UXM 154 - 157, 162 - 166
Uncanny X-Men Annual # 6
The Brood Saga
Here we go again with another fantastic and iconic X-Men story: The Brood Saga. I had seen the animated version of this but never read the comics and just like the Dark Phoenix Saga and DoFP, it doesn't disappoint.
The great Dave Cockrum kicks things off and new recurring penciler, Paul Smith, will finish off the story (penciling #165 & 166). You can tell that the pencilers had their personal favorites. Claremont has the following to say about his various artists in the documentary "Claremont's X-Men:"
When we started, Dave emphasized Nightcrawler because he loved Nightcrawler. To him, NC was the coolest thing since sliced bread.
John Byrne loved Logan, and that shifted the evolution in a slightly different direction.
Smitty, I like to think the character who stepped to the foreground was Storm.
Claremont was a huge fan of Paul Smith and had the following to say about Smith in Comic Creators on X-Men.
"Paul Smith’s contribution to X-Men is sort of immeasurable. The thing with Paul was that he found a way to present the characters that was strong yet vulnerable and sympathetic."
I've heard that Smith came onto the comic and noticed that all of the characters were drawn the same (males vs. females). So he decided to start giving all of them their own shape with Wolverine being shorter and stockier. Colossus towering over everyone. Cyclops earning that slim nickname, etc.
This story arc is epic in itself, but all the fascinating character beats going on in the background elevates this even further. For instance there is a fantastic conversation between Storm and Cylcops about who will lead the team, which as a reader I can't get enough of hearing these two talk about this openly. I feel like Claremont is so good at thinking of every plot development, then stopping and finding the best way to show how each character would react to that situation.
This is also the story where Cyclops finally finds out that Corsair is his father. The plot is heavy so they don't get to marinade in this quite as much, but it will open some great father/son catching up moments in future stories. Speaking of space faring secondary characters, this series also gives us the first introduction to the nuanced villain Deathbird, the sister of Lilandra.
Within the Brood Saga, there is this great moment with Storm having a Brood infestation and she freaks the eff out. I think you can really draw a line from Storm's later transformation to this moment, when she was really stopped feeling comfortable in her own skin.
But the greatest story here is Wolverine's tale, primarily in Issue #162. Wolverine is also infected by a Brood and spends 24 hours fighting it internally, while trying to fight for his life externally with Brood and other wildlife. After he beats it, he continues to struggle with being the one to tell his friends that they are all going to die. It's just great stuff and I felt myself on the edge of my seat throughout the whole thing.
Oh, and Kitty sets the record with the amount of wardrobe changes in a single arc. Love that kid!
Well, let's get into it!
My Rating - 10/10
Issues 154 - 157
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Dave Cockrum
Like many story arcs, we start with some peaceful training and hanging out at the mansion. Scott and Orroro were playing an intense game of mutant tether ball and now are sitting down together having breakfast and reading the paper. They begin to talk about whether there is a rivalry between them...
And Storm reflects on how she feels about being the leader of the X-Men.
There is a crash outside and none other but the Space Pirate, Corsair lands in the X-Mansion's front yard. As Scott saves Corsair, he finds a locket that has a picture of his family. It's hard to believe that everyone knew Corsair was his father until now, but this is actually the big reveal for him. Oh, and he's pissed that Storm knew and didn't tell him. It's kind of sweet though because Storm was respecting Jean's wishes not to tell him.
It turns out there are these giant alien spider robot things swarming the mansion.
And in the movie Arachnophobia, I mean Uncanny X-Men Issue # 54, these alien spider things demolish the mansion...again and start swarming our favorite mutants.
Scott, Storm, and Corsair go through a wild goose chase but eventually prevail in destroying the alien spider things. Corsair brings the X-Men up to speed and we learn that Lilandra was kidnapped and the Starjammers were framed.
Scott starts laying into his pops about never coming back to Earth to check on his family. He thought they were dead, but...he has a point.
Later, all of the X-Men, including those on vacation (like Kitty) are teleported into space aboard the Shi'ar cruiser.
Here the remaining Shi'ar leadership and our good friends the Imperial Guard have brought the X-Men here as they may be implicated in Lilandra's kidnapping.
Ouch, Charles goes to Scott first for advice and Storm's not having any of it!
They decide to split up. Most of the X-Men will go back to earth but Kurt and Kitty will remain on the starship as captives. Before leaving though, the Prof downloads his master plan and all knowledge he has on the Shi'ar into Kitty's brain.
The X-Men go to the Avengers for help (Still don't understand why) but no one is home but their newest member Tigris. I bet I know why. Marvel wanted to get their new hero more publicity. I think it worked considering how many MCU movies she has appeared in...
Meanwhile Kitty is having a good old time playing with the dress up machine on the ship. Look more Star Wars humor from Kitty. Love her spunk!
And on earth we see our first member of the Brood speaking perfect English and sniping X-Men from a local building.
We also get our first look at DEATHBIRD, Lilandra's sister. We see that she partnered with the evil Brood horde to help usurp her sister's throne.
Of course, a fight breaks out and the cat tries to claw at the bird.
Colossus gets wrecked by some Brood gun, but he's mostly ok at this point.
A cool fight breaks out while all the good guys pick up guns and start attacking the Brood.
But oh no, while the healthy X-Men were finishing off the Brood, Deathbird snuck in and impaled Colossus! I wonder if he'll die.
Suddenly, the X-Men and Corsair (but not Tigra) are teleported aboard the Starjammer vessel.
They have a kick ass alien robot doctor guy who will look over Peter.
Oh, Kitty is still trying on new outfits and having a great time...
Until one of the Shi'ar military leaders is a real asshole and shows Kitty what happened to Colossus.
It turns out this guy is more than just an asshole, he is conspiring with Deathbird. What a double asshole!
Charles and Lilandra are at least in prison together on the Brood spaceship.
Scott gets more backstory on Corsair, however I had already dove into in an earlier blog via one of the Classic X-Men issues. The plane caught fire because the Shi'ar were firing on the plane.
Remember Lilandra's asshole brother D'Ken, yea well he killed Scott's mom. Lots of asshole Shi'ars today.
The Starjammers come across the Brood mother ship and it turns out it is...a super cool design! It's a giant living space whale turned into a spaceship.
The Starjammers charge into the ship and try to fight their way to Charles and Lilandra. Oh, and Colossus is fine.
More cool X-Men/Starjammer fighting.
Look at that! All the fighting was a distraction while Scott and his daddy freed his other daddy and his step mom.
Using the loss of gravity to his advantage, Charles flies over and punches a Brood in the kisser!
Scott's like "Dude, are you crazy!? You don't know how to fight, you old man." And Charles is like "I would do anything for love!"
Ooooh, I guess Colossus wasn't fully healed. He's bleeding again. I hope he lives.
Meanwhile the evil Shi'ar general guy kills the other general guy and orders the military to do evil bad guy stuff. Destroy the earth!
The Brood consider double crossing Deathbird since she failed and Lilandra escaped but she out evils them and they back down.
Hey Kurt, how about this outfit?
Oh, this one has to be the winner!
Kitty phases on the outside of the ship, figures out that the Shi'ar dude is evil, then comes back to warn Kurt.
Awesome teleporting kicking attack!
Then Kitty uses the costume machine to pretend she is Jean Grey, which scares the shit out of the Shi'ar.
This allows Kurt to reach Oracle, she's a telepath and one of Gladiator's Imperial Guard.
Gladiator, Oracle and other members of the Imperial Guard decide to help Kitty and Kurt stop evil dude from blowing up earth, but the rest of the Imperial Guard didn't get the memo.
Also, look! Remember when Wolverine beat that guy up and took his outfit. He's back. Oh Wolverine, you crack me up!
KITTY IS STILL CHANGING OUTFITS! I seriously can't stop laughing about this. Ok, ok Kitty is officially my favorite X-Man now. I wonder if it's because I have 3 daughters and these young girl antics hit close to home. Do other people love Kitty too? She's the best.
Lilandra shows up via Facetime and tells everyone to chill out. She's still alive and doesn't want to blow up earth. Crisis averted!
Is this the end of the Brood Saga? No baby, we're just getting started. The X-Men take a few issues to slow down and then the Brood saga picks back up and gets even more intense. I will cover this in between issues in my next blog so I can stay focused with the Brood narrative.
The Brood Saga: Part 2 - Issues # 162 - 166
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Dave Cockrum (162 - 164), Paul Smith (165 - 166)
For the first time in this blog series, I am skipping some issues in the main continuity. Things had slowed down for a few issues before the Brood picked back up, but I'll get back to the skipped issues soon. Speaking of skipping around, this issue jumps back and forth between "the present," flashbacks, and fever dreams so I'll try to help keep it straight.
In "the present," Logan wakes up disoriented and not quite sure where he is. Clearly not on earth because there's all sorts of crazy monsters circling him. He also feels like crap and isn't sure what's going on.
The Brood are after him and while they are overconfident, he's the best there is at what he does. And what he does is kill.
Wolverine starts to remember that the X-Men were hanging out with Lilandra when the party was crashed by...
All of the X-men were teleported somewhere and seemed to be living out a normal situation, but Wolverine could tell something was right. We did see a weird connection between Logal and Carol and I'm starting to wonder if they are going to hook up at some point. Or maybe they had a romantic relationship in their past. Not sure.
Wolverine snaps out of it in time to realize that there is actually a Brood Queen standing in front of him and it was too late.
Back to present day, Wolverine has figured it all out. The Brood Queen had injected an egg into all of the X-Men. The Brood find genetically superior beings to turn into Brood, thus increasing their overall genetic makeup. Wolverine's body is fighting it and he is super sick.
The metamorphosis begins and for a time it doesn't look good for Wolvie.
But ultimately, he beats it as his mutant healing factor expels the Brood egg. He feels like crap, but now he's pissed and it's time to go free his friends!
The first person he frees is (his boo?) Carol Danvers.
He frees all of the X-Men, however he doesn't tell them the truth about the eggs in them. We see here that Scott and Orroro are once again having a moment. This is about the time when I start to wonder what's going on here. Is this just two friends, who are both leaders, consoling each other, or is there more going on here? Cyclops has gone more than 5 minutes without a new girlfriend, so he's probably on the lookout...Let's keep our eye on this!
After some exploring and some Brood killing, they get aboard Lilandra's yacht and escape the Brood home world.
As they are being chased by the Brood, Chewbacca (I mean Colossus) goes to the gun battery and tries to blow the Brood out of the sky, but he isn't a very good shot. This causes him to start brooding (see what I did there?)
Cyclops is like "I don't need guns."
Carol is the next X-Man (after Wolverine) to have a battle for her life vs. the Brood egg.
She explodes into something completely new. While Rogue had taken her powers, she still had the superior human/Kree DNA, which when combined with the Brood turned her into a new incarnation...BINARY. I had never heard of Binary until now so I'm guessing that she didn't stay in this incarnation long, but another thing we'll need to monitor!
Storm's up next. She is talking to her new bestie Scott when she realizes there is a life inside her. At first she wonders if it's a baby, but then she realizes the truth and loses her shit.
She immediately steals a ship and takes off into open space.
This is when Wolverine realizes that he has to tell them all the truth. This part gets really sad as the rest of them realize that it is only a matter of hours until they will die. Some cry while others just get mad. There are a number of panels here that are super emotional as they all try to deal with their inevitable fate. Wolverine even considers killing them all now, but he can't do it.
Out on the spaceship, Storm's metamorphosis begins.
She ejects herself into space and all of her powers coalesce into a supernova.
She floats lifeless in space and for a time we don't know what happened to her.
Back on the ship, Wolverine finds Nightcrawler praying. This is the first time that we are introduced to him being religious (Wolvie says as much) and I'm pretty sure this becomes a continuing theme for him into the present.
The two buddies have a moment. Love these two. Basically, Kurt tells Logan that he feels for him being so alone without faith and Wolverine puts his arm around him and says "I ain't alone, Bub. I got you." Aww. Love this bromance.
Kitty and Peter have a moment together. Kitty is understandably super scared. Peter uses this time to tell her that he has wished she was older, but not now that they are going to die, they should make out.
All the sudden various members of the team start to see different versions of Storm projected throughout the ship.
Ok, so I've read through this part a bunch of times and some of it is pretty confusing. You know how there are those living ships? Well they are named the Acanti and one of their babies which hadn't been captured found Storm and she bonded with it. Now she not only control this ship, but this is a special baby ship and that some sort of control over all of the other ships. I think the baby's name is Deus Ex Machina, but I'm not entirely sure.
After the baby Acanti swallows Lilandra's Yacht, Storm goes out and find's Binary. It turns out she is pretty angry and is out fucking up the Brood planet.
Inside the ship (and the baby Acanti), Cyclops starts taking things to an exteme place and orders Wolverine to kill them all.
Wolverine really doesn't want to but he's being pushed. He lets his claws out before Kitty intervenes.
Another awesome example of Kitty being brave. Remember how I talked about the writers "telling us" about how awesome Dazzler is when I wish they would show us? This is how they show us how valorous she is without needing to tell us. She can always handle the pressure and sometimes steps in to provide logic where the adults don't have any.
Back to the leadership struggle, Cyclops apologizes to Storm.
Since they are going to do anyway, they decide to make one final assault.
Lots of fighting. But Wolverine starts to notice something odd. The Brood keep finding them and one of the X-Men is acting odd.
It's Cyclops, he's been taken over by his Brood egg!
Meanwhile, Kitty gets encircled and things look bleak...
And then she is saved by...a Dragon!?
It's Lockheed!!!!!! Kitty finds this intelligent dragon who saves her and becomes her new best friend and pet.
The X-Men are captured but Wolverine charges at Cyclops who blasts him.
Wolverine took the beating so that he could get out of his shackles.
Meanwhile, Carol (Binary) uses some of her new powers to trigger the baby Acanti. The baby wakes up all of the other ships and they begin to rebel. This rebelling begins to destroy the whole planet.
I'm still a little fuzzy on how this all gets resolved, but some combination of killing the queen, strong medical treatments from the Starjammers, freeing the Acanti, and destroying the planet allows them to free themselves of their eggs. Here's a fun scene between Scott and his dad.
A quick reminder that Corsair is banging his bunny friend, Hepzibah.
They are all banged up, but the Brood saga is now over. Hooray! Or is it?!
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