X-Men & Alpha flight # 1 - 2 (Oct 1985), New Mutants Special Edition (Nov '85), and X-Men Annual # 9 (Dec '85)
X-Men & Alpha Flight: The Magic X-Men
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Paul Smith
We're started off with Madelyn and Scott on a routine flight above Canada.
We take a few minutes to learn some details about the random human passengers on board. At first I had no idea why we were wasting so much time learning about these people, but I figured it out eventually. This guy likes to draw!
There is a blinding flash of light and the plane goes down.
Rachel can feel her daddy in trouble. Want to guess how she reacts? Did you guess that she freaks the fuck out and flies immediately there? If so, you were right!
The X-Men had noticed that the last time there was a shenanigan impacting flight above Canada, Alpha Flight was involved (as covered in 7: UXM 109 - 124 (Just Killing Time Until the Dark Phoenix Saga). Rachel shows up and immediately starts whaling on them. Eventually the X-Men show up and cooler heads prevail.
X-Men and Alpha Flight travel together to the location of the plane crash. Snowbird starts getting incredibly sick and no one is sure why.
We get a quick look into Asgard where Loki is told that he can gain the favor of the leaders of Asgard (in his bid to rule Asgard) if he can do a noble deed for the people of Midgard (Earth).
The teams find this giant, magical palace near the plane crash. It looks oddly similar to the drawing from that one plane passenger...
A hooded figure shows up and it ends up being Scott, who is able to open his eyes without his visor or Ruby Quartz sunglasses.
This is the first time that Scott meets Rachel and he notices that something seems familiar. Rachel physically threatens everyone not tell him the truth so she can do it herself (which I'm still waiting for...)
Each of the passengers from the plane have been transformed into super beings with powers that align with the individual passions we had learned about earlier.
Madelyn has the power to heal people and actually heals Puck of dwarfism! He literally stretches out into a normal sized person and is so throw off from the change he has trouble walking.
Rogue is able to turn her powers off and quickly decides to test it out by kissing Northstar. These two create a special little bond in these series that I'm curious if we'll ever see again in the future. I glossed over a fight earlier when she had absorbed his powers for a little bit. Everyone on his team seems to assume that he's an asshole, but Rogue says that after absorbing his memories, she realizes that he is a very good person inside.
Shaman's magical bag starts going a little nuts and all these magical creatures keep jumping out and attacking people. The speedster twins take the bag far away and hide it.
Rogue keeps trying to make the most of this and asks Northstar to dance. I have the feeling they banged off screen.
I am glossing over a lot here, but eventually Wolverine figures out what is going on. Loki had created a magical spot on earth that grants all of these powers, but the cost is that it is draining all of the magic in the universe. This is why Snowbird is dying (she's a magical creature) and why Shaman's bag is going nuts.
There are some in the group who think it's worth it to keep these gifts at the cost of Magic. Rachel is obsessed with saving mutants, so she'll take whatever edge she can get. Sasquatch is on board because the beast like tendencies had been slowly infecting him and he is now free of that. Aurora is "cured" of her alternate personality and doesn't want it coming back.
Colossus surprisingly leads the charge of those who think it's worth it and none other than my fave Kitty drops a logic bomb on him. This is not the last time she diffuses a battle using her passionate intelligence in this blog! They actually do fight a bit, but it ends pretty anti-climatically.
Eventually the elder Asgardian Gods show up and make note that this is not a true boon being done for Mankind. They force him to take it all back and deny his petition. He is not happy about it and while he has to swear never to take revenge on the X-Men, he makes clear that he plans on getting revenge somehow.
New Mutants Special Edition: Slumming with the Gods
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Arthur Adams
We open with Loki asking the Enchantress to kidnap Storm and the New Mutants. The New Mutants are ambushed by Asgardian Riders who whisk them away to Asgard.
When faced with the Enchantress, Magik tries to quickly teleport them all away but the Enchantress interrupts the spell, splitting up the entire team throughout Asgard and even sending one of them backwards in time. This is a fun plot device to have an X-Men title play around the entirety of Asgard. We'll check in with each team member before they call came back together.
Before being sent to Asgard, we were treated to a scene where Karma was refusing to eat and depressed about what had happened to her body.
It turns out that Karma is sent by Magik to the middle of a desert, and back a few months in time.
She eventually meets a young girl who she decides she needs to take care of and they travel together through the desert.
Over months of traveling and barely eating, Karma gets herself back into shape. So this reminds me of one of my favorite book series, the Lightbringer, by Brent Weeks. One of the main characters in the book (Kip) is a chubby young boy. Now Kip did eventually have a period of time where he was trapped on an island and starved himself into better shape, but that didn't happen until the 4th (of 5) books. And even then, he stayed a little chubby because it was part of who he was. I really appreciated that because you expect a hero who is overweight to immediately go through a training montage and lose all the weight, but I really liked that it didn't happen.
Now here with Karma, I do understand that she couldn't stay that large forever, however I felt a bit disappointed that it didn't take long at all for her to work that weight off. First of all, that's not realistic, second of all, we could have really had some interesting character development with her struggling with weight loss and having teenage body issues. I guess that's too much to ask for from a comic.
As a further reminder that Cypher is useless, he is deposited into a tavern and immediately thrown to the kitchens and forced to do menial work.
Eventually Doug is saved by Warlock. We are really getting into a routine here where these two are never far from each other. And we see that Warlock keeps finding different ways to integrate himself with Doug, in this way encasing him in a tank.
Roberto is having the time of his life. He gets put into a bar with the Warriors Three (Remember them from the Thor movies?). He drinks a lot of ale, gets into fights, and becomes friends with these viking friends. He had been really down lately on earth about how humans were treating them, so he develops the most extreme perspective of the team, preferring to stay on Asgard.
Ok, remember in Thor Ragnarok when Hela destroyed Mjolnir (his hammer), so Thor went to see Peter Dinklage, who was a giant dwarf named Eitri to make him a new hammer? Ok, well that's where Sam gets sent. He spends most of his time getting to know Eitri and his dwarf family.
Eventually Loki shows up and asks him to create a hammer for Storm so that she can replace Thor. I guess she already controls thunder and lightning, so she's as natural a replacement as any. Loki is really taken with her.
Ok, so this one is a bit weird. Rahne meets a prince who can shift between wolf and wolf/man form. We don't see him turn into a human, so I think he might be restricted to those two forms. The two of them seem to fall in love with each other, but of course Rahne constantly questions herself. I will say this is the first time I stopped rolling my eyes every time she had an internal conflict. It could be tough to be very religious when in human form, but then to have natural beastial desires when living as a wolf.
Magma gets the smallest amount of screen time as she is deposited with fairies, gnomes, and other small Fae folk.
She is eventually transformed into a fairy herself.
In arguably the most important development from this series, Dani comes across a winged horse that is captured in barbed wire. She saves the horse and is immediately accepted by it and able to fly on it's back.
It turns out that anyone who can ride one of these winged horses becomes a Valkryie. Remember Tessa Thompson in Thor Ragnorak? Yea, she's one of them now.
As mentioned before, Loki is quite taken with Storm. He restores her elemental powers (or at least thunder and lightning) and wants her to serve by his side.He also gives her the ability to transform into a falcon.
Ok, now we're going to start moving forward with the main storyline. So after the Enchantress stops Illyana from teleporting everyone away, she chains her up and beings torturing her.
The Enchantress rips out the Darkchilde persona and sends her on a mission to round up her team-mates.
Warlock/Doug find Karma in the desert and join forces against Illyana/Darkchilde and a possessed Sunspot and Wolfsbane.
In a pretty cool set of panels, Karma (still bothers me how fit she looks now) promises that she will never be a slave again. Warlock transforms Doug into a transformer or something.
Sam had met up with the fairy version of Amara and they join the fight.
Dani shows up as well to pitch in with the war effort.
The group shows up to the Enchatress at first pretending to be controlled by Illyana, but it turns out they are all free of will. They start attacking her as a team.
Magma possesses the Darkchilde and forces her to rejoin with the chained Illyana.
This allows Illyana to transport everyone, including the Enchantress. to Limbo where they can control the situation. Many of them argue in favor of staying in Asgard, not to mention that Storm is still captured, and that's pretty much where we leave off before switching to the X-Men Annual where the senior team takes over the focus.
Uncanny X-Men Annual # 9: First good Annual ever.
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Arthur Adams
Kitty and Illyana have a special connection which is triggered at some point while Illyana is going through her trauma. Rachel amplifies the thoughts in Kitty's head so everyone can see what she is seeing. They are able to deduce that the New Mutants are in Asgard.
Odd that a flashback into something that already happens precipitates a wardrobe change for the Echantress.
A lot to dig in to here. So first, Rachel shows off her new outfit. She is CLEARLY doing this to elicit a reaction out of everyone, especially Scott. This kind of reminds me of a typical immature teen lashing out. She's basically saying "Dad, you totally know I'm your daughter, but you're ignoring me. How does this make you feel? Try explaining this to your new wife. You know, the chick who isn't my mom!"
This also starts the unraveling of Scott and Maddy's relationship. It's one of the first times where she expects him to be retired forever and he is clearly questioning it. Not great that they aren't on the same page.
Also, Scott brings out those weird lightning bolts that Akron gave him in past terrible Annual's. Odd that Akron wasn't from Asgard, but conveniently they will work to get them there now.
Back in Asgard, Eitri entrusts the hammer that he created for Loki to Sam and Amara.
The X-Men are immediately attacked upon arriving in Asgard.
The X-Men save the wolf prince who was being attacked and he agrees to take them to the New Mutants, However, Hela shows up to issue some threats.
Peter and the gang find Illyana and they discover that she seems to be embracing her more cruel nature.
Warlock got attacked and isn't doing well, so Doug offers to merge with him to allow him to syphon off some of his life energy. This is another continuation of the formation of Douglock.
Eventually Loki shows up in a final face off. Nightcrawler has the idea to give as many of the team's powers as possible to Rogue so she can fight him. I love how they keep using her powers to create a mega mutant. They never did this in the cartoon or movies and that seems like a big missed opportunity.
She starts beating on Loki and this is the first time we get some indication that seconds of touching translate to minutes of absorbed powers.
Storm, the thunder God shows up and at first is a bit brainwashed by Loki, but eventually snaps out of it.
Kitty once again drops a logic bomb on Loki to get them all out of it. She basically reminds him that he can't stop all of them, and eventually one of them will find Thor or others and tell them that he broke his oath (from the end of the Alpha Flight crossover).
He gives in to her logic and decides to undo everything and send them back, Some of them aren't thrilled about it, like Sam who enjoyed drinking and Storm who got her powers back. However, some of them are thrilled, such as Magma who was still stuck in her fairy form and Cypher who kept getting his ass kicked. One notable exception was that Dani is being allowed to bring Brightwind back to earth because apparently this is a bond that can't be broken. Thus begins a brand new, and important, story element for Dani where she will be a valkyrie with a flying horse from now on, in addition to some other new powers which we'll touch on in the future.
What's this!? An X-Men Annual that doesn't suck? Say it isn't so!
We'll actually start the journey about 6 months prior to the current continuity because there is an X-Men and Alpha Flight crossover that leads pretty nicely into this. Our favorite X characters take a journey to Asgard in the middle of the Secret Wars epic. The New Mutants find themselves transported to Asgard in the New Mutants Special Edition and then the X-Men go in after them in X-Men Annual # 9. I'm really glad to see the Annual actually be worth reading because it was getting a little rough there the last few years.
My Rating - 8/10
Previous Post - 33: UXM 198 - 199 (Secret Wars Vol.2, 4 - 5)
Next Post - 35: UXM 200 (Trial of Magneto)