UXM 193 - 195 (May - July '85), Power Pack # 12
In #193, James Proudstar (Warpath) attacks the X-Men
In #194, Nimrod attacks the X-Men
In #195 & Power Pack #12, Kitty Pryde leads the X-Men to save Power Pack against the Morlocks
UXM #193: Warpath or Thunderbird?
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - John Romita Jr.
Let's start by going back in time. In UXM #195, John Proudstar (Thunderbird) was a brand new X-Man who died on a mission. Banshee and Thunderbird were chasing down a villain named Count Nefaria when Thunderbird jumped on a plane and bashed it in with his firsts until it blew up.
Here we see James Proudstar, the brother of the deceased X-Man. He is wearing the costume of his older brother and attacking Banshee to get revenge on behalf of his brother.
As a quick check in, we had seen Professor Xavier beat up by a bunch of students and someone had saved him. Here we see that it was Callisto and the Morlocks. Also, this is the second female mutant who forces a hero to dress in a punk getup.
Here we see a very important point. The Morlock, Healer, brought Xavier back to life, but he wasn't able to completely heal him. Charles is told that he needs to take it easy or else he will die. Spoiler, he definitely doesn't take it easy.
In a quick tee up for Issue #195, we see that the children of a Morlock named Annalee were murdered, simply for being a mutant.
Fellow Hellions, Empath and Roulette show up to help Proudstar with his extortion mission.
He plans on luring the X-Men into a trap when they come to save Banshee. He's holding Banshee at the same military installation Count Nefaria had taken over when his brother was killed.
Hey, look, it's Firestar! When I read this originally I read this comic before her miniseries and didn't really catch a bunch of comments with her. But don't worry, I covered her series in the previous blog so we're nice and prepared. It looks like Empath and manipulated her into loving him and she is now doing whatever he wants. Also, this takes place DURING the miniseries.
Xavier comes back to the mansion, still dressed ridiculously, and the team lets him have it. I love that they bring in Sam to have him remind us that Charles chastised him after Lila Cheney had dressed him up similarly in the New Mutants Annual.
The X-Men teleport in one at a time and we see that Kurt is really wiped out.
It turns out, as we knew, that this was all really a trap to get Professor X alone. He stayed in the plane thinking he was safe, but Empath and Roulette find him and knock him out. Professor Xavier tries to use his powers but it backfires and hurts him since he's supposed to be taking it easy.
A pretty cool fight scene between Wolverine and Proudstar breaks out.
Proudstar actually finds a way to defeat both Wolverine and Kitty. He has a perfect set up where he can lock them in and they would choke to death on some gas. But he starts to have a crisis of conscience. Kitty is brand new to the team and he would be killing her for no reason. And Wolverine was on the team, but not as responsible as Xavier. He thinks better of this and saves them.
The Hellions, with the help of Firestar, are kicking the X-Men's ass but Colossus is able to talk some sense into Angelica (as she's kicking his ass too) and she ends up backing down.
Proudstar eventually corners Xavier in the plane. He goes on a rant blaming him for everything and threatening to kill him. Xavier backs down and tells him that he won't stand in his way, but he does try to talk some sense into him.
Proudstar breaks down and Professor Xavier consoles him. I'm guessing this is the start of him changing from Thunderbird to Warpath, a future member of X-Force (and maybe a member of the X-Men at one time!?)
While the X-Men, Proudstar, and Firestar escape unharmed, the X-Men's rep is further damaged as the authorities think the attack was all them.
Pretty cool scene here where Sam is PISSED at Empath (Dude's an asshole) for mistreating Angelica. I wonder if the two of them will ever have a moment again. (Legitimately don't know, let's keep reading!)
Warpath and Firestar will go back to Emma Frost and the Hellions.
A quick little scene here where the mutant hunting robot, Nimrod, is disguising himself as a human.
The bottom line here is that Nimrod has realized, much like Rachel, that this is not the past he was expecting. He decides that his new mission will be to stop mutant criminals. Since he hears that the X-Men are responsible for the attack on this military installation, he marks them as his next target. Buckled up, Nimrod's on deck!
UXM 194: Nimrod!
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - John Romita Jr.
I love this. Nightcrawler hears that the Juggernaut is active and is like "No, I'm sick of being a superhero. I'm going back to bed."
Kitty just phases through her alarm clock and goes back to bed.
Colossus is like "Hell Yea, ready for action. That son of a bitch beat me in a bar fight and I'm ready for Round 2!"
Philosopher Logan thinking about team leadership. Nightcrawler not doing too bad. I love that he recognizes that Kitty has potential.
Nimrod shows up and starts attacking Juggernaut.
The X-Men had shown up to stop Juggernaut, but decided to stay neutral when Nimrod arrived...until he made it clear that he was going after them too. Kitty realizes for the first time that he's a robot and the X-Men are getting their ass kicked again.
I LOVE this. Rogue had never done this in the movies or cartoon (that I remember) but she's been doing this lately to great effect. She keeps purposely taking on additional powers of the team so she can become Megazord, the Super X-man!
Rogue thinks she destroys Nimrod, but then he starts putting himself back together. Luckily he realizes that he needs to come back and be more prepared for the X-Men next time. This is the second time in the last 10 issues that a sentient robot underestimated the X-Men after a fight and fled.
Power Pack # 12: Morlocks are gross
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - John Romita Jr.
In case you didn't know, Power Pack is a superhero comic about 4 young kids who find their way into Super Powers. I had originally intended to read a bunch of these issues and then feature them in a blog, however I found the writing to be a geared towards a younger audience and I just wasn't feeling it. I was also excited to read about Franklin Richards, the mutant son of Fantastic Four's first family, who eventually joins the team, however that doesn't happen for a long time and I decided not to commit to this series to make it to that point.
Here the four Powers kids are out looking for their cat. Lol, see what I mean? There a bunch of panels dedicated to them searching for a cat. It's enjoyable, but just a little light.
The X-Men are prominently featured in this issue. We see Nightcrawler and Shadowcat (fun to finally be able to use her true superhero name) visiting the Morlocks, checking in on behalf of Storm.
Hey, what do you know? It's Kitty Pryde being awesome. While she's down there, she brings a gift for her good friend Caliban. I really love this. Most young girl's would probably be scared of the Morlocks or pissed at Caliban for almost forcing her to marry him, but instead the pities and him and befriends him. Yup, Kitty's my fave!
Haha! A gift from her trip to Japan.
So the Power Pack went down in the sewers looking for their cat when some of the Morlocks attacked them.
The Morlocks subdued the kids and kidnapped them. These are some goofy mutants. One of them is made of tar and things get stuck to him where another one can change his shape and literally becomes a can and puts the kids inside of him.
Kitty and Kurt see some suspicious things going on so they check it out.
It turns out that these Morlocks (including Masque) were kidnapping these kids to give them to Annalee. In the earlier issue we saw that her kids were killed by some anti mutant groups. The X-Men interfere, save the kids, and forbid them from going after them again. But will they listen!?
UXM #195: KITTY THE BADASS LEADER!
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - John Romita Jr.
The Powers kids make it back home and decide to all sleep at the foot of their parents bed since they were scared. (Trust me, as a father of three, this is a very legitimate response for a gang of kids). Unfortunately, when morning comes the kids don't remember who they are. Something is wrong, but they aren't sure what. They leave to investigate.
It turns out that the Morlock, Annalee, has the power to impact people's memories and had set them up to be re-captured. Masque starts disfiguring them (really messed up) and then the youngest one, Katie, escapes.
Kitty ends up seeing on the news that Katie was in a hospital and no one knows who she is. Kitty recognizes the outfit and decides to go check on her.
I love this image of Kitty and I bet I will use it for my Team images for a long time. Kitty breaks Katie out of the hospital and she tells the X-Men what happened.
Wolverine calls her boss.
LOOOOOOOOVE THIS. Ok, obviously I love Kitty. I had no idea that a situation would present itself where she could become team leader, but here we go! Awesome! I actually liked this so much that I decided to start a "Favorite Issues" page on my blog so I can rank favorite issues as new favorite contenders pop up!
When the X-Men find Annalee, we see that the kids memories have been altered and faces changed as well. They thought this would stop Callisto from figuring out that they broke her and Storm's rules.
Hey, what do you know, more awesome stuff happening. Ok so let me explain what this is about. The rest of the Morlocks see the X-Men stealing the powers kids back, but they don't know it's them so they think they are kidnapping Morlocks. There is a huge swarm of them coming at them and Wolverine is like "Well, I have some murdering to do." And Kitty's response is "Yea, I guess you do." And Wolverine is like "This isn't pretty, but you have the guts to be leader because you can recognize that." Just love this. I REALLY can't wait to follow Kitty over the years.
Really quick, I'm just going to say that I know Kitty ends up joining Excalibur in 1988 (this comic is from 1985) and I'm kind of pissed about it. I don't want her to leave Wolverine and Colossus and Storm. I have no idea where the team will be in 3 more years of publishing, but they better find a good way to make that shit work.
Eventually Callisto figures out what is going on and punishes the group who had done the kidnapping. The Powers kids are returned safely and all is well for the time being.
My beloved Kitty Pryde gets a chance to lead the X-Men. First, Kitty shows her leadership chops by taking charge and rescuing Katie Power from the hospital.
If you look close enough, this is also a story about Philosopher Wolverine showing up to provide mentorship for Kitty. He says "You got the talent Shadowcat, today you start racking up some experience." Wolverine knows that no one on the team would speak up to him, so he uses that respect to prop up Kitty as opposed to seeking the leadership role himself. He provides her with the confidence and the agency to take charge, which she does brilliantly.
Kitty is able to make the hard call, sending Wolverine in to do the dirty work. This is a direct correlation to Storm also understanding that Wolverine would need to do some killing alone during the Mutant Massacre. The best leaders try to avoid the loss of life, but when the cards are on the line, protecting your people becomes the most important consideration.
While these issues aren't fantastic, we get three strong examples of Claremont's abilities to make nuanced villains. Most comics struggle with creating mustache twirling, one note villains, but Claremont brings depth to his adversaries.
James Proudstar, eventually known as Warpath, conceived this convoluted plot to trap the X-Men at the same location where his brother was killed. This could be a straight forward villain story with a grief stricken brother acting on his darkest impulses to exact revenge, but we see him struggling with the goodness within. First, he sees Wolverine and Kitty perfectly in place to die, but he realizes that they aren't truly guilty and he just can't allow them to perish, dragging them to safety.
Later, he has a chance to enact revenge on Charles, the person he is sure bares responsibility for his brothers death. But while the knife is in the air, he buckles under the realization that this isn't what his brother would have wanted.
Late, in #194, Claremont even takes time to humanize a murderous robot! Nimrod is shown living with a family, trying to learn about humanity, and questioning whether his programming is accurate. In #195, Annalee of the Morlocks is still pretty iredeemable, but we are shown that she is acting out of the grief causes when the Mauraders killed her children.
Claremont increases the emotional investment of his readers by not creating three dimensional heroes, but showing why the villains might be the heroes of their own stories. Claremont's run is all about redemption, with these three villains an appetizer leading up to his Magnum Opus, the heel turn of Magneto.
When this first started happening, I assumed he would just be out of commission for a few issues and then this would be over. But I am a few issues ahead and his sickness becomes a major plot point. Like...a big one. The more I think about it, the more I realize that X-Men creatives are CONSTANTLY sidelining Charles. I talk a lot about how he is a dick in the comics and I keep waiting to see if he gets any better. He has improved a tiny bit, but I don't think the creative team likes him much either. I think they want Storm or Cyclops to be the true leaders and that's all there is to it.
Quick check in with Kitty on on this random slice of life panel. Just a reminder that she's a kid genius in addition to a bad ass superhero. (I wonder if any readers out there are annoyed with my fascination with Kitty).
Claremont is making it clear that Nightcrawler as Team leader is a temporary thing. He's not doing terrible, but he's not doing great either. Some people are just better in a supportive role. Here we see him being hard on himself and questioning his decisions.
Philosopher Wolverine isn't sure if Kurt is up for it. I like that he's giving him the benefit of the doubt and attributing his shortcomings to him pushing it too hard and being a little to scared.
I didn't really feature this much in my synopsis, but Rachel freaked out while on the mission against Proudstar and the Hellions. We're learning more about her past where she was used a hound to track other mutants, so when she is asked to track the X-Men, it puts her through an episode. She essentially sat out an entire issue while she was crying.
Speaking of crying, I'm starting to wonder if she is going to spend most of her on screen time freaking out and crying? Is she going to be mopey together?
Here's another thought. Why is Rachel with the X-Men. She's a kid, why wasn't she put with the New Mutants? In the story, it might have been because her training is far more advanced. For the writing, it's probably because she is Jean and Scott's daughter so she needs to be close to where Jean and Scott would be, the senior team.
So here's something I don't understand. Rachel sent Kate Pryde back in time during Days of Future Past, which changed the course of events. However, the Dark Phoenix saga took place a few issues before that? So it's not like Rachel interfering with the past created the Phoenix, that had happened before she started tampering. I wonder if this is the type of things you're just not supposed to think about. Is this supposed to be an alternate timeline or are they glossing over that point and making us think that things are just differed because of DoFP. If we don't get answers to this in the next 20 issues or not, I may do some research to find out.
Quick little scene here with Kitty accidentally mentioning Jean Grey.
We get a few check ins with Storm. She actually made it out of the USA, heading to Africa via boat. I wonder how long of a trip that is? Probably months.
Once she gets to Africa, we see her carrying weapons and doing some local crimefighting. Pretty cool to see her as a physical warrior, continuing to be badass without her powers.
We get this VERY random check in with this Russian guy Colonel Vashin, commenting about the US governments treatment of the X-Men. I have NO IDEA who this guy is or why this is important, but I am flagging it here in case we'll need to know in the future.
My Rating - 7/10
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