Uncanny X-Men #242
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #242
Poor Cyclops just watches impotently. To be fair, his wife is right there.
Wolverine makes that point himself, actually. Jean is confused, like she's just now realizing what's happening despite having been kissing Wolvie for two big splash panels, but she certainly isn't interested in being fought over.
As far as reunions go, this one is full of distrust. For one thing, we saw in the last issue of X-Men that they are all influenced to some degree by the demons of Inferno. On top of that, X-Factor thought the X-Men were dead. And they were just fighting Madelyne, who has now changed back into sheep's clothing, and of course the X-Men assume the worst.
Especially since the X-Men are only aware of what X-Factor has been up to thanks to their ad campaigns.
Plus, there's always been some animosity between some of them. This Angel/Wolverine fight reminds me a lot of the one from Classic X-Men #1. Notice also Wolverine recognizing the scent of Angel's Apocalypse tech as "familiar pain".
On that point, Rogue finds out that there are even elements of Apocalypse's consciousness in Angel.
The teams pretty quickly get into a full fledged fight, except for Dazzler and Longshot who are so en-demonized that they just start having sex with each other instead.
I feel like Claremont is pretty fair to Cyclops. The way he writes Scott feels to me like it's meant to show that Scott legitimately wasn't aware that anything bad was happening to Madelyne. This is in contrast to earlier lines from Maddie (and indeed, more here) that put the blame squarely on Cyclops (and in turn felt like a proxy for Claremont's unhappiness with the existence of the X-Factor book and plot points therein). Granted Havok takes Madelyne's side, but he's already under her thrall.
Madelyne then summons N'astirh and she sets up a choice where her own life is being (seemingly) threatened by him while Jean is being attacked by her "parents", telling Cyclops he has to choose who to save. Cyclops zaps Jean's parent-demons first, and then Havok jumps in the way to attack N'astirh, which, according to Scott, prevented him from saving both. Madelyne takes Havok away with her, making him her Goblin Prince.
Colossus, who had been away helping his sister against S'ym, shows up, not realizing that both Madelyne and Havok are on the demons' side now.
Meanwhile, the remainder of X-Factor and X-Men continue to fight pointlessly with each other...
...until Storm recognizes a similarity between the ever growing Empire State Building and the butte where Forge focused his powers circa Uncanny X-Men #226. And Jean senses where baby Nathan is and realizes that N'astirh and Madelyne mean to sacrifice him in a ritual there (as we saw in X-Factor #37, Madelyne is upset that Nathan is reaching out telepathically to Jean).
So Storm and Jean have their reunion...
...and then N'astirh attacks again, uniting the X-Teams.
It's at this point that we see that Rogue is immune to the transmode virus thanks to her encounter with Magus.
At this point Colossus is blasted off the Empire State Building by Madelyne, and Iceman redirects him into N'astirh.
Walter Lawson has been noting that Colossus is also demonstrating immunity to the transmode virus (see comments on Uncanny X-Men #231 and New Mutants #73) but it seems to me that while Rogue's immunity is due to her encounter with Magus, for Colossus it's more about the general anti-magic properties of Colossus' steel body and pure spirit.
That said, the rest of the X-characters don't have any experience fighting techno-organic creatures (it was only Rogue and Colossus, along with Nightcrawler, that fought the Magus), so Storm has Psylocke transfer their memories to everyone else.
Jean's telepathic powers have been slowly returning, but her brief mind-meld with Psylocke shows that she's not all the way there yet.
The Beast's idea is to use Iceman's cold powers to accelerate N'astirh's techno-organic state, like a super-conductor, and then quickly withdraw that ice, causing the quick temperature change to cause his circuits to fail. It's a nice battle with lots of cool power tricks.
Storm is the one to strike the final blow, and notice her response to N'astirh's request for mercy.
Cyclops isn't happy about that.
The X-Men are cool with it, though.
Not sure if that's meant to reflect their still-demon influenced states or the difference in attitude between the two groups.
The expectation was that the effects of Inferno would withdraw once N'astirh was defeated, but that isn't the case. They still have Madelyne to deal with.
I have to confess that i like that this issue features the defeat of N'astirh not by some kind of debate or clever ploy or mystic trick but just by the two super-teams combining their powers. I'm still a fanboy at heart. Lots of good moments here too, like both Dazzler and Rogue separately lamenting the fact that their once-crush, Angel, has gone bald and blue. Things are marred slightly by the fact that the X-Men are under the demonic influence of Inferno, so their reaction to the meeting with X-Factor isn't 100% "true" to their characters, but where it matters it still works great.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Continues directly from X-Factor #37 and continues directly in X-Factor #38.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: X-Men: Inferno TPB
Inbound References (3): showAngel, Beast, Cable (Baby Nathan Christopher Summers), Colossus, Cyclops, Dazzler, Elaine Grey, Havok, Iceman, Jean Grey, John Grey, Longshot, Madelyne Pryor, N'astirh, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine
Claremont has said that Alex's and Maddie's dialogue reflects his feelings towards Scott.
Posted by: Michael | August 29, 2014 5:39 PM
This is the big one. I had been waiting years for this meeting after numerous cases of Lucy wiping the football from us (e.g. the Morlock tunnel during the Mutant Massacre). It was a big deal to 15-year-old me. I was annoyed that it they met while the X-Men were in their demon forms, though, especially since I was looking forward to seeing Simonson draw the X-Men.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | August 29, 2014 7:05 PM
I guess I should have expected something similar to this from way back when Illyana first manifested her soulsword to fight S'ym back in 1984's New Mutants #14. For all that seems to happen, it should have been an exciting history, but there is way too little in the way of convincing behavior.
The X-Men are very ambiguously (and conveniently) corrupted by Inferno so their characterization is just wild and missing; Madelyne and particularly Alex are just unexplainably nuts; and the most important characters from the perspective of plot have been through so many unexplainable contrinvances for so long that it is just not possible to have any idea of how they truly feel or behave anymore. I don't even know how I feel about Cyclops, Jean or Madelyne in this storyline, because it is just too obvious that I am not supposed to have any idea.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | August 29, 2014 11:34 PM
Claremont (or JR Jr) has said that in the original '85-'86 Mutant Massacre/Marvel Crisis/Jasper's Warp story some of the X-Men were going to come out warped by Jaspers, even after his defeat. Claremont is using Inferno to do the same thing, though it won't last long beyond Inferno.
Archangel does get demonized by Maddie, but it's true that we don't get an explanation for why X-Factor aren't demonized the way the X-Men are. I've always assumed X-Factor were just meant to be more purehearted--they've certainly been portrayed lately as the nice mutants and the X-Men as a more radical, darker team. Obviously those who consider Cyclops to blame for the Maddie situation might not agree.
The X-Factor/X-Men split began with a Ghostbusters riff--X-Factor as mutant hunters--so it's fitting that the 1986-1989 mega-arc ends with another Ghosbusters riff, the demons taking over the city. It's admirable how many long running plots are wrapped up, at least for the time being: revenge on the Marauders and their master, the Jean/Maddie/Scott problem, the X-Men not knowing Jean was alive, and X-Factor thinking the X-Men were dead. It could have been a lot worse: in the 1990 annuals we'll see the similarly longstanding threads in which the X-Men don't know what happened to Rachel and Rachel had never met Jean resolved in a really desultory fashion. (Plus lil 'Ro and Fambit join the X-Men and effectively re-establish the team after 18 months. But we'll get to the horrible Days of Future Present soon enough.)
Posted by: Walter Lawson | August 30, 2014 12:32 AM
I'd noticed the "Ghostbuster II" connections as well - especially since the movie came out just after Inferno ended. There's also the way sacrificing the lead female's baby becomes the main point.
This is probably my personal favorite issue of "X-Men," for a number of reasons, not least of which Claremont reclaims the original X-Men as his own. Even without knowing any of his thoughts about X-Factor, he writes the team really well, and note that they pretty much all get something to do above and beyond what the X-Men do.
Archangel and Jean don't do much, but he reminds Ali of what he used to be, even in her demonic state, and Wolverine of the intent to reveal that Apocalypse was behind the Weapon X project - was this site the place where I found out about that? - while Jean breaks through to Storm and effectively ends the demonic possession by her mere presence. Once she and Storm hug, the X-Men are basically on the side of the angels again.
Bobby suddenly whips up a cool way to save Colossus and is instrumental in defeating Nasty, which was Hank's idea to begin with. And if anybody can be said to be leading the two groups, it's Scott, and certainly not Storm. Considering the last time they saw each other was in #201, that's an important point, especially considering they're now fighting the wife he left the X-Men for, alongside the woman he left his wife for.
I'm not a big fan of the demonic X-Men. It really only works for Wolverine (for obvious reasons) and maybe with Storm's apparent willingness to leave New York the way it is, because leading the X-Men gives her the right. It really gets stupid in the following issue of X-Factor, where the X-Men pointlessly become evil again, and are written even worse.
Jim Shooter once told an anecdote for a fanzine, about how professional Claremont was to work with, and how he would change any line of dialogue the editor complained about, with the caveat that Claremont had to be the one to write the new dialogue. He laughed that one time, right before the book went to press, he changed a bit of dialogue, challenged Claremont to find which one it was, and Claremont never did. Fine for Shooter (if this is a true story) but when the X-Men start being written by others - including Shooter during "Secret Wars" I and II - they are generally always 'wrong.'
Posted by: ChrisW | August 30, 2014 2:00 AM
"I've always assumed X-Factor were just meant to be more purehearted--they've certainly been portrayed lately as the nice mutants and the X-Men as a more radical, darker team."
Posted by: Michael | August 30, 2014 8:54 AM
I always assumed it was Madelyne's magic influencing the X-Men. It's most obvious with Havok but I think the others were being infected as well. And then N'astirh's specific attack against Longshot changed him of course.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 30, 2014 11:37 AM
Great, Michael, you just gave me the bizarre image of shoujo-esque huge-eyed Kingpin and Graviton. Who knew that such horrible villains could be so pure?
Posted by: Ataru320 | August 30, 2014 11:44 AM
Kudos to Claremont (and the art teams involved, of course) for making sure that the male characters get put it skimpy S&M outfits for "Inferno" as well as the women--with Havok's "goblin prince" shredded loincloth, and Captain Britain's thong-and-harness look in EXCALIBUR. It makes it feel slightly less exploitative towards the female characters when the men are subjected to the same thing--and it provides some equal opportunity ogling for the female and gay male audience members.
Posted by: Dermie | August 30, 2014 9:33 PM
Always did love this issue, especially for the way the two teams combine to take down N'astirh.
The one useful thing over having to wait so long for the meeting is that there was now a good couple of years of Classic X-Men vignettes and those flesh out some of the character details. It's as if Claremont wanted to throw in some more background before the teams finally met.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 20, 2015 11:40 AM
Jean's relationship with Storm can be retconned, but literally the last time she spoke to Logan, it was to scream about how unlikeable he was, and lord knows she's tried. Even the "trying" is a retcon. What did the Phoenix Force do to her in that cocoon?
Posted by: ChrisW | August 10, 2016 10:49 PM
Not sure what retcon you're thinking of Chris. Jean's last words to Wolverine (both in X-Men 100 and the X-Men Classic reprint) were "I have tried to like you, Wolverine -- obnoxious upstart that you are -- but for the life of me, I don't know why I made the effort!" Either way, Wolverine's lines in this issue, "My sense tell me that you loved that kiss, darlin'. And you want more!", are just gross, and a disservice to both characters. I'm not against a Wolverine/Jean Grey "'ship" per se, it just has to be much more nuanced than this. I like the relationship they had the late 2000's, with him seeing her as desirable but unattainable, and being stoically resentful that Scott is always forgiven for his mistakes while Wolverine has to make the hard, honorable, thankless choices.
Posted by: Andrew | July 16, 2017 8:02 AM
In this issue, at least Wolverine is influenced by Inferno so his dialogue works. But the retcon is that Jean didn't try to like him. She left the team after fighting Krakoa and wasn't seen again until Erik the Red showed up. The following issue she's kidnapped to the space platform and that's that. There's just not a whole lot of space available for her even trying to like him. Being a creepy guy who knows she has a boyfriend and still keeps hitting on her wouldn't help.
Yeah, "X-Men" #98 claims the new team has been together for a year - which I don't really accept - and Jean obviously didn't go far away - which I do. There's some leeway, but it's not likely she's taking part in Danger Room exercises and the concept of a school is nonexistent at this point. If she's not coming by to see Scott [or maybe Ororo] then there isn't much for her to do there.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 16, 2017 2:28 PM
Gotta be honest. I didn't quite understand this story. I thought Maddy was possessed or turned into the 'goblyn queen' by villains, I did't get the whole point about her being evil and playing the x-men for long. But then again, I frankly rarely understand x-men stories.
Posted by: will | December 17, 2017 11:43 AM
Infinity War, Ima look forward to the sequel but "Inferno" was the best superhero crossover of all time! Of all time!
Posted by: ChrisW | June 4, 2018 9:33 PM
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