Characters Appearing: Alysande Stuart, Rachel Summers, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Wolverine
X-Men: True Friends #1-3
Issue(s): X-Men: True Friends #1, X-Men: True Friends #2, X-Men: True Friends #3
I actually bought issue #1 in realtime. I mean it was Claremont, back on the X-Men! I didn't know the history behind the Excalibur Special Editions (especially since someone realized that this book would sell better if it were tagged as an X-Men, not Excalibur, story). But i dropped it after the first issue because it was incredibly boring. The first issue consists mostly of Kitty Pryde running around in the Scottish Highlands, not realizing that she's been thrown back in time to 1936. The fact that it was a time travel story was probably enough to get me to drop it, but virtually nothing happening in the entire issue was the clincher.
Here is what we need to know about the first issue: Kitty is on a vacation in the Scottish Highlands, and she's mad that "the boys" insisted that Rachel go along as a "chaperon", and she's even more upset that Rachel, not Kitty, turns all the heads of the dudes at the local pub. So they get into an argument while standing in a stone circle, and Rachel's Phoenix powers trigger a manifestation of a Druidic ritual sacrifice, after which they get thrown back in time and separated.
Kitty wakes up in the home of an Alasdhair Kinross, a Scottish Laird. He's about Kitty's age and he and Kitty will fall in love. Alasdhair is hosting a young Lilibet, who will grow up to be Queen Elizabeth. Cue about 20 pages of Kitty trying on plaid skirts and riding around on horses, not realizing that she's in 1936 (i guess because the Highlands are very rural even in modern times?) and eventually making her way over to a neighboring castle with Alasdhair and Lilibet while looking for Rachel. The lady of that castle, a Lady Windermere, is hosting a contingent of Nazis (that's the final clue that Kitty is in 1936), and it's surmised from the butler's expression that they are also holding Rachel captive. Kitty sneaks around the castle with Alasdhair, who learns that's she's a mutant and is not bothered by it. We see that Baron Von Strucker and Geist (from Wolverine #19-23?) are leading the Nazis, and that they are working with an Egptian mentalist/necromancer.
Lilibet gets captured and is taken to Edinburgh, so Alasdhair and Kitty follow in a prototype Spitfire. On the way there they are attacked by Phoenix.
So that's it for issue #1. Issue #2 stars off by confirming that the Egyptian is Amahl Farouk, the Shadow King, and that he's the one possessing Rachel.
Note that Kitty not only recognizes him but knows to call him "the Shadow King", which was a name that he didn't really use until the lead up to the Muir Island Saga.
The Shadow King, on the other hand, doesn't recognize her, confirming along with the fact that he's in his body from the flashback in Uncanny X-Men #117 (which took place after World War II), that he really is a character from the past, not another time-traveler. Observe also that Kitty Pryde has the ability to free someone that is possessed by a telepath by phasing through them.
Kitty says that she only knows the Shadow King "by reputation"...
...which says to me that she hasn't made the connection between the Shadow King after (presumably) the X-Men told her about him after the Muir Island saga and the person that possessed her and put her in a giant robot-monster body in New Mutants #30-31.
After escaping the Shadow King, Alasdhair and Kitty go to Lady Windermere's castle in Edinburgh and try to infiltrate a party, with Alasdhair playing his legitimate role as a Scottish Laird and Kitty acting as his date. But they are soon found out. Windermere is working with the Nazis to replace the ruling family, and Alasdhair is captured to be used in a sacrifice that the Shadow King will perform to make that happen.
This seems to show that the Shadow King is truly involved in actual magic beyond just the psychic abilities associated with his mutant power.
Kitty shows up to interrupt the ritual...
...and the fact that the Shadow King's spell is interrupted causes him to unleash magical energy, killing a number of Nazis and Windermere.
And we get a flash of the Shadow King's psychic form, as we saw during the Muir Island saga (and i guess at the end of the original UX #117 story, although Byrne's version looked a little different).
Meanwhile, Kitty escapes with Alasdhair, hiding in a truck that (it's thought) contains trunks that are holding Rachel and Lilibet. But the Shadow King psychically contacts the truck drivers, and causes (after a scuffle) Kitty and Alasdhair and the trunks to get dumped off a pier. Kitty is rescued by Wolverine. And yes, he's going by that name.
And yes, he has claws.
Seeing Wolverine in 1936 causes everything that Kitty knows about him to be "called into question".
Note that Wolverine doesn't recognize Kitty.
But Kitty also has something else on her mind: the classic 'should i kill Hitler while time-traveling' dilemma.
Actually, it's not much of a dilemma for Kitty, but Wolverine has some friends that advise against it.
They are "Mr. Raven" and "Miss Adler", known to us as Mystique and Destiny. I'll blink past that for now and talk about it a little later. The question of killing Hitler is deferred for the moment when Alasdhair reminds Kitty that rescuing Rachel and Lilibet is the immediate priority.
While that debate is happening, Lilibet is managing to escape captivity, and Rachel is fighting back against the Shadow King's control. The Shadow King tells Rachel that the Phoenix may be as ancient as the stars, but in "this corporeal incarnation", "at this point in your existence", she's not as powerful.
Rachel has fought the Beyonder and Galactus at this point, so i figure she is pretty powerful. I am not sure if the Shadow King is saying that there's something about the Phoenix Force at this point in time (i.e. 1936) that makes it less powerful, but it seems more likely that he's referring to the fact that Rachel herself ("this corporeal incarnation") is young. It's also possible that he's just making stuff up to get Rachel to weaken her resolve, so it may not be worth looking at too closely.
Shadow King learns about Professor X and the X-Men during this psychic battle.
If we accept that this time travel jaunt represents a real trip to the real Marvel universe's past, and not an alternate reality (more on this below), then this puts a very different, and in my opinion unwelcome, spin on Uncanny X-Men #117. In that story, Professor X encountered his first evil mutant, some local sleazeball in Egypt who was a telepath. The idea was not to establish Amahl Farouk as some super arch-enemy of the X-Men (although by 1990 or so when Claremont was plotting this, that had become the case) and it certainly wasn't the idea to say that Farouk was already aware of, and was waiting for, Xavier.
The Shadow King also becomes aware of the Days of Future Past and decides that he likes the idea of hounds.
This ties in with what Claremont was doing with the Shadow King and the hounds in Uncanny X-Men #265-266, seemingly confirming that Claremont really did mean for this to be the real past.
The conflict ends with the Shadow King back in control of Rachel, and he sends her after Lilibet. Lilibet has wandered down a secret passage into a room with ancient Scottish artifacts.
Everyone else converges in this place as well: Baron Strucker, Geist, the Shadow King, Kitty, Wolverine, Alasdhair, and Rachel.
Wolverine gets into a fight with Strucker. Note that Wolverine's claws are referred to as "blades", are colored like they are metal, and are able to hold back Strucker's steel sword.
It also looks like Claremont is making Wolverine responsible for Strucker's facial scars.
Wolverine isn't shy about describing his powers, and Claremont isn't shy about repeating the famous scene from God Loves Man Kills.
Speaking of repeats, Kitty winds up with a magic sword.
Meanwhile, Lilibet scratches the Shadow King with a pin, freeing Rachel from his control. Rachel attacks the Shadow King. This reminds Kitty of Jean Grey, although according to Kitty, Jean never manifested so much of the Phoenix Force.
I assume Kitty is speaking from second hand knowledge, since Jean (or rather, the Phoenix entity) was dead by the time Kitty joined the X-Men (although, as Erik notes in the comments, they did meet once prior to that).
As for the Shadow King, Kitty says (or thinks to herself) that he wants a universe of absolute order, and hates mutants because they are wild cards in evolution's deck.
I don't know if that is meant to imply that the Shadow King himself is not actually a mutant. I suppose it doesn't have to.
Kitty is afraid that Rachel will kill the Shadow King and, in doing so, become him (a common theme for Rachel, and one that she can't seem to grow past). So it's magic sword time.
They then combine Rachel's powers with the sword and seemingly blast away the Shadow King, or at least his corporeal form (although even that has to come back for UX #117).
Some misordered pages make the ending confusing, but it comes down to Rachel and Kitty staggering out of the magic basement and back into the present (thus nixing Kitty's plans to go kill Hitler). They're still at the castle, and so is a present day Wolverine, along with Queen "Lilibet" Elizabeth and Alysande Stuart. Wolverine isn't given a word of dialogue at the end, so we have no idea what he thinks of all that Rachel and Kitty experienced (e.g. if he remembers it, and if so, why he never mentioned it earlier). Elizabeth tells Kitty that Alasdhair died during World War II. The ending concludes with all the stuff you'd expect after an inconsequential time travel adventure (Kitty is sad about Alasdhair, Elizabeth looks back on her adventures fondly, and facing evil gave her the resolve to face the Nazis) but there's no summation of all the continuity concerns that comic book fans would want regarding Wolverine, Shadow King, or Mystique and Destiny. There isn't really an explanation about why the Druidic circle got activated and sent Kitty and Rachel back in time in the first place, except what we can infer from when Lilibet got possessed and handed Kitty the sword.
So it feels like your basic time travel story. You go back in time, see some familiar faces, fight some Nazis and a big boss who is also a familiar face, and then go home and forget about it. Even less interesting than a What If to me, but no big deal. And if it was the days where time traveling automatically meant you were operating in an alternate reality (which was rarely if ever the case in a Claremont story, and is much less likely after Fantastic Four #354), then we could end it there and not really worry about what's going on with the established characters that we meet in the past. But Claremont was definitely intending tie-ins with the Shadow King (explicitly with Excalibur #22, implicitly with Uncanny X-Men #265-266), and may very well have been doing so with the others as well.
I've already mentioned my problems with Shadow King being aware of the X-Men so early on. Judging it from Claremont writing the story in 1990, it feels like a very self-serving way to insert the Shadow King as a mega-threat at the expense of the original Amahl Farouk story.
As for Wolverine, there are numerous concerns. Wolverine will face Strucker again in 1941, in Uncanny X-Men #268, and Strucker will show no sign of recognizing Wolverine. Wolverine also doesn't use his claws in that story. In this story, he's not only using claws but they seem to be made of metal. We found out/will find out in 1993's Fatal Attractions event that Wolverine has had bone claws all along, although it's a surprise to him at the time. I would have accepted amnesia/memory implants as an explanation for why Wolverine doesn't remember that he has natural claws. I don't know how much it was possible to alter this story in 1999 to accommodate current continuity, but you'd think that it could at least have been adjusted in the script to have the claws be referred to as bone during the time travel portion, and maybe to indicate in the segment at the end that Wolverine doesn't remember the encounter very well or something. Him having metal claws is a more difficult thing to account for; there's no way that the Weapon X program should have happened prior to World War II. But i'll note that even though the clues seem to indicate that the claws are metal, it's not explicitly said.
Nathan Adler of Fanfix has put forward the idea (see comments here and here) that Wolverine and Mystique and Destiny are time traveling in this story. That would account for the metal claws and it would also make me feel better about Wolverine claiming that he met Ben Franklin (as seen in the scan with Mystique and Destiny). But i don't think that this was Claremont's intention. Or else Claremont overloaded this story with red herrings. And that would have been a bad storytelling decision, both looking at this series as a standalone story and knowing that Claremont wasn't going to get another opportunity (as he could have guessed by 1999) to show us that they were in fact red herrings. Some example "herrings" include the fact that Wolverine shows no hint of secretly recognizing Kitty (and indeed, one of the more positive aspects of this story is that he's surprised and impressed by her mutant abilities, which would be ruined if Wolverine was secretly faking it). And then there's the fact that Destiny is a young woman. Mystique is of course able to change her shape, but the fact that she's a man in this story seems to be a nod to the unused idea that she is really male, per Claremont's original intention to make Mystique Nightcrawler's father and Destiny his mother. There's also never been any indication that Wolverine, Destiny, and Mystique were particularly close, but that's a problem whether this is a time travel story or not (although if it's time travel, then their alliance would have had to have been more recent, which would make it harder to accept, in my opinion).
Secrets Behind The X-Men has a quote from a 2004 interview with Chris Claremont suggesting that after meeting Kitty here, Wolverine maintained an interest in Kitty and therefore was the one who suggested to Professor X that she be recruited back in Uncanny X-Men #129 and even implies that Wolverine did so knowing about the pivotal role she plays in the original Days of Future Past from Uncanny X-Men #141-142. I guarantee that wasn't Claremont's intention when writing those issues (evidence: John Byrne did not strangle him) and i really doubt it was Claremont's intention when he originally plotted this story. But if it was, it seems to kill the idea that Wolverine was time traveling, since the iteration of Wolverine that appears here would have to be younger than the one that appears in UX #129.
Overall i'd say as a fanfix (as opposed to it being Claremont's intention) the idea that Wolverine is time-traveling is better than the obvious alternative, but my preference would still be that Kitty and Rachel have traveled into an alternate past and we can ignore any implications of the 1936 iterations of the established characters (including the idea that Wolverine is responsible for Strucker's scars, which rankles me as much as anything).
So that's what we've got. A mediocre time travel adventure with messy art by Rick Leonardi and a lot of implications that confuse or annoy more than they illuminate. I suppose if this had come out in 1990 it might have been a different situation, but it looks like Claremont went on to act as if the events here were canon even though the thing hadn't been published, so i'm not sure how much it would have mattered. I do wish more care was taken in 1999 to make sure that things lined up better or were explained better, but i guess it's better that the thing eventually got published rather than shelved permanently.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: A footnote on the title page of each issue says "Events in this story take place prior to current continuity." Well, thanks. This was published in 1999, but was originally meant to be an Excalibur Special Edition that would have come out in 1990. (Well, "originally" may not be correct. There was an earlier Chris Claremont/Rick Leonardi solo Phoenix mini-series that was supposed to come out prior to the start of Excalibur, and i think that when it got canceled it really morphed into this, with the story getting updated.) But this doesn't fit easily in 1990 either, because (even beyond the Cross-Time Caper and Kitty being separated from the team during most of 1990) the real present day Wolverine appears at the end of this story, and in Excalibur #41 the team, including Kitty (but excluding Rachel, who met Wolverine in Uncanny X-Men annual #14), is talking like they haven't seen any of the X-Men since they seemingly died in Uncanny X-Men #227. So this would have to take place after Excalibur #41.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
Why on earth where there so many Excalibur specials around this time? The million Ghost Rider guest appearances and Punisher specials I get, those guys were selling like hot cakes, but was Excalibur really that popular around 1990?
Posted by: Berend | October 30, 2015 2:20 PM
You had to be there. The X-men brand was so hot in the 90s that related teams, even small fry like Excalibur, got all kinds of one-shots and specials. They were still spinning off stuff related to X-Factor even after that book had been unreadable for years. Even nobodies like the XSE were getting mini-series.
As for True Friends, I wonder if it was half-finished in a drawer somewhere and then completed in '99 for more X-fodder. If it was actually finished around 1990/1991 I could see Harras shelving it since that's around when he ousted Claremont. He wouldn't want a plot heavy book from the old guy coming out when he was handing the keys to the kingdom over to the new guys.
As for billing this as "X-men" instead of "Excalibur," one reason is that this came out close to a year after Excalibur had been cancelled and Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and Colossus moved back over to the X-men.
Posted by: Red Comet | October 30, 2015 2:35 PM
Wait, the misordered pages are actually in the original version as well? I have the Dutch translation of this and the pages there are also scrabled up near the end! How lazy were those translators?!
I never like stories that makes being royal into something holy or magical, but it turns out to be even stupider when there's an actual, still reigning monarch involved rather than King Arthur or someone like that.
If you read UncannyXmen.net's write up of Wolverine's history, there's like a billion scenes of him discovering his claws, only to forget about them again after either his healing factor or Romulus erases his memory of them.
Your John Byrne evidence line made me laugh out loud :P
Finally, when Claremont takes over the new Excalibur series in the 2000-somethings, doesn't he reveal that the Shadow King is indeed some ancient ethereal entity rather than a mutant?
Posted by: Berend | October 30, 2015 2:37 PM
@Red Comet: I know the X-Men franchise will really go into overdrive during the 90's, but it seems that in the 89-91 period there were far more Excalibur specials compared to the other X-Teams.
Posted by: Berend | October 30, 2015 2:39 PM
Byrne claimed, on his message board I think, that he did the entire plot for Days of Future Past and Claremont only scripted those issues.
I usually take it with a grain of salt whenever a writer or artist claims they did the lion's share of the work in a famous creative pairing, but I'm inclinded to believe Byrne here given his known love of time travel stories and his admission that he got some core ideas from the Doctor Who episode "Day of the Daleks."
Posted by: Red Comet | October 30, 2015 3:01 PM
Re: Kitty's ability to free someone possessed by a telepath by phasing through them- the point is that Kitty has developed the same ability as her Lightning Squad counterpart- the ability to knock someone out by phasing through them, and not only disrupt a machine. Claremont had apparently written this scene in the original plot that was supposed to appear in 1990. The problem is that since it was never published, no later writer followed up on it. When Claremont returned to the X-Books in Wolverine 125, and had Kitty knock out people by phasing through the, a LOT of readers complained that it came out of nowhere.
Posted by: Michael | October 30, 2015 9:46 PM
When Claremont brings Farouk back in 1989 and has him descibe himself as "a ghost, a demon, a nightmare" in UXM 253, it seems like the author is preparing to retcon the character as more than a mutant, a supernatural force that happened to acquire a mutant host in Farouk. One of Claremont's weaknesses as a writer for X-Men (despite being the characters' definitive writer) is his preference for supernatural boss villains over mutant-relevant villains. Fall of the Mutants, Inferno, and the abortive Farouk saga all wind up getting supernatural.
In these issues, the druid that the girls encounter in their flashback has glowing eyes just like Farouk, which suggests he may be an earlier, presumably non-mutant host for the same entity.
The thing about SK wanting a clockwork universe of unchanging "order and control" might actually connect with Destiny's vision of a crystallized universe in Uncanny 255. even though SK's fueling of anger and lust seems like it diesn't lead to order and control, maybe the idea is similar to Roy Thomas's twist in Dr. Strange's Great Fear story: after all the passionate emotions burn themselves out the universe is left wubmissive and orderly. I might even suggest there's a link between the Sentinels' rule in Days of Future Past--which is relentlessly orderly--and the crystalline circuitry of the living statues that populate Magneto's haunted island, as we saw in that one issue of Marvel Fanfare. The statues were presumably from the earlier age of Ngarai domination of earth, and the Sentinels might kind of be what the modern version of that regime looks like. SK or his host would be bringing that order back into existence. (Crystal statues are also a feature of UXM annual 11, it's what the champions that fail the tests of the crystal of the final vision become--and that crystal and its visions are similar to the Siege Perilous, the plot device that kicks off the Australian period that ends with the Shadow King storyline, so...well, Claremont had a mix of themes and tropes going, but where they were going one can only speculate. He was making up a lot as he went along, and retconning even his own stories in the process.)
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 31, 2015 1:52 AM
Kinross is Moira Mactaggart's maiden name. I assumed Alasdhair was her father, but his death a few years after this story doesnt leave him a lot of time to have kids. I guess the timeline would work, though: Moira is Xavier's age, and he's in his 20s in the 1960s when he encounters Magneto and Gabrielle Haller (and Strucker) in Israel. Moira would be born in the '40s.
Claremont's fascination with royalty, seen here with Lillibet, combined with all the Scottish royal artifacts he emphasizes in the barrow Lilibet stumbles into (Caledonian crown, a sword as well as the stone of Scone) and his later making of an alternate Alysande Stuart into a Scots national hero (Caledonia) whose 616 version proves surprisingly impervious to Mesmero, all leads me to guess that Claremont was going to reveal Alysande Stuart to be of the royal House of Stuart, putting her Dr. Who-referencing surname to a double purpose. If that was at all the plan, though, Claremont never gets to execute it.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 31, 2015 2:06 AM
The pointless, flood-the-market Excalibur specials are like an undead vampire, rising from the grave even after the book was canceled.
It wouldn't be Claremont without someone getting mind controlled or possessed.
And it wouldn't be Excalibur without poor Meggan being on the receiving end of the abuse.
And, God, Leonardi really deteriorated as an artist by this point. His work on the Cloak and Dagger mini was gorgeous. This, along with more or less everything he's done since, is just sloppy as hell.
Posted by: Bob | October 31, 2015 1:32 PM
We know this story was started in the early-90s, but do we know how far it had actually gotten before being dropped? Even at the end of Claremont's run, his scripting still had something distinctive to it, so much so that I was able to pinpoint his final pages on #279 before it had been confirmed. Scripting "X-Factor," "X-Men" #1-3, those were noticeable. Here, this is just generic. I've never read the actual story, and now I don't see any reason.
At a guess, I'd say Claremont had turn in the plot and Leonardi was drawing it when he quit. Harras had Leonardi finish it to fill out the pay voucher, and figured Nicieza or someone would handle the scripting, but never got around to it and the thing was dumped in a file and forgotten about.
Or maybe Leonardi had just finished drawing it so it could be published with the ending of the Muir Island Saga, and getting ready to script it was one of the final straws that broke the camel's back.
And Wolverine apparently shows up telling people his name's "Logan"? He wouldn't tell any of the X-Men that until #139! WTF?
Also, Strucker's family has been warriors for a hundred generations? If every female ancestor gave birth by the time she was twelve, that would put his lineage going back to before the Holy Roman Empire was established by Charlemagne in 800 AD. I'm skeptical. It sounds even more unlikely if his family was from Prussia.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 1, 2015 1:28 PM
What you say about this being plotted but not scripted around when Claremont left in 1991 is conceivable. It wouldn't surprise me if Claremont himself did the scripting in 1998 or 1999 when he returned to Marvel.
He also ghost-wrote/ghost-scripted the tail end of Alan Davis' run on the X-titles before officially becoming the X-men writer again with X-men #100.
Posted by: Red Comet | November 1, 2015 4:11 PM
Being Alan Davis' ghost-writer, I knew that. I don't know why, because Alan Davis proved on "Excalibur" that he can definitely write, but I did know Claremont ghosted him. It's basically another reason I have no interest in reading any more X-Titles, written by Claremont or anyone else. Well, except Peter David.
But yeah, it's my theory and I'm sticking with it until someone corners Claremont in a dark alley and subjects him to a long career-spanning interview. He did the plot, and maybe never even saw the finished art before quitting, and scripted it as he and Marvel planned his return.
I have a vague theory that this series was one of the reasons he quit, where he told "The Comics Journal" that this wasn't his story and he didn't recognize the characters anymore. The scans here are light-years away from the X-Men/Excalibur characters as they were in 1990, even allowing for Claremont's royalty and mind control fetishes. I'd have to read the actual story to work out that theory, and I'd rather not.
Posted by: ChrisW | November 1, 2015 4:57 PM
Re: the scripting- Phil Hall posted the following message on July 17th, 1999 in racmx:
Posted by: Michael | November 1, 2015 5:35 PM
It sounds to me as if Davis gave Colby the photocopied art and the script; "by Davis" refers to the giving, not the author of the script. I'd guess that Davis had these items, neither of which he worked on, because Claremont wanted him in the loop for whenever he (Davis) returned to Excalibur.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 2, 2015 12:29 AM
In the comments for Uncanny #268 (Madripoor Knights), put forth this interesting and awesome theory concerning Alysande Stuart: "Claremont reveals in upcoming Excalibur issues that something is weird about Sandy: her born-minutes-later twin brother can be mesmerized by Mesmero, but she's immune. Years later, Claremont gives us an alternate-dimension Alysande who is the superhero Caledonia and the last surviving free Scot of her world.
I forget whether there are more telling clues, but my guess about why she's Mesmero-proof and Alistaire isn't is that she's the spirit of Scotland, of royal Stuart blood, and having been born earlier is the first born."
Mesmero's blurb there in Excalibur #34 certainly hints to it "How can one Stuart be immune to my influence when her twin brother isn't?" The happening place is Salisbury Plain in England, so the hint might perhaps be more towards her being the lawful Monarch of all Britain rather than the Spirit of Scotland; at least her being the older one suggests to how crown succession works (the male-preference angle of course wrecks it, but hey, it's Claremont here folks) and we all of course remember House of Stuart being overthrown in 1688 from the Monarchy and the ensuing Jacobitism to have them restored to the throne.
Of course, such a suggestion may (?) be bordering to high treason in modern UK and is mightily inconvenient to anyone expecting to work there. I'm in understanding Claremont has stated this story particularly was one he wanted to get done, and he gets through some pains to show "Lilibet" here is the True Monarch of all UK, and has the formerly Scots-specific Stone of Scone there in the mix too. I just wonder...
Anyway, did anyone happen to catch that recent tv-series Outlander, based on the novel of the same name by Diana Cabaldon, that was published in 1991 and and tells the story of English military nurse, who in 1945 on the early lights of Beltane stumbles into a mystic circle of stones near Inverness and finds herself time-transferred to Scotland of year 1743 and among other things becomes a Mrs. Fraser in the process? Apparently she sets out to prevent a ill-fated Jacobite uprising (that of 1745) on the next season, which I find ironically hilarious in the context here.
Posted by: Teemu | November 8, 2015 3:57 AM
Walter Lawson put forth the theory etc, that is. I messed my text there somehow. Which he already mentioned here too in shorter version.
Alasdhair is the Laird of Kinross, and Moira will be the Lady in the future, so certainly a father and daughter. I totally loved how extatic Alasdhair gets upon learning Kitty's mutation and the science behind it, and hate that if he really dies during WWII then he won't be around there after all to encourage Moira's interest towards her scientific discipline that'll be bringing her a Nobel one day.
ChrisW: "Also, Strucker's family has been warriors for a hundred generations? If every female ancestor gave birth by the time she was twelve, that would put his lineage going back to before the Holy Roman Empire was established by Charlemagne in 800 AD. I'm skeptical. It sounds even more unlikely if his family was from Prussia."
Maybe they kept particularly good family records, on skins and birch bark and whatelse. Shame that the generation after the next one are likelier to be banjo-players...
Posted by: Teemu | November 8, 2015 4:12 AM
Who would burn the written records as soon as they had a need to keep warm, like the following January. Exactly. Does anyone else think Claremont isn't meticulous about continuity?
Posted by: ChrisW | November 9, 2015 11:51 PM
If this had never been released, it would have always just been talked about as a great unreleased book. Instead, we can see why it wasn't released in the first place. What a clusterf--k.
Fnord, by the way, Kitty did meet Jean/Phoenix in #131, even though she didn't join the X-Men until after she had "died".
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 22, 2016 11:36 AM
Maybe I'm just a parochial American, but I find Claremont's fetishistic attitude towards Scotland ridiculous. Sure, the gave us golf, whiskey, and the Enlightenment, but when I hear about the Stone of Scone, I just wonder if it's served with jam or clotted cream...
Posted by: Andrew | September 10, 2017 3:59 PM
How can a story about Rachel's time in Mojoworld morph into this trainwreck...
Posted by: Bibs | January 16, 2018 3:56 AM
This really is a freaking mess, isn't it? I think I got this (and read it) in real time, but I'm not certain I still have it. I've seen SO many references in entries I've read lately to the project that became True Friends, so I figured I should check it out. Jesus, I'm glad I don't remember anything about this train wreck. I mean, wow. I'm just gonna go on ignoring its existence, like I do with a lot of messy stories I hate (looking at you, most of the second half of JMS' Amazing Spider-Man run).
Posted by: J-Rod | May 12, 2018 1:52 PM
In Claremont comics, “Outer Dark,” like “Elder Gods,” tends to refer to the N’Garai. We met an N’Garai priestess or vassal called the Shadowqueen in Claremont’s Dr Strange run. Farouk’s invocation of the “Autarchs of the Outer Dark” here probably marks him out as a N’garai associate, too.
Not that every echo of other Claremont stories is necessarily significant. The line about how mutants are wild card’s in evolution’s deck and that’s why the supposedly order-obsessed Shadow King hates him is a close paraphrase of Sabertooth’s explanation to Wolverine circa X-Men 212 for why Sinister ordered the mutant massacre. (SBertooth says something like Sinister is dealing a new hand that doesn’t have a place for wild cards like the Morlocks.)
Claremont might in part be referencing George RR Martin’s Wild Cards series, to which CC would contribute. But card motifs come up quite a bit in Claremont stories: Destiny has a tarot here, and of course Gambit uses cards to channel his power.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | July 16, 2018 2:33 AM
Good catch on the re-use of the "wild cards" metaphor. It does seem to be a metaphor he wanted to use even though it doesn't actually seem to fit either Shadow King, or Sinister's motives for killing the Morlocks. (How are the Morlocks, none of which are that powerful or involved in above-ground activities, a risk to any plan of Sinister's? I was never keen on the Dark Beast retcon but frankly that makes more sense. I think Sabretooth is just BSing there.)
As yourself & Michael have already said, it's kind of a weird mythology if the Shadow King, a manifestation of nightmares from the dawn of humanity, apparently wants this ordered crystalline universe, & he's the absence of passion, so he goes about it by corrupting people & making them enjoy their darkest desires, & he sees mutants as a wild card? In some ways that might be more interesting than Marvel's usual pantheon of immortal beings that only represent one particular aspect, & I'm not saying it couldn't be interesting if you find a way to make all that fit together, but it definitely seems like random contradictory elements that have been thrown together at different times of the character's conception.
Also we have Phoenix as a "good" cosmic entity who represents passion, but is both a force of creation & destruction/life & death, but is a risk of corrupting its human hosts with its seductive power, and its opposite, the Shadow King, who enjoys corrupting/seducing humans. A very Claremontian mythology there.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 16, 2018 7:47 AM
Everything Farouk/Shadow King had previously done makes him seem like a devilish agent of chaos & temptation, except the references here & in the apparent reference in UXM #255. It just doesn't seem to hold true to then claim he wants a precise, ordered, controlled universe, or why mutants are a threat to that universe in a way that non-mutant superheroes aren't. The X-gene is not something randomly created, it goes back thousands of years. (If it's that a lot of mutants have telepathic powers that may be a threat to him, well maybe, but there are non-mutant telepaths too like Moondragon.)
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 16, 2018 8:02 AM
Well, Moondragon is a bit complicated by her ancestry tracing back to the pacifist Kree and their connection to the Cotati... Dr. Strange & Dr. Druid have some non-mutant/alien ancestry, natural psychic abilities enhanced by their magic studies...
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | July 17, 2018 9:34 PM
Moondragon is a human raised by the Titans.
Posted by: AF | July 18, 2018 4:37 AM
If you read the Celestial Madonna storyline, it’s implied that Moondragon and Mantis were descended from the pacifist Kree who hid on Earth and Titan, or are at least the results of a selective breeding program overseen by the Cotati. I don’t think they qualify as natural human telepaths.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | July 18, 2018 11:22 AM
My understanding is that they were *trained* by the Kree priests, but not actually genealogically related to them. For one, Heather Douglas's family is well-documented; her contact with the Shao-Lom monastery on Titan happened only because Thanos slew her parents after they saw his reconnaissance ship, and Mentor had her taken to Titan as an orphan. It's not even fully clear that the Shao-Lom monastery on Titan is made up of Kree exiles; I believe they've sometimes been described as Eternals who were trained by the Priests of Pama.
Mantis, too, was brought to the priests by happenstance; her father was the mercenary Gustav Brandt, later Libra, and her mother was a Vietnamese woman, the sister of the crimelord Monsieur Khrull. Brandt and his then-infant daughter stumbled upon the priests after Khrull burned them out of their house in a murder attempt that only killed her sister.
In both cases, human female children were *raised* in part or in whole by the Priests of Pama or their offshoots, but they are not actually their descendants so far as I can tell. And the psionic gifts seem to come from contact with the Cotati, the plant-beings, not from the Kree exiles themselves.
In the case of Moondragon, we have some evidence that she may have had latent psionic potential: her cousin was later turned into Sundragon via an apparent experiment conducted by the aliens called the Dance. Of course, this is by a different writer, many years later.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 18, 2018 7:25 PM
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