Uncanny X-Men #243
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #243
This starts in the immediate aftermath of the previous part. Colossus is wondering why "we X-Men" have not reverted from their semi-demonic forms even after everything else has reverted to normal (he's being charitable to his teammates since he himself was unaffected), and then Jean has a sudden psychic episode.
Psylocke still has a mental link with Jean from when she shared the information on Magus last issue, so she's able to show all the X-Men and X-Factor what Jean is seeing. And it's a scene of "Jean" dying on the moon. It's worth realizing that unless they were paying very close attention during the battle with Madelyne, the X-Men here probably don't yet realize that the "Jean" that they knew since her "transformation" into Phoenix wasn't really her. I guess that doesn't really matter any more, and Cyclops does try to explain it, but i'd love to have seen the X-Men's reaction.
But in any event, that memory is smashed by an image of Mr. Sinister...
...and we then see various shards of the combined Jean/Madelyne/Phoenix floating about. Wolverine says it sounds similar to what Rogue goes through every time she absorbs someone's persona, and they try to bring her in to help despite her "natural resistance to telepathy". And they're further blocked by another appearance by Sinister, who shows up and starts smashing memories.
This seems to have a utilitarian purpose as well as being a plot element; any future discrepancies where Jean doesn't remember something that happened to Madelyne or the Phoenix Force can be explained as that memory having been destroyed by Sinister.
At this point in the dream, Madelyne's persona takes over. And she refuses to help. And this turns to the topic of the independence of Madelyne as a character.
But when confronted directly with Sinister, it seems Madelyne decides to not accept oblivion, and the united mind of Jean fights back against him.
Jean then leads most of the X-Men and X-Factor (sans Beast and Longshot, who take baby Nathan and Jean's parents, no longer demons, to the safety of X-Factor's Ship) to Professor Xavier's school, which Mr. Sinister has made his base of operation. The X-Men find that all of their personal belongings have been raided. And Jean continues the discussion of creators that trash their creations.
Feels like a very personal statement about the treatment of Madelyne from Chris Claremont.
The groups begin to explore the rest of the mansion, but we cut away to Longshot and Beast.
The Beast goes back to join the rest of the group, leaving Longshot behind to protect the civilians. Longshot is worried that the changes N'astirh made to him are still in effect.
Back to the X-Mansion, where the combined teams find that the Marauders are working as Mr. Sinister's guards. One group is attacked by a demonically transformed Blockbuster...
...who is taken out by a Havok no longer concerned about the lethality of his powers.
Rogue and Psylocke, meanwhile, encounter Sabretooth, and shut him down pretty easily this time.
And the rest are attacked by Malice/Polaris.
She's captured, and Storm very credibly tells Malice that they'll try to separate her from Polaris, but if not, they'll kill them both probing their mind for info on Mr. Sinster.
Before we find out if Psylocke will actually go through with that, there's a big explosion caused by Mr. Sinister, which destroys the mansion and knocks everybody out. He shows up, pleased to acquire Jean Grey, and orders Malice to kill the rest.
But that's when Longshot shows up, and also when the issue ends (i think it's funny that while we know Sinister has been studying the X-Men in depth, he's only kinda sure it's Longshot that's arriving here).
It's probably telling that the final battle with Mr. Sinister, a character that earlier appeared only in Uncanny, will happen in X-Factor, not here. This issue does provide another rematch with (a subset of) the Marauders, who were the more prominent villains in this series. But whatever Claremont intended for Sinister has probably been derailed by the Inferno plotline, which requires that Sinister was really interested in Cyclops and Jean Grey (and Maddie), so it makes sense for the story to be resolved in X-Factor. This issue does allow for Claremont to say a goodbye for Madelyne and ensure that she's living on in a sense in Jean (who at one point in this story is said to be "acting more like Wolverine than Wolverine", which granted doesn't really describe Madelyne but may imply that Jean has inherited some of her toughness).
This ends Claremont's part of Inferno, and for me begins a period of X-Men that is much more spotty (it probably doesn't help that the next two issues are jokey downtime stories, the second one drawn by Rob Liefeld). I'm still very glad that Claremont remained at Marvel and on X-Men during a period where the writer bench was weak, and there's definitely still some good stories to come. But we're now in what i consider to be a decline that doesn't get reversed and ends with Claremont ignominiously getting kicked off the title. I've had plenty of complaints about the title beginning circa Fall of the Mutants as well, and it's definitely the case that Claremont was dealing with "editorial" issues (i'm including the Alan Moore derailment of Fall of the Mutants in that), but as least with Inferno a lot of the dangling plots have been tied off and Claremont is able to move forward with new ideas.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Continues directly from X-Factor #38 and continues directly in X-Factor #39.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: X-Men: Inferno TPB
Inbound References (15): show
Claremont seemed to have different ideas about Maddie than Simonson. Note that he states that Maddie and Jean were "in every primal respect identical". The idea seems to be that Maddie was as decent as Jean before the demons came along, while Simonson tried to convince us that Maddie was really crazy all along.
Posted by: Michael | August 30, 2014 3:02 PM
Shouldn't the blame placed at Simonson's feet be shared significantly by Harras or DeFalco? Perhaps she was simply writing Madelyne the way editorial wanted her to be written and Claremont's different interpretation was his passive aggressive way of disagreeing with the way the story was being handled? It wouldn't be the first or last time a Marvel editor or EIC decided a character being written out should be vilified to prop up others.
Posted by: Robert | August 30, 2014 3:39 PM
As pointed out earlier, the same thing that happens with Maddie happens with Magneto in New Mutants 75, which was also written by Simonson. She got the blame for both of these since she wrote both issues, although Harras probably deserves some of the blame too.
Posted by: Michael | August 30, 2014 3:50 PM
You wrote: "(sans Beast and Longshot, who take baby Nathan and Jean's parents, no longer demons, to the safety of X-Factor's Ship)"
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 30, 2014 4:33 PM
I always liked the pacing and storytelling of the final scene, where the X-Men/Factor confront Polaris, and she begs Alex for help, and he demands that she talk. For all the equivocating during Claremont's run so far, this was really the point where the (demonic) X-Men would throw their values aside, and willingly kill a potentially-innocent person (Lorna) who was also a valued member of the X-Men, just in case they might learn something about the enemy.
In other words, this was bringing together characters and storylines that pre-dated Claremont, in one of the 'return to the mansion' issues, and in this case, the climax resulted in the mansion being blown up. As wonderful as Marc Silvestri's work was here, I would give the win to Claremont as creating the (depending on your perspective) last moment of importance in the mutant titles. It doesn't help that he'd destroyed the mansion before, but still, this was a return to the X-Mansion like we haven't seen since "Annual" #10 or unimportant issues of "New Mutants." But now the only character-building moments are Storm noticing that her flowers are safe. No one asks about Magneto or the New Mutants. Or the connection to the Morlock tunnels. Or Lockheed. [Or Brightwind! Won't someone think of the Asgardian winged steeds???]
Seriously, the mansion blowing up is my personal favorite moment in all of Claremont's X-writing, and it's done so well.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 24, 2014 10:51 PM
I think they were bluffing- Bobby was there and non-demonized and he didn't seem to have a problem with killing Lorna, which he presumably would have if it wasn't a bluff.
Posted by: Michael | September 24, 2014 11:05 PM
Don't see that. Sure, Bobby had some history with her, but Alex is *obviously* her true love, and he's the one interrogating her. At moments like that, you just step back, cross your arms, look cool [!] with the rest of your buddies, and reinforce that she can do the right thing or the wrong thing. Scott, Warren, Jean (reeling from the Maddie/Phoenix mind-meld) would all agree that sometimes people have to die, and with the rest of the (demonic) X-Men right there, no, I don't think it was a bluff. At best, Bobby told himself it was a bluff. Maybe Peter did too. But no, Storm wasn't bluffing, Alex wasn't bluffing, Wolvie and Betsy weren't bluffing, and more than any supervillain's master plan, that's why the X-Mansion had to get destroyed on the spot. The X-Men were no longer the X-Men, the founding students were no longer former X-Men, they were doing the wrong thing, even if for the right reasons.
Much as I despise Longshot, I think his best scene is after the explosion where he's facing Sinister alone (other than Hank) and essentially helpless. This is what "Inferno" reduced the X-Men to.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 24, 2014 11:28 PM
For all the gripes about Inferno, what is up with the x teams ignoring the Mutes?!
Posted by: Berry T | March 29, 2017 8:15 PM
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