc Silvestri's art a lot, but there's no doubt he's putting the female characters in very sexualized poses. Vertigo is for all intents and purposes naked and always seems to wind up on the floor with her butt up in the air, and of course Madelyne's goblin queen outfit is implausible bondage gear (i can just hear Min asking "How does that stay on?") and she's now in bondage.
We're not at all into the worst of the Marvel's exploitation years, but Silvestri's work is the first in this read-through where i'm really seeing it extensively and as something different than, say, the constant Dazzler underwear shots from her solo series. As a teenage boy this was all just unconsciously part of the appeal, but it definitely makes me uncomfortable now.
Anyway, Mr. Sinister tells Madelyne to talk about one of her memories, and instead Maddie comes back with one of Jean Grey's memories.
Mr. Sinister explains that he really wanted Jean Grey, but was stymied when Jean was put under the protection of Professor X.
So he created a clone of her. But the clone failed to exhibit any mutant abilities, until the day that Jean Grey (actually the Phoenix Force) "died".
The words she says are actually from the reveal that Jean was replaced by the Phoenix Force in Fantastic Four #286. But Mr. Sinister says that Madelyne became empowered later than that, after Phoenix-Jean died. This scene is expanded upon in Classic X-Men #43.
Mr. Sinister doesn't say exactly why he wanted Jean. We know that he had been collecting other mutant children at his orphanage, but he did go through the extra effort to clone Jean when he couldn't get the original. And of course once he found out about the Phoenix Force, he wanted to harness that. We also see that he was interested in merging her genetics with Cyclops'.
Things got complicated when Jean came back to life. He says that being a telepath as well as her template, she would recognize Maddie as a clone the moment they met. So Mr. Sinister sent his Marauders to kill Maddie. Maddie grins, noting that they failed. And then she manages to break free, saying that she won't be ruled by him.
It's interesting to think about Mr. Sinister on a meta level, as a stand-in for all of Claremont's stories that got muddled by external factors. He started as the villain behind the Mutant Massacre, a story that got derailed due to legal threats from Alan Moore. And now he's a representation of all the weirdness that has happened due to the return of Jean Grey. To see Maddie fighting against that, saying that she won't be defined by him, is heartbreaking.
Back in Manhattan, Colossus finds a member of the Right, who he recognizes from his time in Limbo helping his sister.
And he learns that the focal point of S'ym's plan is the Empire State building. Unfortunately, he has to go alone, because the other X-Men have become corrupted by demonic forces.
And while Madelnye is talking to Mr. Sinister, N'astirh shows up briefly in Manhattan to torment the X-Men (who have just all-too-enthusiastically killed off all the Marauders except Malice/Polaris, mostly off panel)...
..but then just a couple pages later returns to Madelyne in techno-organic form to give Madelyne her baby.
I did say it would be painful for some of the characters involved, but Inferno is definitely addressing some longstanding plot points. The X-Men have taken out the Marauders and we know they'll eventually come into conflict with Mr. Sinister. And we've got some major revelations about Madelyne that pretty much remove all the effort Claremont made at making her a normal, independent character, but definitely clears the path for the Cyclops and Jean Grey relationship. More to come, of course. But in the backdrop of the demons and Marauder fights, we've got some serious longterm plot progression.
Quality Rating: B+
Historical Significance Rating: 3 - reveals that Madelyne Pryor is really a clone of Jean Grey created by Mr. Sinister
Chronological Placement Considerations: These issues span a bit of time, beginning before the portal opens in Inferno and while it's still reasonable for paranormal researchers to show up at the Empire State Building to check out rumors that it is growing. We know that the X-Men's fight with the Marauders is concurrent with Cyclops and Marvel Girl's investigation into the orphanage in X-Factor #35. Issue #240 ends on a cliffhanger for both Madelyne Pryor - meeting Mr. Sinister for the first time - and the X-Men. The X-Men and the Marauders come out of the sewers to wonder what's happened to Manhattan, and that's most likely after the portal to Limbo has been opened. Since it continues directly, i've left the issues together, but it definitely spans a period of time. Issue #241 ends with N'astirh having been transformed into a techno-organic form, which places it after X-Terminators #4. As i said in an earlier entry, it's not possible to have a strict reading order since there is so much overlap. But beginning after these issues, there's a tight back and forth with X-Factor, so X-Factor #37 should take place before X-Men #242, and Colossus' appearance in New Mutants #73 also takes place prior to that.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: X-Men: Inferno TPB
Inbound References (10): show
I hated the name Goblin Queen, makes no sense. Never understood why they called her that. It sounds like something from a low budget horror film.
Posted by: Matt | August 20, 2014 7:07 PM
Maybe Demon Queen was already taken?
Posted by: david banes | August 20, 2014 8:01 PM
This story is totally inconsistent with X-Men/Spider-Man 2. Note that the X-Men merely think it's fitting that the Marauders are in the Alley- they don't think "that makes sense, they had a base there." Also, the Marauders don't seem to know why Sinister sent them there and the X-Men don't wonder if the dead Marauders are clones.
Posted by: Michael | August 20, 2014 10:10 PM
The smaller, less intelligent Limbo demons are referred to as goblins throughout the X-terminators mini. It seems to be the title N'astirh gives her, like she's a weird consort for him or something. He makes Meggan his Goblin Princess over in Excalibur when that comes up.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 20, 2014 10:14 PM
This is also historically significant as the first appearance for the members of M-Squad who are a bit of a parody of the Ghostbusters and may be based on friends of Claremont & Co. I suspect Dr. Snodgrass is based on author/scriptwriter Melinda Snodgrass.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 20, 2014 10:20 PM
"Also, the Marauders don't seem to know why Sinister sent them there and the X-Men don't wonder if the dead Marauders are clones."
As implied in one of the scans above, Storm thinks this all due to the craziness of Inferno (also note that the non-Colossus X-Men are clearly being magically influenced as well, so their only concern is beating the Marauders to a pulp.) And of course clones weren't so prolific in the X-Universe as they would be later on.
Also while Michael definitely has a point about the overall treatment, I rather like Madelyn's portrayal here. She makes a strong showing here (against Mr Sinister, no less!) and I like how she just radiates defiance, even after what has to be a devastating revelation. You'll see the REALLY sexist/damaging stuff come when we get to Louise Simonson's explanation of the plot.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | August 21, 2014 1:16 AM
Oh "Inferno," how I've missed you. Ahem, what I mean to say is we aren't remotely in the worst of Marvel's exploitation years. So far, everything we've seen can be justified through the story, and if you don't agree, we can go back to Jean Grey the Black Queen for exploitation. I'm not defending these pictures other than as Marc Silvestri's art skills, the requirements of the story [and who knows how much influence Bob Harras had by this point] and my pre-teen self enjoying what looks cool. Marvel was in the final stages of 'sexy girls can be doing anything, and they'll still be sexy girls' [Vertigo being knocked out by a Mouse.] It's not the same as the Jim Lee/Rob Liefeld era. Silvestri still treated the story as the most important thing, in this last important storyline of Claremont's run. It's as exploitative as possible without crossing the Lee/Liefield line. And being true to Claremont's story, doubling and redoubling the whole concept of exploitation in comics. Madelyne is one of the sexiest characters I've ever seen in comics, and I'm old enough to wonder if that costume is uncomfortable, even more than her magic/Phoenix powers can account for. Can't we just have a sexy broad hanging around with demons around an altar be a sexy broad hanging around with demons around an altar without getting all... dirty about it?
Posted by: ChrisW | August 21, 2014 1:35 AM
241, p. 2 , as he swats away the demons, is the second time Sinister says he has no heart. It's practically his catchphrase.
Maddie's costume, such as it is, as seen of one of the upcoming X-Factor covers made the ten-year-old me wonder for the first time if mom would let me buy such a porn-y looking comic. The shredded loin cloth and exposed side buttock were a bit beyond what I was used to from Marvel at this point. I wasn't unappreciative, but I didn't want to risk losing out on the story because of the racy art. (My parents let me buy it anyway.)
Posted by: Walter Lawson | August 21, 2014 2:52 AM
@Jay - the M-Squad characters only have a couple more jokey appearances so i didn't think they were worth a Historical Sig mention. I'll revise if it turns out otherwise.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 21, 2014 7:40 AM
I never realized that Inferno was influencing the X-Men this early. I mean I know they start mutating and looking demonic but I thought their 'jugular' approach for the Maruaders was one part payback and one part remember very well how dangerous they are. It was a bit catharic to see them live up to 'we're going to take these guys down and hard!' especially with how brutal the sewer fights were.
I think my favorite part with Betsy making herself look like an enemy and an enemy look like her and trick one of the teammates of the Marauders into attacking their own ally.
Posted by: david banes | August 21, 2014 12:04 PM
"The idea that the plane crash was fake makes no sense- Mastermind knew about it in X-Men 175 and Scott found out additional details in X-Men 172. What, did Sinister tamper with the newspaper archives in every library in Alaska and New York?"
Posted by: Mdent | August 22, 2014 12:32 PM
Inferno seemed a bit disjointed to me. It made an effort to be more of a crossover than the Fall of the Mutants, and I guess it succeeded at that. But there was no point. N'astirh appeared almost overnight in Power Pack, New Mutants, X-Factor, X-Terminators, X-Men and Fantastic Four - and I still don't really know for certain were he appeared at first. He just seemed to sort of be there without much of a purpose beyond getting the children, despite being nonetheless a prime mover and shaker of the whole crossover.
This may have been one of the first and the best example of the kind of crossover that does result in enhanced sales and also in reduced interest. X-Terminators, particularly, looks like it could be so much better without the shadow of Inferno hanging over it. It looks like all the books read like they were side stories without the main plot. And I'm not sure reading them all would help, either.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | August 22, 2014 1:28 PM
I always wondered how Scott knew the moment of Phoenix' death. He'd been busy for a little while at that point, and sure didn't look much in the mood to check his watch afterwards. ["Oh Jean! *SOB* 'beep' Time of Death, 4:15AM, Eastern Standard Time, Oh Jean!"] The Shi'ar would have such records, although the argument could be made that Xavier's influence led them to include Earth-specific time-keeping, and Scott might have gone back to check during their adventures with Shi'ar characters in the mid-150s, that's about as far as I'm willing to speculate on the silly notion that Scott has memorized what moment Phoenix died.
I could possibly accept that he narrowed it down to the time of day ['the Shi'ar grabbed us on the evening of... After a fairly normal earth cycle, we were sent to the Moon... Figure twenty minutes before the other X-Men were cut down and Phoenix was reborn, then maybe another three, four minutes... Check what time zone Alaska is in...] and his own paranoia would take over from there after meeting Maddie. That would make some of his behavior in "X-Factor" more explainable actually, but having it happen on the same day is enough coincidence for me and still maintain the idea of Maddie as a totally unique person. Specifying the exact moment of her plane crash/Phoenix' death is just setting up a target for cosmic powers to deal with. [The Grand Master of course. Who did you think I was referring to? ;) ]
Posted by: ChrisW | August 25, 2014 6:45 PM
Oh, and the comedic scenes of Inferno are the main reason I've always liked Marc Silvestri's art. Besides his basic skills as an artist and storyteller, he could do a very good job of straddling the distance between realism and cartoons. This is especially important in the superhero genre, because it's completely unrealistic, but should make some gestures in the direction of affecting real people with real lives in a real world. But at the same time, it should be able to have fun with how loony some of the ideas are anyway.
It can be subtle - Maddie's dress changing every panel, which I had never noticed before - or it can be obvious and very funny, like the fire hydrant beating up a dog. The look on the dog's face is priceless.
Posted by: ChrisW | August 25, 2014 7:01 PM
The way the panel of Wolverine lighting the cigarette looks, it looks like he turned into Batman for a split second.
Posted by: MegaSpiderMan | September 6, 2014 6:45 PM
At this time, Amazing Heroes #157 ran a preview of the proposed Longshot unlimited series. Details: a prequel Longshot GN by Nocenti/Adams had been dropped, he was going to quit the X-Men in the first issue(with a guest appearance by the group), his recurring villains would be Mephisto & Mojo, and the book would be bi-monthly.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 24, 2015 4:31 PM
@ Matt and david banes: Yes Demon Queen was already taken, in the British fantasy comic published at the time, Redfox. Claremont dubbed Madelyne Goblin Queen in tribute to the Demon Queen saga written by his friend Chris Bell.
@Jon Dubya: Yeah I agree with you about Weezie doing the sexist damaging stuff to Maddie.
@Walter: My latest fix explains a possible reason why Claremont keeps having Mister Sinister suggest he has no heart:)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 25, 2015 1:02 AM
It's not clear that Goblin Queen was a reference to Bell's Demon Queen. It's discussed here:
Posted by: Michael | January 25, 2015 9:01 AM
"Havok remains oblivious."
Of course he does. Look where he's looking in the second panel. He's admiring Madelyne's "assets".
Posted by: clyde | July 1, 2015 1:54 PM
This was a lot of fun at the time and it was good to fiiiiiiiiiiinally have some loose ends tied up. But still, what are Sinister's powers? They were so loosely defined, it was aggravating.
It was nice that Peter was immune to the demon aspects. To me, it says something about his heart, not just his "skin".
I do love the scene though where he is drawing Betsy and Rogue crashes through the wall.
@ Walter Lawson - if you were worried your mom wouldn't let you buy it she had clearly never seen any issue with Emma in it. ;)
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 17, 2015 11:48 AM
Most people trying to sneak up on somebody wouldn't be actively smoking at the time. Alex really is oblivious, isn't he?
Posted by: ChrisW | August 17, 2015 6:59 PM
Erik, keep in mind that (a) Maddie's Goblyn Queen outfit showed more skin than anything Emma had worn up to this point and (b) Emma was never at this point featured as prominently on the cover as Maddie was in X-Men 241 and X-Factor 37-38. (She was featured on the BACK cover of Classic X-Men 7 but a lot of people don't look at the back covers.)
Posted by: Michael | August 17, 2015 8:01 PM
Worth noting that for the 2015 Secret Wars Inferno series Marvel did decide that Maddie's costume was just TOO sexy.
Posted by: Dave77 | April 18, 2016 1:01 AM
By the way, I always assumed the plane crash DID happen. It just dodn"t happen with Madelyne (wasn't thete an isdue of X-factor where Scott combed the news archives about this incident, and found astory, but no mention of Madelyne.) I assumed that Mr Sinister simply searched for accidents that happened that day, stumbled across this unrelated crash happening, and thought it'd be a good enough explanation for the memory if any.
Good thing Scott and his grandparents did such thorough background checks, eh?
Ok I expect my no-prize in 6-8 weeks. :-)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 21, 2017 8:46 PM
@Jon-that scene was from X-Factor 13.
Posted by: Michael | January 21, 2017 11:47 PM
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