36: UXM 201 - 202 (Storm vs. Cyclops & Secret Wars Vol. 2 continued)

What’s Covered?

UXM 201 - 202, New Mutants # 36 (Oct '85) Secret Wars Volume 2 # 6 - 7, Power Pack # 18, Thor # 363, Cloak and Dagger # 4, Power Man and Iron Fist # 121, Defenders 151 - 152, , Amazing Spider-Man #273, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man # 111.


Secret Wars 2 Continues. Storm and Cyclops battle for leadership of the team. Rachel takes on the Beyond directly. Kitty becomes co-owner of Illyana's Soul Sword.

Roster Watch




Synopsis

Secret Wars Volume 2, # 6: To Vanquish Death

Alrighty, back to the tales of the Beyonder. Here he is building a brand new headquarters.

A journalist shows up who decides to help the Beyonder with his new goal "to Preserve Life." If you recall, he had recently been given temporary status as an Avenger (as covered in 33: UXM 198 - 199 (Secret Wars Vol.2, 4 - 5)), so it's time for him to save some lives.

He see a series of situations where he flies out to help people. This panel shows him on his way to fight off a Tsunami.

Saving lives only barely scratches his itch, so he scheduled a press conference and announces that he'll be ending death altogether in the universe. If he wants to save lives, then the most efficient method is to stop anyone from being able to die.


P.S. Mephisto is pissed off about this idea.

The Watchers unanimously vote to intercede and gather the strongest beings in the galaxy to convince him not to do this. They fail.

He moves forward to end all death in the universe and the repercussions are instantly felt throughout the universe. He didn't listen to the most powerful beings in the universe, but he does listen to his good pal Owen Reece, the Molecule Man. He basically says that if there is no death, then there's also no reason to bother living or doing anything at all.

The argument works and he decides to reverse it, however he had already killed Lady Death and he can't bring her back. Instead, his journalist friend volunteers to be turned into the new Death. I'm actually really curious if this new status quo is something that sticks around. One of my favorite comic events from my childhood was the Infinity Gauntlet and I distinctly remember there being both a male and female version of death. I wonder if this version is here to stay???


Secret Wars Volume 2 Tie ins

Power Pack # 18 : Can the Beyonder be Trusted?

A villain named Kurse (who the Beyonder had unleashed in the first place) is causing destruction in the middle of the city and the Pack's mom is hurt. The Beyonder transports the kids to their mom in the hospital.

The rest of the issue shows the kids fighting Kurse and at the end they believe they have defeated him, however it obviously needs to be Thor who does that.

Thor # 363: Dumb Brute Fight

The Beyonder is such a jag. He basically wants to watch a good fight so he increases the power level of Kurse so that it's more of an even fight. Thor practically dies and loses all of his power, but eventually he wins and then the Beyonder takes pity on him. He's really just messing with Thor and other people at this point.

Cloak and Dagger # 4: Poor Kids


Speaking of messing with people. Big B takes an interest in lower level street crime and decides to team up with Cloak and Dagger to that end. At one point he cures them of their infliction, but before they through celebrating, he gives them their powers back and supercharges them. That's about all that happens in this one.

Power Man and Iron Fist # 121: Corporate Bodyguards

So basically, Power Man and Iron Fist are brought to Big B's new fortress and asked to defend it. They argue a bit about ethics and Iron Fist dies protecting the building, before Big B brings him back to life. That's about it.


Uncanny X-Men # 201: Trial by Combat

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Rick Leonardi

Look, baby Cable is here!

I left all the panels here so you could read for yourself. Basically Maddie is opening up to Storm about how crappy of a husband Scott has been.


From what I understand, Scott was originally intended to be written out of the X-Men and to retire peacefully with Madelyn. However, Jim Shooter (the editor at the time), decided to create a brand new X-Men line (X-Factor) with Cyclops. I believe that Claremont was not happy about that, however he was the one to start writing Scott as a dick here. So I'm not sure if he was forced to create this trajectory for Scott or not.

Rachel is holding her half brother and having an emotional moment with baby Cable.

So there are a few things to dig into here. First, we see that Scott is pissed that the Professor isn't here to share this moment of fatherhood with him. If Charles was there, would he slap him across the face? In my head cannon he could.


We also see here the start of another important plot line, that Scott is strongly opposed to Magneto taking over the school. This is another push factor for him to leave the X-Men and ultimately join X-Factor (We'll get to that soon!)

He get a quick flash to Charles with Lil and the Starjammers. Since it's convenient for the plot, their ship is broken and they can't get back to earth anytime soon.

I LOVE slice of life scenes like this! Hmmm, so what did we get here? Kitty is throwing strikes past her ex-boyfriend. Wolverine is taunting everyone else. Rogue is scantily dressed, continuing her evolution from a homely villain to a sexy super heroine.

Maddie calls Scott out! Do you really need to lead the team or are you a coward!? I think he's a coward! (I'm a dad so I have zero patience for him).

Storm proposes a duel between them to determine who will lead the X-Men. This has been a LONG time coming and I love that Storm will take him on even though she doesn't have any powers.

Lol, everyone is jamming in to see the fight. This reminds me of when Morpheus fought Neo in my favorite movie of all time.

The setting is a rundown city, which Storm loves because it gives her places to hide from his optic blast. Also, look at how cool the danger room view screen looks in this panel. Totally cool.

Cyclops is a brilliant tactician, but Storm knows how to fight dirty when she needs to.

After a bunch of hide and seek, Storm dodges a blast and rips off his visor, effectively ending the match.

Only when being removed from leadership does Scott start to think about Madelyn, which isn't a great sign. Yea, buddy, you think you messed up?


Secret Wars Volume 2, # 7: The Thinker

So Mephisto has an evil plan to use a machine to destroy the Beyonder, but in order to deploy it, he needs one of earth's villains to lay a hand on him. He recruits most of the villains in the Marvel Universe to attack Big B at once.


Also, is that lady death? I thought she was dead? Kind of confused about that. Or maybe this is the male version of Death and he just doesn't realize it? I just looked up Lady Death's appearances on Marvel Fandom and it looks like she didn't appear in any other comics between these two, so I guess she just wasn't destroyed.

So this issue is kind of dumb, but I guess the entire series has embraced it's silliness so I might as well roll with it. He is very confused after spending last issue trying to save people and being told that was bad (because people would depend on it), then eliminating death and being told that was bad because it took away the reason to live. He goes to this remote island and just starts thinking.

Eventually many other people come to the island too to do their own thinking. This is kind of like Forest Gump when he "just went out for a run."

All of the villains show up to take him down. Ironically, the Thing had shown up to kill him himself. If you recall, they had fought before and he was still stewing over losing to him. But before Thing could kill him, all the villains showed up and he decided to fight them all instead. He actually beats up every one of them but the Juggernaut.

In a last ditch effort, he trips Juggernaut. None of the villains reach Big B and Mephisto's machine explodes. All of the other celestial beings go back to their business assuming this attempt to kill him has failed.


Defenders #151 - #152: The end of an Era

The Beyonder makes a brief appearance in the New Defenders series, but the impact is negligible. What is important is that these are the last two issues of the run, freeing up Iceman, Beast, and Angel to join X- Factor. With these 3 free and Scott leaving the X-Men, all we need is Jean Grey. Too bad she's dead...

I felt a little confused at this issue, probably because I skimmed it. Something about the Puma being born to kill the Beyonder, but then he failed and couldn't believe it. Not much here that furthers the narrative.


New Mutants # 35: Do you believe in Magik?

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Rick Leonardi

We start this issue, as Claremont loves to do, but highlighting a little training exercise. I chose to show this panel because it hits on a theme that will remain for a while, where Roberto is really pissed off about being a mutant and has no intention of being a super hero or an X-Man. He just wants to live a normal life.

The Beyonder shows up out of the blue and starts coming after Illyana. She tries to defend herself, but he is determined to "pull the evil out of her." She is happy that she is freed, but there are consequences.

Kitty is studying in the library when suddenly Illyana's soul sword appears out of nowhere. Do you recall when she ripped the sword out of Illyana's hands when she going a bit nuts in Asgard. Well, it looks like now she's permanently associated with it. If Illyana is no longer the Darkchilde, then that means the curse moves to Kitty.

This means that not only does Kitty get the sword, but the Eldritch armor and Medallion come to her as well.

I went over the lore behind Limbo and Magik in 15: UXM 160 (Magik!) As a refresher, Belasco was trying to fill the medallion with 5 bloodstones so that his evil masters would be able to take over the earth. The New Mutants are trying hard to fight this demon but nothing is working.

In this issue, one of those demons shows up and tries to pull out Kitty's life force (essence) to create the fourth bloodstone. Also, interesting that Kitty is being referred to as "The Guardian."

Up until this point, Illyana had been acting a little emotionless and Zombie like, being happy to be freed of her other personality. I believe Claremont was trying to show that she can't be whole without her Darkchilde persona as part of her overall being.


Dani is able to slap her back to reality and Illyana realizes that she can't let her best friend be consumed this way. She takes the sword, armor, and medallion back, ultimately realizing that she will never be able to avoid her fate.


UXM202: From the ashes comes...a psychopath?

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - John Romita, Jr.

Rachel is such a wild card. She's so twisted from her past that she can rarely think straight. In this instance she decides that she can't allow the possibility of the Beyonder from ending her new reality, so she sets out to destroy him.

The X-Men gather to find Rachel so they can support her. Wolverine is pushing hard on Magneto by reminding him that Cerebro doesn't work well because the tectonic plates of the earth are all messed up from his time as an evil dude. Magneto gives it right back. Everyone else is just kind of like:

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Rachel/Phoenix takes all of her force and slams into Big B trying to kill him. It doesn't do anything.

Because the Beyonder is a huge dick, he gives Rachel advanced power and the opportunity to kill him, but he simultaneously conjours a Sentinel. Rachel has to decide whether she uses the power right there to kill him or miss the moment and save the X-Men. What a jag.

She chooses to save the X-Men. After a long fight with the Sentinel, the X-Men are safe.


My Connections

This was another longer one. The Beyonder is starting to get even more emotionally unstable, as is Rachel. After losing Professor X last issue, this arc serves as the swan song for Cyclops. At this point, I really won't miss him, because he's passed Xavier as the biggest jag in the series. All of the pieces are being laid for the original X-Men to re-form as X-Factor. We begin to see what it's like with Magneto as a true member of the team and how various team members are dealing with this. We are laying the puzzle pieces for the Secret Wars 2 grand finale with the X-Men, especially the New Mutants and Rachel, taking center stage.

Creators

Claremont had always intended for some characters to complete their arc, while new characters come to the forefront. After Professor X was written out of the comic and spending his days with Liliana, Scott was next. This was supposed to be the issue where Scott goes into retirement with his wife and baby, however the creation of the X-Factor Team and Jean's re-birth (without Claremont's consent) will complicate those plans.


Character Beats

I've been tracking the X-Men leadership topic for quite some time. Storm had been a capable leader, but Cyclops has been hanging around again lately. I should have seen this coming because Claremont fricken loves Storm. I really appreciate that this issue officially settles the leadership debate, showing that Storm bested Cyclops and he willingly defers to her as leader.


Speaking of Cyclops, there is more evidence of him degrading as a character under Claremont's eye, not necessarily just the X-Factor assassination. Maddy opens up to Storm, saying:

"But it could have been different. My boy could have died. I could have died. I understand Scott not being here...but he should have at least let me know he cared."

It's no secret that I don't care for Rachel, but in this issue she goes off and faces the Beyond alone, making me wonder if she's fully losing her grip on reality.


Let's not forget that we are also dealing with Magneto fighting amongst the X-Men. We get Wolverine making a comment recognizing that Magneto was able to fight without harming incidents and Wolverine has been somewhat convinced.


Continuing the theme of Philosopher Logan being the only one to give his stamp of approval, I love how he was also the first one to accept Rogue, since he knows that he has a violent past as well and is personally trying to do better.


In New Mutants territory, we have a huge development with Kitty being able to pick up Illyana's Soul Sword. Up until this point, Illyana had been acting a little emotionless and Zombie like, being happy to be freed of her other personality. I believe Claremont was trying to show that she can't be whole without her Darkchilde persona as part of her overall being.

My Rating - 7/10


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